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Shopping in Cairo

Shopping in Cairo can be great fun. The sales tactics can feel a little overbearing at first, but haggling is a way of life here, especially in the bazaars, and worth experiencing.

Key areas

Khan el-Khalili has streets dedicated to specific trades, for example the Street of Coppersmiths for engraved brass trays, and Souq as-Sagha. The sidestreet behind Al Azhar Moque is filled with bookbinders, where hand-bound leather notebooks or photo albums can be customised at Abdel-Zaher Bookshop, 31 El-Sheikh Mohamed Abdou St.

Zamalek is where the smart locals head for stylish fashions and top jewellery. A little further out, spacious Dokki, easily accessed by the underground, has smart boutiques.


King of souks is Khan el-Khalili in Islamic Cairo, a world-famous attraction. Labyrinthine alleyways cram tiny shops with goodies including silks, spices, jewellery, hand-made leather shoes and perfumes. On its outskirts, Sharia Muski packs in household essentials like towels, toys and crockery. Stallholders will try to grab your attention, but it’s easy to politely decline and walk on by.

Shopping centres

Malls aren’t a huge part of Cairo’s shopping scene, but The First Mall, 35 Sharia Giza, houses over 60 designer boutiques, including brands such as Prada, Dior and Yves St Laurent. Catering for middle-class Cairenes, mega mall Citystars, Aly Rashad St, Heliopolis, houses international names such as Miss Sixty.

Opening hours

Normal opening hours are Monday to Saturday 0900-2200, closing in summer between roughly 1230-1600. Tourist shops often stay open later. During Ramadan, stores may close for Iftar (breaking the fast) and stay open later in the evening.


Little shops selling miniature alabaster pyramids and rolls of papyrus can be found throughout Cairo. Other popular souvenirs include toy camels, traditional crafts of hand-blown glass, jewellery and traditional perfume oils. Not all sellers are out to swindle with poor products. Oum El Dounia on 3 Talaat Harb, for example, is known for Bedouin jewellery and unusual trinkets. Since the revolution, this notorious shop has been rolling out a range themed around the nearby Tahrir Square.

Tax information

General Sales Tax in Egypt currently stands at 13% on commodities, though this is unlikely to be a factor when shopping in bazaars where haggling and cash payments are de rigueur.

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Featured Hotels


Hotel Longchamps

Very popular small family-run hotel in a relatively peaceful area, this Cairo hotel has been going strong since 1953. Comfortable rooms are bright and clean, with a hint of a colonial flavour, and the real gem are the two leafy terraces. Always busy, so advance booking is essential.

Cairo Marriott Hotel

The hotel's twin towers are a distinctive landmark rising 20 stories high and providing magnificent views of the Nile and six acres of gardens. This former palace offers 977 updated rooms, 111 elegant suites, 15 restaurants and a world-class casino - it's got all the bases covered.

Hotel El-Hussein

If you want to be in the thick of Khan el Khalili, this is the place. Overlooking the mosque Al Hussein, rooms are basic, but large. Water is usually hot, and there is a ceiling fan but the air-conditioning – when working – is noisy, and bathroom might be a little grubby. However the real draw is the huge balconies overlooking the square, a fantastic spot for watching the world go by. Service can be surly, especially for the (very basic) breakfast, but overall it’s great value.

Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza

This Cairo hotel offers 366 luxury rooms, including 101 suites, all with wonderful views of the Nile, the city and citadel, and many with private terrace. Facilities include a rooftop pool deck with adult and children's pools, and an excellent beauty and wellness spa. The hotel has six restaurants, headed by the seafood restaurant Aqua.

Le Riad Hotel De Charme

Located on a charming street in Islamic Cairo, this brand new boutique hotel has been converted from an Ottoman house, complete with architectural features like domes, arches and mashrabiye (latticed wooden shutters). Elegant suites are filled with antiques, plus modern touches like free laptops and Wi-Fi.

Mena House

Originally the palace of the Khedives Ismail, with fabulous views of the pyramids, this is one of the most glamorous and romantic hotels in Cairo. Since opening in 1887, it has hosted kings, emperors and movie stars, with four luxury suites enhanced by antiques, murals and tapestries. Try and book a pyramid-view room.