A Modern City
It is difficult to imagine a modern city more connected to ancient history than Luxor. Boasting a wealth of ancient Egyptian colour, mythology and archaeology within its own boundaries, it’s not for nothing that it’s known as the world’s greatest open air museum. Go, live in history, and you’ll see why. Luxor is truly monumental.
Luxor is a great place to shop for souvenirs, including carvings of gods, pharaohs and queens, papyrus illustrations and ornate glass scent bottles. Egyptian cotton can be another good buy. The souvenir boutique Caravanserai (West Bank) sells a sumptuous array of wall hangings, pottery, scarves and carpets and is well worth a look. Luxor’s souk or street market (East Bank) is another colourful place to browse for souvenirs, with reproductions of ancient Egyptian artefacts, papyrus scrolls, alabaster carvings, perfumes, antiques, reproductions, Egyptian robes and more, though here you should come prepared to haggle.
Food & Drink
Egyptian cuisine combines all sorts of delicious flavours that have developed over the centuries, combining different Middle Eastern influences and using seasonal local produce. One of the common staples is fava, which consists of lava beans served with oil, garlic and lemon juice, while kebabs and thick, tasty bread are other common dishes. You can sample such home-cooked traditional dishes at delicious Salahadeen (Salah Al Din Al Ayoubi), amongst other places. However, there are plenty of other cuisines on offer too, such as pizza at Pizza Roma-It (Joseph Street) or English cooking at the Lantern (Al Roda Al Sharifa Street).
West Bank Marathon
The Egyptian Marathon has to have one of the most dramatic settings in the world; runners start and finish at the glorious Hatshepsut Temple.
Moulid El Nabi
This is a grand celebration of the Prophet’s birthday. About a week beforehand stalls selling the traditional sugar dollies, dressed in beautiful bridal clothes, appear, and on the Holy Day itself there is much music, feasting and picturesque celebrations.
Luxor African Film Festival
This renowned film festival celebrates the best in contemporary African film, with lots of screenings, discussions and events.
Moulid of Abu el-Haggag
This traditional festival is Luxor’s largest, taking place in the Islamic month of Shaaban (one month before Ramadan), and pays homage to Luxor’s patron sheikh – ‘moulid’ means birthday – with a grand procession of decorative floats, as well as concerts, dramatic stick fights and horse races.
After the Ramadan fast during daylight hours, local Muslims gather after dark to hear zikrs and musicians on Midan el-Haggag, Luxor’s main square, where families also picnic en masse for three days after the end of Ramadan.
As one of Egypt’s major tourist magnets, Luxor has some fabulous hotels, especially at the luxury end of the market. The fantastic Steigenberger Nile Palace Luxor (Khaled Ben El-Walid Street) has sweeping Nile views, lush swimming pools and spacious rooms with balconies; The Maritim Jolie Ville Kings Island Luxor (Awameya Road) is a super sleek choice located on a private island; while the Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa (El Karnak El Gadid Street) is a splendid Nile-side option. However, there are also plentiful simpler hotels catering to those on smaller budgets, such as the charming Nefertiti Hotel Luxor (Al-Sahaby Lan).