Julie Egypt 8 Comments

Located on the Nile River, just north of Luxor, sit two of the best-preserved temple complexes in Egypt. The sacred city of Abydos is home to the temple of Seti I. The Hathor Temple in Dendera is one of the most colorful temples in Egypt, with an intricately detailed ceiling and one of the most awe-inspiring hypostyle halls that we saw in Egypt.

From Luxor, you can visit Dendera and Abydos on a day trip. It’s a long day, coming in at around 10 hours, and much of this time is spent in a car. But if you want to see two spectacular temples, this is well worth your time. And since it is not on the main tourist trail, crowds can be low, even during peak season.

Day Trip to Dendera and Abydos

Overview of the Day Trip

Length of Time: 10 hours
Driving Distance: 360 km, roughly 6 hours of driving time

Map Luxor to Abydos

You will spend approximately two hours at each temple complex. Most day trips start in Abydos, the further of the two cities, and stop in Dendera on the way back to Luxor.

We recommend doing this with a guide and driver. These rural roads are chaotic, and it is not unusual to see tractor trailers, cars, trucks, donkeys pulling carts, people driving motorbikes without helmets, tuk-tuk’s, and trucks all sharing a narrow, two-lane road. Plus, you will go through numerous police checkpoints, so it is best to leave this drive in the hands with someone with experience.

Highway to Abydos and Dendera

Highway to Abydos

We hired Egypt Tailor Made for this day trip (as well as many other day trips in Egypt). On our trip to Egypt, we were a group of six people, since our mothers traveled with us. We had a private van, a driver, and an Egyptologist.

Abydos and the Temple of Seti I

Getting to Abydos: To get to Abydos from Luxor, it is a 170 km drive that takes 3 hours. There are several different ways to drive to Abydos. We drove up the east bank of the Nile River to Qena and then took a much faster highway to Abydos.

Abydos is considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt. It is one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt and was a royal necropolis, a place where the early pharaohs were buried. Abydos became a site of pilgrimage for ancient Egyptians.

The Temple of Seti I, also known as the Great Temple of Abydos, is the main temple that you will visit in Abydos.

It was built during the 19th dynasty of Egypt, which lasted from 1292 to 1189 BC. The temple was built by Seti I and then finished by his son, Ramesses II.

What makes this temple unique is the “Abydos King List,” a long list of the pharaohs that are carved onto the walls of the temple. Also called the Hall of Cartouches, 72 names of the kings of Egypt, from Menes to Seti I (with a few exceptions), are chronologically carved onto the walls.

On a visit to the temple complex, you can also see:

  • The Osireion, a temple that is part of Seti I’s funeral complex
  • Ramesses II temple, a much smaller temple that is mostly ruins
  • Umm El Qa’ab, the royal necropolis

Seti I Temple in Photos

Abydos Temple Egypt

Abydos Hypostyle Hall

Hypostyle Hall


Spaceship Hieroglyphics

Can you find the spaceship?


Seti I Temple Egypt

Abydos Relief

Abydos Day Trip from Luxor

Inside Seti I Temple Abydos



Dendera and the Hathor Temple

Driving to Dendera: To get to Dendera from Abydos, it is a 105 km drive that takes an hour and a half.

The main temple at the Dendera Temple Complex is the Hathor Temple. This temple is much newer than the Seti I temple in Abydos, dating back to the Ptolemaic and Roman periods (323 BC to 37 AD).

The Hathor Temple is one of the most beautiful and colorful temples in Egypt. The most striking part of this temple is the amazing hypostyle hall. Twenty-four massive columns, each with the head of Hathor, support a brilliantly blue ceiling that contains astronomical scenes.

Dendera Temple Complex Entrance

Entrance into the Dendera Temple Complex



Hathor Temple Dendera

Hathor Temple


Dendera Temple

Dendera Day Trip

Dendera Egypt

Dendera Ceiling

Dendera Hypostyle Hall

Dendera and Abydos Trip

Abydos and Dendera Day Trip

View from the roof of the temple


Hathor Temple Exterior

Walking around the outside of the temple


Hathor Temple Relief

Low-relief on the outside of Hathor Temple

The Dendera Zodiac is a bas-relief that is carved onto the ceiling of a chapel in the Temple of Hathor. It depicts the constellations and includes the signs of the Zodiac. The original Dendera Zodiac was removed from the temple in 1821, and it now resides at the Louvre in Paris. A copy of the Dendera Zodiac can be seen on the chapel ceiling.

