The city of Luxor lies on the shores of the Nile and is ideally located to explore the magnificent wonders of ancient Egypt.
With a year round desert climate, temperatures in Luxor are hot and arid, much like the rest of Egypt. Luxor experiences very little rainfall, in fact it only records 0.1 inches of precipitation over the entire year. Winter is peak season in Luxor due to the cooler temperatures whereas temperatures in the peak of summer can reach up to 41°C.
Valley of the Kings
Dating back to the 11th century, the Valley of the Kings is an ancient burial ground dug deep into the desert mountains and contains the tombs of many of Egypt's ancient pharaoh rulers at the time, most famously, Tutankhamun. His tomb is one of the greatest discoveries of Ancient Egypt as it is the only tomb that remained almost 100% intact until it was discovered in 1922. The stone sarcophagus and the wooden coffin still contain his mummy and are left in the burial chambers. The tombs at Valley of the Kings, carved in rock, were designed to resemble the Underworld.
Luxor's centrepiece, The Karnak Temple is one of the largest and most important religious ancient sites in the world. Karnak, meaning 'fortified settlement' in Arabic, covers a complex of 2 square kilometres of temples including the Temple of Amun, which is the largest place of worship ever built. Due to its size and sheer complexity, the Karnak Temple is one of Egypt's most impressive sites. Don't miss the spectacular Sound & Light that takes place at the Karnak Temple every evening.
Built by Amenhotep III and Ramses II the Luxor Temple is placed in the middle of the city overlooking the Nile. A must-see site, the Luxor Temple has withstood a multi-layered history, from Alexander the Great's rule where he converted one of its chambers into a sanctuary, followed by the Romans rule who transformed the temple into a military camp, then transformed once more into churches, and later still, Abu El Haggag mosque was built next to the temple. All throughout the temple, paintings and inscriptions tell the stories of the pharaohs and of history. In front of the temple is a giant red granite obelisk and the Avenue of Sphinxes, a long wide entrance road with Sphinx statues left and right which is supposed to lead all the way from the Luxor Temple to the Karnak Temple.
The Luxor Museum is located between the Luxor Temple and the Karnak Temple is home to relics and antiquities and key discoveries from decades of archaeological findings. Priceless masterpieces are exhibited in this small museum that only adds to the glorious story of Luxor's magnificent monuments.
Right across from the Luxor Museum is the Mummification Museum where the immortal dead tell their story and take you through the art and science of the mummification process, a true Egyptian specialty. Humans as well as some sacred animals were mummified such as crocodiles and baboons.
Valley of the Queens
On the West Bank of the Nile lies the Valley of the Queens where tombs of wives of pharaohs, princesses, princes, and nobles are there on display. The Valley of the Queens is most popular for the Tomb of Nefertari, the favourite wife of Ramses II, which is referred to as the most beautiful in Egypt is it completely covered with colourful paintings of Nefartari being guided by the gods.
The Colossi of Memnon
The Colossi of Memnon are two gigantic statues of Amenhotep III cut out of single blocks of sandstone. Each statue stands at 21 metres in height and represents Amenhotep III seated on his throne. You can't miss these gigantic figures on your way to the West Bank.
The Ramesseum is a mortuary temple of Ramses II who was a prolific builder, known most for his building of Abu Simbel. Although not entirely intact, it is one of the loveliest temples in Egypt. The temple contains a broken statue of Ramses II which used to be the biggest in the world, weighing at 1,000 tons.
Located beneath massive, steep cliffs, stands the Temple of Hatshepsut. Designed by Hatshepsut's steward and architect Senenmut, the temple is a true work of art and built to resemble classical architecture with a three-level facade and beautiful wide terraces. Inside the temple you will find halls, a chapel, a sanctuary, and beautifully designed columns with statues in front of them which were once in bright and vivid colours.
Arabic (French and English widely spoken)
GMT/BST +2 hours
5 hours 55 minutes
Up to 30 minutes
220 volts AC, 50 cycles. An adaptor, generally 2-pronged, is necessary.
Eating in Egypt can represent good value for money, with local meals being well priced. Hotels are naturally more expensive, but still offer good value for money.
Tipping, or baksheesh, is almost a way of life in Egypt. It is customary and appreciated to tip guides, drivers, hotel staff and your boat/dive crew.
Shops are generally open from approximately 10am-11pm year round, although may stay open until later in summer.
Banking hours are 9am - 1pm Sunday - Thursday. Many banks are open 6pm-9pm Sunday to Thursday for exchange only.
When visiting holy sites such as mosques, you may be required to observe customs such as covering your head, shoulders and legs. Please respect such local customs. Swimwear and other revealing clothes should be kept to the beach and by the pool.
Much of Egypt is desert, and as such is subject to hot days and cooler nights. Beach resorts are often cooled in the day by sea breezes, however, Nile towns can become stifling, especially in summer months. Lightweight clothing is recommended for days, although a fleece or sweater may be required during the winter months. A pullover or jacket for evenings, may also be required in winter. Shoes are not worn on board dive boats and liveaboards, so please take this into consideration when choosing which footwear to pack. Suitable clothing such as walking boots and a windproof jacket is recommend for touring itineraries.
Passports & Visas
A full 10-year passport with at least 6 months validity from the date of return is required for travel to Egypt for all British, EU and EEA nationals. British passport holders also require a visa to visit all parts of Egypt except for the Gulf coast of Sinai for stays of less than 15 nights. Visitors to the Gulf area wishing to stay 15 nights or more, or those wishing to visit other parts of Egypt including Cairo and Ras Mohammed, must obtain a visa. Visas can be obtained by contacting the Egyptian Embassy on 020 7235 9777. For up to date information on visa requirements, visitors are strongly advised to contact the Embassy prior to travel.
Cameras and video cameras may not be taken into temples, tombs and archaeological sites, or a charge may be levied. Bags over 35cm may not be taken into such sites.
Festivals & holidays
The following festivals and associated holidays are celebrated in either or all of the countries featured in our programme. During these times, resorts may be busier than usual and services may be reduced.
Muslim religious festivals may vary by one or two days. For further details, please contact the Egyptian State Tourist Office or the Jordanian Information Bureau.
Ramadan* 20 Jul - 18 Aug 2012
Eid Al Fitr** 19 Aug 2012
New Year (Hijri Day) 15 Nov 2012
Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday** 5 Feb 2012
*Dates of Ramadan and Eid Al Adha are confirmed only shortly beforehand and vary from year to year by one or two days. During Ramadan, the pace of life during daylight hours is slower and offices and shops keep shorter opening hours between sunrise and sunset. Hotels may limit facilities, and excursions and entertainment can sometimes be affected.
**These festivals are subject to change by one day before or one day after as the moon governs them.
EGYPTIAN FESTIVALS & HOLIDAYS
Revolution Day 23 Jul (annual)
Armed Forces Day 6 Oct (annual)
Christmas Day 9 Jan (annual)
Sham El Nesim 15 Apr (annual)
Sinai Liberation Day 25 Apr (annual)
Labour Day 1 May (annual)