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Cairo/Gezira

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Lower Egypt : Cairo : Zamalek
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Cairo Tower

Gezira is a district of modern Cairo that occupies the southern portion of the main island in the Nile within Cairo itself; in fact, gezira means "island" in Arabic. Gezira shares the island with Zamalek to the north, a relatively affluent and pseudo-European residential district. While not noted for obvious tourist attractions, Zamalek is a good place to stay and a good place to eat while in Cairo, as the residential nature of the area and presence of many expatriate residents allow tourists to navigate relatively easily.

Understand[edit]

Zamalek is unevenly bisected by the major artery formed by Sharia 26th of July that crosses SE to NW over two bridges, linking Bulaq (north of Downtown Cairo) with Mohandiseen in Giza via Zamalek.

Get in[edit]

Zamalek is best reached by taxi from Downtown or Mohandiseen, which should be no more than 5 LE. The Opera Station of the Cairo Metro (line 2) is located on the southern tip of Gezira, adjacent to the Opera House and Gezira Sheraton, but is still a significant walk from the main areas of Zamalek.

Get around[edit]

Map of Zamalek.

Zamalek is small enough to navigate on foot.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Akhenaten Centre of the Arts, Eastern end of Sharia 26th of July (adjoining the bridge crossing over to Bulaq).  edit
  • Cairo Tower. open 9AM - midnight. A distinctive landmark visible from most of downtown Cairo, the Cairo Tower was completed in 1961 and reaches a height of 187 m. Great day and night views over central Cairo and to the Pyramids from the revolving café and restaurant at the top. Be wary of security guards who will give 'tours' of the area and demand large tips, and note that the café requires a minimum expenditure of 30 LE. Although it's not written in Arabic or English at the ticket booths, Egyptians visit for 20 L.E. Unlike most sights in Egypt, there is no secondary student pricing. Non-Egyptians LE 70, children under 6 free.  edit
  • Gezira Centre of Arts, 1 al-Sheikh Marsafy. Sat-Thu 9 AM-1 PM. Displays an interesting collection of Islamic ceramics and galleries for temporary art exhibitions. Free entry.  edit
  • Khan al-Maghraby, 18 Sharia Mansour Mohamed, Zamalek. Small, one-room gallery features young Egyptian artists  edit
  • Museum of Islamic Ceramics, 1 Al Marsafi St (Located next to the Cairo Marriott; Main entrance is on Gezira Street), [1]. Open daily, 9:30 to 1:30 and 5:30 to 10 pm. The museum is located in the former palace of Prince Amru Ibrahim in Zamalek. Free admission.  edit
  • Picasso Gallery, 30 Sharia Hassan Assem, Zamalek (near Brazil Street), +2 (02) 736-7544. Contemporary Egyptian art gallery  edit
  • Safar Khan Gallery, 6 Brazil Street, Zamalek, +2 (02) 735-3314 (), [2]. Mon - Sat, 10 am - 2 pm, 5 - 9 pm. Contemporary Egyptian art gallery  edit
  • Zamalek Art Gallery, 11 Brazil Street, [3]. Sat-Thu 9 AM-9 PM. Features modern Egyptian art.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Cairo Opera House, El Borg Gezira (Metro Opera), +20-27370603, [4]. Egypt's most important cultural stage, home to much more than just the opera. Founded in 1869 as the Royal Opera House by Khedive Ismail,, who commissioned Verdi's Aida, the original building was destroyed in a fire in 1971, so an entirely new one was built and opened in 1988. Today, it has two halls that can house 1300 and 500 people, as well as an outdoor theatre, and there are cultural performances virtually every night.  edit
  • El-Sawy Cultural Wheel, Al-Saqia, 26 July St., [5]. An outdoor concert scene with modern Egyptian groups playing both Western and oriental music. The music might differ in quality, but it's a good place to meet young Egyptians. No alcohol.  edit
  • Gezira Sporting Club, +2 (02) 2736-0434 / 2735-6000 (fax: +2 (02) 2736-7293). Includes four restaurants, swimming, lighted tennis, tennis pros and lessons, table tennis, squash, croquet, playing fields, walking tracks, exercise facilities, equestrian, basketball, children's play areas, saunas, bridge and board games. Hii.  edit
  • Gezira Golf Club. a large public golf course. Admission for non-members is LE 20, tournament fees are LE 40.  edit
  • Gezira Table Tennis, [6]. Located at the center court and headed by Capt. Ibrahim Gouda. The table tennis team includes 76 players of ages ranging between 6 and 21 years. A table tennis school is also available for young club members.  edit
  • Nile Maxim, opposite the Marriott, 202 27388888. Dinner cruise ship, operated by the Marriott, offers an ala carte menu, along with belly dancing, music, and other entertainment.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Alef Bookstore, 132 El Merghany Street, Heliopolis, 20 (02) 2419-2396, [7]. MISSION: To provide a variety of book genres with personalized service in a cozy atmosphere for browsing and selecting books, plus reading area LOCATIONS: Heliopolis: 132 El Merghany Street - Phone (02) 2419 2396 Zamalek: 2 Taha Hussien Street - Phone (02) 2736-5180 Maadi: 84 Road 9 - Phone (02) 2750-8661 6th of October City: Mall of Arabia, G(#090b), next to CIB, Gates 4 & 5 - Phone (01000) 229-991 Rehab: Rehab Mall 2 - Phone (01000) 228-008 City Stars: New Extension, Gate 7, 2nd Floor Alexandria: Le Marche Mall (beside International Park) - Phone (01000) 229-995  edit

