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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.

This article was written with advice from our guide, Ali Elnaggar, an Egyptologist who lives and works in Luxor.

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

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.

Karnak Temple East Bank of Luxor

Ram Headed Sphinx East Bank of Luxor

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.

Karnak Temple Luxor

Inside Karnak Temple East Bank of Luxor

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.

Luxor East Bank

Karnak Temple Hypostyle Hall

Tim Rivenbark in Luxor

Kara Rivenbark in Luxor

Karnak with Ali East Bank of Luxor

Hypostyle Hall Karnak Temple

Papyrus Column

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.

Statues East Bank of Luxor

East Bank of Luxor Karnak

Pylon Karnak East Bank of Luxor

Obelisk Karnak Temple

Karnak East Bank of Luxor

Hatshepsut Obelisk East Bank of Luxor

Broken obelisk of Hatshepsut

 

Sacred Lake East Bank of Luxor

Sacred Lake

 

Ali Elnaggar

Ali Elnaggar, our guide in Luxor

Practical Information

Cost: 200 EGP per adult; 100 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. If you want to visit Karnak before the crowds, Ali recommends getting here by 7 am. 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 East Bank of Luxor

Red Chapel of Hatshepsut with the calcite shrine of Amenhotep II in the background

 Carving inside Red Chapel

Carvings inside of the Red Chapel

 

White Chapel of Senusret

White Chapel of Senusret

Karnak Museum

Luxor Temple

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.

Luxor Temple

Luxor Temple Egypt

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.

Ramesses Court

Ramesses Statue Luxor Temple

Tyler Rivenbark

Ramesses Statues Luxor

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.

Columns Luxor Temple

Amenhotep Court Luxor

Hypostyle Hall Luxor Temple

Christian Painting Luxor

Ali Tyler and Kara Luxor

Luxor Temple Relief

Practical Information

Cost: 160 EGP per adult; 80 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: Ali says 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.

Luxor Museum

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.

Luxor Museum

Tuthmosis III

Hieroglyphics

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

Mummification Museum

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.

Mummification Museum

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

Coming Soon: Avenue of Sphinxes

Currently, a huge restoration project is unearthing the 2.7 km 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.

Restoration work began in 2004 and it is expected to be completed by the end of 2020 or into 2021. When it opens, you will be able to walk from Karnak to Luxor Temple on this ancient processional route.

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 is worth it. If you also plan to visit both of the tombs of Seti I and Nefertari, then the Premium Pass is worth it. The pass is valid for 5 days.

The Luxor Pass can be purchased at the main antiquities administration offices as well as the ticket booths 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. 

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, Ali 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. 

Luxor at Night Ali

Luxor at Night

Luxor Temple at night (photo credit: Ali Elnaggar)

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. Ali Elnaggar was our guide not only in Luxor but also in Aswan. Ali is an Egyptologist with over 10 years of experience as a guide. He also works at Karnak Temple and lives in Luxor, so his range of knowledge is very extensive.

By Taxi

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.

Luxor Temple View

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.

Hilton Luxor Photo

Nefertiti Hotel Luxor. This hotel overlooks the Luxor Temple. Rooms can accommodate up to four people. Breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace.

Bob Marley Peace Hostel. This highly rated, budget hostel offers air-conditioned, dormitory-style rooms. It is just a 2-minute walk to get to Luxor Temple.


If you have any questions about the East Bank of Luxor, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information for Your Trip to Egypt:

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

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