Welcome to Cairo
Step back in time with a visit to this ancient capital. Cairo’s history is rich, complex and absolutely fascinating, and this city and its surroundings are suffused with its ancient and medieval past. The Egyptian monuments in nearby Giza are the main draw for most tourists, but don’t miss the architectural splendor of Islamic Cairo. Cairo is busy, chaotic, and vibrant – and once it gets under your skin, you’ll never look back.

How to get to Cairo

By Air

Cairo International Airport (CAI) serves the Cairo metropolitan area, and is located in the suburb of Heliopolis, about 15km from downtown Cairo. For $2 - $6 USD (depending on your destination), you can grab a public bus from the airport to nearly anywhere in Cairo.

Taxis are another great option, and are easily found just outside the arrivals lounge. Important: Yellow taxis are typically not metered, and you must haggle the price with the driver. White taxis are metered and air-conditioned.

Local etiquette in Cairo

Tipping

There is often a service charge built in to the bill at restaurants, but if not, it’s customary to leave anything up to 10%. Baksheesh (a tip or bribe) is often used in different contexts to smooth a transaction. However, this should be done carefully and with discretion to avoid giving offence.
Other

Bargaining: Most purchases are subject to bargaining, and this can often be confusing for tourists. Some general things to consider:

- Don't start to bargain unless you're sure you want to purchase the item
- Keep a price in mind that you absolutely won't go over
- Ask the vendor to state his or her price first
- Open with an offer of about half what you'd be willing to pay
- Walk away if you're not sure; it might lead to another price drop
Gestures

Do not engage in public displays of affection. Don’t eat with your left hand or offer food with your left hand.
Other

Clothing: Most Egyptians (especially women) dress modestly – wear loose fitting clothing and avoid shorts or tight-fitting dresses.
Words & Phrases

Salam wa'aleykum [Hello]
Words & Phrases

Nam [Yes]
Words & Phrases

La [No]
Words & Phrases

Shukran [Thank You]
Words & Phrases

Ma fam [I don't understand]

What's the weather like in Cairo?

The weather is best in June, with the sunshine lasting 14 hours per day. During the summer months the weather becomes very hot, making sightseeing uncomfortable. The best time to visit the city is spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) when the weather is warm and the tourist sites are not too crowded. Bring layers for winter, in case the temperature drops. In the summer months, wear loose, light colored clothing to allow you to cope with the heat.
Spring
81° F (27° C)
49° F (15° C)
Summer
92° F (34° C)
71° F (21° C)
Fall
82° F (28° C)
63° F (17° C)
Winter
65° F (18° C)
49° F (9° C)

How to get around in Cairo

Public Transport
The Cairo Metro (subway) has three lines which cover most areas of the city. Tickets are purchased at the station, and most will run you around USD $0.15 per journey. The middle two carriages on every train are marked with a blue sign - this signifies them as "women-only" carriages.
Public Transport
Cairo has an extensive bus network, and tickets are purchased directly on the bus for between EGP 1.50 - 2.50 ($0.08 - $0.15 USD). Beware that using buses can be confusing, since nearly all of the instructional signs are written in Arabic. (Unless you speak Arabic, of course.)
Ride Share
Uber and Lyft both operate in Cairo, and can be a great alternative to taxis (if you're worried about being over-charged) and buses (if you can't read the signs and are worried about getting on the wrong bus.)
Other
Cycling in Cairo is not for the faint of heart – the city’s traffic is notoriously aggressive. However, there are dedicated cycling clubs in the city that are attempting to make Cairo more bike-friendly, and can organize bike hire.
Walking
Cairo is a busy city that stretches over a large area with less-than-stellar air quality; as such, it’s not the most walker-friendly place. However, it can be pleasant to walk around some areas such as Zamalek or Coptic Cairo.

Where should I eat in Cairo?

