After exploring the Giza pyramids and Cairo, it’s time to venture out to other parts of Egypt. One popular choice is Aswan – famous for its beautiful Nile scenery, distinct Nubian culture and many temples that were physically relocated after the construction of the Aswan High Dam.
Why travel from Cairo to Aswan?
Families visiting Aswan will appreciate a more laid-back atmosphere than the frenetic pace of Cairo. This is due to Aswan’s Nubian influence – for periods of time, Nubia (the region just south of Aswan all the way to modern-day northern Sudan) was part of Egypt.
Famous temples to visit in Aswan are Abu Simbel and Philae. Through a large-scale UNESCO project, both temples were rescued from being constantly flooded and were moved, stone by stone, to higher ground. When you visit, see if you can tell that they were moved!
With picturesque villages, river-side farms, and palm-tree islands, Aswan is a lovely place to visit with families.
How far is Aswan from Cairo?
The distance between Cairo and Aswan is about 850 kilometres (528 miles), and a few travel options are available. We’ll go into detail about these options below.
Cairo to Aswan Transport Options
Cairo to Aswan by Plane
The easiest and quickest way to travel between Cairo and Aswan is by plane. There are daily flights between Cairo International Airport (CAI) and Aswan Daraw Airport (ASW), and Egypt Air is the most popular airline.
The flight between Cairo and Aswan takes about one hour and 20 minutes, and the average cost of a one-way ticket is around US$70.
You can book tickets online via the individual airline’s website, on travel websites, or through your travel agent.
Cairo to Aswan by Train
For families who want a slower, more scenic way to travel from Cairo to Aswan, then there are two options: express trains (seats only, no beds) or the sleeper train. We’ll go into details about the sleeper train in the next section.
When booking train travel, be sure to look for the “Express” trains and avoid the “Ordinary” trains. Ordinary trains are very slow, can be very crowded (because seats cannot be reserved), and usually don’t have A/C.
On the express trains, you only get a seat (no beds), and there are different types of trains and classes of service to be aware of. You can choose to travel during the day or take an overnight Cairo to Aswan train.
Newer trains are listed as “Special Service OD” on the Egyptian National Railways website or as “VIP trains” on other websites. Older express trains are listed as “Speed AC Spanish” (these trains were made in Spain) or as “AC” trains.
These express trains are air-conditioned, they have first and second-class carriages, and you reserve your seats at the time of booking. Seats are comfortable and can be adjusted to face either direction – perfect for families so they can sit facing each other.
The first-class carriages come with roomier seats and better bathroom facilities. A food and drink trolley comes down the aisle selling snacks, coffee, tea, and soda. The VIP trains also have a cafe counter.
The journey will take you about 14.5 hours, and here is an overview of the ticket prices:
- Speed AC Spanish first class: 182 EGP (about US$10)
- Speed AC Spanish second class: 130 EGP (about US$7)
- Special Service OD first class: 307 EGP (about US$17)
- Special Service OD second class: 198 EGP (about US$11)
As you can see, taking the train from Cairo to Aswan is a very cost-effective way to travel, and it doesn’t cost much more to upgrade to first class for roomier seats – especially when you are travelling for 14+ hours.
However, it is also a very long time to be travelling with children and if you’ve already had a long plane journey to get to Egypt, you may not want to be sitting around for another 14+ hours.
You can buy tickets online on the Egyptian National Railways website, at the ticket counter at Cairo Ramses station (ask to make sure you’re queuing at the correct window and note that they only accept Egyptian pounds), or at a self-service machine (foreign credit cards accepted).
If booking online, you can reserve tickets up to two weeks before departure. If you need to book more than four tickets per transaction, you must create a separate account.
Cairo to Aswan by Sleeper Train
If you are intrigued about train travel between Cairo and Aswan but prefer a more comfortable journey, then the sleeper train might be for you. The sleeper train service is outsourced to a company called Ernst Watania –see update below.
There are only single and double cabins, so for families, try to reserve adjoining cabins that have a door that opens between them.
These sleeper trains are air-conditioned; they have an upper & lower berth, reclining seats that can be stowed away, and a small private sink. A small hand towel, soap, pillows and bed linen are also provided.
Bathrooms are shared and oftentimes in a terrible state by the end of the trip. Bring toilet paper just in case and plenty of wet wipes. There are no shower facilities.
You take your luggage into the compartment with you, and it can be stored in a recess over the door. There’s a two-pin shaver socket near the sink, which you can use to charge mobile phones if you have a suitable adaptor.
Your dinner and breakfast are included in the price of the ticket, but for picky eaters, you may want to bring your own food and snacks. At Cairo Ramses station, there is a food court upstairs where you can buy food to bring on the train. A lounge car in the middle carriage also serves food and drinks.
