A Solo Traveller's Guide to Cairo

Experience the sights, sounds and smells of bustling Cairo on a solo trip
Experience the sights, sounds and smells of bustling Cairo on a solo trip | © PhotoStock-Israel / Alamy Stock Photo
Nick Dauk

Senior Travel Writer

Cairo: the epicentre of the Egyptian Age of the Pyramids. An eternity feels like too little time to explore the magnificent ancient sites, the wealth of cuisine and fascinating museums on both sides of the Nile. Worry not, even a single day in Cairo is enough to fill your solo journey with the grandeur of Giza and the riches of the pharaohs.

What’s the vibe?

Even though the Great Pyramid of Giza is right around the corner, don’t expect every citizen of Cairo to stand entranced in wide-eyed wonder. The bustling capital of Egypt will quickly pull you into the flow of the city, though an introduction to Cairo coffee culture will convince you to sit and sip for hours at a time.

Stop for a coffee break in the Khan El-Khalili bazaar

Where to stay in Cairo as a solo traveller

2. Museum Plaza Hostel


A double bed in a hotel room at Museum Plaza Hostel, with a view of city buildings at night from the window
Courtesy of Museum Plaza Hostel / Expedia

Rooms with views of the Egyptian Museum and Tahrir Square don’t come at a premium at Museum Plaza Hostel – they’re standard. This budget-friendly hostel, located directly across the street from the archaeological museum, has single, double and twin rooms available – all with private bathrooms. Let the dedicated tour desk help you get the most bang for your buck with tour arrangements and transportation tickets.

3. Hyatt Regency Cairo West Hotel

Chain Hotel, Spa Hotel

Umbrellas, sunbeds and palm trees around the outdoor pool at Hyatt Regency Cairo West Hotel
Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Cairo West Hotel / Expedia

Save the date for a splendid night at the Hyatt Regency in 6th of October city. Right in the cultural heart of Cairo, the modern spa rooms with in-room jacuzzis are perfect complements to the pyramid views and surrounding ancient wonders. And if you’d like to spend some time trying to avoid the sand, the New Giza golf course is next door.

You’ll spend a night at Hyatt Regency Cairo West Hotel as part of Culture Trip’s exclusive 10-day Egypt trip.

Eat and drink in Cairo

4. Crimson Bar & Grill

Restaurant, Egyptian

Make reservations at Crimson Bar & Grill for sunset and you won’t regret a moment of this fine dining experience. The lively rooftop bar and grill is located in the affluent Zamalek district and is named for the fiery show in the evening sky. Pyramid and Nile views pair well with their lamb chops and quinoa salad – then again, so does everything on the menu.

5. Oldish

Cafe, Middle Eastern

The exterior of Oldish, which has oldish cafe repeated above the windows
© Oldish

Reign in your wallet without sacrificing variety at Oldish. This cute cafe has a menu stacked with the Egyptian grub you want, like shish taouk, and cheeseburgers for when you need a taste of home. Smoothies, coffee, desserts and more make Oldish an easy and affordable spot to chow down throughout the day.

6. Naguib Mahfouz Cafe

Cafe, Egyptian

Locked lattice wooden doors at the entrance of Naguib Mahfouz coffeeshop
© Khaled ElAdawy / Alamy Stock Photo

You cannot leave Cairo without delving into its coffee culture, and Naguib Mahfouz Cafe is a spot worth checking out. Situated in the Khan El-Khalili bazaar and named after a Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian novelist, it’s a perfect place to nibble on traditional desserts and people-watch while sipping Turkish coffee. Grab a copy of the namesake’s book, The Coffeehouse, to read while you’re there for the complete experience.

What to do in Cairo as a solo traveller

Wander the City of the Dead

Hop in a cab, venture a few kilometres outside of Cairo’s city centre, and you’ll find yourself in the City of the Dead. Truth be told, not all of the inhabitants in this area are exactly lively; also known as the Cairo Necropolis, this extensive series of cemeteries dates back to the seventh century.

Head out of Cairo city centre to explore the City of the Dead

Climb the Bab Zuweila

Did the two minarets standing outside the old city’s gate catch your eye? Imagine how amazing the view would be from the top. Within this 11th-century gate, you’ll find exhibits recalling its history. Many will run to the rooftop for panoramic views, but you should boldly go further and climb the minarets for an even grander spot to gaze from.

Admire the architecture of the Bab Zuweila – along with the views from the top of the minaret

Visit the Egyptian Museum

Mummified Nile crocodiles. The first wooden shrine of Tutankhamun. The coffin of Akhenaten. The Egyptian Museum is your ticket to the oldest archaeological museum in the Middle East. Low ticket prices plus the largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities on the planet equals hours of relic worshipping. Crowds will follow your lead so be sure to get an early start.

The Egyptian Museum is a must-see on any trip to Cairo

You’ll have ample time to marvel at the Mosaic with Medusa, the treasures of Tanis and the Egyptian Museum’s other stunning exhibits when you book Culture Trip’s 10-day tour through Egypt.

Stay safe, stay happy

All solo travellers to Cairo should use the same safety precautions as they would when wandering any capital city. To avoid accidentally offending local customs, it’s recommended to research cultural practices in Cairo. For instance, public displays of affection aren’t widely accepted. Female solo travellers should take extra precautions to not wander alone at night, and to be aware that harassment may occur in the streets, on public transportation or even in taxis.

Do your research beforehand so you don’t offend locals

For men and women travelling alone, booking organised tours and exploring the city with a small group of fellow travellers could add a level of safety, comfort and camaraderie to your visit.

Getting around Cairo as a solo traveller

When visiting Cairo, prepare for crowds no matter which means of transportation you choose. Both private tour buses and public buses are affordable, as are taxi cabs and metro tickets. Although taxis can reach nearly any destination, the congested surface roads make the metro a more convenient and quicker option. Keep in mind that there are also women-only cars located on each metro line. For a unique method of cruising riverside spots, hop on a slow-moving felucca that sails the Nile.

Taxis can get you where you need to go in Cairo

Solo travel doesn’t need to be lonely. Join Culture Trip’s amazing 10-day Egypt excursion for the opportunity to see the country’s rich history and culture as part of a small group of travellers who are ready to walk like an Egyptian right beside you.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

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