TRAIN TRAVEL IN EGYPT (below)
OVERNIGHT SLEEPER TRAIN (separate page)
On this page:
OVERNIGHT SEATS | DAYTIME EXPRESS TRAIN | SLOW TRAIN
TRAIN TIMETABLES & FARES | BOOKING TRAIN TICKETS | LUXOR RAILWAY STATION
CAIRO - LUXOR - ASWAN
It's easiest to go to the station a few days before travellling to buy your tickets in person, but there are now alternatives:
Having reserved your ticket in advance, you must be in Cairo at least 24 hours before departure to Pay for & Collect your ticket. US Dollars or Euros required. . . . more fax reservation info
Only travellers with a local Egyptian Credit / Debit Card may book and pay online . . . more online payment info
Several luxury air-conditioned day and night tourist trains with sleeping and restaurant cars connect Alexandria, Cairo, Luxor and Aswan, but the train information on the Egyptian national tourist office website is limited. Tourists are not allowed to travel on all trains between Cairo and Luxor / Aswan, but there is not a definitive list.
When buying tickets at larger railway stations, double check that you are queuing at the correct booking window.
Arabic numbers are displayed on the railway information displays - for train numbers, departure times and platform numbers - and the destinations are displayed in Arabic script.
Apart from the obvious solution of asking someone for help (plenty of people speak English), the easiest way of dealing with this is to carry a card of Arabic numbers so that you can find your train's departure time. The information on your ticket also show your train number, date of travel, coach number and seat or berth number in Arabic script.
Note: Arabic numbers are written left-to-right (as western numbers are) - unlike the words, which are written right-to-left.
At the Cairo railway station you need to find the booking window for your chosen class of travel and destination. Buying tickets can be a lengthy process - it might help to buy your ticket a day or two ahead if you are around. You can pay for train tickets in Egyptian pounds - except for the deluxe overnight sleeper train from Cairo to Luxor / Aswan. On regular trains, children travel free up to 3yrs, then pay half-fare from 4-9 yrs and full-fare from 10 years (discounts are a little different on the deluxe sleeper train). The ISIC student card allows 33% discount.
The de-Luxe overnight sleeper train leaves from Rameses Station in Cairo, stopping at Giza Station, Assyuit, Luxor and Aswan. Seats are often still available a few days ahead, but this sleeper train often gets booked up in advance by tour groups (using an Egyptian Travel Agent), and if your travel date is important you should book in advance - in person - at the office in front of the main Ramses (Cairo) train station (Ramses Square, Cairo, Egypt). You will need to use foreign currency (Egyptian currency is not accepted).
No first class tickets are sold for this train. At the time of writing, tourists are allowed to book overnight seats on the 2200 hrs air-conditioned express train from Cairo to Luxor. You may not be offered this option - probably because the vast majority of tourists opt for the vastly more comfortable option!
Non-sleeper overnight trains can be booked at www.egyptrail.gov.eg
Second and Third Class non-air-conditioned slow trains are basic - and stops at all villages and 'centres' Only 'adventurous travellers' are likely to use these trains - and in fact as a foreigner you can't buy a ticket for these trains at the ticket office. You would need to get on without a ticket and then pay the conductor on board.
For train information visit www.seat61.com - an unofficial but useful site by the now well-know Mark Smith, 'The Man in Seat 61' - with railway timetables, train fares and other information. He has a particularly useful section on Cairo-Luxor-Aswan Tourist Train Travel Restrictions - a necessary read, because there are Egyptian government restrictions on which trains foreigners may take between Cairo and Luxor/Aswan. Allegedly this is so that the government can assure the safety of tourists . . . for instance, between Cairo and Luxor or Aswan the daytime trains are officially 'for Egyptians only'. Travellers have been reporting that there's open access to the platforms at Cairo, so that you can board any train you like, then pay on board, as a way of getting around the government's tourist train travel restrictions.
Recent reports state that some passengers baggage are being x-ray scanned at an airport-style security barrier at both Aswan and Luxor, but not the smaller stations.
Also see the The book: "The Man In Seat 61" by Mark Smith (a guide to rail travel) on our 'books' page
The main hall of Luxor railway station has recently been given a facelift, with beautiful reliefs and colourful stained glass.
There's a good photo of Luxor railway station at panoramio.com
Great novels, travel guides, childrens' books and more, to help you feel you've arrived in Egypt - even while you're still on the train to Luxor!
Travellers can now book the Cairo - Luxor - Aswan Deluxe Sleeper Train in advance, from outside Egypt
Books for travellers, by travellers
THE MAN IN SEAT 61: A Guide To Taking The Train Through Europe
The essential guide for train travellers.