Zamalek is an affluent district in western Cairo, located on Gezira Island in the Nile River. Many of the foreign embassies are based there, and you'll find a plethora of museums to explore as Gezira Island is a very cultural part of the city.
Zamalek makes for a great day out, with lots of restaurants, cafes, museums and art galleries to explore. In the evening you can also catch a show at the Cairo Opera House or the El Sawy Culture Wheel Center. To find out how to get to Zamalek, and what to do there during the day and evening, read on!
How to Get to Zamalek and Around
To get to Zamalek from other parts of Cairo, we recommend getting a taxi or the metro, depending on your preference. Both are relatively affordable, and your hotel can help you find a taxi to get to Zamalek.
If you are taking the metro, you can take Line 2 to Gezira Opera to get to Zamalek. The Cairo metro costs between 5 and 10 Egyptian pounds (0.26 to 0.52 US dollars) depending on how many stops you're passing.
To get around, we recommend walking if you're happy to do so, or otherwise there are also taxis around that can take you between the museums and different sights.
Where to Stay in Zamalek
You could also spend the night in Zamalek to optimize your time there, as there are a few lovely hotels with pools overlooking the Nile on the island. If you are interested in art, have the time, and would like to be closer to the museums, it's worth spending the night in Zamalek in order to do make the most of your trip.
We've picked three hotels in the 3–5-star range that we recommend. The Marriott is especially nice because rooms come with balconies that overlook the river Nile.
- 5-star recommendation: Cairo Marriott Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino
- 4-star recommendation: Hilton Cairo Zamalek Residences
- 3-star recommendation: New President Hotel Zamalek
You can contact us for the best rate as well as to tailor make your Egypt tour at affordable price.
Further reading: How Much Does It Cost to Travel in Egypt?
What to Do During the Day
During the daytime we recommend visiting one of the many museums in Zamalek, in particular the art museums. We've listed the most popular museums with their opening times below for you to pick your favorites depending on which day you are planning your visit for.
1. Visit the Mahmoud Mukhtar Museum
Known as being the father of modern Egyptian sculpture, the museum of Mahmoud Mukhtar has eighty-five of his beautiful statues on display, made from a range of materials including bronze, stone, marble, granite, basalt, and plaster. This tomb is also in the basement of the museum.
If you are interested in Egyptian art, this is a must-visit and a great way to learn more about this famous Egyptian sculptor.
- Address: Mahmoud Mukhtar Museum, El Tahrir, Zamalek, Cairo
- Opening times: Saturday–Monday 9am–5pm, Wednesday–Thursday 9am–5pm (closed on Tuesdays and Fridays)
2. Stroll around the Islamic Ceramics Museum
This museum is worth a visit for both the contents and the building that it is located in, as it is inside the palace of Prince Ibrahim. The palace was constructed in the 1940s, and its architecture has a range of different influences including European classical styles, Moroccan, Andalusian, and Turkish, which was common at the time of building. Make sure you take the time to look up at the ceilings, which are also beautifully decorated.
Inside the Islamic Ceramics Museum, you'll find a collection of ceramics from all over the Islamic world, spread into six different sections to show the different periods of Islamic history and their pottery characteristics. The Fatimid section is the most remarkable, as it has the oldest displays in the museum, with valuable items dated back to the 10th and 12th centuries.
- Address: Islamic Ceramics Museum, 1 Al Sheikh Al Marsafi, Omar Al Khayam, Zamalek, Cairo
- Opening times: Tuesday–Sunday 8.30am–4.30pm (closed on Mondays)
3. Enjoy Nile Views
Just walking around Zamalek you'll undoubtedly come across the Nile either from the east or the west. We recommend getting lunch somewhere overlooking the Nile, so that you can enjoy the river banks and watch the boats go by. This river is of great importance to Egypt, and you'll see life still centers around it.
