For me, the temples in Egypt have always held such fascination! The crumbling ruins and continuous discoveries of a civilization that once reigned supreme. I’m pretty sure that during my entire trip I was wide-eyed and in complete awe of every Temple and Egyptian landmark I saw. There are so many amazing Egyptian Temples scattered throughout the desert and the pyramids are spectacular of course, but there are hundreds of temples dotting the landscape in Egypt to visit! A trusted Egypt tour guide will tell you that these are indeed some landmarks that should not be missed. Here are 7 of the best Egyptian Temples every visitor to Egypt should see.
Must See Egyptian Temples
Temples of Egypt: Karnak Temple
Karnak Temple is located in the ancient city of Thebes, now modern day Luxor. It is the largest temple in Egypt, covering around 200 acres. Karnak took over 2,000 years to build and is dedicated to 3 Gods: Amun, Mut, and Khonsu. Hypostyle hall is the largest room of any religious building found in the world today.
Being so eminence, give yourself at minimum, a half day here. The details I discovered while exploring Karnak surprised me! Intricate carvings, downed obelisks, and if you look up – which I recommend doing in every Egyptian temple you visit – you’ll see the remnants of how colorful Karnak once was.
While visiting Karnak, and all Egyptian temples please remember to always be respectful and not climb on any part of the temples. This is one of my Don’ts for when visiting Egypt.
Egyptian Temple: Edfu Temple
Edfu Temple is located about halfway between Luxor and Aswan. The temple that stands there today was built atop an earlier temple, both of which were dedicated to the Falcon God Horus, son of Isis. Construction of the temple began in 237 BC and was finished 2 centuries later in 57 BC. The temple was completely covered in sand when it was rediscovered by a French expedition in 1799. Edfu is the second largest complex of Egyptian temples in the country.
The entrance to the temple is a bit hectic. There is a large market surrounding the entryway. When I visited, the tourism industry was down 80% which, I believe, is the reason for the intensity of the sellers in the market. Once through the entryway, you need to walk through an open area with no sun protection to the temple. Make sure you bring plenty of water and sunscreen with you.
Must See Egyptian Temples: Temple of Philae
The Temple of Philae is located in Aswan, in upper Egypt, on Agilka island, and in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful temples of Egypt. Philae Temple is the only temple in Aswan. However, it didn’t always sit in its current location. When the Aswan Dam was built the water engulfed the temple. The island was surrounded by a dam, the water was drained and the temple was deconstructed and moved to higher ground!
Taking a small boat to get to the temple is like something out of a movie. The anticipation and views of seeing the temple from the boat nearly killed me. Have your camera out and ready. Philae Temple, well known as one of the best temples in Egypt, was one of my favorite temples to photograph as the carvings are gorgeous and there were so few people there during my visit.
Temples of Egypt: Temple of Kom Ombo
What makes Kom Ombo so unique is that it’s a double temple. It is dedicated to Sobek the crocodile god, and Horus the falcon-headed god. The single structure is split between the two deities each having their own chapels.
While this site isn’t very large the carvings within the temple are very well preserved and many of the original colors are still present on the ceiling. This is one of the only Egyptian temples that Cleopatra, yes THE Cleopatra, is depicted on the walls of.
As you leave Kom Ombo Temple there was a small, but worthwhile Crocodile Museum. At the time of my visit entry to the museum was included in the temple entry price, but if you wanted to take photos there was a small fee. Under the dim lights, you’ll observe the mummified remains of crocodiles found within the walls of the temple.
If you are on a Nile cruise this is a really easy place to visit as it is located just a short distance from the dock.
Top Temples in Egypt: Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
Located on the West Bank of the river Nile, opposite the city of Luxor, stands the Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. She is regarded as one of the most successful Pharaohs in Egyptian history. Her temple marks the entrance to the Valley of the Kings where many of Egypt’s Pharaohs where laid to rest.
In Luxor you can take a hot air balloon ride over the West Bank of the Nile and get a bird’s eye view of Hatshepsut’s Temple. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my entire trip to Egypt. You’re soaring over the Nile while the sun is coming up and the mist clears to reveal the city, farms and the sights of ancient Egypt below you. I wouldn’t miss out on this if I were you!
During my visit, the temple was packed. School children on field trips flooded the complex. Some of them were more fascinated with me then they were with the temple. I found this hilarious and made some new little friends; taking pictures with them and teaching them some words in English. They taught me a few Arabic phrases as well!
There is a small market near the complex, but remember to take water, a snack, and sunscreen with you. It takes a while to get from the city to the temple and you’ll most likely be coming or going to the Valley of the Kings, so be prepared for a long, hot day.
Temples of Egypt: Luxor Temple
Modern day Luxor was once the site of the ancient city of Thebes and the capital of Egypt. Luxor Temple was once connected to the Temple of Karnak by the avenue of sphinxes. Only a small portion of those sphinxes remain today.
Luxor temple has been in almost continuous use as a place of worship right up to the present day. During the Christian era, the temple’s hypostyle hall was converted into a Christian church, and the remains of another Coptic church can be seen to the west. Then for thousands of years, the temple was buried beneath the streets and houses of Luxor. Eventually, the mosque of Sufi Shaykh Yusuf Abu al-Hajjaj was built over it. This mosque was carefully preserved when the Egyptian temples were uncovered and forms an integral part of the site today.
Over the centuries the temple has been used as a place of worship for many different religions. The hypostyle hall was converted into a Christian church. You can still see the Christian paintings inside the hall. As the city grew around and over the temple is became buried. The mosque of Sufi Shaykh Yusuf Abu al-Hajjaj was built on top of the temple. The mosque still stands today.
Luxor Temple is the only temple complex in Egypt that is open at night, as most other temples have light shows. It is more challenging to photograph (at the time of my visit they did not allow tripods), but as it’s the only opportunity to see a temple at night I highly recommend it. It was amazing wandering around this unique Egyptian temple all lit up and is a memory of Egypt I’ll always cherish.
Best Egyptian Temples: Abu Simbel
The Temples of Abu Simbel are the most southern temples in all of Egypt located close to the Sudanese border, and of all the Egyptian Temples on my list is probably the most beautiful! Just like the Temple of Philae, the Temple of Ramses II and the Temple of Queen Nefertari were in danger of being swallowed by the Nile because of the Aswan dam. These Egyptian Temples were also relocated to higher ground.
To get to Abu Simbel I took a day trip from Aswan by minibus. While it was a long day, it was 100% worth it to see these temples! The Temples at Abu SImbel are, in my opinion, the best Temples in Egypt They were my favorite and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again!
Photographs are prohibited inside the temples to preserve the spectacular colors that still remain on the wall. It looks as if they were painted yesterday! Please don’t be THAT person and take photos, you will be assisting in the destruction of history. UPDATE: Photography is allowed inside of both temples if you use a cell phone. However, if you want to take photos with a camera, or you want to shoot video with your cellphone, you need to purchase a camera ticket at the entry gate.