Tourism in Egypt has taken a pretty big hit lately, which is why there are so many travel deals to Egypt right now. Grab some cheap tickets to Cairo and enjoy a whole host of things available in the Egyptian capital that are free to see and do.
You don’t get much for free these days. Not at home and not abroad either. But luckily cities across the globe have plenty to do that’s free with a little creativity, imagination and good timing. Cairo is no exception and is a great destination for budget travellers this year. From markets to monuments, these are the best free things in Cairo.
Coptic Cairo – this neighbourhood in southern Cairo is the oldest part of the city and features some amazing narrow and twisting alleyways that lead to churches way older even than some of the mosques in the city. According to legend, it was St. Mark that introduced Christianity to Egypt and Africa’s first Christian church was located here. Discover these stories and more at the Coptic Museum.
Visiting the churches is free, but a small donation is always welcome. Churches are open typically from 9am to 4pm.
Gezira Island – If you’re tired of all the old stuff, try something a little more modern in Zamalek, a neighbourhood on Gezira Island in the Nile River. This upscale area was popular among British expats in the 19th century and pretty Victorian mansions are now embassies, galleries and shopping boutiques. This is a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee overlooking the Nile.
Quarafa, City of the Dead – This is certainly an interesting place to visit in southeastern Cairo. The Islamic necropolis and cemetery is a dense 4 mile long grid of tombs and mausoleums where some people even live and work! Some have homes here to be near their ancestors while others have been forced to live here due to the urban sprawl and cost of living in the city.
Cairo’s markets and bazaars
Cairo’s marketplaces are chaotic, colourful and invigorating. They’re intense places to experience Egyptian culture in a nutshell and a great place to pick up some souvenirs from your trip to Cairo. These markets are must-sees.
Khan el-Khalili Bazaar – This is without a doubt Cairo’s most popular marketplace for shopping. You can find everything here from koohak pipes to spices, jewellery to scarves. You will have to brush up on your bargaining skills if you want to get a deal here! You should knock the starting price down by at least 20%. If vendors aren’t willing to drop the price, walk away. You’ll find something similar to cheaper further on down the market.
Street of the Tentmakers – Located in Souq Al-Khiamiyya, the street of the tentmakers is particularly interesting because the street has been used for selling tents continuously since the Mamluk era, around 1200, till today where you can still buy tents and textiles here.
Azbekeya Book Market – This book market located in Azbekeya Gardens in the city centre is a must if you’re looking for something new and interesting to do in the afternoon. There are 50+ stalls here selling all sorts of books and gift items.
Essential Cairo experiences
Watch a Sufi dancing show – Witnessing a Sufi dance will likely be the highlight of your trip. Tickets for the evening shows must be picked up in advance at the Wikalat Al Ghouri entrance and entry is free, which is incredible given its popularity! The dancers and musicians take the stage with such skill and dexterity. There’s really nothing like it!
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