A street scene in old Islamic Cairo...
 

See Egypt by train...

Egypt is fabulous, and Cairo one of the most fascinating cities in the world.  There's no need to book a tour, it's easy to travel round Egypt independently.  Egyptian Railways are easily the most comfortable way to travel between Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Alexandria, Port Said & Suez.  The views from the train can be wonderful, especially along the Nile amongst the fields and palm trees on the Cairo-Luxor-Aswan and Cairo-Alexandria routes.  As so often, the train journeys give you an insight into the country.

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  The Egyptian Government shut down their rail network in August 2013 due to major civil unrest problems in Egypt, but it's reported that all trains are now running as normal.

Train times & fares for Egypt

  Cairo to Alexandria

  Cairo to Luxor, Isna, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Aswan

  Cairo to Suez

  Cairo to Port Said

  Cairo to El Alamein - Mersa Matruh

  Alexandria/Cairo to El Alamein & Mersa Matruh

  Alexandria to Port Said

  Abu Simbel (bus/ferry service)

  Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada, Siwa Oasis (by bus)

Other Egyptian travel information

  How to buy tickets

  Train travel restrictions for tourists and how to get around them

  Useful country information - visas, dialling code, time zone

  Hotels & accommodation in Egypt

International travel to/from Egypt

  UK to Egypt without flying

  Cairo-Amman-Damascus-Istanbul by bus, train & ferry

  Cairo-Khartoum (Sudan) by train & ferry

  Cairo-Libya-Tunisia-Morocco


Useful country information

Train operator in Egypt:

Egyptian National Railways, https://enr.gov.eg.  Sleeper trains Cairo-Luxor-Aswan: www.wataniasleepingtrains.com.

   

Time zone & dialling code:

GMT+2 (Daylight saving time cancelled for 2011 & 2012).  Dial code +20.

Currency:

Egyptian pounds:   £1 = LE 8.1,  $1 = LE 5.6    Currency converter

Visas:

UK citizens need a visa to visit Egypt.  You can buy this in £ or $ on arrival for stays of up to 1 month.  For information, see www.egyptianconsulate.co.uk or contact the Egyptian Consulate at 2 Lowndes Street, London, SW1X 9ET (call 020 7235 9719).

Hotels in Egypt:

Book hotels in Egypt   Tripadvisor hotel reviews

Tourist information:

www.touregypt.net

Recommended guidebooks   Health & vaccinations

Page last updated:

1 December 2014


How to check train times for Egypt

You can check mainline train times at https://enr.gov.eg

Train times for key routes are shown below.  Egyptian National Railways now have a website, https://enr.gov.eg, and you can use this to check timetables, although only of the best express trains on main routes, not every slow train.  There is limited train information on the Egyptian national tourist office website www.touregypt.net.  It you're travelling between Cairo, Luxor & Aswan, remember the read the section about tourist train travel restrictions.

How to buy tickets

Buying tickets at the station...

It's fairly easy to buy tickets at the station ticket office when you get to Egypt, although as this is Egypt a degree of patience is called for!  Cairo main station has several booking windows, one for each class and group of destinations, so check that you are joining the right queue.  You can pay for train tickets in Egyptian pounds, except for the Cairo-Luxor-Aswan deluxe sleeper which must be paid in foreign currency (dollars, euros or pounds sterling) at the separate El Watania sleeper office.  Except during busy periods, it's normally easy to get 1st class tickets on the day of travel or the day before.  The deluxe overnight sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor and Aswan often has places available if you book a day or two in advance, but at peak tourist times such as Easter it can get fully-booked by tour groups, so pre-booking is recommended.  On the Cairo-Luxor-Aswan route, you won't be sold tickets for the 'restricted' daytime trains, so either buy a ticket online as shown above, or just get on the train without a ticket and pay on board, see the section on tourist train travel restrictions which explains all this!

  Buy train tickets for Egypt online
 

Buy daytime train tickets online at https://enr.gov.eg

Buy tickets online for daytime express trains at https://enr.gov.eg (if it's working)

You can now book tickets online for the air-conditioned express trains between Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor & Aswan, although it may or may not currently work.  Give it a try and see...

 

Buy sleeper tickets online at

http://e7gezly.com

  The deluxe sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor
 

The deluxe sleeper from Cairo to Luxor, arrived at Luxor station on a bright sunny morning... Photo courtesy of Neil Bastock.

More sleeper train photos

Buy tickets online for the Cairo-Luxor-Aswan sleeper train at http://e7gezly.com/sleepingtrains

You can now buy tickets online for the overnight deluxe sleeper train between Cairo, Luxor and Aswan.  As from Summer 2012, you can book at http://e7gezly.com/sleepingtrains (click 'Get tickets'), selecting 'Credit card' and paying online with MasterCard or Visa.  You'll receive a confirmation email immediately after booking, and in the next day or two you'll receive a second email from Watania with a PDF file attached with your sleeping-car berth allocation - in fact, it's reported you may now receive tickets by email within 2 hours of booking, but feedback would be appreciated.  There's a small booking fee, only about $5 or so.  Travellers now report success using this new online sleeper booking system, but if for any reason this online system doesn't work for you, see the next section.

Traveller Tim Kaye reports:  "A few weeks ago (early October 2012) we booked the ticket through the online sleeper booking website. The ticket was emailed to us as a PDF within a couple of days. Whilst it doesn't look much like a genuine ticket, there were no problems using it when boarding the train and we found our names listed on a printed manifest for the carriage.  The food was airline style and the beds comfortable, and they woke us up in plenty of time before our arrival into Aswan the following morning."

Or book the Cairo-Luxor-Aswan sleeper train through an agency or call El Watania + 202 374 894 88 or + 202 374 893 88

If the new online system doesn't work for you for whatever reason, there are two other ways you can pre-book the deluxe sleeper train between Cairo, Luxor & Aswan.  Option 1 is to contact a travel agency such as www.osoris.com, www.egyptiants.net, www.safariegypt.com, www.paradisetravelegypt.com and (in Luxor) www.sunrisetours-eg.com.  You'll pay a fee for their services, of course.  Option 2, which avoids a fee but sometimes takes more persistence, is to book direct with the operator El Watania by phone, fax or email.  Times & fares are shown below or (if it's working!) shown on the Watania sleeper train website, www.wataniasleepingtrains.com.  To book direct with Watania, e-mail your booking request to info@egwst.com or fax it to + 202 37 489 680 quoting your email address or simply phone their reservation office on + 202 374 893 88 or + 202 374 894 88 (lines open 09:00 to 15:00 Egyptian time, daily except Fridays, English spoken, feedback always appreciated!).  They will email you a booking reference and you can pick up the tickets and pay for them in Egyptian pounds, US Dollars or euros at the Watania reservation office, 48 Giza Street, Orman Building, first floor apartment No.14, at least 24 hours before departure between 09:00 & 15:00 any day except Fridays.  It's in the same block as the Cairo Sheraton Hotel, next to the HSBC Bank.  If you cannot pick up tickets at least 24 hours in advance at these times, then book through a travel agency as recommended above, paying a booking fee.  One traveller has reported that it's easier to pick up the tickets directly from the Watania sleeper office at Giza Station which is very easy to reach on the efficient Cairo Metro (www.cairometro.gov.eg).  The 'Sleeping Car Office' is located in an old portacabin about 20m to the right of the main ticket windows on the external entrance to Giza's mainline station.

