There are trains running all the way up and down the length of the Nile from Alexandria in the north, to Aswan in the south, all along the same train line. It is a cheap and easy way to get from place to place. Here I have written about my experiences on the train and some of my tips that I hope can be helpful.
- The trains run relatively frequently and you can check the train schedule on their website – www.enr.gov.eg (they have an English option)
- The trains from Cairo to Alexandria (2.5hrs) and Luxor to Aswan (3hrs) run several times per day.
- There are both overnight trains and day trains between Luxor and Cairo (see below for more info on these trains) – this train is meant to take 9-10 hours, but can take up to 13 if there are problems on the track. The train from Luxor to Alexandria takes ~13 hours. All the trains I took ran on time which was nice 🙂
Buying a ticket:
- You can buy a ticket directly from the train station, but this does involve you going there in person. In Cairo the main train station is a bit tricky to get to. In Luxor and Aswan it is located right in town. In Alexandria it is a bit of a walk from the town centre. Make sure to have your passport with you when purchasing tickets.
- I had heard of a number of tourists having trouble buying a ticket for the day train from Cairo to Luxor at the station, as they apparently do not allow tourists to catch the day train, instead making them take the overnight sleeper train that is very expensive (~$100USD for a sleeper cabin). But you can get around this by buying a ticket for the day train online, and cheaper tickets for the night train too.
- I bought most of my tickets online at www.enr.gov.eg after signing up and creating an account. It is a relatively easy process but tickets should be purchased at least 24 hours in advance. You do not then need to get a paper ticket at the station but make sure to take a screen shot of your ticket to show on the train.
- Certain trains (e.g. the long trips from Cairo to Luxor or Luxor to Alexandria, or on Fridays/Saturdays which is their weekend) can book out so make sure to book in advance if you can. If you get caught out chat to your hotel/hostel manager or a local and they may be able to get you one on the ‘black market’. This is from locals who buy up 10-15 tickets at a time and re-sell them for a slightly increased fee.
- The tickets for the trips between Luxor/Aswan and Cairo/Alexandria cost between 40-70LE, and Cairo/Luxor were 140-200LE.
Catching the train:
- Finding the correct train and carriage can be difficult as either there are no signs or if there are they are in arabic, but there are a few staff members around so just ask them for help. They will also help direct you to the right carriage, and then the seats on the train are numbered. But make sure to give yourself time to find the right train.
- The difference between first and second class is that first class has three seats per row instead of four, so that means larger seats that recline a bit further. I rode in both first and second class and both were fine.
- I felt safe catching the train on my own. The train guards would keep an eye on me and kept checking if I was ok. On one train I was in second class and the guard moved me to first class which was almost empty. I think this was because I was the only female in this carriage. They would also tell me when my stop was. But it is also a good idea to keep an eye on where you are on google maps or maps.me so you don’t miss your station as they don’t announce anything in English and the signage is poor.
- There are snack stands at most major station platforms, and on the long train trips they offer a food service (chicken, rice, bread and baklava) for an additional fee.
For information and photos from my adventure in Egypt check out these links:
- Alexandria – Egypt
- Aswan and Abu Simbel – Egypt
- Luxor – Egypt
- Cairo and the Pyramids of Giza – Egypt