A visit to Egypt’s capital, Cairo, is like stepping into a time machine… with a twist of modernity.

It’s one of those cities that straddles old and new in such a fascinating way that travellers swam to experience it. The bustling streets, the air tinged with spices, and the rich history will fill your traveller’s soul and keep you coming back for more. 

Marvelling at the INCREDIBLE Pyramids of Giza is one of the most popular things to do in Cairo. Not only do the Pyramids stand around looking ancient but they also reminding us of how epic humanity can be. 

However, it’s not all about marvelling at old rocks and learning about the fascinating history (although it’s a big part), Cairo pulses with life. Whether you want to haggle your way around the markets, sip on a strong coffee in a cafe rich in caffeine and history or chill out by the Nile – there is something for everyone. 

Deciding where to stay in Cairo can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to look. The city is HUGE and not all of its neighborhoods are set up for tourists. 

But never fear! I’ve written this expert guide on the best areas to stay in Cairo depending on your travel style and budget. So you can quickly find the one that best suits you. 

So, let’s get to it.

Where is the Best Place to Stay in Cairo

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are my highest recommendations for places to stay in Cairo.

the Great Sphinx of Giza Egypt. Where to stay in Cairo.
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Hilton Cairo Zamalek Residences | Best Hotel in Cairo

Where to stay in Cairo, at the Hilton Cairo Zamalek Residences. An image of tables set for dinner around the pool.

The Hilton Cairo Zamalek is my choice for the best hotel in Cairo. It boasts modern and spacious rooms with excellent features, including refrigerators, bathrobes and super-fast wifi.

There is also a beauty centre, a swimming pool, and a delicious restaurant on site. You’ll also enjoy plenty of restaurants, shops and nightspots nearby.

Dahab Hostel | Best Hostel in Cairo

Where to stay in Cairo

This hostel is located at the heart of Cairo. It is a short walk to many of the major tourist attractions in the city.

They offer a collection of whitewashed huts on a downtown rooftop, attempting to recreate a beach oasis at the centre of town on it’s rooftop terrace. This is my pick for the best hostel in Cairo.

If you love hostels, you should check out this list of the coolest hostels in Cairo!

Cultural and Unique Home | Best Airbnb in Cairo

Where to stay in Cairo

You wanna get you exposed to Egyptian culture and traditions right? The stay in this home. It’s perfect for couples looking to get to know the Egyptian culture and food with everything within walking distance and the host of the home is super helpful.

Oh! And they offer breakfast in the morning for a small price for those mornings you just can’t fathom walking around to find something to eat.

Cairo Neighborhood Guide – Best places to Stay in Cairo

FIRST TIME IN CAIRO
Midan Tahrir, Cairo
FIRST TIME IN CAIRO

Midan Tahrir

Midan Tahrir is a small neighbourhood located in the centre of modern Cairo. Nestled between the Nile River and downtown Cairo, Midan Tahrir (Liberation Square) has been the site of many political and social protests over the years

ON A BUDGET
Downtown Cairo
ON A BUDGET

Downtown

Cairo’s downtown district is the commercial heart of the city. Designed by French architects, downtown Cairo is characterized by its wide boulevards and streets reminiscent of 19th century Paris

NIGHTLIFE
Zamalek
NIGHTLIFE

Zamalek

Located on the island of Gezira is Zamalek. A relatively affluent area, Zamalek is known for its pseudo-European aesthetic and architecture, and its large expatriate population

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
Zamalek, Cairo
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Zamalek

But, there’s more to Zamalek than nightlife. This centrally located and well-connected neighbourhood also gets our vote for the coolest neighbourhood in town thanks to its abundance of cultural and historic sights, great restaurants, world-class shopping and spectacular views

FOR FAMILIES
Giza, Cairo
FOR FAMILIES

Giza

West of the city centre is the sprawling district of Giza. A city in its own right, this district has slowly been absorbed by the capital as Cairo continues to expand its reaches

Cairo is a city steeped in history and culture. It is awash with well-preserved ancient landmarks and sights dating back millennia. Egypt’s rich heritage is apparent around every turn and each street you venture down. For me, I just fell in love with the mixture of chaos, stories and the endless narrative down each and every alleyway.

