A market view with stalls displaying many products for people to purchase. A market view with stalls displaying many products for people to purchase.

What to Buy in Egypt? Top 13 Recommendations

Egypt, in the northeastern part of Africa, has a lot more than pyramids, mummies, art galleries, antique pieces of jewelry, belly dancing costumes, and mesmerizing fragrances. When in Egypt, you can explore the beautiful flea markets and traditional souvenirs.

Egypt is divided into two parts. The first, situated in the South is known as Upper Egypt and the other in the North, is known as Lower Egypt. You can find most of the reputable stores in the lower part of Egpyt.

And if you’re heading down to the country, here are a few things you could get for yourself and your loved ones.

1. What to Buy in Egypt?

When making your way down the Egyptian bazaar you are bound to get confused regarding what to buy in Egypt and what to leave behind. Here’s a list of the best Egypt souvenirs and items you shouldn’t miss.

1.1. Papyrus

Papyrus represents the rich ancient civilization of Egypt. People in ancient Egypt would write and paint on papyrus scrolls.

Papyrus is very similar to paper except for the fact that it is derived from the pith of the papyrus plant. Furthermore, papyrus is completely handmade. If you are an art lover, you should think of investing in art made from papyrus paper.

Genuine papyrus can be fetched from the markets of Aswan, Cairo, and Luxor, which can be a bit pricey. These papyrus scrolls are some of the best Egyptian souvenirs that are well worth the cost.

In case you’re on a tight budget, there are also small postcards and other Egyptian souvenirs or mementos made from Papyrus, which will cost you only a few Egyptian pounds.

A paper or cloth with Egyptian drawings. What to Buy in Egypt?
Photo by 2H Media on Unsplash/ copyright 2022

Where to buy from: “Sondos Papyrus” is a well-known store dealing in papyrus paper. It has stores in 4 different locations that are; Giza, Luxor, Alexandrina, and Aswan.

In Sondos Papyrus you can find original papyrus but don’t forget to negotiate!

1.2. Miniature Pyramid

Every country is known for something and Egypt is well known for its pyramids. What better way to take a memory back home than a miniature version of a pyramid?

You can find a variety of miniature replicas. Further, these mini pyramids are made out of different materials like metal, stones, glass, marble, and so on. Additionally, these are not very expensive! You can find one that fits your bill easily in the flea markets.

It can either serve as a beautiful showpiece in your house or it could be used for gifting your loved ones.

Where to buy from: You can find mini pyramids along with other souvenirs in almost every flea market, bazaar, or supermarket.

To name a few, Khan El Khalil Market, Aswan Market, Siwa Open Market, Naama Bay, and Sharm El Sheikh are the best places to shop for sovereigns.

1.3. Egyptian Clothing

Traditional Egyptian clothing is incredibly beautiful and elegant. It cuts to be at the top of your list. It’s unique and distinct. Here is a list of clothing that you must indulge in:

1.3.1. Abayas, Burkhas, and Jalabeyas

The majority of the population in Egypt consists of Muslims; making it a Muslim country and hence there exists a variety of Abayas, Burkhas, and Jalabeyas. These constitute traditional outfits of Egypt.

These are very comfortable and also modest. Prices vary accordingly, you can expect to see very expensive Abayas as well as moderately priced Jalabeyas.

1.3.2. Scarfs and Shawal

When visiting Egypt, you will find a wide variety of scarves and shawls. They not only come in a variety vibrant colors of but are also available in different materials as well. The traditional outfits of men are paired with scarves, so you can choose from scarves for men as well.

The price range depends on where you purchase it from. You can either opt to shop in a flea market, which has various options to select from at a reasonable price, or you could go to a reputed shop wherein you will get better quality in turn for a higher price.

1.3.3. Belly Dancing Costume

Belly dancing was introduced by Arabs around the 19th century. Following this, it became very popular, and to date, it continues to be very famous because of its moves and dress. The belly dancing dress is glittery, embedded with stones and coins, the belt is decorated with beads and other decorative items.

It is a very extravagant piece of clothing and if you enjoy this form of dance and have got the moves for it you must buy this! Price ranges differ so anyone willing to purchase an ensemble can do so.

1.3.4. Cotton Clothes

Cotton produced in Egypt is the finest in the world. Egyptian cotton is also referred to as the king of cotton. Additionally, the quality is such that the clothing made of Egyptian cotton is very resistant to outer stress.

Authentic Egyptian cotton can be a bit expensive because of its durability, but it’s worth the purchase.

Where to buy the best Egyptian Clothing and Footwear: Suuq el Ataba located in Cairo is an ideal place for shopping. You will also get ample options for footwear. This place is quite popular amongst the tourists as well as the locals.

