Most travellers arrive at Abydos by train north from Luxor, alighting at the station for the town of al-Balyana. The fare is approximately LE 52, first class. From the station, either the tourist police or a police-escorted taxi will take you to the site of the Ramesside temples. Depending on local conditions and police levels of business, you should be able to get at least a couple of hours visiting the site.
You can go by taxi in the police-escorted convoy to Abydos in one day, often including Dendera as a stop-off point. A trip in a private car arranged through your hotels could cost around US$90 for two or three passengers (Oct 2018). You can likely get a better price by talking to taxi drivers directly. Make sure you agree on how much time you will spend at each temple - 90 min each is reasonable.
Also available are minibus tours from agents in Luxor, usually with a local guide of variable quality. These also travel with the escorted convoy, and can be a reasonable deal for a small group if you haggle, especially in off-season. Expect to pay around LE 300 - 400 per person, dependent on size of your group, time of year and your haggling skills. The major UK, US and European holiday companies also offer escorted tours, but these can be expensive.
- 1 The Temple of Seti I. The father of Ramses the Great ruled from 1294–1279 BC. His temple features magnificent reliefs, among them a long carved list of the pharaohs of the principal dynasties, the sole source to dates and names of many of the kings of the Seventh and Eighth Dynasties, thus valued greatly for that reason: the Abydos Kings List. The raised reliefs in the temple are some of the finest quality in all Egypt, incredibly beautiful and detailed. Although the lighting in the interior of the temple can be somewhat gloomy in places, the reliefs still stand out as exceptional. The reliefs on the outer portions of the temple were completed during the reign of Ramses II, and are of a much lower quality than those further inside the complex. (Ramses moved the best craftsmen to work on his own temples after his father's death). The Kings List, or Pharaohs List is somewhat selective, omitting for example Akhenaten (the heretic king), Hatshepsut (a female pharaoh), and the reigns of the kings during the Hyskos occupation. If you are interested in ancient Egyptian history and art, this temple is as much a must-see as Abu Simbel or the Karnak temple.
- 2 The Temple of Ramses II. The adjacent temple of Ramses II is much smaller and simpler in plan; much of the better carving, and his list of pharaohs, similar to that of Seti I, which used to stand here, sits today in the British Museum in London, but some lower parts remain. The outside of the temple was decorated with scenes of the Battle of Kadesh.
- 3 Umm El Qa'ab (its modern name means "Mother of Pots"). The necropolis of the Early Dynastic Period kings, pharaohs of the First Dynasty of Egypt and the last two kings of the Second Dynasty, a site of veneration and worship in Ancient Egypt; by the time of the Middle Kingdom, at least one of the royal tombs was excavated and rebuilt for the priests of Osiris. This area was first excavated by Émile Amélineau in the 1890s and more systematically by Flinders Petrie between 1899-1901. The German Archaeological Institute has been excavating here since the 1970s.
- 4 Osireion (Osiris' tomb). An integral part of Seti I's funeral complex, built at a considerably lower level than the foundations of the temple of Seti, to resemble an 18th Dynasty Valley of the Kings tomb. It was discovered by Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray, who were excavating the site in 1902–3. The name "Osireion" was invented by Petrie, who interpreted it as a symbolic tomb of Osiris.
Eat and sleep
The square facing the temple features several cafés.
- 1 House of Life Abydos Hotel, 4 Abydos Road (about 150 m before the front gate of the temple), ☎ . 100 beds, and spa treatments available. Swimming pool, free Wi-Fi in public areas. Wheelchair-accessible. LE1500 with breakfast.
- 2 Lapidus Tourist Hotel, Abydos Road (about 50 m in front of the gate of the temple), ☎ .