By Darren Griffiths

A Guide to the Best of Cairo for Every Traveller

17th April 2023

Last updated on February 13th, 2024 at 05:04 am

Planning a family vacation that appeals to everyone can feel downright impossible at times. This becomes especially difficult if your kids are at different ages. Finding something an eight-year-old will enjoy is vastly different than finding something a 14-year-old will enjoy. To that end, it’s important to consider what your destination can offer everyone in your family.

Cairo, Egypt is unique in its ability to offer a fascinating and fun vacation for visitors of all ages. Cairo is a chaotic, beautiful city on the banks of the Nile River that combines the ancient and the modern, the peaceful and the exhilarating. This city of opposites will offer your family a warm, fun escape from the cold while enriching your knowledge of Egypt’s history and culture. The best of Cairo caters to all kinds of travellers including the following. 

Best of Cairo for: the history buff

best of cairo pyramids of giza
The Pyramids of Giza

This one is almost too easy. Cairo is an ancient city with the monumental pyramids of Giza sitting just outside its limits. Museums, ancient artefacts, and timeworn architecture are all on display. The entire city is a hotbed of historical significance. From the skinny lanes of Islamic Cairo to the Coptic Museum that brims with ancient art, Cairo will leave you breathless with its abundance of riches.

Best of Cairo for: the bargain hunter

best of cairo khan el khalili market
Khan el Khalili market in Islamic Cairo

Cairo offers some impressive flea markets to any interested shoppers willing to brave the crowds.

The Souq Al Goma’a (Friday market) has huge, local crowds that come searching for everything from spices and fish to clothing and jewellery. Since you are in a local hotspot, keep a close eye on your money lest you fall victim to opportunistic thieves.

The Zamalek is located in an affluent district of western Cairo, but don’t let the stately environment fool you, the Zamalek is a great spot to shop for crafts and jewellery.

The Khan El-Khalili Bazaar is a smorgasbord of sights and sounds. You will feel transported back in time as you wander down the narrow lanes of this traditional market. The scent of spices and the clamour of stall owners will make you feel like you are in an ancient Arabian Souk.

Cairo’s Downtown area is also a huge hub for shopaholics. Especially isf seeking items for your wardrobe.

Best of Cairo for: the kids

Your children will love the pyramids and markets for their majesty, sights and sounds, but if they need a bit of playtime in a quieter area, take them to the Al Azhar Park. While it does not have any great historical significance, the Al Azhar Park is very enjoyable for children and is noted as one of the world’s 60 top public spaces by the Project for Public Spaces. 

Best of Cairo for: the hotel aficionado

best of cairo ritz carlton
Chilling out at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Cairo

If you’re a seasoned traveller, you probably enjoy the small details that a well-run, luxurious hotel can offer. Soothing environments, good sheets, and a solicitous concierge all help make the chaos of travelling a little more manageable. Cairo offers an abundance of luxurious hotels, from the Renaissance Cairo Mirage City Hotel to the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza, you will find these hotels are gems of serenity within the bustle of the city.

Best of Cairo for: the foodie

best of cairo food
Cairo offers the best of local and western food

The best way to truly experience any country you visit to its full extent is to experience the food. A country’s cuisine speaks to its history, its culture, and its people almost more than any other aspect of the place. That being said, many people fail to fully enjoy Egyptian food since the country’s epic relics so often overshadow it.

Egyptian food has been influenced by many other cultures over the centuries, including the French, the British, the Arabs and the Ottomans. Foodies visiting Cairo will find a smorgasbord of fine restaurants and hidden gems to sample.

While spots like Zitouni and The Osmanly Restaurant will offer English translations on their menus and English speaking staff, many of Cairo’s nondescript local hotspots will not. For that reason, we definitely recommend hiring a local, in-the-know guide who can help you navigate the Arabic only menus and best spots.

Best of Cairo for: the night owl

best of cairo downtown at night
Downtown Cairo stays open until the early hours of the morning

There is an energetic nightlife scene burgeoning in Cairo that tourists looking to experience a bit of night time fun will surely appreciate.

Cairo has two types of nightlife: the traditional, Egyptian style bars known as “caféterias”, which are only frequented by men, and Western-style bars. Both men and women will feel comfortable and accepted in Cairo’s Western-style bars.

Look to spots like The Garden and Riverside to get a taste of Cairo’s upscale nightlife. Many bars also offer food, like the local After Eight with its interesting food choices and strong drinks.

Heading to Luxor after Cairo? Check out our guide to taking the train from Cairo to Luxor.