In addition, Wekalet El-Balah is also a great flea market wherein you can find cheap clothing items.

1.4. Leather Products

Egyptians have been producing products made out of leather for ages for self-consumption as well as export. Hence, tourists are attracted to leather footwear that is displayed in the bazaars.

These footwear are not only attractive but also last long and will go with almost every outfit you wear. You might even find ancient paintings of Egypt on these footwares. Most of this footwear is handmade.

There are other handmade items made out of leather products like bags and belts which can be found in reputable stores for a few American dollars.

Display of many hats and handbags in street market shops.
Photo by LEONARDO DOURADO on Pexels/ copyright 2022

Where to buy from: Sami Amin Store located in Cairo is a perfect destination if you are in search of authentic and handmade leather bags and other leather products.

1.5. Perfumes/ Fragrances

Perfumes and fragrance oils have a deep-rooted history dating back to the ancient civilization of Egypt. Fragrances are part of ancient culture. They have been used in religious places in the form of oud and personal hygiene products in the form of scented oils.

You can find ample small street shops selling perfume bottles, essential oils, incense sticks, oud, and other similar products. Lotus and Jasmine constitute a major part of Egyptian fragrance. If you have a healthy budget you can surely buy luxurious scented oils from branded stores and the scent is worth investing in.

Where to buy from: Some of the most popular stores are located in Cairo. You can try visiting the Perfume Store, Warda Perfumes, and Doksh Shop Original Perfumes.

1.6. Hookah Pots/ Shisha

Hookah Pots or Shisha can be seen very frequently in cafes and restaurants. Egyptians are very fond of tea and shisha. You can buy a pot for either yourself or your friends at a fair price. Multiple stores sell the same.

It comes in different sizes and colours which make them look attractive. Even if you don’t smoke hookah you can still purchase it as it will make for a perfect showpiece. The only thing to bear in mind is you will have to carry it very carefully as it’s made of glass and might break during travel. So make sure to wrap it properly.

Also, make sure that you purchase all the other accessories attached to the shisha. For instance the cleaning kit, pipes, filter, bowl, and so on.

Hookah pots are displayed in a shop for customers to buy.
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels/ copyright 2021

Where to buy from: The Old Market of Sharm El Sheikh and El Ekhlas Bazar have some great options for Shisha and its accessories.

1.7. Metal Products

Egyptians termed iron the “metal of heaven” and primarily used it to crave tools and weapons.

They make utensils out of metal as well as ornaments, lamps, and chandeliers. Egyptians use metals like copper, brass, gold, and silver in almost all the products they manufacture.

In Egypt, there is a tradition wherein the bride is required to take a few copper and brass utensils from her old home to a new one. You can think of investing in some of these authentic metal products or they can also serve as gifts.

Where to buy from: Souq El-Gomaa (Friday’s Market) and El-Azbakeya Wall are a few of the flea markets where you can purchase great metallic antique products at reasonable prices. Also, Souk El Attarine in Upper Egypt has some reputed stores that sell attractive antique products.

Many stalls with metal utensils in the market.
Photo by Naim Benjelloun on Pexels/ copyright 2019

1.8. Kohl/ Surma

Kohl holds major cultural significance in Egypt. Egyptians believe that it improves eyesight and gives a cooling effect to the eyes.

Kohl not only serves the purpose of enhancing beauty but also the Egyptian belief that it wards off evil spirits.

Surma is similar to Kohl but when applied leaves a burning sensation in the eyes which lasts for a few seconds as it clears out the dirt from the eyes. You will find many kohls in the markets. Additionally, it won’t hurt your pocket as it comes at a reasonable price.

Where to buy from: Nefertari is a local brand with stores in several locations, including Cario, Nasr City, and City Center Almaza (for a complete list, visit their website). It has some best Natural Kohl in store for you. 

1.9. Carpets and Rugs

Egypt is at the top when referring to the carpet industry. It is one of the many countries that manufacture handmade carpets and rugs.

They have carpets in various fabrics like cotton and wool. Egypt specializes in carpets and rugs made of camel wool. They also make these carpets with environmentally friendly materials. You can find multiple options of rugs to choose from.

Kilims are also one of the most purchased products in Egypt. Kilims are flat tapestry-woven carpets that can be used as door mats, wall hangings, and rugs.

These kilims, carpets, and rugs are not only attractive but also durable and will last a while. This is one of the best buys you can purchase not only for yourself but for your dear ones as well.

