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Luxor is the premier travel destination in Upper (southern) Egypt and the Nile Valley. The dynastic and religious capital of Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom Egypt, Luxor has much to offer the traveller, from vast temples, to ancient royal tombs, via spectacular desert and river scenery and a bustling modern life.
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Points of Interest in Luxor
The Luxor district article pages contain detailed information and suggestions for things to see. Not-to-be-missed highlights include:
- the Valley of the Kings
- the temple complexes of Luxor and Karnak
- Medinet Habu
- the Tombs of the Nobles
- The Ramesseum Temple
The weather is generally extremely hot in summer, while in winter it is generally warm, but may get cool at night. The climate is very dry with almost no rain at all and the sun shines all the year. The best time to visit is in winter, from November to the beginning of March.
- Walk from the Valley of the Queens across the desert and over the cliffs to the Valley of the Kings
- Hire a bike and ride around Ancient Thebes - takes you less than 15 minutes to get there.
- A local felucca ride just before sunset; shouldn't cost you more than about LE 30 (for one person) per hour.
- Take a felucca cruise on the Nile for a 2 day trip to Aswan (the reverse trip is recommended, however, due to river currents).
- Hire a donkey, horse, or camel to ride around Luxor's West Bank. Go to Pharaoh's Stables, just a short walk from the ferry terminal. They will take you to places where the big coaches can't go, so you can enjoy the real Egypt, with its friendly people and relaxed lifestyle. Every day is different when you see the West Bank by horse or donkey and the guides will look after you all the way. They have horses for beginners to experienced riders. The Sunset ride and Nile ride is a must do. www.pharaohstables.com call them on 010 6324961
- Go for a swim in a hotel’s pool after a dusty day of tombs and temples:
- Iberotel: 75E£
- Sonesta: 50E£
- The one right next to St. Joseph: 25E£
- Magic Horizon Balloons, Badr Street, off TV St. (firstname.lastname@example.org), ☎ +20 (0) 1005688439. Flight starts before dawn: MH staff picks passengers up at their hotel or cruise boat, ferry them across the Nile by Felucca boat (tea/coffee & cakes provided on the boat) and drive them to the take-off point. Guests glide up from the West Bank in an balloon and float over Luxor enjoying a view of all the important landmarks of the West Bank. A unique way to visit the ancient land of the Pharaohs. Each flight lasts at least 40 minutes, weather permitting.
Luxor is a vegetarian's paradise with lots of fresh seasonal vegetables such as tomato and cucumber.
A meal often begins with pita-bread and mezze such as baba ganoush or taboulé.
Your main course may include meat or poultry, or regional dishes such as pigeon or rabbit. (To avoid an upset stomach, you may prefer to stick with the beef.) As with any heavily touristed area in Egypt, it's never hard to find reasonably well-executed Western food.
Dairy products, such as yoghurt or gibna bayda cheese (think feta but much creamier), might accompany your main meal.
Finally, many fine vegetarian desserts are available, though some might seem overly sweet to western tastes. (If you can, specify low or medium sweetness.)
While the evening meal is often filling, you may find this doesn't meet the energy requirements of a busy tourist. Be sure to eat a hearty breakfast, drink lots of water, and snack frequently during the day.
For restaurants by district, see:
- Luxor, East Bank
- Luxor, West Bank
There is something of a social stigma attached to public drunkenness. Although Egyptians themselves sometimes choose to ignore this, for a foreigner to be drunk in public can give a bad impression. Most local pubs tend to be testosterone-filled hard-drinking dens where lone foreigners and especially lone women may feel uncomfortable.
That said, there are numerous places in Luxor to buy alcohol. Many restaurants, above the basic on the street places, sell lager and wine. They are generally made obvious by Stella signs outside or by having people drinking inside them. There are two open-air restaurants opposite the temple about 200m south of the main entrance which serve Stella lager for 14LE including tax (as of September 2011) and other local beer and wine for fairly reasonable prices. The huge Stella signs outside give them away. If you can't find somewhere convenient serving alcohol, it may be an idea to ask the staff in your hotel for directions. 'Cafeteria' can be the euphemistic name for a pub in Egypt, and pubs can be quite hard to find if you don't know exactly where to go.
There is a duty-free shop close to the north end of the Luxor Temple, seen slightly to the right across the busy junction - it has plastic see-through shutters at its windows and a guard outside. If you take your passport and go within two days of arriving in Egypt, up to three bottles of main-name spirits and beer, etc. at well-reduced prices, per person, can be bought. After the two days you can only buy the Egyptian equivalent. They also sell electrical products and close at 10pm.
Drinking in the street or in parks, although fairly widely done by locals, is not recommended for foreigners as it is technically illegal and alcohol is generally cheap enough in restaurants anyway.
There are at least two different markets in Luxor. One is located in an air-conditioned hall, with shops located on either side of the hall. This market hall connects two major streets.
The older market takes up several streets near the Luxor temple. It is a joy to walk through, as it is mostly pedestrian and is a welcome respite from the horse and carriages on the main streets. This market really feels like an old souk and the visitor is taken back in time. It is covered with a wooden trellis, shading people from the sun. Many of the shops offer the same items, so the wise buyer shops around and looks for the best price. One can often bargain better after going to several stores.
Once you find a merchant you like, sit down, have some tea, and begin the game of bargaining. It can feel like you are becoming a part of the family. Buying something as simple as a cotton galabeya can take hours, as you try on almost every single galabeya in the store, and then move on to items that they think you may want for the rest of your family.
Buying anything may be very frustrating due to constant bargaining if you are not used to it. This trick has proven to work well: usually their first offer for the price can be ten or even a hundred times bigger than a reasonable price. First decide what you are actually willing to pay. Let us say that in this example it is 20LE. If you ask for the price, you may get a reply "120LE". Now you offer 22LE. You may then be offered something like 110LE. Then instead of going up, you start going down with the price, your new offer will be only 20LE (your predefined price limit). If the bargaining continues you continue dropping your offer. Pretty soon he will understand where the bargaining is going and you get a comfortable price or - at least - you get rid of the vendor.
The touting in the main Souq in Luxor is so bad that it is an absolute nightmare walking through it. Any desire you had to buy anything will quickly disappear as dozens of men try every possible catch they have on you. These include: "You look lucky," "you look Egyptian," "come see my shop, no hassle," and guessing your nationality. But if you continue straight forward, you will come to the real Souq, where the locals go shopping - and suddenly the atmosphere changes completely.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Luxor on Wikivoyage.