A Locals’ Guide to Cairo That Digs Deep

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We have a lot See a country that has captured the imagination of travelers, writers and philosophers dating back at least 2,500 years. But hurry up. Egyptian authorities are transforming the capital with new roads and construction to the dismay of the Caylen people who remember more walkable areas and tree-lined streets. Authorities also recently seized dozens of historic Nile houseboats and built flashy seaside cafes and restaurants.

Still, we do get a glimpse into Cairo’s past. We need to dig a little deeper. To that end, we enlisted the help of four locals to surface the most interesting attractions, from the ancient to the enterprising. One piece of advice: traffic and long distances between sites always present a challenge, so give yourself plenty of time to absorb it all.

Visitors can book horseback riding near the pyramids of Abu Sir at the Cairo Riding School.

Businessman: Amy Moiffy

CEO of media company MO4 Network

of Khufu: It’s only been a few months, but it’s a must-see due to its stunning location at the foot of the Great Pyramids of Giza. It’s my first time trying an Egyptian menu. Nazlet El Senman, Al Haram

Cairo Riding School: Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime horseback ride with spectacular views of the pyramids of Saqqara and Dahshur. Book in advance. Saqqara Road, Abu Sir Pyramid Access, Giza

Fustadt: This old Cairo district is a wonderland of workshops that manufacture gorgeous pots, plates and cups. I could spend hours there and always come home with a trunk full of goodies.

downtown cairo: Decades of neglect, plus an out-migration to the suburbs, means downtown is a ghost of what it once was. Still, my favorite place to go on a quiet Friday morning. Join Al-Ismaelia company walking his tour.

Al Azhar Park, once a dumping ground, has been transformed into Cairo’s version of New York’s Central Park.

Writer: Yasmin El Rashidi

Novelist, Contributing Editor of Cultural Magazine “Bidoun”

Geier Anderson Museum: This antique-filled Ottoman home of a former British officer is timeless. Self-proclaimed home museum fanatic Orhan Pamuk raved about it when I brought him here. 4 Meydan Ibn Trun

Catsaros Auctioneer: This sprawling space served as an auction house during the monarchy and is now a consignment hall filled with both junk and treasure. Gawad Hosni Road

Five Bells Restaurant: Many revolutionary gatherings have been held at both Café Riche and Five Bells, but the latter is the friendlier place, stuck in the 80s and playing one mixtape from that era It seems that. 13 Ismail Mohammed Street

Al Azhar Park: Besides being a pretty park, this park used to be a huge dump before it became a sister city to Central Park.

Grilled octopus at Estro, a Sicilian restaurant in the Maadi district of Cairo.

Adventurer: Omar Samra

First Egyptian to climb Mount Everest and founder of travel company Wild Guanabana

Wadi Degra Protectorate: A natural wadi 7.5 miles long [valley] Sandstone and limestone mountains popular for camping, wilderness walks and bike trails.

Koshari El Tahrir: This restaurant group has grown into a large franchise, but I only go to the original branch in downtown Cairo. It’s a thing. bab al rook

base camp egypt: About 1.5 hours from Cairo to the coastal town of Ain Sokhna. Adventure parks and glamping sites host wellness retreats and family-friendly events. From $70 per person per night

Estro: A vibrant Sicilian restaurant in the heart of the Maadi district. Sit at a high table on the terrace at sunset and watch the sky change color. 11 Road 18, A Royal Mardi Hotel

The 19th-century Barong Empine Palace in the Heliopolis district is inspired by Hindu architecture.

Designer: Nagwa Mahdy

Jewelry Designer, Curator of Odyssey Art Gallery in Cairo

Barong Empan Palace: This 19th-century palace in the Heliopolis district was commissioned by Edouard Enpin, a Belgian businessman who came to Egypt after visiting India. He was inspired by Hindu architecture, hence the terracotta red color of the building and the Hindu statues. El Montazah

Cathedral of Our Lady: Edouard Empan was buried in this Roman Catholic church, also in Heliopolis. Find the button that opens the floor to see the baron’s tomb. Al Alam Square

sail the nile: For a nice local experience away from the gigantic, shiny boats of Cairo hotels, rent a felucca. [traditional wooden boat] anchored on the Nile at Zamalek, Garden City and Mardi.

Granita: A very nice and affordable cafe and restaurant in the grounds of the cathedral of Zamalek. 5 Michel Lutfallah St.

Plus, don’t miss…
  • Aish & Maru: This Italian restaurant in downtown Cairo also serves excellent egg dishes. 20 Adley Street

  • Andrea El Marioteya: This restaurant in New Giza is known for its free-range chicken and pigeon dishes. New Giza Road

  • khan el khalili: A traditional bazaar with handmade glassware, lanterns, cushions, rugs, jewellery, and more. Ergamaleya

  • Marriott Mena House: If you want to stay a little away from the crowded city, this historic hotel, surrounded by gardens and near the Great Pyramids, is a quieter option. Starting at about $340 per night

  • Hotel Longchamp: This boutique hotel in the exclusive district of Zamalek offers simple, comfortable accommodation and a helpful front desk staff. From about $85 per night

Email to Chao Deng [email protected]

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