Cairo Travel Guide
" Everything you need to know before traveling to Cairo"
Cairo, or “Qahirah,” as the locals call it, is the capital of Egypt and its largest, most populated city near the river Nile. The city that is seen today only officially became a city in the 10th century, but people were living in the area for much longer before that. A visit to the Old Cairo district is proof of this, with a rich history that can date several centuries even before becoming a city. Therefore, the nearby area of Memphis, the Nile, and the Pyramids of Giza are like gold mines for fans of history and ancient lore.
Besides the history and importance of geography and archeology, the modernity of this city is also significant. There is one of the most important theological universities inside the capital. These all exist along with cultural centers and political structures. The center of politics and culture also has a unique art worth seeing as part of the Arab world. There are some problems inside the beautiful and rich city of Cairo. Cairo is known as one of the busiest cities you can travel to, with pollution levels that cannot be ignored.
On a general note, this city is full of lore and stories to hear. More so with the History of Muslims, Christians, and Jewish that have played major roles in this continent as well as the Middle East. When visiting, it is better to come prepared by reading about mythology, theology, as well as the history of this particular part of Africa.
Local Name القاهرة
Population (2010) 9,908,700
Time Zone UTC+02:00 (EST)
Area Code (+20) 2
Why Visiting Cairo?
The first and most obvious reason for visiting Cairo would be to discover the vast amount of history. This history took place in this city and all nearby regions, beyond Giza and the Pyramids. Millions of people come every year just to see the pyramids and temples that have gained the title of Ancient Wonder of the World. Without research, they never realize how many more UNESCO Heritage sites there are. Ancient history may have the most attractive thing for tourists, but some of the golden pages of Islamic history reside within this city.
While seeking the mysteries of the rich history, it will become clear what a fascinating culture the people of Egypt and Cairo have. Several centuries of life and knowledge have made them a strangely beautiful and warm culture. The people will treat you like family and help you enjoy your time while in their country, despite any kind of differences there might be.
The third reason that does not include any humans and may suit the adventurers is to spend time in the exotic nature of this city. The nearby Nile and the wildlife along with the parks or other places, make a suitable and entirely new experience. New and unique land will have its unique animals and wildlife as well, which you will discover are just as warm and friendly as the people.
Modernity, history, culture, and beauty can lead to art, and that can make way for great shopping opportunities. If you value handicrafts and jewelry, seek out the old Bazaars of Cairo and seek the real and original works of master craftsmen. Clothing and spices are, of course, other amazing things to buy.
Speaking of spice, the local cuisine is another attraction. Not many recipes may be dedicated to the capital of Egypt, but good quality ingredients and master chefs make their food taste like magic.
The Islamic restrictions and dress codes may seem a little bothering at first, but the people of Cairo know how to have fun. The company of others and making friends are easy and good in this city even though it is the capital and very populated. Meeting the friendly locals can be good to learn the Islamic side of the richness and beautiful city of Cairo. Just do not get too friendly.
