Flights & getting there
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
|Terminal 1||Air France, Alitalia, Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air, Kenya, KLM, Nile Air, Qatar, Sudan Airways, Yemenia|
|Terminal 2||British Airways, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Kuwait Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Nile Air, Oman Air, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian, Saudia|
|Terminal 3||Aegean, Austrian, EgyptAir (domestic and international), Lufthansa, Singapore, Swiss Air, Turkish Airlines|
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.
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.
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.
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
|Alexandria||West & Mid Delta||LE55||3hr||hourly 5am-12.05am|
|Al Kharga||Upper Egypt Travel||LE150||8-10hr||9.30pm & 10.30pm|
|Al Quseir||Upper Egypt Travel||LE120||10hr||1.30pm, 6.30pm & 11pm|
|Bahariya (Bawiti)||Upper Egypt Travel||LE100||4-5hr||7.30am & 6pm|
|Dahab||East Delta||LE140||9hr||8am, 1.30pm, 7.30pm & 11pm|
|Dakhla||Upper Egypt Travel||LE120||8-10hr||7.30am & 6pm|
|Farafra||Upper Egypt Travel||LE120||8-10hr||7.30am & 6pm|
|Hurghada||Super Jet||LE120||6hr||7.30am, 12.30pm & 11pm|
|Upper Egypt Travel||LE120||6-7hr||1.30pm, 6.30pm & midnight|
|Ismailia||East Delta||LE25||4hr||hourly 6.30am-7.30pm|
|Luxor||Super Jet||LE150||11hr||1.30pm, 5.30pm & 11.30pm|
|Upper Egypt Travel||LE150||11hr||9pm|
|Marsa Matruh||West & Mid Delta||LE105||5hr||15 services 6.30am-midnight|
|Port Said||East Delta||LE40||4hr||hourly 6.30am–9.30pm|
|Sharm El Sheikh||East Delta||LE120||7hr||6.30am, 8am, 1.30pm, 4.30pm, 7.30pm, 11pm & 1am|
|Super Jet||LE125||7hr||7.30am, 1.15pm, 6.15pm & 11.30pm|
|Siwa||West & Mid Delta||LE150||11hr||11.45pm Sat, Mon & Thu|
|St Katherine||East Delta||LE90||7hr||11am|
|Suez||East Delta||LE25||2hr||hourly 6.30am-7.30pm|
|Taba & Nuweiba||East Delta||LE110||8hr||9.30am & 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
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.
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.
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.
Watania runs a train to the Mediterranean coast three times a week during the summer season.
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.
|Alexandria (direct)||LE70-100||2½hr||8am, 9am, 11am, 2pm, 3pm, 6pm, 7pm & 10.30pm|
|Alexandria (stopping)||LE50||3-3½hr||6am, 8.10am, 10am, noon, 1pm, 2.20pm, 3.10pm, 4pm, 5.10pm, 8.15pm & 9pm|
|Ismailia||LE25 (2nd class)||3hr||6.15am, 1.45pm, 2.40pm, 5.45pm & 7.50pm|
|Luxor/Aswan (Spanish)||LE109/135||10½hr/14hr||noon, 7pm, 8pm & 10pm|
|Luxor/Aswan (Special)||LE200/240||10½hr/14hr||8am, 10am, 5.30pm, 9pm & 11pm|
|Luxor/Aswan (Watania Sleeper)||2-/1-berth cabin US$80/110||9½hr/13hr||Train 84: 8pm (Giza-only departure); Train 86: 8.15pm (Ramses) & 8.30pm (Giza)|
|Marsa Matruh (Watania Sleeper)||US$43||7hr||11.30pm Sat, Mon & Wed mid-Jun–mid-Sep|
|Port Said||LE30 (2nd class)||4hr||6.15am, 1.45pm & 7.50pm|
|Tanta||LE30-45||1-1½hr||6am, 8.10am, 10am, 11am, noon, 1pm, 2.20pm, 3.10pm, 4pm, 5.10pm, 6pm, 8.15pm, 9pm & 10.30pm|
|Zagazig||LE15 (2nd class)||1½hr||5.15am, 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.
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.