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The Perfect Weekend

Although you could spend weeks in Cairo and always find something new to explore, it’s possible to see and do a lot in just a weekend. From taking a snapshot with the Sphinx to sampling local cuisine and taking in a performance at the world-renowned Cairo Opera House, Egypt’s diverse capital city has so much to offer. And, of course, that great, big river, the Nile, should attract a bit of your attention, too. 

Day

1

MORNING
  • Catch a Cup.

    As you prepare for a day’s adventure, snag a quick cup of coffee or tea from Lobby Lounge at The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo. It’s an elegant setting for a look at your guidebook or map as you savor a sweet breakfast treat and plan your day. 

  • The Star Attraction.

    For some, a visit to the Great Sphinx is a bucket list item — the history, magnitude and meaning of the site are all significant. Indeed, the massive limestone sculpture of a lion with a man’s head is just one of the many points of interest on the Giza Plateau, just southwest of Cairo. Snap a photograph with the man-cat, then enjoy a tour of pyramids, too. 

MIDDAY
  • Shop the City.

    While Cairo is best known for its souqs, or bazaars, Oum El Dounia gallery is also a wonderful place to pick up a souvenir. Housewares, fabric, jewelry and glassware are among the top selections at this second-story boutique. And although the shop lacks the hustle and bustle of the souqs, it’s a relaxing, air-conditioned experience. 

  • Lunch Along the Nile.

    Culinary fusion is popular in Cairo, and at Sequoia, you’ll find a mix of Italian, Mediterranean and Lebanese cuisine. The best part about the restaurant, though, in addition to its chicken shawarma, is its location on the banks of the beautiful Nile. 

AFTERNOON
  • History, Squared.

    Tahrir Square has long been known as a center for change in Cairo. The site of many political demonstrations, the square has a rich history. It was a grassy patch of land in ancient Egypt and an encampment for Napoleonic soldiers in the 18th century. In the 20th century, it witnessed its first serious demonstrations, including one that resulted in the Great Fire of Cairo in 1952. Most recently, the square was a flashpoint for the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Explore its statues and surrounding buildings, including the Folklore Arts House and campus of the American University in Cairo.  

EVENING
  • Mangia.

    Return to The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo for a decadent meal at Vivo. Michelin-starred Chef Oliver Glowig offers a carefully curated menu of rustic Italian cuisine in a beautifully appointed setting. Chase your meal with a cocktail at Bar’Oro before heading out for the evening. 

  • Aida, Anyone?

    Established in 1988, the new Cairo Opera House is a destination for ballet, opera and symphonies. It replaces the Khedivial Opera House, which was the host for the very first performance of Verdi’s “Aida” in 1871. Sadly, the opera house burned to the ground a century later. Today, the new venue also hosts poetry readings and small concerts, in addition to its spate of theatrical offerings. 

Day

2

MORNING
  • Early Riser.

    Wake early to journey to Saqqara, a vast and ancient burial ground. This historic site contains multiple pyramids, among them the stepped Pyramid of Djoser. It’s believed to be the oldest complete stone building complex in the world. Sixteen additional Egyptian kings built pyramids at Saqqara, an area of about 5 square miles. 

  • Dromedary Daze.

    About an hour outside of Cairo via taxi, the Birqash Camel Market provides visitors a glimpse into traditional Egyptian life. Here, herders flaunt their wares — hundreds of camels — to waiting buyers in a sort of dromedary auction. 

MIDDAY
  • Best Brunch.

    Although it touts itself as “home of the world’s best burgers,” Lucille’s is also well known for brunch. Unlimited coffee, fluffy pancakes, biscuits and gravy, and a variety of egg dishes keep visitors coming back for more, while a huge menu of American meals like burgers (of course), fajitas and cherry pie might give some people a taste of home. 

AFTERNOON
  • De-Stress.

    Travel can take a toll on your body, so return to The Nile Ritz-Carlton Spa, Cairo for an afternoon of relaxation. Schedule a session in their signature spa treatment room to completely detoxify and de-stress. This treatment includes a full-body coconut exfoliation, the application of mineral mud, a journey to the steam room and a full-body massage. It’s 90 minutes of pure, well-deserved bliss. 

EVENING
  • Toast the Weekend.

    After your spa treatment, enjoy a cocktail at Nox. This rooftop bar, named for “the goddess of the night,” slings handcrafted cocktails and light bites and overlooks the Nile. Plus, DJs and live performers provide entertainment to kick-start your evening. 

  • Seeing Stars.

    Bedouin tea. Egyptian shisha. A 40-minute camel ride into the desert. The formula for an evening of majesty and beauty. As you await a traditional meal, dancers and musicians will entertain you. And, after dinner, guides, as arranged by the concierge, will lead you to telescopes stationed in the desert, pointed toward the incredible night sky and all of the romance and wonder it inspires. What a way to end a weekend.