What to See in Cairo
- 6th October Bridge
- Abdeen Palace Museum
- Al Azhar Park
- Al Moez Ldin Allah Al Fatmi
- Al-Azhar Mosque
- Al-Gawhara Palace
- Al-Hussain Mosque
- Al-Nasser Mohammed Ibn Kalawoun
- Al-Rifa’i Mosque
- A’mr ibn Al-A’as Mosque
- Aqsunqur Mosque
- Aquarium Grotto Garden
- Bab al-Futuh
- Bab El Nasr
- Baron Empain Palace
- Bayt Al-Suhaymi
- Beshtak Palace
- Cairo Opera House
- Cairo Tower
- City Of The Dead Cairo Egypt
- Darb 1718
- Egyptian Geology Museum
- Egyptian Railway Museum
- Egyptian Textiles Museum
- Egypt’s Renaissance Statue
- El Andalos Park
- El Sakakini Pasha Palace
- El Sawy Culture Wheel
- El Tahrir
- El-Kobba Palace
- El-Tahrir Square
- Fortress of Babylon
- Gayer-Anderson Museum
- Gezira Island
- Gezira Sporting Club
- Giza Necropolis
- Giza Pyramids
- Giza Zoo
- Imam Shafi’i Mosque
- Islamic Ceramics Museum
- Ittihadia Palace
- Jazīrat Warrāq al Ḩaḑar
- Karmet Ibn Hanie Cultural Center
- Khan el-Khalili
- Mahmoud Mukhtar Museum
- Manasterly Palace
- Marzouk Egyptian Souvlaki
- Masjid Al Hakim
- Masjid Al-Aqmar
- Merryland Park
- Mogamma El Tahrir
- Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil Museum
- Mosque of Ibn Tulun
- Mosque of Muhammad Ali
- Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan
- Mosque-Sabil of Sulayman Agha al-Silahdar
- Museum of Islamic Art Cairo
- Museum Of Modern Egyptian Art
- National Military Museum Egypt
- Orman Botanical Garden
- Panorama October
- Pharaonic Village
- Politically significant city plaza
- Prince Mohamed Ali Palace (Al Manial Palace)
- Prince Taz Palace
- Pyramid of Djoser
- Qalawun Complex
- Red Pyramid
- Rhoda Island
- Rod El Farag Axis Bridge
- Rod Garden Faraj and rental boats Nile
- Royal Chariots Museum
- Sabil-Kuttab of Abdel Rahman Katkhuda
- Safar Khan Gallery
- Safari Park
- Salah Al-Din Al-Ayoubi Castle, Salah Salem Street, Cairo
- Sha’ar Hashamayim Synagogue
- St Sergius and St Bacchus Church
- St. Simon “the tanner” Monastery
- Sultan Al-Ashraf Qaytbay Mosque and Mausoleum
- Sultan al-Mu’ayyad Mosque
- Synagogue Ben Ezra
- The Cave Church
- The Child Museum
- The Coptic Museum
- The Egyptian Museum
- The Hanging Church
- The International Park
- The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization
- The Royal Mummies Hall
- Townhouse Gallery
- Umm Kulthum Museum
- Unknown Soldier Memorial
- Wekalet El Ghoury
- Wonder Land Amusement Park
- Zamalek Art Gallery
- Zeinab Khatoon
Best Time to Visit Cairo
The best time to visit would be from March to April, when the weather is mostly pleasant. Call it winter or spring or whatever you desire. During these months, you will get the least rain, less heat, and a slight chance of sandstorms. Alternatively, you may visit from December to March, which is cooler but has more tourists everywhere.
Spring (March - April)
- Temperature: 24°C (75.2°F) – 28°C (82.4°F)
- Features: The spring has the most pleasant weather with winds and less heat than the other months. The nights during spring in Cairo are just wonderful, with the most pleasant weather and winds. Since it is high season, you have to book everything in advance as numerous crowds will be rushing to this historic city.
- Recommendation: If exploring is the plan, this is the time for going outdoors. Be sure to see all the highlights, starting with the Pyramids of Giza. Shopping and other activities are also very delightful during this time. If you are traveling as a couple during this time of the year, you can plan for romantic dinners and walks during the night.
What to wear?
Bring cool and suitable shoes for walking for long hours. Dress for fighting the sand and the sun! This means wearing sleeved shirts and pants all day long. Cover your skin with cool and light fabrics, and wherever cannot be covered with clothes must be covered in sunscreen. If you think you can go around without sunglasses, you should reconsider and protect your eyes.
Summer (May - September)
- Temperature: 32°C (89.6°F) – 35°C (95°F)
- Features: This time of the year is the hottest in Cairo and the least favorite season for travelers. Some people just cannot fight the heat no matter how they prepare themselves. There are also rare occasions of a sandstorm that are not regular. The prices are lower for hotels at this time of the year but not so significantly.
- Recommendation: Stay indoors and no matter where you go, take some water and stay hydrated. Going to the Pyramids is not recommended and even dangerous for people who cannot tolerate the sun. Try to plan your trip to avoid Ramadan in case it is during summer, as the prices will get much higher and the restrictions will be bothersome.
What to wear?
To respect the rules of the country, you need to cover all of your skin. This is even recommended since it will protect you from the sun. Sunglasses and sunscreen are also needed, along with light and bright-color clothes. Bring something to keep you cool and keep you from the sunlight.
