For history lovers, Egypt is only comparable to Greece, Rome, or perhaps Turkey. But even among these three, Egypt stands a shoulder above the rest. It’s the civilization of Egypt that watered that of Greece—which in turn trickled to Rome before finally finding its way to Constantinople in present-day Istanbul. To understand the story of Egypt is to understand the history of western civilization.
And yet before the modern nation-states, life revolved around cities. And in the area that now constitutes the country of Egypt, Cairo and Luxor have lived to tell much of Egyptian history. For travelers, it’s always hard to choose which among the two to visit. That’s the reason we compare these treasure troves and advise travelers accordingly.
Here’s Why You Should Visit Luxor And Not Cairo
For those who cannot visit both Cairo and Luxor, choosing one of the two cities can be difficult. However, with our experience in the travel industry, we would easily say that Luxor is better than Cairo. First, Cairo has a rushed, pushy feeling that’s typical of many capital cities. It doesn’t help matters that most destinations of interest are in immediate proximity to the bustling city. Of course, the Pyramid of Giza, Egypt’s most visited site is a little outside the city’s wings.
The road distance is about 16.8 kilometers (10.4 miles). But even the much-loved Pyramids of Giza are set in an environment that many find unappealing or a little out of place. Travelers particularly do not like that KFC, the American fast-food restaurant chain, is just a couple of streets away from this historic site. It takes away some quaint, old-world charm—that such a site should exude. Cairo is also more touristy. There’ll be throngs of pushy sellers vying for the traveler’s ear (and money)— at moments many would want to quietly take in the touching solemnity and grandeur of the historical sites.
On the flipside, Luxor is a markedly different kettle of fish. There’s a way the 3,400-year-old city looks its age. And that’s just so appealing. The synchrony between the somber look of the historical monuments—and the grave, laid-back appearance of the immediate environment—makes one feel that he has indeed traveled back to the forgotten past. Luxor, unlike Cairo, also spots more greenery and lush foliage. And while someone will have to choose Cairo if she wants to see the Great Pyramids of Giza, it doesn’t mean that Luxor doesn’t have its fair share of historical masterpieces.
Must-see Attractions In Luxor, Egypt
The Karnak Temple Complex is a wonderful structure that’s so full of amazing history. The complex alone sprawls forlornly over a huge area of about 100 hectares. The complex was bigger than many ancient cities that sprung up in its heyday. It took around 2,000 years to build and complete this impressive temple complex. At the entrance to the Karnak Temple, a towering obelisk stretches to the clouds—and has the reputation of being the second-tallest ancient obelisk still standing on earth. That’s a structure whose melancholy walls everyone would want to look at.
Many visitors find that a trip to the largest open-air museum won’t be complete without experiencing the Luxor Sound and Light Show which highlights the dramatic history of the city of Thebes, as Luxor was then known. There’s also the Valley of the Kings containing more than 60 royal tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs. Not far away is Medinet Habu, the mortuary temple of Ramesses III—who is credited with constructing the imposing edifice. Still, some people prefer Cairo to Luxor.
Why Some Travelers Prefer Cairo To Luxor
While it’s our take that Luxor is a better travel destination than Cairo, travelers are not exactly the same—and some will still prefer Cairo to Luxor. Of course, Luxor can be extremely hot. It’s hotter than Cairo and since Cairo itself is not a Fairbanks-Alaska, that speaks to its sweltering conditions. Also, since Cairo is the capital of Egypt, the pulsating life that’s typical of any big city will be more pronounced in it. As a result, one is likely to find a broader culinary spectrum and a more active nightlife. As a matter of fact, Luxor goes to bed much earlier than Cairo. With respect to alcohol, Luxor is a thirstier destination. While alcohol flows freely in Cairo, in Luxor, only hotels stock and sell alcohol.
Granted, Luxor appears to score better in terms of history. However, there’s also some fascinating stuff that one can also learn in Cairo. And while the UNESCO-listed Luxor Temple showcases world history that’s three millennia old, the Great Pyramids near Cairo are famous on a scale that’s higher than the Luxor Temple. When it comes to shopping, Cairo is the flat-out winner. Cairo’s bazaars are world-famous.
The truth is Luxor, for its history, look, and feel—is a better destination than Cairo. Yet other factors can make the choice less clear-cut.