island in the Nile River, in Cairo, Egypt
Africa > North Africa > Egypt > Lower Egypt > Cairo > Cairo/Gezira

Gezira is a district of modern Cairo that occupies the southern portion of the main island in the Nile within Cairo itself; in fact, gezira means "island" in Arabic. Gezira shares the island with Zamalek to the north, a relatively affluent and pseudo-European residential district. While not noted for obvious tourist attractions, Zamalek is a good place to stay and a good place to eat while in Cairo, as the residential nature of the area and presence of many expatriate residents allow tourists to navigate relatively easily.

Cairo Tower

Understand edit

Zamalek is unevenly bisected by the major artery formed by Sharia 26 July that crosses SE to NW over two bridges, linking Bulaq (north of Downtown Cairo) with Mohandiseen in Giza via Zamalek.

Get in edit

Zamalek is best reached by taxi from Downtown or Mohandiseen, which should be no more than LE5. The 1 Opera station of the Cairo Metro Line 2 is on the southern tip of Gezira, adjacent to the Opera House and Gezira Sheraton, but is still a significant walk from the main areas of Zamalek.

Get around edit

Zamalek is small enough to navigate on foot.

See edit

  • 1 Akhenaten Centre of the Arts, Eastern end of Sharia 26th of July (adjoining the bridge crossing over to Bulaq).
  • 2 Cairo Tower. open 9AM - midnight. A distinctive landmark visible from most of downtown Cairo, the Cairo Tower was completed in 1961 and reaches a height of 187 m. Great day and night views over central Cairo and to the Pyramids from the revolving café and restaurant at the top. Be wary of security guards who will give 'tours' of the area and demand large tips, and note that the café requires a minimum expenditure of LE30. Although it's not written in Arabic or English at the ticket booths, Egyptians visit for LE20. Unlike most sights in Egypt, there is no secondary student pricing. There can be huge queues for the "standard" elevator, hence why they have a "express" elevator for an additional ticket. If you still want to visit with "standard" fee, give yourself some time for the possible waiting. Non-Egyptians LE70, children under 6 free.    
  • Gezira Centre of Arts, 1 al-Sheikh Marsafy. Sa-Th 9AM-1PM. Displays an interesting collection of Islamic ceramics and galleries for temporary art exhibitions. Free entry.
  • Khan al-Maghraby, 18 Sharia Mansour Mohamed, Zamalek. Small, one-room gallery features young Egyptian artists
  • 3 Museum of Islamic Ceramics, 1 Al Marsafi St (Located next to the Cairo Marriott; Main entrance is on Gezira Street). Daily 9:30AM-1:30PM and 5:30PM-10PM. The museum is located in the former palace of Prince Amru Ibrahim in Zamalek. Free.    
  • Picasso Gallery, 30 Sharia Hassan Assem, Zamalek (near Brazil Street), +20 2 736-7544. Contemporary Egyptian art gallery
  • Safar Khan Gallery, 6 Brazil Street, Zamalek, +20 2 735-3314, . M-Sa 10AM-2PM, 5-9PM. Contemporary Egyptian art gallery
  • Zamalek Art Gallery, 11 Brazil Street. Sa-Th 9AM-9PM. Features modern Egyptian art.

Do edit

  • 1 Cairo Opera House, El Borg Gezira (Metro Opera), +20 2 7370603. Egypt's most important cultural stage, home to much more than just the opera. Founded in 1869 as the Royal Opera House by Khedive Ismail,, who commissioned Verdi's Aida, the original building was destroyed in a fire in 1971, so an entirely new one was built and opened in 1988. Today, it has two halls that can house 1300 and 500 people, as well as an outdoor theatre, and there are cultural performances virtually every night.    
  • 2 El-Sawy Cultural Wheel, Al-Saqia, 26 July St. An outdoor concert scene with modern Egyptian groups playing both Western and Middle Eastern music. The music might vary in quality, but it's a good place to meet young Egyptians. No alcohol.    
  • 3 Gezira Sporting Club, +20 2 2736-0434, fax: +20 2 2736-7293. Includes four restaurants, swimming, lighted tennis, tennis pros and lessons, table tennis, squash, croquet, playing fields, walking tracks, exercise facilities, equestrian, basketball, children's play areas, saunas, bridge and board games.
  • 4 Gezira Golf Club (Next to the Sporting Club). A large public golf course. Admission for non-members is LE20, tournament fees are LE40.
  • 5 Nile Maxim, opposite the Marriott, +20 2 27388888. Dinner cruise ship, operated by the Marriott, offers an à la carte menu, along with belly dancing, music, and other entertainment.

