The Complete Guide to Visiting the Valley of the Kings in Egypt

From the moment Howard Carter and his expedition discovered King Tut’s tomb in November 1922, the Valley of the Kings has fascinated people around the world. Today, this attraction is as synonymous with Ancient Egypt as the Great Pyramids of Giza.

For anyone with even a passing interest in Egypt’s incredible history, a visit to the Valley of the Kings is essential. And even if you aren’t familiar with our country’s past, wandering the miraculously preserved tombs could spark a life-long passion.

Given the significance of the Valley of the Kings, it’s no surprise that it features prominently in our range of multi-day tours in Egypt.

We’re always happy to answer any questions about our pre-planned and luxury custom tours of Egypt, so please feel free to get in touch for more information.

In the meantime, however, let’s focus on the Valley of the Kings. Read on to discover our complete guide to one of Egypt’s most incredible archaeological sites.

Valley of the Kings arial view

Where is the Valley of the Kings?

The Valley of the Kings is in a desert valley (or wadi) on the west bank of the river Nile, across the water from the modern city of Luxor on the east bank.

To better understand this location on a national scale, Luxor is 313 miles (504 kilometres) south of Cairo and in the region of Upper Egypt.

Luxor incorporates the ancient city of Thebes, the pharaoh’s capital between the 16th and 11th centuries BC. As a result, this area is home to various large ancient monuments, including the Karnak and Luxor temples.

On the Nile’s west bank, the Valley of the Kings is to the north of the Valley of the Queens and the Temple of Hatshepsut.

If you’re planning to visit the former on your trip here, read through our complete guide to visiting the Valley of the Queens for more information.

Valley of the Kings Dessert

What is the Valley of the Kings?

The Valley of the Kings is a royal burial ground for pharaohs and renowned nobles from the New Kingdom of Egypt. This era covered the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties. Some of the most famous kings from this time include Tutankhamun, Ramses II, Tuthmosis III, and Seti I.

Set into the limestone hills of the Theban Necropolis, the site consists of two valleys — the East Valley (home to most of the tombs currently open to visitors) and the West Valley (the Valley of the Monkeys).

The Ancient Egyptians carved 63 tombs directly into the rocks. These were then decorated with intricate images and reliefs of a religious nature.

Earlier tombs are decorated with scenes from Amduat, which translates into English as ‘That Which is in the Underworld’. The decoration of later tombs was inspired by the Book of Gates.

Tomb robbing was taking place at the Pyramids of Giza and in the Nile Delta at the time, so it is believed this site was chosen to avoid a similar fate. Excavating tombs deep into the earth provided, at least in theory, a secure resting place.

The Valley of the Kings is still an active archaeological site where Egyptologists continue to make discoveries. As such, it’s hoped that the number of known tombs here will increase in the future.
Given the sheer scale of significant historical discoveries on both the east and west banks of the Nile, Ancient Thebes and its necropolis became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

Tomb of Tutankhamun

Who is Buried in the Valley of the Kings?

With 63 tombs discovered at the time of writing, we can’t cover all the pharaohs and nobles buried in the Valley of the Kings. However, some of the most notable names include:

  • Tutankhamun
  • Ramses I
  • Ramses II
  • Ramses III
  • Ramses V
  • Ramses VI
  • Ramses VII
  • Ramses IX
  • Seti I
  • Seti II
  • Siptah
  • Tuthmosis III

It’s important to note that some tombs are permanently open, while others are only open on a rotational basis. When you visit, you can view only three of the open tombs with your entrance ticket, so you must choose carefully.

As of July 2022, the eight open tombs you can choose from are:

  • Ramses I
  • Ramses VII
  • Ramses IX
  • Ramses III
  • Merenptah
  • Seti II
  • Siptah
  • Tausert-Setnakht

Of course, this will change with time to avoid damaging the tombs.

To enter the tombs of Tutankhamun, Seti I, Ramses V and Ramses VI, you need to purchase additional tickets for each.

Tutankhamun’s tomb is the most famous in the Valley of the Kings. Ironically, however, it is one of the smallest and least decorated. 

This is likely because Tutankhamun suffered premature death. As such, this famous tomb is believed to have originally belonged to a non-royal individual before being adapted into the burial place for the young king.

Given that the tomb was dug into the valley’s floor and then completely hidden by debris, it wasn’t stripped and damaged by tomb robbers like many others in the valley, despite two break-ins shortly after Tutankhamun’s burial.

As such, when it was discovered by Howard Carter’s expedition, Tutankhamun’s mummy and almost all the burial goods and treasures, remained intact. The quantity and dazzling appearance of these valuables led to a media frenzy that created the fame that lingers to this day.

2022 marks the centenary of Tutankhamun’s discovery by Howard Carter. The shockwaves of this historic event spread out of the Valley of the Kings, across Egypt, and around the world, acting as a catalyst for renewed interest in Ancient Egypt.

This fascination is still going strong 100 years later. At Mr & Mrs Egypt, we have carefully curated our own celebration in the form of a 6-day tour in Egypt celebrating Tutankhamun.

In addition, over 150 objects that Howard Carter’s expedition found in the tomb are currently on a world tour. When this finally concludes, they will return home to the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

For more great places to visit in the capital city, read our Cairo travel guide for planning the perfect visit.

Tourists in Valley of the Kings

How to Visit the Valley of the Kings

As you would expect from a major tourist attraction, the Valley of the Kings is easily accessible and welcomes everybody from solo travellers to tour groups.

If you’re travelling independently, the best option for visiting the Valley of the Kings is a private taxi. You can hire one while in Luxor on the east bank or outside the ferry terminal on the west bank.

Bear in mind that the taxis won’t have meters, so you will need to haggle. Bartering for half- or full-day hire is typical.

For a deeper dive into the captivating history of the Valley of the Kings, our tours in Egypt showcase everything it has to offer. The team at Mr & Mrs Egypt have a genuine passion for our country’s culture, beauty, and history, all of which we celebrate on our tours.

And joining one of our tours doesn’t only take you back to ancient times, it also simplifies your visit. We have been to the Valley of the Kings countless times over the years and stay up to date with changes to ticketing and tomb entry.

With no worries or wasted time, you can focus solely on taking what you want from this incredible experience.

Valley of the Kings Road

Discover the Valley of the Kings and More of Egypt with Our Tour Packages

We hope this complete guide to visiting the Valley of the Kings has provided inspiration for your trip in the future.

Of course, this short guide is only an introduction to a site that overflows with stories and legends. To dive beneath the guidebook experience, browse our range of multi-day tours that stop in Luxor.

Every option on this list visits the Valley of the Kings, as well as the Valley of the Queens and the must-see sites in Luxor.

For more information about these tours or any of the others we operate, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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