Although the bazaars deal in more exotic goods, Cairo’s markets provide an arresting spectacle, free of the touristy slickness that prevails around Khan al-Khalili. Street markets in central Cairo can be found at Bab al-Luq (on the south side of Midan Falaki; mostly food), Sharia Tawfiqia (off Midan Orabi; fruit, veg and car spares), at the eastern end of Sheikh Rihan (by Sharia Bur Said; food) and the northern end of Sharia Qalaa (phones, electronics, some food) – all do business through the night, accompanied by local coffee houses. With the kilo price displayed on most food stalls, you shouldn’t have to bargain unless they try to overcharge. Elsewhere haggling is de rigueur. Canary and budgerigar fanciers may also want to check out Cairo’s bird markets (10am–2.30pm), which are named after the days on which they’re held, including Souk al-Ahad (Sun; Giza Station) and Souk Itnayn w Khamis (Mon & Thurs), in the Abu Rish area of Saiyida Zeinab (see map). Souk al-Gom’a also has a bird market in its animal section.
Imam al-Shafi’i Market On and around Sharia Imam al-Shafi’i, Southern Cemetery, Islamic Cairo. Clothes are the mainstay of this street market, which straggles for 1km along the road leading from Al-Basatin to the Imam’s mausoleum in the Southern Cemetery area. Market day is Fri, and Fri mornings are by far the busiest time.
Paper Market Sharia al-Geish near Midan Ataba. This daily market sells not only all types of paper but also dyed leather, card and other stationery and art materials.
Souk al-Gom’a Southern Cemetery area, south of Islamic Cairo. Once a huge, sprawling flea-market, this market was largely curtailed by the Mubarak regime. What remains is the pet and livestock market by the Salah Salem overpass, south of the Citadel (see map), which to a certain extent merges into the Imam al-Shafi’i Market, while half a kilometre to the southeast, junk and furnituire stalls have started to return to the far end of the old Souk al-Gom’a area, although it remains a far smaller affair than before.
Wikalat al-Balah (Souk Bulaq) On and around Sharia Bulaq al-Gadida, Bulaq, behind the Corniche about 200m north of 26th July Street. For secondhand clothes as well as fabrics (from hand-loomed silk to cheap offcuts), tools and much else, you can’t beat Bulaq’s bustling daily street market.