There’s plenty to do in the adventurer’s utopia otherwise known as Egypt, from archeological indulgence to sun-kissed leisure. Thankfully, Egypt’s highly functional transportation network is guaranteed to take you where you need to be and enrich your travel experience.
Air travel is at the center of it all for those who are looking to save time with a teeming itinerary. 45 minute domestic flights connect the majority of the country’s main attractions, from temples to resorts. The extensive list of airports includes Cairo International, Abu Simbel, Alexandria, Aswan, El Gouna, Hurghada, Luxor, Marsa Alam, Marsa Matrouh, Port Said, Sharm el Sheikh, and St. Catherine.
There are also plenty of options if you prefer the scenic route, some of which are for the less timid traveler.
Covering a more limited network from Cairo to Alexandria, the Delta and the Canal Zone, along the coast to Marsa Matrouh and up the Nile Valley to Luxor and Aswan, Egypt’s air-conditioned trains are great for the long haul, providing a comfier alternative to travelling by road. Schedules and fares are posted on the Egyptian Railways website (enr.gov.eg), where you can also buy tickets online. The most comfortable option is first class, with waiter service, reclining armchairs and on-board movies. Seats are reserve-able up to seven days in advance, but you should be wary that return tickets can’t necessarily be booked at the point of origin. If you’re looking for absolute luxury, then opt for the more expensive sleeper cars. Passengers get a comfortable two-bed cabin with a sink, plus breakfast and dinner, and access to a dining car and a bar.
For those who prefer to traverse via asphalt, Egypt’s three main bus companies, all based in Cairo, provide another alternative. The Upper Egypt Bus Company, which travels to Nile Valley, Fayoum, inner oases and the Red Sea Coast down to El-Quseir, the East Delta Bus Company, which travels to Sinai and the Canal Zone, and the West and Middle Delta Bus Company, which travels to Alexandria, Marsa Matrouh, Siwa and the Nile Delta. Other key routes including Cairo to Alexandria, Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada, Dahab and El Gouna are also covered by independent bus companies.
By Service Taxis
Collective service taxis (servees) are one of the best features of Egyptian transport. Operating on every route imaginable, these taxis are faster and cheaper than trains and buses, but are definitely for the more experienced traveler. The taxis are either seven-seater saloons or microbuses seating a dozen. Ask around in the terminal or listen for drivers shouting out your desired destination. As soon as its full, the taxi sets off. Although it can be used for long journeys, such as from Cairo to Alexandria, this mode of transportation is best for shorter distances, especially between beach towns or to major attractions outside of Cairo.
Driving in Egypt is not for the faint-hearted motorist, but renting a car pays obvious dividends if time is a factor or if you’re looking to visit more remote areas. And it’s not much more expensive to hire a car and driver if getting behind the wheel is not your cup of tea.
Motorbikes and Bicycles
A great way of getting around small towns and reaching local sights or beaches, motorcycles or bicycles can be rented in many locations including Luxor, Aswan, Hurghada, and Siwa Oasis to add that zest to your holiday experience.
Hundreds of steamers operate along the Nile, with over two hundred in Upper Egypt alone. Most sail from Luxor to Aswan (or the other way) on a three- to five-day trip that stops at the temples of Esna, Edfu and Kom Ombo. These luxurious, floating giants will forever change your outlook on travel.
Feluccas, or small sail boats, also serve as transportation. This crowd favorite allows you to experience the changing moods of the Nile while lolling in blissful indolence. Many visitors opt for a felucca cruise between Aswan and Luxor.
Additionally, local ferries cross the Nile and Suez Canal at various points. There are fast and slow ferries from Nuweiba in Sinai to Aqaba in Jordan. There is also a sporadic and slightly less reliable boat service from Aswan to Wadi Halfa in Sudan.
The less populated locales in Egypt are usually easily covered on foot. In larger cities, however, local transport is useful. Learn to recognize Arabic numerals to take full advantage of the cheap buses, minibuses and trams that cover most of Alexandria and Cairo, which also have river taxis and an excellent metro/subway system.
Egypt’s kingly selection of thrill imbued enterprises has an equally splendid variety of transportation options that cater to each and every traveler. Whether you want see it from above the clouds or from the vantage point of a hitchhiker, there are as many ways to discover Egypt as your creativity will allow.