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Cairo on a Budget: 10 Cheap Ways To Enjoy The City


Whether you’re a local Cairene strapped for cash at the end of the month, or a visitor to Cairo on a backpacker’s budget, never fear -- there’s a lot of fun, interesting things you can do in Cairo without paying a bomb.


Here's ten ways to enjoy some of the best sights in the city, for cheap.



1. Have a world-class view of the Pyramids over lunch or dinner at… Pizza Hut


Pyramids Pizza Hut. Cairo on a Budget: 10 Cheap Ways To Enjoy The City

Strange, but true. If you want to have an open-air, world-class view of the Pyramids over lunch/dinner but want to avoid the exorbitant prices at hotel restaurants, then look no further than the nearest Pizza Hut to the Pyramids.



Pyramids Pizza Hut. Cairo on a Budget: 10 Cheap Ways To Enjoy The City

This famous chain is on the 2nd floor (above KFC) and has an outdoor balcony with one of the best views in the city. During the day, you can see the ancient giants in all their glory, and at night you can witness them lit up during the Sound & Light Show.




2. Explore Khan El Khalili and Moez Street



Both Khan el Khalili and Moez Street are open pedestrian areas, where you can wander around, explore and take pictures for free. Khan El Khalili may be a world-famous bazaar, but nothing is stopping you from just window shopping if you're on a budget (they actually have extremely affordable stuff there if you’re a good bargainer though).



Adjacent to Khan el Khalili is Moez Street, where you can see the highest concentration of medieval Islamic architecture in the world. Walking Moez Street, going into the mosques and seeing the beautiful buildings (whether during the day or lit up at night) also won’t cost you a thing, but if you want to go inside some of the more elaborate buildings like Beit El Seheimy or the Qalawun Complex, you can buy an affordable ticket. For more details, here's our detailed guide to Moez Street.


Muez street. Cairo on a Budget: 10 Cheap Ways To Enjoy The City



3. Visit the sites in Coptic Cairo for free



A great Cairo destination when you're on a budget is Coptic Cairo. Coptic Cairo is known as the stronghold of Christianity in Old Cairo, home to places of worship that date back to the time when the pharaonic religions of Ancient Egypt had died out and Islam had not yet arrived. Some of Egypt’s earliest churches remain standing in Coptic Egypt to this day - some dating back to the 4th century AD. It’s also believed that the Holy Family lived here for a short period during their flight into Egypt to escape Herod.


Entrance to Coptic Cairo is free, as is entrance to its famous churches, such as Mar Girgis (St. George's) and the Hanging Church. The only site in Coptic Church that requires a ticket is the Coptic Museum.




4. Downtown Cairo food-hopping



Starving but don’t want to spend a fortune on food? Downtown has *all* the answers.

Having a diverse, several course meal is extremely affordable in Downtown Cairo. You can either hit up just one establishment for nourishment (in that case we recommend Abou Tarek for koshary, it’ll fill you up for seemingly a year for around $1), or you can hop from street vendor to street vendor, most of them unnamed but all of them feeding dozens of happy customers at any given moment.


Types of food carts, food vendors and little hole-in-the-wall ‘restaurants’ to be found in Downtown: kebda & sogoq (liver & sausages), hawawshi, feteer, fuul & taameya, kabab… and way more. There are also places like 'Fasahat Somaya’ that’s open for only a couple of hours a day and you eat whatever it is that Somaya has cooked up for you that evening, in huge portions.



Then you can move on to the dessert portion of the evening, and wind down with a cheap shisha and cup of tea in any of Downtown’s ubiquitous cheap sidewalk ahwas.




5. Join a walking tour through City of the Dead



Cairo's City of the Dead tends to be off the beaten touristic path, but that makes it even better! The City of the Dead (El Qarafa or El Arafa in Arabic) is a 6.4 km (4 mile) stretch of necropolises and cemeteries in the original core of the city, in an area known as Historic Cairo.



What makes it so interesting is that peppered throughout the City of the Dead are some truly beautiful historic mosques, mausoleums and other medieval Islamic architecture. There are remnants dating back to the Arab conquest of Egypt back in the 7th century, and whole buildings still in their entirety dating back to the 12th-15th centuries!



You can explore it via guided walking tours for very affordable prices (check our article mentioned above for all the walking tour information).



6. Shisha, tea and a view on the Moqattam hills


Moqattam sunset. Cairo on a Budget: 10 Cheap Ways To Enjoy The City

Instead of going to another overpriced cafe, next time you’re in the mood for a hot drink and a shisha, try heading up the hills of Moqattam.



At the top on the Moqattam Corniche, you’ll find not only one of the best views of the city, but several makeshift ahwas scattered around -- basically plastic tables and chairs set up on the cliff and someone who will gladly bring you a shisha or make you tea or coffee for cheap.


For the best views in Egypt, check out these 12 places.



7. Disconnect on a felucca.


felucca. Cairo on a Budget: 10 Cheap Ways To Enjoy The City

This is a good option if you’re a group, because it makes it more affordable. You can book a felucca sailboat for as short as half an hour, or as long as you'd like. Prices vary greatly due to your negotiation skills (they tend to charge tourists more as well), but it should never be more than 400-500 EGP total per hour, so divided over a group it's a cheap and peaceful way to enjoy the city.


You can bring your own snacks and just kick back and relax, away from the usual crowds in the usual places.



8. Discover all the hidden little shops, art spaces and random beautiful spots in Zamalek.


Zamalek shops. Cairo on a Budget: 10 Cheap Ways To Enjoy The City

Zamalek is one of the very few Cairo neighborhoods that’s ideal to explore by foot. Besides the fact that the parking is a nightmare, Zamalek has a lot of little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shops and interesting spots that we usually zoom right past in a car.


Exploring the whole island of Zamalek by foot could take the better part of a whole day if you take your time and explore at your own pace. Make sure you stop in the vintage stores, antique shops and art galleries as well as peep at the beautiful villas that house the various embassies and ambassadors’ homes (what you can see behind those massive gates and road blocks, that is).



9. Wadi Degla Protectorate



This is a great one for those who want to escape the city while still technically being in the city. The Wadi Degla Protectorate is a 30 km stretch of untouched desert and rocky little cliffs and is open to the public during the day for a small entrance fee (25 EGP per person and 10 EGP per car). It's the perfect place if you want to hang out somewhere different with your friends/dog/alone, whether for a picnic, barbecue, hiking, biking or just sitting in the sun.


You can bring all the food, games and sports stuff you want or need for the day, but bear in mind there’s no bathrooms or places to buy water, etc from beyond the entrance gates. It's open daily from 7 am to sunset.



10. Azhar Park


Azhar Park. Cairo on a Budget: 10 Cheap Ways To Enjoy The City

Another option for a picnic & chill kind of day, but this one is in an actual *green* park and not the desert. It also has an awesome panoramic view over the city, so try to go around sunset.


Also try to avoid weekends, because it tends to be overcrowded when the weather is nice (also avoid public holidays, obviously). If you don’t feel like bringing your own food, they have several restaurants/cafes in the park that can hook you up.




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