One of the main reasons that people love visiting Egypt is to discover its ancient architecture and culture. The pyramids and temples of ancient Egypt are some of the top sights to see when visiting the country. Their grandeur speak to the imagination of a lot of people and I was definitely no exception to that! Ever since I was a little girl I was fascinated by ancient Egypt and I definitely tried my hand at learning the Egyptian language through hieroglyphs.
The ancient Egyptians didn’t just build all of these beautiful temples for show. No, they believed that these temples were the homes of the gods and goddesses. And every temple of ancient Egypt was dedicated to one god or goddess and he or she was worshipped there by the temple priests and the pharaoh.
Another reason for building a temple was to commemorate the life of the former pharaohs. These pharaohs were also in charge of caring and housing the gods and absolutely no costs were spared when it comes to the construction and maintenance of these religious homes.
In this article I’ll share all the information you need to know when visiting these stunning temples. I find personal experiences very important so I’m happy to let you know I’ve visited all of these places myself.
Stunning Temples of Ancient Egypt You Have To See
Nothing can prepare you for the awestruck feeling you’ll get when you see these temples with your very own eyes. There isn’t one that isn’t absolutely mind blowing and trust me when I say you’ll stand there with your mouth hanging wide open multiple times!
Even though the Pyramids of Giza are undoubtedly one of the most visited tourist attractions in the entire world and the last remaining ancient Wonder of the World, the true magic of Egypt lies more South alongside the river Nile.
It’s here that you’ll be able to discover the secrets of ancient Egypt and marvel at some of the most beautiful constructions known to men.
A list of the most beautiful temples in Egypt
1. The Temple of Abu Simbel
Abu Simbel is a world famous site that actually consists of two separate temples and both of them were build by the Egyptian king Ramses II.
To say he suffered a little from grandeur is an understatement cause in front of the main temple that he had built to honor the sun gods Amon-Re, Re-Horakhte and Ptah, he also build 4 enormous statues of himself. Carved around their feet are small figures representing Ramses’ children, his queen, Nefertari, and his mother, Muttuy.
Just to the north of the main temple is a smaller one, dedicated to Nefertari for the worship of the goddess Hathor and adorned with statues of the king and queen
Most people visit Abu Simbel as part of a day trip from Aswan which is 300km away. Abu Simbel itself is only 20km north of the border with Sudan so it’s best to go with an official tour. I especially love this one where you’ll be transported to the temple site straight from your hotel in a private car. The drive from Aswan to Abu Simbel takes around 3 hours and once you reach the temples you’ll be able to skip the line for the tickets and get a tour with a professional guide!
- Opening hours – From 5am until 6pm
- Entrance fee – 230 EGP
- Duration – 7 hours (including transportation)
📖 I ALSO WROTE A SEPARATE TRAVEL GUIDE ON ABU SIMBEL INCLUDING A LOT MORE DETAILS AND PHOTOS – PLAN THE PERFECT DAY TRIP FROM ASWAN TO ABU SIMBEL
2. The Temple of Isis
The Temple of Isis, also known as the Temple of Philae, is in my opinion one of the most beautiful temples of Ancient Egypt. It’s located in Philae, on a small island in the middle if the Nile river, only 15 minutes driving from the centre of Aswan. The temple was built to honor Isis, a goddess often referred to as the mother of the gods, and it was the last temple built in the classical Egyptian style.
Isis is the ancient Egyptian goddess of magic, fertility and motherhood, death, healing and rebirth. She is the first daughter of Geb (the god of the Earth) and Nut (the goddess of the sky) born on the first day of the first years of creation. She is the sister of Osiris, who later became her husband, as well as Set and Nephthys and together with Osiris she had a son called Horus.
You can visit the Temple of Isis by yourself but then you won’t learn much about its vibrant history. There will always be local men telling you they’re official guides but most of the time they’re not. Another popular thing to do in the area is visiting the colorful Nubian villages and some tours even offer a package of both deals!
- Opening hours – From 7am until 4pm
- Entrance fee – 180 EGP
- Duration – 1,5 hour
📖 I ALSO WROTE A SEPARATE TRAVEL GUIDE ABOUT THE TEMPLE OF ISIS INCLUDING A LOT MORE DETAILS & PHOTOS – AN AWESOME TRAVEL GUIDE TO THE TEMPLE OF ISIS IN EGYPT.