Buy tickets via an agencywww.osoris.com, www.safariegypt.com, www.paradisetravelegypt.com.

If you want to book Egyptian train tickets in advance before you leave home and the Egyptian Railways online system doesn't work for you, or you want to book the deluxe sleeper from Cairo to Upper Egypt, you can easily arrange tickets by e-mail through an Egyptian travel agency. 

Reputable agencies include www.osoris.com, www.egyptiants.net, www.safariegypt.com, www.paradisetravelegypt.com and (in Luxor) www.sunrisetours-eg.com

Osoris has been highly recommended by quite a few seat61 correspondents.  They charge about $10 higher than the normal ticket price, plus a $5 booking fee if you collect the tickets from their office in Cairo, a $25 booking fee if you want them delivered to your hotel, $25 for delivery to the airport to meet your flight, or $20 to meet you with the tickets at Cairo railway station.  They also make a 6% credit card charge, at least on days when they feel like accepting credit cards rather than Western Union transfers!  To buy tickets through them, e-mail them at egypt@osoris.com,  call + 20 2 302 8561 or fax + 20 2 3464146.  Feedback on agencies, good or bad, is always welcome.  Although Osoris has been recommended by several travellers, one traveller has reported poor service. Paradise Travel & SafariEgypt have had no reports as yet.  I have removed Egyptlegend (www.egyptlegend.com/trainreservation.htm) after two bad reports.  Bear in mind that credit cards are not always accepted by small Egyptian travel agencies, a Western Union transfer is often necessary.  On the Cairo-Luxor-Aswan route, these agencies may or may not be prepared to sell you a ticket for the 'restricted' daytime trains, so if they won't, simply forget trying to book, just get on the train without a ticket and pay on board, see the section on tourist train travel restrictions for details.  One report says that www.osoris.com will book seats on the 'restricted' daytime trains from Cairo to Luxor & Aswan.

Learn Arabic numbers...

A top tip for train travel in Egypt is to learn Arabic numbers.  The indicator boards at main stations often use Arabic numerals to show train numbers, departure times and platform numbers, only main ones show western numbers.  If you know Arabic numbers, you can read these, making it easy to find your train from the departure time, even if you can't read the destination.  Arabic numbers are written left-to-right, exactly like western numbers, even though Arabic words are written right-to-left.  To print these Arabic numbers, right-click the image and click 'print picture'.

Taxis in Cairo & Alexandria...

Always use a white taxi as these are metered, and are a fairly cheap way to get from anywhere in central Cairo to the station, typically LE10-LE15 (£1-£2 or $2-$3) a trip.  Make sure the meter is switched on.  Black & white taxis do not have meters and you will need to agree a price before you get in, so they usually work out much more expensive.  Alexandria's yellow & black taxis do not have meters, so agree a price before getting in.


Tourist train travel restrictions

Cairo-Luxor-Aswan train restrictions for tourists...

Since the terrorist attacks in Egypt some years ago, the Egyptian government has put restrictions on which trains foreigners may take between Cairo and Luxor/Aswan, allegedly so that the government can assure tourists' safety.  There are no restrictions on other routes such as Cairo to Alexandria or Suez or Port Said, where you can take any train you like, it's just the Cairo-Luxor-Aswan route.  Details are almost impossible to confirm, and it doesn't help that the UK Egyptian Tourist Office denies any knowledge of these restrictions.  However, it's reported that since 1 March 2009, the ONLY trains between Cairo and Luxor or Aswan for which tourists will be sold tickets are the overnight deluxe sleeper trains, either in the sleeping-cars or the seats cars, and possibly also the 22:00 ordinary seats express from Cairo (train number 2000).  The daytime trains are officially 'for Egyptians only'.  You can take a wider selection of trains if you're only travelling between Aswan & Luxor.  If you have more information please email me, as there is little or no concrete information on the net about these restrictions.

...and here's how to get around these restrictions:

Naturally, you may want to get around these unfair restrictions, and travel on a daytime air-conditioned express along the scenic Nile Valley just for the experience, or use an ordinary train if the deluxe sleepers are fully-booked (as they often are at Easter, for example), or simply to save a few pounds if you're on a very tight budget.  Or just to strike a blow for freedom!  In practice, all these restrictions really mean is that the ticket offices at Cairo, Luxor & Aswan will refuse to sell you a ticket for any train except those trains which tourists are officially allowed to take, so here are the options.

Travellers' reports...

Here's a report from someone who successfully booked their Cairo to Luxor daytime tickets online (Sept 2011):  "We bought our train tickets online at the Egyptian National Railways website having followed your instructions and signed up.  It took 2 or 3 days until I could log in successfully, but I managed to book tickets online from Cairo to Luxor and from Aswan back to Cairo.  We caught train 980 from Cairo to Luxor in first class leaving at 8am (platform 8) with self-print online tickets costing 187.20 Egyptian pounds between us [about £24, just £12 per ticket] and later took train 983 from Aswan to Cairo again in first class, leaving at 7am, costing 226.72 Egyptian pounds between us [about £29 or £14.50 each].  We had no trouble with our print-at-home tickets on the train, as soon as the conductors saw them they spoke in English.  Quite simple really.  We saw a few other non-Egyptians on the trains, all of whom had had to get around the system by getting people to buy tickets for them, or getting split journey tickets, costing around an extra 100 Egyptian Pounds."

And here's a report from someone who simply got on the train and paid on board (Feb 2010):  "I wanted to use daytime train number 980 leaving Cairo at 08:00 for Luxor [and why not, that's precisely the train I'd want to use!].  I arrived in Cairo on the Sunday and went to the station in the evening to try book my ticket to Luxor for the next day.  I was told that this train was 'for Egyptians only' but was advised to return early on the Monday morning.  I did this, only to be given the same story.  Someone then suggested I board the train and pay on board.  I did this and plonked myself in a first class seat and hoped it was not reserved.  I paid 97 Egyptian pounds (£9 or $16) when asked by the conductor on board and held the seat all the way to Luxor.  When I wanted to return from Luxor back to Cairo I was told the same story, that train number 981 leaving Luxor at 08:30 was not for tourists.  So once again I simply boarded the train and paid on board.  I did get moved from seat to seat this time, but ended up meeting several interesting people.

More feedback (Jan 2011):  "My wife and I were keen to travel from Cairo to Aswan on daytime express train number 980 and attempted to buy tickets at the ticket office.  We were, of course, refused, and pointed towards the overnight train ticket window.  We'd previously used your website when travelling by train through India and, after reading the Egypt section, thought we'd give train 980 a go anyway.  We arrived at Cairo train station at around 7:00am on the 9th of January, 2011 and headed straight for platform 8 (another traveller on your site mentioned this platform for the 980 service); we also confirmed with a few snack-shop owners that this platform was correct. The train pulled up at 7:30am, departed on time at 8:00am, and we bought tickets from a ticket inspector about 30 minutes into our journey with no questions asked.  The rest of the trip went smoothly and we arrived at Aswan on time, at around 9:00pm."

