Once part of the ancient city of Thebes that was the ruling seat of power in Egypt for 1,350 years, Luxor is now a major holiday destination, particularly for those interested in Ancient Egypt. The area boasts an exceptionally rich legacy of temples, tombs and monuments. Around these relics of Ancient Egypt's celebrated history are signs of the prosperous industry of the modern day - tourism.
Luxor © Peter J. Bubenik
Luxor town is crowded with souvenir shops, hotels and restaurants, while the Nile River carries past feluccas and luxury cruise ships. The streets are filled with the cries of shop owners, horse-drawn carriages (caleches), taxi drivers and tour guides, all offering their services to the newly arrived holidaymakers, whether wealthy tourists or economising backpackers.
Luxor's market, or souk, on Sharia el-Birka, as well as the tourist bazaar on Saria el-Karnak, offer scarves, scarabs, spices, carpets and other local souvenirs and curios to visitors and shopping here is less intimidating than in Cairo. The day-to-day activity on the streets of Luxor is almost as captivating as the ancient temples in the region.
Whereas the impressive structures of the Temples of Luxor and of Karnak are within the town itself, the biggest attractions lie on the West Bank across the Nile. Most visitors stay in Luxor and take boat rides across the river to the West Bank but it is also possible to stay on the West Bank of the Nile.
The mysteries of Ancient Egypt can be discovered by visiting some of Luxor's surrounding temples including Luxor Temple, Karnak, Ramesseum, Medinet Habu, the Temple of Hatshepsut and the exquisite Valley of the Kings, which should be visited as early in the morning as possible as limited tickets are sold daily to visit these ancient tombs.