Transport and driving in Egypt are important issues for expats to consider. While driving in Egypt can be dangerous and chaotic, the country does have an extensive road network and expats should be able to travel by car or by bus between most cities.
That said, expats should bear in mind that Egypt has one of the highest incidences of road fatalities in the world, and should take extreme caution when driving. In fact, when travelling long distances, we recommend travelling by rail, river or air.
Public transport in Egypt
The public transport system in Egypt is extensive and affordable. It's relatively easy to get around the country by train or bus. That said, it's worth mentioning that public transport is not always the most comfortable way to travel in Egypt.
Numerous bus routes in Egypt connect the country’s major cities, but many of these intercity buses can be overcrowded and uncomfortable. Fortunately, deluxe buses also exist on some routes between certain cities. They cost more but the tickets are still relatively inexpensive and well worth the inclusion of air conditioning, on-board toilets and in some cases, WiFi.
Tickets can be purchased at bus stations or on the bus itself, although it is better to book tickets in advance to guarantee a seat on busy routes. There are almost always inspectors on the bus so expats should ensure that they have paid the correct fare and are carrying their passports in case the bus stops at a military checkpoint.
Local buses also operate within cities and most cities will also have minibus services available.
Egypt’s train network is operated by Egyptian State Railways and is affordable and extensive, covering thousands of kilometres. Some trains have air conditioning – these trains are divided into first- and second-class. Trains without air-conditioning have second- and third-class compartments.
Cairo is home to a metro system; one of only three fully-fledged metro systems in all of Africa. The metro has more than 60 stations and carries millions of passengers a day. The metro is fast, reliable and convenient. The two middle cars of each train are usually for women only.
Those who want to travel via something more exciting than a bus or a train should consider taking a boat down the Nile River. Expats can travel on a traditional felucca or on a cruise ship or steamboat.
Taxis in Egypt
Taxis are widely available in Egypt’s major cities. Expats should try and form a relationship with a trusted taxi driver so that they always have someone reliable to call if they need to be somewhere quickly or need a driver for the day. Taxis are usually white and blue or yellow and black.
Another good option is using a ride-hailing app such as Uber. This minimises miscommunications and gives the passenger more control over the route and rate.
Driving in Egypt
Driving in Egypt can be daunting. For this reason, some companies provide employees with a driver, but many people still choose to drive themselves and some employers even cover defensive driving lessons to better equip expats for driving in Egypt.
Egyptians drive on the right-hand side of the road, and road signs are usually in both Arabic and English and are fairly similar to road signs used in Europe.
Expats need to be extra vigilant when driving in Egypt as there are many road hazards to contend with. These include a lack of stop signs and traffic lights, drivers’ disregard for lane markings, and obstructions in the road. Drivers are also likely to encounter stationary vehicles in the middle of the road, trucks driving the wrong way down one-way streets, and minibuses stopping suddenly to allow passengers to disembark in the middle of the road. Drivers in Egypt are also reluctant to use their headlights in the dark and are also not consistent about indicating before turning. It is best to avoid driving at night if possible.