Zamalek Island was nothing but a shifting island of sand before the British took hold of it in the 1800s. Since then, it has grown into one of the most successful commercial and residential areas in Cairo. There are a few luxury hotels on Zamalek Island that offer some of the best traveler amenities available in Cairo.
When Zamalek was first developed, the British did not allow locals to live here. The earliest villas built here were opulent and expansive, but they now share the island with high-rise apartment and office buildings. Even after independence, this area remains popular with foreigners, and there is a thriving community of expatriates on Zamalek Island.
This is the best place to find European-style restaurants and cafés, and the wait staff in Zamalek are likely to speak English. The northern half of the island is marked off in residential neighborhoods where most of the mid-range accommodation in Zamalek Island is found. The south area is dominated by a trio of sporting clubs, headlined by the Gezira Sporting Club. The southern area also boasts luxurious resorts and five-star hotels.
There are three bridges connecting Zamalek Island to districts on either side of the Nile, and The 6th of October Bridge is the busiest. From the bridge, look south to see Cairo Tower, where tourists can take an elevator to the observation deck. Go just before sunset on a clear day for spectacular views of the city and distant pyramids. After this, the exciting night scene picks up, as European-style discos and bars open their doors across Zamalek Island.