The Dendera Light comprises five stone reliefs that is a mythological depiction of a djed pillar and a lotus flower spawning a snake inside. The djed pillar is a symbol of stability and can also be interpreted as the backbone of the god Osiris. The snake coming out of the lotus flower symbolizes fertility.

Dendera Light Bulb

To get back to Luxor, it is a 77 km drive that takes an hour and forty minutes.

Planning your Day Trip to Abydos and Dendera

Entrance Fees


240 EGP per adult
120 EGP per student (with a valid ID)


240 EGP per adult
120 EGP per student (with valid ID)
50 EGP for the panorama
100 EGP for the catacombs

PRO TRAVEL TIP: For both Abydos and Dendera, you can take photos with your cellphone for free, without purchasing the camera ticket. You only need the camera ticket if you plan to take photos something other than a cellphone, or if you want to shoot video with your cellphone.

There are several companies that offer day trips to Abydos and Dendera from Luxor. We used Egypt Tailor Made and highly recommend them.

Egypt Travel Guide

Is a Day Trip to Abydos and Dendera Worth It?

This is a long day. You will spend a lot of time in the car and it’s not the most scenic of drives. You will drive over hundreds of speed bumps, go through numerous police checkpoints, and there’s a chance that you will have a police escort. We drove through Abydos as part of a convoy with other tourist vans and police cars.

However, you get to see two of the best-preserved temple complexes in Egypt. And the Temple of Hathor in Dendera is beautiful and very unique. The hypostyle hall was one of my favorite things I saw in Egypt.

A day trip to Abydos and Dendera is worth it if you like the idea of visiting two more temples, and don’t mind a long driving day.

Tim Rivenbark

If you don’t like the idea of 10-hour day with six hours of driving, you can shorten this day trip and just visit Dendera. This becomes a 5-hour day with about 3 hours of driving.

In my opinion, there are several sites that are more important to add to your Egypt itinerary, and if you still have time, then you can add the day trip to Abydos and Dendera. Make sure you visit Abu Simbel…this is another long day but it is amazing. Plan to have one full day on the West Bank of Luxor and one full day on the East Bank of Luxor. Even a second day on the West Bank is recommended (there is SO MUCH to do here). And of course, some time in Aswan, Cairo, and Giza is a must-do.

We have a 10-day Egypt itinerary. We list Abydos and Dendera as something to add to the itinerary if you have more time. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at our Egypt itinerary to get ideas on how to spend your time here.

If you have plans to day trip to Dendera and Abydos and have any questions, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Egypt

LUXOR: Get on overview on what to do in our article Best Things to Do in Luxor. We also have detailed guides to the East Bank of Luxor, the West Bank of Luxor, and the Valley of the Kings.

ABU SIMBEL: In our guide to Abu Simbel, we cover what you need to know to plan your day trip.

EGYPT ITINERARY: With 10 days in Egypt, visit Cairo, Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel.

CAIRO: Start with our article Best Things to do in Cairo. We also have a 2 day Cairo Itinerary, information on how to visit the Pyramids of Giza, and how to day trip to Dahshur, Memphis, and Saqqara.

TRAVEL INSPIRATION: For more travel ideas, here are 10 unique destinations to put on your travel wish list and 10 bucket list destinations from around the world.

Read all of our articles about Egypt in our Egypt Travel Guide.


Abydos and Dendera Luxor Egypt Day Trip


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Comments 8

  1. Avatar for Hugh Blackie
    Hugh Blackie

    Hi Julie, thanks for your informative post! I have three days planned in Luxor for my upcoming Egypt trip, with one full day each on the East and West Banks. I’m having trouble deciding between an extra day on the West Bank vs. spending a day visiting Abydos and Dendera. I will be travelling in Summer so I expect the days to be long/hot. Given I may not be back in Egypt for some time, would you have any advice regarding the above options? Thank you

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      That’s a great question. I would say go to Abydos and Dendera, to see something new. With a well planned, busy day, you can see quite a bit on the West Bank, so if you don’t mind all of the driving time involved with Abydos and Dendera, I think it is worth it on your 3rd day. Plus, the car should be air conditioned, so that should be a nice break from the heat. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Laurel

    My family and I just returned from a 17-day trip to Egypt and wanted to thank you for your detailed Egypt guides, they helped us a lot with planning our trip.

