Train routes: Click for larger map

  Train route map, Egypt
 

OpenStreetMap contributors, available under the creative commons licence.

See Egypt by train...

Egypt is fabulous, Cairo one of the world's most fascinating cities.  There's no need to book a tour, it's easy to travel round Egypt independently, seeing what you want when you want.  Egyptian Railways are the most comfortable way to travel between Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Alexandria, Port Said & Suez.  The views from the train are wonderful, especially along the Nile amongst the fields and palm trees, and the train journeys give you an insight into the country.  This page will give you the knowledge & confidence to travel around Egypt independently, by train...

Train travel information

small bullet point  How to check train times

small bullet point  How to buy tickets

small bullet point  Train restrictions for tourists (now lifted)

small bullet point  What are Egyptian trains like?

small bullet point  Cairo Ramses station

small bullet point  Travel tips

small bullet point  Useful country information - visas, currency, etc

small bullet point  Recommended hotels in Cairo, Alex & Luxor

Train times & fares for key routes

small bullet point  Cairo to Alexandria

small bullet point  Cairo to Luxor, Isna, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Aswan

small bullet point  Cairo to Suez

small bullet point  Cairo to Port Said

small bullet point  Cairo & Alexandria to El Alamein - Mersa Matruh

small bullet point  Alexandria to Port Said

small bullet point  Abu Simbel (bus/ferry service)

small bullet point  Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada, Siwa Oasis (bus)

International travel to/from Egypt

small bullet point  UK to Egypt without flying

small bullet point  Cairo-Amman-Damascus-Istanbul by bus/train

small bullet point  Cairo-Khartoum (Sudan) by train & ferry

small bullet point  Cairo-Libya-Tunisia-Morocco

Route map: Click for larger map

Train route map, Egypt


large bullet pointUseful country information

Train operator:

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

Time zone:

GMT+2 all year.  There's no daylight saving time, this was cancelled in 2015.

Dialling code:

 

+20

Currency:

Egyptian pounds:   1 = LE 21, 1 = 18, $1 = LE 15    Currency converter

Visas:

UK, other EU, US, Canadian, Australian and most western nationalities need a visa to visit Egypt.  As from 2017 there is an e-visa scheme, get your visa online at visa2egypt.gov.eg.

Hotels in Egypt:

Book hotels in Egypt   Tripadvisor hotel reviews

Tourist information:

www.touregypt.net

Recommended guidebooks   Health & vaccinations

Page last updated:

20 March 2021


large bullet pointHow to check train times for Egypt

Timetables for Cairo-Alexandria & Cairo-Luxor-Aswan and several other routes are shown further down this page.  But here's how to check train times online:

 

Check train times at enr.gov.eg

Download a third-party app...

large bullet pointHow to buy tickets

  Ernst/Watania Sleeping Trains reservation office at Cairo station
 

The Ernst / Watania Sleeping Trains reservation office on the western side of Cairo station. Courtesy of Naick & Kim.

  Ticket machines at Cairo Ramses station
 

Self-service ticket machines at Cairo station...

Buying tickets at the station...

  Buy train tickets for Egypt online
 

Buy daytime train tickets online at enr.gov.eg

Buy tickets online at enr.gov.eg

  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 sleeper tickets online at wataniasleepingtrains.com.

Buy tickets through an Egyptian travel agency...

Back to top


large bullet pointTourist train travel restrictions

These restrictions have been lifted...

It's reported that the tourist travel restrictions explained below ceased to apply in 2019, so you shouldn't now have any problem buying a ticket from Cairo to Luxor or Aswan on any train you like.  However, I'm going to keep this section here just in case, forewarned is forearmed.  If you have any trouble from ticket office staff who think the restrictions still apply, you'll know what to do!

Former tourist travel restrictions on trains from Cairo to Luxor & Aswan...

...how to get round these restrictions:

Back to top


large bullet pointWhat are Egyptian trains like?

Overview...

There are two broad categories of train in Egypt, express and ordinary.

Express trains are air-conditioned with 1st & 2nd class seats and refreshments, they are all-reserved and tickets come with a specific assigned seat.

Ordinary trains are slow, unreserved (so can be crowded) with non-air-con 2nd & 3rd class, although a few trains convey an air-con 2nd class car with reserved seats. 

The air-conditioned expresses further divide into two main groups, VIP with more modern carriages and Spanish with much older (but still comfortable) carriages.

Most visitors understandably stick with the air-conditioned expresses, although I've used a 2nd & 3rd class slow train between Aswan & Luxor, the advantages are opening windows and lots of local colour.  A fleet of new Russian-designed carriages is slowly coming into service from 2020-2021 onwards, initially replacing older cars on slow trains, but in due course will also operate some air-con express services.  If you travel on one of these, let me know!

Lastly we have the deluxe sleeper train which provides time-effective travel between Cairo and Upper Egypt.  This has been outsourced to a private company.

small bullet point  VIP special express trains

small bullet point  Express trains

small bullet point  Ordinary trains

small bullet point  New Russian trains

small bullet point  Deluxe sleeper train

VIP special express trains...

