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- 20 Jan 2020, 3 nights
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In Luxor, it's easy to imagine that you've travelled back in time to the Egypt of storybooks. Once the seat of mighty pharaohs, it's packed full of magnificent monuments, temples and world-famous sites like Tutankhamun's tomb. Divided by the River Nile, Luxor's treasures are nestled among palm groves, mango trees and sweeping desert sands. The sheer scale of this ancient landscape is awe-inspiring – you could spend days exploring and leave with still more to see.
Stay in a Luxor hostel in a family-run camp set in a lush oasis, luxe accommodation in a traditional village or a chilled-out hostel in the heart of Luxor City. Some Luxor hostels have roof terraces where you can look out over the Nile, or a swimming pool for cooling off beneath the Egyptian sun. A few even have Jacuzzis available for free use. You'll find hostels in Luxor with complimentary pick-ups from the railway station as well as bike rentals to help you get around.
The Nile runs through the heart of Luxor. In ancient times, the east bank was known as the City of the Living and the west as the City of the Dead. Today, most accommodation still clusters on Luxor's east bank alongside markets and food stalls, with the two major areas for visitors centring around Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple. The west bank of the river leads into the legendary Valley of the Kings and the rock-hewn temple of Hatshepsut, an infamous female pharaoh.
Graceful Luxor Temple is known for its long avenue of sphinxes and giant statues of Rameses II – go at night to enjoy cooler air temperatures and see the hieroglyphic-inscribed pillars lit up. You can stand in awe of tomb murals meant to help royals journey into the afterlife in the Valley of the Kings, or head off the beaten track to the Tombs of the Workers. When you've had your fill of sightseeing, take a sunset felucca (a traditional Egyptian sailing boat) down the winding Nile as farmers herd their livestock home for the night.
The easiest way to get here is by sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor's El-Mahata Square. This will take around 9 hours, with views of the Egyptian countryside and the Nile along the way. You can also fly into Luxor International Airport, which serves mostly domestic flights from Cairo, then grab a 20-minute taxi into the city. To get around, hire a bicycle or car, arrange a private taxi or catch ferries going across the river.