With scorching temperatures and a sun that doesn’t quit from 5am to 8pm, summer in Cairo is a time of mass exodus for those who can afford coastal retreats. But if you want to play in the urban jungle during these hot months, you can still navigate the city with a few basic rules, such as touring as early as possible, avoiding hot microbuses in the afternoon and knowing exactly where the nearest pool is.
Brave the heat to attend a summer music festival in the Cairo's ancient Citadel © Matt Champlin / Getty Images
Attend the Salah El Din Citadel’s music festival
If you can brave sweltering Egypt during the month of August, the summer music festival at the Salah El Din Citadel in Islamic Cairo is the season’s most popular event for Cairenes who stick it out in the city through the hottest month of the year. Recently the festival has expanded from hosting just Egyptian musicians to performers from across the Arab region. It’s a rare opportunity to enjoy being outside during the summer months – and the solidly cheap tickets are equally rare in a country growing ever more expensive. Tickets are a mere LE5 to enjoy the hilltop breeze and diverse gathering, which runs between 8pm and 10pm or later.
After the sun sets, the streets of Cairo come to life as locals stop by cafes to smoke shisha © Sanyalux Srisurin / Shutterstock
Cool down with a late-night shisha
Since most socialising during summer happens after the sun goes down, you’ll notice plastic chairs popping up as the heat weans off and the streets become more crowded. Egyptians like to cool down at the end of a hot day with a nightly shisha, so pick your favourite flavour (cool mint really does the trick this time of year) and grab a lemonade to recharge after a draining day. If you want to add a watering hole to the equation, grab a beer at the Barrel Bar at the historic Windsor Hotel. While its glory days are associated with bygone colonial times, it remains a landmark worth enjoying a cool beer in.
Get a cultural fix at an evening outdoor performance at Cairo's Opera House © eFesenko / Shutterstock
Attend an open-air performance at Cairo Opera House
While the original Royal Opera House burned down in 1971, the new – and still architecturally renowned – Cairo Opera House rose in its place to maintain Egypt’s foundation of groundbreaking artistic performance work. While the schedule does take a break for a period in August, if you are visiting Cairo in July, you can grab tickets for an evening music performance. Usually on the programme are offerings by the Heritage Arab Music Ensemble, the Cairo Symphony Orchestra or an Egyptian modern dance troupe. Individual recitals for up-and-coming musicians help foster the next generation of Egyptian talent while old ballet classics still appear on the programme, lending a historic air to contemporary performances on any given night. After enjoying a performance, stroll over the Qasr El Nil Bridge past groups of friends and young couples and families who all gather to enjoy the view over the water with a cool evening breeze.
In sweltering summer, it's imperative to know where Cairo's best pools are © Arsgera / Shutterstock
Pick a pool, any pool
Since morning touring and evening socialising are key to getting through summer days in Cairo, it can be hard to find afternoon activities that won’t leave you drenched in sweat and covered in dust. The best solution is paying a day fare to get into a pool. Gezira Club in Zamalek offers day tickets (LE150) and has two pools, one for lounging and one Olympic size for more serious cardio laps. For a pool with a view, head to the Hilton on the northeast end of the island for more stylish relaxation and stellar poolside service.
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