Autumn (October - November)
- Temperature: 25°C (77°F) – 30°C (86°F)
- Features: Since the heat levels are dropping, these months can become the second most suitable time for traveling. This time of year in Cairo can come with the occasional rain, which will not cause any trouble with your explorations.
- Recommendation: Same as spring, you should expect a lower chance of sandstorms. Therefore, it is most suitable to go outdoors. The pyramids and the temples will have more suitable weather. Just plan to finish your trip before the end of November as a vast number of tourists will be arriving soon.
What to wear?
Again, the same rules of spring apply here, with the difference that Autumn can be a little warmer and dryer before entering winter. Wear something to cover all of your skin; wear good walking shoes, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Winter (December - February)
- Temperature: 19°C (66.2°F) – 21°C (69.8°F)
- Features: Winter is the peak season for Cairo as it has the coolest and most suitable weather. There will be no bothering heat or unpleasant winds, but rather a breeze to cool you down. But there is one downside to all of this. And that is the large number of people who travel at this time.
- Recommendation: Stay away from the highlights and seek out the less famous sites. Even then, you might face crowds and numerous others seeking to discover the less crowded areas. Food tours might be the most suitable things to go for, as well as shopping and exploring. The Pyramids are ideal during these months, but the lines and people will be unimaginable.
What to wear?
Something casual and cool with perhaps just sunglasses. Good shoes are still a necessity if you want to go exploring. If going to numerous places is not the plan during winter, just wear what is comfortable while respecting the laws of Islam. That is to say, Cairo is not so strict for tourists, but it is still better to respect the culture.
How Long To Stay?
If you want to keep it short and simple, plan for 3 days and do not rush for anything. In 3 days, you can visit the highlights and try some of the best traditional dishes of Cairo. There are also itineraries that will offer the best of the city in 2 days, but these itineraries may be a little too quick for enjoying the trip.
The ideal amount of time to stay is 7 days or a full week. This way, you can go on some of your preferred day-tours, see the highlights, sample the food, and still have some time for exploration.
Things to do in Cairo
Cairo is a city filled with things to do that mostly relate to the rich history of Egypt. Historic sites, religious buildings, or cultural activities are just the things to seek out in this city. You can have the best experience of Egypt in this city. Just keep in mind to respect the law and follow the cultural norms of the country. Bring a camera to take pictures and bring back memories to share with friends. Speaking of memories, it is recommended above all else to bring a good camera!
See the Pyramids of Giza
One of the most important things to do in Cairo and all of Egypt would be to see the Pyramids of Giza. The Sphinx, the Solar Boat Museum, and all the surrounding buildings of the three Pyramids of Giza are some of the Ancient Wonders of the World. Just before visiting the Pyramids of Giza, keep in mind that the area is very vast, and it is easy to waste time and see less than you can. It should take half a day with a guide to see all the highlights and perhaps still have time for exploring.
The guided tours are worth it in this part of the city as you will save a lot of time and learn more about the buildings. Additionally, you will learn the rules and the prices of tickets before heading into the complex. Bring lots of water to the Pyramids of Giza, and do not worry about food or a place to rest. There are some shops and eateries near the complex entrance. In any case, the visit to the Pyramids of Giza is one of the things that one cannot miss in Egypt.
Cruise on the Nile
One of the more popular things among travelers is to Cruise on the Nile, where you will not hear the noise of the cities. Besides the quiet, the Nile has a unique sensation to it, especially when you take feluccas (sailboats) to travel on its waters. If at any time during your travels you need to rest, the best way to do it in Cairo is to find a Cruise on the Nile. Make it possible and fit this experience into your timetable. If possible, catch the sunrise or the sunset while on the boat to make the most of the trip.
Visit the Islamic World at Al-Azhar Mosque
Al-Azhar Mosque is one of the oldest Mosques in Cairo that still stands as a place that all tourists should visit. As part of the Islamic areas of the city, Al-Azhar Mosque is a very important building of the faith. Even more so because it became a university in the 10th century. This was only several years after its construction. Besides the theological and spiritual significance of the Al-Azhar Mosque, marveling at its architecture and following the course of its development through history is also important. After hundreds of years, the newer sections have been added using newer styles of architecture, yet Al-Azhar Mosque still has harmony in its design. All in all, Al-Azhar Mosque should be seen as a highlight of the city while respecting its rules.
