The Valley of the Kings is one of Luxor’s stunning attractions. Here’s why you need to visit (and how to plan your trip).
Since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922, The Valley of the Kings has captured the minds and hearts of travellers worldwide.
This “Gateway to the Afterlife” provides a look at the ancient Egyptians’ way of life and the burial rituals of their most beloved rulers.
Want to visit the tombs of The Valley of the Kings?
Of course you do! Who wouldn’t want to see the ancient necropolis in which many of Ancient Egypt’s most famous rulers were buried in pomp and splendour?
I have to be honest – visiting the tombs of the Valley of the Kings was one of the highlights of my recent Egypt trip – and I know it will be one of yours too.
Stick around to discover my top tips and tricks for visiting this incredible sight. I’m going to cover which tombs you can visit (and which tombs you should visit), the history of the site and how to plan your trip. Let’s go.
Tip: Planning a trip to Luxor? Check out my Luxor Travel Guide
Why Visit The Valley of the Kings?
Why wouldn’t you visit the Valley of the Kings is probably a better question!
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that no trip to Egypt would be complete without visiting The Valley of the Kings.
PS. I would highly recommend taking a guided tour or getting a private guide for your trip to the Valley of the Kings. Although there is information outside each tomb, a guide will really help the stories of the pharaohs and their tombs come to life. Mine certainly did.
What is The Valley of the Kings and Why Does it Exist?
I’m going to delve deeper into the history of the necropolis further on in this guide, but what actually is the Valley of the Kings and why does it exist?
The Valley of the Kings is a burial ground in which pharaohs (and a few nobles) from the 18th, 19th and 20th dynasties were buried.
To understand the Valley of the Kings, you have to know a smidgen about the Ancient Egyptians themselves.
The The Gateway to the Afterlife
Ancient Egyptians believed that you had to do certain things in order to get into the afterlife – one of which was preserving your body whole. Mummifying your body to preserve it for this second-life was paramount.
You also had to bring everything you would want or need with you for the afterlife… so you can start to see why having a lavish tomb, packed with goods and your mummified body, might have seemed like a great idea.
While earlier dynasties used pyramids as royal tombs, later dynasties – starting with Pharaoh Tuthmosis, used The Valley of the Kings.
Visiting the tombs is also a fantastic way to discover the craftsmanship and artistry of the ancient Egyptians. You’ll see this through the intricate details found in the tombs themselves and the tomb chambers.
Tip: Check out my other African travel guides for some inspiration.
The Tombs in The Valley of the Kings
There are currently 63 tombs in the Valley, although not all are open.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the tombs that are currently open to the public and what you can expect to find in them. I’ve split them up into the tombs of the Valley of the Kings that are included in your general entry ticket and those that you have to pay extra to see.
Valley of the Kings: Tombs Included in Your Ticket
The entry ticket to the Valley of the Kings includes entry into three tombs. You have eight tombs to choose from:
- Ramses I
- Ramses III
- Ramses VII
- Ramses IX
- Tausert & Setnakht
- Seti II
I chose Ramses IX, Merenptah and Tausert & Senakht out of those, and will go into more detail on them below, as well as a couple others that have been recommended to me.
Tausert & Setnakht (KV14)
This double tomb is one of the largest in the Valley. It was commissioned for Tausert, Seti II’s wife. She was the last ruler of the 19th dynasty, and she had the tomb built to hold both her and Seti II.
Seti II’s successor, Sethnakht, took over part of the tomb and made it bigger for himself. Inside the tomb, you’ll still get to see Tausert’s burial chamber as well as images of Tausert and Sethnakht.
Of all the tombs that were included in the general entry ticket, this one was actually my favourite. Unsurprisingly, given the fact it’s a double tomb, it’s really large, but its location at the top of the valley also meant it was the quietest tomb I visited too.
Rameses I (KV16)
Inside Ramesses I’s tomb, you’ll find a sloping corridor with a staircase that goes down to his burial chamber. Once there, you’ll find an open red granite coffin decorated with pictures and texts about Ramesses.
