Transportation in Cairo is hard to manage for tourists, but there’s actually quite some public transportation. In this guide, I’ll explain what you need to know to get from A to B in Cairo.
While Cairo isn’t the most developed city when it comes to transportation, you can find a metro system, which is rare for Africa and the Middle East. Until 2015, Heliopolis and Nasr City had a tram system, too. There is a very limited train network, too. Trains are running to Alexandria and a few other destinations in Egypt. Additionally, there are a few commuter trains, but these services are hardly interesting for tourists in Cairo.
The Cairo Metro dates back to the 1980’s, with the first line opening in 1987. Line 1 is the by far longest line today with more than 30 stations and 40 kilometers. Line 2 serves another 20 stations, while the newest addition to the metro network, line 3, serves the airport and several Adlfurther stations. The metro in Cairo is serving a couple of stations in the city center, but isn’t ideal for sightseeing as there are no stations in many areas of the city. The metro is instead mainly used for locals to commute from their home to their work place. Yet, you can use the metro to get from the airport to the city center. Tickets can be purchased at all stations and are very cheap. There are four interchange stations in the city, making transferring between the lines quite easy.
All metro lines in Cairo:
The traffic in Cairo can be catastrophic, which is making the metro so attractive. Buses on the other hand are totally affected by traffic, making it very tough to plan a bus ride. Additionally, it’s very hard to find any information about buses in the internet as there are no schedules as such and there’s also a lack of information about the system in English.
However, there are a few main routes, which can be an interesting option to get from A to B. The tickets are very cheap by European or American standards, but the bus services aren’t especially comfortable and hardly feature air-conditioning. Thus, I wouldn’t really recommend buses in Cairo. If you are interested nevertheless, the best option is to ask a local about the bus system (e.g. the hotel concierge or friends).
If you are looking at the streets of Cairo, you’ll immediately spot dozens of taxis. There are several different operators and there’s not really a system to spot “proper” drivers. Nevertheless, taxis in Cairo are usually a good way to get to anywhere in the city. Yet, you should be aware that the cars are often old, dirty and not particularly safe. The drivers aren’t the best either.
Prices are very low with the base fare ranging around 5 EGP (~ 0.25 Euro / US-Dollar) and a kilometer charge of 2 EGP (~ 0.10 Euro / US-Dollar). Yet, you should be aware that many drivers don’t use taximeters, so you should always arrange a price before getting into the car. Tourists are likely to be quoted way to high prices, so be sure to negotiate the “fair price”.
Cairo is an incredibly lively city and there are dozens of transportation options. For example, on the River Nile, there are various ferry services. However, there’s hardly any information in the internet about these. Other than that, there are several private bus and minibus services. More interesting for you might be the availability of Uber in the city. The cars are usually quite a bit better than taxis and the rates are even cheaper. Additionally, you don’t have to negotiate about the price, which is why Uber is my favorite option to get around in Cairo.