I lived in Egypt for three years (on and off) before I ever visited any of its temple sites. I returned as a tourist in 2017 and got to see "the real Egypt" as Usef puts it, by taking a Nile cruise that floated south on the river and stopped at some of Egypt's most historic sites.
I can't put into words how breathtaking some of the statues are – just take a look at the size comparison above! It's amazing to me how well some of the sites are preserved, considering how lapse security is around them. At most sites you might see one or two guards.
The photo above was taken at the Karnak Temple Complex, a massive collection of temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings near Luxor in Upper Egypt (which is really southern Egypt).
It consists of four main parts, but only one part, the largest, is open to the general public.
About 30 pharaohs contributed to the buildings, developing it over more than 1,000 years, mostly between the 12th and 20th dynasties. It houses the largest religious building ever built, the Temple of Amun-Ra, considered to be where that god lived on earth with his wife, Mut.
The Colossi of Memnon (below) are two massive stone statues of the Pharoah Amenhotep that have stood for the past 3,400 years in Luxor. As we were driving past we saw other archeological sites still being unearthed. It's incredible to think how many sites may still be undiscovered.
Kom Ombo Temple (below) was constructed 180–47 BC. The southern half of the temple is dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world.
The northern part of the temple was dedicated to the falcon god Haroeris. A few of the 300 crocodile mummies discovered nearby are displayed in The Crocodile Museum on your way out.
The Valley Of The Kings (below) is where for a period of nearly 500 years (16th to 11th century BC) rock cut tombs were excavated. When you go inside the tombs you see scenes of Egyptian mythology preserved on the cool rock walls. It's where Tutankhamen's tomb is located.
Taking photos inside is permitted, for an additional fee, but it was not only a bit dark and crowded for photos, we also felt it was a moment to treasure by memory.
The Luxor Temple (below) was constructed approximately 1400 BCE. It's thought to be where many of the kings of Egypt were crowned. Parts of the temple were built by Tutankhamun.
We visited all of these sites in November, when crowds were low, the weather is cooler (70's) and we were able to find quiet pockets of all the temples. It's mind-blowing how these structures were built, preserved and unearthed. Truly a blessing and a pleasure to witness them in person.
The best way to visit these sites in my opinion is to take a Nile cruise, which leaves from Cairo and over a few days or a week floats along the Nile and stops at all the sites. It costs less per night than a motel stay in the U.S. and includes food. I'll post more on that later.