• Local's Guide To Egypt

The Best (and Worst!) Cairo Neighborhoods To Stay In

Updated: Jul 30, 2019


Before booking a hotel, hostel or apartment, make sure you have an idea of the area first.


Cairo is a sprawling city, and like you probably noticed in other big cities, not all neighborhoods were created equal. Obviously it’s beyond important to stay in an area that you a) feel comfortable in, and b) isn’t five million miles away from points of interest.


A lot of tourists love to walk around a new city, and while Cairo does have some awesome spots to take a stroll, that’s not the case for all neighborhoods, so it’s important to have a general gist of where you want to book your hotel or apartment.


Disclaimer: we added approximate distances to the airport, Pyramids and museum, and by approximate we *do* mean approximate because we basically just churned out those numbers on Google Maps on our iPhones :D


Below we listed the neighborhoods in order of most recommended:


1. Zamalek



An island in the middle of the Nile river, Zamalek is home to some of the most beautiful views in Cairo. It’s also host to most of the city’s embassies, and thus has plenty of security on the street, which makes it great for walking around and feeling super secure.


Zamalek is also known for being Cairo’s nightlife hub, with plenty of bars, restaurants and shisha joints. It’s our local favorite neighborhood mainly because it’s pretty damn hard to go wrong with Zamalek.


Recommended for: solo travelers (including solo women), couples and families


Stay in Zamalek if you want: nightlife and lots of places to eat/hang out, and a safe neighborhood to walk around in


Distance to Pyramids: 20 km

Distance to Cairo Museum: 5.5 km

Distance to airport: 26 km



2. Maadi



Maadi is known as the green oasis in Cairo (greenery is a scarcity in Cairo, and you’ll find locals speaking of trees, grass and parks in hushed, adoring tones), a favored neighborhood by expats.


Old Maadi, Maadi Sarayat and Degla are all known for their leafy streets and refuge from the chaotic Cairo traffic. While not as much of a nightlife spot as Zamalek, Maadi’s Road 9 is full to the brim with restaurants, shops, cafes and a bar or two, and Degla has a lot of little good hole-in-the-wall type restaurants.


Recommended for: Airbnb, solo travelers (including solo women), couples and families


Stay in Maadi if you want: greenery and to be slightly away from the hustle & bustle of central Cairo, a good walking neighborhood as well


Distance to Pyramids: 25 km

Distance to Cairo Museum: 15 km

Distance to airport: 34 km



3. Garden City


Four Seasons Nile Plaza in Garden City

Perched on the right bank of the Nile, Garden City used to be home to Egypt’s elite, and some of the beautiful architecture still stands today, albeit slightly worse for wear.


Garden City also hosts some of Cairo’s nicest hotels, and while it’s not home itself to many restaurants or bars outside of the hotels, Garden City is in walking distance of Zamalek.


Recommended for: solo travelers (including solo women), couples, families and business trips


Stay in Garden City if: you want to stay in a nice hotel with spectacular Nile views


Distance to Pyramids: 23 km

Distance to Cairo Museum: 2 km

Distance to airport: 28 km



4. Heliopolis


Photo credit: Trip Advisor

Heliopolis is a good area to stay in if you need to be close to the airport, and one of Cairo’s biggest malls, City Stars, is nearby if you need to shop your heart out for any reason. There’s a quaint little area called Korba which is nice to walk around in, and Heliopolis has its fair share of restaurants and bars.


The one con is that with the usual Cairo traffic, it will take a while to get to the city center and even longer to get to the Pyramids.


Recommended for: solo travelers (including solo women), couples, families and business trips


Stay in Heliopolis if: you want to be close to the airport


Distance to Pyramids: 32 km

Distance to Cairo Museum: 13 km

Distance to airport: 9 km



5. 5th Settlement (Tagamoa’ El Khames), also known as New Cairo


Cairo Festival City

This Eastern suburb in Cairo is a kinda far from the usual sightseeing spots, but it’s calmer and less chaotic than central Cairo and closer to the airport. You’ll find here Cairo Festival City, a huge mall full of stores, restaurants, shisha cafes and cinemas. Road 90 is also a good destination for lunch/dinner and shopping. Also home to the American University in Cairo.


Cars/cabs needed to get around though, you wouldn’t want to hoof it considering it’s spread over a wide expanse of new construction/desert.


Recommended for: couples and families. It might be a bit far for solo travelers from where the nightlife is


Stay in 5th Settlement if: you want space and to be away from Central Cairo


Distance to Pyramids: 36 km

Distance to Cairo Museum: 24 km

Distance to airport: 18 km



6. 6th of October City


Arkan Plaza

The Western equivalent of the 5th Settlement. This Cairo suburb is home to Mall of Egypt, Mall of Arabia, and other commercial centers full of restaurants and stores.


6th of October City might be the most sensible area to stay in should the main focus of your Cairo trip be the Great Pyramids of Giza and/or the Saqqara pyramids; it’s considerably closer traffic-wise than our other recommended Cairo neighborhoods. It is however the furthest Cairo neighborhood from the airport.


Cars/cabs needed; this is another place that will be hard to get around on foot unless you’re slightly masochistic.


Recommended for: couples and families


Stay in 6th of October City if: you’re going to dedicate most of your time to the Giza, Saqqara, Dahshur or Memphis sites


Distance to Pyramids: 18 km

Distance to Cairo Museum: 27 km

Distance to airport: 53 km



7. Downtown


Downtown is a bit (and by a bit we mean a lot) chaotic, so we recommend it for those who are adventurous and looking for a real slice of Cairo life. Shop after shop after shop line the old streets of Downtown, and at night sidewalk shisha cafes dominate the landscape alongside the bright fluorescent lights of the countless window displays.


It’s crowded and not always the best walking location for solo female travelers, but has a quirky charm. Most of Cairo’s notable hostels are in Downtown. It’s also the closest neighborhood to the Cairo Museum, Khan el Khalili and Islamic and Coptic Cairo.


Recommended for: backpackers


Stay in Downtown if: you want to stay in a cheap hostel and experience “real” Cairo


Distance to Pyramids: 20 km

Distance to Cairo Museum: 1.5 km

Distance to airport: 27 km



*Not* recommended neighborhoods:


· Haram (Pyramids area)

While in theory it might seem like a smart idea to stay near the Pyramids, unless you plan to stay in a nearby 5 star hotel (like the Mena House) and not leave it except to go to the Pyramids, then don’t stay here. The area isn’t the safest and it’s a long drive to get to the action and activities of Central Cairo.


· Mohandiseen

Think super crowded, super hectic, and just not worth it. Dokki is a slightly better area of Mohandiseen.


· Manial

While it does have Nile views, Manial doesn’t offer much else and isn’t the most pleasant for tourists, especially solo women.


· Nasr City

Another crowded, congested area in Cairo that’s not worth staying in.


Local recommendation: if you’re staying in a hotel, then aim for a Zamalek or Garden City one; if you’re looking for a hostel, hit up Downtown, and if you’re Airbnbing it, Zamalek and Maadi have some good options. You can check out our full recommended hotel list right here.

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Hi and thanks for visiting! We're a group of Egyptian locals who love to share our insider info with travelers when it comes to all things Egypt.

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