Where to stay in the land of the pharaohs? Discover the best neighborhoods to stay in Cairo, the capital of Egypt!
Before you start looking for a place to stay in Cairo, be aware that you are about to visit a vast city. With more than 16.5 million inhabitants, Cairo is the largest city in Egypt and the Middle East and the second largest in Africa after Lagos (Nigeria). Situated upstream of the Nile Delta, it is the sixth largest metropolitan area in the world. Cairo was a highly influential city during the age of the Ancient Egyptian civilization from the third millennium BC, which explains why Cairo boasts such a breathtaking historical and cultural heritage. Today, Cairo is home to most of Egypt’s landmarks, including the iconic pyramids of Giza, listed as UNESCO World Heritage List.
You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding accommodation in Cairo, but you need to be patient and make sure you book a place to stay in advance. Here is our selection of the best neighborhoods to stay in Cairo.
The Old Cairo
Situated five kilometers from Tahrir Square – which became famous in 2011 during the revolution against Hosni Mubarak – near the banks of the Nile, Old Cairo (Masr al-Qadima) is the city’s oldest district, encompassing the historic area called Coptic Cairo. The remains of the district date back to Roman times, when Cairo was confined within the fortifications of the “Babylon of Egypt.” The highlights of the area include the ruins of the Mosque of Al-Fustat, the Coptic Museum, and the Hanging Church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Also, take the time to discover the Manial Palace and its botanical garden, as well as the Mountain Cave Church of El Mokattam. Finally, on the banks of the Nile, remember to treat your taste buds with excellent food in the dahabiya (“floating houses”) moored at the quays. An excellent place to stay in Cairo if you’re keen to explore the city’s rich heritage.
Otherwise known as Wast El Balad, this district is the nerve center of the Egyptian capital. You will find a lively and effervescent life there. Spend time visiting the Cairo Museum, a panorama dedicated to the history of ancient Egypt (mummies, solid gold sarcophagi, luxurious jewelry). You can’t miss El-Tahrir Square, the tourist heart of the district. To quench your shopping desires, head towards Midan Talaaa’t Harb and its bustling streets lined with all kinds of shops and boutiques. Needless to say, visitors should take the time to practice or improve their bargaining skills, a cultural necessity in Cairo.
While it is not difficult to find hookah bars and restaurants in this district, you will have more trouble finding peace and quiet: aside from the tranquil, wealthy residential neighborhood of Garden City, Cairo is mostly a noisy city. Choose this area to stay in Cairo if you are not afraid to be immersed in a lively, at times boisterous atmosphere.
Comfortable and secure, situated close to the city center and to Egypt’s main tourist attractions – the pyramids and the Sphinx in Giza -, the quiet and leafy district of Zamalek is particularly favored by tourists and expatriates. Nestled on the northern part of Gezira island on the Nile River, Zamalek is an affluent and ultra-modern residential district, packed with shopping malls and well-maintained green spaces. Thanks to its numerous bars and restaurants on the banks of the Nile, the area enjoys constant entertainment, 24 hours a day.
Home to a plethora of antique dealers, shops, and art galleries, Zamalek has preserved its heritage, offering visitors the opportunity to discover the authentic side of Egyptian culture. During your stay in Cairo, make sure you visit the Khan Khalili souk, in the Islamic district of Cairo: a tangle of small shops selling spices, fabrics, perfumes, Turkish coffee, black tea, and hookahs… Immerse yourself in this whirlwind of colors and flavors!
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