Cairo in detail

Flights & getting there

Air

Cairo International Airport is 20km northeast of the city centre. There are ATMs in all terminal arrival halls.

Terminal 1 Services most international airlines. The terminal is three buildings, all within view of each other, though only arrivals halls 1 and 3 receive commercial flights.

Terminal 3 EgyptAir's hub for both international and domestic flights, and also home to all services for other Star Alliance international airlines. The terminal is 2km south of T1.

Terminal 2 Partially reopened after a long renovation and now servicing several international airlines, with more set to move there in the future.

A free shuttle (service every 30 minutes) connects the terminals.

Cairo Airport Terminals & Airlines

TerminalAirlines
Terminal 1Air France, Alitalia, Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air, Kenya, KLM, Nile Air, Qatar, Sudan Airways, Yemenia
Terminal 2British Airways, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Kuwait Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Nile Air, Oman Air, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, Saudia
Terminal 3Aegean, Austrian, EgyptAir (domestic and international), Lufthansa, Singapore, Swiss Air, Turkish Airlines

Transport Options

Bus

Don’t believe anyone who tells you there is no bus to the city centre. Air-con buses 400 and 500 (LE2.50, plus LE2 per large luggage item, one to two hours) run at 20-minute intervals between Midan Abdel Moniem Riad (behind the Egyptian Museum) in central Cairo and the airport bus station. Bus 400 runs 24 hours, while 500 services finish at 10pm. Be aware that these buses are a crowded and not-particularly-comfortable option. There was talk of introducing a modern, comfortable coach-style bus service (costing LE5) between Downtown and the airport on our last visit, though there was no confirmed starting date.

A free shuttle connects air terminals and the airport bus station. At Terminal 1, Arrivals 1, the shuttle stops in the first lane of the car park, a little to your right as you come out of the doors. In Terminal 1, Arrivals 3, bear left outside – the shuttle stops in the outer lane, under the skybridge to the Air Mall. The shuttle drops you across the road from the bus complex just after a right turn at the petrol station. In Terminal 3, bear right out the doors, to the far end of the outer lane. From here, the shuttle drives straight into the bus terminal.

Taxi

Metered taxis are rarely seen at Cairo Airport (and if you do find one, they're not going to put the meter on), so you'll need to negotiate with one of the mob of drivers clustered around the door when you exit. Most drivers charge LE120 to Downtown, though many will start out by quoting LE150. It’s better to walk away a bit before starting negotiations, as it can sometimes bring the price down. Triple-check the agreed fare, as there is an irritating tendency for drivers to nod at what you say and claim a higher fare later. (Heading to the airport from the centre, you can easily get a metered taxi; you’ll have to pay LE5 to enter the airport grounds.)

In the arrivals halls, there are also car desks offering airport 'limo service' transfers into the central city for around LE175 to LE200.

In the traffic-free early hours of the morning, the journey to central Cairo takes 20 minutes. At busier times of the day it can take more than an hour.

Airport Pick-up Services

For a smooth arrival, arrange an airport pick-up through your hotel or book a prearranged pick-up online with Cairo Airport Travel. There are desks at Terminal 1, Arrivals 1, and Terminal 3 (though the service can pick you up from anywhere in the airport); it charges LE220 per car.

Bus

Cairo Gateway Bus Station

The main bus station is Cairo Gateway, 400m west of the Orabi metro stop – or pay LE5 or so for a taxi from Tahrir or Sharia Talaat Harb.

Tickets are sold at different windows according to company and destination.

East Delta Travel Co, for Suez and Sinai, and Super Jet, for Hurghada, Luxor and Sharm El Sheikh, are to the right.

West & Mid Delta Bus Co, for Alexandria, Marsa Matruh and Siwa, and Upper Egypt Travel Co, for Western Desert oases and Luxor, are to the left. (Note that the train is better for Alexandria and Luxor.)

It is advisable to book most tickets in advance, particularly for popular routes such as Sinai, Alexandria and Marsa Matruh in summer.

Student discounts are not offered on bus tickets.

There are also bus services to Israel and Jordan.