But there’s another side to this megacity. Weaved in and amongst all of Cairo’s history is a vibrant and modern city that is home to more than 16 million people. Fast-paced and packed with people, Cairo is the largest city in both Africa and the Middle East, and is the 19th biggest city in the world!

Cairo covers an area of 528 square kilometres, with the metropolitan region encompassing 17,267 square kilometres. It is divided into more than 70 distinct districts, each rife with things to see, do and explore. This guide will take a look at the best neighborhoods to stay in Cairo.

Where to stay in Cairo
The mighty River Nile.
Photo: Nic Hilditch-Short

Beginning with Midan Tahrir. Located at the heart of the city. Midan Tahrir is one of the most important squares in the city, It’s where many historic events have taken place and where you’ll find the incredible Egyptian Museum.

Set to the east of Midan Tahrir is Downtown Cairo. Built by French architects, this district combines the history and culture of Egypt with a modern European vibe and is one of the best places to visit in Cairo.

Travel west across the Nile River to Gezira Island. Home to trendy and vibrant Zamalek, this neighborhood has great dining, shopping and nightlife options as well as some super interesting sights and beautiful architecture.

And finally, continue heading west away to Giza. Home to the Great Pyramids, this district is where you can see Cairo and Egypt’s most iconic sights and enjoy a variety of family-friendly activities.

Still not sure where to stay in Cairo? Keep reading because I’m about to break down each of these neighborhoods below.

Cairo’s Five Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Now, let’s take a look, in more detail, at the best neighborhoods to stay in Cairo. Each is a little different from the last, so be sure to pick the neighborhood that’s the right fit for you. If you’re worried about safety, my Egypt safety guide has got you covered!

1. Midan Tahrir – Where to stay in Cairo first time

Midan Tahrir, Cairo. Where to stay in Cairo
The busy, bustling heart of Cairo.
Photo: Dan (Flickr)

Midan Tahrir is a small neighborhood located in the centre of modern Cairo. Nestled between the Nile River and downtown Cairo, Midan Tahrir (Liberation Square) has been the site of many political and social protests over the years, including the 2011 Egyptian revolution that led to the resignation of the president.

It’s home to a myriad of incredible cultural and historic institutions and is my pick for where to stay in Cairo if you’re visiting for the first time.

A must on any Cairo itinerary is a stop at the Egyptian Museum. Home to some of the most exquisite exhibits and displays in the city, the Egyptian Museum is where you can immerse yourself in history. You’ll see priceless artefacts and jewels, treasures of Tutankhamun, and a collection of Royal Mummies.

The Nile Ritz-Carlton Cairo Cairo | Best Hotel in Midan Tahrir

Where to stay in Cairo

Stunning and centrally located, it’s no wonder this is my pick for where to stay in Midan Tahir. This elegant five-star hotel has more than 400 well-equipped rooms.

It offers a restaurant, a nightclub, and a spa and wellness centre with a swimming pool and sauna. This hotel is also conveniently located for exploring Cairo.

Tahrir Square Hostel | Best Hostel in Midan Tahrir

Where to stay in Cairo

This delightful hostel is located in the centre of Cairo. It is within walking distance of great tourist attractions, restaurants and cafes.

Tahrir Square offers rooms with shared and private bathrooms, stunning city views, and a delicious continental breakfast. You’ll also enjoy comfortable beds and fresh clean sheets.

Cultural and Unique Home | Best Airbnb in Midan Tahrir

Where to stay in Cairo

You wanna get exposed to Egyptian culture and traditions right? Then stay in this home. It’s perfect for couples looking to get to know the Egyptian culture and food with everything within walking distance and the host of the home is super helpful.

Oh! And they offer breakfast in the morning for a small price for those mornings you just can’t fathom walking around to find something to eat.

Things to See and Do in Midan Tahrir

  1. Browse the exhibits and displays at the magnificent Egyptian Museum Cairo.
  2. Explore Midan Tahrir, the site of so many political and historical uprisings.
  3. Marvel at the architecture of Masjid Omar Makram, a mosque which hosts many state and business funerals and represents Islamic Cairo at its finest.
  4. See the Tomb of Mariette.
  5. Take a stroll along the Qasr Al-Nil bridge and admire its tall stone lion statues.
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2. Downtown – Where to stay in Cairo on a budget

Downtown Cairo. Where to stay in Cairo
Climb the tower for incredible views.