These are the best trains, running on both the Cairo-Alexandria and Cairo-Luxor-Aswan routes.  They're shown as Special Service OD on the Egyptian Railways website enr.gov.eg, and as VIP trains on most other apps & websites.  It will say Special on your ticket.  They are fully air-conditioned with 1st & 2nd class and a cafe counter, all tickets come with a specific reserved seat.  A refreshment trolley comes down the train selling tea, coffee & soft drinks.  Seats can be rotated to face either way - or to create a bay of 4 for families - by pressing a foot pedal.  These trains consist of stainless-steel cars with bodyshells built in China, assembled in Egypt, over 200 of which were delivered 2015-16.

Special express train from Cairo to Alexandria

A VIP secial express from Cairo arrived at Alexandria.  Note the stainless steel construction, and the venetian blinds between the panes of double-glazing.  Photos courtesy of Paliparan.com.

1st class seats on a special express train 2nd class seats on special express train.

Air-con 1st class on a VIP special express.  Larger photo.

Air-con 2nd class on a VIP special expressLarger photo.

Express trains...

These mostly use older air-conditioned cars built in Spain, as shown in the photos below.  They are shown as Speed AC Spanish on the Egyptian Railways website enr.gov.eg and as just AC or Air-Conditioned on most other apps & websites.  They have comfortable 1st & 2nd class seating, all tickets come with a specific reserved seat.  A refreshment trolley usually comes down the train selling tea, coffee & soft drinks.  Seats can be rotated to face either way - or to create a bay of 4 for families - by pressing a foot pedal.  These trains also operate on both the Cairo-Alexandria and Cairo-Luxor-Aswan routes.

Several Cairo-Alexandria expresses use stainless-steel cars built in France in the 1980s, remarkably similar in design to the Chinese/Egyptian VIP cars but much older, with an almost-identical window arrangement including the venetian blinds between panes of double-glazing.  Such trains include Cairo-Alex train 911, 915, 919 & 923 and Alex-Cairo train 922.  However, the Egyptian Railways website still lists these as Speed AC Spanish even though they use French cars.

Spanish express train from Luxor to Cairo

Spanish express train (train 2011 at 08:40) from Luxor to Cairo...  Photos courtesy of Paliparan.com.

1st class seats on a Spanish express train from Luxor to Cairo 2nd class seats on a Spanish express train from Luxor to Cairo

Air-con 1st class on a Spanish Express.  Larger photo.

Air-con 2nd class on a Spanish ExpressLarger photo.

Ordinary trains...

Ordinary trains are much slower, with non-air-conditioned 2nd & 3rd class seats.  They are unreserved, you sit where you like, which means at busy times they may be crowded.  Few visitors bother with these trains, although there's no reason why you shouldn't use them if you like.  One advantage is that without air-con the windows open, which is better for seeing and photographing the Nile Valley.  I once took one from Aswan to Luxor as that's only a short hop, my train wasn't crowded, a breeze blew through the open windows, and I met some interesting Egyptian people on board.

A few trains - shown as Ord+ in the timetables on this page - convey one or two air-conditioned 2nd class cars with reserved seats, of the same sort as the 2nd class air-con cars on the Spanish express trains.  These air-con 2nd class cars are a good way to travel between Cairo and Port Said, Suez or Mersa Matruh, or even Alexandria if the express trains are fully-booked.

Ordinary slow train at Luxor station

An ordinary non-air-con train at Luxor station...  Courtesy of Paliparan.com.

New Russian trains...

New carriages built in Russia & Hungary are being delivered in 2020-2021.  This huge order includes 500 3rd class pressure-ventilated cars, 500 3rd class air-conditioned cars (the first 3rd class air-con cars in Egypt), 210 2nd class air-con cars and 90 1st class air-con cars.  The first batch of these cars is now replacing older 2nd & 3rd class non-air-con cars on some Alex-Cairo & Cairo-Asyut-Luxor ordinary trains, but they may turn up on air-con expresses in due course.  If you travel on one and get any interior photos, please let me know, in the meantime see the interior photo here.  Cairo-Luxor ordinary train 160 is already composed of the new cars.

New Russian train at Luxor station

One of the new Russian trains at Luxor station, in their distinctive colour scheme.  Courtesy of Paliparan.com.

Deluxe sleeper train...

Two comfortable sleeper trains link Cairo & Giza with Luxor & Aswan in each direction.  Trains 86 (southbound) & 87 (northbound) run every day all year, trains 82/83 run during peak periods.  It's the most time-effective way to travel between Cairo & Luxor or Aswan and it's also a genuine Egyptian experience in its own right.

Branded Watania Sleeping Trains (Watania means Patriotism in Arabic), Egyptian National Railways has outsourced the operation of these trains to catering & hospitality company Ernst, who took over from previous operator Abela Egypt in 2010.  Foreigners are charged higher tourist-orientated fares than Egyptian nationals.

These trains have comfortable air-conditioned sleeping-cars and a lounge car, see the photos below.  The sleeping-cars have secure & lockable compartments each of which can be sold as a single with only the lower berth folded out, or as a double with both upper & lower berths in use.  The berths fold away to reveal a sofa for evening and morning use, the middle of the three sofa seats folds down to form a table as you can see in the photos.

Each compartment has a washbasin, soap, towel & clean bedding are provided.  There's a 2-pin shaver socket near the sink which can be used to recharge cameras & mobiles with a suitable adaptor.  Luggage goes in your compartment with you, there's a recess over the door for large bags so they don't have to go on the floor.

