The East Bank of Luxor is where you will find two of Egypt’s most important sites, the Luxor Temple and the sprawling Karnak Temple, as well as several small museums.
In this article, learn how to plan your visit to Luxor, with advice on how to get around, where to stay, and where to eat.
Interesting Facts about the East Bank of Luxor
Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes. From 1570 to 1069 BCE, Thebes was the capital of Egypt. It became an important center of worship of the god Amun. During the period of 1353 to 1336 BCE, this was the largest city in the world, with a population of 80,000 people.
The Nile River splits Luxor into two parts: the East Bank and the West Bank.
The East Bank of Luxor is the location of Luxor town. This is where most Egyptians live and work and it is also where you will find the majority of hotels and restaurants.
There are just a few notable sites to visit on this side of the river, but two of these (Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple) are two of the most spectacular sites to visit in Egypt.
The West Bank of Luxor is where the ancient Egyptians buried the dead. Each night, the sun sets on the West Bank, so this became the necropolis, the area that is filled with tombs and mortuary temples, including the famous Valley of the Kings.
You can visit both the East and West Banks in one very busy day, but for the best experience, we recommend spending a minimum of two full days in Luxor.
How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (points of interest, where to eat, where to stay). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
Best Things to Do on the East Bank of Luxor
Karnak Temple is the second largest temple complex in the world (Angkor Wat in Cambodia is the largest). For over 2,000 years, starting in 2000 BCE, temples, monuments, and buildings were added to the complex. Approximately 30 pharaohs added something to the Karnak Temple Complex.
There are four main sections to Karnak Temple: the Precinct of Amun-Ra, the Temple of Mut, the Precinct of Montu, and the Temple of Amenhotep IV. The Precinct of Amun-Ra is open to the public and you can visit the Temple of Mut with a special ticket.
Karnak Temple is the second most visited site in Egypt, coming in right behind the Pyramids of Giza.
Karnak Temple in Photos
Your first view of Karnak Temple is from an avenue of ram-headed sphinxes that sit in front of the massive first pylon. These sphinxes are a symbol of the god Amun.
Once you pass the first pylon, you will be standing in the forecourt. There is a large statue of Ramesses II, which has a statue of his daughter between his feet.
Next is the famous, awe-inspiring Great Hypostyle Hall. For us, this was the highlight of our visit to Karnak (and you will be able to tell, judging by the number of photos below).
134 massive columns, constructed to look like papyrus and covered with intricate carvings, fill this hall. This hall was begun by Amenhotep III but it was not completed until the reign of Seti I. Ramesses II added decorations to the pillars and walls in the hall.
From the Great Hypostyle Hall, you move into the older sections of Karnak Temple. These sections are smaller and lack some of the grandeur of what you just saw. Since each pharaoh wanted to outdo the ones before him, it is the newer sections that are larger and more awe-inspiring.
From the Great Hypostyle Hall, you move into the second court. From here, you can continue to the Temple of Thutmose III and walk through the southern axis towards the Temple of Mut.
Broken obelisk of Hatshepsut
Cost: 220 EGP per adult; 110 EGP with valid student ID
Camera Ticket: camera tickets are not required; photos with cameras, cellphones, and DSLR’s are permitted without a special ticket
Hours: May through September 6 am to 6 pm; October through April 6 am to 5 pm
Best Time to Visit Karnak Temple: In the morning before 10 am. Get here by 7 am if you want to visit Karnak before the crowds. We arrived at 8:15 am and there were just a few people here. By the time we left, at 10 am, tour buses were dropping off large groups of people. The most crowded time to visit Karnak Temple is from 10 am to 4 pm.
How Long Does a Visit Last: Roughly two hours, if you include the Karnak Open Air Museum (listed next)
Karnak Open Air Museum
The Karnak Open Air Museum contains the blocks and reconstructed shrines from other parts of the Karnak Temple Complex. You can see the White Chapel of Senusret, the Red Chapel of Hatshepsut, the calcite shrine of Amenhotep II, statues of the goddess Sekhmet, and numerous blocks covered with intricate carvings.
