Downtown Cairo is quite the gem, there’s so much to do, so many places to go to, so much to see – it just oozes character. It is without a doubt that every time you take a stroll around downtown (wust el balad), you will surely see something or meet someone you never would have imagined seeing or meeting. Other than that, of course, you’ll also surely discover a hidden treasure or two along one of its many bustling streets and alleyways.
That having been said, here is a list of a few of our favorite spots to go visit in beautiful downtown. Although we do urge you to try make these staple hangout options, like us, we do recommend you also explore and discover new places all on your own – go on a downtown adventure, you won’t regret it (and let us know what you’ve discovered by using the hashtag #PrimeViews).
Eish & Malh
Location: 20 Adly Street
Eish & Malh is a beautiful Italian cuisine themed café/restaurant that serves absolutely delicious and creative dishes and beverages. The vintage-meets-contemporary atmosphere will have you feeling like you’ve just walked into some kind of an avant-garde art project, with the walls donning old black and white images of downtown Cairo with colorful drawings painted atop. Not to mention, the extra oomph that the stunning window panes overlooking the hustle and bustle of downtown’s streets add. The venue also occasionally hosts live music shows, and movie nights.
The Greek Club
Location: 21 Mahmoud Basiony Street, Talaat Harb Square
This is a beautiful spot tucked away in a building near Talaat Harb Square. The Greek Club may be a little old, but that just adds all the more charm to the place… it has quite a good menu, but the highlight of the place is definitely their outside terrace area – it’s a cozy solace that’ll transport you from the chaos of downtown to the easy-going mindset of the Greeks. It’s a truly wonderful spot to have a chill hangout with friends or family, and you even have the option of enjoying your lunch or dinner with some wine or beer. On some nights, you may even catch the Greeks of Cairo coming out of hiding and tearing up the dance floor with their traditional Greek music, singing, and dance moves.
Location: Cinema Odeon – 35, Champollion Street
Telephone: 0128 320 0888
Zawya is a wonderful, relatively new, cinema venue that specializes in showcasing local and international Indies and shorts (and maybe the big blockbuster, on occasion). The venue is situated at Cinema Odeon, and the entrance is hidden in a back alleyway lined with ahawy (cafés) in which you can sit and enjoy a nice cup of tea and/or shisha while you wait for the film to begin. Being quite the culture hub, one of the most interesting aspects to it is getting to see people from all walks of life intermix in one place.
Location: 15 Hoda Shaarawi St.
Telephone: +20 2 23922751
It doesn’t seem like much from the outside at first glance, but once you step foot into this restaurant, you won’t really want to be leaving anytime soon. Felfela is, without a doubt, one of the best restaurant venues that downtown Cairo has to offer. The food (oriental-themed) is delicious, they serve beer, and the atmosphere is absolutely transfixing. It’s one thing to be greeted by warm aromas of freshly cooked food, and a whole other thing to be lost in time as you sit and enjoy the wonderful surroundings with friends or family.
Location: 17 Talaat Harb St.
Telephone: +20 2 23918873
This is one of our all-time favorite downtown spots for its history alone. Since its opening in 1908, this cozy little venue has been the meeting ground of intellectuals, revolutionaries, and prominent Egyptian historical figures alike. Other than having its basement been used by members of the resistance during the 1919 revolution, it is also said to have been a staple spot for world-renowned, Nobel-prize winning novelist Naguib Mahfouz. The café is still going strong to this day, having kept its authentic infrastructure intact, continuing to serve good food, and even alcohol.
Location: 28 Sharif Street, Abdeen
Telephone: 0100 302 5346
Kafein is a cozy little coffee shop that’ll be sure to satisfy the artist within you. It’s got a full range of coffees and teas, among other delectable items on the menu, and the best part is that you’ll most probably be surrounded by like-minded people. We’re talking about ‘tormented’ artist-types, and bookworms alike. Another great aspect to Kafein, is the fact that you sit surrounded by local artwork, and the venue constantly hosts art exhibitions showcasing the multitude of talent found among local artists.
Location: 12, Talaat Harb, Al Ismaileyah, Qasr an Nile
Telephone: +20 2 25743102
A restaurant that doubles as a place where you can go have a couple of drinks with your friends, Estoril truly is a little gem hidden in an alleyway close to Talaat Harb Square. The atmosphere is authentic and almost always electric, as the air carries conversations of the diverse groups of people that visit the famed venue. Other than the wonderful atmosphere that surround you, Estoril also boats quite a delicious menu with their tomeya (garlic paste) – in our opinion – being the highlight.
Location: 2 Off Bab El Louq St., El Falaky Sq.
Telephone: +20 2 23920397
As a sea of green beer bottles greet you once you walk through the entrance, El Horreya has kept its spot as a staple favorite of many locals and expats alike. The bar is another venue that oozes history, still evident by its infrastructure, as well as some of the old Stella Beer advertisements that adorn some of its walls – not to mention that the waiters seem almost as old as the place itself. The bustling bar first flourished in the 1930’s, and has truly stood the test of time, having witnessed a multitude of historical events throughout Egypt’s history… it’s amazing how decades later, this venue still stands strong.
Location: 19 Alfi Bei Street
Telephone: +20 2 25915810
Located within the Windsor hotel, this bar boasts quite the unique atmosphere. A former officer’s club, this venue is one of the very few, rare places in which one can get a feel of Cairo’s British colonial era. The atmosphere is very relaxing and laid back, as – unlike a lot of the other bars in downtown Cairo – Windsor has still kept its element of British elegance intact with seating areas comprised of couches and armchairs. The decor itself adds all the more charm to this historical venue, which was first built in the late 19th century as part of the royal family’s bathhouse complex.
Location: Intersection of Talaat Harb and Huda Sharawi St.
Another hidden gem… no really, this place is truly hidden and not very easy to find if you don’t already know it – but when you do, it makes it all the more worth it. Once you spot the small entrance, you’ll walk into a very small, very lively bar. The atmosphere is authentic and inspiring, as you’ll find yourself surrounded by rustic wood-paneled walls, and people from all walks of life. It’s a great place to enjoy a couple of beers with friends, and ponder life’s biggest questions – or you know, just chill.
*Featured Image Credit: Londoneya.com