This popular pub is one of the best haunts in the city for sampling Cairo’s baladi drinking culture. Evoking an old English tea rooms, with high ceilings and peeling yellow paint, it’s packed every night with a an eclectic crowd of young Egyptians and older intellectual-types knocking back bottles of Egyptian Stella, first brewed here in 1897.
Cairo is even livelier at night than during the day, and locals always know how to enjoy themselves. Alcohol isn’t a huge part of social life, but areas like Zamalek are popular with partygoers. In many venues, the distinction between bar, restaurant and club is a little blurred. Many locals head to a venue for a dinner around 1000, after which the lights dim and music gets louder for the bar to kick in. Bear in mind though that discos and bars close by midnight at the latest - only those with a tourism licence can remain open later.
The political upheaval since 2011 has, of course, affected Cairo’s nightlife somewhat. A curfew (after the removal from power of President Morsi) brought an end to much of the live music and revelry that were previously mainstays of the city. While some restrictions remain in place, most have now been lifted and Cairo’s energetic nightlife is beginning to return to normal.
Baladi (literally ‘people’s’) bars have long been popular, with many clustered around Downtown Cairo, especially around Midan Orabi. Baladi Bars (www.baladibar.com) is a good guide to local bars. Although safe, women visiting alone may feel uncomfortable in these male-dominated environments.
Otherwise locals head to traditional ahwas (coffeehouse) to smoke shisha and drink strong Arabic coffee. Families bring their young children out to while away the evening on soft drinks, especially around Midan Al-Hussein in Islamic Cairo or shopping streets such as Talat Harb.
Cultural centres dot the city with varied programmes incorporating lectures, films, music, exhibitions and other cultural events. A good source of information is the English-language edition of Al-Ahram Weekly (http://weekly.ahram.org.eg). The best way to buy tickets is from a hotel concierge or a local travel agency.