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Luxor at night is, in a word, magical. As the sun sets over the West Bank, the moon rises to bring the starry sky which glitters on the river Nile each evening. It’s effortlessly romantic and you’ll have to pinch yourself to believe it.
There are plenty of things to do in Luxor at night. Once the evening begins, the sun-kissed temples of the day are lit up to dazzle you.
There are plenty of traditional Egyptian restaurants to enjoy a tasty dinner and you can even explore Luxor on foot and enjoy the cool breeze.
It’s very safe here for tourists at night compared to the likes of Cairo, so you have nothing to fear.
If you’re struggling to find something to do in the evenings, here are 8 magical ideas for things to get up to in Luxor at night!
The top 8 magical things to do in Luxor at night
1. Get spooked at Karnak temple light and sound show
Out of all the light and sound shows of Egypt, this is the one you cannot miss!
Although the others are a ‘sit-down-and-observe’ type of scenario, Karnak allows you to walk around different parts of the temple while the show is going on. This allows you to be in amongst the action which is so much cooler.
It’s actually quite eerie as you walk around the temple at night and you finish off with a grand finale opposite the lake to see the whole of Karnak (the old city of Thebes) lit up.
The show costs £250EGP (£10 approx.) and doesn’t take place unless there are ten people or more. The first showing is at 7 pm and I would advise you to get here early and head straight to the front by the rope. Otherwise, if you’re short like me, you won’t be able to see much behind the crowds until the end!
This show really blew me away and was my absolute favourite. It allows you to see Karnak in a completely different light.
Unlike Cairo, the first showing isn’t always in English. For show times and languages, see here.
Make sure you stick around at the end for photos. The guards will allow you for a small baksheesh (tip).
2. Be dazzled by Luxor temple
If you thought that Luxor temple was breathtaking to behold in the day, then the nighttime will blow you away.
You don’t have to watch a light and sound show here, the temple is completely lit up and allows visitors until 10 pm. But, you won’t be alone. I didn’t think it was possible, but it’s actually busier in Luxor temple at night than in the day.
The cool temperatures of the evening attract tour groups like a moth to the flame. So, if you wanted to experience it without the crowds, I’d come for opening in the morning at 6 am.
Although it was difficult to get photos here, I still enjoyed my visit. The figures and pillars looked so dramatic against the night sky.
You will need to buy two tickets to see it twice on the same day. So, it’s not a massive fee, and seeing it both ways was spectacular.
3. Take a horse and carriage ride along the Corniche
Taking a horse and carriage ride in Luxor is pretty special. I know what you’re thinking; way too expensive! But compared to the West, horse and carriage rides here are dirt cheap.
They’re exactly like taxis or rickshaws (three-wheelers). Rides cost anything from £50EGP (£2) – £200EGP (£8) depending on how long you hire one for and how far the destination is.
Taking one along the Corniche road by the Nile and through the city is a blast. You can see the ships, Luxor temple, the mosques, hear the call to prayer and even go through the markets.
Unfortunately, my experience wasn’t so magical. After the carriage driver followed me down the road to the restaurant that evening, I got terribly sick. I’d had a cough all day but it got worse and I started to vomit (I know, classy). My lungs felt like they were on fire and I started to cry! I was so scared. The carriage driver asked if he could take me to a pharmacy.
I accepted and he took me to get medicine and even took me for a hot lemon tea at the local shop to soothe my throat. I was alone and so this kindness really comforted me.
It sounds awful but this really transformed my opinion of the taxi drivers in Egypt. I was wary of being scammed but they were there for me when I didn’t even expect it. Not everyone is out to get you and human kindness can be found in the most unlikely place.
4. Taste yummy traditional Egyptian cuisine at Sofra
Sofra is, without a doubt, the best restaurant in Luxor. It’s highly recommended in all the guidebooks and I have to agree. I ended up in here twice as the food was so good!
The menu is a journey through Egypt and showcases many traditional dishes and local flavours. On reflection, I didn’t have many good dishes in Egypt but Sofra sticks out in my mind as being one of the best meals I had.
I ordered the Fatta Bil Moza, a lamb shank casserole served on a bed of rice and bread crumbs with yoghurt sauce and an Egyptian mint tea while I was here. The owners were so kind and even brought me out bread and a starter complimentary!