The fare includes a basic airline-style tray-meal in the evening and a simple breakfast, although tea & coffee are charged for.  Room service can serve drinks in your compartment at extra cost.  The sleeping-cars are non-smoking, but you can smoke if you need to in the vestibules at each end of the carriage.  There is a connecting door between adjacent pairs of compartments which can be opened if 3 or 4 of you occupy both compartments.

Passengers travelling alone who don't want to pay the single-berth fare can book one bed in a 2-berth and share with another passenger of the same sex.

There is a lounge car roughly in the centre of the train serving drinks & snacks, see the photos below.

The sleeping-cars used on these trains were built in East Germany in the 1980s, a few cars retain their original classy German interiors (if your washbasin has a flat top, that's a give-away) but most have been refurbished with shiny fibreglass panels and a half-sphere washbasin cover as shown in the photos below.  Similarly, the photos below show a lounge car which has been refurbished to look old-fashioned, I believe there is at least one lounge car which retains its original 1980s interior with free-standing tables & chairs which ironically looks more modern.  Plans to build new sleeper trains were announced in 2020, but any new trains are still some years away.

For more information see www.wataniasleepingtrains.com Watch the sleeper video Sleeper train times & faresHow to book the sleeper.

Boarding the Cairo to Luxor sleeper train   Sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor boarding in Cairo

The sleeper to Luxor & Aswan about to leave Cairo...  Courtesy of Richard Boyd.

Boarding the sleeper at Cairo Ramses station.  Photo courtesy of Paliparan.com

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

Corridor side of the compartment... Photos courtesy of Ross Thomas.

 

Sleeper in day mode with beds folded away.  Larger photo.

 

...and in night mode with beds made up.  Larger photo.

sleeper train corridor   Sleeper washbasin   Boarding the sleeper train to Luxor in Cairo

Sleeper train corridor...

 

Washbasin...

 

Canine security in evidence...  Photo courtesy of Steve Hounslow

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

Lounge car, built in the 1980s and air-conditioned, but refurbished to look old-fashioned.  I believe at least one car still retains its original more modern (if dated!) interior.  See bar car videoCourtesy of Paliparan.comClick the images for larger photos.

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.  Tea & coffee are not included, but drinks don't cost much.  Feel free to bring your own supplies for a picnic on the train!  Photos courtesy of Neil Bastock.

Back to top


large bullet pointCairo Ramses railway station...

Cairo's main station:  See location map & station plan...

All mainline trains use Cairo's impressive main station, often called Ramses station.  The first station opened here in 1856, the current building dates from 1892.  It was extended in 1955 and modernised in the 2010s with marble flooring and air-conditioning.  The station is both a through station and a terminus, the main station building sits next to seven terminus platforms, with four through platforms running alongside, see Google Maps satellite view station plan.

Express trains to Alexandria normally leave from the terminus platforms, numbered 1-7 from right to left (1-4 are under the impressive trainshed, 5-7 alongside).  The VIP express trains to Alex typically leave from platform 4.

Trains to Luxor & Aswan leave from the four through platforms, numbered 8, 9, 10 & 11.  A passageway leads from the main concourse to platform 8.  A subway leads under the tracks to platforms 9, 10 & 11.  Sleeper train 86 and VIP train 980 to Luxor & Aswan both usually leave from platform 8, easily accessible from the main concourse.

There are more terminus platforms on the far side of the station, numbered 12 upwards, used by northbound ordinary trains.  You are unlikely to need these.  There is also a separate station, known as Cairo Pont Limon (and shown on apps as Cairo Allimon or El-Qahira El-Liamoon), just southeast of the main station.  This handles local trains into the Delta, again you're unlikely to need this.

All bags are X-rayed as you enter the station, although anecdotally it seems they aren't interested in what you have on you when you walk through the metal detector, it's bags they really want to check.  Once inside, the station has a ticket office, left luggage office, tourist office, ATMs, and a food court.  The Watania sleeper office is at the front of the station next to the main entrance, before you go through security.

Cairo Ramses station

Cairo Ramses station in 2021, western side.  The impressive central doorway is kept locked shut, but there are entrances either side, along with the Ernst sleeper reservation office which is an archway or two to the right of the locked-shut central doorway.  As with all main stations in Egypt, your bags are X-rayed when you enter the station.  Courtesy of Paliparan.com.

Cairo station exterior   Cairo station ticket oiffice

Cairo Ramses station, south side...

 

Ticket office...  Courtesy Zacharias Abubeker

Main concourse at Cairo station

The air-conditioned main concourse at Cairo Ramses station, taken from the mezzanine floor with platforms 1-4 behind the camera.  You can just make out the X-ray baggage scanners at each of the entrances.  The passageway to platform 8 is out of shot to the right.  Courtesy of Paliparan.com.

Main concourse at Cairo station

The main concourse at Cairo station, looking the other way, towards terminus platforms 1-4 used by express trains to Alexandria.  The passageway to platform 8 is out of shot to the left.  Courtesy of Paliparan.com.

Food court at Cairo Ramses station   Food court at Cairo Ramses station

There's a food court up the escalators on the mezzanine floor, overlooking platforms 1-4.  A good place for a coffee, snack or meal before your train.  Photos courtesy of Paliparan.com.

