Getting Around Cairo
The best ways to get around Cairo are by Metro or taxi. Egypt's capital is constantly choked by traffic. But below Cairo's congested streets, the Metro system is clean, affordable, and extremely efficient. If you prefer to stay above ground, several fleets of buses can take you where you need to go for very little money. However, aside from those operated by the Cairo Transport Authority, buses here can be very crowded, tough to navigate, and likely to carry pickpockets. Taxis are the best way to get to places that the Metro doesn't cover, especially from Cairo International Airport (CAI), located about 15 miles northeast of the city center. However, taxi drivers are some of the best con artists in the city. Arm yourself with inside knowledge of the city and you should be fine.
|On Foot||At first glance, Cairo seems impossible to traverse on foot. But when you break the city down and explore its neighborhoods, you'll find Cairo is actually very walkable. Strolling through areas like Islamic Cairo and Coptic Cairo will give you a sense of the city's rich culture and heritage. Just make sure to remain extra vigilant; pedestrians don't necessarily have the right of way here.|
Cairo's Metro system is by far the most efficient way to get around. There are two lines that converge in the center of the city, and trains carry passengers to major attractions like Coptic Cairo and the Giza Pyramids. Within the near future, a third line will connect central Cairo with Cairo International Airport (CAI). Trains run every day from around 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., although hours can vary depending on the season. One-way tickets cost 1 EGP (around $0.17 USD) each and can be purchased at ticket booths located in each station. One word of advice to the ladies: Certain cars are reserved for women and children only (although these cars sometimes become general seating towards the end of the night), which helps reduce the amount of unwanted attention that's often directed at female passengers.
Three types of buses help clog Cairo's streets. The local city bus isn't always helpful to travelers: Bus numbers are non-existent or written in Arabic; routes are unclear for newcomers; and overcrowding is common. However, this is the cheapest mode of transportation with tickets costing roughly 0.25 EGP (around $0.04 USD). Tickets can be purchased onboard. The city's orange minibuses are also not tourist-friendly (pick-pockets are regular passengers), and they cost more than the local buses at around 1 or 2 EGP ($0.17 to $0.33 USD). You'll have the best luck with the fleet operated by the Cairo Transit Authority (CTA). These buses are clearly marked with the CTA logo and serve major hubs such as Cairo International Airport (CAI) and the Giza Pyramids. One-way fares cost roughly 2 EGP ($0.33 USD) and can be purchased from the driver.
|Taxi||Taxis are the most convenient way to get around areas that the Metro doesn't cover because you can't throw a stone without hitting a cab. Cairo contains two breeds of taxis. Unofficial cabs (known as "black-and-whites" because of their coloring) are the most common, but these drivers are more likely to scam you. Black-and-whites don't charge fares based on a meter, so you'll have to negotiate the cost with the driver before setting out. To ensure that you're not getting nickel-and-dimed, talk to your hotel concierge about how much you should expect to pay. The fare chart provided in each cab will also give you an idea of the cost, although you can usually haggle the price down from there. The bright-yellow Cairo Cabs do use meters, with the base fare starting at 3.50 EGP (about $0.60 USD). But Cairo Cab drivers also have ways of extracting more than they're owed, like taking the scenic route or "misunderstanding" your final destination. To avoid this, come prepared with an idea of where you're going and provide a landmark rather than an address.|
|Felucca||Less of a means of transportation, feluccas offer a peaceful (albeit slow) way of navigating the Nile. Comparable to Venice's gondolas, feluccas are wooden boats with oversized sails meant to propel passengers along the Nile to and from Giza. The best place for flagging a felucca is the Dok Dok landing point in Garden City; expect to pay around 70 EGP (roughly $11.50 USD) per person for a round-trip ride.|
|Car||There is no need for a car in Cairo; in fact, having your own set of wheels will drive you insane. Cairenes are aggressive drivers, and parking is a nightmare. If you absolutely must have your own vehicle, you can rent a car at Cairo International Airport (CAI). You must be 25 years of age and possess an international driver's license.|
Entry & Exit Requirements
Americans visiting Egypt will need a valid passport and a visa. Visas can be purchased upon arrival at Cairo International Airport (CAI) for $15 USD (payable in American dollars). However, if you are reaching Egypt by land or from Israel at the Taba border crossing, you will need to obtain a visa before entering the country. Tourist visas are valid for 30 days. For more information, visit the U.S. State Department website.