Walk Through Hundreds of Human History at Old Cairo (Coptic Cairo)
A trip to Old Cairo or Coptic Cairo along with the Coptic Museum is the best thing to do in Cairo if you seek a rich lesson in history. There are tales about Jewish, Christian, and Muslim history along with the history of the Roman Empire along with the rest of the world at Old Cairo. Walking in Old Cairo can quite literally be a stroll down history lane and traveling to the past, with visiting key locations and discovering the past of the world. For all of these reasons as well as seeing historical buildings like the first mosque of Old Cairo, this visit should not be missed. Additionally, there are even things to learn about life in this region about 600 years Before Common Era.
Marvel at the Citadel of Salah El-Din
In 1176, the Citadel of Salah El-Din (Saladin) was the seat of power in Egypt and a strategic point at the foot of the Mokattam Hills. Although only small traces of the original Citadel remain, visiting this amazing monument is still one of the top things to do in Cairo. Over the centuries, the Citadel remained the seat of power until near the 20th century even. During all of these years, there were newer additions to this magnificent Citadel. The latest of these newer structures was the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. This last addition was to resemble the Blue Mosque in Turkey and stand just as glorious. Although it is not like the original building, it is a glorious part of the Citadel.
Climb to the Top of Bab Zuweila
Bab Zuweila is the last still-standing gates and fortifications of Old Cairo that date back to the 11th century. As one of the popular things to do in Cairo, it is better to enter the Old Cairo through here and perhaps take a few pictures. Bab Zuweila has also been known for its minarets. Along with the amazing view of the city from on top of these historic towers. Climb the stairs to the top of Bab Zuweila or stand in either of its minarets and behold the ancient parts of the city as well as its more modern areas.
Walk from South to North of Cairo Through Al-Muizz li-Din Allah Street
Al-Muizz li-Din Allah, or as the locals call it, Al-Muizz street is a 1-kilometer avenue from south to north of Cairo. The Al-Muizz li-Din Allah connects the Bab Zuweila and the Old Cairo to the Bab Al-Futuh in the north. It runs through the Islamic sections of the city, with numerous historic monuments all around it. Therefore, it is recommended to walk the length of Al-Muizz li-Din Allah to find new places to visit and see the people. Al-Muizz li-Din Allah street can get busy and noisy, but it is still a favorite spot among the tourists despite the difficulties.
Relax at Al-Azhar Park
Al-Azhar Park is a calm area near the center of Cairo that is the best place for some rest and relaxing away from all the noise. As odd as it may sound, the Al-Azhar Park used to be where the people would dump their trash during the Medieval Era. The plot twist is that Al-Azhar Park is now considered as the lungs of the city. It is also one of its most beautiful green areas. There is no trace of traffic or the chaos of the city in Al-Azhar Park. Moreover, this park offers a great view of some parts of the city.
Explore the Streets and Alleys of Khan El Khalili Bazaar
Khan El Khalili Bazaar (Traditionally called Souq) is a marvelous place to do some shopping even after several centuries. While in the Khan El Khalili Bazaar, forget about the plastic pyramids and cheap souvenirs and focus on the amazing traditional items of this labyrinth. The Khan El Khalili Bazaar remains just as it was during the golden age of Islam. It is still offering some of the best fabrics, spices, and perfumes you can find in Egypt. Explore the marvelous Khan El Khalili Bazaar that dates to the 14th century and even try some famous Arabic coffee while in the narrow streets.
Across the magnificent River Nile and in the Gezira Island, you can find the Cairo Tower that was constructed in 1961. On a clear day, you can go to the top and get a 360° view of the city as a top activity in Cairo. The Cairo Tower also has a café at the top, which would be ideal for a visit during the night. Even if not hungry or seeking a romantic visit, the observation deck of Cairo Tower is just good enough to make this place a highlight.