The walls of the chamber are vividly decorated with inscriptions and paintings. The wall scenes include sections from the Book of the Gates and the king’s Underworld journey.
Rameses IX (KV6)
The tomb of Rameses IX is one of the most intricately decorated tombs in the whole valley. It contains various images depicting gods such as Amun, Osiris, and more all along the corridor walls and chambers.
There’s also a short passage that leads up to the burial chamber. The sarcophagus is no longer there, but the walls contain many clues about the pharaoh.
Ramesses IV (KV2)
From the outside, a staircase with a ramp takes you to Rameses IV’s tomb entrance. On the entrance door’s lintel are images of the gods Isis and Nephthys worshipping the sun.
As you walk through the corridor leading to the burial chamber, you’ll find various paintings and inscriptions. Rameses IV’s granite sarcophagus is inside the burial chamber, covered with inscriptions and reliefs.
Merneptah’s (or Merenptah) tomb is very long and quite deep, leading to a large burial chamber with a large covered stone sarcophagus inside.
Although it’s relatively simple it does some really beautiful detailing inside – keep an eye out for the scenes from the Book of Caverns, Book of Gates and the Book of the Earth in the Burial Chamber.
Seti II (KV15)
This tomb is right next to Tausert and Setnkht’s. Archaeologists think that Setnakht built this tomb for Seti II after occupying the other pharaoh’s tomb for himself. Compared to some of the other tombs, this is much smaller and not as decorative.
You can, however, still see fine wall reliefs of images of the god Anubis in the corridor near the entrance. Inside Seti II’s burial chamber, you’ll find his stone sarcophagus intact.
Valley of the Kings: Tombs You Have to Buy an Extra Ticket For
There are three tombs in the Valley of the Kings that you have to buy an extra ticket for:
- Tutankhamun (300 EGP)
- Seti I (1,000 EGP)
- Ramses V and VI (300 EGP)
I bought a ticket for Tutankhamun, so I have gone into more detail about it below. Seti I’s tomb is also supposed to be beautiful, but I opted to spend the extra money on seeing Nerfertari’s Tomb in the Valley of the Queens instead.
Tutankhamun’s tomb is the most famous in Egypt, discovered by British archaeologist and Egyptologist Howard Carter. It remains one of the most intact tombs, as, at the time of discovery, it still had all of its furnishings and the mummy inside it.
There are 16 stairs that lead down to the entrance of the tomb. From there, it opens up to a narrow passageway about 7.5 metres long. At the far end of the passage, there’s a door leading to an antechamber containing several luxury items.
The main passageway leads to the burial chamber, where Tutankhamun’s mummy is still on display.
Although it’s not the largest tomb in the Valley of the Kings, it is the only one that still has its mummy inside. Plus – it’s the tomb of Tutankhamun! I’d say it’s worth paying the extra money to see.
Cost of the extra ticket: 300EGP (this is sometimes reduced to 150EGP during low season – it was when I visited in June 2022)
The History of The Valley of the Kings
The ancient Egyptians are famous for building impressive monuments to honour their Pharaohs. An example is the Great Pyramids of Giza, which also acted as burial tombs for their deceased rulers.
This was the custom of the rulers of the Old Kingdom. However, the rulers of the Old Kingdom’s tombs were often vandalised and robbed.
The Tombs of the New Kingdom
So the rulers of the New Kingdom ( 1539 – 1075 BCE) came up with a different plan to protect their mummies and belongings and ensure an undisturbed journey to the afterlife.
Instead they built their tombs in a lonely valley in the West Bank of the Nile across from Luxor (Thebes in ancient times).
These new tombs extended deep into the mountain, making them harder to reach. The Valley of the Kings would also house the tombs of queens and high-ranking officials.
The Plunder of the Valley of the Kings
Unfortunately, as the power of the Ancient Egyptian civilisation started to wane, the Valley of the Kings was subject to the very same fate as the pyramids of the Old Kingdom – grave robbers.
Many of the tombs were looted during the Twenty-First Dynasty. This led to the priests of Amun opening the tombs and moving the mummies first to a few tombs, and then to a holy place nearby for their protection.
