This one day itinerary by bicycle will detail how to see the highlights of Luxor in Egypt. Mind you, two days at the very least should be considered. This would give the East and West Banks their own deserved day each. However, if you find yourself with just 1 day and don’t mind riding a bike, here is how to see the highlights.
Luxor | 1 Day Self Guided Bike Itinerary
Luxor is home to possibly the greatest open air museum in the world. If travelling to Egypt, you must add Luxor to your itinerary. The Karnak Temple, the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens were awarded UNESCO World Heritage site stature in 1979. Karnak Temple is actually considered the second largest ancient religious site in the world after Angkor Watt in Cambodia. The place is truly mind blowing. The history, the culture, the ambience.
Due to misconceptions about security and safety, Egypt has been given a bad rap of late. So people who travel to Cairo or Luxor in Egypt will usually book a tour group for peace of mind. I can assure you that Egypt is safe. You may just be left annoyed by locals that hassle you for business. Alas, travelling Egypt independently is certainly doable. Find details below!
Luxor 1 Day Itinerary Details
It’s a busy day: The sheer amount of archaeological sites to see in Luxor was admittedly initially overwhelming. So you will need to prioritise, be organised and start early. Don’t underestimate Luxor in Egypt. It will be one of the most incredible travel days all your life! But be prepared to be hassled and harassed for most of the day by locals trying to sell their services. It just comes with the territory.
This 1 day itinerary is possibly the most detailed of it’s kind. However, as aforementioned, having at least 2 days would actually be more ideal. Simply divide the East and West Bank over 2 days. Alternatively, have a read of Against the Compass and his very thorough Luxor 2 day itinerary.
I had actually initially planned to only go to Cairo and the White Desert on my trip. This was because I only had 5 days. But I realised that going to Luxor in Egypt was really a once in a life time opportunity. It was a must see. It had to be done! So I committed to this crazy itinerary in Luxor with under 24 hours to see it all. If you’re in my situation, I hope this guide helps.
MOOD Coffee: I arrived very early to my accommodation around 7am from Luxor International Airport. After dropping off some things I went to find breakfast. Walking along the Nile, MOOD Coffee seemed the closest cafe early. They delivered on a cheap and filling Egyptian style breakfast. I really enjoy trying different cuisines when travelling. But who doesn’t?
Renting a Bike for a 1 Day Luxor Itinerary
Bicycle Rental Mohamed Setouhy is the first stop. Here, hire a bike for the day for E£30 ($2USD). The people working here are honest and trustworthy. A rarity here! I actually struck up a nice conversation with one of the workers there. As part of the bike rental, I gave them my driver’s license. This would be returned to me when I returned the bike. When I arrived there to drop the bike off, the owner was in possession of my driver’s license but had ducked away from the shop. It was about a 10 minute wait until the licence was dropped off by the owner’s son. But the worker present at the shop gave me a seat and made sure I was comfortable. He spoke about how important tourism is to Luxor. It makes you wonder about these people during times like COVID-19 when there are travel bans.
SIDE NOTE: Like any bike hire, try it before you buy it. Ensure the lock works. I wan’t given a helmet. Admittedly, this is pretty unusual for bike hire. But sometimes in Egypt, anything goes! If you’re thinking that biking in the desert will be too tough, rest assured that the terrain is very flat. So even with the heat, if you’re reasonably fit, you’ll have no troubles biking around. Plus, if you enjoy exercising like me, biking will be lots of fun.
Extra Tips for Hiring a Bike in Luxor
You’ll be biking for most of the day. So I recommend you wear a decent backpack. which has supportive straps for the chest and hips. Make sure you do not store your wallet or phone in your pocket as it can easily fall out. That’s why I recommend a travel wallet or money belt/pouch. This should be placed in the backpack as you cycle.
1. Colossi of Memnon
Certainly use my map above to help guide you. Alternatively, use Maps.me. Your first archaeological site is Colossi of Memnon and only around 10-15 minutes away from the rental bike store. The site is casually positioned on the side of the road. There are two massive stone statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III that have stood there since 1350BCE. No entrance fee here. Unfortunately there was some restoration work being completed. That’s obviously great to keep these sites being maintained. But way to ruin my photo!
Nour El Gourna Hotel: Thereafter, you will need to head to the close by ticket office (located next to the Nour El Gourna Hotel). Buy tickets for Habu Temple. Price is E£60 ($3.80USD). If you have more time to explore the West Bank, other tickets of temples to buy here include Ramesseum Temple (E£60/$3.80USD), Temple of Seti I (E£60/$3.80USD), Merenptah (E£40/$2.50USD), Isis Temple (E£80/$5USD) and the Nobles Tombs. There are varying prices for various Nobles tombs. I was recommended Temple Seti I and the Nobles Tombs. They are both less touristy. However, they’re well preserved sites. The latter having exceptional hieroglyphs.
