Most tourists do not make use of Cairo's metro system. However, in my opinion, the system is quite good and although not extremely extensive, is an excellent and affordable way to get around Cairo if you want to see some of the points of interest in the heart of urban Cairo (for e.g. the Egyptian Museum, Coptic Cairo). You won't be able to use the metro if you're going to the Pyramids, Islamic Cairo, or the airport
Riding the metro felt quite safe, although I did notice some people staring at me on there. Another thing to keep in mind is that there were almost no other tourists on the metro. If that makes you uncomfortable, you should probably stay away from the metro.
That being said, riding the metro system was simple, similar to most metros in Europe:
- Before you go:
Use Google Maps to help you determine which Metro station can get you to your destination. Look for those blue squares labeled "M", these are metro stations. And when you click on them, Google Maps will highlight the line they are on. The "M" boxes look like this:
Bring small change with you. Bring a bunch of 1LE notes. The price is so low that it will become quite a hassle if you attempt to buy it with >50LE notes
Dress conservatively. You'll be in close quarters to locals and everyone is mostly covered up. Guys: don't wear tank tops. Girls: don't wear shorts and don't bare shoulders
- Don't bother with the official website. It's pretty useless. It doesn't even have the current fare information. If you to see a schematic map of the system, use this site instead
- Price was extremely affordable at 2LE per ride regardless of distance (about 0.1 GBP). Though I've read that the price will increase to 4LE per ride by the end of 2018, so double check the current prices when you go.
- You buy tickets with cash at the stations from ticket counters
The queue to the ticket counter was a nightmare. Keep close distance to the person in front of you, and be a little aggressive when giving money to the staff. You should buy a bunch of tickets at once so you don't need to go through this nightmare every time you want to go somewhere. I just gave them 10LE and bought 5 tickets at a time
- Say "shokran" after, meaning "thanks"
Enter the station:
- Insert the ticket into the turnstile
- The ticket will come out from the other side, take it with you and keep it
Go to the train: The only thing to note is that the middle cars are usually reserved for women only. Women can still ride in other carriages, but men are not allowed to ride in these women-only carriages
- Get off at your stop:
- all stations have signs in English (well, Latin alphabet) so no need to worry about not recognizing the signs.
- At the exit you need to insert your ticket at the turnstile to exit the station
Some photos of the metro: