The most efficient and reliable public transport in Cairo is the Metro, which has the added advantage of being very cheap. The route connects Helwan in the south of the city to Heliopolis in the north with various branches to Shubra, Ataba and Abdin. There is also a subway line between Giza and Shubra. Trains run from 5:30am to midnight, and the first carriage is reserved for women only. The streets of Cairo are well supplied with taxis, which may have fare meters but are unlikely to use them. Fares vary and should be negotiated up front and are usually shared. Taxis from hotels tend to cost double that of hailed taxis. The bus and minibus services operating in the city are considered risky for tourists because of overcrowding and the potential for pick pocketing. Buses also require at least a working knowledge of Arabic to navigate. Walking is a fairly good option for taking in the atmosphere of Cairo, but be warned, streets are not marked and maps are not much help, so it is easy to lose direction. Driving in Cairo is not for the faint-hearted as few road rules are adhered to, traffic is heavy at all times, and streets are poorly signposted.
Local time is GMT +2.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.
The unit of currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP), which is divided into 100 piastres. Most credit cards are accepted in major hotels and restaurants. Banks are usually closed on Friday and Saturday, but private exchange bureaux, called 'Forex', are open daily and banks in major hotels are open 24 hours. Cairo branches of the Egyptian British Bank and Banque Misr now have ATMs available that accept Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus, and are quite common in the main tourist areas.
The international access code for Egypt is +20. There are high surcharges on international calls from hotels; it is cheaper to phone long-distance from the 24-hour Post, Telephone and Telegraph (PTT) offices that are available in the major cities. For international directory phone enquiries dial 120. The local mobile phone operators use GSM 900 networks and have roaming agreements with all major operators. Internet cafes are available in the main tourist areas.
Emergencies: 122 (Police); 126 (Tourist Police); 123 (Ambulance)
|Coptic Christmas Day||7 Jan||7 Jan|
|Birth of the Prophet||13 Jan||3 Jan|
|Shem El Nessim (Coptic Easter)||21 Apr||13 Apr|
|Sinai Liberation Day||25 April||25 Apr|
|Labour Day||1 May||1 May|
|National Day||23 Jul||23 Jul|
|Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan)||28 Jul - 30 Jul||18 Jul - 20 Jul|
|Armed Forces Day||6 Oct||6 Oct|
|Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)||4 Oct - 7 Oct||23 Sep - 26 Sep|
|Islamic New Year||25 Oct||13 Oct|
Egypt has an arid, desert climate and the weather in Cairo is always warm, or hot, and the nights cool. There are only two seasons: a very hot summer between May and October, and a mild winter from November to April. Cairo is very dry, receiving on average only about a centimetre of rain a year, but it does have high humidity levels in summer due to its location by the Nile River. The city occasionally experiences dust storms in March and April. The best time to visit Cairo is in the cooler winter months between November and April, when the temperatures range from 66°F (19°C) to 84°F (29°C) during the day, and average between 41°F (5°C) and 52°F (11°C) at night. December, January and February are the most popular months to visit as they are the most comfortable and visitors avoid both the worst of the heat and the chance of desert winds and sandstorms.
There are taxis outside the main arrivals hall; the journey to central Cairo takes around 45 minutes. An Airport Shuttle bus is a convenient way to get from the airport to downtown Cairo and along the Pyramids Road in Giza. Public buses and air-conditioned coaches also leave regularly from Terminal 1.
Car hire companies at the airport include Avis, Budget, Europcar and Hertz.
Taxis are paid for by a flat fee at the end of the ride and nothing is discussed beforehand. The fee should be around US$5 plus a small airport exit fee. Cairo taxis are black and white, Alexandria taxis are black and orange.
The two terminals are two miles (3km) apart and are linked by a free shuttle, which departs about every half an hour.
Facilities include a restaurant and several cafeterias, banks and ATMs, a bureau de change, pharmacies, an internet café in Terminal 1, five-star lounges for business and first class passengers, smoking rooms (Terminal 1), tourist information desks and travel agencies. Duty-free shopping is also available.
Parking is available adjacent to Terminal 1, at a rate of EGP 5 per hour.
Terminal 1 offers free wifi, however the signal is often unreliable.