4. Enjoy Art at the Farouk Hosny Museum
On the site of the Farouk Hosny Foundation for Culture & Arts, the museum of has a large amount of art on display including works from Farouk Hosny, as expected, but also from other well-known artists such as Ragheb Ayad, Mahmoud Sa'id, Hamed Nada, and Adam Henein.
You might know Farouk Hosny as an abstract painter, but he was also Minister of Culture for Egypt between 1987 and 2011, working in the international art scene. His term as Minister of Culture ended as a result of the Egyptian Revolution in 2011.
At the museum you can learn more about his life, modern Egyptian art and how he had an impact on the art movement within Egypt, and his other work with art centers and schools throughout Egypt.
- Address: Farouk Hosny Museum, Al Gabalayah, Zamalek, Cairo
- Opening times: Saturday–Thursday 10am–7pm (closed on Fridays)
5. Visit the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art
Located inside one of the outlying buildings of the Cairo Opera House, we recommend visiting the Museum of Modern Egyptian Art before or after the Cairo Opera House. This museum is sometimes also known as the Gezira Center for Modern Art.
At this museum of modern and contemporary art, you'll find a lot of paintings from Egyptian artists, giving you a good overview of the Egyptian art movement from the early 20th century. Some of the better-known Egyptian artists are permanently on display, including Mahmoud Sa'id, Ragheb Ayad, Mohammed Naghi, and Gazbia Shirry. There are also temporary displays that change throughout the year. This is a must-see while you're in Zamalek.
- Address: Mahmoud Mokhtar, Zamalek, Cairo
- Opening times: Tuesday–Thursday 10am–4pm, Saturday–Sunday 10am–4pm (closed on Mondays and Fridays)
6. Go to the Top of Cairo Tower
Open every day until late, a visit to Zamalek is not complete without stopping by at Cairo Tower. While you can do this either in the daytime or in the evening, visiting during the day gives you a better understanding of Cairo's layout and Zamalek within that as you'll be able to see more.
The tower stands at 187 meters (or 614 feet), and is the tallest structure in both Egypt and North Africa. On a clear day, you will even be able to see the Giza Pyramids from the tower! If you wanted to also get an evening view of Cairo all lit up, we recommend going in the late afternoon for a drink or a bite to eat at the bar or restaurant at the top, so you can get the best of both worlds and enjoy sunset from this height.
- Address: Cairo Tower, El Andalus, Zamalek, Cairo
- Opening times: Daily 9am–1am
Suggested read: How to Plan a 2-Week Egypt Itinerary: 4 Itinerary Ideas
What to Do in the Evening
In the evening, Zamalek is bustling with people going out for dinner, to see the views from Cairo Tower in the evening, and attend shows at the Cairo Opera House.
1. Enjoy a Show at the Cairo Opera House
In the evening, we recommend heading over to go see a show at the Cairo Opera House if you are interested in music or the theatre. Most evenings, especially on weekends, you'll find shows on including from the Cairo Opera Company or the Cairo Symphony Orchestra as well as other Egyptian music.
We also recommend walking past if you are nearby, as the building itself is interesting, with funds for its construction having been gifted by Japan after President Hosni Mubarak's visit there in 1983. The Cairo Opera House was built shortly after and opened officially in 1988.
Read more about Top Things to Do in Cairo at Night
2. Go for Dinner with a View Over the Nile
One of the benefits of visiting Zamalek is that you can easily see the Nile from all sides of the island, and that's exactly what we recommend you do for dinner. For a local Egyptian dinner, we recommend Egyptian Nights (16 Saray El Gezira Street, Zamalek, Cairo), which is walking distance from the Islamic Ceramics Museum, and has a beautifully lit up courtyard. Alternatively, there is a Moroccan restaurant called La Palmeraie at the Sofitel Cairo (3 El Thawra Street, Sofitel el Gezirah, Zamalek, Cairo), which also has a beautiful view over the Nile.
If you'd rather go for European food, there is an Italian restaurant called 88 Nile River (19 Saray El Gezira Street, Zamalek, Cairo), which comes recommended and has a wonderful view over the Nile, too, as the name suggests.
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