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

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.

Below we listed the neighborhoods in order of most recommended:

1. Zamalek

Zamalek is the nicest neighborhood in Cairo Egypt

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 — it’s in central Cairo, which means any site/destination, whether the airport in east Cairo or the Pyramids of Giza in west Cairo, isn’t too far.

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

Read: 7 Hidden Gem Restaurants in Zamalek

Read: 7 Best Bars, Pubs & Restobars in Zamalek

Read: 8 Best Cafes in Zamalek for Coffee, Work or Just to Chill

2. Maadi

Maadi, a green neighborhood in Cairo, Egypt. Full of expats

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

Read: 12 Chill Places to Have Dinner & Drinks in Maadi

Read: 10 Best Breakfast, Brunch and Bakeries in Maadi

3. Garden City

Four Seasons Nile Plaza in Garden City, Cairo Egypt. The neighborhood of 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. It’s central Cairo, so not too far from any point of interest in the city.

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

4. Heliopolis

Heliopolis is a good area to stay in if you need to be close to the airport. 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. There’s also a large mall called City Stars if you need to shop for any reason.

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

Read: Nightlife in Heliopolis, Cairo: 10 Best Restaurants, Bars & Pubs

5. New Cairo (also known as Tagamo’a el Khames)

Cairo Festival city, a huge mall in the 5th settlement New Cairo area and neighborhood in Cairo Egypt

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, as well as a bunch of other commercial centers hosting a slew of restaurants and cafes. Also home to the American University in Cairo.

New Cairo is all recently built, so it’s definitely not where you should stay if you want to experience Egyptian heritage, culture or history. Also cars/cabs needed to get around — New Cairo is massive.

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

Stay in New Cairo if: you want space and to be away from Central Cairo

Read: 9 Best Restobars for Dinner & Drinks in New Cairo

6. 6th of October City/Sheikh Zayed

Arkan Plaza and Mall in 6th October City, a suburb, area and neighborhood in Cairo Egypt

Arkan Plaza

The Western equivalent of New Cairo. 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/Sheikh Zayed 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 masochistic.

Recommended for: couples and families

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

Read: 12 Best Bars, Pubs and Restobars in Sheikh Zayed and 6th October City

7. Downtown

Downtown Cairo, which area and neighborhood to stay in Cairo Egypt

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

Read: 10 Best Restaurants in Downtown, Cairo

Read: Best Bars & Nightlife in Downtown Cairo

*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 or Steigenberger) 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.

You may also like: Top 10 Things to Do in Cairo, Egypt

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