WHERE TO STAY IN ASWAN
- Budget option – The Pyramisa Isis Island Hotel is located on a separate island. Just make sure that when you confirm your booking the price is not listed as “for Egyptians only”.
- Luxury option – Sofitel Legend Old Cataract. It’s one of the most famous hotels in Egypt together with the Winter Palace in Luxor.
3. The Temple of Kom Ombo
The Temple of Kom Ombo is an unusual temple in the town of Kom Ombo in the Aswan Governorate. It’s unique in its kind because this temple is dedicated to two different gods! On one hand we have Sobek, the crocodile god, and on the other there is Horus, the god of the sky.
The Temple of Kom Ombo is located right at the banks of the river Nile and this area used to be swarming with crocodiles. There was a time when these ferocious animals roamed the banks of the nile and for this reason people always visited this temple in fear. This day their presence is a little less noticeable. The only crocodile you’ll find here now are the stuffed ones in the crocodile museum next to the temple.
Kom Ombo is one of the star tourist attractions of the Nile River cruise boat itineraries between Luxor and Aswan. And even that it’s only 40km from Aswan itself most people tend to visit it while being on a Nile cruise from Aswan to Luxor.
- Opening hours – From 9am until 5pm
- Entrance fee – 140 EGP
- Duration – 1 hour
4. The Temple of Edfu
The Temple of Edfu, also known as the Temple of Horus, is another one of those temples that you’ll discover while being on a Nile river cruise! This beautiful temple of ancient Egypt is dedicated to the god Horus and is the most impressive one among all Nile temples between Luxor and Aswan. It’s the second largest temple in all of Egypt, after the Karnak Temple.
There was a time when the entire temple was covered underneath meters and meters of sand and it was discovered by a French archeologist in the 1860’s. And the ancient Egyptians believed that the temple was built on top of the location where the infamous battle of Horus and Set took place.
Why the battle? Well you see according to Egyptian mythology Set had killed his own brother Osiris who was married to Isis. Isis reassembled her husband resurrected him just long enough for her to conceive his child Horus. Horus sought revenge upon Set and the myths describe their conflicts.
The temple is located right outside of the city of Edfu and took a total of 180 years to build.
- Opening hours – From 9am to 5pm
- Entrance fee – 180 EGP
- Duration – 1,5 hour
WHICH NILE RIVER CRUISE TO CHOOSE
- Champollion II Nile cruise – Champollion II cruise offer 3-, 4-, and 7-night cruises between Luxor and Aswan regularly and 10 nights cruises between Luxor and Cairo in specific dates exploring the most important temples, tombs and ruins in the Egypt Guided by professional Egyptologists beside leisure activities on the boat.
- M/Y Alexander The Great Nile Cruise – Offers a 4 nights cruise every Monday from Luxor and 3 nights very Friday from Aswan.
- M/S Liberty – The M/S Liberty leaves on Monday from Luxor for 4 or 7 Nights and on Friday from Aswan for 3 or 7 Nights
5. Karnak Temple
The Karnak Temple is the largest temple complex to have ever been built in ancient Egypt and actually the entire world. It is a city of temples built over 2000 years and dedicated to the Theban triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu. The great temple at the heart of Karnak is so big that St Peter’s, Milan, and Notre Dame Cathedrals would fit within its walls.
The Karnak temple is located in Karnak, in Luxor Governorate, in the south of Egypt on the east side of the Nile River bank. Like all of the major sights in Egypt, Karnak has a sound and light show that is offered in several different languages. The show takes place 3 times a night, but you should consult your tour guide or your hotel about the languages of the various showings.
One of the biggest characteristics of Karnak Temple are the massive pylons that start near the main sanctuary and go in two different directions. Especially at sunset it’s a sight to behold with sunlight peeping through adding a golden glow to the columns.
While you can perfectly visit Karnak Temple on your own I do recommend hiring a local guide at the entrance. This way you’ll learn about the rich history and not just stare at the hundreds of statues and hieroglyphs without having a clue about their meaning.