Platforms at Cairo station

Platforms 1-4 are terminus platforms located under this impressive roof, with terminus platforms 5-7 out of shot to the left, alongside the trainshed.  The platforms are numbered right to left.  The main concourse is behind the camera.  Here, a Spanish train to Alexandria waits to leave platform 2.  The II next to the door indicates 2nd class air-con.  Courtesy of Paliparan.com.

Back to top


large bullet pointTravel tips

  Arabic numerals
       

Arabic numerals

Platform 4 at Cairo Ramses station

The LED departure board on platform 4 at Cairo Ramses station, clearly showing VIP train 905 from Cairo to Alexandria leaving at 08:00.  Courtesy of Paliparan.com.

Back to top


large bullet pointCairo to Alexandria

Which train to take? 

The best way to travel between Alexandria and Cairo is by train.  There are two broad types of train, air-conditioned expresses with comfortable 1st & 2nd class reserved seats, and slower ordinary trains with basic non-air-con unreserved 2nd & 3rd class seats.  Most visitors stick with the air-conditioned expresses, which are highlighted below in bold type.

The air-conditioned expresses further divide into two types, the more modern VIP express trains shown on the ENR website as Special Service OD and and on most other apps & websites as VIP, and the older Spanish or French express trains, shown on the ENR website as Speed AC Spanish and on most other apps & websites as just AC.  Both are comfortable, both can be recommended, but the VIP trains are more modern and in better condition.

Timetable northbound...

 Cairo ► Alexandria

Train type:

Ord

Ord

Ord+

Exp

Ord

VIP

Exp

Ord+

Exp

Exp

Ord

Exp*

Ord

Exp

Ord

VIP

Train number:

1

163

119

903

7

905

901

1109

909

911

11

89

15

913

133

917

Cairo depart

depart 

0300

0420

0500

0600

0620

0800

0810

0820

0900

1000

1010

1115

1125

1230

1255

1400

Alexandria arrive

arrive

0645

0745

0950

0930

1010

1030

1115

1135

1150

1305

1425

1355

1510

1525

1710

1630

 Cairo ► Alexandria  (continued)

Train type:

Ord

Exp

VIP

Exp

Ord

Exp

Ord

Exp

Ord

Exp

Ord

VIP

Ord

Exp

Ord

VIP

Train number:

1203

919

2001

915

21

923

27

925

23

921

31

927

157

931

29

935

Cairo

depart 

1410

1425

1500

1510

1520

1600

1615

1710

1720

1800

1830

1900

1925

2015

2030

2230

Alexandria 

arrive

1750

1805

1730

1820

1915

1925

1950

2025

2150

2035

2230

2130

2240

2335

0020

0105

Timetable southbound...

 Alexandria ► Cairo

Train type:

Ord

Ord

Ord

Exp

VIP

Ord

Ord

VIP

Exp

Ord

Ord

Exp

Ord

Ord

Exp

Ord

Train number:

2

1108

8

902

906

158

14

904

900

12

132

912

164

18

914

18

 Alexandria 

depart 

0215

0330

0520

0600

0700

0715

0725

0800

0815

0915

1020

1130

1200

1230

1300

1310

 Cairo

arrive

0625

0710

0915

0925

0935

1020

1200

1030

1120

1325

1405

1445

1515

1600

1620

1715

 Alexandria ► Cairo  (continued)

Train type:

VIP

Ord

Exp

Ord

Exp

Ord+

Exp

Ord+

VIP

Ord

VIP

VIP

Exp

Ord

VIP

Train number:

916

24

918

688

922

196

88

118

928

32

926

2008

930

28

934

 Alexandria 

depart 

1400

1425

1500

1510

1530

1545

1700

1720

1800

1830

1900

2000

2010

2020

2215

 Cairo

arrive

1630

1840

1745

2020

1850

1900

1935

2230

2050

2225

2130

2235

2320

0030

0050

Notes for the timetable...

Bold type = Air-conditioned express trains.  Most visitors will want to take one of these.

VIP = VIP special express train, extra-fast air-conditioned express with 1st & 2nd class reserved seats & refreshments, using stainless-steel carriages built in China/Egypt in 2015-16.  Most only stop at Tanta & Sidi Gaber, or just Sidi Gaber.  These are the best trains, higher fares apply than for the Spanish trains.  Shown on enr.gov.eg as Special Service OD, and on most other apps & websites as VIP, see the photos above.

Exp = Express train, fast air-conditioned express with 1st & 2nd class reserved seats & refreshments, using red & white Spanish carriages or French stainless-steel carriages.  Comfortable & recommended, but older than the VIP trains.  Shown on enr.gov.eg as Speed AC Spanish and on other apps & websites as AC, see photos above.

* Tip:  Train 89 is an overnight through service from Aswan & Luxor to Alexandria, best avoided for Cairo-Alexandria journeys as it may be delayed.

Ord = Ordinary train, 2nd & 3rd class unreserved seats, non-air-con, not normally used by tourists, see the photo above.

Ord+ = Ordinary train, 2nd & 3rd class unreserved seats, non-air-con, also conveys one or more cars of air-conditioned 2nd class reserved seats.

