Cairo

Cairo has always been a great place to shop for traditional items because of its spectacular medieval marketplace, the Khan al-Khalili, where browsing and bargaining are half the fun. There is no tried-and-true bargaining strategy; just shop around, decide how much something is worth to you, and start bargaining lower than that in order to end up at that point. In the Khan, the opening price is never the final price.

In the last decade Cairo has embraced the shopping mall. These enclosed, air-conditioned spaces stacked with international brands have revolutionized shopping for residents. Most malls also have shops selling a range of the same kinds of souvenirs that you'd find in the Khan al-Khalili, though at higher, nonnegotiable prices.

Wealthy and upwardly mobile Cairenes not only have the wherewithal to fund their lifestyles, but they also have great taste, so you'll find a wide selection of art galleries, designer shops, and fashion boutiques to indulge your need for retail therapy.

Although most of what you see in tourist shops are reproductions of varying quality, there is a long local tradition in Egypt of connoisseurship in collectibles, which means that there is always the possibility of finding a real gem. Be prepared, however, for local tastes that favor ornate French-style furniture and antiques, not the Middle Eastern pieces you might be longing for. There are several nameless antiques shops in Downtown Cairo along Shar'a Hoda Sharaawi that are worth looking into. Lots are shown for several days in advance of a two-day auction, which usually operates on a cash-only basis. Check the Egyptian Gazette for the latest auction schedules.

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  • 1. Abd El Rahman Harraz Seeds, Medicinal, and Medical Plants

    Islamic Cairo South

    Founded by its namesake herbalist in 1939, this fantastic family-owned spice shop is one of Cairo's most renowned, with a wide selection of medicinal herbs,...Read More

  • 2. Abd El-Zaher Bookstore

    Islamic Cairo North

    Stop by Cairo's last remaining bookbinding company, in business since 1936, for beautiful, leather-bound and gilt-decorated diaries, sketchbooks, and photo albums. All the items here...Read More

  • 3. Azza Fahmy

    Giza

    A bib necklace inspired by a maqarnas (an intricate Islamic vaulted ceiling), a lotus cuff bracelet, or a pair of Eye of Horus earrings would...Read More

  • 4. Cairopolitan

    Garden City

    The whimsical, thoughtfully curated accessories and home decor at this concept store celebrate Egypt's long history—from the ancient to the old to the contemporary. You...Read More

  • 5. El Kahhal Carpets

    Heliopolis

    It's hard not to be impressed by the colorful, floor-to-ceiling displays of carpets at this store, which was founded in 1870 by a young Syrian...Read More

  • 6. Fair Trade Egypt

    Heliopolis

    With the goal of promoting Egyptian craftsmanship, this boutique offers more than 1,000 products, from leather goods to home accessories, that make fantastic souvenirs. It’s...Read More

  • 7. Khan el-Khalili

    Islamic Cairo North

    At this great medieval souk, surrounded by a maze of winding streets and alleys, the air is perfumed with incense, and shopping is a chaotic...Read More

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  • 8. L'Orientaliste Books

    Downtown

    The Swiss expat who founded this store in the 1950s originally stocked it with used books he gathered from Europeans leaving Egypt. Subsequent owners have...Read More

  • 9. Lehnert and Landrock Bookshop

    Downtown

    In the early 20th century, travel writers and photographers Rudolf Franz Lehnert and Ernst Heinrich Landrock explored North Africa, documenting scenes from Bedouin life, before...Read More

  • 10. Mamlouk Gallery

    Zamalek

    Although it's tucked away on a side street and has no sign, it's worth making the effort to find this rustic shop that's full to...Read More

  • 11. Mashrabia Gallery

    Downtown

    This gallery is on the tree-lined Shar'a Champollion (the street named after the Frenchman who broke the hieroglyphic code), and it's one of Cairo's best...Read More

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