How to Travel Overland from Israel to Egypt

If you want to travel from Israel to Egypt, overland is an excellent way to go. The journey is relatively inexpensive and quick and takes you through the beautiful and vast Negev Desert in southern Israel and into the awesome dark mountains of the Sinai in Egypt. I went overland when I traveled to the Sinai from Israel and back earlier this summer. Here’s how you can travel overland from Israel to Egypt.

1. Get Your Egypt Visa Ahead of Time or Get a Sinai Visa at the Border – I thought that I would be able to pay $15 for a three-month Egyptian visa upon entering the country at Taba. I was wrong. The only visa available at the land crossing is a two-week free-of-charge Sinai visa. If you want a visa to travel into the rest of Egypt, you have to get one before you arrive in the Sinai. There is no way you’re getting out of there and into the rest of Egypt without it, as there are checkpoints all over the place. While I was in Sharm el Sheikh, the southernmost town in the Sinai, I was told that I could get an Egypt visa by first going to the Thomas Cooke travel agency to arrange for the visa and then traveling to the Sharm airport to pick it up. I didn’t try this, though, so I don’t know if it’s true.

2. Plan Around the Jewish Sabbath and Holidays – Israel takes its holy days very seriously and shuts down public transportation during these times. Beginning every Friday afternoon until every Saturday evening, there are no buses or trains and only very limited taxis. Unless you have a rental car, you’re going to be traveling on the other days of the week. Religious holidays are likewise devoid of public transportation. Consulting a comprehensive listing of Jewish holidays will help you with your planning.

The Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel

3. Arrange to Travel to Eilat, Israel – This is Israel’s southernmost town, a popular Red Sea resort and the last stop before the border with the Sinai. You can fly, drive or take a bus to Eilat. I traveled by the cheapest means, bus, first riding from Tiberias to the central bus station in Tel Aviv, then traveling from there to Eilat. Unlike other bus routes in Israel, the bus from Tel Aviv to Eilat requires a reservation. I did not know this. Fortunately, I arrived early enough to nab one of the last seats on the next bus to Eilat. You can reserve a seat the easy way by calling Egged, Israel’s only country-wide bus company.

4. Settle in For a Long but Scenic Journey – The journey from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem to Eilat is about five hours, including a couple of rest stops, on air conditioned, comfortable yet toilet-less buses. The rest stops are modern, with plenty of food options and restrooms. You’ll be riding through the Negev desert for a few hours, so have your camera at the ready.

The Negev in southern Israel

5. Take a Bus or Taxi to the Israel/Egypt Border – If you travel by bus, once you’re dropped off at the Central bus Station in Eilat you can jump on another bus to the border with the same bus company from the same bus station. The cost is 7.50 NIS and buses run every hour except late at night. You can also take a taxi from anywhere in Eilat, including the bus station, at a cost of 40 NIS. Be sure to tell the driver to turn on the meter.

6. Pay the Crossing Fees to Exit One World and Enter Another – You must pay 103 Shekels upon leaving Israel, after which you will exit a little building on Israeli soil, walk for approximately one minute and enter another little building on Egyptian soil, where you’ll get your two-week Sinai stamp. Once you exit the building and are in a taxi or van which will take you off the property, you’ll be stopped and told to pay 75 Egyptian pounds to enter the country. The Taba border website is full of information about the crossing.

Welcome to Egypt sign at the Taba border crossing into Egypt

7. Get Local Currency – An exchange office and an ATM are located in the Egypt border building on the left-hand side before passport control. Be sure to get local currency before you leave so you can pay for your ride and because, depending on where you’re heading, there may not be ATMs easily found.

8. Negotiate With the Drivers – After you exit the border building in Egypt, you’ll be greeted by many Bedouins offering taxi rides. Unless you’ve arranged ahead of time for transport, this is the way you’re going to be traveling to your next destination. I found it to be safe, but you do need to find out ahead of time how much you should be paying for a taxi to wherever you’re going. And be prepared to negotiate with the drivers until you land on one who will take you for a reasonable fee.

9. Explore the Sinai and the Rest of Egypt – This country is still filled with peaceful beauty, mysterious history and incredibly exotic cultures and, despite its recent troubles, it is still ready and waiting to be explored.

The sunrise as seen from the Top of Mt. Sinai in Egypt

10. Travel Onward – If you’re traveling back to Israel you can take a bus or taxi or from wherever in Egypt you might be or, like I did, ask a local travel agency to arrange a shared taxi for much less than the cost of a taxi and with more flexibility than the bus schedule. If you’re traveling elsewhere in Egypt or the world, buses and taxis can take you to your final destination within Egypt or to one of the airports located in the Sinai so you can fly wherever you wish.

Border Building in Taba, Egypt

7 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Steve says:

    This is really good information. I didn’t know that you could get a two week Sinai visa that would let you into that area and not the rest of Egypt.

  2. Sabina says:

    Steve, I sure didn’t know either. I found out the hard way, but it was more than okay. I just loved the Sinai and didn’t want to leave to go to the rest of Egypt anyway.

  3. Shaune says:

    Hi can I cross from Egypt via taba into
    Israel? I leave this monday! Traveling from Cairo
    Destination is te aviv. Please help

  4. Sabina says:

    Yes, Shaune, you can absolutely do that. I’ve done it myself more than once. Take a bus or minivan to the border in Taba, go through customs and passport control, and then you will be in Israel. From there you can take a bus or a taxi for a 10-minute ride to the bus station in Eilat. From the Eilat bus station there are many buses a day which go to Tel Aviv. If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

  5. Fabian says:

    Hi Sabina..very thanks for your page. Do you know if there are buses and-or taxis from Taba to Cairo now in 2014? Thanks very much. Fabian

  6. chaya says:

    So Im an American citizen do I still need to pay these “border taxes”?

    Thanks!

  7. Paulina says:

    Hi Sabina
    Is very interesting your blog, I am planning to do a trip to Israel and Egypt as well but I try to find information about bus lines to cross from Jerusalem to Egytp and a tourist agency and they told me since 3 years ago there are not bus to do this overland, do you know something about it? Was it easy for you to cross the border and get the visa there? Any information you can provide me could be very useful for me.

    Regards

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