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Top 10 attractions in Luxor

Before setting sail from Luxor on your Sanctuary Nile cruise, take time to disembark and take in the ancient wonders of the world’s greatest open-air museum

It’s hard to believe the meandering blue ribbon fringed with green is the mighty Nile. As you fly over the desert from Cairo to Luxor, you’re treated to a bird’s-eye view of this spectacular sight during a luxury family holiday to Egypt.

But as you will soon discover, this is just an aperitif to the à la carte menu of attractions to come. The capital of Upper Egypt certainly packs a punch when it comes to its towering temples and tombs which include the final resting place of Tutankhamun. 

Walk in the footsteps of archaeologist Howard Carter who discovered the treasures of the boy king 100 years ago. Join our Egyptologist to decipher the secrets of hieroglyphics and experience the wonders of Ancient Thebes by land, sea, and air.

So for that memorable family adventure set sail on board Sanctuary Nile cruise which welcomes children over the age of 10.

1. Valley of the Kings

Head towards the Valley of the Kings on the west bank of Luxor and you’ll discover a treasure trove of tombs during your holiday to Egypt. Hidden beneath the desert, is 63 tombs including the modest steps down to the burial chamber of Tutankhamun. 

One of the most popular and best-preserved tombs in the valley is that of Ramesses III which cuts 125 metres into the hillside and opens into a richly decorated burial chamber which is an eight pillared hall inside which was found the red quartzite sarcophagus. The tomb is beautifully decorated with vivid colours with scenes of the king paying homage to various deities. 

 

2. Tomb of Tutankhamun

Exactly 100 years after Howard Carter discovered the final resting place of Tutankhamun, along with all its treasures, you can step back in time into this tomb in the Valley of the Kings. 

The first stone step to these treasures was found on 4 November 1922, by Carter who was then joined by Lord Carnarvon for the grand opening of what was famously described as 'wonderful things'.

During your family holiday to Egypt, see first-hand the tomb which lay undiscovered since 1327 BC when Tutankhamun ruled briefly and died young. Children will delight in exploring the four chambers which were packed with everything from the iconic golden death mask to chariots and weapons. You will still find Tutankhamun’s mummy in its gilded wooden coffin and sarcophagus. 

Regarded as one of the most impressive collections of artefacts ever discovered, most of the items can be viewed in The Egyptian Museum in Cairo but will likely be moved to the new Grand Egyptian Museum when it opens.

3. Valley of the Queens

The Valley of the Queens, historically known as Ta-Set-Neferu, meaning ‘the place of beauty’ contains more than 75 tombs that belonged to queens of the 19th and 20th dynasties.

During your time exploring the UNESCO World Heritage site, located close to the workers' village of Deir el-Medina, you can choose a private tour with your own guide  to view the highly decorated tomb of Nefertari the favourite wife of Ramesses II (he had five) known for building colossal temples. 

Nefertari tomb is an additional item to Sanctuary itinerary, and we would highly recommend doing this as it is one of the best preserved in terms of original colours of decoration in the whole of Egypt. The tomb includes an image of Nefertari, dubbed ‘the most beautiful of them’, wearing a white gown and a golden headdress featuring long feathers. The three other tombs open for viewing include those of Titi, Khaemwaset and Amunherkhepshef.

4. Temple of Hatshepsut

Journey to the magnificent Temple of Hatshepsut carved into rugged limestone cliffs that rise dramatically 300 metres above the desert at Deir Al Bahri.

Early morning is the best time to explore this dazzling monument built to commemorate Egypt’s most famous female pharaoh. You can almost imagine the time when she might have approached via a sphinx-lined causeway. The site is almost on the same line as the Temple of Karnak due East across the Nile.

After scaling the ramp to the upper terraces, you will discover the best reliefs and always try to look up as the ceilings are painted with gold stars to depict the night sky.

5. Howard Carter’s House

En route to the Valley of the Kings, you will pass the domed sand-coloured house where archaeologist Howard Carter lived during his search for Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.

Today, you will find a living museum featuring pictures and tools from the historic excavation. A replica of Tutankhamun's burial chamber has been constructed on the edge of the garden along with an exhibition relating to the discovery of the tomb.

Enjoy a refreshing coffee in the café before you set off to discover more of Luxor’s secrets.

 

6. Karnak Temple

The titanic temple of Karnak beckons from the east bank and may be familiar to you from the original movie Death on the Nile.

After extensive restoration work, you can now walk the incredible three-kilometre paved avenue of human-headed sphinxes that once linked the great Temple of Amun, which is at the centre of Karnak,  with Luxor Temple. 

Join our Egyptologist as you walk among a forest of giant pillars in the Temple of Amun-Ra with its great hypostyle hall and view the towering obelisks. The best time to visit is early morning and late afternoon when the light is perfect for those instagrammable images.

7. Luxor Temple

This temple is less complex than Karnak but no less impressive. In front of the temple is the start of the Avenue of Sphinxes that run all the way to Karnak Temple to the north.

Visit early with our expert Egyptologist when Luxor Temple, dedicated to the god Amun, is less crowded or at sunset when the stones glow amber. One of the most spectacular sights is the 24-metre-high first pylon raised by Ramesses II and decorated with reliefs. Of the original pair of pink-granite obelisks that stood there, one remains while the other stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris.

8. Karnak Sound and Light Show

Discover the secrets of Karnak Temple when you walk this historic monument at night during a spectacular sound and light show during a family holiday to Egypt. Watch in awe as the temple is illuminated and light plays off the colonnades and obelisks. Hear the dramatic history of Thebes and how the temple rose from the desert.

The show narrates the achievements of some of the greatest pharaohs. As you walk through the complex of temples, they each rise to tell their fascinating life stories as haunting music mysteriously flows through this ancient city. 

 

9. Hot-air balloon ride over Luxor 

Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Luxor with a sunrise hot-air balloon flight and marvel at the magnificent temples of Karnak, Luxor and Hatshepsut. Enjoy the tranquillity and beauty of the sun rising over the east bank of the Nile, illuminating the land of the ancient pharaohs. 

During your flight, the expert pilot will point out the Colossi of Memnon rising from the crop fields and, winds permitting, fly over the Ramesseum for an unrivalled aerial view of the complex. In the distance, you will spot the hidden Valley of the Kings.

Children over the age of six are welcomed but must be tall enough to safely see out over the basket.

10. Felucca on the Nile

Hop aboard a felucca for a ride along the mighty Nile river. The wooden sailing boat will take you from the banks of Luxor, which means ‘palaces’ in Arabic, a few kilometres upriver towards Banana Island and Crocodile Island. 

Your captain, dressed in traditional galabeya, will point out how little has changed along the river, known as the lifeblood of Egypt, since ancient times. Don’t forget your camera to capture timeless scenes of village life and the beauty of the pink-tinged mountains of the west bank reflected in the water.