Amazing Things to See and Do in Zamalek, Cairo

The charming neighbourhood of Zamalek in western Cairo is filled with quirky shops and endless streets to stroll
The charming neighbourhood of Zamalek in western Cairo is filled with quirky shops and endless streets to stroll | © Megapress / Alamy Stock Photo
Sinead Schenk

The affluent neighbourhood of Zamalek – in western Cairo – sits on the northern part of Gezira Island in the Nile River. Here you’ll find a variety of charming bookstores, restaurants, antique stores and hotels, representing the best that cosmopolitan Egypt has to offer.

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Cairo Opera House

Opened in 1988, Cairo Opera House is the main performing arts venue in Cairo: home to Egypt’s most acclaimed musical groups. It was built with funds provided by the Japanese government, and the seven-story structure has three separate theatres – including an open-air venue – all of which are simply beautiful.

Le Pacha 1901

Begun in 1992, Le Pacha 1901 is a floating boat that contains 10 excellent restaurants and never leaves the port. The cuisine varies from Asian to Italian and French to English – and there’s even a pub with a daily DJ and karaoke until 2am. It’s a great place to spend an entire evening wandering the different venues in this self-contained floating world.

The Loft Gallery

Offering a superb collection of home goods, the Loft Gallery is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the street. It displays its wares in a quiet, high-ceilinged space – many of which are outsourced from flea markets across Egypt and even from other countries such as Syria. It’s one of the many excellent stores available in the area.

Mandarine Koueider

Now one of three branches, this Mandarine Koueider shop was founded back in 1928 and has remained a family-run business since. Renowned for its excellent Asian and French pastries, ice cream and chocolates, it’s a lovely place to go for a relaxing sweet treat after a long day of touring.

Safar Khan Gallery

One of the dozens of art collections throughout the island, Safar Khan Gallery sells and collects contemporary Egyptian art. It focuses on “educating and enriching” the public by raising awareness of the originality, importance and active social role of Egyptian art in the country. The gallery also throws amazing opening parties that are well worth attending – if your trip’s timing aligns with one.

All Saints’ Cathedral

The mother church of the diocese, All Saints’ Cathedral is the most-frequented cathedral within the Anglican Communion. It hosts Arabic, English and Sudanese congregations – along with multiple ministries, the Wady craft shop, a library, Refuge Egypt, and the Alexandria School of Theology. It is a beautiful structure reminiscent of a lotus flower and it’s easily recognisable in Cairo’s landscape.


Considered one of the best restaurants in Cairo, Zooba offers authentic Egyptian food for amazing prices – at almost all hours of the day. Its funky storefront is inviting and the interior proves equally welcoming, with a modern mix of beautiful serving bowls and crafty mason jars. The interior is very small, but all the better to mix and mingle with locals while you enjoy koshari: a traditional dish that most tourists miss.

El Sawy Culture Wheel

Formerly a garbage dump below the infamous 15 May Bridge, El Sawy Culture Wheel is now a popular cultural centre – hosting a variety of activities and events such as lectures, concerts and festivals. There’s even a puppet theatre and is guaranteed to pique any curious traveller’s interests.

Cairo Tower

On the southern part of the island, Cairo Tower is a 187m (614ft) free-standing concrete structure – and perhaps one of Egypt’s most iconic pieces after the pyramids. Designed by Egyptian architect, Naoum Shebib, it was built from 1956 to 1961 with an open-latticed framework to evoke the lotus plant – Egypt’s flower – made up of 8m mosaic lozenges. There’s also a slowly revolving restaurant at the top which has been visited by dozens of celebrities and dignitaries but if you want to take photos from this supreme vantage point, you’ll have to pay a fee.

Fair Trade Egypt

Just off 26th of July Street, this Fair Trade Egypt shop was opened in 1998 and is a great place to pick up quality souvenirs. It supports 34 artisan groups throughout the country and offers everything from glazed pottery to textiles and leather purses to traditional Egyptian dolls. Since it serves the Fair Trade office as well as a store, you can also meet the staff.

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