Where to Stay in Cairo
Unlike some destinations with a special street or district for budget travelers, mid-rangers, and luxury travelers, Cairo has everything spread all over the city. All sorts of budget to high-end choices are available, even though locating them might take some effort. Therefore, it is better to get familiar with some famous neighborhoods such as Zamalek. Zamalek is the coolest part of the capital where you can try the nightlife. It is like a mix of east and west having fun together. It also has its highlights and great access to the rest of the city.
Giza is the place to seek out if you want to be close to the Pyramids. It is also famous as the best place for families. Good facilities and easy access can make it ideal for other types of travelers. In case you are traveling with family, seek out Giza first.
Then comes Downtown Cairo that is considered as the commercial heart of the capital, which has more suitable options for budget travelers. In these areas, you can still get a European sensation because of the architecture. Just do not expect it to be as fun as Zamalek despite the similarities of appearance.
How to Get to Cairo
The Cairo International Airport makes it possible to travel to Egypt from most counties all around the world. From the US or the UK, there will be zero problems finding a flight. The prices are also fixed and will not change throughout the year. The only rise in the cost of a flight is during Islamic events. It is also possible to see a slight rise in the time of Christmas.
Taking a train like taking a bus will only be possible when you are already in Egypt. But know that they can take you to the best areas with different kinds of trains. Old and new cars both have limited access, but their limited services are as good as it gets. This makes it rather difficult to decide which one is better; the bus or the train.
The prices for buses can get as low as you would like with older buses that travel regularly. There are always comfortable and much better coaches as well, which do not cost so much either. There are numerous coaches, operators, and bus station services all over Egypt which makes arriving at Cairo very easy so long as you are in the country.
Get Around In Cairo
From the least recommended to the best ways of traveling around in Cairo, these are your options:
It does seem impossible to walk around in a very warm city, but in case you choose short distances and take a break about every half an hour, the experience is pleasant. Walking around and exploring is one of the enjoyable things around the city. Just keep in mind that a lone female traveler can get a lot of wrong attention while walking around independently.
This option is not very recommended as the destinations are very limited and can only be used along the Nile. A ride is usually fun and lasts for about an hour. It is mostly about the route that is interesting, not getting to the destination as fast as possible. Expect the prices for a boat ride to be about 10 US Dollars. This is one of the cases where negotiating for a better price is necessary.
Renting a car maybe even worse than walking around. It is fast, but the locals drive aggressively, and you will have a hard time finding a place to park. The process of getting the license and then renting a car is not pleasant for everyone.
The most reliable buses in Cairo are known as the Cairo Transit Authority with fixed routes. Finding their stops and figuring out their ways is difficult, but they are the cheapest transports in the city. Other than these local buses, there are minibusses or private company buses. These two options are also very cheap, but not exactly good for tourists. The first problem is the language barrier since the drivers will only know Arabic. The second problem is the number of people getting on the bus. This option is only recommended for budget travelers who are also mindful of their belongings.
There are two types of taxies in Cairo. The old black and white cabs, the new yellow or white cabs. The older taxies are cheaper, but they are not very comfortable and do not have air conditioners. The new ones are equipped with meters and are more comfortable and reliable. They are all very easy to find, but it is best to ask your hotel reception about taxi fares and routes.
Surprisingly, the metro is the best way of getting around in Cairo as it is fast and very cheap. It is ideal for tourists as the currently operational lines (only two lines) link the center to the highlights of the city. The third line will soon be ready, linking the center to the Airport. And to make it easier for solo female travelers, there are usually some cars near the center, reserved for women.
Flight to Cairo (CAI)
Cairo Food & Drink
No one will have a hard time with the foods and drinks of Cairo as they have something for all tastes. Vegetarians will be able to eat healthy and delicious meals, while the carnivores can enjoy their kebabs and meats. The flavors are amazing, if a little spicy, and the aroma of the dishes will add to the experience. And after each meal, there is a chance to have some delightful and sweet dessert to just love the trip to Egypt.
Koshary is a national and traditional dish of Egypt that is consumed every day by the people of Cairo. It is a mix of rice, macaroni, lentils, and chickpeas topped with a sauce. The sauce is mostly a local tomato sauce that may also come with some vinegar sauce. Alternatively, the topping for the delicious Koshary can be fried vegetables, but the preferred version is always the tomato sauce. It is a rich dish that is rather cheap and not as heavy as it may sound. But it can get you fat really quick, so you better not overdo it.