- Opening hours – From 6am until 5.30pm
- Entrance fee – 120 EGP
- Duration – 2 hours
6. Luxor Temple
Luxor Temple is one of the most beautiful temples from ancient Egypt and super easy to reach as well. Luxor was formerly the ancient capital of Egypt, so the city is loaded with great Egyptian temples, tombs, and artifacts left over from times past.
Within the modern day city of Luxor lie the ruins of Thebes, the capital of the Egyptian kingdom for hundreds of years. Luxor Temple was mostly constructed by pharaohs Amenhotep III and Ramesses II, with some additions by Tutankhamun, Alexander the Great, and the Romans.
Luxor Temple has truly stand the test of time and is one of the most beautifully preserved temples of ancient Egypt and today it’s recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The best time to visit Luxor Temple is in the early morning to beat the heat and the crowds or in the late afternoon when the soft sunlights hugs the statues in a soft golden light.
- Opening hours – From 6am until 10pm
- Entrance fee – 160 EGP, but if you buy the Luxor Pass, this is one of the temples included in the pass.
- Duration – 1,5 hour
As of November 2016, Luxor has joined the many great archaeological cities of the World by introducing a Luxor Pass for visitors. Pass holders have access to all archaeological sites and museums in Luxor, on both the East and West Banks.
The Luxor Pass allows visitors multiple entries to sites and museums, and is valid for five days.
The pass that excludes the tombs is US$ 100 and US$ 50 for students. Including entry to the tombs of Seti I and Nefertari will set you back US$200, or US$100 if you are a student.
To purchase a Luxor Pass, you will need a passport photograph and a photocopy of your passport details page and you can buy it at the Public Relations Office in the Luxor Inspectorate, which is behind the Luxor Museum on the east bank of Luxor, behind the Museum. You can only pay in € or $ and in CASH.
7. Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut was built by her as she wanted to immortalize her name through the ages. It was built to honor the god Amun and herself and also serves as her final resting place.
You can find this ancient temple on the West Bank of Luxor. Hatshepsut was the wife of Thutmose II and after he died she took over his powerful position. Her reign was one of the most peaceful and prosperous as she improved the socioeconomic status to the highest level by creating lucrative trade deals with the land of the punt and expanded the Karnak temple.
- Opening hours – From 6am until 5pm
- Entrance fee – 140 EGP, also included in the Luxor Pass
- Duration – 1 hour
WHERE TO STAY IN LUXOR
- Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor – The best hotel you can find in Luxor.
What to wear when visiting the Egyptian temples
If you’re planning a trip to Egypt there will probably come a time where you’ll be standing in front of your closet and you’ll have no idea what to pack. This also happened to me and there are a few things you need to know if you’re visiting Egypt as a woman. Chances are very very high that if your hair color is on the lighter side that you’ll get catcalled and at some point verbally harassed or even followed. Take it from someone who has been there and experienced it herself.
My biggest tip for you is to not throw oil on the fire and to dress modestly. I tend to go with long flowy dresses that aren’t too figure hugging and at some points I was very happy that I could wear a turban or scarf to cover up my blonde hair a little.
The temple complexes in Egypt are massive so if you’re set on exploring a bunch of them you’ll need to wear comfortable shoes as well.
When is the best time to visit Egypt
Egypt is best visited during either spring (Feb-Apr) or fall (Sept-Nov) to get the most out of your holiday. The summer months can be incredibly hot and this comes from someone who visited Egypt in September! Even then there were moments were I thought I was going to melt in front of one of these temples.
Peak season for visiting Egypt is either December or January. During the winter you’ll find the temperature to be very pleasant but you’ll also have to deal with a lot of tourists. If you’re keen on visiting during this time make sure to book well in advance to avoid prices rising too high.
📖 IF YOU’RE PLANNING A TRIP THROUGH EGYPT MAKE SURE TO READ MY 2 WEEK EGYPT ITINERARY WHERE YOU’LL SEE ALL OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES AND WHERE YOU’LL HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO RELAX!
Charlotte Lint is the founder of Charlies Wanderings.
Charlotte has traveled all over the world and is based in Belgium where she also owns her very own dental practice.
She is an expert on writing efficient travel guides and finding unique places to stay.
Every month she helps over 134.000 people discover the most beautiful places in the world through her detailed travel guides.