    When we went to Dendera and Abydos last month, it took us nearly 2.5 hours to get from Dendera to Abydos, involving driving a very circuitous routing on dirt roads. We pointed to our guide that there was a faster way according to Google Maps but he said that the “faster way” was too close to a canal and the police would not allow them to use the road anymore. I liked the temple at Abydos but didn’t love it and am not sure I would go to both given this extra detour on bumpy dirt roads since in my opinion, the temple at Dendera is a lot nicer.

    We paid 2000 EGP for the taxi and USD 70 for a guide, whom we hired directly. We think he did a good job and really took his time to stop and explain many of the different carvings at the temples. His name is Mohamed and we contacted him by adding him on WhatsApp at +20 100 102 4052.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Laurel. Thank you for writing in with your experience. That’s a shame you had to go a different route which made your day longer. Happy travels to wherever you are going next! Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for mary ben
    mary ben

    Firstly thanks you so much for your wonderful sharing of information! We are trying to decide between the drive from Aswan to Luxor stopping off at Kom Ombo and Edfu or taking the train and doing a day trip to Dendera and Abydos. It means 1.5 days of travel versus 1 day . Do you think we should prioritise the temples at Kom Ombo and Edfu before a day trip?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Personally, I liked Dendera the most out of all of the temples you mentioned. However, if you plan to spend some time in Aswan and/or day trip to Abu Simbel, visiting Kom Ombo and Edfu make the most sense, since you will drive by them to get to Aswan. But if not, then I recommend Dendera and Abydos (I really liked Dendera). Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Melinda Young
    Melinda Young

    I found your website very helpful and informative. The photos were exquisite. My husband and I have traveled all over the world. I always do the planning for our adventures. Now I use the internet, of course, but when I started our trips in the ’70’s, I was forced to use guide books, the telephone, and even snail mail to arrange our excursions!
    You were really accurate when you stated that it is difficult to find accurate pricing information for the various sites in Egypt. Thank you for listing those. I also appreciate your opinion of the “best” sites and activities at each destination. I was delighted to find someone who enjoyed the camel ride(s) without the hassle. I hope its acceptable to have copied/pasted some of your information into our itinerary/notes. I will include your web address.
    Our trip is scheduled for three weeks in late November/ early December. Although we usually arrange our tours ourselves, I decided that it would be worth our time and money (and safety/lack of hassles) to have a tour company do it. We decided on Kensington Tours because they offered private tours. We didn’t want to be in a group with a fixed schedule; instead, we want to be able to stay at each site as long as I am able to keep my husband engaged. We will have a tour representative/guide/Egyptologist drive us to each destination and accompany us at each site. We are also including Alexandria and Al Fayoum Oasis in our tour.
    The only thing I can think about that we still need to know but cannot find out is about toilets. Although my guidebooks mention toilets located at various sites, both my husband and I, because of physical limitations in “squatting”, must have Western (“sit-down”) toilets available. I know that nicer restaurants and hotels have them, but are they at the sites also?
    Thanks for your delightful website.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Melinda. Thanks for writing in. At the main sights, such as Valley of the Kings and Queens, Karnak and Luxor Temples, Dendera, Abydos, there are bathrooms with western style toilets, for the most part. There were just a few times that I remember using a squat potty and these were in Cairo. The bathrooms aren’t the cleanest. Each bathroom usually has an attendant that you will have to tip, just a few Egyptian coins are fine. They will give you some toilet paper to use but it’s also a good idea to bring some of your own. Hand sanitizer would be good to have after using the bathroom, too. We prefer to travel independently, too, but we were very glad to have a guide while in Egypt. It’s fine to cut and paste our info, just please don’t republish it online. I hope you have a great trip to Egypt! Cheers, Julie

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