How to buy ticketsCheck these times & fares online or using an app as shown above

Hotels in Alexandria:  The two classic hotels right on the Corniche are the famous Cecil Hotel & the Metropole Hotel.  Both hotels are a 19-minute 1.4 km walk or 11 minute taxi ride from Alexandria station.

Cairo-Alexandria is 208 km (129 miles).  All these trains also call at Sidi Gaber, a local station 3 km from Alexandria's main station.

How much does it cost?

 Fares

1st class

air-conditioned

2nd class

air-conditioned

2nd class

non-a/c

3rd class

non-a/c

 Cairo - Alexandria by VIP Special Express

LE 130 (6 or $8) 

LE 104 (5 or $7)  

-

-

 Cairo - Alexandria by Spanish Express train  

LE 93 (4 or $6) 

LE 57 (3 or $4)  

-

-

 Cairo - Alexandria by Ordinary train

-

-

Not known

Not known

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

How to buy tickets...

Alexandria station...

Alexandria station

Alexandria station in 2021, sometimes known as Alexandria Misr station.  As with all main stations in Egypt, your bags are X-rayed when you enter the station.  Courtesy of Paliparan.com.

An express train from Cairo arrived at Alexandria station.

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

Alexandria station platforms

On the left is a brand-new Russian-built train, delivered in 2020-2021.  On the right, a VIP special express train with Chinese/Egyptian-built stainless-steel carriages has arrived from Cairo. Courtesy of Paliparan.com.

Back to top


large bullet pointCairo to Luxor & Aswan

Which train to take?

The deluxe sleeper is the most comfortable & time-effective way to travel between Cairo & Luxor or Aswan, in effect as fast as flying, but far more of a genuine Egyptian experience and better for the environment, too.  It's more expensive than normal trains, but it saves a hotel bill.  You'll still see Nile Valley scenery in the morning, at least going southbound to Aswan.  If time is tight, go sleeper both ways, but personally I'd go one way by sleeper and the other by daytime train, to experience the train ride along the Nile Valley.  Incidentally, travelling overnight in a seat saves time and is cheap, but not comfortable, I'd either splurge on a sleeper or take a daytime train.

I have highlighted the deluxe sleeper train and the best air-conditioned daytime train in bold type.  I recommend that particular daytime train (980/981) as it's the best VIP type, it'll show you most of the route in daylight, and an hour or two delay won't mean arriving at silly o'clock.  By all means take another train if you prefer, for example train 2010 southbound or trains 2011 or 983 northbound, all Spanish trains.  Most visitors stick with the air-conditioned expresses (marked VIP or Exp below) but even ordinary non-air-con trains can be fine for short hops, for example when travelling between Qena, Luxor, Kom Ombo, Edfu & Aswan.

Timetable southbound...

 Cairo ► Luxor ► Aswan

Train type:

Exp

Ord

Exp

VIP

Ord

Exp

Ord

Exp

Ord

Exp

Ord

VIP

Ord

Exp

Sleeper

Exp

VIP

Sleeper

VIP

Exp

Ord

VIP

Train number:

1902

832

934

980

80

2010

158

982

160

986

164

2006

188

988

86

88

2014

82*

976

996

90

2008

 Alexandria

depart

-

-

2200

-

-

-

0715

-

-

-

1200

-

-

-

-

1700

-

-

-

-

-

2000

 Cairo

depart 

0020

0035

0110

0800

0830

1000

1030

1200

1215

1300

1530

1715

1800

1900

1945

2000

2100

2110

2130

2200

2215

2300

 Giza

depart 

0050

0105

0140

0830

0855

1025

1100

1230

1240

1330

1600

1745

1825

1925

2015

2030

2125

2130

2200

2230

2240

2330

 Asyut

arr/dep

0500

0805

0615

1310

1530

1505

1650

1715

1855

1825

2105

2215

0045

0000

0055

0140

0200

0230

0235

0310

0410

0340

 Al Balyana

arr/dep

|

1100

|

1558

1835

|

|

2005

2145

2109

0000

|

0352

|

|

0427

|

|

0512

|

0709

|

 Qena

arr/dep

0920

1255

1015

1800

2030

1830

2130

2200

2340

2300

0215

0205

0555

0350

0455

0615

0545

0640

0655

0715

0905

0735

 Luxor 

arr/dep

1005

1355

1055

1900

2130

1915

2225

2255

0040

0000

0315

0250

0655

0435

0555

0715

0630

0750

0745

0800

1025

0820

 Isna

arr/dep

1102

1458

-

2004

2234

-

-

2358

-

-

0412

|

0753

0532

0654

0818

0725

0836

-

0859

1129

|

 Edfu

arr/dep

1148

1554

-

2053

2339

-

-

0042

-

-

0511

0430

0851

0616

0743

0909

0810

0931

-

0949

1229

1007

 Kom Ombo

arr/dep

1236

1652

-

2154

0051

-

-

0139

-

-

0611

0521

0947

0705

0840

1010

0900

1030

-

1046

1326

1103

 Aswan

arrive

1320

1740

-

2240

0140

-

-

0225

-

-

0700

0600

1030

0750

0925

1055

0940

1110

-

1125

1415

1145

Timetable northbound...

