Cairo is a bustling city, and there is plenty to do every day, including well into the evenings.
Whether you're a night owl or just looking to get a taste of Cairo metropolitan life after sunset, we've listed the most popular evening activities for you to make the most of your time in the Egyptian capital city. From symphony orchestra shows to a Nile felucca tour and a spot of shopping at Cairo's bazaars, read on to find out more about where to go once the sun goes down on Cairo.
1. See a Show at the Cairo Opera House
A great way to spend an evening in Cairo is by watching a show at the Cairo Opera House in Zamalek near downtown Cairo, considered the main performing arts venue in the city. You'll be able to see a range of different shows, including some of Egypt's best music groups.
Shows include the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, shows that are part of the Egyptian National Theatre Festival, the Religious Ensemble for Sufi Singing, and other Egyptian ensemble concerts. If you wanted to you could even catch a show from an international ballet group there depending on which day you're in Cairo.
Apart from the shows, the building itself is worth a visit as it's a beautiful building for which the money was actually a gift from Japan after President Hosni Mubarak's visit to Japan back in 1983. It was built between 1985 and 1988, and was inaugurated in October of 1988.
The theater itself seats 1,200 people across four levels in its main hall, with an additional 500 spaces in a small hall, which is usually used for chamber music and recitals, but also acts as a reception hall when important events are held in the main hall.
2. Have a Nile Cruise and Dinner
While you're in Egypt, a Nile cruise to enjoy the views is a must because this is the river that has given Egypt life since ancient times after all. Why not enjoy your Nile cruise at night for a dinner and show? Most cruises last approximately 3 hours in the evenings. Contact us to book yours for sunset for the best views.
There are a lot of different companies offering a cruise and dinner as a package that comes with Egyptian dances and musical entertainment, depending on your budget and how luxurious you would like your boat and dinner to be. You could even spend multiple days on the cruise, and take the boat all the way from Cairo to Luxor.
We are very happy to arrange this as part of your tour in Egypt with Global Highlights, whether you're looking for an activity for one evening or looking for the Nile to be your main mode of transport for your time in Egypt.
3. Visit Muizz Street (Al-Muizz il-Din Allah al-Fatimi Street) at Night
In the center of Islamic Cairo, this beautiful street is worth a visit whether it is in the daytime or in the evening. If you do go in the evening, you'll find the mosques and monuments lit up for a wonderful atmosphere. In fact, this entire street is so important that it was done up in the 1990s in order for it to be turned into an open-air museum due to its historical significance.
Al-Muizz il-Din Allah al-Fatimi Street, or Muizz Street for short, is one of Cairo's oldest streets, and historically was the main axis of the city's historic zone. On your walk, you'll pass by the Mosque of Al Hakim bi Air Allah, the Mosque of al-Aqmar, the Mosque of Sulamayan Agha al-Silahdar, the Madrasa of Barquq, the Mausoleum of Sultan Al-Ghuri, Bab al-Futuh (one of the main city gates), and the Khan al-Khalili district where you'll also find shops and restaurants. Some of these buildings date back to the 1000s and 1100s. A walk around is the perfect way to soak up some of Cairo's evening atmosphere, grab a bit to eat, and do some souvenir shopping.
Bayt al-Suhaymi is one of the many notable buildings on Muizz Street, as this traditional Islamic home (now a museum) is an amazing example of Ottoman architecture and design. It was built in 1648, and is mesmerizing in the evening with its lights. On Thursdays, it opens until 9pm, so that's your best bet to see the building inside as well as outside.
We recommend getting a tour guide to take you through this street, as there is so much to see and learn about the important historical monuments, and the tour guide will know what is open for viewing in the evening, and which sights are better seen during the day.
4. Explore the River Nile by Felucca
Another way to explore the Nile is by felucca — a traditional Egyptian sailboat. These sailboats are made of wood, and are used mostly in the eastern Mediterranean. You may have seen them around Malta and Tunisia, as well as in Egypt and Sudan, or even Iraq. The boat has one or two lateen sails, and usually fit approximately 10 passengers as well as 2 or 3 crew members.
On a felucca you'll be able to enjoy the ride, take in the Nile views, and also catch a sunset if you time it well. Felucca rides last anywhere between 1 and 3 hours depending on your preferences, and tour guides will explain highlights of Cairo as you pass by them to learn more about Egypt's history and the Nile's importance.
The felucca is generally a calmer way to enjoy the Nile, while you may want to opt for a cruise as listed above if you prefer to travel a little faster and want entertainment and dinner on board too. We do also recommend the felucca experience as they are similar to the boats that were taken on the Nile by Egyptians back in the day. Back then, they were some of the most advanced ships of their time.
5. Watch the Pyramids Sound and Light Show at Giza
You will have visited the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Sphinx of Giza during the day, but did you know that they are also lit up in the evenings as part of a light and sound show? While just outside of Cairo, the show is worth the approximately 1-hour long ride to Giza if you've got an evening to spare.
The show narrates the history of the kings that built the three pyramids at the site in Giza, to give you a little more background about these wonderful structures built by pharaohs Khufu (2551–2528 BC), Khafre (2520–2494 BC), and Menkaure (2490–2472 BC).
Most days the show is held at both 7.30pm and 8.30pm with sound available in multiple languages, but sometimes the 8.30pm show is only in Arabic. To help arrange tickets and transport to the Pyramids Sound and Light Show, get in touch with us at Global Highlights. We can make your travels easier.
6. Go Souvenir Shopping at the Cairo Old Market
Hit the shops for a little bit of evening shopping at either the Cairo Old Market or at the Al Khalili Suk in Cairo. These markets are both open during the day, but you can also stroll around at night when the weather is a little cooler but the atmosphere is still buzzing! Especially in summer, you'll find that people are generally out and about more in the evenings to avoid the daytime heat.
At the markets you can get your souvenirs to take back for family and friends at home, and sample some local dishes and drinks while you're at it. Popular souvenirs to get from the markets include mini pyramids, beautiful jewelry boxes, traditional decorative Egyptian fabrics, papyrus scrolls (made similarly to how they were back in the day), model canopic jars with Egyptian deity lids (like those used to store internal organs during the mummification process), or a gallibaya, the traditional Egyptian long shirt worn by both men and women. Don't forget to haggle (but not too hard)!
7. See Cairo from Cairo Tower
As the tallest structure in Egypt and the entire of North Africa, Cairo Tower stands at a whopping 187 meters tall (or 614 feet), and houses both a revolving rooftop restaurant and a bar. It was also the tallest structure in all of Africa for 10 years, until the Hillbrow Tower in South Africa was built.
The Cairo Tower was built between 1956 and 1961 by Egyptian architect Naoum Shebib, and was influenced by ancient Egyptian architecture. Its lattice work is inspired by the pharaonic lotus plant, which is a big symbol in ancient Egyptian history. More recently, between 2006 and 2009, a restoration project installed new lighting in order to improve energy efficiency.
This tower is the marker of the Cairo skyline, and is located in the Gezira district, close to downtown Cairo. It's worth going for dinner or even just for a drink, because it offers panoramic views over the capital city of Cairo which are even more beautiful at night. Depending on your location in the tower, you can even see the pyramids of Giza in the distance. Going at sunset is best, as you can see both the daytime skyline and enjoy the lights that light up Cairo in the evening.
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