Shopping in Egypt

Shopping in Egypt

While you can pretty much find anything you could possibly want to buy in Egypt, the markets have all manner of typical products that make great souvenirs, from djellabas to jewellery, and perfumes to papyrus.

Where to shop?

Souks - traditional Middle Eastern markets - are without a doubt the best place to go for an authentic shopping experience, more than just to buy things but also to immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of daily life in Egypt. Khan el-Khalili in Cairo is the most famous historic souk in the country, and well worth a trip if you're in the capital. 

Markets are traditionally split into different sectors according to the products on sale, although these days vendors are usually all mixed together. From mouth-watering spice stalls to glimmering gold-filled shopfronts, you'll generally find what you're looking for here.

Increasingly, non-market shops have been found to stock similar - if not better - products than the souks, so if there's something you've got your eye on, it may be worth looking around before deciding to part with your pounds.

Top tip!

Haggling is normal and expect in Egypt. If the idea of it seems daunting, check out our tips in our general information guide on travelling to Egypt before you go!

What to buy?

While you can find almost anything here, we find it's always nice to bring back a typical souvenir from our travels:

Papyrus

An Ancient Egyptian invention, papyrus is the perfect souvenir from your trip to this magical country - especially as it's also very easy to pop in your suitcase! You'll find it as cheap as LE 10, but do be wary that at this price you risk it being a fake made from banana leaves - the good stuff is quite heavy and sturdy, and should have visible veins running through it when held up to the light. True papyrus could cost you up to LE 100. 

Cartouches

Cartouches are pendants - usually gold - which include your name, or someone else's, in Hieroglyphs. They make a great gift, or personal souvenir, and it's often necessary to order them a day or so in advance so they can be handcrafted. The price is based on the weight of the gold, plus extra for the work, so we recommend checking the market price before buying, so you've got a rough idea.

Fabric

Beautiful hand-woven fabrics are a popular purchase. Have a feel of the material and take a close look at the weave and stitching to inspect the quality - the price will reflect how well it is made. You can buy it by the metre, to make something yourself when you get back home, or you can often commission local tailors to make you a clothing item or something for the home. 

Perfumes

Egypt has a great tradition of scent and perfume making, and you'll find many shops and stalls selling essential oils in all cities. Lotus (sawsan) and jasmine (full) are the most typical Egyptian fragrances.