Cairo is the Hollywood of the Arab world, and Zamalek is the Manhattan of Cairo. It’s one of the safest parts of the city, with high-end shops, and an abundance of bakeries and art galleries. Every corner offers something new and you could spend your whole day shopping still without making a big dent in your wallet. I only lived in Zamalek for four months but I did more than enough exploring to find the best ways to spend your time there.
A small little European bakery sits mere meters from my old front door. It’s the only place I will buy my bread or drink espresso. They have an assortment of small desserts with anything from candied apples and maple glaze, to caramel tarts and Viennese chocolate cakes.
Address: 6 Brazil Street
This is where you want to buy your groceries. It’s a luxury market with cured meats, imported cheese, oils, breads and more. It’s about three times the price of a regular market but the quality of the food is well worth your money, and it’s still less expensive than a Whole Foods in the U.S., with the same type of food.
Address: 3 Brazil Street
Everyone’s heard of the highly-coveted Egyptian cotton and, in Zamalek, there’s no better place to buy it than Mobaco Cottons. It’s your standard clothing store, except everything is made from high-quality and incredibly soft cotton, from fuzzy socks and cardigans to scarves and pants. By the time I had been in Cairo for three months, nearly half of my closet consisted of things I bought here.
Address: 8 Ahmed Sabry
If you’re looking for classic Egyptian sweets and deserts, Mandarine Koueider is the place to go. During the month of Ramadan, this is the first place that locals go to prepare for their nighttime feast, iftar. Although it is a local favorite, people come from all over Cairo to buy the kanefeh, basboussa, borma, and anything else they can get their hands on before it’s sold out. My personal favorite is their Swaba Zainab.
Address: 17 Shagaret Al Dor
Half bookstore, half ahwa (a type of Egyptian cafe) this is the perfect cozy spot to have a study session. The busy streets below offer a lot of noise, but it’s the good kind that makes you feel connected to the city, even when you’re enclosed in wooden rooms lined with books.
Address: 12 Sayed El Bakry Street
This art gallery is a relaxing and intriguing scene where you can enjoy strolling through a collection of old books, statues, artwork, furniture, clocks and everything in between. Whether or not I planned on buying anything, I was always pleased to spend time in the Loft Gallery.
Address: 12 Sayed El Bakri Street
El Malek For Silver
Right at the corner of a fork in the road is a wonderful little silver shop called El Malek. Run by a charming old man (who’s name I can’t quite remember) this is the place to go for affordable, handmade jewelry. At this magical place, I bought dozens of rings, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, many of which I still wear today. I cannot recommend this place enough.
Address: The corner of Hassan Assem and El-Mansour Mohammed
Nefertari Body Care
Nefertari is the best beauty shop in all of Cairo. All their products are handmade, organic, and the smells will amaze you. They sell Egyptian cotton towels, beeswax candles, body and face oils, soaps, shampoo, essential oils, you name it. This is where I went to pamper myself.
If you’re at a loss for what to try, you can’t go wrong with the rose water!
Address: 15A Mohammed Maraashly
Zööba can be found all over Cairo, but I’ll be damned if I don’t include the Zamalek location on this list. Whether I decided to take a leisurely ten-minute store to the restaurant or have it delivered within twenty minutes, I enjoyed every bite of food they gave me. My favorite things on the menu are, without a doubt, the koshari, rice pudding, fuul with balaadi, and the lavender lemonade. Dear lord, that is what I miss the most about Egypt.
Address: 16 26 July St
A lovely cafe situated right on the Nile River, Left Bank is the ideal spot to enjoy a cup of mint tea while gazing over the waters of the most famous river in the world.
Address: 53 End Abou El Feda
One of my all time favorite restaurants in Cairo, Sequoia is the kind of place that you can spend hours at. My friends and I would post up for four hours on Sundays, staring at the Nile River (which was ten feet from our table) smoking mint shisha, drinking Turkish coffee, and gorging ourselves on hummus, fried halloumi, falafel, and three different dishes every time.
The decor of the restaurant is a sight to behold: white, wooden furniture with comfy cushions, dangling vines and plants, high ceilings, tons of natural life, and colorful decorations. In the corner, a lady is constantly making fresh bread, balaadi.
Address: 53 Abou El Feda
Now this is the place I go to truly spoil myself. After a long week of more than thirty hours of school and ten more of hard homework, I go to Boutique to get a facial, THAI massage, or body treatment. It’s relaxing and serene; the workers are very talented at what they do. This is a great place to kill a couple hours pampering yourself at a reasonable cost.
Address: 15 Sri Lanka Street
Pub 28 – Zamelek, Cairo
Pub 28 is famous among the locals and the expat community. It’s dark and smoky inside and is accompanied by nice music and great food. Try the sangria!
Address: 28 Shagarat el Dor Street
The Cairo Tower is the most well-known landmark in Cairo, after the pyramids. It’s 187 meters high and has a nice restaurant on top, but everyone goes for the view. It’s open from 8 until midnight and the entrance fee is modest at 150 pounds. The most spectacular view of the city will be seen from the top of the tower at sunset. Another fantastic time to go is during the night. You can see all the lights, cars, neon signs, and boats from all over the city. The view never gets old.
Do you have any more suggestions on where to go in Zamalek? Comment below!