Most people hotfoot to the country’s blockbuster cities Cairo and Luxor or opt for a fly-and-flop holiday on the Red Sea, but there’s plenty to see in between. If you’re headed to Egypt and want to find out the best way to get around, take a look at our tried-and-tested top tips on how to travel around Egypt.
Top tips on how to travel around Egypt
1. Taking the train in Egypt
The easiest and comfiest way to travel the Nile Valley and its showstopping cities of Alexandria, Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan is by train. Fast trains operate daily, most with air-conditioned carriages. These usually have two classes: first class, which involves reclining armchairs and waiter service, and second class, which is cheaper but more crowded. You can reserve seats up to seven days in advance. Trains from Cairo to Luxor take 11 hours and 14.5 hours to Aswan. Or, you could opt for the Watania Sleeping Train.
It’s worth noting, however, that taking the train in Egypt is riskier than in many other countries due to low investment in the network. There have been several high-profile accidents in recent years, though the government has recently pledged to invest $14.3 million in the service, which should improve them.
2. Hopping on a bus in Egypt
There are three main bus companies in Egypt: Upper Egypt Bus Company, East Delta Bus Company, and West and Middle Delta Bus Company. El Gouna is a private company that runs services from Cairo to popular destinations along the Red Sea, including Hurghada and Sharm-el-Sheikh. Most long-distance routes are air-conditioned, though local bus routes tend to be a bit more hit and miss. Go Bus runs a ‘deluxe’ service that offers more legroom for taller travelers.
3. Taking to two wheels
Few people would advise pushing your pedal power any further than in a small town. The heat is brutal and it’s not uncommon for children to stone foreign cyclists. Motorcycling is marginally safer, though it can be difficult to rent a motorbike or moped and roads are hazardous. The negatives far outweigh the positives, so we highly recommend opting for public transport or taxis instead.
4. Travelling Egypt by plane
There are a few domestic airlines operating in Egypt, with EgyptAir offering the most frequent services. Unless you’re really tight on time, it’s rarely worth taking a domestic flight. Prices rise as planes fill, so you’ll need to book your seat far in advance too.
5. Driving in Egypt
Driving in Egypt is really only advisable for highly experienced drivers with stomachs of steel. The minimum age for driving is 25 years in Egypt and foreign drivers will need to have an International Driving License. Roads are bumpy and traffic – cars, mopeds, donkey carts, and camels – is often treacherous, particularly in the cities. Often, it doesn’t cost much more to hire a driver with a car. Most cars require a hefty deposit and petrol stations may be few and far between in more rural locations.
6. Boats and ferries in Egypt
One of the best ways to experience Egypt is by water. The most popular route meanders along the River Nile between Luxor and Aswan, with a whole array of cruise boats, dahabiyas (large sailing boats) and feluccas (small sailing boats) to choose from. It’s easy enough to book a Nile Cruiser from other corners of the world, but Dahabiyas offer a more atmospheric alternative. Usually limited to 10–20 passengers, itineraries tend to include stops at villages and sites cruise boats can’t visit. You’ll need to book them in advance though. Or, for short Nile journeys, you can sleep under the stars on a felucca. These are usually easy to organize on the ground.
7. Taxis in Egypt
Most taxi drivers will be happy to drive you out of town to major landmarks, offering a more comfortable and convenient way to tick off the sights. Service taxis – servees – operate a wide range of routes and are nearly always faster than busses and trains. Fares are more reasonable than you might expect too. Most service taxis have fixed fares, but if you decide to charter a taxi, make sure you bargain hard and fix your price at the start of your trip.