There are a variety of ways to travel between Cairo and Alexandria, and many overpriced tours that will take you to and from Alexandria, but the best and cheapest option is simply to go by train and it is a lot easier than many people assume. Here is how you can travel by train from Alexandria by train and vice versa.
One of my favourite places in Egypt is Alexandria. It is a laid back, eclectic city with a much more Mediterranean feel than Egyptian, and a cosmopolitan facade that rests over a legendary heritage, and the best thing is, it is extremely easy to get to from Cairo.
You can see Alexandria as part of a really expensive day tour averaging out at anywhere between £25 and £50 gbp, but it is much cheaper and infinitely better to just travel there and see things for yourself independently.
And the best way to do that is to travel by train. Here I am going to tell you exactly how you can get the train from Cairo to Alexandria yourself and vice versa.
Why get the train from Cairo to Alexandria?
With stories of endless security problems, military escorts for tourist buses and endless touts telling you the only way to see certain parts of Egypt is through an overpriced tour, it is hardly surprising that most travellers think independent travel in Egypt is too difficult or too dangerous to attempt. Well it isn’t at all, in fact it is extremely easy and very cheap.
There are a lot of public transport options if you want to travel independently in Egypt and depending on your route and your budget some are better than others at different times.
Flying is always an option of course, and in some cases such as between Cairo and Luxor, where tourists are forced to get the expensive tourist night train, it can be the best option. From Cairo to Alexandria however it is the most expensive and time consuming option (taking into account airport security and check in) and generally not recommended.
There are also plenty of local buses plying the route between Cairo and Alexandria, many leaving from Ramses Square or Almaza bus station in Heliopolis. They leave roughly every four hours and they are a great, cheap option.
The best balance between price and comfort however is the train.
Trains leave multiple times a day from Ramses Train Station in Cairo and arrive at Misr Train Station in Alexandria (there are a couple of other stops just before that and you can easily use these too but Misr is central). A first class AC seat is roomy, comfortable, and very cheap. The difference between that and a bus is the equivalent of 1 gbp, so not much, and given that the journey is around 3 hours, the train is the better, more comfortable option in my opinion.
Cairo’s Ramses Train Station.
Cairo’s Ramses train station has changed a lot in the last decade and it is now an absolutely stunning building with beautiful art deco decor in the main terminal, it really is a beautiful improvement on the station of the past.
It is a pretty simple building to navigate, once you get past the security and metal detector at the main entrance you are in the grand atrium. The platforms are all over to your right, alongside a large departure board and the ticket stations are directly opposite you across the hall and in separate halls off to the left.
The hardest part is making sure you join the right queue to get the right ticket, as different windows serve different destinations and all of the signs are in Arabic. It isn’t impossible to figure out but it can be a bit confusing. The worst that can happen is that you wait in the wrong queue and get pointed in the right direction so don’t worry. Just ask a guard if you need help.
Buying your tickets.
First class, AC tickets from Cairo to Alexandria (and vice versa) cost 70 EGP, which at the time of writing is approximately £3 GBP.
You can get second and third class tickets for less, but the jump in comfort is worth the extra pence.
You can easily get tickets on the day by going up to the counter (finding the right queue to join can be a little confusing so don’t be afraid to ask) and simply choosing which time you want to leave. The trains start early in the morning and then are approximately every four hours.
The majority of the time you won’t have a problem getting the time you want but during busy periods or holidays one time slot may be full and you may have to choose a later one and wait.
If you are worried about this, need to leave at a specific time or just want peace of mind, you can easily just go up a day or two before you want to leave and purchase your ticket then.
You don’t need to take a passport or any ID with you to buy a ticket but given the security it is never a bad idea to do so anyway.
Finding and waiting for your train.
Once you get onto the platform itself you are outside again, but there is a clean public toilet if you need it and a small indoor cafe where you can get drinks and a bite to eat. It is a little overpriced with slow service and everyone smokes which makes it impossibly disgusting to sit down and eat anything, but it is there nonetheless.
There is also an opportunity to buy drinks and snacks, and I recommend you do.
Luckily the signs are in both Arabic and English, so finding your platform and time isn’t too difficult. Just look on your ticket, it will have all your details on there, and make sure you have the right train at the right time because there are multiple trains that go out.
The hardest part when your train gets in is finding the right coach because markings aren’t always clear. Ask a local or a conductor if you need to.
Once you have the right coach, you simply find the seat allocated on your ticket and take it.
The train journey to Alexandria.
I bought the first class AC ticket to Alexandria and the first class seats are large, roomy and comfortable, and they recline too, although no one did as they aren’t complete dicks.
As any regular reader knows, I’m a fairly big guy at 6″2 and usually have trouble fitting into most seats on planes and public transport but I honestly felt genuinely comfortable on this train and had more than enough room to get comfortable and stretch out to an extent too.
There was a small drop down table if you need to get some work done or eat a meal, and a foot rest too. Like most trains there is an overhead luggage rack that is quite spacious too.
I had a single seat down one row of the train but the other side had rows of two seats for anyone who wanted to travel as a couple, and seats that faced each other in blocks of four for families.
Again, I was really comfortable, the first class AC tickets are really worth the extra 50 or so pence you pay.
The journey itself lasted a few hours and I did bring a book to catch up on my reading and pass the time, but I only read it half of the time because honestly the best part about taking the train during the day is looking out of the window and seeing a slice of Egyptian life watching the countryside go by.
Facilities on the train.
Facilities are pretty good on the train given that it is a relatively short journey. There is a toilet available and it is pretty clean if you need it. I even saw the attendant clean it during the trip, which is in and of itself a step up from UK trains on its own!
Food is served on the train regularly by a rather spiffingly dressed attendant who comes round with a trolley full of drinks and different snacks and food dependent on the time of day. These are at an extra cost but aren’t unreasonably priced.
Because mine was an early morning train I got the standard breakfast which honestly is pretty basic and isn’t anything to write home about but is so cheap it doesn’t really matter and is still better than most airline meals.
One thing to note in case you need one is the power points, or in this case the lack of them. I lucked out and had one next to my seat but from what I could tell was one of the few who did. Most seats didn’t have them at all and overall there weren’t many. So make sure your electronics are charged beforehand.
There are a couple of main train stations in Alexandria that the train from Cairo stops at, the last one being the main Misr train station.
To be perfectly honest it doesn’t matter which one you get off at as they are both relatively near the Corniche, which is where you are likely to be headed, and it is easy (and pretty much the same price) to get a taxi or an uber from either station dependent on where you need to be.
Getting back to Cairo.
Getting back to Cairo from Alexandria really is as easy as reversing the steps above. Simply go to either one of the main train stations in Alexandria, buying your ticket, and again go a day or two early if you want to leave or be back in Cairo at a specific time, and then just turning up for the right train.
Independent travel in Egypt is a lot easier than people think, and getting the train to Alexandria from Cairo is cheap, easy and comfortable. The train is one of the best ways to travel around Egypt independently and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.
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