Khan El Khalili is the great bazaar of the city of Cairo, a former trading area that grew over the years and is home to all kinds of stores, from industrial souvenirs to workshops manufacturing unique pieces. An essential place to visit to experience the most authentic atmosphere of life in the capital.


Its origins can be traced back to 1382, when Emir Dyaharks El Khalili ordered the construction of a large caravanserai, also called khan. This was the name given to the inns where the merchants stopped and which had rooms for the rest of the animals and to leave the cargoes. It was also a space where the merchants, who were there just passing through, just as a break to move to the surroundings, also took advantage of it to trade among themselves.

Gradually grew around this place a bazaar that became the great bazaar of Khan el-Khalili, with all the charm of the Cairo atmosphere and small streets in which you can get lost and live an unforgettable experience. Above all, because its location is in the heart of the Islamic center, a completely walled neighborhood where you can breathe medieval air with the imposing Mamluk architecture.

In the great bazaar you can find all kinds of objects to take as souvenirs of your trip to Egypt. You have at your disposal more than 900 positions to choose what you want.

Sites of interest

  • Fishawi Coffee. Open all day long and with more than 200 years of history, this is a must-see place to sit down for a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy its mirrored decor.
  • Midaq Alley. It is the site where the novel “The Alley of Miracles” by Naguib Mahfuz, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988, is set. To get there, take Al-Muizz Street, follow Sanadiqiyah and in the first passage you find on your left you will be in Midaq. The movie based on the book was also filmed there.
  • The Najaseen. This is where all the artisans who work with copper and who make unique pieces of surprising quality are grouped together.

What to buy in Khan El Khalili

  • Papyrus. The typical scrolls that you can buy loose and blank or you can also ask for a message to be written in Arabic and handwritten.
  • Beetles. The traditional amulet of the ancient Egyptians, which you can find handmade or mass-produced and is one of the traditional souvenirs of the country.
  • Chilabas. Typical Egyptian clothing, ideal for wearing in the spring and summer months. You can get them in many models and colors.
  • Perfumes and essences. There is a millenary tradition in Egypt of making essences and perfumes, therefore, a bottle is a good gift for someone you love very much or to give to yourself.
  • Alabaster objects. All kinds of ornaments, objects and statuettes you can find in alabaster worked in three ways: machine polished or smooth, hand polished, and unpolished, which is the most expensive and the best.
  • Leather objects. Handbags, purses, shoes, sandals and all kinds of leather goods handcrafted by fine artisans.

Bargaining tips

  • It is cultural. The first thing you must accept is that bargaining is a fundamental part of the Egyptian commercial culture and essential for shopping in bazaars and markets. And although it may seem strange to Western culture, if you want an authentic experience on your trip to Egypt, bargaining is one of the most important. And Khan El Khalili gives you the opportunity to do so.
  • It is necessary. Prices are often inflated because everyone who buys at a flea market or bazaar is expected to bargain. Therefore, you have no choice but to haggle if you don’t want to lose money.
  • How do you know if you got a fair price? The parameter is to walk away with half or two thirds of the price initially offered. If you get there, consider yourself happy.
  • Accept tea. Traders often offer tea to prospective customers, it is very common and Egyptians spend the whole day drinking tea. Therefore, if you are offered a tea in a shop, accept it because it does not oblige you to buy. It will even make bargaining more pleasant and cordial.
  • How to start bargaining? The first thing you should always offer is half the published price. From there you negotiate. Remember: if you get half price, it’s a great achievement. But if you get two-thirds of the price, you haven’t done too badly either.
  • Enjoy it. Always maintain good manners and a good sense of humor. Remember that bargaining is a negotiation and not a war, it is part of the Egyptian culture and will be part of your trip, so enjoy it.
  • What if you don’t want to haggle? Absolutely nothing. There are more and more stores that do not bargain, thinking of catering to this type of tourist who feels uncomfortable doing so. The best known store is Jordi’s, and you’ll realize right away which one it is because you’ll see tourists around the market carrying bags from this store and you can ask them for directions. But don’t ask the shopkeepers, because they don’t like Jordi breaking with an ancestral cultural norm, so they won’t tell you where it is.

How to get to Khan El Khalili

The easiest and most comfortable way to go to the Grand Bazaar of Khan El Khalili is by metro. The nearest stop is Bab El-Shaaria on the green line.

Khan El Khalili opening hours

The big bazaar is open 24 hours a day and most of the stores are open 24 hours a day, but some may close at night, depending on the shop.

Photos of Khan El Khalili

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