More feedback (Oct 2010):  "You can indeed still buy tickets on board the daytime train from Cairo to Luxor. The ticket inspector was knowing and affable and had no qualms with selling it to me. He even confirmed that I was indeed in first class and charged me just 96LE to Luxor. I'd like to voice my gratitude to others who have left feedback here because I met not one person in Cairo who could confirm the situation, and every Egyptian (including the folks in the hostel) advised me strongly against it, some for their own gains (selling tours etc). However some just didn't know for sure and strangely took the rigid approach. Have confidence!  The trip is scenic and worth it. A day of the interesting countryside of Egypt without the hassle. A winner!

...and some more feedback:  "On Friday 28/05/2010 we travelled on the 7am train from Aswan to Luxor 1st class air con.  My girlfriend had tried to get tickets the night before in the somewhat shorter female-only queue, but was told they couldn't sell tickets to tourists and to buy them on the train.  The next day we did as told, waltzed through the security barrier, asked a policeman and he showed us where to get the 1st class train.  There were only about 10 passengers in total in the three 1st class carriages, so no problems at all.  The cost was 47 LE each, and arrived on time.  A good experience, just shame we wasted 20 minutes trying and failing to buy a ticket at the ticket office the previous day!"

...and yet more feedback:  One correspondent reports (January 2010) "At both Aswan and Luxor, but not the smaller stations, there was an airport-style security barrier, where they X-ray selected passengers' baggage.  However, there was no ticket check at the barrier.  Everyone including the tourist office, police, and railway staff said we could go on the ordinary [restricted] trains if we paid the small surcharge for buying a ticket on board, the restriction was only on buying the tickets in advance."   Another report (February 2010) confirms that there are no checks or barriers in Cairo main station preventing you accessing the platforms and boarding any train you like and paying on board. 

and a bit more...  I travelled in June 2010, and nothing has changed, there are no barriers, you can just board the train.  I boarded the 08:00 air-con express train from Cairo to Luxor & Aswan (always go for first class!) and simply paid on board.  The same worked on the return journey.  However, as you haven't got a booked seat you may find yourself moved about.  I had no problem keeping my seat down to Aswan on the outward trip.  But the train was very crowded on the return and as we got nearer to Cairo many people were standing including me.  But no one got angry or stressed.  A kind Egyptian bloke then let me perch on his arm rest and shared his sandwich with me.  Great journey -13 hours ! Great country.  Great people."

and here's some more... "In August 2010 my wife and I took the day train leaving from Cairo and it worked out just as it was detailed on this website and reported by others. If you find it useful, here's another case study for your site.  We arrived at the train station at 07:15.  We heard the train pull into platform 8 around 07:30 and proceeded straight through the security checkpoint. I was a little nervous with the large, blue signs saying "please present your ticket", but no one was checking tickets and we were soon standing on platform 8.  The 1st class cars were closer to us with the 2nd class cars further down the platform. An attendant was standing in the doorway and we enlisted the help of another Egyptian to get us seated on the train and gave him a bit of baksheesh for his efforts. The train departed right on time and around Giza the conductor came through.  We paid him 192 EP for the two of us. We kept our seats the whole way and the train pulled into Luxor at 18:00."

If you have any more feedback on the 'restrictions' issue, please email me.



Cairo to Alexandria

The train service between Alexandria and Cairo is excellent.  There are broadly two sorts of train:   Modern air-conditioned express trains with comfortable 1st & 2nd class seats, not dissimilar to European trains, using either 'Spanish' or 'French' carriages, and ordinary trains with very basic non-air-con 2nd & 3rd class (plus air-con 2nd class on some trains).  A 1st class one-way ticket for an air-conditioned express from Cairo to Alexandria costs about LE 50, less than £6 or $9!

 Cairo ► Alexandria

Train type:

Ord

Exp

Ord

Special

Exp

Ord

Special

Exp

Ord

Special

Ord

Exp

Ord

Special

Exp

Ord

Train number:

119

903

7

905

901

197

909

911

11

89

13

913

15

917

919

21

Cairo depart

depart 

0500

0600

0625

0800

0815

0825

0900

1000

1010

1100

1115

1200

1245

1400

1415

1430

Alexandria arrive

arrive

0940

0915

1005

1030

1100

1115

1130

1250

1410

1340

1420

1440

1610

1630

1730

1830

 Cairo ► Alexandria  (continued)

Train type:

Special

Exp

Ord

Exp

Ord

Exp

Ord

Special

Ord

Ord

Special

Ord

Exp

Ord

Special

Special

Train number:

2001

915

27

923

199

925

33

921

25

31

927

157

931

29

1919

935

Cairo

depart 

1500

1510

1525

1600

1615

1715

1725

1800

1810

1840

1900

1920

2015

2030

2100

2230

Alexandria 

arrive

1740

1800

1845

1915

1940

2015

2110

2030

2120

2215

2130

2210

2315

0030

2330

0100

Special = Extra-fast air-conditioned express train using Spanish carriages, 1st & 2nd class with refreshments, either non-stop or only stopping at Tanta.  These are the best trains.  Originally operated by a French gas-turbine 'turbotrain', but since December 2007 by regular air-conditioned carriages as the fuel-thirsty turbotrains were too expensive to maintain.

Exp = Fast air-conditioned express train using French-built carriages with 1st & 2nd class and refreshments, usually making several intermediate stops.  Also recommended.

Ord = Ordinary train, not normally used by tourists.  Basic 2nd & 3rd class, not air-conditioned.

How to buy tickets.  Fares are shown below.  You can check these times & fares at https://enr.gov.eg.

Cairo-Alexandria is 208 km (129 miles).

 Alexandria ► Cairo

Train type:

Ord

Ord

Exp

Special

Ord

Ord

Special

Exp

Ord

Exp

Ord

Special

Ord

Ord

Exp

Ord

Train number:

198

8

902

906

158

10

904

900

12

910

14

912

164

18

914

20

Alexandria 

depart 

0330

0520

0600

0700

0715

0725

0800

0815

0915

1000

1045

1200

1215

1230

1300

1330

Cairo

arrive

0700

0900

0915

0930

1015

1150

1030

1115

1330

1255

1355

1430

1515

1600

1615

1745

 Alexandria ► Cairo  (continued)

Train type:

Special

Ord

Special

Exp

Ord

Special

Special

Ord

Special

Special

Exp

Exp

Ord

Special

Train number:

916

24

918

922

196

88

928

32

926

2000

1912

930

30

934

Alexandria 

depart 

1400

1430

1500

1530

1545

1645

1800

1820

1900

1930

2000

2000

2125

2200

Cairo

arrive

1630

1840

1730

1830

1855

1925

2030

2150

2130

2210

2225

2300

0020

0030

 How much does it cost?