 Aswan ► Luxor ► Cairo

Train type:

Ord

Exp

Ord

Ord

Exp

VIP

Exp

VIP

Ord

Ord

VIP

VIP

VIP

Sleeper

Exp

Sleeper

VIP

Exp

Exp

Ord

Exp

Ord

Train number:

833

987

159

157

2011

981

983

935

81

163

2007

977

2015

83*

1903

87

2009

997

89

187

989

91

 Aswan

depart

0010

-

-

-

0515

0530

0730

-

0930

1230

1500

-

1600

1620

1700

1715

1810

2045

2105

2200

2300

2330

 Kom Ombo

arr/dep

0101

-

-

-

0606

0617

0817

-

1020

1321

1543

-

1643

1705

1747

1801

1852

2128

2151

2246

2350

0021

 Edfu

arr/dep

0200

-

-

-

0704

0717

0910

-

1125

1422

1633

-

1733

1803

1836

1855

1947

2225

2249

2343

0039

0118

 Isna

arr/dep

0257

-

-

-

0749

0808

0953

-

1227

1522

1717

-

1817

1853

1919

1941

|

2309

2338

0042

0124

0219

 Luxor 

arr/dep

0355

0450

0600

0730

0840

0910

1055

1240

1325

1625

1815

1925

1910

1945

2010

2035

2120

0005

0035

0140

0215

0315

 Qena

arr/dep

0500

0600

0705

0835

0930

1015

1200

1335

1430

1730

1910

2020

2000

2040

2105

2135

2215

0100

0140

0245

0305

0420

 Al Balyana

arr/dep

0640

0740

0845

|

|

1155

1340

|

1610

1910

|

2142

|

|

|

|

|

|

0320

0450

|

0557

 Asyut

arr/dep

0920

1005

1125

1250

1300

1425

1620

1705

1855

2150

2245

0000

2310

0010

0050

0105

0145

0420

0535

0725

0620

0830

 Giza 

arrive

1630

1515

1800

1845

1740

1915

2120

2145

0130

0315

0335

0440

0400

0510

0530

0605

0625

0930

1040

1320

1115

1430

 Cairo 

arrive

1650

1535

1820

1905

1800

1935

2140

2205

0150

0335

0355

0500

0420

0530

0550

0625

0645

0950

1100

1340

1135

1450

 Alexandria

arrive

-

-

-

2240

-

-

-

0105

-

0745

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1355

-

-

-

Notes for timetable...

* = sleeper train 82/83 only runs at peak periods.  86/87 runs every day.

Bold type = recommended daytime train & sleeper train for journeys between Cairo & Upper Egypt.  But by all means take one of the others.

VIP = VIP special express train with air-conditioned 1st & 2nd class reserved seats & refreshments, using modern stainless-steel carriages built in China/Egypt in 2015-16.  These are the best trains, higher fares apply.  Shown on enr.gov.eg as Special Service OD and on most other apps & websites as VIP, see the photos above.

Exp = Express train with air-conditioned 1st & 2nd class reserved seats & refreshments, using Spanish-built carriages.  Also comfortable, but older than the VIP trains.  Shown on enr.gov.eg as Speed AC Spanish and on other apps & websites as just AC, see the photos above.

Ord = Ordinary train, 2nd & 3rd class seats, unreserved, slower, not air-conditioned, not normally used by tourists (fine for short hops).

Sleeper = Deluxe sleeper train, sleeping-cars & lounge car.  Special fares apply.  Can be used between Luxor & Aswan, sitting in empty sleepers in seats mode.  Run by Ernst as Watania Sleeping Trains, wataniasleepingtrains.com.

Giza station is a fair way from the Giza 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.

Al Balyana is the station for the Great Temple of Abydos, a 22-minute 9.8 km taxi ride from the station.

Qena is the station for the Dendera temple complex, a 22-minute 9.3 km taxi ride from the station.

Recommended hotel in Luxor:  The famous & fabulous Old Winter Palace Hotel is a Luxor highlight in its own right, request a room in the old part of the hotel, not in the 1970s extension.  The hotel is a 14 minute 1.1 km walk or 4 minute taxi ride from Luxor station.

Cairo to Luxor is 671km (419 miles).  Cairo to Aswan is 879 km (549 miles).

How to buy ticketsCheck these times & fares online or using an app as shown aboveSee the section on tourist restrictions.

How much does it cost?

 Fares

Deluxe sleeper 

sharing 2-berth

Deluxe sleeper

sole occupancy

1st class

air-conditioned

2nd class

air-conditioned

2nd class

non-AC

3rd class

non-AC

 Cairo to Luxor by Sleeper

$ 80

$ 120

-

-

-

-

 Cairo to Luxor by VIP Special Express

-

-

LE 254

LE 171

-

-

 Cairo to Luxor by Spanish Express

-

-

LE 150

LE 109

-

-

 Cairo to Luxor by Ordinary train

-

-

-

-

Not known

Not known

 Cairo to Aswan by Sleeper

$ 80

$ 120

-

-

-

-

 Cairo to Aswan by VIP Special Express

-

-

LE 306

LE 197

-

-

 Cairo to Aswan by Spanish Express

-

-

LE 182

LE 130

-

-

 Cairo to Aswan by Ordinary train

-

-

-

-

Not known

Not known

 Luxor to Aswan on train 86/87 (in seats mode)

$ 10

$ 10

-

-

-

-

 Luxor to Aswan by VIP Special Express

-

-

LE 119

LE 88

-

-

 Luxor to Aswan by Spanish Express

-

-

LE 72

LE 57

-

-

 Luxor to Aswan by Ordinary train

-

-

-

-

Not known

Not known

Fares are one-way, a return is simply two one-ways.  LE = Egyptian pounds.  1 = LE 21.  1 = LE 18.  $1 = LE 15.