Those mummies were gradually forgotten and remained undiscovered until the 19th century – you can see many of them today in the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation in Cairo.
Top Valley of the Kings Facts
The Burial Ground of the New Kingdom
The Valley of the Kings was the burial place of the rulers of the New Kingdom for around 500 years, spanning over three dynasties.
The First Pharaoh Buried in The Valley of the Kings
Tuthmosis I was the first person buried in The Valley of the Kings.
How Many Tombs in the Valley of the Kings
There are 63 known tombs. However, the site is still an active archaeological site with constant excavations.
The Curse of Tutankhamun
There is an alleged curse on Tutankhamun’s tomb. According to locals, anyone who touches King Tut’s tomb will be cursed for life. This curse stemmed from the fact that some of the members of Howard Carter’s team died mysteriously shortly after discovering the tomb.
All the tombs have a number and abbreviation known as “KV.” This stands for King’s Valley.
KV5 is the largest tomb in the valley. Most archaeologists believe that it is the tomb of Ramesses II’s sons.
Planning Your Visit to The Valley of the Kings
Visiting The Valley of the Kings on a Tour
An organised tour is the most popular way to visit the Valley of the Kings. These include full-day trips, half-day trips and multi-day trips from other cities. These usually include hotel pick-up and drop-offs, entry tickets to three tombs, and a guide.
Visiting The Valley of the Kings Independently
If you’d like to visit The Valley of the Kings on your own, there are a few ways to do so. If you’re coming from Cairo, it will take about eight hours to get to Luxor, where you’ll find the Valley.
If you’re coming in from Aswan, the journey should only take about three hours. Most people who visit the valley independently can do so by taxi or bus. The drive is about 45-minutes away from Luxor’s city centre.
Ticket Prices for The Valley of the Kings
Once you get there, you’ll have to purchase an entry ticket from the visitor centre.
The entrance ticket costs about 240 EGP (around £10 or $12). This ticket includes the entrance to three tombs, except Tutankhamun, Seti I, and Rameses V and VI’s tombs.
If you’d like to visit any of these tombs additionally, it will cost you:
- 100 EGP (£4) ($5) for both Rameses V and VI’s tombs
- 1000 EGP (£44) ($53) for Seti I
- 300 EGP (£13) ($15) for Tutankhamun
Then there’s a tram you can take to get to the tombs from the visitor centre for 5 EGP (£ 0.22) ( $0.25). There’s also an additional photography pass that you can purchase for 300 EGP (£13) ($15).
Where to Stay for The Valley of the Kings
Sofitel Winter Palace Luxor (Mid-Range – High-End)
Just five kilometres from the iconic Valley of the Kings, the Sofitel Winter Palace in Luxor is a hotel for any king or queen. It has a rich history of hosting various royals and celebrities.
The hotel sits along the East Bank and has gorgeous views of the Nile River. Its exterior features wonderful Victorian architecture, while the inside will blow you away.
You can expect to see high ceilings, along with grand staircases. Then there are also the super-sophisticated lounge areas and bedrooms, which feature a mix of modern and antique furniture. It also has a stunning terrace and a pool area where you can relax and soak in your surroundings.
The Valley of the Kings: Address
Physical Address: Luxor, Luxor Governorate 1340420, Egypt
The Valley of the Kings sits on the West Bank of Luxor, behind the Dayr al-Bahri Hills.
The Valley of the Kings is open all year round from about 6 am to 4 pm in the winter months (November – January) and 5 pm in the summer months (May-August).
Check ahead before you go.
The Valley of the Kings: Map
The Valley of the Kings: Read Next
- Incredible Things to do in Luxor
- Visiting the Valley of the Kings
- Why You Should Visit the Valley of the Queens
- The Ultimate Egypt Travel Itinerary
- What You Need to Know to Plan Your Trip to Egypt
- What to Wear + How to Pack for Egypt
- Unmissable Things to do in Egypt
- Egypt Travel Guide and Tips for Your Trip