Khentiamentiu Why Luxor is the new Sharm el Sheikh

A holiday in Egypt is perfect if you’re looking for a cheap package deal, usually to Sharm el Sheikh. But this year, why not try something different but still stay within your budget? Give Luxor a look and discover the ancient Egyptian capital, the sun-soaked banks of the River Nile and the many important temples and archaeological sites nearby. Where is Luxor?

Luxor is a city in southern Egypt, on the banks of the River Nile. It’s 500 kilometres south of Cairo, the capital of Egypt and it’s largest city. Between 1500 to 1000 BC it was Egypt’s most important city and the most respected rulers, including the famous King Tutankhamen, chose to be buried at the nearby Valley of the Kings. The city flourished, and many of the area’s most important sites, including the Luxor and Karnak Temples, were built during this time.

Egypt has experienced a tough few years, but growing numbers of us Brits are booking flights to Luxor, partly due to an increase in the number of flights you can catch there – March alone saw the launch of four new flights from Europe to the ancient capital. It’s also the Capital of Arab Culture for 2017. And then there’s the mummies…There have been quite a few exciting recent discoveries: in March, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced that scientists working in Luxor had discovered a statue of Queen Tiye, the grandmother of King Tutankhamen.

The Temple Complex of Karnak is one of Luxor’s most popular attractions. It’s an enormous complex of three main temples dedicated to the Theban Gods, and includes a lake and the Avenue of the Sphinxes, which was once several kilometres long, and connected the complex to the Temple of Luxor. The Valley of The Kings, on the outskirts of the city, has over 60 tombs, including the resting place of Tutankhamen. The sprawling Luxor Temple, which dominates the city’s downtown, and the Luxor Museum both deserve full-day visits if your looking for ways to escaping the sun. Other must-sees include the Temple of Deir el-Bahri, Medinet Habu (a beautifully-decorated temple on the Nile‘s western bank) and the Tombs of the Nobles – here you’ll have more than 400 tombs to explore! A great way to get around between all of the ancient sites is on a Nile cruise. Discover Egypt offers a number of fantastic cruises, including ones which stop in Aswan and Cairo.

The best time to go to Luxor is between March-April and October-November. The weather will still be warm but not stiflingly hot, and you’ll avoid the largest crowds, which usually descend on Luxor in winter. Temperatures peak between May and September. Remember that a visit to Luxor usually involves a huge amount of time outside, wandering around vast temple complexes and walking from one historic tomb to another. In other words, pack PLENTY of sun cream, and try to book outside of both the hottest and coldest months, during the UK’s spring and autumn.

Getting to Luxor is easy. Flights from the UK go via Cairo, and can be booked with a number of airlines including Turkish Airlines and EgyptAir. The flight time from the UK to Cairo is just under five hours, and flights from Cairo to Luxor take just over an hour. The cost of flights from London to Luxor start at around £407 for flights with Egyptair. Wondering how to get to Luxor from the airport? It’s just 10km away, and while most hotels in Luxor will organise a transfer, a cheaper option is to book with a transfer operator. You’ll pay around £20* for a return trip in a private car, or £7 for shared coach ride. An even cheaper option is to book one of the official taxis touting for business outside the airport, but be prepared to barter hard. Most drivers will start by quoting a rate which is double what you should actually pay, so aim to reduce their initial quote by at least 40%. Where to stay in Luxor

Some of Luxor’s best hotels can be found on the banks of the River Nile. Anyone who’s researched Luxor hotels online will find fantastic reviews of the Sofitel Winter Palace (from £77* per double room) a Victorian hotel with great views over the river. The Jolie Ville Kings Island Luxor (from £40 per single room) is on a small island, slightly away from the Luxor’s centre, but if you book a room here, you’ll be able to hop on the hotel’s courtesy boat, which runs throughout the day. If you’re looking for hotels in the centre of Luxor, opt for the Hilton Luxor Resort and Spa (from £124 per single room). You’ll find a beautiful swimming pool at this five-star hotel in Luxor and you’ll be just a short walk from the nearby ferry service to the Nile’s tomb-dotted west bank. It’s also a great option if you’re searching for a hotel near the airport, as it’s just a 10 minute drive away.