Cairo’s downtown district is the commercial heart of the city. Designed by French architects, downtown Cairo is characterized by its wide boulevards and streets reminiscent of 19th-century Paris. It boasts a wide selection of restaurants, shops and tourist attractions, and is an ideal jumping-off point for exploring the city.

Downtown is also my pick for where to stay in Cairo if you’re balling on a budget. Dotted throughout this massive neighborhood is a great selection of hostels, hotels and apartments that cater to all types of budgets. If you’re backpacking Egypt, definitely stay here! From high-brow to shared rooms, downtown Cairo is the best place to stay if you’re looking to save a little money without missing out on the action.

Steigenberger Hotel El Tahrir Cairo | Best Hotel in Downtown

The Steigenberger Hotel is the epitome of elegance and class. This spectacular four-star hotel is set at the heart of the city. There is a great selection of dining, nightlife and shopping options nearby.

It provides a spa and wellness centre, and each of its rooms is well-equipped with air conditioning and satellite TV.

Conrad Cairo | Best Luxury Hotel in Downtown

Where to stay in Cairo

Thanks to its great location in central Cairo, this is one of my favourite hotels in the city. Not only is it close to popular tourist attractions, but it offers amazing views of the Nile River.

This five-star hotel has more than 600 comfortable rooms with modern amenities. There’s also a gym, swimming pool and restaurant on site.

Dahab Hostel | Best Hostel in Downtown

Where to stay in Cairo

This hostel is located at the heart of Cairo. It is a short walk to many of the major tourist attractions in the city.

They offer a collection of whitewashed huts on a downtown rooftop, attempting to recreate a beach oasis at the centre of town. This is my pick for the best hostel in Cairo.

Eclectic oasis in the heart of Downtown Cairo | Best Airbnb in Downtown

Where to stay in Cairo

Stunning and centrally located, it’s no wonder this is my pick for where to stay in Midan Tahir. This elegant five-star hotel has more than 400 well-equipped rooms.

It offers a restaurant, a nightclub, and a spa and wellness centre with a swimming pool and sauna. This hotel is also conveniently located for exploring Cairo.

Things to See and Do in Downtown

  1. Browse the various museums of the Abdeen Palace Museum where you’ll see incredible collections of silver, arms, and artefacts from the Royal family.
  2. Dine on fast food, Egyptian-style at GAD.
  3. Sip beers with a view at The Roof Garden.
  4. Take a walk down Talaat Harb Street and soak in the atmosphere.
  5. View artefacts and relics from mosques, homes and palaces at the Museum of Islamic Art.

3. Zamalek – The Best area to stay in Cairo for nightlife

Zamalek. Where to stay in Cairo
Photo: Faris knight (WikiCommons)

Located on the Gezira island is Zamalek. A relatively affluent area, Zamalek is known for its pseudo-European aesthetic and architecture, and its large expatriate population.

Zamalek is also my pick for where to stay in Cairo for nightlife. Dotted throughout this elegant neighborhood are some of the chicest bars, trendiest lounges and wildest nightclubs in the city. So whether you’re looking to party all night long or simply enjoy an amazing view over a glass of wine, Zamalek is the place for you!

Love to eat? Well, look no further. Zamalek is packed with restaurants and cafes serving up cuisines from all corners of the globe, making it one of my top places to stay in Egypt!

Horus House Hotel Zamalek | Best Hotel in Zamalek

Where to stay in Cairo

Horus House is my choice for where to stay in Zamalek. It is conveniently located for exploring the neighborhood and there are plenty of dining, shopping and nightlife options nearby.

This charming three-star hotel has well-equipped rooms and an on-site bar and lounge. Guests can also enjoy a delicious daily breakfast.

The President Hotel Cairo | Best Hotel in Zamalek

Where to stay in Cairo

This charming hotel provides easy access to trendy Zamalek’s bars, clubs and restaurants. It’s also ideally situated for shopping and sightseeing.

This hotel has 30 rooms that come complete with showers and cable/satellite TV. There’s also a laundry service, free wifi, and a scrumptious on-site restaurant.

Wake Up Cairo Hostel | Best Hostel in Zamalek

Where to stay in Cairo

This modern hostel is located in downtown Cairo, a short walk from the vibrant Zamalek neighborhood. It is close to great restaurants, bars and tourist attractions.

