Here are the best things to do along the Nile River in Cairo – from sunset cruises to yoga to restaurants with a view.
The majestic Nile River is one of Cairo’s most beautiful attractions. And if you’re visiting Cairo, some quality time along the water is a great way to unwind from the hustle of the city.
There are many incredible ways to experience this natural wonder – from a sunset sail on a traditional felucca boat to a session of yoga amid the swaying reefs.
I’m a long-time expat living in Cairo and I can definitely say the Nile River is an underrated experience.
The Nile flows through downtown Cairo and its leafy suburbs. It glitters with city lights in the evening – and it has calmer stretches that are rugged and leafy.
And it even has a few islands – the upscale suburb of Zamalek with its hotels, old villas and embassies is the most famous example.
If you’re a nature lover, or want to get off the beaten tourist path, an afternoon on the Nile is a must on your Cairo itinerary.
Here are the best things to do on the Nile River in Cairo:
1. Take a sail on a traditional felucca
Take in the beauty of Africa’s longest river with a sail down the Nile in a traditional felucca boat.
This majestic and wind-powered vessel gives you a real taste of how sailors have been navigating the Mediterranean for generations.
These aged wooden boats with their massive triangular sales cut right through the water and take you away from the city noise within minutes. They’re also great on a hot summer day – dip your feet in the water and take in the breeze to cool off on a hot day.
There are several points around town where feluccas are parked and you can hire them by the hour. You can bring food and drinks aboard too.
There’s a few feluccas docked around the Kasr el Nil Bridge if you want a quiet sail with views of downtown. There are also a few across from the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza, which is still alongside downtown but in the quieter Garden City district.
There’s another spot for felucca rentals in the quieter suburb of Maadi, near the Grand Cafe, that’s good for a bit of nature and distant views of downtown.
2. Walk across the Kasr el Nil Bridge
A walk across the historic Kasr el Nil Bridge in downtown Cairo gives you incredible views of the city – especially at night.
The bridge connects downtown’s Tahrir Square to Gezira Island and the Cairo Opera House.
It’s clogged with traffic during the day, and popular in the evenings for young couples and groups of friends.
It’s always vibrant with street vendors selling roasted nuts and the blaring music of party boats passing along the river.
The Kasr el Nil bridge boasts four famous large bronze lion statues (two at each entrance), designed by French sculptor Henri Alfred Jacquemart. The lions were made in France and transported to Cairo via Alexandria. They were first intended for the Giza Zoo, but ended up adorning the bridge instead.
Once you walk past these majestic lions, take in the city lights and the flow of the traffic with incredible views on both sides. The bridge is also a great spot for a photo opp – and for great panoramic shots of the city.
On Google Maps: 26VH+GV Qasr El Nil
3. Have a beer at a rooftop bar
For spectacular views over a few casual beers, the Nile Zamalek Hotel Rooftop has five-star views – and does a gorgeous sunset too.
This bar is often filled with expats and locals enjoying the local Stella lager. And at that height it’s cool and breezy in the summertime too.
It’s laid-back, young and a bit rough around the edges – I wouldn’t recommend the food, but the beer’s always cold.
It’s a great spot for incredible views that stretch out well into the Cairo suburbs.
And it’s a prime spot for an afternoon drink if you’re exploring Zamalek and want to get off the beaten path.
4. Have dinner with a view
Cairo has an array of beautiful, ritzy restaurants with spectacular Nile views. You can savor a meal overlooking the river and watch its majestic flow.
Pane Vino at the Intercontinental Cairo Semiramis is one of my favorites. The restaurant has a beautiful terrace overlooking the Nile. It’s a casual Italian restaurant with great Neopolitan pizzas on the menu – and a good wine list and shisha too.
There’s also The Grill at Semiramis for more elegant dining with classic French cuisine. This indoor restaurant has glittering views overlooking the Nile and the ever-busy Kasr el Nil bridge. I love The Grill for dinner in the evenings – and they do some incredible deserts too.
The tall hotels along the Nile corniche definitely have some of the best restaurants in Cairo – and they’re tall enough to offer some of the best views, rooftop bars and swimming pools in the city.
Read 25 Best Things To Do In Cairo (A Local’s Guide!) for my ultimate guide to plan your trip.