Getting around Cairo
As you’d expect from a conurbation as vast as Cairo, the city’s public transport is busy and often crowded. People hop on and off the buses even when they’re still moving. They’re nearly always packed too.
Private microbuses or share taxis are another option, with passengers shouting to the driver when they want to disembark.
By far the easiest way of getting around is by Metro (tel: +20 2 2574 8354; www.cairometro.gov.eg). Modern, air-conditioned and efficient, it has three lines which serve the length and breadth of Cairo. Metro Line 1 runs north to south from Helwan to Al-Marg via Tahrir, while Line 2 extends from Shubra Al-Kheima to both Cairo University and Giza. Line 3 runs across the north of the city linking Imbaba to Cairo International Airport.
Line 3 runs across the north of the city; ongoing work on the line will see more stations and connections open over the next few years, eventually linking Imbaba to Cairo International Airport.
The Metro offers a flat fare and the first two carriages are reserved for women, although there is little risk of harassment if women travel in other carriages. The Metro running times are 0515-0030.
There are two types of taxis: the newer white or yellow metered variety (ensure the meter is switched on) (tel: +20 2 16516) and unmetered black-and-white cabs, which tend to be old, rather battered and less reliable. Passengers are expected to know the fare in unmetered cabs rather than negotiate in advance. This can be difficult for new arrivals, so ask the advice of the hotel concierge, or other passengers if you have hailed a shared or unmetered taxi. Some taxi drivers offer guide services too.
Watching your taxi driver weave through dense traffic at top speeds is eye-watering enough without getting behind the wheel yourself. Though the honking and yelling of the chaotic roads are part of the city’s character, they can be overwhelming and dangerous for the uninitiated. Little attention is paid to road signs, while near misses are commonplace.
The minimum age for hiring a car in Egypt is 25 years and an International Driving Permit is required. Most major hotels have agents for the leading car hire companies. Driving is not recommended, but if you are determined to do so, recommended car hire firms include Avis (tel: +20 2 2527 5400; www.avis.com) and Budget (tel: +20 12 2235 5290; www.budget.com). Always keep your identity papers and driving licence at hand as you might be asked to show them at police checkpoints.
Although many Egyptians cycle, it would be madness for any visitor not used to Cairo traffic to consider doing the same.