Visiting Cairo in the summertime can be a challenge. Temperatures are sky high, and the sun beats down relentlessly from 5 am to 8 pm. It’s no accident that great masses of locals flee for coastal resorts or opt for Nile cruise holidays in the summer. A certain kind of canny traveller will find ample opportunities in the city even in the hottest months, though. Stick to a few common-sense rules and you’ll find Cairo rewarding even in the very depths of summer. Schedule your excursions as early in the day as you can, stay out of the sweltering microbuses in the afternoon, and always keep a sharp eye out for the nearest swimming pool!
Music Festival, Salah El Din Citadel (August)
Visitors and locals who can stand the heat find a happy reward waiting for them when the Salah El Din Citadel presents its summer music festival. Islamic Cairo’s most celebrated summer event, the festival attracts tremendous numbers of native Cairenes and overseas visitors. Recent years have seen significant expansion and diversification of the festival. It now welcomes musicians from all over the Arab region in addition to native Egyptians. The music festival is one of the few really enjoyable outdoor events in the summer. It also helps that tickets to the festival remain notably affordable even as general costs in Egypt rise. Spending a paltry LE5 will let you enjoy gorgeous music and refreshing hilltop breezes. Festival nights start at 8 pm and go on to 10 pm or later.
Enjoy a Refreshing Evening Sisha
Summer socialising in Cairo happens on a delayed timetable. The natives know to give the sun time to set before congregating. As dusk approaches, keep an eye out for the plastic chairs that start to edge into the thoroughfares as people come out to enjoy the cooling streets. An early evening sisha is a grand local tradition and an excellent way to bid the heat of the day farewell. Pick up a lemonade and pick your flavour of choice; cooling mint is a summertime favourite. If you’d like to include a beer in your plans for an early-evening recharge, set your sights on the historic Barrel Bar at the Windsor Hotel. Still steeped in fading colonial glory, the Windsor is a particularly memorable evening watering hole.
Open-Air Performances, Cairo Opera House (July)
Egypt has a long and proud tradition of world-class artistic and musical performance. Although the famed Royal Opera House burned down in 1971, its architecturally-significant replacement is still known internationally as a worthy destination. Note that the open-air performance schedule typically takes a break in August, so a visit to the Cairo Opera House is best scheduled for a July trip. Frequent performers include the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, the Heritage Arab Music Ensemble, and a wide selection of the country’s best modern dance troupes. The Cairo Opera House’s summer programme makes an interesting blend of tradition and novelty. Pick the perfect performance from a schedule that covers everything from classical ballet to next-generation Egyptian musicians. Any evening at the Opera House is best capped with a stroll over the Qasr El Nil Bridge. The cool breezes and beautiful river views attract ample crowds of couples, families, and friends.
Take Full Advantage of Cairo’s Pools
A smart summer trip to Cairo relegates socialising to the evenings and touring to the mornings. What should you do with those boiling-hot afternoons? Survive them in style and comfort by investing in a day fare for access to one of the city’s many fine pools! Zamalek’s Gezira Club is a perfect example. Day tickets cost LE150, and the facility includes separate pools for dedicated lap swimming and more laid-back lounging. If you’d prefer the finest poolside service and a magnificent view along with your dip, try the Hilton, sited at Gezira Island’s northeast tip.