The Karnak Open Air Museum is included on your ticket to the Karnak Temple Complex.
Red Chapel of Hatshepsut with the calcite shrine of Amenhotep II in the background
Carvings inside of the Red Chapel
White Chapel of Senusret
Luxor Temple looks and feels like a smaller version of Karnak Temple, although this temple served a different purpose than many found in and around Luxor. This temple is not dedicated to one particular god or pharaoh. Instead, it may have been where many of the kings of ancient Egypt were crowned. This temple was built in 1400 BC, mostly by Amenhotep III and Ramesses II.
When you stand before the first pylon, you see two enormous statues of Ramesses II that guard the temple. Only one obelisk sits in front of the first pylon. The second obelisk can be found at Place de la Concorde in Paris.
From the first pylon, you enter the Court of Ramesses II. It is here that you can also see the Mosque of Abu al-Haggag.
Walk through a colonnade of papyrus columns to the immense court of Amenhotep III. Beyond this are antechambers. One of these was converted into a church by the Romans in the 4th century AD. The walls were plastered and painted with Christian paintings.
Cost: 180 EGP per adult; 90 EGP per student with valid ID
Camera Ticket: camera tickets are not required; photos with cameras, cellphones, DSLR’s are permitted without a special ticket
Hours: 6 am to 9 pm
Best Time to Visit: Our guide said that sunset at Luxor Temple is astonishing. We arrived at 10:45 am, immediately after visiting Karnak Temple, and crowds were still relatively light. I imagine that if you go early, you could almost have Luxor Temple all to yourself.
How Long Does a Visit Last: We spent one hour here.
This museum opened in 1975 and it contains artifacts that were found in the Luxor area, as well as artifacts from the tomb of King Tutankhamun. A visit here typically lasts about one hour.
Cost: 140 EGP per adult; 70 EGP per student with valid ID
Camera Ticket: camera tickets are not required; photos with cameras, cellphones, DSLR’s are permitted without a special ticket
Hours: 9 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 9 pm
This is a small, somewhat interesting museum about the mummification process. Not only can you see mummified people but there are also mummified cats, birds, and crocodiles. A visit here typically lasts 30 minutes.
Cost: 100 EGP per adult; 50 EGP per student with valid ID
Camera Ticket: 50 EGP; no charge for photos with a cellphone
Hours: 9 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 9 pm
Avenue of the Sphinxes
Recently, a huge restoration project is unearthed the 2.7 km (1.7 mile) Avenue of Sphinxes that link Karnak and Luxor Temples. This is an ancient processional road that was used in a festival once a year when the statues of Amun and Mut were paraded from Karnak to Luxor Temple. It is estimated that 1350 sphinxes line this ancient road.
The Avenue of the Sphinxes opened in late 2021. Visitors to the East Bank of Luxor can now walk from Karnak to Luxor Temple on this ancient processional route.
You can enter the Avenue of the Sphinxes at either end or in the middle. From what I understand, if you plan to walk the entire Avenue, you will need a ticket for both Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple. So, if you start at Karnak, at the halfway point, you will need to show a ticket for the Luxor Temple to continue, or show your Luxor Pass.
One of our readers made the suggestion to walk just the section near Luxor Temple. It’s easier to find and this end of the Avenue has the most sphinxes. It’s also the section shown in our photo below.
Avenue of the Sphinxes
Is the Luxor Pass Worth It?
The Luxor Pass is a single ticket that includes all of the archaeological sites on the West Bank and East Bank of Luxor. There are two versions of this pass.
The standard Luxor Pass includes all of the sites on the East and West Bank, with the exception of the tombs of Seti I and Nefertari. The Luxor Pass costs $100 USD for adults, $50 USD for people under 30 years with a valid student ID card. In euros, the fee is €90 for adults and €45 for students.
The Premium Luxor Pass includes all of the archaeological sites on the East and West Banks, as well as the tombs of Seti I and Nefertari. The Luxor Premium Pass costs $200 USD for adults, $100 USD for people under 30 years with a valid student ID card. In euros, the fee is €180 for adults and €90 for students.
