Cairo is even more lively at night than during the day, and the locals know how to enjoy life. Alcohol does not play a major role in social life and may only be sold to people over the age of 25. Cairo’s partygoers are mainly drawn to Zamalek. The transition between bar, restaurant and club is often fluid. Many locals go out to eat at 10 p.m., then the lights are turned off, the music gets louder and the restaurant turns into a bar. Restaurants and bars have to close at midnight at the latest. Only restaurants with a tourism license are allowed to open after midnight.
Bars where Baladi, an oriental dance, are performed are becoming increasingly popular. Appropriate locations can be found especially in downtown Cairo, especially in the Midan Orabi area. Baladi Bars ( www.baladibar.com ) is a good event guide and points to local Baladi bars. Although safe, some unaccompanied women feel uncomfortable in this male-dominated environment.
The traditional ahwas (coffee houses) are very popular with the locals to smoke a sheesha (hookah) and drink strong Arabic coffee.
When families go out, they often take their small children with them, especially in the area around Midan el Hussein (in the Islamic part of Cairo) or shopping streets such as Sharia Talat Harb.
There are cultural centers throughout the city that offer a variety of activities such as readings, films, music, exhibitions and other cultural events. Information is available in the English version of Al-Ahram Weekly ( http://weekly.ahram.org.eg ) and the Egyptian Gazette ( www.egyptiangazette.net ). The best thing to do is to buy the tickets at the hotel reception or in local travel agencies.
Pub 38, 28 Sharia Shagaret el-Dor, is a down-to-earth bar that also serves hearty dishes and mezze (small appetizers). This cozy place attracts locals and tourists of all ages alike who enjoy their whiskey or a cold beer here.
Address: 28 Sharia Shagaret el-Dor, Cairo
Phone: (02) 3735 9200
L’Aubergine, 5 El Sayed El Bakry is on a small side street. In the basement there is a casual, mainly vegetarian restaurant, while on the first floor a lively bar with DJ attracts students.
Address: 5 El Sayed El Bakry, Zamalek, Cairo
Telephone: (02) 2738 0080
At La Bodega, 157 26 July Street, you can mingle with the young and trendy residents of Cairo. If you prefer to start the evening a little more quietly, have a glass of wine in the cozy lounge.
Address: 157 26 July Street, Zamalek, Cairo
Phone: (02) 2735 6761
Cairo Jazz Club
The popular Cairo Jazz Club, 197 26th of July Street, is always busy on weekends. In addition to live jazz and blues, drinks and vegetarian food are also offered in dimly lit surroundings.
Address: 197 26th of July Street, Cairo
Phone: (02) 33 45 99 39
After Eight, 6 Kasr el Nil Street, is on a small side street and attracts young people in particular. In addition to the usual disco music, a mix of techno and even salsa is played here. There are regular live performances by various bands.
Address: 6 Kasr el Nil Street, Cairo
Phone: (010) 339 80 00
Arabic Music Institute
Traditional Arabic music performances take place at the Arabic Music Institute, 22 Ramsis Street.
Address: 22 Ramsis Street, Cairo
Phone: (02) 25 74 33 73
The Sufi dance performances, which are also known as “dervish dance” (sema) or “dance of the rotating dervishes”, are very popular with tourists. Performances always take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Al-Ghouri Caravansary, Sheikh Mohamed Abdu Street.
Address: Sheikh Mohamed Abdu Street, Cairo
Phone: (02) 25 11 14 97
Dance is not a major art form in Egypt, but many of the larger international hotels such as the Cairo Sheraton, Midan el Galaa, nevertheless offer belly dance performances for their guests, usually in combination with an evening meal.
Address: Midan el Galaa, Dokki, Cairo
Phone: (02) 33 36 97 00
El Sawy Culturewheel
El Sawy Culturewheel, July 26 Strett, is a cultural center with five different stages. Live performances of classical Arabic and contemporary Egyptian bands as well as various festivals and theater performances take place here every evening.
Address: 26 July Street, Zamalek, Cairo
Phone: (02) 27 36 88 81