Cairo residents often feel restless, bored, and like they’re stuck in a rut. We go to the same places, see the same people, and eat and drink the same things. We feel like we’ve discovered everything worth discovering, and we couldn’t be more wrong – this city has more hidden gems than it has traffic violations.
Here’s a round-up of the best (nearly free) things Cairo has to offer.
Exhibitions and Museums
The most under-appreciated things in Egypt are history and art. Thanks to attempts at revitalizing arts and culture via Egypt’s underground scene and hipsters (yes, hipsters), Cairo is growing into quite the cultural hub with exhibitions, workshops, and galleries popping up all over the place.
We recommend you head down to Darb 1718 or one of the various galleries in the city (Art Talks in Zamalek or Earth Gallery in Maadi) for your daily dose of creativity. If you want to learn a little bit more about your country, the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir has foreigners flocking from all over the world to check out their 120,000 incredible antiquities. The ticket will cost you less than el segara el fart men el koshk, but make sure to take along your National ID – they will check it. A lot.
If you feel like mainstream movies are pretty generic these days, Zawya is the place to be. Zawya is an art-house cinema located in the heart of Downtown. It screens an alternative selection of uncensored films from all over the world, featuring everything from documentaries, short films, and experimental works. It has a program dedicated to local independent films to promote the works of young Egyptian and Arab film-makers. The best part? It’s probably one of the cheapest cinema experiences around (with an average price of LE25).
If you’ve had enough of superheroes in tight pants and want to support authentic Arab cinema, you can get more information here.
Chill in an Ahwa
Feeling adventurous? Get yourself onto the Metro (tickets for LE1) and head to Downtown for the quintessential Egyptian experience – el ahawy. We recommend El-7orreya (near the Greek Campus) for a chance to meet people from all over Cairo, locals and expats alike. You’ll end up spending less than 10 pounds there, 20 if you feel like splurging.
Taking a Felucca on the Nile
The Nile is the heart of Egypt and is undoubtedly one of the best things about our crowded, polluted capital. When you decide you’ve had enough of over-priced bars and restaurants, head down to one of the Felucca ‘hot-spots’ (next to TGI Fridays in Maadi, or by Sequoia in Zamalek) and commission your own boat. You can even BYOB.
3elbet Alwan is an apartment/cultural hub in Zamalek that’s perfect for chilling, especially for those who think Bikya has become too mainstream. You make your own drinks, and can sit with friends or just bring a laptop and work on your own stuff on days when they’ve got nothing going on. If you feel like catching some Indie Arab-Rock or Sufi music, check out their Facebook page.
Go For an Actual Walk
We don’t really do that here (y’know, pollution, heat and harassment), but Cairo is really beautiful sometimes. Wait for the imminent arrival of ‘winter’, get yourself to a visually appealing neighbourhood with a group of friends, and go on an adventure. We recommend Wust el Balad/Downtown for the culture, Maadi for the greenery, and Zamalek for the atmosphere. Your city awaits.