Luxor is one of Egypt’s most spectacular cities to explore. The west bank of Luxor offers more than 14 ancient archaeological sites. Being surrounded by these historic sites that are more than 5000 years old is so inexpiable and it gives me shivers writing about it. Believe us, Luxor needs some time to explore entirely. We stayed in Luxor for 4 days and that was just enough for us to visit the few temples we wanted to see. Our hotel was located on the West Bank and it certainly is one of the most welcoming places we have stayed at in Egypt. During our stay we met quite a few people that had less time than us and still trying to squeeze everything into two days. Although this is doable, it is a little exhausting (especially in the heat) and you have to know exactly what you want to do and what places you want to visit before you arrive. If two days is your max then our recommendation is to go to the West Bank of Luxor for one day and the east side on the other day.
Dave and I are always up for adventure, that’s why we decided to explore Luxor differently than most other tourists. We hired bicycles! Our lovely host Abu Naga recommended a bike rental shop down the road which did not require any deposit. We paid 80 EGP per day for 2 bicycles which is about 4€. The scenery is amazing, cycling on dirt roads, through banana fields to the ancient sites of West Bank makes for THE perfect day in Luxor.
And if you’ve already been to Luxor, you can check out Hurghada as your next destination ;-)
Important note: to be able to follow this itinerary, stay in West Bank and get your bicycle the night before to be able to catch the sunrise. We can highly recommend the hotel 555 Studios & Flats and you can simply book it here.
Get up and make yourself a cup of coffee (yes we brought our own). We don’t know about you guys, but we love our coffee in the morning SO much that it is part of our daily routine.
Swing your butt into gear and get on the bike and start cycling towards the Valley of the Kings. It will be twilight by now so it is super simple to find the way. The whole ride is about 8 km and it takes about 40 minutes. Be prepared to ride on dirt roads and through banana fields. Once you’ve turned right at the police station you will be on the main road towards the Valley of the Kings. To your left you will be seeing up to 20 hot air balloons filled with tourists to capture the sunrise over the Nile. To your right you will be seeing the sun rising slowly over the Nile and the first rays of the sun break through the palm trees onto your skin.
By now you should arrive at the Valley of the Kings. The ride is slightly uphill but you will be fine with a normal bike without any extra gears. At this time of the day there won’t be many other tourists, maybe up to 5 tour buses. At the ticket counter you will be asked what ticket you want to buy. You have a few options here:
Standard ticket which includes entrance to 3 tombs (200 EGP).
Photo ticket which includes entrance to 3 tombs and allows you to take pictures throughout your visit. Be aware that guards are walking around and checking your tickets when you take photos. So if you want to take pictures it is highly recommended to get this option (300 EGP).
Extra tickets for specific tombs not included in the standard ticket. In general you can say you pay 100 EGP per extra tomb, for Tutankhamun you will pay an additional 250 EGP.
It’s starting to get very crowded in the Valley of the Kings and it is time to move on. Get back on the bike and enjoy the downhill ride to the first intersection you reach coming from the Valley of the Kings. Turn right and make your way to the temple of Hatshepsut. It is an easy 6 km cruise.....explain more of the importance of this temple.
Sit down for a cool drink at the temples cafe. It will be very hot by now and you probably will need some rest in the shade before you go back on the bike. If you didn’t bring any snacks, the cafe will have a few options to choose from.
It will still be quite hot, BUT we are in Egypt after all. Swing yourself on the bike again and take the very first right just behind the police control station of Hatshepsut temple. YES it is a dirt road and it IS the right way to take. Remember we are on an adventure. This way will lead you to the Tombs of the Nobles and is easy to miss. Each tomb cost you 40 EGP entrance, but this will be money well spent. The tombs you will see here are some of the best well kept and intact tombs you will find in Egypt (and they do not have the same crowds as Valley of Kings)
Not mesmerized yet? Don’t worry the best temple is yet to come. From the Tombs of Nobles we will be making our way to Madinat Habu which is only another 1.5 km away. On the way you will pass the temple of Merenptah which is not super spectacular but it is for free. Also on the way and for free are the Colossi of Memnon. It is a pair of huge Egyptian statue figures, the only remains of the ancient temple of King Amenhotep III.
Head back up the street towards Madinat Habu and stop at Cafe Maratonga for a refreshing lemon-mint juice. If you haven’t tried this drink before, go ahead and order it. It is super tasty and only cost you 10 EGP, well deserved on a hot day riding bicycles through Egypt.
Now you are well recovered after a small break and your juice, walk over to the temple of Madinat Habu. This will be your highlight of the day. We visited this temple last, because a local cafe owner named Mohammed recommended us to see this temple during “golden hour”. He explained that the light gets incredibly beautiful during the afternoon hours. And it surely does. We can definitely say that this was our favourite temple out of all temples in Luxor. The paint is so well kept and the hieroglyphs are set very deep into the stone mainly because when the temple was occupied by Christians they plastered over the intricate hieroglyphs and protected them from erosion. However now the plaster is removed and we get to marvel at the wonder!
Now it is time to cycle back. Enjoy the beautiful light on your way home to your hotel and watch the kids playing on the streets. This last ride is about 4 km and will take you about 20 minutes if you take it easy. Egypt tends to come alive at this hour and you will see many more people amongst the side street shops and bazaars.
It is time for a relaxing treat! Stop in at Sunflower Restaurant, get a beer and watch the sunset. You can stay here for dinner, they have a really great set menu for 92 EGP which included a main dish, side salad, cooked veggies, babaganoush and bread, oh and a dessert too!
To top of the day (and our favourite place to eat) wander over to the Nile view Restaurant. It’s interior is super cute and the food is homegrown on their own farm. It goes without saying that the food is super tasty and cheap! Make sure to give them a little tip.
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