Anyone who’s travelled in and out of Cairo International Airport can attest to the chaos and confusion of this beloved airport. Composed of three terminals, each with a seperate departure and arrival building, renovations began on the airport back in 2002. This led to the terminals to be referred to as ‘the new airport’ and ‘the old airport’. When the super swanky Terminal 3 was opened last year, renovations began on Terminal 1 and 2, leading the names to change to ‘the new old airport’ and ‘the old new airport,’ thus permanently confusing taxi drivers and prospective travellers everywhere. Fortunately, Cairo 360 is here to give tips on how to navigate the sprawling airport grounds.
How to Get There:
Located on the outskirts of Heliopolis, Cairo International Airport is accessible from Heliopolis via Salah Salem Road and Nasr City via Nasr Road. The airport is now accessible via a new 9km-long road that connects it to the Ring Road, a quick and feasible route to take from Maadi. Otherwise, be sure to give yourself at least 90 minutes to reach the airport, especially during rush hour.
While all hotels and travel agencies can arrange private limousines to and from the airport, prices start at around 100LE. A normal black and white taxi with a functioning meter or a Cairo Cab car (call 16516) will cost around 35LE from Zamalek, 45LE from Maadi (if the route is empty, make sure you take the Autostrad to save money). The recently launched London Taxi service (call 19670) offers shuttle service to and from the airport in imported London taxis with space for five passengers and five baggage items. Prices are steep; with a single trip from Zamalek to the airport reaching 167LE (a roundtrip costs 253LE) and you need to make reservations at least four hours in advance. The service has a booth inside Terminal 3.
Superjet and West Delta buses offer direct routes from Alexandria to the airport for 25LE until 3PM, 28LE after 3PM. Superjet buses leave every half hour from 00:30AM until 7:30PM, while West Delta Buses leave every hour from 4AM till 00:30AM. The airport also offers a shuttle bus service ( Call 2653937) that leaves every half hour with set prices that can be booked for a whole group: Downtown Cairo costs 35LE (70LE for a group fee) Maadi or Haram for 45LE (90LE for a group) and Nasr City for 30LE (60LE for group). If you need to transfer from one terminal to another, the airport offers a free shuttle bus to Terminal 2 and 3 every half hour. If you’re pressed for time; be sure to haggle fiercely with one of the parked taxis before accepting a ride; airport taxis are notoriously expensive and few have functioning meters.
Once you’re There:
The airport has three official entrances, one off the Ring Road, the second off Nasr Road and the third off Salah Salem Road. The first two entrances will take you to Terminal 3 departure hall (the 'old new airport') and Terminal 2 departure hall, while the Salah Salem entrance will take you to Terminal 1 departure and arrival, Terminal 2 arrival and Terminal 3 arrival. Confused much? We all are; which is why it’s imperative that you know exactly which terminal you’ll be travelling from. Don’t rely on airport security or your taxi driver; call 090077777 from any landline or 2777 from your mobile phone to find out your exact departure time and location.
It’s highly advisable that you don’t park your car inside the airport, as an overnight stay can easily charge you more than 60LE. Entrance to the airport costs 5LE per hour. Free Wi-Fi internet is available in Terminal 1 departure hall and Terminal 3 departure hall. Terminal 2 is currently closed for renovations.
Where to Eat:
The airport has come a long way in the past decade, and now has its very own Air Mall, which has an air-conditioned Segafredo cafe in its centre, as well as Cielo and oriental restaurant Kenoz. On the other side of the mall, Chez Eddy provides charming outdoor seating, from which you can sit and watch the arrivals at Terminal 2.
Across from the Air Mall at the Orouba Street exit, Quattro Pizza and Pasta offers internet and a photocopying machine. It’s also next door to a car mechanic in case you’re stuck with a dead engine. And for some inexplicable reason, there’s a Ragab & Sons supermarket behind the Air Mall; just in case you feel like shopping for groceries before take-off.
Terminal 1 now boasts its very own Starbucks, McDonalds, Coffee, Bean &Tea Leaf and Beano's in its departure hall (once you’ve passed the check-in counter); though few outlets are open for a late-night departure. Terminal 3 is more promising, with quick snack options such as Hippopotamus Grill, Burger King and Café Puro.
Where To Shop:
The very swanky and impressive Terminal 3 departure hall has a Diwan Bookstore and a Hudson’s News bookshop, which sells snacks, souvenirs as well as some magazines and newspapers, in English, French and Arabic.
Terminal 3 has two duty free shops after the check-in counters, both filled with sweets, perfumes, make-up and a limited selection of alcoholic beverages. The shops also display brands such as Hugo Boss, Longchamp, Swarovski, Rolex and Raymond Weil. A word of warning: if you’re buying a suit, the store does not have appropriate garment bag stock, which means your suit will probably get creased. There are also Daly Dress and Concrete branches inside the terminal if you need a last-minute change of clothes.
Money exchange bureaus and ATM machines are available throughout the airport’s terminals, as well a small Banque du Caire office next to Ragab & Sons.
Where To Stay:
The Hotel Novotel Cairo Airport is located inside of Cairo Airport between Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 departure, making it a perfect location for a transit stay or for a sleep before an early flight out. Though the Iberotel Le Passage is located right next to the airport, you’re better off staying at the Fairmont Heliopolis on Salah Salem Road, just fifteen minutes away.
For more information, check out the airport’s website and be sure to double-check your departure and arrival times on your carrier’s website as well as the number listed above. Have a smooth flight!