2. Habu Temple
This temple is the most underrated temple of Luxor, and Egypt for that matter. I can certainly testify to that. It wasn’t too crowded at 9am. The site was absolutely awe inspiring. The archaeological and artistic magnitude and brilliance is genuinely hard to put into words. Habu will be one of your favourite temples in Luxor. It was hard to pull myself away. But knowing there were many more sites to see, I headed off around 10:30am.
Unfortunately I would not have time to see the Valley of the Queens. For those with more time, the entrance fee of E£80/$5USD and the additional Queen Nefertari ticket of E£1,000/$66USD can be bought at the site itself.
3. Valley of the Kings
Afterwards, visit the Valley of the Kings. This is where the greatest pharaohs lay to rest in peace. Plan to arrive around 11-11:15am. Give yourself 2 hours to explore. Basically, a general entry ticket bought at the site is E£240 ($15USD). This includes 3 tombs of your choice. Which ones to choose? This was a very difficult decision. But Merneptah and Ramesses IV as two definite must sees. Thuthmose III is a solid third option. You can also buy a ticket to see the famous Tutankhamun for E£250 ($16USD) at this time. Perhaps seeing Tutankhamun is why you’re here in the first place!
One of the advantages of visiting independently was being able to explore the Valley of the Kings at my own pace. I was certainly short on time. But I felt even less rushed than many of the tour groups I saw. They were hurriedly whisked in and out of the temples! Seeing Tutankhamun was quite a surreal experience. But I can’t get over how outstandingly preserved the colour of the grand ceilings and graphics at Merneptah and Ramesses IV were. Unbelievable!
Afterwards, you will head to the West Bank ferry terminal. Board the ferry over to the East Bank to explore there for the afternoon. Bikes are allowed on the ferry. But do be considerate of the locals. Grab a quick shawarma or falafel on your way.
Head straight to Karnak Temple from the East Bank ferry terminal. This takes about 20-25 minutes cycling. The entrance fee is E£200 ($12.50USD). The other major site to see on the East Bank would be Luxor Temple which is actually open at night. So it would make sense to visit afterwards.
4. Karnak Temple
The Karnak Temple is the largest of the sites in Luxor and was considered the most important religious site in Ancient Egypt. I could only manage 2 hours here but another hour or two would be ideal. The temple is enormous. It took around 2,000 years to complete. Construction began in 2,000BCE! The highlight of the visit would be Hypostyle Hall in the Precinct of Amun-Re. It comprises 134 enormous decorated pillars arranged into 16 rows. Some of the columns are up to 21 metres tall with a diameter of over 3 metres. Getting lost here is a must!
5. Avenue of Sphinx
Linking Karnak and Luxor Temples is the Avenue of Sphinxes. Although you can’t seem to enter, you will have decent views of the fascinating pathway from Luxor Temple. This will be the last ancient site to visit today.
6. Luxor Temple
The Luxor Temple is another magnificent temple on the West Bank. The entrance fee is E£160 ($10USD). Arrive around 4-5pm. I explored the area for around 2 hours before hunger got the better of me! Constructed around 1300BCE, the site now sits interestingly in the heart of town. Thankfully, this doesn’t take away from its grandeur. Particularly, the statue of Ramses II is incredibly striking and poses well for a photo.
For those sensible enough to have more than 24 hours, I hear that Luxor Museum is worth a visit and is also E£160 ($10USD).
Luxor 1 Day Self Guided Bike Itinerary Recap
Exploring Luxor by bike is an amazing cultural experience. Should you spend more that just one day here? Absolutely. Yes! But if you only have a day to spare, this itinerary will help you see the highlights of the East and West Bank in Luxor. Of course, inevitably, you’ll have a very busy day. But it’s definitely worth it!
e-Visa: Other countries of the Middle East that I visited like Lebanon and Cyprus didn’t require a visa. However for a trip to Luxor in Egypt, a tourist visa is compulsory. You can buy at the border for $25USD. If you like to be prepared though, they’re easily purchased online in advance. Stupidly I made a typo on the request form. Thankfully, I was emailed to simply update the information provided and resubmit. No extra fees. Even with this, the application took only 3 days to process from when I initially submitted.
Getting to Luxor in Egypt
Flights: Because people generally fly into Cairo, you will likely need to travel to Luxor from there. The most common options would be to fly, catch a train or bus.
Being short on time, I chose an efficient 1 hour flight from Cairo to Luxor for $55USD with Egyptair. I booked with Trip.com using Skyscanner. If you have more time and want the cheapest route, consider Go Bus. The route costs $15USD but takes at least 12 hours.
The Overnight Train to Luxor
The train option is the most complicated. The journey will take 9 hours. To save on a night’s accommodation and make the most of your time in Egypt, an overnight train is possible. But it’s quite expensive at around $110USD. There is a misconception that foreign nationals can only travel by train on this particular overnight service. It is true that the Cairo train ticket office will not sell tourists regular daytime trains due to government restrictions. These have been in place since the 2009 terrorist attacks, supposedly so the government can assure safety of tourists. However, this smells of a money making scheme to get tourists to take the more expensive service.
To get around these restrictions, it is possible to book a standard domestic day train either online, using the self service machines at the station or even simply getting on the train and paying on board. The daytime train is also around 9 hours, but will cost only $15USD. For more information, read this thorough guide on how to travel by train in Egypt.