1st class

air-con express   

2nd class

air-con express   

2nd class

ordinary train *

 Cairo - Alexandria (Special express train)

LE 52 (£6 or $9) 

LE 36 (£4 or $6)  

-

 Cairo - Alexandria (Express train)    

LE 36 (£5 or $7) 

LE 26 (£3 or $5)  

-

 Cairo - Alexandria (Ordinary train)

-

-

LE  7 (£1 or $2)

* not usually offered to foreigners.   LE = Egyptian pounds. 

 If you have an ISIC student card, this used to give you a 33% reduction, although one report says this is no longer the case.

Children aged 0 to 3 travel free, children 4 to 9 travel at half fare, children 10 and over pay full fare.

On board an air-conditioned express from Cairo to Alexandria...

An air-conditioned express train from Cairo, arrived at Alexandria station.   First class seats on a Cairo to Alexandria express train.

Spanish trains:  At Alexandria Misr station, an air-conditioned Spanish express train has arrived from Cairo. Courtesy Adrian Smith.

1st class on a Cairo-Alexandria Spanish train. Photo courtesy of Adrian Smith.

Air-conditioned 2nd class   Air-conditioned 1st class   Egyptian Railways - air-conditioned express train as used Cairo-Alexandria

French trains:  Air-con 2nd class on a French train

Air-conditioned 1st class seats on a French train.

An air-conditioned express train, with stainless-steel French carriages.


Cairo to Luxor & Aswan

You can travel between Cairo, Luxor and Aswan on 4 different types of train:

Overnight deluxe sleeper train (1 & 2-bed sleepers & lounge car, shown as sleeper below, see photos below, recommended)

Daytime air-conditioned express trains (shown as Exp in the timetable below, recommended)

Overnight air-conditioned express trains (with seats, also shown as Exp in the timetable below, but at night a sleeper is recommended)

Daytime ordinary slow trains, not air-conditioned, very basic, and not usually taken by tourists (shown as Ord below).

Recommended trains are shown in bold, but see the advice on tourist train restrictions.  Tourists won't be sold tickets for the daytime trains at stations, only for the deluxe sleeper.  So for daytime travel either book online as shown here or simply get on & pay on board.

 Cairo ► Luxor ► Aswan

Train type:

Exp**

Exp

Exp

Ord+

Ord+

Exp

Ord+

Ord+

Ord+

Exp

sleeper

Exp

sleeper

sleeper

Exp

Exp**

Exp

Train number:

1902

934

980*****

80

158

982

160

164

1434

988

84***

88

86

82***

976

996

886

Alexandria

depart

-

2200

-

-

0715

-

-

1140

-

-

-

1645

-

-

-

-

-

Cairo

depart 

0005

0100

08:00

0730

1030

12:00

1230

1530

1820

1900

-

2000

20:15

-

2100

2200

2315

Giza

depart 

0035

0120

08:20

0750

1050

12:20

1250

1550

1840

1925

20:00

2025

|

21:35

2125

2225

2340

Luxor 

arr/dep

0945

1030

18:15

1920

2105

22:20

2325

0150

0350

0425

05:20

0620

06:40

07:10

0700

0735

0900

Isna *

arrive

1040

-

19:00

2010

-

23:30

-

0240

|

0515

|

0717

07:25

08:00

-

0820

0950

Edfu *

arrive

1120

-

19:45

2105

-

00:05

-

0330

0520

0600

07:00

0755

08:10

08:45

-

0900

1035

Kom Ombo *

arrive

1230

-

20:45

2210

-

00:55

-

0425

0610

0655

|

0850

09:10

09:45

-

1000

1130

Aswan

arrive

1315

-

22:00

2305

-

01:55

-

0525

0655

0755

08:35

1005

10:20

10:30

-

1110

1220

* = Guesstimated time, please check exact time locally.

** = also has Nefertiti class with 6-seat compartments.

*** = sleeper train 82/83 only runs when needed, currently not running. Train 84/85 also believed not to be running at present.  Use 86/87.

**** = Train 86 is currently not authorised for foreigners, please use train 84 instead.  This may change, but that is the situation at the time of writing.

***** = Train 980 may not be running at the moment, according to two reports received in October 2014.  It's not known if this is merely temporary or not.

Exp = Express train with air-con 1st & 2nd class seats & refreshments. 

Ord = Ordinary train, not normally used by tourists, basic 2nd & 3rd class seats. 

Ord+ = also has air-con 2nd class.

Sleeper = Deluxe sleeper train run by Watania (previously Abela Egypt), sleeping-cars & lounge car.  Trains 84, 85, 86, 87 run daily & also have 1st class seats.  Trains 82 & 83 only run at peak times.

Cairo to Luxor is 671km (419 miles).  Cairo to Aswan is 879 km (549 miles).   Fares shown below.   How to buy tickets.

Giza station is a fair way from the Pyramids, but if you're staying out that way it can be better than going into Cairo city centre.  You can travel between Cairo & Giza on the Cairo Metro, www.cairometro.gov.eg.

You can check these times & fares at https://enr.gov.eg.

See the section about government tourist restrictions

 Aswan ► Luxor ► Cairo

Train type:

Exp

Ord+

Exp

Exp

Exp

Ord+

Ord+

Ord+

Exp

Exp

Exp

sleeper

sleeper

sleeper

Exp

Exp**

Exp

Train number:

2003

157

981

983

935

81

993

163

887

977

1903

83***

87

85***

997

89

989

Aswan

depart

01:00

-

05:00

07:00

-

0930

-

1300

1500

-

1615

16:00

19:00

19:00

1945

2000

2130

Kom Ombo*

depart

01:43

-

05:48

07:48

-

1025

-

1355

1542

-

1648

??:??

??:??

|

2043

2101

2220

Edfu*

depart

02:35

-

06:45

08:40

-

1123

-

1450

1630

-

1740

??:??

??:??

20:45

2137

2158

2315

Isna*

depart

|

-

07:35

09:25

-

1210

-

1540

1715

-

1825

??:??

??:??

|

2222

2246

0002

Luxor 

arr/dep

04:15

0730

08:45

10:35

12:00

1315

1430

1645

1820

1900

1945

19:40

22:30

22:30

2315

2345

0100

Giza 

arrive

13:20

1755

18:45

21:05

21:40

0045

0155

0245

0345

0425

0510

|

|

|

0845

1005

1020

Cairo 

arrive

13:35

1810

19:10

21:20

22:05

0100

0210

0300

0415

0455

0540

05:25

08:30

08:20

0915

1025

1045

Alexandria

arrive

-

2230

-

-

01:00

-

-

0645

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1340

-

 Fares

Deluxe sleeper 

(sharing 2-berth)

Deluxe sleeper

(sole occupancy)

Seat on overnight

sleeper train

1st class

air-con express  

2nd class

air-con express

2nd class non-AC

ordinary train

 Cairo to Luxor

$ 100 (£65) **

$ 120  (£78) **

LE171 (£21 / $31)

LE 94 (£11 / $17) *

LE 48 (£6 / $9) *

LE 42 (£5 / $8) *

 Cairo to Aswan

$ 100 (£65) **

$ 120  (£78) **

LE171 (£21 / $30)

LE 113 (£13 / $21) *

LE 57 (£7 / $11) *

LE 50 (£6 / $10) *

 Luxor to Aswan  

-

-

$14 (£9)

LE 43 (£6 / $8)

LE 26 (£3 / $5) *

LE 10 (£1 / $2) *

Fares are one-way fares, the price is the same in either direction.