This property boasts 12 comfortable rooms, free wifi and a swimming pool. There’s also luggage storage and a library for guests.

Huge Home with Amazing Views | Best Airbnb in Zamalek

Where to stay in Cairo

Enjoy staying where there is a rooftop overlooking the entire city! This flat has the coolest lounge on the roof overlooking the Nile you might even end up spending most of your time up there catching sunrise and sunset.

You also get the convenience of easy-peasy access to all the bars in the heart of the Zamalek – ya know so you don’t have to stumble too far back to your bed.

Things to See and Do in Zamalek

  1. Catch an outdoor concert at El Sawy Culture Wheel.
  2. Drink fantastic cocktails and enjoy panoramic views of the city at Crimson Cairo.
  3. Have lunch in a palace at the Garden Promenade Cafe.
  4. Sample your way through Le Pacha 1901, a floating boat that’s home to 10 fantastic restaurants.
  5. Go antique shopping at the many little shops including Nostalgia Art Gallery and Noubi.
  6. Spend a night enjoying a scenic river tour along the Nile.
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4. Zamalek – The coolest place to stay in Cairo

Zamalek, Cairo. Where to stay in Cairo
Photo: Jorge Láscar (Flickr)

But, there’s more to Zamalek than nightlife. This centrally located and well-connected neighborhood also gets my vote for the coolest neighborhood in town thanks to its abundance of cultural and historic sights, great restaurants, world-class shopping and spectacular views. So, whether you’re a culture vulture or a fabulous fashionista, Zamalek has something for everyone!

One of Zamalek’s can’t miss attractions is the Cairo Tower. This distinctive landmark stands nearly 190m above the city and offers incredible views of Cairo and the Nile River. If you’re an avid photographer, I can’t recommend a better spot to get that iconic bird’s eye view shot of the city.

The Cosy Hotel in Zamalek | Best Budget Hotel in Zamalek

Where to stay in Cairo

This hotel is located in hip and happening Zamalek. The area is home to a great selection of shops, restaurants and nightlife options.

This two-star hotel offers comfortable beds and a wide range of amenities, including a beauty centre, a sun deck, and laundry facilities.

Hilton Cairo Zamalek Residences | Best Hotel in Zamalek

Where to stay in Cairo

The Hilton Cairo Zamalek is my choice for the best hotel in Cairo. It boasts modern and spacious rooms with excellent features, including refrigerators, bathrobes and super-fast wifi.

There is also a beauty centre, a swimming pool, and a delicious restaurant on site. You’ll also enjoy plenty of restaurants, shops and nightspots nearby.

Splashy Colorful Flat in Abu Al Feda | Best Airbnb in Zamalek

Where to stay in Cairo

Complimenting the coolest area to stay in is this apartment that has its own creative personality with bright colors and an owl you might end up staring at for hours- or is it a hawk?

Regardless this apartment is perfect for couples looking to have a chill time when you’re not walking around the neighborhood. It also comes with a kitchen with a microwave and stove as well as a washing machine.

Things to See and Do in Zamalek

  1. Catch an unforgettable performance at the Cairo Opera House, Egypt’s most important cultural stage.
  2. Climb to the top of the Cairo Tower and take in the sweeping views of Cairo and the Nile.
  3. Eat fresh and delicious Egyptian street food at Zooba.
  4. Marvel at the incredible collection of colourful plates and ceramics at the Museum of Islamic Ceramics.
  5. See a collection of contemporary Egyptian art at the Safar Khan Gallery.
  6. Shop for souvenirs, keepsakes and handicrafts at Fair Trade Egypt.
  7. View an awesome collection of Egyptian art and design at the Loft Gallery.

5. Giza – Best neighborhood in Cairo for families

Best Hostels in Cairo. Where to stay in Cairo
Photo: Vincent Brown (Flickr)

West of the city centre is the sprawling district of Giza. A city in its own right, this district has slowly been absorbed by the capital as Cairo continues to expand its reaches.

Giza is a must visit destination for travellers visiting Cairo. It is home to the incredible Giza Pyramid Complex, as well as the world-famous Sphinx. Be sure to take your time enjoying these incredible attractions and making as many memories as you can.

But, there’s more to Giza than these ancient relics. This district is also home to a fantastic souk and the Pharaonic Village, making it the perfect place to stay in Cairo for families.

