Tips to Have You Fit in like a Local in Cairo

When we travel, we usually tend to make a lot of effort and try our best to absorb the culture, traditions, and soul of the city/town. Most importantly, we try so hard to fit in as locals within a foreign community. It’s actually part of our nature; instinctively we always seek to collectively live within a group of people.

Every year, millions of travelers come to visit Egypt and experience the history, culture, and the ancient land of the pharaohs. Therefore, without further ado, here are a few tips so you can experience Cairo like no other, making you feel like a local!

Transportation

Using public transportation in Cairo is the most efficient and beneficial way to enrich your travel experience. I recommend you use the metro, buses you can schedule them through an app using your own phone; like Swvl, Uber, and Careem buses, there are also microbuses and my favorite of all the Nile Taxi.

You can find means of transportation when moving around Cairo, to give you an opportunity to connect and communicate with a local Egyptians directly first hand all at once!

Food

Egyptian authentic food can be a bit of a mystery to travelers. If you ask ‘what do Egyptians eat?’ the answer would definitely be either fool (fava beans) and ta’mya (Egyptian falafel) or Koshary! These two are Egypt’s most popular dishes, there are restaurants that are dedicated to only serving these delicious meals. They’re considered to be Egypt’s national dishes!

As a foreigner myself, I used to honestly hate Koshary when I first tried it, but now I actually make plans with my friends to go out just to eat it! One of the best places to eat really good Koshary is Abu-Tarek; ultimate perfection!

Lingo

There are few words and phrases that can be a great help for travelers in Egypt, not only will it help you get around the city easily but also it’ll boost your confidence making you feel like you’re from the area!

I recommend the following phrases; If you’re trying to reach a destination you should use yemeen (right) shemal (left), hena (here), ala tool (straight forward), and you should also learn numbers at least from one to ten.

Also when you’re trying to buy an item, use Bekam (how much), Eish (bread). Always say shokran (thank you) and tamam (all good) and you’ll be good to go!

Hangouts

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There are plenty of places to eat, chill, and hang out in Cairo!

In Downtown, there’s a place called Eish W Malh for the perfect oriental brunch. There’s also a place called Cafe Riche, it’s around the same area. The restaurant and bar, has been there since 1908; the vintage vibes are rich with history; all politicians, writers, actors, and Egypt’s most prominent figures used to sit and enjoy their time there.

Also, there’s the Naguib Mahfouz restaurant in Al-Hussien (Khan El Khalili), one of the few places you can enjoy your meal with live oriental music performance to stir up your appetite! Head to Zamalek and check out LA’ubergine, it’s a two stor restaurant and bar that has been around for ages, it has this dim lights laid back vibe with posters and cluttered photographs on all of its walls.

There’s Piccolo Mondo and Le Steak which both were opened 25 years ago on the La Pacha boat in Zamalek alongside the beautiful Nile, they serve delicious Italian and French food with their extensive wine list. Also, you need to checkout Taboula, I personally love this place, they serve delicious Middle Eastern and Lebanese cuisine in a very casual and relaxed setting.

You can always just wander around the city, and the best part is to give yourself the chance to discover new places you’ve never been to before. You can simply sit on an Ahwa (local coffee shop) I recommend you to go and checkout Ahwak coffee shop in Zamalek and there’s another one called Zahret El-Bostan located in Downtown, huda-Sha’rawy street, its where you get to enjoy a lovely conversation with the locals; people are extremely friendly and I guarantee you can easily make friends.

Music

Music, as well as dancing, have always been an integral part of the Egyptian culture for centuries. Aside from belly-dancing, as much as I personally love it, music, on the other hand, is very diverse in Egypt. They have more than one genre featuring different rhythms.

However, you can actually tell that this is an Egyptian song not just because of the language but because they managed to reserve their own style for decades! There’re few Egyptian pop singers, that you probably already know about, that are currently dominating the Egyptian scene. Those include Amr Diab, Mohamed Mounir, and Tamer Hosny. Of course, there are hundreds of other bands and singers playing different genres too. Not to mention the golden age, Egypt’s classical songs that we, from all age groups, listen to until this day.

I mean, who doesn’t love Umm Kalthoum and Abdelhalim Hafez? Egypt is so diverse you can literally find yourself in anything.

Shopping attractions

There are many places in Cairo where you can have the best shopping experience. No visit to Egypt is considered complete without a shopping spree at Al-Hussein’s Khan El-Khalili. It’s considered one of the main tourist attractions in Cairo. This major souk/bazaar, located in the center of the historic Islamic Cairo, is where you get to buy anything from soap powder to pharaoh themed stones and souvenirs.

Also if you’re looking for funky and cool boutiques in Cairo with contemporary designer pieces you should checkout these stores in Zamalek; Amuse, Villa Baboushka, The Sahara Collection, ABn’G World, and Boho Gallery; these places offer both cultural and modern clothes, accessories, and home accessories with a touch of Egyptian look and oriental patterns.

People of Cairo are generally the nicest people I have encountered. They can literally make you feel at home, it’s very safe and I have no doubt that you will have the best time when visiting.

WE SAID THIS: Cairo is definitely one of the best cities to visit!

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