Buy edit

Bookstores edit

  • American University in Cairo Bookstore, 16, Mohammad Thakeb, +20 2 2739-7045. Smaller version of the main campus bookstore downtown. Featuring AUC Press publications. among others.
  • Alef Bookstore, 2 Taha Hussein Street, +20 2 2736-5180. Provides a variety of book genres with personalized service in a cozy atmosphere for browsing and selecting books, plus reading area.
  • Diwan, 159, 26th July St., +20 2 2736-2582. Possibly Cairo's best English-language bookstore, also carries Egyptian and western music, videos and DVDs. A small cafe serves coffee and pastries.
  • Zamalek Bookstore, 19 Shagaret El-Dorr St., +20 2 2736-9197. Small bookstore, with a large selection of English children's books and stationery products.

Clothing edit

  • 1 Concrete, 21 El Maahad El Sewisry St.. Has high quality men's dress shirts that rivals anything in London, Paris, or Milan, and does free custom tailoring for trousers and suits. Ties are over priced, but otherwise, the prices are extremely reasonable given the quality.
  • 2 Mobacco Cottons, 8 Ahemed Sabry St (between Shagaret El-Dorr and Brazil St.). Sells high-quality Egyptian cotton clothing, most of which is made in Egypt and exported. Prices are higher than other stores in Egypt, but the quality is comparable to stores in the US and Europe.

Organics edit

  • Sekem, Ahmad Sabri St. (between Shagaret El-Dorr and Brazil St, next to Mobacco Cottons). Cairo's only organic food/health product store.

Eat edit

Zamalek offers some of the best eating in Cairo. There's a large variety of quality restaurants serving everything from Egyptian molokhia to Thailand Red Curry. But also, the green and atmospheric atmosphere on the Nile-Island makes for a perfect dinner setting. Zamalek is also the place to visit if you want to escape Ramadan: many places stay open during day-time and alcohol is served (to foreigners only) at most of the water-holes.

  • La Trattoria, 13 Maraashli Street (Next to Mit Rehan furniture shop.), +20 2 27350470. Excellent Italian food. Owned, and run, by the son of the famous actor Omar Sharif.
  • 1 Nile City, Zamalek. Stationary boat on the Nile includes several international franchises coupled an Egyptian grill and a seafood restaurant. Chilis, Johny Carinos, Fish Market & Studio Misr.

Budget edit

26 July has a range of stalls serving the usual selection of Arab and western fast food. In addition there is a cluster of fish and seafood cafeterias in the same street between Shagrat-al-Dor and kamal Mohammed.

  • 2 Didos Al Dente, 26 Baghat Ali street, +20 2 2735 9117. This place serves pasta, and dishes are amazingly cheap, ranging from LE6-20. Small, intimate setting, making it an excellent spot for dates (despite its small setting, the waiters will let you linger/flirt at the table). Generally full from 5PM-close, waiting on the street outside is common, but it is worth the wait. They serve up some of the best pasta in all of Cairo. You pick your sauce, you pick the kind of pasta you want, and the cooks do the rest. The kitchen is directly in view so you can watch them serve up your food. Try the bolognese, the crab sauce, or the frutti de mare with white sauce.

