Jessica Toutounji, the vibrant digital creator behind the Instagram handle @DressupWithJay, brings a fresh and dynamic perspective on style, makeup, and beauty tips.

The young and radiant Egyptian-Lebanese-Italian creative takes KHAMSA’s readers to Cairo, combining tourist attractions with local secrets. This fun curated list includes street food, fine dining, shopping spots, and attractions in the city, as well as tips and tricks for experiencing Cairo to the fullest.

Top must-visit food spots in Cairo?

My favourite spot for authentic Egyptian food would be Zooba; they have everything from falafel and Koshary to chicken and eggs. 

For more Egyptian food, Abu el Sid is also a delight. I’d suggest the one in Zamalek; the ambience and food are great, and you can enjoy it with some beer or anything you’d like! (Tip: You can also drop by Diwan bookstore next to it, and there’s a little store next to it that has some cool clothing and jewellery pieces; it’s a gem)

Brown Nose at 5A Waterway, New Cairo, has the BEST coffee, hands down (and I tried A LOT of coffee places). I’d recommend the Pistachio latte; it’s a must-try. I swear by their coffee.

Similarly, Bouchée (Korba, Heliopolis) is another place to enjoy coffee, fresh bakery, and dessert. You can smell the freshness even before you enter the shop!

If you love teppanyaki and noodles, I’d recommend Sapporo (at the Sheraton Hotel in Dokki) and Tao (Dusit Hotel, New Cairo). They both have a great ambience and plenty of options to pick from.

Olivo (New Cairo and Zamalek) is also a really cosy spot where you can enjoy pizza, music, and good sangria.

Khufu’s restaurant is wonderful if you want a view of the Pyramids for breakfast. I also love Mena House – it’s a bit farther from the Pyramids, but you get a small view, and the hotel is beautiful. In both cases, you can pay the Pyramids and the Sphinx a visit after.

For dessert, I cannot emphasise enough how good Mandarine Koueider is! I love ordering a cup with some basbousa, topped with some good mastic or berry yoghurt ice cream. They also have a LOT of really good sweets that you can pick from. 

Best places for shopping?

If you want the international stores: Mall of Arabia, Cairo Festival City, City Centre, and Mall of Egypt.

If you’re looking for something different, I love getting unique pieces from Egyptian brands. You can find some at Maison 69 (Zamalek and Garden 8, New Cairo), a concept store that carries numerous Egyptian and international brands.

Garden 8 (New Cairo) is also a mall you can visit if you want unique pieces. There’s an Okhtein store where you can get some of their latest drops. There’s also Can Limón, another store that carries some Egyptian brands. 

There’s Sooch in Zamalek and The Monkie Concept in Sheikh Zayed, which also have a selection of Egyptian brands.

Must-visit cultural spots?

I LOVE Khan el Khalili and Al Hussein – these areas are like bazaars. There, you’ll walk through myriad streets where you can find the coolest pieces, from plates, bowls, small antiques, jewellery, clothing, home decor, and so much more! 

There’s also the Aisha Fahmy Palace in Zamalek and The Baron Palace in Heliopolis. They’re so beautiful! 

As for museums, there’s The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization and The Grand Egyptian Museum.

Best hotels to stay in?

St. Regis Hotel in Bulaq.

Dusit Hotel in New Cairo.

Four Seasons Hotel on the Nile Corniche.

Underrated places?

I guess I would say the Korean restaurant in Zamalek, Hana Barbecue – has such good Tteokbokki!

What should you avoid?

Definitely avoid wearing something too revealing. If you have a camera, make sure it’s okay to use because sometimes it can cause some trouble in certain places.

Must-pack items?

Sunblock is essential! Swimsuits; because the beaches here are divine. Airy clothes; because it’s hot in the summer.

Must-visit areas in Egypt: 

El Gouna, Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab, Hurghada, Sinai, and Siwa (December is ideal weather-wise).

Luxor and Aswan are my personal favourite, but preferably in January-March.

Rand Al-Hadethi is an art, culture, and fashion writer who approaches all her creative endeavours with a penchant for storytelling. She explores the intersection of fashion, culture, and society and sheds light on talent and cultural movements across the Middle East and the world. Rand also publishes a bi-monthly themed substack newsletter called WebWeaver™. To reach Rand, email her at rand@khamsa5.com or follow her on social media @rundoozz.
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