Bookstores[edit]

  • American University in Cairo Bookstore, 16, Mohammad Thakeb, (02) 2739-7045. Smaller version of the main campus bookstore downtown. Featuring AUC Press publications and more.  edit
  • Diwan, 159, 26th July St., (02) 2736-2582, [8]. Possibly Cairo's best English-language bookstore, also carries Egyptian and western music, videos and DVDs. A small cafe serves coffee and pastries.  edit
  • Zamalek Bookstore, 19 Shagaret El-Dorr St., (02) 2736-9197. Small bookstore, with a large selection of English children's books and stationary products.  edit

Clothing[edit]

  • Concrete, 21 El Maahad El Sewisry St.. Has high quality men's dress shirts that rivals anything in London, Paris, or Milan, and does free custom tailoring for trousers and suits. Ties are over priced, but otherwise, the prices are extremely reasonable given the quality.  edit
  • Mobacco Cottons, Ahmad Sabri St. (between Shagaret El-Dorr and Brazil St.). Sells high-quality Egyptian cotton clothing, most of which is made in Egypt and exported. Prices are higher than other stores in Egypt, but the quality is comparable to stores in the US and Europe.  edit

Organics[edit]

  • Sekem, Ahmad Sabri St. (between Shagaret El-Dorr and Brazil St, next to Mobacco Cottons). Cairo's only organic food/health product store.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

Zamalek offers some of the best eating in Cairo. There's a large variety of quality restaurants serving everything from Egyptian molokhia to Thailand Red Curry. But also, the green and atmospheric atmosphere on the Nile-Island makes for a perfect dinner setting. Zamalek is also the place to visit if you want to escape Ramadan, many places stay open during day-time and alcohol is served (to foreigners only) at most of the water-holes.

  • La Trattoria, 13 Maraashli Street (Next to Mit Rehan furniture shop.), 02-27350470, [9]. Excellent Italian food. Owned, and run, by the son of the famous actor Omar Sharif.  edit

Budget[edit]

26th of July has a range of stalls serving the usual selection of Arab and western fast food. In addition there is a cluster of fish and seafood cafeterias in the same street between Shagrat-al-Dor and kamal mohammed.

  • Didos Al Dente, 26 Baghat Ali street, (02)2735 9117. This place serves pasta, and dishes are amazingly cheap, ranging from six to about twenty EP. Small, intimate setting, making it an excellent spot for dates (despite its small setting, the waiters will let you linger/flirt at the table). Generally full from 5pm-close, waiting on the street outside is common, but it is worth the wait. They serve up some of the best pasta in all of Cairo. You pick your sauce, you pick the kind of pasta you want, and the cooks do the rest. The kitchen is directly in view so you can watch them serve up your food. Try the bolognese, the crab sauce, or the frutti de mare with white sauce.  edit
  • Pizza Mia, Corner of Dr. Taha Hussein St and Ismail Mohammed Street, Zamalek, 01283600045, [10]. Excellent and well priced Italian, much like a takeaway with 2 or 3 tables.  edit

