Cairo to Jerusalem by bus
To take the bus from Cairo to Israel, buy a ticket from Cairo Gateway Plaza, known as Turgomen Garage by the locals (metro stop Orabi). Do to the safety situation in Egypt, (as of 01/2015) it is not possible to buy a ticket directly to Taba, instead get one to Sharm el-Sheikh and from there catch another bus to Taba. There are three buses a day, at 6:00am, 9:30am, and 10:15pm, costing 80LE, except the night bus - 90LE, run by the East Delta Travel company. It's recommended, but not necessary that you buy a ticket at least one day in advance. Once you get to the bus station, someone should know which bus you take - it's not a big bus station. The Turgomen Garage is recently renovated and the buses leave from a concourse in the basement. Some of the signs are in English. Take the stairs, found in the middle of the station downstairs to find your bus. Do not plan for the bus to depart on time.
Once on board, the bus takes about an hour to even leave Cairo and stops at two other suburban bus stations. On leaving, it will be more full than when it left Turgomen, but may be quite empty depending upon the season and economic climate. Note, that there were almost no women, and the few that were there traveled with their husbands. Be warned: the buses are somewhat unreliable. The one I took stopped for an hour by the side of the road, with the engine (and therefore a/c) off, before the driver got back on and we continued. Another traveler said that on a return trip, the bus broke down five times!
Make sure you take food and plenty of water with you, although the bus will make a stop about 1/2 of the way to Sharm el-Sheikh at a desert roadhouse, where there is a toilet and small cafe. It also stops at various army bases, depending on the bus, to deliver water and newspapers to the soldiers. Have your passport handy as the bus stops at 11 different checkpoint on the way. From Sharm El Sheikh bus station get a bus towards Taba. The bus departs 4 times a day, costing 50 LE. Don't expect the bus to be on schedule. My bus was delayed 9 hours.
On the approach to Taba, the bus will skirt the airport (which has very few flights) and then descend the mountain road for about 15 minutes. It will stop at the bottom and someone will check passports (can be time consuming when many Arab League citizens are on board), then turn left along the coast road. Finally, it will stop at the "Taba Bus Station", a gravel area with a closed bus office, with bus times in the window. Get off here, the bus continues on from Taba down the coast to Nuweiba. People will try to get you into a taxi to take you to the border, but don't bother unless you have great difficulty walking, as it is literally less than 500m down the road.
At the border, you have to buy an exit stamp from the Egyptian border guards for 2LE (as of 01/2015); they don't always have change if you arrive early in the day. You then walk to the next building, the air conditioned departure hall, where your bags are scanned, then there's a little food / drink / cigarette kiosk, and then the passport control desk, where you give the card with the departure stamp to the border guard. He then stamps your passport, and you are out of Egypt. Beware: if you plan to reenter Egypt at Taba later, you cannot do so unless you already have a multiple entry visa or you get a 51.25 LE reentry visa (just a stamp in your passport) before you leave; Egypt does not issue visas valid for travel outside the Sinai Peninsula upon entry at Taba.
A few yards further on you get to a duty free shop, then the Israeli building, with cool water mist spray coming from the ceiling of the path shade outside. On entry, again your stuff is scanned, then you queue for immigration. Unlike arriving in Israel by air, here you shouldn't be delayed for more than five minutes of questions. They weren't even put off by me saying I didn't know where I was staying, that I'd find somewhere in the town (of Eilat)!
Once you leave the building you are in Israel proper. To change money, there is a bank in the Israeli departure side (where you have to pay a departure tax for leaving Israel, should you exit by this crossing.) There are hourly buses to the town (Line 15, 6.5 NIS), but the last leaves at 18.20. Taxis will be waiting, charging about 35NIS to go to town. Be warned that Israel is more of a Western country, with corresponding prices - ie. much more than Egypt, and marginally more expensive than the UK, for things like eating out.
