Also known as ‘El Gezira’ the Zamalek neighborhood is located in western Cairo on the northern part of Gezira Island in the Nile River. Though the name derives from the Kurdish word meaning ‘straw hut’ it has become an upscale neighborhood full of foreign dignitaries (it contains more foreign embassies than any other area of Cairo). Here you can find a variety of charming antique stores, bookstores, restaurants, cafés, shops, and hotels, representing the best that cosmopolitan Egypt has to offer.
Opened in 1988, Cairo Opera House is the main performing arts venue in Cairo, and 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 theaters (including an open-air venue), all of which are simply beautiful.
Begun in 1992, Le Pacha 1901 is a floating boat that contains ten excellent restaurants and never leaves the port. The cuisine varies from Asian to Italian, French to English, and there’s even a pub with a daily DJ and karaoke until 2 am. It’s a great place to spend an entire evening, wandering the different venues in this self-contained floating world.
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 all across Egypt and even from other countries like Syria. It’s one of the many excellent stores available in the area.
One of three branches, this Mandarine Koueider shop was founded back in 1928 and has remained a family-run business since that time. Renowned for its excellent oriental 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.
One of the dozens of artcollections throughout the island, SafarKhan Art Gallery both 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.
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, 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 recognizable in Cairo’s landscape.
One of the best restaurants in Cairo, Zooba offers authentic Egpytian 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.
Formerly a garbage dump below 15 May Bridge, El Sawy Culturewheel is now a very popular cultural center, hosting a variety of activities and events, like lectures, concerts, and festivals. There’s a puppet theater, radio, magazine, and much more. There’s something here to pique any traveler’s interests.
Located on the southern part of the island, Cairo Tower is a 614-foot free-standing concrete structure, and perhaps one of Egypt’s most iconic pieces after the pyramids. Designed by the Egyptian architect Naoum Shebib, it was built from 1954 to 1961 with an open-latticed framework to evoke the lotus plant, Egypt’s iconic flower. It is currently the fourth-tallest tower in the entire world, made up of eight million mosaic lozenges. There’s also a slowly revolving restaurant at the top, which has been visited by dozens of celebrities and dignitaries but to take photos from this supreme vantage point, even VIPs must pay a fee.
Located 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 Egypt and offers everything from glazed pottery to textiles, leather purses to traditional Egyptian dolls. Since it serves the Fair Trade office as well as a store, you can also meet the staff.