Mid-range[edit]

  • Beano's, (South of the 26th of July street near the Marriott hotel and the Gezira Arts Center). It has a West European style and serves food all day during Ramadan.  edit
  • Deal's, al-Sayyid al-Bakri St (near Abou al-Sid). Purportedly the best burgers in Cairo. Doubles as a pub. Open during Ramadan.  edit
  • Euro-Deli (22a Dr. Taha Hussein Street), close to President Hotel and the Chinese embassy. 24 hrs, including 24 hours delivery. This place specialises in continental food and has several healthy salads and bagels in addition to very good coffee. Free Wi-Fi availabe and the place is popular with foreign students.  edit
  • Maison Thomas, near Cilantro and Diwan on the north side of 26 July St.. 24 hours. Legendary establishment (Om Kolsoum once ate here) serving pastries, light food, and pizza. Owned by Coptic Christians. Beer available for take-away except during Ramadan.  edit
  • Sequoia. Good Lebanese food, a selection of more than 50 kinds of waterpipe tobacco, good drinks and an excellent Nile location makes this one of the most comfortable places to enjoy a Cairo evening. see more details in bar section  edit

Splurge[edit]

  • Abou al-Sid, around the corner from Diwan. Owned by the conglomerate also responsible for Tabouleh (a rockin' awesome Lebanese restaurant in Garden City), and L'Aubergine, Abou al-Sid features high-end Egyptian cuisine and superb fresh juices. Very atmospheric. Make reservations in advance and dress up to get in.  edit
  • L'Aubergine, 5 El-Sayed Al-Bakry St, (next to the post office at the corner of Sayed al-Bakri and Sharia Brazil), (02) 2738-0080. 2nd floor turns nightclub at night. Closed during Ramadan.  edit
  • La Bodega, located in Baehler's Mansions, on 26th of July Street. This upscale restaurant has a great menu of French classics like onion soup and canard a l'orange, excellent service, and good drinks, which can be difficult to find in Cairo.  edit
  • Mojo's Lounge & Bar, 4 Sarayat El Gizera St., 0102223999, [11]. 11AM-2AM. Overlooking Nile. Shisha, wi-fi, parking, taxi service. Reservations required.  edit
  • Sabai Sabai, 21 El Maahad El Swiesri (in Nile Zamalek Hotel), 2735-3471 Mob: 010 3921736. Serves traditional Thai food in stylish settings and good service, this is a welcome add to the Cairo Thai scene. Specify if you want the food spicy.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Liquor Stores[edit]

  • Drinkie's, 155 26th of July St., 19330. A liquor store with a wide variety of spirits. One of the few places to find alcohol in this largely Islamic city.  edit

Cafés[edit]

  • Cilantro, 157, 26th July Street, (02) 2736-1115. Another branch in the Om Kolsoum Hotel on Abu el-Feda just north of the 26th July St Bridge crossing to Agouza. Part of a local coffee shop chain (think Starbucks) with pastries, light sandwiches, sodas, and free wi-fi. (,cvc) edit
  • Simonds, 112 Sharia 26th of July, 02 2735 9436. open daily 9AM - Midnight. A small, long-established and highly popular café frequented by expats and students. Rather intimate, space is at a premium with just a few stools available or stand at the bar. Very good cappuccino. A great selection of sweets, pastries and juices is also on offer.  edit
  • Café Tabasco, 18b, el Marashly St., 02 2735 8465. Open daily 7AM - 3AM. Good coffee, a variety of Western and Arabic dishes including "American Breakfast" and pancakes. Popular hangout for foreign students. Wireless internet available.  edit
  • Costas Coffee, el Marashly St.. Another Cairo coffee chain, delicious coffee, small selection of pastries, sandwiches, and cold drinks. Best for take out coffee. Nile view  edit
  • Euro Deli, 22a Dr. Taha Hussein St., (02) 2736 61 12. Healthy food, homemade fries and salads. Good milkshakes. Wireless internet available.  edit
  • Café de Paris, 10 Mohamed Thakeb Pacha St. (off el Marashly St.), (02) 2735 3739. 3PM - 2AM. This place has drinks, sheesha and beer in nice garden surroundings with flat-TV running constant Arabic pop. Popular with nearby students from the AUC student quarters. Light food is also served.  edit