Breakfast restaurants in Cairo

Casper and Gambini's ($$)
Lebanese

Interliners love the:
Breakfast omelet, pancakes


Casper and Gambini's Website
2005 Corniche El Nil, Ramlet
Il Mulino ($$)
Italian / Pizza

Interliners love the:
Profiteroles


Il Mulino Website
7 Street 261, Al Maadi
Left Bank ($$)
Mediterranean

Interliners love the:
Fresh pastries and salads


Left Bank Website
53 Abou El Feda Street

Brunch restaurants in Cairo

Lucille's ($$)
American

Interliners love the:
The Maadi scramble with hash browns


Lucille's Website
54 Road 9, Maadi
Nile 49 ($$)
Middle Eastern

Interliners love the:
Baba ganoush


Nile 49 Website
49 Nile Street, Kitkat Square
Blackstone Bistro ($$)
American / French

Interliners love the:
Blackstone fillet steak with chocolate pepper sauce


Blackstone Bistro Website
22 Taha Hussein St

Lunch restaurants in Cairo

Andrea ($$)
Mediterranean BBQ

Interliners love the:
The grilled chicken - it's legendary


Andrea Website
New Giza Rd
Naguib Mahfouz Cafe ($$)
Egyptian

Interliners love the:
Lentil soup, stuffed pigeon


Naguib Mahfouz Cafe Website
5 El Badistan Lane Street
Maison Thomas ($)
Italian / Pizza

Interliners love the:
Spicy sausage, calamari pizza


Maison Thomas Website
157 26 of July Street, Zamalek

Dinner restaurants in Cairo

Sequoia ($$$)
Lebanese

Interliners love the:
Mediterranean beef tenderloin fillet


Sequoia Website
53 Abou El Feda St.
Piccolo Mondo ($$)
Italian

Interliners love the:
Antipasti selection


Piccolo Mondo Website
El Khalig Street, Zamalek
Tabla Luna ($$)
Mexican

Interliners love the:
Lomo saltado


Tabla Luna Website
218 41 Road

Other eats and bites in Cairo

El Tabei el Domaity

Try the "foul" (a hearty, warming snack made with fava beans)
Koshary El Tahrir

Try the Koshary with spicy sauce
Hawawshy Shalaby

Try the Hawawshy with added cheese

Things to do in Cairo

The Pyramids of Giza ($18+) Egypt’s most iconic sight must be the Great Pyramid of Giza, and no trip to Cairo would be complete without heading here to see the pyramid complex. Although the area is increasingly commercial and built up, and you are sure to be harassed by touts, these ancient feats of engineering will take your breath away. The pyramids themselves are best seen from the top of the sand dunes nearby. There is also a sound and light show every night which is also well worth the trip!
The Pyramids of Giza Website
Egyptian Museum of Antiquities ($5+) Once you’ve seen some of the famous archaeological treasures at Giza and the Valley of the Kings, head to the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities to understand the rare treasures that were found inside the pyramids themselves. This museum, situated on the famous Tahrir Square, is overflowing with fascinating objects. Tutankhamun’s famous death mask is an absolute must-see.
Egyptian Museum of Antiquities Website
Khan El Khalili ($0+) The bazar at Khan el Khalili is centuries old and full of character. Anything and everything can be found in its winding, narrow streets, and this is a perfect place to lose yourself in an afternoon of shopping. The traditional stalls are punctuated by teas shops, where you can buy refreshments and even smoke a shisha pipe, until you feel ready to brave the stalls again.
Khan El Khalili Website
Al Azhar Mosque ($0+) Built in 970 AD, the Al Azhar Mosque is one of the most important centers of Islamic learning in the world. The architectural beauty of this stunning place of worship absolutely must be seen. The central courtyard with its arches and minarets is simply stunning, and the building itself is a testimony to the diverse architectural styles that have been added over the centuries.
Al Azhar Mosque Website
The Coptic Museum ($5+) Coptic Cairo is a testimony to the city’s historic diversity, and this museum is the best way to learn about the fascinating Coptic community and its role in the city’s development. The museum holds the finest collection of Coptic art in the world, including a 1600 year old copy of the Book of Psalms
The Coptic Museum Website
Makan ($3+) This is a unique venue devoted to traditional Egyptian arts and music, and runs a regular program of cultural events catering to tourists and Egyptians. This is the place to come for a real taste of authentic Egyptian culture. Don’t miss the Wednesday night zar ritual – a healing musical trance sung by women; or the Egyptian-Sudanese jam session that is run on Tuesdays. Makan Website
The Hanging Church ($0+) Close to the Coptic Museum on Sharia Mar Girgis is the Hanging Church, so named because it is suspended over an ancient Roman structure – the Water Gate of Babylon. The church includes a large number of icons, and an exceptional painting of the Virgin Mary, known as the ‘Coptic Mona Lisa’. The Hanging Church Website
Museum of Islamic Art ($6+) The Museum of Islamic Art is filled with stunning examples of Islamic art and is considered to be one of the most important collections in the world. There are over 100,000 objects, dating from the 7th century to the present day. The museum boasts the most extensive collection of rare carpets in the world, stunning Egyptian ceramics, and carved wooden objects. Museum of Islamic Art Website