Mid-range edit

  • Beano's (South of the 26th of July street near the Marriott hotel and the Gezira Arts Center). It has a West European style and serves food all day during Ramadan.
  • Deal's, al-Sayyid al-Bakri St (near Abou al-Sid). Purportedly the best burgers in Cairo. Doubles as a pub. Open during Ramadan.
  • Euro-Deli, 22a Dr. Taha Hussein Street (close to President Hotel and the Chinese embassy). 24 hrs, including 24 hours delivery. This place specialises in continental food and has several healthy salads and bagels in addition to very good coffee. Free Wi-Fi available and the place is popular with foreign students.
  • 3 Maison Thomas, near Cilantro and Diwan on the north side of 26 July St.. 24 hours. Legendary establishment (Om Kolsoum once ate here) serving pastries, light food, and pizza. Owned by Coptic Christians. Beer available for take-away except during Ramadan.
  • Sequoia. Good Lebanese food, a selection of more than 50 kinds of waterpipe tobacco, good drinks and an excellent Nile location makes this one of the most comfortable places to enjoy a Cairo evening. see more details in bar section

Splurge edit

  • 4 Abou al-Sid, around the corner from Diwan. Owned by the conglomerate also responsible for Tabouleh (a rockin' awesome Lebanese restaurant in Garden City), and L'Aubergine, Abou al-Sid features high-end Egyptian cuisine and superb fresh juices. Very atmospheric. Make reservations in advance and dress up to get in.
  • 5 L'Aubergine, 5 El-Sayed Al-Bakry St (next to the post office at the corner of Sayed al-Bakri and Sharia Brazil), +20 2 2738-0080. 2nd floor turns nightclub at night. Closed during Ramadan.
  • La Bodega, located in Baehler's Mansions, on 26th of July Street. This upscale restaurant has a great menu of French classics like onion soup and canard a l'orange, excellent service, and good drinks, which can be difficult to find in Cairo.
  • [dead link] Mojo's Lounge & Bar, 4 Sarayat El Gizera St., +20 102223999. 11AM-2AM. Overlooking Nile. Shisha, wi-fi, parking, taxi service. Reservations required.
  • 6 Sabai Sabai, 21 El Maahad El Swiesri (in Nile Zamalek Hotel), +20 2 2735-3471, +20 10 3921736 (Mob). Serves traditional Thai food in stylish settings and good service. This is a welcome addition to the Cairo Thai scene. Specify if you want the food spicy.
  • 7 Le Pacha, Saray El Gezirah Street, El-Khalig, +20227356730. Daily 1PM-2AM. A complex on a Nile boat with several restaurants and cafes inside the boat. Very tasty food and professional service for an upscale price. For traditional Egyptian food try Le Tarbouche restaurant which serves incredible takes on Egyptian and Oriental food. In particular, desserts are great. Also, allows to take home food. Has a good view of the Nile. LE250-350.

Drink edit

Liquor stores edit

  • 1 Drinkie's, 155 26th of July St., +20 19330. A liquor store with a wide variety of spirits. One of the few places to find alcohol in this largely Islamic city.

Cafés edit

  • 2 Cilantro, 157, 26th July St, +20 2 2736-1115. Another branch in the Om Kolsoum Hotel on Abu el-Feda just north of the 26th July St Bridge crossing to Agouza. Part of a local coffee shop chain (think Starbucks) with pastries, light sandwiches, sodas, and free wi-fi.
  • 3 Simonds, 112 Sharia 26th of July, +20 2 2735 9436. Daily 9AM-midnight. A small, long-established and highly popular café frequented by expats and students. Rather intimate, space is at a premium with just a few stools available or stand at the bar. Very good cappuccino. A great selection of sweets, pastries and juices is also on offer.
  • 4 Sip, 18 Kamal Khaleel, Omar Al Khayam. Daily 8AM-11PM. Specialty coffee with interesting cakes and good (comparing to Egyptian standards) coffee. Also good for working as WiFi is stable and inside area is comfortable. LE80-100.
  • Café Tabasco, 18b, el Marashly St, +20 2 2735 8465. Open daily 7AM-3AM. Good coffee, a variety of Western and Arabic dishes including "American breakfast" and pancakes. Popular hangout for foreign students. Wireless internet available.
  • Costas Coffee, el Marashly St. Another Cairo coffee chain, delicious coffee, small selection of pastries, sandwiches, and cold drinks. Best for take out coffee. Nile view
  • Euro Deli, 22a Dr. Taha Hussein St, +20 2 2736 61 12. Healthy food, homemade fries and salads. Good milkshakes. Wireless internet available.
  • Café de Paris, 10 Mohamed Thakeb Pacha St (off el Marashly St), +20 2 2735 3739. 3PM-2AM. This place has drinks, sheesha and beer in nice garden surroundings with flat-TV running constant Arabic pop. Popular with nearby students from the AUC student quarters. Light food is also served.