The best part is the food is so reasonable in price. My lamb and a tea cost just over £100EGP (£4) which is a steal in Luxor. Many of the restaurants in the city have hiked up tourist prices.
The best seats are upstairs on their terrace. Reservations are recommended for the evening, but I just turned up for lunch and got a seat straight away.
5. Dine at the Winter Palace and take a night cap at their Royal Bar
Even if you’re not a resident of the Old Winter Palace, you can still go inside and eat at their restaurants including 1886 and the Corniche. 1886 is a formal fancy restaurant, whereas the Corniche is an alfresco BBQ buffet in their lush gardens.
My favourite of them all was their bar and restaurant, Royal Bar. It almost looked like a gentleman’s study with chesterfield sofas, a fireplace, Egyptian carpets, and classic paintings hanging on the walls.
Here, they have a bar serving a massive range of potions including cocktails, wine by the glass, and beer.
I tried their Croque Monsieur which was delicious, the ketchup came in cute mini jam jars and had so many fries I swear I would burst! It was actually reasonably priced at £100EGP (£6) and the wine was the same price. Drinking is not cheap in Egypt!
6. Sail the Nile under a starry sky on a falucca
A felucca ride on the Nile is a must when in Luxor or Aswan. There’s no better feeling than watching the sun go down while sailing and when the stars come out it’s even better.
A felucca is a traditional sailboat that is completely manoeuvred by hand. It usually requires two men to control, both men need to row oars on each side. At one point, the captain was climbing up the top of the mast like a tree to allow the sails to catch the wind!
Although you can arrange a felucca ride with your hotel. I went down the East Bank and negotiated for a ride there. These usually last one to two hours depending on how much you want to pay. I organised a private one-hour ride for £300EGP (£13) which he extended as we couldn’t pull in due to the lack of wind.
But, don’t expect to go anywhere fast. The felucca’s need a lot of breeze to set sail and your speed completely depends on it.
When I went, there was hardly any breeze so we just ended up floating for an hour. No hope of reaching Banana Island for us! The views, however, were magnificent and more than made up for it.
7. Try a night at the Luxor Museum
The Luxor Museum opened its doors in 1975 and displays antiquities gathered from Thebes (ancient Luxor) and the Necropolis, the Valley of the Kings.
After having been to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, I gave this one a miss.
But, unlike Cairo, this museum is meant to be a lot easier to explore as it has English signs to tell you what everything is. In Cairo, they don’t do that so you hire a guide to explain – figures!
Highlights at Luxor Museum are the red granite head of Amenhotep III, the cow-goddess head from the tomb of Tutankhamun, and a wall of 283 painted sandstone blocks from a dismantled temple in Karnak for Amenhotep IV.
Opening times are 9 am – 4 pm, then 5 pm – 10 pm each day. A perfect way to spend a cultural evening in Luxor!
8. Go Shopping!
Of course, in Luxor you can go shopping at any time of the day and night! One of my favourite things to do when I travel. I love finding interesting local souvenirs and in Egypt there are so many!
Beyond the typical tourist souvenirs of Anubis keyrings and Tutankhamun magnets. You can get some high-quality items like 18carat gold, alabaster, perfumes, papyrus scrolls, carpets, and spices.
But, please be careful when purchasing. There are many scams in the markets in Egypt and you may be quoted a huge price for a fake.
Speaking from personal experience, I was scammed for my 18carat gold and was charged almost $250 over what the price should be. The police got involved and I got my money back but I learned a big lesson. That’s a blog post for later ;)
Please go to an official government-approved tourist shop or institute to buy products. The price may be higher but you’ll know that it comes from Egypt, it’s made by local craftsmen and it’s a genuine product.
Common scams are Chinese stone sold as alabaster, plastic sold as saffron, banana leaf sold as papyrus, 9-carat gold sold as 18carat or they don’t tell the truth about the weight and overcharge.
Top tip: Don’t shop with your guide! They usually have a relationship with the shop and will receive a commission percentage of what you bought. So, knowing that, the shop owner will bump up the price (for example in my scam it was $100 out of my pocket and I already tipped the guide a lot). If you’re on a tour group, this usually isn’t the case.
Is it safe in Luxor at night?
As a woman travelling alone in Egypt, I experienced no issues walking around Luxor by myself at night. The most bother I had were taxi drivers and boat owners wanting to sell me a ride!
