Cairo in detail


Faced with the mountains of chintzy souvenirs and over-eager hustlers trying to sell them to you over endless glasses of tea, it’s tempting to keep your wallet firmly shut in Cairo. But then you’d be missing out on some of Egypt’s most beautiful treasures. The trick is knowing where to look.

Where to Shop

Khan Al Khalili On the surface, Khan Al Khalili's shops seem fully stocked with goods from China – hello plastic pyramids! – but explore deeper and they can yield great finds, including lamps, copperware, woodwork and inlay.

Zamalek Funky boutiques for gifts, housewares and clothing. Check out L'Oiseau du Nil, Nomad, and Fair Trade Egypt.

Downtown Amid the myriad shoe and cheap fashion shops are a couple of gems including the beautifully curated Egyptian craft shop Oum El Dounia and the AUC Bookshop.

Suburbs Head to Citystars, Cairo's best mall, for everything else.

Cairo Crafts: What & Where

These are the best districts for certain goods.

Gold & silver Head to the gold district on the west end of Khan Al Khalili.

Backgammon and shisha pipes Shops line Sharia Al Muizz Li Din Allah around Bein Al Qasreen. Another set of shisha dealers are just east and west of Bab Zuweila.

Appliqué Best buys are at the Tentmakers Market, south of Bab Zuweila.

Carpets The carpet bazaar south of the Mosque-Madrassa of Al Ghouri has imports; flat-weave Bedouin rugs are the only local style.

Spices Most dealers in the Khan are more trouble than they’re worth. Try Abd Al Rahman Harraz or shops around Midan Falaki.

Perfume In addition to the southwest corner of Khan Al Khalili, try shops around Midan Falaki.

Inlay Artisans in Darb Al Ahmar sell from out of their workshops.

Muski glass Available everywhere, but interesting to see the glassblowing studios in the district north of Bab Al Futuh.

Antiques Roadshow: Cairo Edition

Evidence of Cairo’s glam years can be found in dusty warehouses and glittery shops. These are some of the best.

Ahmed El Dabba & Sons The most respected antiques dealer in Khan Al Khalili, filled with Louis XV furniture, jewellery and snuff boxes.

Amgad Naguib Make an appointment to visit Amgad’s dusty treasure house Downtown. Along with vintage sunglasses, movie posters and groovy glass, you get some great stories.

Kerop Vintage Cairo photos, from original plates, in a time-warp office.

King Saleh Bazaar Immediately south of the Madrassa & Mausoleum of Qalaun. The more you look through the dust, the more pops out.

Nostalgia From framed Arabic ad prints to escargot forks.

L’Orientaliste Find rare books on Egypt and the Middle East, as well as lithographs, maps and engravings.