Bars edit

  • 5 Sequoia, 53 Abou El Feda, +20 2 2735 0014. Open 1PM-2AM. An absolutely gorgeous open-air Lounge Bar/Restaurant at the northern tip of Zamalek, directly on the Nile. One of the most popular places for the young elite and resident foreigners. Sequoia does not only offer a variety of good mezzes, grills and other main courses but is also one of the best (if not the best) places in town to smoke shisha. Sequoia has a shisha menu with 15-20 flavours of tobacco, which you can smell before making your choice. The interior is modern and all white, the atmosphere is relaxed and informal. Reservation may be needed on Wednesday nights and weekends when people come here to see and be seen. Expensive, but worth a visit.
  • 6 Pub 28, 28 Shagaret El Dorr St, +20 2 27350972. Noon-2AM. Typical British pub frequented by expats and locals alike. International brands of liquor. Food served. Very popular, book table if you are not content sitting in the bar. Open during Ramdan. Stella LE15, main dishes from LE25-60.
  • 7 Deals, 2 El Sayed El Bakry St (off 26th of July St), +20 2 27359002. 4PM-2AM. Another popular pub haunt. Cable TV, DJ and house music. Pub menu. Open during Ramadan. Stella LE15, main dishes from LE25-60.
  • Harry's Pub, Sarya El Gezira St (In Cairo Marriott Hotel), +20 2 2735 8888. Karaoke-pub turns disco when the crowds are big enough. Local beer LE20.

Sleep edit

Budget edit

  • Mayfair Hotel, Level 2-3, 9 Aziz Osman Street, Zamalek, +20 2 2735 7315. An upper budget location - the people are nice, rooms clean, prices reasonable, and atmosphere peaceful. Free wi-fi, according to the website of the hotel. Single/double: LE170/190.

Mid-range edit

  • 1 Golden Tulip Flamenco Hotel, 2 El Gezira El Wosta St., +20 2 2735 0815, fax: +20 2 2735 0819, . This hotel is more notable for its location than its service - rooms can be small, but comfortable. The service is good, and most room rates include breakfast - ask for a Nile view when booking. Free-of-charge wireless internet service is available.
  • 2 Horus House Hotel, 21 Ismail Mohamed Street, +20 2 27353634, fax: +20 2 27353182, . In the same building as the Hotel Longchamps with a equally friendly staff. Clean, serviceable rooms and a buffet breakfast. US$52/72 single/double.
  • 3 Hotel Longchamps, 21, Ismail Mohamed Street (Opposite the Faculty of Fine Arts), +20 2 2735 2311, fax: +20 2 2735 9644, . A spotless 3-star hotel situated on the top two floors of an apartment building on a beautiful tree-lined street. Garden terrace upstairs. Room rates include a buffet breakfast. Laundry service available. Airport pickup and delivery for LE95 flat fee. Rooms from US$77 single, $97 double..

Splurge edit

  • 4 Cairo Marriott, 16,Gezira St, +20-2-27283000, fax: +20-2-27283001. Housed in a former royal palace that was built to host Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie for the occasion of the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. The old palace is still there, but the guest rooms (all 1069 of them) are housed in a modern tower block next to it. Still, the six-acre Omar Khayyam gardens are beautiful and it's a great place to have a drink or puff on a shisha. If you can afford the price tag, a stay at the Marriott is a wonderful way to begin to acclimatize to Cairo.
  • 5 Sofitel El Gezirah Cairo, 3 El Thawra Council St (southern end of Gezira Island), +20 2 27373737, .

Connect edit

This district travel guide to Gezira is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.