Luxor Holidays – Ancient tombs, bustling bazaars and rooftop restaurants overlooking the Nile
One of the top tourist destinations in Egypt, Luxor certainly packs a punch for its relatively small size. The city is built on the banks of the Nile, around the 4000-year old ancient site of Thebes – the old capital of Egypt and epicentre of the Middle and New Kingdoms. Often referred to as the world’s largest open air museum, you’ll find a staggering wealth of ancient temples, tombs and monuments here. Juxtaposed against this long-gone history is the bustling chaos that is modern Luxor life; shambolic bazaars, exotic souks, and shisha smoke filled air set against a stunning river scene backdrop. For a taste of the real Egypt that purpose built resorts like Sharm el Sheikh can’t provide, Luxor is for you.
For the sake of ease, Luxor can be roughly divided into 2 districts – the East Bank and the West Bank. The East Bank is where you’ll find most of the hotels, restaurants and the train station, as well as museums, The Luxor Temple and the Temple of Karnak. The West Bank is where the major ruins and tombs are found, including the Valley of Kinds, the Valley of Queens and the Western Valley ruins. You’ll also find a smattering of hotels here.
Travel to the Old Bazaar for a glass of Kalkadi and a smoke of the shisha pipe, and head to a roof-top restaurant on the West Bank for stunning views of the Nile at sunset. All in all, and ideal choice for those looking to experience ancient history first hand and an authentic Egyptian experience.
When to go
The best time to visit Luxor is undoubtedly the winter period of October-April. Being an inland city, Luxor can get incredibly hot, without the benefit of cooling sea breezes. The main tourist attractions here are excursions around the ancient sites, so the winter temperatures of 20-30C are much more manageable. The winter period will see higher accommodation prices and will be generally busier.
Summer (May-September) is not for the faint-hearted, with scorching temperatures reaching close to 50C at times – however this is the cheapest time to visit the city. What’s more, if you visit in July you’ll get to see the Moulid of Abu el-Haggag; a celebration of Luxor's patron sheikh, with street parties, horse races, music, dance and tahtib (traditional stick fights).
The weather in Luxor
The weather in Luxor is hot all year round, making it a prime winter-sun destination. There are two seasons, only distinguishable in that one is far hotter than the other. Winter runs from October to April and sees temperatures ranging between 23-35C, with an average of 9-10 hours of sunshine a day. Summer is between May-September, with temperatures of 39-41C on average and between 11-12 hours of sunshine daily. There is no recordable rainfall all year round – however nights in the winter can get chilly, so remember to pack a warm top.
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Getting the best deal
Luxor will be busiest between November-March, when the temperatures are ideal for excursions around the ancient sites. As such, if you want a Luxor holiday over this period you should book as early as possible to get the best-priced rooms in the best hotels. If you’re intending to travel over the summer period, booking in advance is not so necessary – in fact, you’ll be better of waiting till late April or May, when some excellent last-minute bargains can be had.
Always try to avoid the UK school holidays periods of Ester and half term if you have the flexibility. Booking an all-inclusive holiday to Luxor can be a good way to keep an eye on your holiday spending, with all meals and drinks paid for upfront. Find the best prices we have to offer by looking at the deals below or alternatively by visiting our late deals page here.
Airport and transport need to know
Visitors to Luxor will fly into the Luxor International Airport (LXR), located around 4 miles east of the city centre. You’ll find a modest-sized airport with two terminals that has recently been renovated to accommodate up to 8 million passengers a year. Facilities at the airport include restaurants, cafes, a post office, a bank, duty free shops, a VIP lounge, newsagents, car rental and much more.
You can reach Luxor from a number of the larger UK airports, including London Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester. It takes between 5 and 6 hours to reach the airport from the UK, depending on where you’re departing from. The time difference is GMT+2 (+3 between April-September).
If you don’t have a visa pre-arranged, you can sort one out when you reach the airport for a fee of around £10. Go to the transparent ticket-booths on the right hand side as you enter the arrival hall.
If you don’t have a transfer arranged from the airport by your hotel, you can catch a taxi from outside the main terminal buildings. There will be men claiming to be taxi drivers standing outside the Arrivals hall doors – do not be fooled into bartering with these people. Many of them are not taxi drivers at all, they’re just touts. Carry on walking until you see a taxi driver in his car, and bargain with him. You should be able to get a taxi to your hotel for around 50LE, and it will take around 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can pre-book a transfer from companies such as Shuttle Direct for around £10 per person.
There is a public bus service that runs from the airport to the city centre. Buses depart every 15 minutes, and the cost of a fare should be around 10LE. Buses are air-conditioned.