* not sold to tourists at the ticket office, but see the section about tourist travel restrictions and how to get around them.

** fare may be paid in US$, euros, sterling or Egyptian pounds, includes evening meal & breakfast.   

LE = Egyptian pounds.  If you have an ISIC student card this used to give a 33% reduction, it may or may not still do.   How to buy tickets

Children aged 0 to 3 travel free, children 4 to 9 travel at two-thirds fare, children 10 and over pay full fare.  

On the deluxe sleeper train, children aged 4 to 9 pay $85 one-way, children under 3 free (but without a berth, child rate applies if you want them to have a bed).

The deluxe sleeper trains from Cairo to Luxor & Aswan:  www.wataniasleepingtrains.com.  

Sleeper train 84 & (when it's running) train 82 leave from Giza station, not Cairo.  You can travel between Cairo & Giza by taxi or on the Cairo Metro, www.cairometro.gov.egSleeper train 86 leaves from Cairo's main Ramses station, which is obviously far more convenient for central Cairo.  Northbound, all trains run to Cairo, not Giza.

The deluxe sleeper train is the best way to travel between Cairo and Luxor or Aswan, saving time and travelling in relative comfort, and it's also an Egyptian experience in its own right.  These trains are run by a private company called El Watania who took over from previous operator Abela Egypt in January 2010.  They have air-conditioned sleeping-cars with secure & lockable 1 & 2-berth rooms and a bar-lounge car, see the photos below.  The fare includes a basic airline-style tray-meal in the evening and simple breakfast.  Room service can serve drinks in your compartment at extra cost.  The compartments have a standard 2-pin shaver socket which can be used to recharge cameras and mobile phones with any suitable 2-pin adaptor.  Sleepers are non-smoking, but you can smoke if you need to in the vestibules at each end of the carriage.  The fare is now US$100 per person one-way sharing a 2-berth compartment or US$120 in a single-berth compartment from Cairo to either Luxor or Aswan, payable in Egyptian pounds, US dollars, euros or pounds sterling (dollars or euros preferred, credit cards not accepted).  Children aged 0-3 travel free, children 4-9 $85.  Passengers travelling alone who don't want to pay the single-berth fare can book a berth in a 2-berth compartment and share with another passenger of the same sex.  For more information, see www.wataniasleepingtrains.com.

How to book the deluxe sleeper:  You can now book the sleeper trains online at http://e7gezly.com/sleepingtrains (click Get tickets).  You pay online with Visa or MasterCard and will receive a confirmation email immediately after booking. In the next day or two, you'll receive a second email from Watania with a PDF file attached with your sleeping-car berth allocation which is all you need to board the train  in fact, it's reported you may now receive your tickets straight away, within 2 hours of booking, feedback would be appreciated.  If for any reason this method doesn't work for you, use one of the alternative methods by phone or email explained here.  If you book in person at the station a day or two before departure, you may well find places available, but at peak tourist times such as Christmas or Easter it can get fully-booked by tour groups, so if a specific date is important to you, I'd recommend pre-booking.

On board the sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor & Aswan...

Boarding the Cairo-Luxor sleeper train   2-bed sleeper on the overnight train from Cairo to Luxor & Aswan

Boarding the sleeper train.

Photo courtesy of Steve Hounslow

 

2-berth sleeper, beds made up.

Courtesy of Abela Egypt

2-berth sleeper in day mode on the sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor & Aswan   Boarding the sleeper train to Luxor in Cairo

2-berth sleeper, beds folded away.

Courtesy of Abela Egypt.

 

Canine security in evidence... 

Photo courtesy of Steve Hounslow

Lounge car on the Cairo to Luxor sleeper train   Lounge car on the Cairo-Luxor sleeper train

Lounge-bar car...  A modern air-conditioned car, refurbished with old-world decor. 

Photos courtesy of Neil Bastock

Pre-packed dinner on the deluxe sleeper from Cairo to Luxor & Aswan   Tray breakfast on the sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor & Aswan

Dinner & breakfast are included in the fare...  Some people find the food OK, others find it disappointing, but these photos show you what to expect.  Feel free to bring your own supplies for a picnic on the train!  Photos courtesy of Neil Bastock.

Watch the sleeper video    Bar car video

Short account of an Aswan to Cairo deluxe sleeper train journey.

The compartments are shown in evening mode with the beds still folded away...

Travellers' reports:  A journey on the Upper Nile sleeper...

Traveller Sean Sickinger reports:  "On the ticket you're advised to be on the platform at least 30 minutes before departure, although this doesn't mean the train will be on time! On my trip, the train was 30 minutes late leaving Giza and nearly 2 hours late into Luxor, so factor a possible delay into your plans.  Giza mainline station is right next to Giza metro station and there are a few small shops selling snacks or water, plus a small restaurant.  At the station there are small numbers hanging from the platform canopy, these indicate the approximate location of the carriages so if you're booked in car 6, stand next to sign number 6. Don't expect to find any Watania staff on the platform, just wait for the sleeper train on the main platform with everyone else.  You may be approached by people with official looking notebooks offering to help you who ask you for your ticket, but don't show it to them - they write down your name and destination as if they were verifying your ticket, then call their buddies in Luxor who will approach using your name and claiming they are there to pick you up, a basic taxi and hotel scam.  Once the train arrives at the platform, Watania staff will step out in front of each carriage to check your ticket and make sure you get into the right car & compartment. The onboard staff are generally very friendly and helpful.  Car numbers are posted just inside each entrance door, but not outside the train. After the train leaves and people have settled into their compartments, the staff bring you your dinner, as selected when you book your ticket.  The meals are similar to what you would get on an airline, although fairly heavy on breads & starches!  Breakfast is served about one hour prior to arrival at your destination, again, heavy on the bread.  Don't expect the same level of smoothness as a European overnight train, as there's a certain amount of jostling and vibration from the tracks, but overall this is not a bad option to get from Cairo to Luxor or Aswan."

