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Culture, Fashion, Food, and Adventure: The Ultimate Guide to Cairo, Egypt

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The Great Pyramids of Egypt are arguably the most famous monument on the planet, a beacon of history and architecture known around the world. They are one of Egypt's greatest mysteries, but they certainly aren't alone. After all, this isn't the Pharaohs' Egypt anymore. Cairo, the capital city surrounding the famous monuments, is teeming with culture, fashion, food, and adventure—all just begging to be explored.

Where to Stay

  • Daniel Mayer/Wikimedia Commons

    Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza

    1089 Corniche El Nil 11519 Garden City, Cairo; fourseasons.com

    Four Seasons Cairo is a modern stand out among the villas of Cairo’s oldest district. Standing tall among some of the cities oldest villas, the Four Seasons has incredible views of the Nile and Cairo’s unforgettable cityscape. Fancy a relaxing cruise on the Nile? Venture no further than your hotel! The Four Seasons offers felucca boat rides on the Nile straight from the doors of the hotel itself (feluccas are traditional wooden sailboats used by Egyptians). Wave goodbye to your hotel as you drift down the calming waters of the Nile, Pharaoh-style.

  • flyvancity/Wikimedia Commons

    Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino

    16 Saray El Gezira Street, Zamalek Cairo, 11211; marriott.com

    If you want to feel like royalty, the Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino is the place to stay. This hotel was an actual palace built in 1869 for the Khedive Isma'il Pasha. Although located in the heart of Cairo, it is actually situated on Gezira Island in the center of the Nile. Although the hotel is surrounded by the bustling modern city, it was designed to resemble 18th century palaces in Versailles, sending you back in time—in luxury! The hotel is also famous for its gardens, popular with Egyptians and foreigners alike, which will transport you to a world of relaxation away from busy Cairo life.

  • Katie A. Paul

    Mena House Hotel

    menahousehotel.com

    The best view of the pyramids without leaving your hotel! The Mena House is one of the only places in Egypt located in the shadow of the pyramids. You can enjoy some classic Egyptian mint tea in Le Jardin, the beautiful water gardens on site, while you gaze upon 4,000 years of history. Not only can you bask in the historic monuments around you, but the Mena House is a piece of history itself. The hotel has been graced with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill, and Richard Nixon. Its historic details inside and out date back to 1869, making this diamond in the rough feel like a Pasha’s palace.

Where to Shop

  • courtesy

    Sami Amin

    sami-amin.com

    Every woman loves a good handbag, but how about one with a history? Egyptian designer Sami Amin invokes the beauty of the past in his hand made leather bag and jewelry collection. Using vintage brass and traditional leather designs inspired by Egyptian art and Arabic calligraphy, these unique and stylish bags can only be found in Egypt. Pick up a handmade bag (or two) in one of his Cairo locations and be the envy of your friends who won’t find anything like it at home!

    Malak El Ezzawy
    @malakelezzawy and @Hoxton_House

    Looking for couture to feel like Cleopatra? Want something stylish but have no clue where to start? Check out the haute couture designs from Malak El Ezzawy. You can choose one of her beautiful gowns or have her design one just for you. Her designs are clean and simple with a touch of flare. Shopping for more than just you? You can check out her sleek looks for men at Hoxton House. Shop together and you and bae can arrive anywhere in style.

    Nada Akram
    @Nadaakram

    If you’re looking for fun, funky, and ready to wear, Nada Akram is a must on your Egyptian shopping list. Her designs are inspired by some of Egypt’s most iconic women, with many Egyptian actresses and divas frequently appearing in her playful styles. Vintage looks motivate her fashion while modern colors and a “break the rules of fashion” mentality makes her styles truly unique. Stop by her store for a taste of adorable mid-century mod with an Egyptian flare.

What to See

  • Katie A. Paul

    Islamic Cairo/ Khan al Khalili

    Only minutes away from the monuments of pharaohs, step centuries ahead in Old Islamic Cairo. If you are wowed by the size of the monuments, prepare to wonder at the magnificent details of some of the world’s oldest shrines and mosques. When you build up an appetite for shopping, wander through the labyrinth alleyways of the Khan al Khalili Souq. This ancient market has been a staple of traders and travelers for centuries. Browsing baubles or smelling the local spices transports you back to a romantic era of Silk Road travel and trade.

  • Katie A. Paul

    Egyptian Museum

    No trip to Egypt is complete without a look at the golden mask of King Tut at the famous Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The Egyptian Museum is filled with more history than one can sometimes comprehend. If you’re not into checking out the mummy room, be sure to check out what they used to wear. The ancient jewelry on display is all the archaeological evidence we need to know that ancient Egyptians had some serious style. Maybe that’s why we still copy them today—major props to the original trendsetters.

  • Katie A. Paul

    Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza

    This may be a no-brainer, but the one and only site you must see before leaving Egypt is one of the most famous in the world—the Great Pyramids of course! The Great Pyramids of Giza are the only remaining Ancient Wonder of the world standing today. What makes their size even more incredible is that there were no construction machinery or beasts of burden helping here, just sheer manpower—to this day archaeologists are still unraveling the mysteries within. Take in history that has stood the test of time for over 4,000 years, but don’t get too close or you won’t be able to fit the whole pyramid in your selfie—yes, it’s THAT big!

  • Katie A. Paul

    Hanging Church in Coptic Cairo

    After Pyramid tombs and Medieval mosques, Cairo still has more to offer in Coptic Cairo. Egypt’s Coptic Christian history is most famously embodied in the “Hanging Church” (also known as Al-Muallaka). At 1,300 years, it stands as one of the oldest churches in all of Egypt. Though this church may not be hanging from the sky, it was built upon ancient towers of a Roman fortress, elevating it above the level of the street relative to all other structures. Lose yourself in the intricacies of the ebony and ivory inlays that cover the interior of this ancient church. The inlays and meticulously carved wooden screens might even inspire some interior design looks to take home.

Where to Eat

  • Katie A. Paul

    Le Pacha 1901

    Saray El Gezirah St. Zamalek, Cairo; lepacha.com

    For a chic evening dining on the water, Le Pacha 1901 in Egypt’s upscale Zamalek neighborhood is a must. Indulge in the exotic Mediterranean cuisine in laid-back luxury while you watch the felucca boats sail down the Nile at sunset. The essence of Egypt’s ancient tastes and modern style brought together in one experience.

  • Katie A. Paul

    Koshary Abu Tarek

    16 Maarouf street, Champillion; abotarek.com

    For the adventurous foodie who wants to ditch luxury for a truly authentic Egyptian meal, Koshary Abu Tarek is the place for you. Any good foodie knows that the restaurants popular with the locals are the real places to be, and Koshary Abu Tarek is no exception. Continually rated among the top restaurants in all of Egypt, this place is all about the food. Unlike other commonly served Mediterranean dishes that are shared throughout the region, Koshary is something that can only be found in Egypt. Koshary is not just food, it’s a celebration of Egypt’s multi-cultural history in the modern era.

  • Katie A. Paul

    Khan al Khalili at Mena House

    menahousehotel.com

    For a true Egyptian feel, take your taste buds no further than Khan al Khalili at the historic Mena House. If you decided to stay at the Mena House Hotel then lucky you! You are only steps away from the opulent dining experiences this hotel has to offer. Named for the famous market in Old Cairo, this restaurant will overwhelm your senses from the moment you walk in. Enjoy your Egyptian dining experience set in the elegance of a past era while you gaze out the windows at the pyramids as you sip your wine.

 
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