Getting Around, Cairo Travel, Transport and Car Rental
There are a number of transport options to reach Cairo, with flying being the quickest and most comfortable. Cairo International Airport offers a number of direct worldwide flights and reasonable facilities. While bus travel across Egypt, both to and from Cairo, will save you pennies, journeys can prove a little uncomfortable and lengthy.
A taxi ride in Egypt, and particularly Cairo, is one of those unforgettable holiday experiences that is equal parts eye-opening, terrifying, amazing, frustrating, time-consuming, amusing, stressful and relieving (when you finally make it to your destination). Cairo's public transport may have a reputation for chaotic traffic and argumentative drivers, but this is truly a quintessential Egyptian experience.
Aside from its numerous taxi drivers - the most practical mode of tourist transport in Cairo, train travel throughout the country is reliable and trains frequently depart for the south, although do always try to travel first-class.
Cairo International Airport (CAI) / Arriiving by Air
Address: Oruba Road, Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt, EG
Tel: +202 265 3308
Hardly one of the world's most comfortable or well equipped airports, Cairo International Airport
receives a busy throughput of travellers and is a major gateway to the region. Located around 22 km / 14 miles outside of the city centre, most tourists arrive via this port, but shouldn't have high expectations for facilities. There are a number of ATMs and only a fairly limited food and drinks service. Transportation is served up in the form of a scrummage of touting taxi drivers who greet you at the Arrivals exit.
Cairo International Airport Guide
Aside from Cairo, driving in the rest of Egypt isn't daunting and car hire is practical and popular, although many opt for a guide / driver too. You need to be 25 or older to rent a vehicle and experienced, as those unfamiliar with Egyptian driving techniques need to hold their nerve! Insurance is essential.
Buses and Coaches
All sorts of bus transport of varying comfort, reliability, speed and temperature departs from Cairo along the Nile Valley, and also travels eastwards to the Sinai and Red Sea. It is advisable to stick to the specially laid on tourist buses for your journey. After the 1996 terrorist attack on tourists, police escorts were introduced, but these are less common now that more than ten years have past without further incident. Local bus transport within the city of Cairo can become rather crowded and is best avoided.
A rail service provides travel along the length of Egypt and is reasonably efficient with comfortable VIP carriage laid on for tourists and the wealthy. Operated by the Egyptian National Railways out of Ramses Station, in the centre of Cairo, the trains depart regularly for Luxor
, with the overnight express most recommended. It is realistic to buy tickets on the spot, although advanced booking in the high season is a good idea. Expect a bit of calamity on the platform, but otherwise train transport a surprisingly good experience.
In addition to this section's introductory description of Cairo's overriding taxi character, taxi travel plays an important role in the whole Cairo tourism experience. During your stay, expect to be solicited dozens of times with storyboards displaying the sites they suggest taking you to. Don't ignore this surprisingly good value option - for just a small charge they will take you wherever you wish (just point to the pictures) over the course of an entire day.
If you need to simply make a short journey, it is safest to rely on your hotel to arrange this type of transport and find you an honest taxi driver, as Cairo taxi men are amongst the world's most aggressive in the traffic. The old tourist rip-off tricks are prolific here, but some can be real characters, and certainly drive like madmen. On the whole, rates are reasonable.