Buses from Cairo Gateway

DestinationCompanyPriceDurationTimes
AlexandriaWest & Mid DeltaLE553hrhourly 5am-12.05am
Al KhargaUpper Egypt TravelLE1508-10hr9.30pm & 10.30pm
Al QuseirUpper Egypt TravelLE12010hr1.30pm, 6.30pm & 11pm
Bahariya (Bawiti)Upper Egypt TravelLE1004-5hr7.30am & 6pm
DahabEast DeltaLE1409hr8am, 1.30pm, 7.30pm & 11pm
DakhlaUpper Egypt TravelLE1208-10hr7.30am & 6pm
FarafraUpper Egypt TravelLE1208-10hr7.30am & 6pm
HurghadaSuper JetLE1206hr7.30am, 12.30pm & 11pm
Upper Egypt TravelLE1206-7hr1.30pm, 6.30pm & midnight
IsmailiaEast DeltaLE254hrhourly 6.30am-7.30pm
LuxorSuper JetLE15011hr1.30pm, 5.30pm & 11.30pm
Upper Egypt TravelLE15011hr9pm
Marsa MatruhWest & Mid DeltaLE1055hr15 services 6.30am-midnight
Port SaidEast DeltaLE404hrhourly 6.30am–9.30pm
Sharm El SheikhEast DeltaLE1207hr6.30am, 8am, 1.30pm, 4.30pm, 7.30pm, 11pm & 1am
Super JetLE1257hr7.30am, 1.15pm, 6.15pm & 11.30pm
SiwaWest & Mid DeltaLE15011hr11.45pm Sat, Mon & Thu
St KatherineEast DeltaLE907hr11am
SuezEast DeltaLE252hrhourly 6.30am-7.30pm
Taba & NuweibaEast DeltaLE1108hr9.30am & 12.45pm (tourists not allowed on this route)

Practical Tip: Bus from Cairo to Taba

Because of security issues, foreign travellers are not allowed to take the direct road from Cairo to Taba, which cuts through the middle of the Sinai Peninsula. Instead, if they're planning to travel to Taba or Nuweiba, they must take the longer south Sinai coastal route via Al Tor to Sharm El Sheikh and Dahab where they can transfer onto the Nuweiba–Taba bus.

This means that the East Delta Travel Co was not issuing tickets along the direct Cairo–Taba route to any foreigners at the time of research. You can check for updates on the situation at its booth at Cairo Gateway.

Go Bus Station

Go Bus runs regular services to Alexandria, Dahab, El Gouna, Hurghada, Luxor, Marsa Alam, Marsa Matruh, Qena and Sharm El Sheikh. Tickets – and even specific seats – can be booked online.

Buses come in a baffling array of service classes with the higher-priced 'Elite' buses offering bigger seats, wi-fi and a free snack. The 'Deluxe' services are pretty much on par with Super Jet and East Delta buses, though Go Bus tend to have shorter journey times (particularly on the Sinai routes) as it gets waved through most of the security checkpoints.

Sample ticket prices:

Dahab Economic/Deluxe/Elite LE145/175/330

Hurghada Economic/Deluxe/Elite LE115/140/275

Sharm El Sheikh Economic/Deluxe/Elite LE125/140/275

Services depart/arrive from the Tahrir office on Midan Abdel Moniem Riad (behind the Egyptian Museum, opposite the Ramses Hilton).

Abbassiyya Bus Terminal

Abbassiyya Bus Terminal Buses from Taba (which foreigners can't take) and, sometimes, from St Katherine's still terminate here, 4km northeast of Ramses Train Station; take the nearby metro to the centre.

Abboud Bus Terminal

Abboud Bus Terminal Services to the Delta and Wadi Natrun. It's 5km north of Ramses Train Station – walk east from Mezallat metro, about 800m.

Microbus & Servees

You can get a seat in a microbus or servees (shared taxi) to most destinations, including Alexandria, destinations in the Delta, and Suez, from the blocks between Ramses Station and Midan Ulali.

For Al Fayoum and the western oases, head to Moneib, on Sharia El Nil in Giza, under the ring road overpass (take a taxi or walk 800m east from the Sakkiat Mekki metro stop). Midan Al Remaya in Giza, near the Pyramids, is another starting point for Al Fayoum and western Delta towns; hop on a microbus from the Giza metro station.

