Budget travelers are often surprised at how much you can get for your money when exploring Egypt.

You don't need to break the bank to have a truly immersive experience here, and with a little research and planning, you’ll make the most out of your time and money.

If you opt for local food and embrace the hostel life, you can explore much of Egypt on a budget while still occasionally indulging in some luxurious yet affordable treats. These are our top tips for making your money go further.

Don't assume flying into Cairo is the only option

Securing a cheap flight is the gateway to a budget-friendly trip, and if you have destinations on your Egypt itinerary beyond Cairo (and you should!), you can save hundreds by booking a flight to one of the country’s other international airports. 

Flying into Egypt through Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, Marsa Alam or Alexandria could cost you less than half the price of a flight into the capital.

Embrace hostel life

To save on accommodations in Egypt, choose shared hostel dorms, camps and basic hotel rooms. You’ll find many options in every part of the country, with some beds going for less than US$20 per night. Sharing rooms with multiple single beds is a great way to save money if you’re traveling with friends.

For budget hotels, expect to pay between $25 to $50 per night for a double room depending on the city and season.

El-Khayamiya (Tentmakers) street in Cairo, Egypt
Staying in the center of Cairo means you spend less time sitting in traffic and more time at major sights © Shutterstock / Matyas Rehak

When in Cairo, stay in the heart of the city

Cairo overwhelms the senses – there’s a lot to see, eat and experience. Avoid the capital's notorious traffic and make the most of your time by booking a room in the heart of the city; all the big sights will be on your doorstep.

Downtown Cairo offers a large selection of budget-friendly accommodations, including boutique hotels, hostels and Airbnbs that put the Egyptian Museum and the Nile within walking distance. Staying central also means easy access to public transportation and quick pickups from ride-hailing apps to get to spots like Khan Al Khalili, Islamic Cairo and the Giza Plateau.

Eat like a local

Food plays an important role in Egyptian culture, and there's no better way to learn about local life than by eating your way through Egypt's hearty street food. 

Egyptian cuisine tends to be cheaper than international food, and you'll find an array of delicious, cheap and diverse options.

The plethora of street food vendors, especially in Cairo, offer many delicacies for you to choose from, including vegetarian and vegan options. You can get a complete meal on the go for just $2. Meals in local sit-down restaurants range from $5 to $12.

If you have a kitchen in your accommodations, pick up fresh fruits and vegetables from the many carts dotting every street to make a meal.

Two women talking in a market in Egypt
Few markets and shops in Egypt have fixed prices, so bargain respectfully to bag a good deal © Joshua Dalsimer / Getty Images

Practice the art of bargaining

You spot a souvenir you’d love to take home with you, but the seller just hit you with an absurdly high number. Don’t give up: this is part of the process. Street vendors usually hike up prices for foreigners, but if you respectfully haggle, you could get a great deal. 

Confidently hit back with a little less than half the quoted price. You’ll likely enter a tennis match with the seller slowly increasing the price and you slowly lowering it until you eventually meet somewhere in the middle. 

Street sellers can be a little aggressive in Egypt, and you’ll find yourself saying "no thank you" often. Don’t feel obliged to buy something you don’t want – simply offer a friendly smile and move on. 

Ask around in other shops to gauge the average cost. Don’t commit to the first price you’re offered, be smart about your dealings and flex your negotiation muscles.

Master public transportation

In Egypt's bigger cities, public transportation costs a fraction of the price of hiring a private driver. Using public buses, trams and Cairo's Metro can also be easier than negotiating a taxi fare. Cairo has many companies running public bus services, but Mwasalat Misr is the most reliable, economical and easiest to navigate. 

Ride-hailing apps – Uber, Careem, Swvl and Didi work in some of Egypt's cities– are much cheaper in Egypt than in most other countries. They also provide several ride modes that are cheaper than a car, including scooters and buses.

For domestic traveling, trains and buses are more budget-friendly than flying. You can travel from Cairo to Alexandria for $5 on a five-hour train ride. A 12-hour train ride south to Luxor and Aswan costs around $10. 

If you’re planning to travel to Sinai, Siwa or other destinations not on the train network, you have plenty of bus travel companies to choose from. Go Bus is one of the more popular choices and can be booked online in advance, with the average ticket costing around $10.

If you’re traveling between Cairo, Luxor and Aswan and want to save even more, opt for the sleeping train or an overnight bus ride and save a night on accommodations.

Two men ride camels in front of the Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
Pick up a Cairo Pass to save money on your visit to the Pyramids of Giza and other sights around the capital © David Sacks / Getty Images

Buy a Cairo Pass and a Luxor Pass

If your Egypt itinerary includes a lot of museums and archaeological sites around Cairo and Luxor, it makes financial sense to buy a Cairo Pass and a Luxor Pass.

The Cairo Pass gives access to all of the main sites and museums in Cairo and Giza for $100. It's valid for five days, with unlimited entries to sites like the Egyptian Museum, the Pyramids of Giza, Saqqara and Dahshur. You can purchase a pass at the Egyptian Museum, the Giza Plateau or the Citadel

The standard Luxor Pass ($100) gives you access to all archaeological sites on both the east and west banks of Luxor, except for the tombs of Seti I and Nefertari, which are included in the more expensive (but still money-saving) premium Luxor Pass ($200). You can purchase the Luxor Pass at Karnak or the Valley of the Kings.

To buy a pass, you'll need your passport, two photocopies of your passport, two passport photos and the exact cost of the pass in cash. Travelers with valid student IDs get 50% off the pass price.

Daily costs

  • Room for two at a budget hotel: $20–40
  • Public transport ticket: $0.20–0.50 
  • Coffee: $1–3 
  • Falafel sandwich: $1–3 
  • Dinner for two at an average restaurant: $10–20
  • Beer at a bar: $2–3

This article was first published Sep 4, 2022 and updated Aug 17, 2023.

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