The best way to describe this food in Cairo is to compare Hawawshi with a beef sandwich. To make Hawawshi, minced meat and onions are mixed with chilies and then covered in dough. The dough will then be cooked with the ingredients inside it. Hawawshi is then sliced and served while still hot as hell with all of its spices. You can let it cool down, of course, but better try it while still smoking. Hawawshi can be found in all the streets or its Bazaar during explorations. It is commonly eaten for lunch, and it is also ideal to have while moving around the city.
The slices of meat that are shaved off the rotating skewer then made into a Shawarma are the next best street food you can have as lunch. Shawarma in Egypt can be a bit localized with the local ingredients, but it is still the same recipe of meat, bread, and different salads. It is not an Egyptian food, but Shawarma of Cairo is just as good as the ones found in the Middle East. Some would say the secret of the Shawarma in this city is the sauce that makes it seem much juicer than the others.
In North Africa and Egypt, Pigeons are made into a dish called Hamam Mahshi that is loved by all. Although this dish may not have a good reputation among tourists for its odd nature, Hamam Mahshi is, in fact, quite popular among locals. For starters, this dish is served during special occasions and for valued guests. More than that, Hamam Mahshi is marinated and then stuffed and then barbequed. The result would be spicy and tasty food in Egypt. Although it can be sampled all over the country, it is best to try the Hamam Mahshi during a national event and in Cairo.
After a meal in Cairo, it would be best to order Om Ali as a sweet and delightful dessert, especially if you had something spicy. Om Ali has an odd story, but before that, the recipe should be described. This dessert is like a pudding with pastry or dough, nuts, milk, raisins, coconuts, sugar, cream, and several other optional ingredients. Other countries may have puddings like Om Ali, but this one is the creamiest and sweetest of them all.
As for the story, Om Ali means “Ali’s Mother,” and the name belongs to the wife of a sultan. When the sultan dies, Om Ali and the second wife began to show “hate” toward each other. Soon after, the second wife dies, and Om Ali celebrates her death by making this dessert and giving it to the people! In any case, Om Ali is what you should have after a meal in Cairo.
Ful or Ful Medames is a simple dish, suitable for breakfast or as a kind of street food in Cairo. The Ful Medames uses fava beans as the main ingredient cooked with olive oil and cumin and then served with bread. Most locals prefer to eat their Ful Medames with lots of spices, including pepper and chili and some garlic. Ful Medames is usually a vegetarian dish all over the city and most of Egypt, but you can order an egg or some chicken to be added to the mix in some places. Although Ful Medames is mostly suitable for breakfast, it is also a great light snack or meal in the streets.
Falafel is famous all over the world as street food of the Middle East. This simple street food is loved by all no matter they are vegetarian or carnivore. Falafel, or as it is called Tameya in Egypt, is localized with regional spices and herbs, but it is still the original thing found across the world. But still, it has some minor differences in Cairo, which makes it worth a try in this city. The Falafel in this city can be served in a different way and with pita bread! Some people even say Falafel was born in Egypt. This is probably because some people here make Falafel and serve it in various ways.
Kofta and Kebabs
Kofta and Kebab are both foods from the Middle East which taste amazing in the streets of Cairo. It seems the spices that are added to the original recipes add a great flavor to Kofta. The simple and original recipe was of minced meat, onion, and pepper, and nothing else. As for Kebab, the extra juicy meat that is barbequed with tomatoes and green pepper of Egypt is also something special. The Kofta and Kebab are both street foods that are found all over the place. Kofte and Kebab can be a bit greasy, but having the first try doesn’t heart. If it is too heavy, just order one or two skewers of Kofte and Kebab with no side dishes. If you really feel hungry, get some rice or bread and the barbequed vegetables along with the meat.
Fitter is like a pancake with two versions, the savory pizza-like Fiteer, or the sweet Fiteer. This dish is served in several layers, with the sweet version having its fillings inside the dough and then baked. The savory and pizza-like version has meat and other things as toppings before baking. In any case, Fiteer in Cairo is best when it is made into the sweet version. This sweet Fiteer of the city can be found near the Bazaar or markets all day long.
