Cairo will be almost everybody’s first introduction to Egypt (unless you’re here to lay on the beach). Whether you will enjoy Cairo or not is up for debate; I guess it will depend on your tolerance levels and your capability to adjust to different cultures. While it is true that the Pyramids of Giza are close by, Cairo itself is somewhat short of major tourist attractions. Yet a couple of nights here is perhaps all it takes to appreciate and understand the Egyptian way of life. Walk around Khan el-Khalili markets, try some local street food, visit a mosque or two, and then prepare yourself for that journey down south to Luxor – which is probably the city most people most associate with Egypt anyway!
Road transport is not recommended between Cairo and Luxor as it is a whopping 419 miles as the crow flies! Although driving time between the two cities can be anything between 6-8 hours, depending on traffic (and there’s a lot of traffic in Egypt, especially you’ll find in the first half of the journey!), it is actually no longer than to travel by train, which although supposedly faster, still takes up to 9 hours anyway!
It will cost around USD$80 for a deluxe overnight sleeper cabin, although for single travellers there is a slight “tax” for this privilege and it will cost an additional $20. A regular seat on the overnight train will set you back $31. It will cost $17 (first class) or $8 (second class) to use the air-conditioned trains from Cairo to Luxor. Even though it is more expensive, I would really recommend the overnight sleeper, as you can arrive in Luxor in the morning and head straight for your hotel. This journey overnight takes around 9 hours and saves on accommodation fees as you won’t need a hotel for that night as you’re on the train! All fares can be paid in Egyptian Pounds, apart from the Deluxe Overnight Sleeper, which can be only be paid for in foreign currency (actually only in USD or GBP, as of January, 2018)