Young Pioneer Tours

Whats it like taking the train in Egypt – Luxor to Cairo

What is it like taking the train in Egypt? And more specifically the Luxor to Cairo train? Overall extremely comfortable, as well as being a great alternative to simply flying.

I recently took this trip after doing a Nile Cruise research trip for my return to the capital. This of course amazed our Egyptian partner who could not believe anyone would rather take a train than fly. We are though after all YPT.

The Egyptian train network

Egypt and in particular the Egyptian National Railway have had a train network since the 1850’s, which has been expanded heavily since then. Routs go east to west as well as south and of course covering the Suez Canal.

There are though some major places not represented, such as Sharm El Sheik. You also cannot get to Sudan, with not just Bir Tawil not covered, but also the ghostly train stations or Northern Sudan not being on the Egyptian National Railway.

Most major lines originate from Ramses Station, Cairo or Misr Station in Alexandria.

Marsa Matruh

This means that Aswan is by far the most southern station on the network and is where you would need to go if traveling further south towards the triangle, or Sudan.

What are Egyptian train stations like?

In many respects they reminded more of taking the train in Vietnam than they did traveling in Russia for example. There stations are fairly grandiose, but again far from gregarious.

As one would expect there are lots and lots of hawkers selling food, drinks and the like, with cheese, ham, and bread being the most common things.

Sadly and much like everything in Egypt, check the price and haggle. Another annoying part was that bag carriers who hassle you for money regardless of if they even carry your bag. Tipping in Egypt is not only insane, but will warrant its article!

How much does it cost to take the train from Luxor to Cairo

At the top end of train travel from Luxor to Cairo you have a $90 option which is twin share. Above this you have single rooms, which cost $130 per person. The $40 extra here is really not all that much for what you get. The only problem here though is that you might just end up with your own cabin anyways…

There are trains tat run from the morning, but the best time to travel as of course at night. I personally took the 23.30 train, which theoretically should have taken just under 11 hours. It was slightly above this, but nothing to get worked up over.

Taking the train in Egypt – The trains

When taking the train in Egypt one of the highlights, as expected is your room. In the first class carriages and regardless of if you are one, or two people there are seats on the bottom and a bed on top.

The seats on the bottom, much like a Russian train can be converted into the bed and this was what was done for me by the guard. This was though after being fed a fairly epic meal not 15 minutes after boarding, again provided by the train guard.

Said train guard is there to look after all of your needs, with you even having a special button to summons him. After serving me I was informed that he would wake me up an hour before we arrived, which he duly did with breakfast. These few points really make taking the train Egypt stand out. Of course you need to tip the train guard.

The toilets were big and fine, there was an area to smoke (of course) and there is a restaurant cart, although I did not get to go there.

You can also bring alcohol on board, which I quite obviously did without a second thought. At Luxor station there is a booze shop next door, so I am sure I am not the only one to have had this idea!

Is Luxor to Cairo a great train journey?

Quite simply this route when taking the train in Egypt is pretty much perfect.At 11 hours you get at the right balance between sitting up and getting sleep. This was actually the best sleep I had had in 5 days, or so.

View wise it was also fairly epic, particularly in the morning, but you lose something by traveling at night of course. Overall though it pushed all the right buttons for me, and was comparable to journeys I have done in Burma, Vietnam, and China.

Will we incorporate this into a future tour? That is the plan, with us linking Cairo, with a train, then a cruise before hopefully going overland from Egypt to Sudan. Of course when the situation in the later gets better.

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