Traveller Jess Painter took the sleeper from Cairo to Luxor and back (2013):  "When boarding from Cairo to Luxor, no-one asked for a marriage certificate, although they checked our tickets as we boarded - onto the wrong carriage, telling us it was the right one, of course!  They serve dinner within an hour which was a piece of breaded chicken, rice, vegetables, potato wedges and some sort of cake.  I preferred to eat my tuna sandwiches but my friend ate the train food happily enough.  An hour later, just after 10pm, they come around to turn the seats into beds.  Next time I'll ask for this to be done straight away as the beds are much more comfortable than the seats, two people can sit on the bottom bunk playing cards very comfortably.  The rooms have a sink so you can brush your teeth, with bottled water if you have some, and there's a power socket so you can keep everything charged in the case of a delay.  There is a lounge car on the train but it didn't appear to be open, no drinks were available so people must take their own, alcohol included if you want to sleep better!  Breakfast was very basic, something claiming to be a croissant, a bread roll and a selection of jam, butter and cheese spread.  They also serve tea and coffee, which I don't drink but my friend said they were disgusting!  The toilets are cleaned at regular intervals but you have to time it right. There are two toilets per carriage. You might go in one time and have a horrendous greeting and decide to wait you might go in another time and feel comfortable enough to use the facilities! They permit smoking on the trains but not in the cabins, only at either end of the carriage. So it's best to leave your door shut so the wafting smoke doesn't enter your cabin, even though this can feel a little claustrophobic at times!  Very easy to pick up a taxi from outside the station once in Luxor, it's LE20 (£2) to any hotel (don't pay any extra), but if you can use some broken Arabic you will get them down to LE10, begrudgingly.  The return journey was much the same except that tickets weren't checked on the platform, again no marriage certificate check.  Tickets were not even checked on board.  We asked for our beds to be made up immediately, passed on dinner as it was already 10.30pm when we boarded, and we slept right through until 8am.  I had slept badly on the outward trip, thinking that the bunk bed was going to fall due to the rockiness of the train, but knowing what to expect made the return journey easier and we were so sleepy after a 5am hot air balloon ride that it was a very comfortable ride.  We were then delayed three hours and the 'carriage host' couldn't say where we were, how far we were from Cairo or anything so we had GPS out on the iPhone trying to locate ourselves.  It was a very successful journey and one I would recommend to anyone and definitely do again!"

Daytime air-conditioned express trains...

They're not as time-effective as the overnight sleeper of course, but the daytime air-conditioned express trains are safe, comfortable and incredibly cheap - and best of all, the journey is an insight into Egyptian life.  It's a pleasant ride along the Nile Valley, past palm trees, feluccas, camels and fellahin working in the fields.  You will see how the Nile makes a small strip of land green either side of the river before the desert resumes.  The day trains have air-conditioned 1st & 2nd class seats, see the photos below.  You won't be sold a ticket at the ticket office for these trains, see the section about government tourist restrictions to understand why, but you can easily book tickets online in advance as shown here (recommended), or simply board any train without a ticket and pay the conductor, although you'll then need to find a spare seat.  See the traveller's report below about a journey on these daytime Nile Valley trains.

Boarding a daytime train from Luxor to Cairo at Luxor station   First class seats on an Egyptian 'Spanish' express train.

Luxor to Cairo by daytime train...  This is a morning 'Spanish' train to Cairo, boarding at Luxor station. Courtesy of Neil Bastock.

Air-conditioned 1st class of the 'Spanish' type used on the daytime Cairo to Luxor trains. Photo courtesy of Adrian Smith.

Travelling overnight in air-conditioned seats...

The night trains also have 1st & 2nd class seats (see the photos above) and one coach with Nefertiti class seats.  If you don't mind sleeping in a seat, which not a very nice or comfortable experience, these overnight trains save time compared with daytime trains but cost much less than the deluxe sleeper.  Cairo to Aswan costs LE 170 (£21 or $30) 1st class one-way.  Take a fleece or jumper as the air-con can be quite powerful.  The photos below show a Nefertiti class air-con 6-seat compartment on the overnight Cairo-Luxor-Aswan train. They are converted from a sleeping-car with the berths removed and two compartments knocked into one.  See the section about government tourist restrictions. 

Ordinary slow trains...

The 2nd & 3rd class non-air-con slow trains are fairly basic and only recommended for the more adventurous visitors, see the 'ordinary trains' pictures further up this page.  Government restrictions prevent tourists from being sold a ticket for these trains, although you could get on without a ticket and pay the conductor on board.

Traveller's reports...

Traveller Jerome Wise reports: "We took the daytime air-conditioned express train from Cairo to Luxor, which took 10 hours or so.  It was great fun, a bit of an adventure and a great way to see the real Egypt.  The children (8 and 6) even enjoyed it.  The great thing about the first class seats is that, whilst they are in an airline configuration, you can swivel them so you have facing and back - great for four people travelling together."

Traveller Ian Green took a Cairo to Luxor then Aswan to Cairo daytime trains in 2011:  "We bought our train tickets online at the Egyptian National Railways website having followed your instructions and signed up.  We caught train 980 from Cairo to Luxor in first class leaving at 8am (platform 8) on 30.09.11 costing 187.20 Egyptian pounds between us and the 983 train from Aswan to Cairo on the 07.10.11 first class, leaving at 7am, costing 226.72 Egyptian pounds between us.  The tea was lovely, service pretty good, seats comfy. Toilets passable. Both trains left on time, both were in the station half hour early, but both were about 3 hours delayed getting to the final stop. Take supplies!"

Luxor railway station platform   Luxor railway station

Luxor railway stationPhotos courtesy of Neil Bastock

Visiting the temples at Abydos & Dendera...

Traveller Krys Garnett reports:  "Visiting the temples of Abydos and Dendera from Luxor is easy by train, and much more convenient than the convoy or bus. For Abydos take any train headed to Cairo and get off at Qena, where the station master will arrange a taxi and inform the tourist police.  A policeman will accompany you in the taxi, but you won't get a convoy.  All trains except the Abela sleepers stop at Qena.  Visiting Abydos, take the train to El Balyana. Again, all trains except sleepers stop here, but it's a smaller, older station.  El Balyana is around 3 hours from Luxor, Qena between 1½ & 2 hours."


Cairo to Port Said

Ord+ = Ordinary train, with 2nd class air-conditioned and 3rd class non-A/C.

Exp = Express train with air-conditioned 1st & 2nd class.

Fare:  LE 20 one-way 2nd class (£2 or $4).

 Cairo ► Port Said

 

Ord+

Exp

Exp

Ord+

Ord+

Ord+

Cairo 

depart 

06:15

-

13:45

14:40

-

19:45

Alexandria 

depart

|

04:30

|

|

15:30

|

Port Said 

arrive

10:15

11:10

18:00

19:05

22:10

23:50

 

 Port Said ► Cairo

 

 

Ord+

Ord+

Exp

Ord+

Ord+

Exp

Ord+

Port Said

depart 

05:30

07:25

09:30

13:00

17:30

18:25

18:15

Alexandria 

arrive

|

13:30

|

|

|

00:35

|

Cairo

arrive

09:45

-

13:35

17:10

21:35

-

00:50


Cairo to Suez

Fare:  One-way 2nd class:  about LE 7, or less than UK £1.

Ord = Ordinary train, with non-air-con 2nd & 3rd class.

Ord+ = Ordinary train, with air-con 2nd class & non-air-con 3rd class.