There are plenty of hostels in Eilat, from the bus station uphill, the 2nd and 3rd streets on the right have plenty advertising dorm beds for $8, but may only have private rooms for between 100 and 150NIS (about £15). Ideally you should book in advance, or go to the bus station and buy a ticket to Jerusalem (I think there are hourly buses taking about 4 1/2 hrs and costing 70NIS or 63 with student discount) or Tel Aviv. The Jerusalem bus, number 444, runs alongside the Dead Sea, so you get to see that, and on leaving the area, you see a sign on the roadside pointing out "Sea Level". And even though this route goes through the West Bank, you see no sign of anything different - no towns, villages, mosques, differences in road signs or markings or anything.
On arrival in Jerusalem, you have to get your luggage scanned when you get off the bus, then once on the street outside the bus station (on Jaffa Rd) you can get a local bus (5.50NIS) to the Old City, or walk the 3km or so (as I did). I stayed in the Petra Hostel, right by Jaffa Gate, which was cheap but rather dirty. I think the term is "has character" - the building has probably been there for centuries. There are many other cheap hostels (around 25 NIS for dorm bed) next to the Damascus gate of the old city. In many hostels you may sleep on the roof deck for a discounted price. Be warned in the old city, that the hagglers are like those in the Cairo bazaar. Ignoring them seems to be the only way.
One word of warning for travelers who regularly visit other Arab states. Some take a dim view of an Israeli visa stamp in the passport and it has been known for some to be refused entry. It is best to check this if you are traveling onwards to some of these more sensitive countries. [Israeli visa issues - check here]
From Jerusalem to Cairo
You can take the same route as described above, using the following bus schedule:
1. Take bus 444 from Jerusalem direct to Eilat, through the West Bank. Buses leave regularly between 7AM or at 5PM (Definite Morning times are 7AM, 10AM, 2PM and 5PMM as of December 30th, 2011. You should check the Schedule Information online, as the bus company ("Egged") has an official homepage.) If you take a later bus you will have to sleep over-night in Eilat. Arrival is about 5 hours after departure. Price is 75NIS, 10% off for students.
2. If you slept over night in Eilat, then take a taxi to the border crossing (around 30NIS), so you will arrive there latest at 5:45 AM. If you took the morning bus, take local bus 15 from Eilat's bus station, leaving every full hour (take the 2 PM bus latest) to Taba's border crossing (7.5NIS).
3.Cross the border (you remembered to get an Egyptian visa in advance, right? Available from the Egyptian consulate in Eilat or the embassy in Tel Aviv) and after you finished crossing (and paying the Israelis 96NIS "border tax"), ignore all the taxi drivers and walk on the sidewalk on the left side of the road for 300m, till the bus station. Not having a visa in advance is expensive! the stamp for the passport cost 15$, but you will be required to provide a "guarantee" from an official travel agent. These "travel agents" wait around and charge 50$ (!!) per person for an handwritten paper that they give to the immigration officer. Without the guarantee letter - the passport will not be stamped and you will be sent back to Eilat. 184.108.40.206 03:51, 4 July 2009 (EDT)NK 4. There is a bus by East Delta to Cairo at 6:30 AM (if you slept in Eilat) or at 4:30 PM (if you took the morning bus). Buy it from the cashier (around 80EGP, 30/12/11), and wait for the bus a while, since it's usually late. The bus will stop 20m after the bus station, and you will have to pay 75EGP "tourist tax"............ Update as of 10May09...first bus to Cairo on a Sunday is at 1030 not 0630 and fare is 70EGP. There are 10 pgr minivans that make the run 'non-scheduled' and you can negotiate the fare but be prepared for no 'rest' stops...only to drop off or pick up passengers along the way. Their destination in Cairo is not the central bus station but you can get a taxi from there.
5. You will arrive in Abbasyia terminal in Cairo. If you take a taxi, do not take it from any of the touts that bother you in the exit! You can hail one yourself very easily, it shouldn't be more then 10EGP till the city center. Else you can take a microbus to Tahrir square from across the street (1.5EGP).