Picture the scene: for some reason or another you've found yourself with a free day and looking for things to do in Cairo. Maybe you're on a layover, or maybe you're just bored and lonely. We can't help you with the latter, but there's absolutely no excuse to be bored in Cairo; a city rich with culture, food and random fun. If you're as productive as Cairo 360 likes to be, you'll have no problem fitting in the quintessential modern day-out in Cairo with these suggestions.
So you're up at 8AM, still groggy. Naturally, a hearty breakfast is in order, and what better way to do it than to go Egyptian.
If you want to give the Egyptian Pyramids a quick visit, then the most traditional breakfast you can have in the area would be at Felfela in Haram. Cheap, authentic and full of flavour, you can indulge in a full-fledged foul and taameya feast and you won't be disappointed – just very full.
If you're looking to start closer to the centre of town, Sequoia in Zamalek is a great alternative to enjoy a more refined version of an Egyptian breakfast. With great Nile views and shabby chic interior, it remains one of the most popular spots in the city.
After enjoying a lengthy breakfast, and preferably taking the time to digest comfortably, either venture onto the Pyramids as planned or instead visit areas closer to Downtown Cairo. The Egyptian Museum offers a quick lesson on Ancient Egypt, and its proximity to Tahrir Square affords you a glimpse of the recently established national icon. Other notable museums in Cairo include the Museum of Islamic Art and the Gayer Anderson Museum.
A few hours spent in Khan El Khalili will never go to waste; just be prepared to get flex your bargaining skills. Easily accessible from the busy market is Salah El Din Citadel, whose walls also envelope the exceedingly overlooked National Military Museum. The opportunity to visit one of the largest mosques in Cairo is but a few steps away; across Salah El Din Square, Al Rifai Mosque offers a peak into Egypt's architectural, monarchical and Islamic history.
After all this moving around, a satisfying meal is in order. Abou El Sid can be found in several locations around the city – Maadi, Dokki and Zamalek – and along with a menu that offers staple Egyptian foods such as molokheya and fatta, they also serve alcohol – a perfect way to cool down from the blazing sunshine.
If you happened to have spent the morning in the Haram area, then we strongly suggest you branch out to El Marioteya for Andrea. Offering possibly some of the best grilled chicken in the country, it has a nice outdoor garden and once again, offers alcohol.
Alternatively, you can indulge in a seafood extravaganza. Be prepared to get your hands dirty because there's no way you can truly appreciate the experience unless your hands come out smelling like they belong under the sea. Popular spots are Fish Market, available in Maadi, Heliopolis and Giza, or the wonderfully delicious Agouza spot, Flying Fish.
Following your meal, some relaxation would definitely be recommended. If you want to partake in a classic Egyptian pastime, then head to the Nile Corniche in Garden City or in Maadi and get on a felucca. An inexpensive way to enjoy the outdoors while escaping the crowds, you can take your own music, drinks and snacks if you choose. This is a particularly cathartic way to relax at sunset, because there's nothing like watching the sun go down over the Nile.
Al Azhar Park is also a good option for some downtime in the afternoon and if you're lucky they're might be some live music at El Genaina Theatre, which is located within the park itself. If green is your thing, you can also lie down in the grass and stare at the sky at nearby International Garden.
Alternatively, sun-worshippers can enjoy an easy afternoon by a pool at any of the city's hotels, all of whom offer swimming pool day-use.
Taking in some local arts and culture is a good way to start your evening and art exhibitions are aplenty. Galleries located in Downtown and Zamalek usually offer a variety of collections, showing young and upcoming artists, as well as the country's more established ones. The Cairo 360 events guide keeps you informed on what's going on and where.
If you're looking for live music, your best bet is to start the evening off at After Eight or 100Copies Music Space in Downtown, Cairo Jazz Club in Mohandiseen or Jazz Mate in Zamalek. These venues host local artists almost every day and will certainly provide insight into the huge pool of local talent. As always, the Cairo 360 events calendar has it all.
For an evening drink, we could suggest grabbing one at any of the many bars in Cairo, but there's nothing quite like Cairo's balady bars, mostly located Downtown. Simple snacks, and even simpler interiors, these bars are the proper way to get to know the weirder side of Cairo nightlife.
Cairo is a happening city and full of options in terms of nightlife. As well as usual spots such as Cairo Jazz Club, Amici – both in Zamalek and Heliopolis – and Tamarai for the hardcore party scene, visitors for a day should most definitely try out a cabaret, such as Downtown gem, Sherazade.
Since these places usually pick up later in the night, it gives you a chance to explore other outings before ending up in the smoky confines of a cabaret. Rotund men drinking warm whiskey, loud Arabic music and belly dancers; it's a scene you wouldn't want to miss.
With night spots mostly closing between 3AM and 4AM, there is the possibility that you will be hankering for more food; besides, what night is complete without a midnight snack? In Cairo, this usually means a late-night shawerma, or two.
Located in Mohandiseen and Nasr City, My Queen is a staple midnight snack-joint, offering a range of sandwiches and easy-to-eat dishes. In terms of shawerma, nothing beats Abo Ammar El Soury – and you can quote us on that.
And so ends the whirlwind 24 hours; as you drag your exhausted carcass of a body home, there's only one thing left do: go to bed, get some rest and get ready to do it all again tomorrow.