If you plan to visit Luxor for two days, with visits to everything we list here for the East Bank, as well the main sites on the West Bank, then the Luxor Pass might be worth it (currently, the US dollar is very strong in Egypt so it could be cheaper to purchase your entrance tickets individually). If you also plan to visit both of the tombs of Seti I and Nefertari, then the Premium Pass might also be worth it. The pass is valid for 5 days.
The Luxor Pass can be purchased at Karnak Temple and the Valley of the Kings. You will need your passport, a photocopy of your main passport page, as well as a passport photo. Students will need a valid student identification card. To purchase the Luxor Pass, you will pay with US dollars or euros and these need to be crisp, new dollar bills or euros.
Luxor Pass + Cairo Pass
The Cairo Pass works the same way as the Luxor Pass. The pass costs $100 USD and gives you free entry into all of the sites in Cairo, Giza, Dahshur, and Saqqara. It is valid for five days.
If you purchase both passes, you get a discount. If you purchase the Cairo Pass at full price you get 50% off of the Luxor Pass.
Cairo Pass + Standard Luxor Pass: $100 USD + $50 USD = $150 USD
Cairo Pass + Premium Luxor Pass: $100 USD + $100 USD = $200 USD
If you plan to purchase both passes together, your best bet is to do this at the Cultural Affairs Department (I have also seen it written as the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities office) in Cairo.
LEARN MORE: Luxor Pass and Cairo Pass: Are They Worth It?
Planning Your Time
If you start early, you can see everything listed above before 2 pm. Here is a sample itinerary for the East Bank of Luxor (this is the itinerary that we followed).
8 am: Karnak Temple and the Open Air Museum
10:30 am: Luxor Temple
12:00 pm: Mummification Museum
12:45 pm: Luxor Museum
At 2 pm, our guide took us to the Aboudi Coffee Break, for a late lunch. This restaurant sits across from Luxor Temple and since it is on the second level, it has a great view of the temple (and the food is good too).
With more time, you can add on a visit to the Luxor market (a shopping street filled with souvenirs, scarves, spices…similar to Khan el Khalili in Cairo) or ACE – Animal Care in Egypt (a free center that gives care to neglected and abused animals).
In the evening, you can return to Karnak Temple for the Sound and Light Show. Or, head back to Luxor Temple to watch the sunset.
If you like the idea of visiting Karnak before the crowds, get here at 7 am.
Getting to Luxor
Most visitors will arrive in Luxor by plane or by Nile cruise, but you can also get here by train and by car.
The Luxor International Airport is located 7 km east of the city of Luxor. To get to your hotel, you can hire a taxi at the airport or arrange for a driver (we hired a driver through our hotel).
If you are cruising the Nile River, your tours of the East and West Banks should be included with your cruise.
You can travel by train from Luxor to Cairo and Aswan. Express trains from Cairo to Luxor typically take 10 hours. The best way to do this is to take an overnight, sleeper train between Cairo and Luxor. Sleeper cabins range from $80 to $110 USD for a one-way fare. First-class tickets average 200 EGP and 2nd class tickets average 120 EGP.
If you plan to travel between Luxor and Aswan by train, this typically takes 2.5 to 3.5 hours, with tickets costing 65 EGP to 95 EGP.
You can also drive from Luxor to Aswan (or vice versa). A taxi costs approximately 1400 EGP (based on the information provided by our hotel in Luxor). You can do what we did and hire Egypt Tailor Made for the drive, visiting Esna, Edfu, and Kom Ombo on the way.
Getting Around the East Bank of Luxor
You can get around the East Bank of Luxor by taxi, walking, or by hiring a guide and driver.
Guide and Driver
We recommend getting around by private guide and driver. All of your transportation is taken care of and you get to tour Karnak Temple, Luxor Temple, and the museums with a knowledgeable Egyptologist. We hired Egypt Tailor Made.
If you are staying on the East Bank of Luxor, you can expect to pay 200 – 300 EGP to hire a taxi to take you to Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, and the museums. However, this price depends on your negotiating skills. Make sure you have agreed on the price and the places you plan to visit before getting in the taxi.