Getting from the Airport to Luxor
Taxi: There is no Uber in Luxor. So you will need to get a taxi. Be mindful that in Egypt, locals will always, and I mean always, try and overcharge you. A friendly, confident and assertive demeanor can help when negotiating prices in Egypt. Perfecting your disgruntled walk away to have them begging for you to come back may also assist! The price should be no more than E£50 (E£=Egyptian Pounds) ($3USD).
SIDE NOTE: Once you’ve left the airport, the taxi driver will then try to convince you to choose them as your tour guide. Furthermore, he will offer you a package. A courteous but firm no thank you or la shukran (Arabic) will not work. We went around in conversational circles for about 10 minutes. Finally, I told the driver that my favourite hobby was cycling. I would consider no other option other than riding a bike. He finally stopped the sale pitches!
Taxi to Accommodation in Luxor
More on the taxi: Your accommodation location, in regards to whether it’s located on the East or West Bank, will determine where you need to be dropped off. If located in the East Bank, you will simply be dropped off at your accommodation. The ride should take around 15 minutes.
However, if your accommodation is on the West Bank, the drive will be around 40 minutes as they will need to go a long way to cross the Nile River. In this case, the taxi will be E£100 ($6USD). But the driver will pitch hard for at least E£200 ($12USD). Avoid this unnecessary negotiation by getting dropped off at the ferry crossing in the East Bank. You will then board the local ferry across the Nile for E£5 ($0.30USD). Most accommodation in the West Bank will be close to its equivalent ferry terminal. Simply walk to your accommodation from there.
Accommodation in Luxor
Airbnb: I booked through Airbnb. They had really cheap rates for entire apartment flats. Please be wary whether your accommodation is located on the East or West Bank before booking! Places on the West Bank are generally cheaper as most people tend to think that staying on the East Bank is more convenient. Personally though, given this 1 day itinerary, the West Bank in Luxor is fine.
I stayed at the Nile Sunrise Flats for $12USD/night in a huge apartment with a nice balcony for sunset. The flats were only a 5 minute walk from the West Bank ferry terminal. Alternatively, you could use Booking.com. Admittedly, a lot of the Airbnb’s listed in Egypt are actually hotels. So using either to book accommodation online would be fine.
Getting out of Luxor
Flights: My crazily short itinerary would have me on a late night flight to Cairo. Airfares were $55USD with Egyptair. I booked through Trip.com using Skyscanner. For the other options of train and bus, simply reverse the journeys.
Other than visiting Luxor in Egypt, if you have time, you should consider visiting Aswan further south. Here are additional incredible ancient sites. To get there, a train is your best option taking around 3 hours. Price is no more than $2-3USD.
- The tourist visa: E£400 ($25USD).
- Return flight from Cairo: E£1,760 ($110USD).
- Return taxi to Luxor airport: E£100 ($6USD).
- Accommodation in Luxor: E£190 ($12USD).
- Bike hire: E£30 ($2USD).
- Local ferry crossings: E£20 ($1.20USD).
- Temple entrance fees: E£910 ($57USD).
- Food: E£400 ($25USD).
= E£3,830 ($240USD)
It’s not a cheap day. But it’s worth every penny! Plus, if you are not as rushed and can get a bus or train to Luxor in Egypt, that may reduce the costs by a further $50-100USD.
Five Travel Essentials for Biking Around Luxor
For a more comprehensive travel essentials list, please check out the Ultimate Packing Checklist. It’s a great general summary of everything you’d need for a trip. For even more information check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack – you’ll be exploring all day so you’ll need a reliable backpack to store your belongings.
- Karrimor 1L Clear Water Bottle x 2 – make sure to pack plenty of water. Cycling is the desert will have you feeling thirsty in no time!
- Phone with GPS for maps – for self-exploration, a phone with GPS makes life a lot easier.
- Anker PowerCore Portable Charger/Power Bank – it’s a long day, so make sure to charge your phone when possible.
- Ray-Ban Polarised Clubmaster Square Sunglasses – the sun shines bright in Luxor!
Consider downloading an online map before you set out. This will make life so much easier when navigating around Luxor. For those not so prepared, if you’re needing navigation help on the day and don’t have any phone reception, consider using Maps.me. Although you need to have at least downloaded the map of the general area beforehand.
- Hire a bike: Group tours can be expensive. Sometimes they will not even cover the costs of the entrance fees. So you may as well hire a bike and explore at your own pace.
- Catch the local ferry: Although there are quicker ways to cross the Nile such as a speed boat, you will only ever need to wait a maximum 15-20 minutes to get the ferry. It only takes around 10-15 minutes to cross. Also, it is oh so cheap at E£5 ($0.30USD) per trip.
- Haggle: a necessary evil of travelling countries like Egypt. I usually detest the thought of haggling, but with practice, you will come to not mind it as much. Don’t get upset or take haggling personally. It’s all part of the experience!
So there you have it – a Luxor 1 day itinerary! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send us an email.
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