 Cairo ► Suez

 

Ord

Ord+

Ord

Ord

Ord

Ord

Ord

Cairo (main station) 

depart 

-

05:10

-

-

-

-

-

Cairo (Ain Shams station) 

depart 

06:30

|

09:20

13:10

16:15

18:45

21:45

Suez 

arrive

08:40

09:50

11:35

15:20

18:30

21:00

00:00

 

 Suez ► Cairo

 

Ord

Ord

Ord

Ord+

Ord

Ord

Ord

Suez

depart 

06:00

10:10

13:10

15:25

15:50

19:00

21:25

Cairo (Ain Shams station) 

arrive

08:15

12:15

15:25

|

18:05

21:10

23:35

Cairo (main station) 

arrive 

-

-

-

20:05

-

-

-


Cairo / Alex to El Alamein & Mersa Matruh

Ord = Ordinary train, with 2nd & 3rd class seats, basic seating, not air-conditioned.

Note A = Express train with air-conditioned 1st & 2nd class seats, runs June-September only.  At other periods, travel via Alexandria.

Note B = Sleeper, www.sleepingtrains.com.  Runs 15 June-15 Sept on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday.

Note C = Sleeper, www.sleepingtrains.com.  Runs 15 June-15 Sept on Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday.

 Cairo / Alex Mersa Matruh

          

  

 Mersa Matruh Alex / Cairo

 

Ord

Note A

Ord

Note B

 

Ord

Note A

Ord

Note C

Cairo 

depart 

-

06:40

-

23:00

Mersa Matruh 

depart

07:05

13:35

15:45

23:00

Alexandria

depart

06:40

|

13:30

|

El Alamein

depart

10:24

16:20

18:30

|

El Alamein 

arrive

09:24

11:45

17:17

|

Alexandria

arrive

13:30

|

21:15

|

Mersa Matruh  

arrive

12:05

14:15

20:20

06:00

Cairo

arrive

-

21:35

-

06:00

Fares: In the sleeper, Cairo to Mersa Matruh costs $43 per person sharing a 2-berth sleeper, $60 in a single-berth sleeper.  Day train fares not known.


Abu Simbel

There are no trains to Abu Simbel, but a bus service operates from Aswan (275 km).  It departs Aswan at 07:00, arriving Abu Simbel at 10:00.  It leaves Abu Simbel at 13:00 arriving back in Aswan at 16:00.  There are also many tourist day tours, most leaving Aswan very early - for example, 04:00 - for about LE55 (£5 or $9).


Sharm el Sheik, Hurghada, Siwa Oasis

Sharm el Sheik (Sinai) - Cairo

There are no trains to Sharm el Sheik, but there are buses to and from Cairo.  The 485 km journey takes about 7 hours by bus.

Bus company MCV has started online booking of their Cairo-Sharm el Sheik buses in conjunction with a specialist booking agency, see http://e7gezly.com/mcv.  If you manage to book online, feedback would be appreciated.

Go Bus Egypt run a dozen or more buses a day between Sharm el Sheik and Cairo, they have a website (strangely hosted on Facebook) and offer online booking, see  www.facebook.com/pages/Go-Bus-Egypt/179622795466746?id=179622795466746&sk=app_1499359616955821.  The cost ranges from LE55 ($10) to LE160 ($30) depending on the class of bus.  If you manage to book online, feedback would be appreciated.

There are also buses run by the East Delta Bus Co and the Super Jet Bus Co. although currently neither company has a website, but try www.ask-aladdin.com for bus times.

Sharm el Sheik - Luxor

Sharm El Sheik is the far side of the Gulf of Suez from the Nile Valley, so for Luxor you either need to return to Cairo by bus, then travel by train from Cairo to Luxor, or you can cross by ferry (3 ferries per week) from Sharm el Sheik to Hurghada, spend the night there then continue to Luxor by bus.  There is a three-times-weekly fast ferry from Sharm el Sheik to Hurghada, plus a three-times-weekly slow ferry, further details not known.

Hurghada - Cairo

There are no trains to Hurghada, but there are buses to and from Cairo.  The 500 km journey takes about 7 hours by bus.

Bus company MCV has started online booking of their Cairo-Hurghada buses in conjunction with a specialist booking agency, see http://e7gezly.com/mcv.  If you manage to book online, feedback would be appreciated.

Go Bus Egypt run a dozen or more buses a day between Hurghada and Cairo, they have a website (strangely hosted on Facebook) and offer online booking, see  www.facebook.com/pages/Go-Bus-Egypt/179622795466746?id=179622795466746&sk=app_1499359616955821.  The cost ranges from LE70 ($13) to LE150 ($27) depending on the class of bus.  If you manage to book online, feedback would be appreciated.

Buses are also run by Super Jet or El Gouna bus companies (no website, but try www.ask-aladdin.com for bus times). 

Hurghada - Luxor

Luxor to Hurghada (255 km) takes 4 hours by bus, with 2 departures daily (around 06:00 and 12:00 from Luxor, 05:00 and 17:00 from Hurghada.  There is a three-times-weekly fast ferry from Hurghada to Sharm el Sheik, plus a three-times-weekly slow ferry.

Siwa Oasis

There are no trains to Siwa.  A daily bus links Siwa with Alexandria (590 km), departing Alex at 08:30, returning from Siwa at 08:00.  It's reported that there's now a daily overnight bus from the Turgoman garage in Cairo at 18:45 to Siwa, arriving around 05:45 next morning.  The fare is around LE 60.  It's run by the West Delta Bus co.


International buses & ferries from Egypt

There are no international trains from Egypt, but buses will get you to Libya, there's a ferry to Jordan and a Nile steamer from Aswan to Sudan.  There are now NO Mediterranean ferries to Egypt, from anywhere in Europe, at all.

Cairo - Amman (Jordan) - Damascus (Syria) - Istanbul (Turkey)...

There is a direct bus from Cairo to Amman four times a week, fare around £70 or $100, run by JETT of Jordan (www.jett.com.jo) and taking 20 hours, exact times & days of running northbound not known - note that this crosses Israel, and you may be refused entry to Syria later on if you have any sign of a visit to Israel in your passport.  To buy northbound tickets or ask about the schedule northbound, email their Egyptian agents, superjet@post.com tel. 00 202 2290 9013.

Alternatively, if you want to avoid Israel, use a bus & ferry route:

Egypt to Jordan by ferry

The fast ferry from Nuweiba in Egypt to Aqaba in Jordan. Photo courtesy of Elliot Bannister

Cairo - Tripoli (Libya) - Tunis (Tunisia) - Morocco...

IF you have a Libyan visa, there are buses from Egypt into Libya.  However, at present the Libyan government will not grant visas for independent travel to Libya, only for people on tours organised by a recognised Libyan travel agency.  There are buses from Libya into Tunisia, but it's not possible to travel on to Morocco overland, as the Algerian/Moroccan border is closed and Algeria has security problems which make it a no-go zone for westerners.

Cairo - Aswan - Wadi Halfa - Khartoum (Sudan):  See the Sudan page...