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 $70 one-way, children under 4 go free but without a berth - you pay child rate if you want them to have a bed.

How to buy tickets...

Travelling by day on an air-con express...

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.  See the traveller's report below about a journey on these daytime Upper Egypt trains.

Travelling overnight in air-con 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.  Take a fleece or jumper as the air-con can be powerful.  If it still exists, Nefertiti class available on a few trains consists of air-conditioned 6-seat compartments on the deluxe sleeper train, converted from a sleeping-car with berths removed and two former sleeper compartments knocked into one.

Travellers' reports:  A journey by 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 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:  "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!"

Traveller's reports:  A journey by day train...

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:  "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) and the 983 train from Aswan to Cairo first class, leaving at 7am.  The tea was lovely, service pretty good, seats comfy.  Toilets passable.  Both trains left on time, both were in the station half an hour early, but both were about 3 hours delayed getting to the final stop.  Take supplies!"

Travellers' report:  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 Dendera, take a train to 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.  Visiting the Abydos, take the train to Al Balyana, then a taxi."

Luxor railway station platform   Luxor railway station

Luxor station.  Above left, the 08:40 from Luxor to Cairo (train 2011) arrives into Luxor from Aswan.  At this stage, it's on time...  Photos courtesy of Paliparan.com.

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large bullet pointCairo to Port Said

 Cairo ► Port Said

Train type:

Ord+

Ord+

Ord+

Ord

Exp

Ord+

Ord+

Ord

Train number:

945

588

185

951

971

955

572

961

 Cairo 

depart 

06:10

-

08:40

12:00

13:45

14:40

-

19:50

 Alexandria 

depart

|

04:30

|

|

|

|

16:10

|

 Port Said 

arrive

10:20

11:10

12:40

16:40

18:00

19:05

22:10

00:05

 

 Port Said ► Cairo

Train type:

Ord+

Ord+

Ord+

Exp

Ord+

Ord

Ord+

Ord

Train number:

952

570

186

970

956

960

590

962

 Port Said

depart 

05:30

07:25

08:30

09:40

13:00

17:30

18:15

19:30

 Alexandria 

arrive

|

13:30

|

|

|

|

00:50

|

 Cairo

arrive

09:55

-

12:50

13:50

17:25

21:45

-

23:50

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

Ord+ = Ordinary train with 2nd & 3rd class unreserved non-air-con seats plus one or more air-conditioned cars with 2nd class reserved seats.

Exp = Spanish express with air-con 1st & 2nd class.

Fare:  LE 57 each way in 2nd class air-con.

Buy tickets at the station, see the advice here.

Or you can tickets for 2nd class air-con reserved seats on trains marked Ord+ at the ENR website, see the advice in the How to buy tickets section above.

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large bullet pointCairo to Suez

 Cairo ► Suez

Train type:

Ord

Ord+

Ord

Ord

Ord

Train number:

305

593

307

309

311

 Cairo main station

depart 

-

05:00

-

-

-

 Cairo Ain Shams station 

depart 

06:30

|

10:00

14:30

18:00

 Suez 

arrive

09:50

09:50

13:20

17:50

21:20

 Suez ► Cairo

Train type:

Ord

Ord

Ord

Ord+

Ord

Train number:

304

306

308

594

310

 Suez

depart 

06:15

10:30

14:00

15:00

18:30

 Cairo (Ain Shams station) 

arrive

09:35

13:55

17:20

|

22:00

 Cairo (main station) 

arrive 

-

-

-

20:15

-

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

Ord+ = Ordinary train with 2nd & 3rd class unreserved non-air-con seats plus one or more air-conditioned cars with 2nd class reserved seats.

Exp = Air-conditioned express with 1st & 2nd class seats.

Fare:  LE 62 in 2nd air-con.

Buy tickets at the station, see the advice here.

Or you can tickets for 2nd class air-con reserved seats on trains marked Ord+ at the ENR website, see the advice in the How to buy tickets section above.

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large bullet pointTrains to Alamein & Mersa Matruh

 Cairo / Alex Mersa Matruh

          

  

 Mersa Matruh Alex / Cairo

 

Ord

Note A

Ord+

Ord

Note B

 

Ord+

Ord

Ord

Note A

Note C

 

306

939

1205

654

773

 

1209

649

299

943

775

 Cairo 

depart 

-

05:45

06:50

-

23:00

 Mersa Matruh 

depart

0700

08:10

14:45

17:15

22:00

 Alexandria

depart

06:40

|

|

13:40

|

 El Alamein

depart

09:36

11:55

17:51

19:54

|

 El Alamein 

arrive

09:36

11:00

12:40

16:49

|

 Alexandria

arrive

|

14:55

20:45

|

|

 Mersa Matruh  

arrive

12:30

13:30

15:25

20:20

06:20

 Cairo

arrive

15:35

-

-

01:25

05:00

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

Ord+ = Ordinary train with 2nd & 3rd class unreserved non-air-con seats plus one or more air-conditioned cars with 2nd class reserved seats.