Just be careful when buying Fiteer as some people will just serve it plain. In some places, the layers of the dough are just baked without any sweet fillings or toppings. Locals love it plain and simple, but for the tourists, it is not that appealing. Ask about the kind of Fiteer you are buying, just to be safe.
Egypt does not exactly have its own unique Coffee but, in Cairo, you can find some of the best Coffee in the country. This is because the same quality Turkish Coffee or Arabic Coffee that is found all over the country is somehow much better in this city. It is probably the magic of the baristas or perhaps the amazing snacks and desserts, but in any case, try some Coffee in this city.
Shopping in Cairo
The best shopping districts in Cairo
Khan Al-Khalili (El-Khalili)
This traditional Bazaar is both a highlight and a place to find metal works and jewelry.
Mall of Egypt
Mall of Egypt may not be the biggest mall in the country, but it has almost everything a shopper may need. Some of the things to buy are brands, electronics, or even cheap items, and souvenirs can be found in this place with no problem.
Cairo Festival City Mall
One of the biggest malls in all of Egypt, and one with the best food courts there is. It has an amazing outdoor section for cafés and restaurants with a pleasant design. Additionally, if you want to cook for yourself, you should probably do your grocery shopping here. You can find all you need to cook and with good quality.
Mall of Arabia
Mall of Arabia is another one of the largest shopping centers in Cairo with a huge number of shops. Expect to see everything you may seek, but do not expect them to be cheap!
Not one of the largest but perhaps the most confusing malls of the city is Citystars. It is easy to get lost in this place, but it is filled with only the best. The quality of items and shops is unmatched. The entire place is suitable for all kinds of shoppers, especially families.
City Centre Almaza
You may not see anything traditional here, but still, the experience is amazing. If you are seeking brands and a luxury restaurant, City Centre Almaza is the best place to go.
City Centre Maadi
City Centre Maadi is popular as the sister mall of City Centre Almaza and it is a place for groceries, restaurants, and entertainment. There are other shops as well, but it is mostly a place for families and dining.
The best thing about Galleria40 is the vibe and luxury sensation of the place. The shops are balanced, but the shopping center is not exactly that big or filled with all kinds of stuff to be called a mall. The most famous thing about Galleria40 is Dara’s Ice Cream, but spending time alone is worth the visit.
Point90 Mall is for those who are in a hurry! Fast food or a quick coffee or just shopping in a small mall as fast as possible is the best of this place.
Dandy Mega Mall
If you want to try all the recommendations on the list of food and drinks in Cairo, you will have a good time in Dandy Mega Mall. It is a suitable place for shopping, but it is even better for its food.
The First Mall
The First Mall is the fanciest of them all, and also the most expensive. Fashion is the main thing to seek here in the most eye-catching way possible.
What to buy in Cairo
Cloths and Fabric
Traditional clothes and fabrics of Cairo are all great and exotic things to bring back. It can be the kind of Hijab the Muslims wear or a belly-dance outfit, or any other kind of traditional or local clothing for men and women.
A decorative item belonging to the desserts is the small model of a Khayameya. It used to be a traditional tent of the Muslims that sheltered them from the sun and the sands of the desserts.
Clothing aside, Fez is one of the more famous hats of the older days of Cairo. The Ottoman version of this hat is more famous since the Egyptian Fez disappeared into their history.
Handcrafted Metal and Woodworks
Both of them deserve their own titles and description, but there are no words about how good they are. Therefore, as you are exploring and shopping, keep an eye out for any of their top-quality handicrafts. Especially in the traditional bazaars.
The smallest and perhaps most beautiful souvenirs are Cartouche which is like name tags or necklaces. They are made from different materials and shapes with various designs. They are also the most popular souvenir among the tourists.
Silver is the most famous, but basically, any kind of jewelry is worth a buy in Cairo. If you feel extra exotic about these items, perhaps it is also wise to buy a luxury Egyptian jewelry box.