A weekly Nile steamer links Aswan with Wadi Halfa in the Sudan, from where a twice-monthly train runs (or at least, used to run,) to Khartoum, see the Sudan page for details.


UK to Egypt without flying

Option 1:  London to Egypt by train & ferry.

Until 1995, Adriatica Line's Espresso Egitto used to sail weekly from Venice and Piraeus to Alexandria.  Michael Palin used it in 1989 and I used it in 1990 to travel from London to Cairo and back without flying - Michael gets everywhere a year or two before I do, and he doesn't have to pay for his own ticket.  Sadly, the terrorist problems in Egypt ended this service.  Until 2001, Salamis Lines sailed weekly from Greece to Egypt via Cyprus, but their services were suspended because of the problems in Israel, the ship's ultimate destination.  Then a new weekly ferry service started in May 2010 linking Venice in Italy with Alexandria in Egypt, www.visemarline.com.  However, sorry as I am to be proved right, this service didn't last more than a year - it ran in a circle via Syria, and fell victim both to the problems in Egypt reducing tourist numbers and the current problems in Syria.  It was cancelled in May 2011.  But yet another ferry has started up, the only ferry across the Med to Egypt, running twice a week from Iskenderun in southern Turkey to Port Said in Egypt, www.sisashipping.com.

Sisa Shipping ferry from Iskenderun to Egypt   Ferry cabin

The Sisa Shipping ferry to Egypt.  Photos courtesy of Mick Sasse

Traveller Mick Sasse reports (2013):  "To book the ferry, I needed quite a lot of correspondence, most productively with Aslihan Ozsen of Sisa Shipping, aslihan.ozsen@sisashipping.com, tel +90 216 338 27 28, fax +90 216 338 26 58. Address: Degirmen Sok. No:18 Kat:18 Nida Kule Is Merkezi Kozyatagi - Kadikoy / Istanbul. This confirmed when the ferry was actually running as the dates on the website can't be relied on.  I wasn't actually able to book it in advance, but he assured me that I would definitely have a place, as I was scared it would get booked up.  The ticket itself I collected (and paid for) at the agent's office, Remon Travel, at Mareşal Çakmak street No:16, İskenderun (town centre). 

Only on arrival at my wifi-equipped hotel in Iskenderum did I learn that the ferry that should have left on 2nd January, the next day, would now run a day later.  I understand that this is pretty normal!  So I spent the day in Iskenderun.  I booked the ferry at Remon Travel at a total of YTL 320 with a 'Pullman seat' - this was more than I'd expected to pay (it includes an agent's commission), I'd in fact wanted to book a cabin berth; however, contrary to what they told me in an e-mail, you can only book a whole cabin, i.e. sharing is not an option.  Next day I reported as instructed to Remon Travel for 10:00, and shortly afterwards a minibus took myself and about a dozen other foot passengers to Limak port north of Iskenderun town. And then we waited... and waited... and waited...  All was rather chaotic as there is no ferry terminal as such, the minibus driver didn't even know where to go.  There are no facilities on the port either, other than some toilets and a shelter.  Eventually our passports were taken, then returned to us at about 14:00.  At 15:00 we finally boarded the Insos Rodos of Hellenic Seaways, flagged out of Piraeus.  The ferry finally sailed at around 01:00 this morning - instead of 12:00 on 2nd January - and arrived at Port Said at 23:45.  An Egyptian visa could be purchased on board for USD 15 cash only - I believe Euros also acceptable - this was straightforward and unbureaucratic. Indeed they did it while they had my passport - good thing I had USD 15 left!  We disembarked 01:30 on 5 January - given the hour, I inevitably was charged over the odds for a taxi (€10) into the city centre. Bear in mind that the ferry docks at the city port - not the port used by freighters, which is further away. Theoretically you could walk it, but it would be potentially dangerous given the chaos of lorry movements and so on around the port.

The ferry itself: As you'd guess, it's been drafted over from hopping the Greek islands, and has the facilities you'd expect, including restaurants, bar, disco/club, duty-free shop, but all closed out of use! I suppose that's not altogether surprising given the nature of the clientèle. I would say that at least 95% (possibly more) of the custom of the ferry comes from a mix of lorry drivers, mostly Turkish, delivering freight to Egypt, which obviously can't go via Syria these days, and, I'm afraid, Syrian refugees fleeing the horror that is unfolding in that country. The food on the ferry is included (including during the time you're not moving), and you won't actually starve, it is very basic - typically a bread roll, some sort of stewy thing, water and a piece of fresh fruit. No choice really.

In terms of accommodation, obviously given that there were quite a lot of families with young children and babies on board, the 'Pullman seat' option isn't really to be recommended - I thought I'd got lucky by sneaking into the closed-down disco area and grabbing a sofa, but just as I was dropping off to sleep I was ushered out to the common area. In a weak position, I paid out USD 145 at that point for a cabin. Bear in mind that it's cash only on the ferry! The cabin was a twin (for single use, of course) with en suite, and was quite comfortable with fresh laundry etc., though it looked as if it could do with a deep clean! (Well, not by Egyptian standards, obviously...) Strangely the fittings were largely labelled in what I think was Korean - perhaps a Hyundai product!"

Option 2:  London to Egypt overland via Paris, Vienna, Istanbul, Syria & Jordan...

Obviously, the situation in Syria has now scotched this route, as all travel to Syria is currently inadvisable.  But for when things sort themselves out in Syria as I sincerely hope they will soon, here are the details:

You can travel overland from the UK to Egypt via Istanbul, Syria and Jordan.  This can be done mostly by train, with the odd bus and short ferry ride, in about 9 nights in total, including hotel nights in Istanbul, Adana, Aleppo, Damascus & Amman.  However, this option is more of an adventure with many separate stages, rather than as a simple A to B means of transport.  You may be inspired by a blog written about travel from the UK to Egypt this way, www.unplaned.com.  Here are the stages, with links to the relevant seat61 page where each stage is explained:

To make a journey like this, you'll probably want to book the London-Istanbul part in advance (see the Turkey page), and arrange visas for Syria, Jordan & Egypt before you leave, but buy tickets for the parts of the journey beyond Istanbul as you go along, with no pre-booking necessary (or in some cases, possible).  In planning a trip like this, you may find this technique helpful


Guidebooks

Click to buy onlineRough Guide EgyptPaying for a guidebook may seem an unnecessary expense, but it's a tiny fraction of what you're spending on your whole trip.  You will see so much more, and know so much more about what you're looking at, if you have a decent guidebook.  For independent travel, easily the best guidebook is either the Lonely Planet or Rough Guide.  Both books provide an excellent level of practical information and historical and cultural background.  You won't regret buying either of them..!

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk

Alternatively, you can download just the chapters or areas you need in .PDF format from the Lonely Planet Website, from around £2.99 or US$4.95 a chapter.


Hotels & accommodation in Cairo, Luxor & Egypt

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Hotel recommendations:

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash (up to a limit) and belongings.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you're resident in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you're resident in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including the USA, Australia, South Africa and EU.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy £20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


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