Any shopper in Cairo worth their weight in gold knows that Cairo is chock-full of shops and markets; but it takes a keen eye to track down the best among the thousands of venues.
While the city can’t compare yet to the shopping hubs of Beirut and Dubai; we’ve come a long way and are set to compete with these cities when the massive US$300 million Mall of Arabia project opens in 6th October City within the next year, while Cairo Festival City in the Fifth Settlement promises retail giants such as Marks&Spencer, Waitrose and IKEA.
For the time being, the savvy Cairene shopper knows the following deals:
Citystars is the shopping hub of Cairo: say what you like about Citystars, but this megamall continues to dominate the Cairo shopping scene with its hundreds of shops, restaurants and high-wuality cinema screens. Boasting multiple parking levels and proximity to several hotel chains, the mall is a perfect stop for both tourists seeking Khan Khalili-type memorabilia (head to the Fourth Floor of Phase1) and locals seeking mid-range fashion brands such as H&M, Zara, Massimo Dutti and Sfera. Aside from clothing, the mall also houses Mothercare and Premaman for expectant parents, as well as a ground-floor space dedicated to furniture, garden furniture, lighting fixtures and rugs.
Supermarket Supreme: For cheap kitchenware and garden furniture, a trip to Hyper 1 is well worth it, while Carrefour has an equally impressive collection of bargain kitchenware, bedding and freshly baked bread. Alfa Market’s furniture selection is definitely more expensive, though they often have great deals on computers and flat-screen TVs. If you need dirt-cheap household goods and kitchenware, check out El Tawheed Wel Nour. This multi-level department store chain has the cheapest products around; so if you don’t care about quality but need to furnish your whole house; this is the shop to head to.
Mohandiseen: While Gamaat El Dowal Street may overwhelm you with its flashy shoe shops and fast food outlets, the real shopping area is in the Geziret El Arab/Syria Street/Lebanon Street area, where a plethora of boutiques and cheap shops are lined up side by side. Head to Geziret El Arab for Pull&Bear, Bershka and the soon-to-open Burberry, while Faces and Bang&Olufsen are across the road. Lebanon Street has Reebok, Roche Bobois and Accesorise, while Syria Street has Vero Moda, Display and Metro Market. It’s best to take a taxi or walk if you’re brave; parking in this area is quasi-impossible and often dangerous for your car.Nearby in Dokki, head to Mohieldin Abul Ezz Street, Amman Square and Mosadaq Street for major treasures like Elements.
Zamalek: This area has increasingly become the hub of boutiques and galleries in recent years, with Villa Baboushka, Amuse, Mounaya, L’Oiseau Du Nil and Ghazl Banat all open within walking distance. Furniture accessory shops Tanis and Alef are located on Mohamed Anis Street, while Mansour Mohamed Street is an excellent destination when you’re looking for a gift, with Katr El Nada, Sami Amin, Altay and Home& Beyond lined up. Look out for Matchbox and Fostok; these shops sell export reject clothes at bargain prices, so you can pick out comfortable cotton PJs or Tommy Hilfiger t-shirts for under 100LE.
Maadi: While Maadi’s Road Nine has a truckload of tiny shops and restaurants, it severely lacks in clothing shops; which is why your best desination is Maadi Grand Mall. It may not compare to the sophisticated and label-heavy Citystars, but it has its fair share of small clothing shops. Be sure to take your time and delve into the clothing racks; you’ll be surprised at the amazing gems you find. Aside from its excellent pharmacy full of imported creams and perfumes, the mall has several restaurants and shisha places nearby, as well as the decently priced Shoe Room.
Be sure to also check out Road 233 for leather shops like Suede or accessory shop Kaf Fatima, but if you’re in need of major shopping, head out to Carrefour Maadi City Centre, which houses Zara and Mango as well as the only Topshop branch in Egypt. Right next to Carrefour is the Adidas/Timberland/Reebok outlet shop, which is also right next to the first branch of Gourmet Egypt.
6th of October: This suburb has come a long way since being a mere speck in the Cairo desert. Now with Dandy Mall, suburban shoppers can enjoy Vero Moda, Gourmet Egypt, Aldo and Nine West, in addition to thesoon to open H&M and the first Marks&Spencer branch in Egypt. The mall also has decent nail salons, a kids’ fitness center and Al Shorouk Bookstore. A Little further down the road is Designopolis, a megamall that specialises in furniture and home accessories, and includes major brands such as Alchemy, Eklego, Alessi, Artissimo and Andrew Martin.
Market Shopping: There’s more to markets in Cairo than the pomp and flash of Khan Khalili. In fact, the city is full of interesting markets, whether the second-hand book market in Sour El Azbakia or Wekalet El Balah, which sells cheap quality fabrics for your home and clothing, with a second-hand market held every Sunday.