View of Luxor Temple from Aboudi Coffee Break
Where to Eat in Luxor
Al-Sahaby Lane is one of the highest-rated restaurants in Luxor. This restaurant serves a mix of Egyptian and Mediterranean dishes.
Sofra Restaurant is another highly-rated restaurant that serves Egyptian food.
If you are looking for good pizza and pasta, go to Pizza Roma-it. For good Indian food, go to A Taste of India. And if you are looking for a bar, put The Kings Head Pub and Restaurant on your list.
And finally, Aboudi Coffee Break is a café that has a very nice view of Luxor Temple.
Where to Stay on the East Bank of Luxor
Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor. This hotel is one of the top luxury hotels in Luxor. It is centrally located in the city, with views of the Nile River and within walking distance of the Luxor Temple.
Hilton Luxor Resort and Spa. This is where we stayed and it was our favorite hotel in Egypt. The views of the Nile River and the balloons that drift over the West Bank are magical. The rooms are large, clean, and quiet. There are several onsite restaurants, a pool, and a fitness room. We loved this place and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again.
Nefertiti Hotel Luxor. This hotel overlooks the Luxor Temple. Rooms can accommodate up to four people. Breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace.
If you have any questions about the East Bank of Luxor, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information about Egypt
LUXOR: In our guide Best Things to Do in Luxor, get an overview of places to go on the East Bank and West Bank. We also have a photo tour of the Tomb of Queen Neferatari, a guide to the Valley of the Kings, and how to day trip to Dendera and Abydos.
ASWAN: For a list of the top experiences, read our article Best Things to Do in Aswan. We also have a guide on how to visit Kom Ombo, Edfu, and Esna while driving between Aswan and Luxor.
PYRAMIDS OF GIZA: Plan your visit with our article How to Visit the Pyramids of Giza. We also have an article about where to get the best views of the pyramids.
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.
Read all of our articles about Egypt in our Egypt Travel Guide.
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First, thanks for this amazingly detailed articles about Luxor. I’m going tomorrow and was wondering whether drones are allowed on sites or if they’re prohibited on the main tourist sites (valley of kings, valley of Queens, Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple).
Not that I particularly plan to use it, but I had in my bag for at the Giza pyramids and had to leave it with the driver because it was forbidden to enter the site with it.
Thanks for your help,
Hello Steven. I don’t know the drone rules for Egypt. It would be awesome to get aerial views of the temples but I do not know if it is allowed. Hopefully you can learn more on a Google search or maybe if you have a guide, see if they know the answer. I hope you have a great time in Luxor. Cheers, Julie
Hello Steven. Unfortunately the use of drones is not allowed in Egypt.
I´ll be travelling to Luxor on a tight schedule and have a question: are karnak and luxor temples hours still the same in 2021?
Thank you for all your info, it´s been very usefull and fun to read.
Greetings from Mexico.
Hello Roy from Mexico. 😊 As far as I know, hours have not changed in Luxor. Cheers, Julie
I’ve read MANY blogs in my preparation for my trip to Egypt and have found your information to be exceptional! Very concise and full of very helpful tips. Thank you! One question I had was would I be better off booking my flights on Egyptair in country or from the US? We will be traveling in June 2021 and from what I’ve read, there aren’t many tourists in Egypt currently due to Covid, although it is picking up.
Thank you!! We booked all of our Egypt Air flights from home (in the USA) well in advance of our trip. But it was December 2018 and a very busy time to be in Egypt. Even now, if if were me, I would book our flights in advance, just to make sure you get the times and days that you want. I hope you have a wonderful time in Egypt and don’t hesitate to write back in if you have any more questions. Cheers, Julie
Your website has been extremely helpful as I plan a trip to Egypt in October. It is well-written, yet concise. I will be referring to your information regularly prior to departure. Thank you, Shukron,
PS I am trying to learn Egyptian Arabic. While I will not be fluent before I get there, I will at least be polite. 🙂
Hello Donna. That’s awesome that you are learning Arabic. It’s not necessary but it will be extremely helpful and polite. Have a great time! Cheers, Julie