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12 Things to do in Cairo That Aren’t Overcrowded

One of the cities that you may always have a love/hate relationship with is Cairo, the capital of Egypt. It is a sentiment shared by even locals other than tourists. Locals sometimes want to flee, for the traffic and chaos cause them to lose their sanity. Nevertheless, what’s candidly magical about Cairo is that you can always find a hidden gem to escape the noise a few hours away in the city.

Cairo is a famous travel destination in the world owing to factors like intricate culture, fascinating history, and interesting diversity. The vibrant city life of the capital coexists with a few of Egypt’s most admired and historically remarkable landmarks. 

Cairo is one of the largest cities in the Middle East and is renowned for its rich biodiversity, the Nile River, the majestic pyramids, the magnificent architecture of Giza, as well as its international dining establishments and trendy cafes.

If you are looking for some non-touristy things to do in Cairo, Egypt, irrespective of whether you have visited the major attractions and want to see more in the city or you’re a first-time visitor. With several cheap flights to Cairo offered by EgyptAir, Saudia, and flynas, you can explore Cairo, which is a diverse city offering a range of activities to suit any visitor. Home to the Giza Pyramids, Cairo is also famous for the King Tutankhamun collection.

1. Stay at a local house 

When you stay in a local Cairo home, you can feel the way of life there.

The most touristy aspect of any trip is staying in a hotel; if you prefer to do something else, consider staying in a local’s home. To get the best of both worlds, you must venture outside of your comfort zone.

Zamalek is renowned for being the center of Cairo’s nightlife, with a large number of bars, eateries, and shisha lounges. Maadi, a preferred area for foreigners, is known as Cairo’s “green oasis” (greenery is scarce in Cairo, and you’ll find locals speaking of trees, grass, and parks in hushed, adoring tones). All three Maadi neighborhoods—Maadi Sarayat, Old Maadi, and Degla—are renowned for their leafy streets and havens from Cairo’s chaotic traffic.

Garden City, perched on the right bank of the Nile, once housed Egypt’s elite, and some of the stunning architecture still exists today, albeit with a little wear and tear.

2. See Europe’s Best Art in the Heart of Cairo

The Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil museum, which is located in central Cairo, is home to the world’s finest collections of paintings and rare artifacts. They are so exceptional that some of its paintings were loaned to the Musee d’Orsay in Paris between 1994 and 1995 for an exhibition titled “Les Oublies Du Caire.”

Mohamed Mahmoud Khalil and his French wife Emiline Lock spent years collecting some of Europe’s and the world’s finest art collections of paintings and rare artifacts in their museum.

3. Check out Baron Empain Palace

Baron Empain Palace, which is also called Le Palais Hindou, is a historic temple with a long history and one of Cairo, Egypt’s most recognizable landmarks. The enormous structure, which is situated in the heart of Heliopolis, one of Cairo’s suburban neighborhoods, has a long and fascinating history. 


The palace, designed by the same person who built the Paris Metro, features stunning Cambodian and Indian details. Even though it has been abandoned for a while, the legends surrounding it still persist. It is thought that underground tunnels connect the palace to the basilica where its founder is interred. There were rumors that satanic rituals were performed there.

4. Ride a quad bike

Every opportunity to go on an adventure is welcomed with open arms by me. I had the chance to try quad biking during one of my explorations of the Sinai Desert. I had no idea how much more enjoyable and interesting it would be. While everyone else would be content to wander the desert, engaging in an adventurous activity like quad biking enhances the overall experience. Be aware that you will have sand all over you once you finish.

5. Discover The Historical Sites Near Salah El-Din Citadel

The majority of people, including myself, frequently visit the Cairo Citadel, the School-Mosque of Al-Sultan Hassan, and the Al-Rifai Mosque, a mosque and the final resting place of several members of the Egyptian Royal Family, including King Fuad I, King Farouk, and the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. However, we often neglect to explore the historically significant area nearby, which is marked in green and contains numerous mosques,

6. Make your way to The Cave Church in Garbage City

The Cave Church, also known as the Monastery of Saint Simon or Saint Samaan, is tucked between the jagged rock formations of Mokattam Mountain and has an intriguing history. The area where the church is located is known as “Garbage City” because it is populated by a group of garbage collectors.