Do note that travelling by sleeping train in Egypt is in no way luxurious. The trains are old, the beds are narrow, the food is airline-style coach-class quality, and some carriages smell like cigarettes depending on who was in the booth before you. And be prepared for rattling train track noises all night.
This is an option for truly adventurous families or highly curious about the experience.
The sleeper train journey is listed to take 13 hours and 20 minutes, but trains are notoriously late, so factor in another hour or two.
Trains depart Cairo at 7:45 PM and arrive in Aswan at 9:25 AM.
The cost for the sleeper train is US$126 per person for a single cabin and US$84 per person for a double cabin. For children aged 4 to 9 years old, the cost is US$70. Children under 4 years are free, but they don’t get a separate berth.
You can book via the Ernst Watania website or the designated Ernst sleeping train reservation office at both Cairo Ramses station and at Aswan station. Tickets can only be purchased using foreign currency (either US dollars, euros or British pounds).
NB – update early 2023 – it looks like the website and management for this service have changed; however, the new ENR website keeps going down! You can try the ENR App as an online alternative to book (Apple | Google Play) – noting not all services seem to be bookable online!
Cairo to Aswan by Bus
There is no direct bus service between Cairo and Aswan. From Cairo, a service like Go Bus will take you only as far as Luxor.
From Luxor, you would then have to switch over to a private car, taxi, train, or Nile cruise (more below).
Cairo to Aswan By Coach or Car
Driving non-stop from Cairo to Aswan would take about 10.5 hours to cover the roughly 850 kilometres (528 miles). But of course, you’ll have to stop for food, bathroom breaks, and military checkpoints.
This is a very long and tiring drive for anyone, let alone with children. We do not recommend self-driving this route because you would have to deal with badly marked or nonexistent road signs, chaotic driving because many drivers do not follow road rules (even more dangerous at night!), there are multiple checkpoints where only Arabic is spoken, and you may need prior approval at some checkpoints.
If you are intent on going by road, a better option for self-driving would be to hire a private car or coach along with a local driver. Costs will vary; you can check with your hotel or travel agency for bookings.
Cairo to Aswan by Nile Cruise
The most luxurious way to travel from Cairo to Luxor is by Nile Cruise. This is also the slowest way, but you stop at different ports of call all along the way.
Starting from Cairo, a typical itinerary has you docked at Cairo for a few days, where you’ll have the opportunity to see the pyramids of Giza and the main highlights in Cairo.
Then you set sail towards Aswan, stopping at such sights as Tuna El Gebel, rock-tombs of Beni Hassan, tombs of Tel El Amarna, Abydos temple, Karnak and Luxor Temple, Valley of the Kings, Edfu, Kom Ombu, before finally docking at Aswan.
Only a few of the bigger Nile cruise operators, such as Mövenpick, operate this route, with sailings departing from Cairo once a month between February and May and then between September and November.
The journey takes 13 to 15 days, depending on which direction you choose. Aswan to Cairo is a slightly shorter journey than Cairo to Aswan as it packs in both the East Bank and West Bank of Luxor in one day instead of two.
For double occupancy, prices start at around US$3500 per person and include all meals and sightseeing tours, but drinks are charged separately.
This is a great option for families who enjoy cruising and want to travel in luxury, stay in one hotel from Cairo to Aswan, and sample many of the historical sites.
- We have more here on the shorter Nile cruises that run from Aswan to Luxor and vice versa. These services run much more frequently and are a more affordable Nile cruise option for many families looking to see the highlights of Upper Egypt.
Frequent Asked Questions Travelling Cairo to Aswan
Yes, it is possible to travel between Cairo and Aswan on a Nile river cruise. Previously, travel via Nile cruise from Cairo to Aswan was not possible, but the Egyptian government opened up the route again in 2012 after a 15-year ban. There are several ships that operate this route.
The cheapest way to get to Aswan from Cairo is by express train.
The quickest way to get to Aswan from Cairo is by plane.
The best way for families to travel from Cairo to Aswan depends on your travel goals and budget. If you’re short on time, then the plane is your best option; if you’re into adventure and slow travel, then the express or sleeper trains are for you. And if you’re looking for something super luxurious and spectacularly scenic, then explore the Nile cruise option.
More on Visiting Egypt with Kids
We have a great selection of articles to help you plan your dream trip to Egypt with your family.
We’d recommend starting with our guide “Planning a Family Trip to Egypt“, then for diving into more of the detail, things to do, and how to plan your days, we also recommend you check out:
- The ideal 7-day itinerary for Egypt with kids
- Is it “safe” to travel to Egypt with kids?
- Top attractions for kids in Cairo (beyond just the pyramids!)
- Red Sea resort towns to try for a relaxing Egyptian vacation
- Incredible things to see and do in Luxor with Kids
- Baksheesh! Dealing with the tipping culture in Egypt
- An Egypt family packing list for all seasons
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