Only got one day in Luxor? With advance planning, it’s possible to cover its highlights in a single day. From tours of the must-see ancient temples and tombs to shopping at the city’s bazaars and sailing on the River Nile, here are our suggestions for getting the most out of your 24 hours.
Morning: Hot-Air Balloon and the East Bank
Luxor’s sights are spread between the River Nile’s West and East banks. Begin on the West Bank, with a dawn hot-air-balloon flight over its mountains, pharaonic sites, and River Nile as the sun rises. Then, head off on a seamless full-day tour of both areas with lunch in between, or two half-day tours that cover each in turn. If you’ve opted for the latter, kick things off on the East Bank, the site of Luxor itself. Here, roam the pillared halls of Karnak—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and then delve into the smaller Luxor Temple, both with a guide to shed light on their history and carvings.
Afternoon: The West Bank and Markets
This afternoon, switch your sights back to the West Bank, this time seeing it from the ground. Explore some of the Valley of the Kings’ mountain-carved pharaonic tombs—perhaps choosing to pay extra to visit Tutankhamun’s chamber if it’s open to visitors. Then, travel along the Nile to the spectacular Temple of Hatshepsut, built for Egypt’s first female ruler, and the two broken Colossi of Memnon statues of Amenhotep III, each etched with Roman-era graffiti. Maybe finish your afternoon on a shopping tour of Luxor’s markets, with a guide to help you find and haggle for mementoes such as alabaster ornaments, papyrus, gold, and jewelry.
Evening: Sunset Cruise and Light Show
Round off your day off with more classic Luxor experiences. Soak in the beauty of the Nile at sunset with a private cruise on a traditional felucca sailing boat, or enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride that takes in Luxor’s Nile Corniche, boulevards, markets, and local quarters. If an evening show is more your style, opt for the Sound and Light Show at Karnak Temple. Wander the halls and columns as they come alive with multicolored illuminations, laser beams, video projections, and the ‘voices’ of the pharaohs. Many ticket packages include hotel pickup and drop-off, so you won’t have to worry about transport.