Khan El Khalili Market - Cairo, EgyptLocals and tourists alike mix in this bustling and iconic market in the heart of Islamic Cairo!
Khan El Khalili market Snapshot
This ancient market is located in the historic center of Islamic Cairo, with the Al-Azhar and Al-Hussein mosques to the south and the Al-Hakim mosque to the north.
The market itself is open basically everyday practically 24/7 due to the bustling activity here. However, not all vendors will be open every day or all the time. Many shops start to open up early in the morning and will close around sunset. Although some will stay open later, especially during busy times.
What You'll Find
What’s great about this market is that there is a distinct “locals” area and “tourist” area. Aside from shopping on the local side for whatever you may encounter, I would recommend bags, purses and wallets as these seem to be of good quality here. Watches as well. Of course, you ARE in Egypt so I think getting a few souvenirs, is a no brainer!
Ancient Khan El Khalili Market Cairo shopping Spree!
We are out here in Cairo, Egypt hustling for all the hottest gear. Also, I break down some of the more dodgy tactics sellers may use (anywhere in the world) to try and guilt you into buying something. Check it!
Everything to Know about The Khan El Khalili market
How to Get to The Khan El Khalili Market
Depending upon your preferred way of traveling, you can choose from buses, taxis and bikes when in Cairo. And of course, you could walk.
Buses and taxis are more commonly used and tourists are often seen opting for this method of travel.
VIDEO: HOW TO GET TO KHAN EL KHALILI MARKET FROM MULTIPLE LOCATIONS
You can also to these sections of the video if you are traveling from these key locations:
- From Cairo Inn 0:00–1:41
- From Australian Hostel 1:41–2:12
- From Jamaica Hostel 2:12–3:05
- From Opera Square 3:05–7:14
- (All these obviously end at the market at 7:14, these are just time frames to each landmark along the way)
My Recommendations for Getting Around Cairo
For the most part, I just bought a bicycle and rode it most of the time to get from place to place as you can weave through traffic faster. If that’s not for you and you’re not staying for too long, I’d go to ol’ reliable and just use UBER or GRAB. Really, there’s no reason not to use these services if available, it feels the most safe.
Just note, once you exit the airport, you will be approached by multiple taxi drivers. These ARE ok to use, just make sure you decide on a CLEAR price beforehand so they don’t over-charge you. Otherwise, typically you can arrange transport with your hostel beforehand.
Shopping at The Khan El Khalili Market
What’s great about this market is that there is a distinct divide between “local market” and “tourist market” which gives awesome juxtaposition. On one end, you’ll have the bustling local market, people shopping for everything from clothes to kitchen supplies to hardware. And on the other end you have the more “cleaned up” looking area where you can get the typical tourist stuff… Souvenirs, knockoff clothing and accessories, you name it.
Khan El Khalili market offers a variety of local products, as well as popular brands. So it really just depends on what you. are interested in bargaining for. Popular products that visitors to this market in Egypt like to shop for include:
- Shisha Pipes
- Traditional Textile and Fabrics
- Unique and Elegant Glassware
- Locally crafted Metal products
- Food (like spices, etc.)
You’ll also find many other things including classical antique stones, beautiful pieces of art and statues, etc.
Where to Stay in Cairo
Cairo is a modern and well-developed city, so you’ll find a number of hotels and accommodation options. From international hotels, more traditional hotels, hostels, and other rentals. Some of the best hotels near Khan El Khalili market are:
- Hilton Cairo Heliopolis
- Tolip Golden Plaza Hotel
- Karvin Hotel
These are the more expensive options. If however, you’re on a traveling budget, you can choose great hostel and room services from Airbnb for lower prices and great values.
Neighborhoods in Cairo
Cairo is a very safe and hospitable city for tourists. Here are some of the more popular parts of town where visitors will enjoy spending their time.
Zamlek – Popular due to the nightlife facilities, Zamlek is considered to be one of the safest and freest areas in the city of Cairo. It is home to many regional headquarters as well and therefore highly guarded for tourists and business authorities.
Heliopolis – This area is known more for the restaurants and quality hotels with good service that tourists will appreciate.
Garden City – Garden City is known for its quiet, upscale, and secure atmosphere and is a major destination for wealthy tourists. It is home to embassies of all major countries including the US, Italy, and others as well.
In the case of the Khan El Khalili market, the neighborhood is very tourist-friendly and crowded. Since it was initially a hotel area for travelers, the hotels located here are very popular, and are secure for tourists as well, therefore, you can choose to stay there if you want a walking distance to the market.
My Personal Favorites?
I would say my favorite area is probably Giza, but that’s quite obvious because that’s where the pyramids are! Other than that, downtown Cairo is ALWAYS jam packed and worth a visit.
Food in Cairo
You gotta get the shwarma. It’s everywhere and it’s extremely delicious!
Egyptian cuisines are renowned for the strong use of lentils, vegetables, and fruits and a variety of meats. It shares similarities with the food of the Eastern Mediterranean region with the use of rice, vegetables, and meats for grilling and roasting. Below are some popular local dishes.
Ful Medames – It is a stew of fava beans. It is served with vegetable oil, cumin, and sometimes with chopped parsley, garlic, onion, lemon juice, ginger, chili pepper, and another vegetable, herb, and spice ingredients. It is considered a staple food in Egypt and can be found in the streets of El Khalili very easily.
Kushari – It is a unique dish filled with combined elements from Italy, India, and Mediterranean areas. Kushari is made of rice and lentils mixed together with pasta, topped with a spicy tomato sauce and garlic vinegar and garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions. The use of garlic is very common in Egyptian cuisine and it is often served with garlic juice.
Feteer Mashaltet – It is a tasty layered pastry that is filled with minced meat and sometimes sweet fillings and nuts. It is a very commonly consumed dish for tourists and is loved by all people who visit Cairo.
Mulukhiyah – A vegetable that is traditionally eaten after cooking and making a vegetable stew out of it. It is quite popular in Cairo and can be found in the Khan El Khalili Market.
About The Khan El Khalili Market
The market is situated in the historic center of Cairo, known for its hustling and bustling crowd and narrow alleyways full of vendors and traditional foods. This area was once just a simple resting area for travelers and tourists.
History of Khan El Khalili Market
In 970 AD, this market was established as a caravanserai. Tourists and travelers could take rest and hide from the burning heat of the sun before continuing on journeys of exploration and work. Slowly Khan El Khalili Market transformed from a simple resting area to the trade center of Cairo and has become one of the top tourist destinations for world travelers to visit.
Introduction to Cairo
Due to the presence of ancient pyramids of Giza and the historic city of Memphis in the geographical area of Cairo, the city is known to be one of the most historically rich cities in the world. Cairo is also geographically important due to the Nile River.
Cairo is home to the world’s second-oldest institute of higher education and learning known as the Al-Azhar University. It’s also interesting to learn that Cairo has the largest and oldest film and music industries in the world as well, and Egyptian modern arts are renowned worldwide.
Trade & Producing Goods in Cairo
Cairo has played an important role in the economy of the Arab world by creating land and sea routes for international trade through the region. People from Ancient Egypt were known to trade with people from nearby areas of the fertile-crescent (cluster of Arabian countries including Syria, Palestine, Iraq, etc.) and many Arabian countries as well.
Transport included the use of camels, and later horses were introduced for the transportation of goods. The transported goods included livestock, cattle, spices, pottery, and even lapis lazuli, and the trade spread from Cairo to as far as modern Europe. So, Cairo played a front runner in ancient Egypt’s trade relations.
The Khan El Khalili Market is an example that showcases the rich trade history of Cairo and Egypt.