Getting Around In Cairo

by fanfreluche

Getting around in Cairo or how to use the bus system; undertanding the metro and using Cairo cabs

Getting around in Cairo when you are a tourist and don't speak Arabic can be challenging but not impossible. My uncle and aunt went to Cairo a few years ago and I learned a few tips from them. I would like to remind you that visiting Egypt and Cairo may not be advised in the current political situation. The turmoil in the country makes it a lot less attractive. But if you choose to go, I hope these little tips about getting around in Cairo will be helpful!

intro photo:Gary Denham on Flickr

Have You Ever Been To Cairo?

Getting Around in Cairo - Cairo cab

Cairo Cab
Cairo Cab

Another way to getting around Cairo and probably the most recommended to foreigner travels, is the use of Cairo taxi drivers. A lot can be said about them, you will love them or hate them. You will be scared to pieces at some times or just crack up laughing by all the extreme situations you will be experiencing. But, truth has to be said, it is probably easiest to use a taxi to get around Cairo, particularly if you are traveling with a few other people sharing the costs.

Almost all taxi drivers speak basic English and many even speak Spanish so you won´t have to worry about reaching the right destination. You will have to keep in mind though that you will have to hassle and agree on a price before getting in most of the time. And because of the huge amount of Cairo taxi drivers, it is very easy to get one in almost any area of the city. Beware that they will charge you more in front of a big hotel so if you want to save a few pennies, just walk a block or two before hailing your cab.

The Private Taxi Driver

The great thing about Cairo private taxi is that you can plan ahead and get the hassle out of the way of having to haggle your price, leaving all stress at home and just enjoy being driven around Cairo. If you want to visit a lot of monuments on the same day, it is wise to hire his taxi for the day and just let him do the driving back and forth, while you can put all your attention to admiring Cairo´s amazing buildings and monuments.

Learn more about the Cairo Cab here:

Cairo Cab

Getting Around in Cairo - The Bus Station

Cairo Bus
Cairo Bus

If you are thinking of taking the bus in Cairo and don´t speak any Arabic, nor know any of the city, you might want to think again, for a foreign tourist the Cairo Bus System will seem chaotic and impossible to understand.

Part of the confusion when it comes to the Cairo Bus station is the different types of buses you can choose from. There are different companies, different size buses and a multitude of bus lines. You can find several big bus stations (like the type in the picture above) in different locations throughout the station but you can also stop buses when walking on the street.

It is good to know that most buses do not have a sign showing their destination so if you want to go by bus, you will have to shout out your destination and in the case the bus actually goes there, it will stop for you to get on. If you are a woman it is advised to use the large red air conditioned buses that, however more expensive, do not allow people to stand. You will experience less harassment when using this type of buses.

Getting Around in Cairo by Metro

cairo metro
cairo metro

Make sure you get a map of the metro system of Cairo before leaving home. Even though there are just two functional metro lines, you might just be able to travel a few stations and get away from the hectic traffic.

The metro system in Cairo is probably useless to most tourists because of the small number of lines. However if you want to go from the Egyptian Museum (metro station Sadat) to the Coptic area, I would recommend using it. Be aware that there is a metro station in the Coptic area, (Mar Girgis) but that the whole area is closed after 5 PM!

Traveling by metro is cheap, at the time of our visit it was only 1 Egyptian Pound one-way. Be aware that in order to leave the metro station you will need your metro ticket so don´t throw it away and keep it handy!

Recognizing Cairo Metro Stations

Cairo Metro Stations are very recognizable by the big M sign as shown on the picture. The use of the metro it self is pretty self explanatory especially if you have been traveling by metro in other cities, you will find that Cairo Metro system is small but very similar.

Even when not traveling by metro, these stations can be very handy especially when having to cross a very busy road!

Understanding Cairo Metro Rules

Probably the most important thing to keep in mind when using the Cairo Metro System is that men and women can travel in different cars. The fourth and fifth cars on all metro trains are only for women, so that women have an option to not having to share a metro car with men if they don´t want to, but they are allowed to ride in the men´s cars as well.

You will see that most of the travelers stick to this separation of the sexes and it is considered very rude if a man goes in one of these special cars designated for women. After 9 PM the fifth car is for shared use.

Some doors are only used for entering the metro car while others are only used for leaving so make sure you watch the signs (or fellow travelers) as to not use the wrong door.

Getting Around in Cairo by River Nile Boat

River Nile Bus
River Nile bus
River Nile bus

You can also use a boat on the river Nile if you want to go up north or down south depending on where you are and avoid the hectic traffic at rush hour. Keep in mind that this is not the cheapest option but as a travel experience is certainly is recommended. There are so called taxi boats along the riverside and there are also the typical Felluca boats for hire.

As for any of these options, agree on your price before getting on and pay after you have arrived at your destination or you might not get what you asked for!

Getting around in Cairo by boat is fun though and a nice welcomed change if you have been in the city for a few days, however if you get on one right in the beginning, you will get a good feel of the city, which might be useful for the rest of your stay!

Discover a Cairo that no tourist will ever see!

Cairo: The Mother of the World
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A Little More About Cairo, The Nile And ...... Camels

Yes camels! I am fascinated by them
Updated: 09/08/2013, fanfreluche
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MeadowLark on 09/19/2013

Really good article. Cairo can seem very chaotic to the first-time visitor. These tips are great.

MikeRobbers on 09/08/2013

Nice article and useful info shared here. Cairo and Egypt in general is a destination worth visiting.

jptanabe on 09/08/2013

How cool to go on a boat "bus" along the Nile River through Cairo!

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