Train

Trains to Alexandria, Upper Egypt and major towns in the Delta are the most efficient and comfortable.

Train travel to smaller towns is recommended for rail fans only, as it’s often quite slow and scruffy.

Ramses Station is Cairo’s main train station. It has a left luggage office, a post office, ATMs and a helpful information office with English-speakers on hand.

Alexandria

There are two classes of trains. Special class makes fewer stops than the Spanish ones.

In both, a first class (ula) ticket gets you a roomier assigned seat and usually a much cleaner bathroom.

Luxor & Aswan

Tourists used to be restricted to travelling on the privately run sleeper train to Luxor and Aswan but are now allowed to travel on any of the normal, much cheaper seater-only day and night services. If you do encounter a desk clerk who does not want to sell you a ticket, you can always purchase a ticket on board from the conductor, for a small additional fee, or in advance online.

There are two different categories of seater trains (Spanish, and the more expensive Special), which both offer 1st- and 2nd-class air-con seating. There is no difference in journey time between them, despite the jump in ticket price, so your choice mainly comes down to which departure time you prefer. The Special service is just newer rolling stock with slightly bigger seats. It's also supposed to offer wi-fi but (in reality) doesn't.

The 8am departure is the most scenic option.

Watania Sleeper Train to Luxor & Aswan

The overnight Wagon-Lits service to Luxor and Aswan is operated by a private company, Watania. You can purchase tickets at its office in Ramses Station, which can take credit cards (for a surcharge), as well as cash in euros, dollars or Egyptian pounds. Tickets can also be purchased at Giza Station, in the trailer to the right of the entrance, as well as online.

Book before 6pm for the same day, but in high season (October to April) book several days in advance.

Marsa Matruh

Watania runs a train to the Mediterranean coast three times a week during the summer season.

Suez Canal

Delays on this route are common; going by bus is more efficient. If you’re determined to travel by train, the best option is to Ismailia.

Major Trains from Cairo

Prices are for a 1st-class air-con seat, unless otherwise noted.

DestinationPriceDurationTimes
Alexandria (direct)LE70-1002½hr8am, 9am, 11am, 2pm, 3pm, 6pm, 7pm & 10.30pm
Alexandria (stopping)LE503-3½hr6am, 8.10am, 10am, noon, 1pm, 2.20pm, 3.10pm, 4pm, 5.10pm, 8.15pm & 9pm
IsmailiaLE25 (2nd class)3hr6.15am, 1.45pm, 2.40pm, 5.45pm & 7.50pm
Luxor/Aswan (Spanish)LE109/13510½hr/14hrnoon, 7pm, 8pm & 10pm
Luxor/Aswan (Special)LE200/24010½hr/14hr8am, 10am, 5.30pm, 9pm & 11pm
Luxor/Aswan (Watania Sleeper)2-/1-berth cabin US$80/1109½hr/13hrTrain 84: 8pm (Giza-only departure); Train 86: 8.15pm (Ramses) & 8.30pm (Giza)
Marsa Matruh (Watania Sleeper)US$437hr11.30pm Sat, Mon & Wed mid-Jun–mid-Sep
Port SaidLE30 (2nd class)4hr6.15am, 1.45pm & 7.50pm
TantaLE30-451-1½hr6am, 8.10am, 10am, 11am, noon, 1pm, 2.20pm, 3.10pm, 4pm, 5.10pm, 6pm, 8.15pm, 9pm & 10.30pm
ZagazigLE15 (2nd class)1½hr5.15am, 6.15am, 1pm, 1.45pm, 3.40pm, 7.50pm & 10pm

Secondary Train Stations

Secondary stations include Giza, where all services to Upper Egypt also stop: Giza Suburban, next to the metro stop of the same name, for Al Fayoum; and Ain Shams, in the northeast part of the city, for Suez.

Purchasing Tickets

For 1st- and 2nd-class air-con services, visit the Egyptian National Railways website (https://enr.gov.eg), where you can check schedules and purchase tickets for trains on the main Alexandria–Aswan line. Purchasing tickets at Ramses Station requires getting to the right set of windows for your destination and knowing the time and/or train number you want. Confirm at the information office, where the clerk can write your preference in Arabic to show the ticket seller.