In recent years Egypt has been in the news a lot, mostly because of the demonstrations against the repressive regime. During the latest major series of demonstrations in September and October 2019, 4300 arbitrary arrests were made. The crackdown was harsh and the few independent news outlets remaining are having a very hard time.
Especially now you can make a difference by taking a trip to Cairo. Even though the Egyptian economy is growing fast, more and more people are living in poverty. You can help local entrepreneurs by spending your tourist dollars (which go a very long way) in locally-owned spots. Egyptian locals love talking about what they’ve been through and you can tell their stories back home, which will create attention and positive vibes…
We don’t have to explain Cairo is one of the most culturally rich cities on the planet. Cairo locals call their city Mother of the World for a reason. Visiting Cairo instead of a city where “everybody is going” helps against overtourism! Oh yes, and it’s 17 to 20 degrees Celsius and sunny currently…
We selected a few of our Cairo locals’ unique “to do” tips for you:
Eat stuffed pigeons at Farahat Restaurant
Hamam Mahshi or squab (pigeons) stuffed with either liver, rice or grits are a very well known dish in Egypt. And they are delicious according to our Spotter Ahmed (and us – we tried them too!).
Farahat Restaurant is located way outside the touristy center and doesn’t look like much from the inside, but it’s one of the very best restaurants in Egypt for eating pigeon. Not only according to Ahmed!
Enjoy a traditional Tanoura dance show
When we were in Cairo to meet our locals, our Spotter Olfat recommended us to visit a traditional Tanoura dance show in Obet Al-Ghori, a hidden building inside the huge Sultan Al-Ghuri Complex. It was a wonderful experience!
“It’s a hidden, underrated historic gem that’s being used for a traditional spiritual performance called Tanoura which is Sufi singing and dancing. The skill & poise are unparalleled in the show. The peaceful atmosphere fills my soul when I watch this spectacular show among these ancient walls.”
Eat Ful at Mahrous Ful – or elsewhere
Whatever you do, you can’t leave Cairo without trying Ful – the traditional meal all Egyptians eat. It’s basically a stew of cooked fava beans, but comes in many variations. It can be had for breakfast or dinner. Every local has its own personal favorite spot. Marianne recommends Mahrous Ful – a very local place in the beautiful embassy neighborhood. Mohammed recommends the more fast-food like C Fool,
Hang out and experience culture at Darb 1718
Darb 1718 is a contemporary art space in old Cairo with a laid back and informal atmosphere where you sit on a bean bag and enjoy the show or get your creative juices flowing in anyway they wish.
“One thing that really stands out for me there is their contemporary art gallery which really helps young Egyptian artists. It’s a place that encourages creativity, fun and self-expression through art and music.” —Farah Safwat
Have local homemade food at Tabliabalady
Tabliabalady is a super friendly simple family restaurant that is decorated beautifully and serves food you would eat at home cooked by your mother (if your mother was Egyptian of course!). They offer three different main plates every day, and they make them perfect. It would be rare to encounter another tourist here – unless they’re also a Spotted by Locals user of course…
We liked it so much that we made an exception to our own rule and ate here twice when were in Cairo, including once with our Spotter Mohammed!