Farmers from southern Ancient Egypt moved to Cairo and settled there searching for work to get out of poverty. They began by doing what they were accustomed to raising livestock like pigs, chickens, or goats, but ultimately switched to sorting locals’ trash because it was more lucrative.

7. Board a felucca


Travelers who want to experience Egypt fully must take a Nile cruise. The most authentic experience you could try is a felucca ride, whether for relaxation and taking in the show put on by Mother Nature or watching a sunset over Cairo from the waters. Are you wondering what a felucca is? Egypt’s traditional wooden boat comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. People can sleep in the open and eat together on the boat’s floor because it doesn’t have any compartments. It’s also possible to choose a felucca ride that lasts only a few hours; either way, it’s an experience you should add to your bucket list.

8. Visit Qubbat Afandina and The City of the Dead

The City of the Dead, also known as Al Qarafa, is a historic cemetery that dates back to the 7th century and is the final resting place of numerous Muslim Caliphates and Mamluks. Kobet Afendina, where members of Muhammad Ali Pasha’s family were interred, is located 7 minutes on foot from The City of the Dead.

A sizable population resides there as it was once customary for people to do so to avoid being separated from their loved ones and to serve as a constant reminder—but not in a depressing way—that there is always death after life, so one should take it easy.

Don’t take pictures of the locals when you are there out of consideration for them rather than because it will make them uncomfortable or feel intrusive.

9. View the Step Pyramid and the Bent Pyramid

The most well-known tourist destinations in Egypt are the Pyramids of Giza. Bent Pyramid and Step Pyramid should also be on your list of places to visit if you prefer to avoid the tourist areas. The transition between mastabas and triangular pyramids was marked by the Step Pyramid. Bent Pyramids, on the other hand, have their own history. The architects’ error resulted in the pyramid’s crooked shape.

10. Visit Khan el-Khalili to shop

Not only is Khan el-Khalili one of Egypt’s top shopping destinations, but it’s also one of the nation’s oldest bazaars. Knowing that this location had its beginnings more than 600 years ago confused me. It is situated in Cairo’s historic district and offers almost everything, including carpets, paintings, shishas, shoes, and handbags. But to get the best deal, make sure to haggle hard!

11. Set a camp in the White Desert

Spending a night or two camping in the desert is an option if a desert safari and quad biking aren’t enough for you. Although there are numerous deserts where you can spend the night, I advise camping in the White Desert (aka Farafra). One of the most well-known deserts for camping, this one is completely safe for female travelers traveling alone. There are many options, and there are numerous businesses that provide camping services.

12. Explore Egypt’s Royal Side

Many tourists to Egypt are unaware that Egypt was a Kingdom with numerous royal palaces, rest stops, guest houses and summer homes spread out across the country. There are many of them, like Abdeen and El-Manial in Cairo and some of them are open to the public.

Further, the Mena House Hotel was built to be a rest house for Khedive Ismail and his guests during hunting trips and visits to the Pyramids. The Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino in Zamalek was originally a Royal palace. It was commissioned by the Khedive Ismail in 1869 to serve as a guest house during the Suez Canal inauguration.

Other palaces exist that were not owned by the Egyptian Royal Family, including Al-Amir Taz Palace in Islamic Cairo and Aisha Fahmy Palace in Zamalek, which is now used for art exhibitions. Another palace is The Baron Empain, also known as Le Palais Hindou, and it is situated in the affluent neighborhood of Heliopolis.

There are nonstop flights to Cairo from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and it will be advisable to book your flight tickets in advance to enjoy the best deals.

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