Note A = Express train with air-conditioned 1st & 2nd class seats, runs June-September only.

Note B = Sleeper, wataniasleepingtrains.com.  Runs on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday from mid-June to mid-September.

Note C = Sleeper, wataniasleepingtrains.com.  Runs on Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday from mid-June to mid-September.

Fares:  Cairo to Mersa Matruh is LE 130 in air-con 2nd class on train 1205/1209. 

By summer-only sleeper, Cairo to Mersa Matruh is $43 per person in a 2-berth sleeper, $60 in a single-berth sleeper.

Buy tickets at the station, see the advice here.

Or you can tickets for 2nd class air-con reserved seats on trains marked Ord+ at the ENR website, see the advice in the How to buy tickets section above.

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large bullet pointAbu 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).

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large bullet pointSharm el Sheik, Hurghada, Siwa

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.

Go Bus Egypt run a dozen or more buses a day between Sharm el Sheik and Cairo, see https://go-bus.com.  The cost ranges from LE 150 to LE 350 depending on the class of bus.  If you use this route, feedback & any photos 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.  It's reported that in 2015, these ferries may no longer be operating, please check locally.

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.

Go Bus Egypt run a dozen or more buses a day between Hurghada and Cairo, see https://go-bus.com.  The cost ranges from LE 190 to LE 340 depending on the class of bus.  If you use this route, feedback & any photos 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 or 3 departures daily, around LE 110 see https://go-bus.com.  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.

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large bullet pointInternational buses & ferries

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:

  • Take a bus from Cairo to Nuweiba on the Red Sea.  A bus leaves Cairo main bus station at around 08:00, taking about 6 hours to reach Nuweiba.  It's run by the Shark el Delta Bus Co.

  • Take the daily fast catamaran (departing 17:00, crossing 1 hour) or the daily conventional ferry (departing 17:00 and/or 22:00, crossing 3-4 hours) from Nuweiba to Aqaba in southern Jordan, see www.abmaritime.com.jo.  The fare by regular ferry is US$65 economy class, $70 first class.  By fast ferry it's $75 economy class, $95 1st class.  .  You must check in at least 2 hours before departure, and pay your fare in US$ cash.  There may also be an Egyptian exit tax to pay, about $10.

  • You will probably need to spend the night in Aqaba.  There are regular buses and service taxis from Aqaba to Petra and Amman, costing around 3 or 4 JD, see the Jordan page

  • For buses from Amman to Damascus in Syria, see the Jordan page

  • For trains from Damascus to Aleppo & from Aleppo to Istanbul, see the Syria page.  Check current travel advice for Syria - you may be advised against all travel to or through Syria at the moment.

  • Details of the southbound journey from Amman to Cairo are shown on the Jordan page.

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.

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large bullet pointUK to Egypt without flying

It's now difficult to get to Egypt without flying...

Option 1:  London to Egypt by train & ferry.

This used to be easy, but is currently tricky.  The Med is now full of cruise liners going round in circles, but remarkably short on actual ferries doing anything useful.  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 strife in Syria.  It was cancelled in May 2011.  But yet another ferry then 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.  But this ended in 2013.  There are currently no passenger ferries to Egypt, your only hope is a cruise liner or freighter.

Grimaldi Lines run weekly or so freighters to Alexandria from various European ports including Southampton, Salerno (Italy) and Piraeus (Greece), www.grimaldi-freightercruises.com.  However, it's reported that they don't allow embarkation or disembarkation at Alexandria.  Feedback would be appreciated!

One option that may still work, if they allow disembarkation in Egypt, is this:  www.cruisepeople.co.uk/cma.htm offer voyages with French freighter line CMA-CGM from Le Havre and Fos sur Mer (west of Marseille) to Suez/Damietta in Egypt, Le Havre to Egypt taking 10 days at around 120 per day including food and cabin accommodation.

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

Obviously, the situation in Syria has now scotched this route too, as all travel to or through Syria is currently inadvisable. 

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large bullet pointGuidebooks

Paying 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..!Amazon logo

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk

Click to buy online   Rough Guide Egypt

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.

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large bullet pointHotels in Cairo, Luxor & Egypt

Recommended hotels...

In Cairo, the Windsor Hotel has old-world charm and character.  I have yet to stay there myself, but it's been recommended to me, so take a look.

In Luxor, easily the most classic place to stay is the famous and fabulous Old Winter Palace Hotel, from $109 or 55 a night.  At least have a drink in the bar!  Tip:  Request a room in the old part of the hotel, not in the 1970s extension.

In Alexandria, the most famous & historic hotel is the Cecil Hotel (from about $153 or 100 a room), now part of the Steigenberger chain, right on the corniche.  Also try the Metropole Hotel across the square, slightly cheaper with great art deco features and a lift dating from 1932, from $80 or 55 a night.

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Backpacker hostels...

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.

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large bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN...

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

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 and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  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.

UK flagIn the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

UK flagIf you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

UK flagYou can use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

  Australian flag New Zealand flag  Irish flag    If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

A Curve card saves on foreign transaction fees...

 

Curve card

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then charge you a currency conversion fee.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, 500 per month at time of writing.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself - I get some commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you 5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


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