Safir Hotel Cairo | Best Hotel in Giza

Where to stay in Cairo

This modern five-star hotel is my pick for where to stay in Giza. It is conveniently located for sightseeing and is a short distance from the Great Pyramids.

This hotel boasts a gym and a swimming pool, as well as babysitting services. Rooms are large, perfect for accommodating families.

Pyramids Family Inn | Best Hostel in Giza

Where to stay in Cairo

In addition to its fantastic location (just one kilometre from the Great Sphinx!), Pyramids Family Inn has comfortable rooms with luxurious beds and air conditioning.

Breakfast is included with each reservation and it is served on the roof where you can enjoy unparalleled views of Giza and most importantly, the pyramids! How epic is that?

Home with a View of the Pyramids! | Best Airbnb in Giza

Where to stay in Cairo

Within 5 minutes of the Giza gate, you will find this magical apartment fit for a family. Indulge in the iconic views of the pyramids as you relax on the balcony with the kiddos.

This home sleeps up to 6, with a quite equipt kitchen to cook for that number of people offering everything you need to serve a home-cooked meal on your travels.

Things to See and Do in Giza

  1. Be amazed by the size and architecture of the Great Pyramids of Giza.
  2. Snap a pic of the iconic Sphinx, a colossal sandstone statue.
  3. Marvel at the dazzling Pyramids Sound and Light Show.
  4. Explore the desert and nearby attractions on horseback or by camel.
  5. Shop for souvenirs at Legends and Legacies, a relaxed indoor bazaar.
  6. Shop until you drop at City Stars, the largest shopping mall in Egypt.
  7. Step back in time at the Pharaonic Village, a living museum of Egyptian history.
  8. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Twinky Patisserie.
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FAQ about Finding a Place to Stay in Cairo

Here’s what people usually ask me about the areas of Cairo and where to stay.

Where should I stay in Cairo for the first time?

Midan Tahrir is the perfect place for first-timers. It’s close to the Egyptian Museum as well as heaps of great places to eat. Tahrir Square Hostel is the perfect hostel for Broke Backpackers to stay when in Cairo for the first time.

Is it better to stay in Cairo or Giza?

Giza is considered part of the wider Cairo Metropolitan area and is home to the famous pyramids. It’s a great place to stay, especially if you’re low on time and really want to take in the star attractions.

Should you stay near the pyramids in Cairo?

Giza is the area in which the Pyramids are situated and staying here will not only give you easy access to them, but many places, such as the Pyramids Family Inn have a view of them too.

How many days in Cairo is enough?

2-3 days are enough time to catch the highlights reel and see places like the Pyramids, Sphinx and visit the Egyptian Museum at a leisurely pace. If you want to explore further you might need a few days on top.

What To Pack For Cairo

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

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Keep your laundry organized and stink free
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Where to stay in Cairo.
Get lost in the chaos that is Cairo
Photo: Nic Hilditch-Short

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Cairo

Cairo is, without a doubt, one of the most unique cities in not just the Middle East, but the world. It’s a seamless combination of history, ancient wonders and modern society that tantalises and overloads the senses all at once. Cairo is packed with historic attractions and ancient relics that sit alongside luxury hotels, vibrant nightclubs and world-class restaurants.

I often found myself going for a wander around each different neighborhood, getting lost in the narrow alleyways that echoed with the shouts from market sellers and wafted with the smell of their goods in the hot sun. It certainly is an eye-opening and for me, a culture shock I hadn’t really expected in many ways. Personally I loved exploring each area just as much as visiting the main attractions Cairo has to offer.

In this guide, I’ve looked at the best neighborhoods to stay in Cairo. If you’re still not sure which is right for you, here’s a quick recap of my favourites. From areas with impressive five-star hotels to neighborhoods with epic hostels, Cairo has them all.

Zamalek is my pick for the coolest neighborhood to stay in thanks to its great shopping, delicious restaurants and lively nightlife scene. It’s also home to my pick for the best hotel in Cairo, the Hilton Cairo Zamalek Residences, one of the best places to stay when you visit Cairo.

Another great option is the Dahab Hostel. Located in downtown Cairo, this unique hostel is close to top tourist attractions, museums and art galleries.

Hopefully this post has answered all the burning questions you have, if not, just drop one below.

Looking for more info on travelling to Cairo and Egypt?