Cairo Travel Tips
Islamic Dress Code
All over this page, you read about the Islamic rules. Know that it is not a law for tourists to wear a strict hijab like the locals, except for at religious sites. But if you can, it is better to respect their culture and cover your skin as much as possible. Additionally, women may get the wrong kind of attention from the locals.
Is Cairo Safe?
Much more than you would believe! The lawmen and security at all malls, sites, hotels, and other public places are more than adequate. More than that, what the media tells about Egypt is an exaggeration, and the country is safe as a whole.
Is it Safe for a Solo Female Traveler?
Yes. It is safe as the same laws mentioned above will protect you as a tourist and a person. But expect to get a lot of looks from the locals. And try not to get too friendly with the local men as a rule of the thumb.
Learn the Language
The language barrier can give you trouble but not so much as to make your trip hell. Learn the basics, especially the numerals. Better yet, bring a guide for the first time in Cairo.
Food and Drinks?
Although most of the places are trustworthy, check what you eat. Unclean water or raw ingredients can quickly make you sick. If possible, ask about the ingredients and check the quality of the food before eating.
First of all, tap water is not safe for everything. For washing, it can be put to use, but drinking it is not recommended. Bring or buy lots of water and always remain hydrated in the warm weather of Cairo.
Bring Toilet Paper
A general rule in all of Egypt is to have toilet paper as some places may not have any.
Although tipping is not mandatory in Egypt, it has become a part of their culture to expect the tourist to tip. So, keep that in mind when getting any kind of service.
If you want better prices, or at times even regular prices, it is necessary to haggle. But in a friendly and respectful manner.
Keep an Eye on Your Belongings
It is a safe country, but that does not mean you can go careless and leave your items unattended. If you have a habit of leaving your phone or other stuff unattended, expect it to be stolen.
Pay to Take Pictures!
In some historic sites (Pyramids of Giza as the number one on the list) you cannot take pictures freely. If you plan on taking a picture or have a camera with you, check this rule at the entrance.
Do not Buy Fake Merchandise
There are loads of better things to buy at the same prices, so do not fall for this.
CForeign Embassies & Consulates in Cairo
|U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt|
|Address||5, Tawfik Diab Street, Garden City, Cairo, Egypt|
|Telephone||(+20) (2) 2797-3300|
|Fax||(+20) (2) 2797-3200|
|United Arab of Emirates|
| Address||4 Ibn Sina St., Off Mourad St., In Front Of Friday’s Restaurant, Giza|
|TEL||(02) 3776 6101 /3|
|FAX||(02) 3570 0844|
|Belgian Embassy in Cairo, Egypt|
|Address||20 Kamel El Shennawi Street, Garden City P. O. Box 37, Cairo 11511, Egypt|
|Telephone||(+20) (2) 279 47 494 to 6|
|Fax||(+20) (2) 279 43 147|
|Embassy of Ireland, Egypt|
|Address||18 Hassan Sabry Street, 11211 Zamalek, Cairo|
|Consular services||+202 27287115|
|EMBASSY OF INDIA|
|Address||5, Aziz Abaza Street, Zamalek, Cairo|
|Tel. No||(+202) 2736-0052 / 2736-3051|
|Fax No||(+202) 2736-4038|
|Address||World Trade Centre 11th Floor, 1191 Corniche El Nil, Boulaq, Cairo|
|Tel||+202 2770 6600|
|Fax||+202 2770 6650|
|Embassy of Canada|
|Street Address||Nile City Towers, 2005 (A) Corniche El Nile, South Tower, 18th floor 11221|
|Postal Address||P.O. Box 150 El Gezira, Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt, 11568|
|Telephone||+202 2461 2200|
|Fax||+202 2461 2201|
Exchanging into the local currency of Egypt is very easy but also tricky. The best places for this end are ATMs all over the city and country. Upon arrival, you will easily find a kiosk from a bank inside the airport, allowing you to withdraw some money. Other than that, inside the banks and the bank branches in several hotels would be ideal for exchanging.
There are also exchange offices all around Cairo, which can help keep their rates updated and reasonable. Just keep in mind to make your exchange into the local currency while inside Egypt. This way, you will find much better rates and lower taxes or additional fees.
Also, keep in mind to exchange only as much as you will need.