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How to Spend 2 Days in Luxor, Egypt

From my experience visiting Egypt, spending two days in Luxor is just the right amount of time to see the highlights. This itinerary will include visiting both the East and West Banks and you can actually do that all in one day if you fancy! 

Entrance to Karnak Temple in Luxor Egypt featuring several large columns and blocks
Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt.

Luxor is sometimes called the “world’s greatest open-air museum” for good reason. The ancient city of Thebes, with its wonderfully preserved temples and the magical Nile River winding through its center, is just breathtaking. 

History of Luxor

The history of Luxor, which was formerly known as the city of Thebes, may be traced back to some time around 3,200 B.C. 

However, Thebes did not flourish until 2,134 B.C., during the 11th Dynasty, when Mentuhotep II brought peace and stability to the area. From then on, Thebes began to thrive as a city, eventually becoming the political and religious center of Ancient Egypt in 1,550 B.C. during the 18th Dynasty.

Several of the most well-known and significant pharaohs ruled over Luxor, and the majority of their tombs, monuments, and temples—including the tomb of the renowned Tutankhamun— are still present there today. 

This ancient city is definitely worth visiting and two days will give you the perfect amount of time to visit the main attractions. 

Lindsey of Have Clothes Will Travel wearing a yellow floral maxi dress, straw fedora, scarf and white keds in Luxor Egypt

How to Get to Luxor

​​To start off this post, I thought it might be helpful to talk briefly about how to get to Luxor. After all, if you’re going to travel there, you should definitely know how to get there in the first place!

The majority of tourists fly into Cairo International Airport when they visit Egypt, even though Luxor also has an international airport. This is mainly due to the fact that Cairo International Airport offers more flight connections than any other Egyptian city.

From Cairo, you can either take a train to Luxor or you can take a domestic flight to Luxor. Flights from Cairo to Luxor take about 1 hour and are generally less than $100. We had booked an 8 am flight out of Cairo, which meant we had an entire afternoon to explore Luxor at a leisurely pace.

Alternatively, if you are in Aswan and would like to travel north to Luxor, you can take a Nile cruise, fly to Luxor, or take a train. Personally, we took the Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan after our two-day trip.

Hieroglyphics decorate the walls in an underground tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor Egypt

The Ideal Luxor Itinerary (2 Days)

To best explore Luxor, it’s important to understand how the city is divided. The Nile divides Luxor into two parts: the West and East Banks. 

The East Bank of the city is likely where your hotel will be, and that also happens to be the area where ancient Egyptians lived during their time since the sun rises from the East.

And, as you might have guessed, the West Bank is where you’ll visit mortuary templates that were dedicated to the dead (including the Valley of the Kings) since the sun sets in the West. 

Since you’ll be staying on the East Bank, it’s best to start by visiting it since you’ll already be on that side when you arrive. 

This way, you can spend the next day going to and exploring the West Bank. Plus, this will also give you the chance to take a hot air balloon ride to the other side (more on that later!). 

A wide-angle view of the Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor, Egypt.

Day 1 – Visit Luxor East Bank

The two main attractions in this area are the Karnak and Luxor Temples.

Karnak Temple

Giant pillars at Karnak Temple Complex, Luxor in Egypt.
Karnak Temple

Our adventure in Luxor started with visiting Karnak Temple, which is only about a 10-minute drive from most hotels in the city. Karnak Temple is actually the 2nd most visited site in Egypt, second only to the pyramids in Giza! 

Karnak is the largest religious complex ever constructed and was developed over 1,500 years (starting around 2,000 BC). It’s dedicated to Amun, Mut, and Khonsu.

The Temple of Amun, which is dedicated to the king of the gods, is at the center of it all. There are also a number of smaller sanctuaries, chapels, and temples devoted to various other gods. 

We spent a couple of hours here, but you could easily spend an entire day if you wanted – Karnak Temple is HUGE! 

They also offer a light show here at night if that’s something you’re interested in.

During the course of an hour and a half, the Karnak Temple’s Sound and Light Show narrates the history of Thebes (Luxor) and highlights the lives of different pharaohs who helped build the temple complex.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of light shows, though. So, we did not do this.

Luxor Temple

Evening view of the Luxor Temple, Egypt.

Luxor Temple was originally built by Amenhotep III, one of the great builders of ancient Egypt, from about 1390 to 1352 BC. It’s located right in the city and is less than a 5-minute drive from most hotels in the city.

During their reigns, Tutankhamun, Horemheb, Merenpetah, Seti I, Ramses III, Ramses IV, Ramses VI, and even Alexander the Great made many more small changes to the Temple of Luxor. 

The biggest expansion work, however, happened during the reign of Ramses II, another renowned builder of ancient Egypt.

We spent about 1 1/2 hours here – but again, if you enjoy taking photos and admiring such an incredible amount of history, you could easily spend a longer amount of time.

Luxor/Egypt - 02/18/2015: The Luxor museum

Optional: Visit Luxor Museum

If you started your day early in the East Bank of Luxor, you might have time to visit the Luxor Museum before heading to the Luxor Temple. 

This is Egypt’s best-curated museum, open until 2 pm when it closes for lunch, and it houses a wealth of artifacts from the city’s tombs and temples.

The museum admission fee is 100 Egyptian Pounds (LE), and there is no need for a guide because the exhibits are neatly displayed and labeled.

The Luxor Museum is small but packed with treasures, and spending 2 hours or so wandering about here is a terrific way to spend a hot Egyptian lunchtime.

To begin, your admission ticket includes the viewing of a short video that explains some of the significant artifacts.

It’s worth noting that a photography license is required to take photos inside the museum.

Day 2 – Visit Luxor West Bank

Getting to the West Bank

A small motorboat on the Nile River in Luxor to travel between the East Bank and West Bank.
1 of the cute motorboats you can take across the Nile.

Your hotel will likely be on the East Bank. To cross the Nile River and get to the West Bank you’ll have to take the public ferry or hire a motorboat (pictured above). 

The ferry costs 5 LE, and a motorboat will also cost 5 LE (or 1 LE per person if you’re in a group of 5 or more). 

If you’re in a time crunch, it’s better to take one of the motorboats, as they will leave immediately. (And the ferry will wait until it’s sufficiently full.)

Optional: Pre-Dawn Hot Air Balloon Flight

The Colossi of Memnon with a yellow hot air balloon floating between the statues.

Luxor is quite known for hot-air ballooning. Seeing the ruins from above can be an interesting sight, especially during sunrise! We didn’t do this, as we had just been in Cappadocia, Turkey, not long ago and had had enough of hot air balloons! 

However, our friends did do this and said it was a lovely experience. They hadn’t previously been on a hot air balloon, so they were very excited to try it out. 

They also said they were very happy they took the earliest flight possible, as they were able to watch the sunrise and beat the heat. 

Being on the later balloon flight that morning would have been way too hot, so I recommend booking a pre-dawn balloon flight if you’re interested.  

Valley of the Kings

A tomb inside the valley of the kings

This is where, for nearly 500 years (from the 16th to 11th century BC), the tombs for the pharaohs and nobles were made.

They are all located underground in this valley, so they would be hidden from looters. (A pyramid is a pretty big target for a looter, and they knew that by this period.)

There are 63 tombs (that we know of) inside the Valley of the Kings. However, only a handful of them are open to the public (and they rotate which are open). 

Personally, we spent a couple of hours here and visited five tombs in total. 

Hatshepsut Temple

Outside view of Temple of Hatshepsut, Egypt.
Temple of Hatshepsut

The Temple of Hatshepsut (badass lady pharaoh!) is about a 10-minute drive away from the visitor’s center at the Valley of the Kings. 

Built by Pharaoh Hatshepsut, the Temple of Hatshepsut is a mortuary temple devoted to the deity Amun and herself. It is also known as Djeser-Djeseru (Holy of Holies).

An interesting fact is that Hatshepsut had herself crowned as pharaoh of Egypt, making her a co-ruler of Egypt with Thutmose III. Hatshepsut’s greatest achievement was developing and expanding trade routes. Her journey to the Land of Punt is vividly portrayed in the Punt Colonnade, which is part of the Temple of Hatshepsut.

This is still technically the Valley of the Kings (she’s the only female who was buried here), but with the way the entrance is set up, it’s quite a hike to get to it, so driving is your best bet. This is one of the things to keep in mind while visiting the Valley of the Kings

Personally, we spent just about an hour in here, and part of this was getting snacks and refreshments at the visitor’s center too.

The Colossi of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon statues in Luxor, Egypt.
The Colossi of Memnon

These are massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III. They have stood here for the past 3,400 years! They’re a quick stop on your way back to Luxor and are a quick photo op. And will take around 10-15 minutes to visit tops.

Despite their seemingly random location, they once served as guards at the entrance of the first pylon of the Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III. It was one of the largest temples ever built in Egypt.

Unfortunately, the temple’s position was too close to the Nile. When the Nile overflowed each year, it would fill the temple. The temple suffered considerable water damage as a result of the periodic flooding. 

The Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III is thought to have been in ruins by the 19th Dynasty. In 27 BC, there was an earthquake that made the damage even worse.

The final nail in the coffin was the total destruction of the temple caused by the looting of its stone and statues for other projects.

Suggestions for Altering This Two-Day Itinerary

This is by no means the best or the only way to see Luxor! This is just what we did, and it worked out nicely. (We had to depart at 1 pm the second day to catch our Nile River Cruise.) Here are some suggestions if you have more or less time to play with.

Option 1 – Do This All In One Day (If You Have Less Time)

Depending on when you arrive in Luxor, you might not have time to visit anything that afternoon. However, you could easily do all of this mentioned above in one day. 

There are even tours that have all of these stops included in 1 day. However, you would obviously have to leave Luxor quite late that evening, though, or plan for another night here.

Option 2 – Visit Valley of the Queens (If You Have More Time)

If you have extra time, you can spend a half day visiting The Valley of the Queens and Ramesseum and Habu Temples too! There are many dedicated tours offering this option if you’re interested. 

Tips for How to Dress in Luxor, Egypt

A couple posing next to a signboard that reads 'Tomb of Tut Ankh Amun'.

Luxor, Egypt, is going to be very hot no matter what time of year you visit! That’s why I’ve shared all my tips for dressing comfortably in Luxor that I highly recommend you check out before heading there. 

Woman in front of the Karnak Temple Complex in Egypt

Transport in Luxor

You have a few different options for how to get around Luxor.

Guided Tour

You can book a tour, which does have its benefits, despite getting you to all of these places efficiently…it’s also a plus to book a tour so the locals will not bother you and try to “show you around” these places and harass you for tips. 

Unfortunately, any time we went anywhere on our own, we were constantly getting bothered by someone trying to “help” or sell us something.

However, I do understand not everyone enjoys tours either. (We booked through Memphis Tours.)

Rent a Bike From Your Hotel

If you’re a biker, many hotels do offer bikes for rent. However, it is really hot in Luxor, so please plan accordingly for the heat.

Travel via Taxi

You can also ask your hotel to arrange a taxi for you. This is likely the easiest way to go about this if you aren’t a fan of tours. Having someone drive you to these sights and enjoy them at your own pace!

Travel via Bus

There are buses in Luxor that can transport you to some of these places, ask your hotel for more info. (Sorry, we didn’t take the bus here and I don’t want to give you wrong info!)

View of the grounds while visiting Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt.
It gets really hot!!

Where to Stay in Luxor

  • Luxury: The Hilton Luxor Resort is one of the highest-rated hotels in Luxor. (And frankly, for what you get and what we’re used to paying in the US, I don’t think the prices are all that bad.)
  • Middle of the Road: Aracan Eatabe Luxor Hotel is in a great location and is generally running very affordable prices.
  • Budget: Located on the West Bank, Luxor Palace has some fantastic prices and views. These are also not hotel rooms – they’re full-on apartments!

If you’re headed to Egypt, you might want to read all my posts on Egypt to learn everything you need to know about this stunning country before you travel there!

You can also check out my entire packing list for Egypt as a woman or see my itinerary for how to spend 7 days in Egypt!

Other Travel Essentials

Travel Insurance

It’s a good idea, no matter where your adventure takes you, to have travel insurance. You never know what might happen! 

Whether you get sick before your trip and can’t go, or you become sick or injured while on your adventure – being covered with travel insurance is a must. 

Some credit card companies do provide this service (check with yours), or you can get a quote from companies such as Squaremouth to find the best plan for you and your adventure. This is the company I, personally, use. They are even recommended by Forbes!

I recommend getting a free travel quote to see if they’re the right fit for you.

Visa Requirements

Before you head to Egypt, check the visa requirements to figure out if your country requires a visa for traveling to Egypt. 

How to Spend 2 Days in Luxor, Egypt
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  1. Dimitris Karvelis says:

    Amazing Post ! Unfortunately i didnt viisit Luxon when i traveled las year to egypt , your shots wake me up to travel again in Egypt !! thanks

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      Ooh! I hope you get to go back one day!

  2. Wow wow wow! Those ruins look mind blowing! It’s hard to imagine that they’ve been around for thousands of years. Pretty incredible. Looked like a great trip ?

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      It is really crazy to think!

  3. shannon silver says:

    WOW! These photos are seriously stunning. I’ve never been but it’s one of my bucket list places. Everything looks like a dream! x Shannon

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      Thank you. I hope you make it one day.

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