I walked along the Corniche, to restaurants, and to Luxor temple at night and was totally fine. I did come back to my hotel latest around 10 pm however and I wouldn’t advise walking around in the early hours.
In the tourist sites like the museum, Karnak temple, and Luxor temple, you’re golden. They’re full of tour groups and enough security to sink a ship.
Compared to Cairo, things here are much more relaxed. But, if you didn’t feel comfortable, you can always grab a taxi or carriage for peace of mind.
How to get to Luxor in Egypt
If you’re starting off your journey in Cairo there are plenty of transport options to head down to Luxor.
Internal flights, with the likes of Egypt Air, are reasonably priced and offer a generous 23kg luggage allowance on board.
My flight to Luxor only took one hour and cost about £75 one way. But, you can book these for as little as £50 if you book well in advance. I always use Skyscanner to book flights.
You can take the overnight tourist train which leaves in the evening and stops at both Aswan and Luxor from Giza train station.
There are deluxe and standard options available. I would use an agency to book your tickets (the official Egyptian railway website is like pulling teeth to use) and check the man in seat 61 for train advice. He’s the go-to person for train travel information!
Although not as comfortable, the overnight bus is a more budget-friendly option. I would recommend GoBus, which also has an online app to book. See my full review of GoBus here.
Or, if you’re stopping here after your cruise from Aswan, I would highly advise you to stay an extra day to take in some of the sites! Luxor has so many attractions on offer beyond the ones that the tour groups visit.
How to travel around Luxor in Egypt
Unlike Cairo, there is no Uber here yet! So, you will need to haggle for transport and haggle hard! People will easily mislead you here and so it’s always worth negotiating and agreeing on the price of transport before you get in.
I will also warn you that the taxi vendors and carriage drivers are relentless here! They will hang outside hotels and pounce on you as soon as you walk out the door.
I wanted to walk to a restaurant 5 minutes away and was followed for that 5 minutes the whole way there.
I walked, while he followed alongside me in his carriage lol. It was constant and they didn’t get the message. So, I would ignore it or have a means of transport pre-booked with your hotel or an agency before you leave your hotel!
There are different ways to get around Luxor;
I wouldn’t recommend renting a car in Egypt, there wasn’t one I saw without a dent! I would opt to hire a private car or taxi to take you around the sites.
I’d hire one to take you over to the West Bank for temple-hopping one morning. Then another to visit Karnak and Luxor temple the next day. At night, I hired a cab to take me to Karnak both ways.
By Horse and Carriage
Luxor is very traditional and before cars were even a thing, horse and carriage ruled the scene.
Today, you will find many horse and carriages parked up along the Corniche to take you around the city. Again, make sure you negotiate.
Luxor is safe to walk at night along the Corniche, to reach restaurants, and to visit Luxor Temple which is centrally located. Karnak is a little further from the main hub of the city, so I wouldn’t walk there unless your hotel is close.
By engine boat/falucca
To cross over the Nile to the West Bank is actually a quicker option than driving by car. It will cut the journey by 30 minutes! Or you can visit Banana island as well. there are two options;
- Falucca – a must in my opinion but not if you need to get somewhere fast! These boats are manoeuvred by hand and require wind to sail quick.
- Engine boat – a modern option and goes much faster than a falucca. Perfect for hopping over to the West Bank in a hurry.
Where to stay in Luxor
There are plenty of options to suit all budget types but my personal favourite is a classic.
The Old Winter Palace Luxor is a historic hotel and a lasting legacy from the golden age of Egyptology. Lord Carnavorn himself announced the discovery of King Tutankhamun by Howard Carter at Valley of the Kings from its very steps in 1922.
Today it’s a Sofitel and a 5* resort which makes a statement on the edge of the East Bank of the Nile. For dates and rates available see here.
If you like Luxor by night, Luxor by day is a real treat!
There are plenty of things to keep you occupied in the evening hours in Luxor, but when the sun comes up it’s a world of possibilities!
You can head on up for an air balloon ride at sunrise over the Theban Necropolis. Temple hop in Luxor and Karnak (I’d recommend opening time at 6 am). Or, you can organise a half-day trip to the Temple of Hatshepsut, the Valley of the Kings, Madinat Habu, and the Colossi of Memnon.
Further afield you also have Kom Ombo Temple, the Temple of Edfu, Dendera, and Abydos.