Cairo festivals and parades

  • Apr
    Cairo Bites
    Cairo Bites is Egypt’s biggest food festival, and attracts tens of thousands of hungry guests to its site in New Cairo. Local, regional and international cuisine all has a place here, reflecting Egyptians’ eclectic tastes. This is the place to learn about traditional Egyptian cooking and to sample produce from all over the country.
  • Jun
    Cairo Jazz Festival
    The Cairo Jazz Festival has gone from strength to strength since it was established in 2009, and attracts a wide range of regional and international talent. The Cairo Jazz Festival really showcases Egypt’s homegrown talent, and provides an exciting spectacle with a great line up.

What's the nightlife like in Cairo?

Photo © Shahrazad
Shahrazad
(website)
This atmospheric downtown club is a great place to go dancing. It’s decked out in traditional oriental style, but there’s nothing traditional about the drinks menu, or the clientele.
Don't miss:
The beautiful interiors and the hip music.
Tip:
Photo © The Golden Pharaoh Boat
The Golden Pharaoh Boat
(website)
Cruise down the Nile in style, from Zamalek to Giza, as you sample fine food, drinks and entertainment put on by the best of Cairo’s dancers. This nighttime cruise is a romantic and unusual way to spend an evening.
Don't miss:
There are usually excellent displays of dancing, including dervishes, and the view of Cairo from the river at night is wonderful.
Tip:
Photo © Zigzag
Zigzag
(website)
If you’re looking for great music and a trendy crowd, look no further than Zigzag, a new addition to the Cairo nightlife scene. There’s a range of music, with local bands during the week, and DJ sets on Thursday and Friday nights.
Don't miss:
This is a great place to hear the newest Egyptian music, and the crowd is edgy and cool.
Tip:

Cairo hidden gems

Birgash Camel Market
For a real taste of Egyptian culture and history, head just outside the city to the Birqash Camel Market. Here you’ll find hundred of camels up for sale – the atmosphere is rough and ready, but it’s a unique sight you’ll rarely find elsewhere. The sight of hundreds of camels lined up and the vibrancy of the market make this a great location for taking pictures – a photographer’s heaven.
The City of the Dead
This 7th century necropolis is a remarkable site; an ancient Islamic cemetery in which, until recently, the dead lived alongside the living. There are shrines to many famous people in Islamic history. Don’t miss the shrines of the early conquerors of Egypt, and the hundreds of wonderful mausoleums.
Kunst Cafe
Kunst Café is cool, cultured and oh-so hip. This trendy hotspot in downtown Cairo serves as a café, art gallery and music venue. Come with your laptop or notebook and soak up the atmosphere. The coffee is excellent, the bookshelf is inviting, and the ambience is very laid back.