cairo itinerary
Egypt,  Travel

4 Unique Things To Do In Cairo (A Local’s Guide!)

If you want to see Cairo beyond the pyramids, here are some unique things to do in Cairo.

For many tourists, Cairo means the pyramids and maybe an old mosque or two.

But after years of living in Cairo, I can tell you: the best experiences are off the beaten path. 

Though it’s not always easy to find these lesser-known wonders. Not many travellers spend enough time in the city to really get to know Cairo.

So here are my picks for the best unique things to do in Cairo – and how to explore the city’s hidden gems.

1. Take a walking tour of downtown’s architecture

unique things to do in cairo

Downtown Cairo isn’t on many tourist itineraries. A typical visit to Cairo includes a few hours in the famous souq of Khan el Khalili, the pyramids and a stop at the Egyptian Museum.

But Cairo’s rich modern history is definitely worth exploring. There are no plaques on historic buildings, cinemas or squares to make a self-guided tour easy.

Cairo D-Tour is a free guided walk held every Friday morning. It’s when the city is most quiet, before Friday prayers.

The tour goes through the city’s famous squares like Tahrir, heritage sites and old cinemas that made Egyptian cinema famous in the Arab world.

You’ll see the Egyptian stock exchange on a sidestreet lined with potted plants. You’ll have a drink at Cafe Riche, where revolutionaries once gathered to plot against the British occupation. And you’ll peek inside the Yacoubian Building, the setting for Alaa Al-Aswany’s infamous novel depicting homosexuality.

The tour goes beyond the iconic sites to offer insights into modern Cairo life. There’s a stop at the hip cafe Kafein, bar El Horryia (a great spot for beer), and bookstores, theaters and art galleries.

2. Do some sunset yoga

yoga with amr egypt

Yoga With Amr offers yoga in some of Cairo’s most serene rooftops.

Whether it’s yoga amid the pyramids of Saqqara or in the dunes of the Siwa Oasis, Yoga With Amr’s retreats offer travel off the beaten path while deepening your yoga practice.

They’re also a chance to practice mindfulness and strengthen your connection to nature.

Amr is a certified yoga teacher who teaches at various yoga studios around Cairo. And he’s passionate about practicing yoga amid breathtaking landscapes.

The retreats are held in small groups in a laid-back atmosphere without any tourist rush to see all the landmarks. They’re well organized and hassle-free – and perfect for solo travelers and women.

Amr is a kind and patient teacher who accommodates all students. The yoga and meditation sessions are suitable for all levels.

Hiking, swimming and other fitness activities are often build into Amr’s itinerary.

3. Visit Dahab Island – a rural oasis in the city

unique things to do in cairo

redefine egypt tour

redefine egypt tour

Visiting Dahab Island – a rural oasis in the middle of the bustling city – is one of the most unique things to do in Cairo.

Redefine Egypt is a small community that offers walking tours around Cairo (often free of charge) and trips to further off destinations like Port Said.

From visits to a small Egyptian village famous for harvesting jasmine, to day trips to a rural island in the heart of Cairo’s Nile River, Redefine Egypt’s tours are always refreshingly unique.

They offer a more authentic perspective on non-touristy destinations with a focus on architecture and hidden gems. And the tours are often lead by local guides familiar with the destination. There are also stops for coffee for a chance to meet some local residents.

Redefine Egypt was launched by young Egyptians to counter the negative stereotypes that surround Egypt. By offering occasional tours free of charge, they aim to popularize local travel among Egyptian youth.

The tours are open to anyone, whether Egyptian or foreign, and often attract street photographers and Instagrammers.

4. Spend a day at Cairo’s animal shelters

unique things to do in cairo

Meow Tours offer trips to local shelters near Cairo and walking tours in various Cairo neighbourhoods to feed the stray cats and dogs so common in the city.

The Cairo-based initiative focuses on raising awareness of animal rights in Egypt and on fighting misconceptions about street cats and dogs.

If you’re an animal lover, Meow Tours is a great way to spend an afternoon walking a pooch at a shelter or feeding a litter of stray kittens.

The tours often include a few local shelters on the itinerary with a change to donate food or money to the organizations.

Many animal shelters are scattered just outside Cairo. But Meow Tours’ speedy van makes it easy to visit them all in a single afternoon.

Shelter employees often give short presentations during the tours on the plight of Egyptian street animals and the misconceptions about stray dogs in particular.

Read more about Egypt in 5 Must-See Buildings In Downtown Cairo.

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unique things to do in cairo

31 Comments

  • Suma

    The footloose tours spunds like a great choice as they suggest unique locations in Egypt. I haven’t heard about Marsa Alam but they sure sound divine. And yes the banknote tour is yet again very unique, I would love to do this tour. Thanks for the share :).

    • Dee

      Thank you, Suma, and I’m glad to hear it’s helpful! Marsa Alam is becoming more popular, and there are so many gorgeous beaches there that aren’t as crowded and commercialized as some spots on the Red Sea.

  • The Year I Touched My Toes

    Hi Dee, These guys have got it covered. Love that social media has enabled all of this. Love the Banknotes tour concept. My daughter has just moved to London and has a trip to Egypt planned so I will pass these posts on to her. Louise

    • Dee

      The walking tours are getting more and more creative! And thanks for passing on these posts.. I hope your daughter has a great trip and finds them helpful.

  • Iana

    First of all, thank you for the eyes-opening blog about Cairo. Internet is full of stories of how you should not even try to go out on the streets without a tour guide, but you are showing fun and welcoming Cairo! And encorage me to go easy on booking tours! Thank you!)

    Nethertheless, i would like to ask if you can recommend any egyptologist for an inside tour into The Egyptian Museum. I’d really love to go with someone who knows a bit more than Wiki, but I have know clue how to find one with all these shady tour agwncies and so on…

    Thanks in advance!))

    • Dee

      Hello Iana, thanks so much for your kind words! I’d recommend “Walk Like an Egyptian” – they have a Facebook page where you can contact them, and they offer lots of tours off the beaten path and private tour guides too.

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