Bars[edit]

  • Sequoia - 3 Abu el-Fida St. Tel. +2 (02) 2735 0014. Open 1PM - 2AM. An absolutely gorgeous open-air Lounge Bar/Restaurant at the northern tip of Zamalek, directly on the Nile. One of the most popular places for the young elite and resident foreigners. Sequoia does not only offer a variety of good mezzes, grills and other main courses but is also one of the best (if not the best) places in town to smoke shisha. Sequoia has a shisha menu with 15-20 flavours of tobacco, which you can smell before making your choice. The interior is modern and all white, the atmosphere is relaxed and informal. Reservation may be needed on Wednesday nights and weekends when people come here to see and be seen. Expensive, but worth a visit.
  • Pub 28, 28 Shagaret El Dorr St. (02) 2735 92 00. Noon-2AM. Typical British pub frequented by expats and locals alike. International brands of liquor. Food served. Very popular, book table if you are not content sitting in the bar. Open during Ramdan. Stella LE 15, main dishes from LE 25-60.
  • Deals 2 El Sayed El Bakry St. (off 26th of July St.) (02) 235 9001. 4PM-2AM. Another popular pub haunt. Cable TV, DJ and house music. Pub menu. Open during Ramadan. Stella LE 15, main dishes from LE 25-60.
  • Harry's Pub, Sarya El Gezira St (Cairo Marriott Hotel). (02) 2735 8888 ext: 8495. Karaoke-pub turns disco when the crowds are big enough. Local beer LE 20.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

  • Pension Zamalek, 6 Salah el-Din St., Zamalek, +2 (02) 2735 9318. Run-down and a bit basic, but not without charm, run by an Egyptian family, in a quiet and very safe embassy neighbourhood. A basic breakfast is provided. Discounts on longer stays, unmarried couples might face problems at this location and teenagers tend to get harassed by the manager's wife. single 150 LE.  edit
  • Mayfair Hotel, Level 2-3, 9 Aziz Osman Street, Zamalek, +2 (02) 2735 7315, [12]. An upper budget location - the people are nice, rooms clean, prices reasonable, and atmosphere peaceful. Free wi-fi, according to the website of the hotel. Single/double: 170/190 LE.  edit

Mid-range[edit]

  • Golden Tulip Flamenco Hotel, 2 El Gezira El Wosta St., +2 (02) 2735 0815 (, fax: +2 (02) 2735 0819), [13]. This hotel is more notable for its location than its service - rooms can be small, but comfortable. The service is good, and most room rates include breakfast - ask for a Nile view when booking. Free-of-charge wireless internet service is available.  edit
  • Horus House Hotel, 21 Ismail Mohamed Street, +202 27353634 (, fax: +202 27353182), [14]. In the same building as the Hotel Longchamps with a equally friendly staff. Clean, serviceable rooms and a buffet breakfast. $52/72 single/double.  edit
  • Hotel Longchamps, 21 Ismail Mohamed Street, +202 2735 2311/12 (, fax: +202 2735 9644), [15]. A spotless and well-appointed 3-star hotel situated on the top two floors of an apartment building on a beautiful tree-lined street, run by Mrs Hebba Bakri. Garden terrace upstairs. Room rates include a buffet breakfast. Laundry service available. Optional airport pickup and delivery LE 50 flat fee. Rooms from $36 single, $46 double..  edit

Splurge[edit]

  • Cairo Marriott, Sharia Saray El Gezira, +20-2-27283000 (fax: +20-2-27283001), [16]. Housed in a former royal palace originally built to host Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie for the occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. The old palace is still there, but the guest rooms (all 1069 of them) are housed in a modern tower block next to it. Still, the six-acre Omar Khayyam gardens are beautiful and it's a great place to have a drink or puff on a shisha. If you can afford the price tag, a stay at the Marriott is a wonderful way to begin to acclimate to Cairo.  edit
  • Sofitel El Gezirah Cairo, 3 El Thawra Council St (Southern end of Gezira Island), (+20)2/27373737 (), [17].  edit

Contact[edit]

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