A close-up of carpets and rugs.
Photo by Gül Işık on Pexels/ copyright 2021

Where to buy from: El Kahhal in Heliopolis, Egyptian Handmade Kilim in Nasr City, and Carpetopia- Persian Carpet in New Cairo are amongst well-known places to shop for when it comes to high-quality rugs and carpets.

1.10. Handcrafted Jewelry

You can find contemporary and ancient Egyptian jewelry made out of gold and silver in Egypt. Moreover, these handcrafted pieces were worn in ancient times by kings as well. You can surely invest in some cartouche pendants that are carved out of gold and silver and are believed to bring good fortune to whoever owns one of these.

Their traditional jewelry is made out of other metals like brass and copper. You’ll be amazed by the beautiful designs of necklaces, pendants, rings, and other pieces of jewelry. Additionally, gold in Egypt is comparatively cheaper and many people visit Egypt for this reason.

Where to buy from: Bait El Ainy in Luxor market is a well-renowned place if you are looking for some high-quality jewelry.

1.11. Eatables

Egyptians have some of the most mouth-watering dishes of Middle Eastern cuisine in store for you. Their traditional food items include Ful & Ta’mey, Mulukhiya, and Koshary which are all must-tries when in Egypt. Below mentioned eatables can be taken to your hometown:

1.11.1. Dessert

Basbosa which is a type of semolina cake is an ancient Egyptian dessert that is a must-try. Additionally, desserts like Umi Ali, Qatayef, Baklava, Kunafa, Fatir, and Khak are also popular amongst not only locals but also travelers. These can be travelled with and they will surely make a sweet gift for your near and dear.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pixabay/ Copyright 2022

1.11.2. Spices

Egyptian spices are deeply embedded in the ancient Egyptian civilization. The primary spice trading hub in the Middle East has been in Cairo for centuries. You can easily find these spices well packaged in the bazaars and markets at a reasonable price.

Some of the authentic spices are turmeric, saffron, sesame, coriander, cumin, dried hibiscus flowers, and cardamom. This is something you should purchase to try to recreate Egyptian dishes in the comfort of your own home.

Where to buy: Luxor market has many shops and street vendors selling fresh spices at a reasonable price.

A shop of traditional spices displayed with a heap of different spices.
Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels/ copyright 2020

1.11.3. Dates

One of the countries that produces the maximum number of dates worldwide is Egypt. Additionally, you can find different types and sizes of dates here. It not only tastes good but is also a powerhouse of nutrients. You can also find stuffed dates which are filled with dry fruits like almonds and walnuts.

1.12. Scarab Beetle Amulets

Scarab beetle amulets are categorized as ancient Egypt souvenirs. These scarabs were a symbol of rebirth. Many Egyptians wear scarab beetles as amulets to attract good luck.

You will find these amulets in different materials, shapes, sizes, and colors. Along with this, you can also find beetle bracelets, necklaces, and other forms of jewelry which would be great options for gifting.

Photo by Sara K. Graves on Pixabay/ Copyright 2017

Where to buy from: Again these amulets are very common and be found at any flea market.

1.13. Egyptian Cat Statue

Some Egyptian cat statues are associated with Bastet, the goddess of the sun’s warmth and life-giving power. Furthermore, Egyptians worshipped the goddess Bastet who would manifest as a person with a Feline head or as a cat. Also, ancient Egyptians believed that cats represented qualities like divinity, wealth, health, protection, good fortune and so on.

These cat statutes can also be seen at many ancient Egyptian temples as they depict Egyptian gods.

They are found in every other house as they serve as wonderful showpieces with spiritual significance.

The material used to build the statue determines the price of it. You can find miniature versions of it in flea markets as well.

2. Famous Places for Shopping in Egypt

There are many Egyptian markets wherein you can engage in shopping but Cairo, the capital of Egypt tops the list. Also, this place has it all right from copperware and brassware to various types of scents.

Furthermore, Khan el-Khalili is one of the most renowned and frequently visited markets situated in Cairo. If in Egypt, one must visit this place, you are surely to get value for your money here.

Other flea markets or bazaars that you can find in Egypt are Aswan Market, Old Market, Luxor Market, Lotus Bazar, and so on. Furthermore, if you are in search of authentic Egyptian souvenirs you can visit the Egyptian Museum.

These flea markets are great places to visit with your family. The whole atmosphere is lively and vibrant and along with shopping, you can also enjoy authentic Egyptian delicacies.

First Impressions Of EGYPT: Cairo Markets & Old City

  • Egypt Craft Center
  • Souk Al Fustat
  • Souk-Al-Gamaal
  • Old Market
  • Sharia Khayamiya
  • Suuq El Ataba
  • Han El Halili
  • Sharia El Souk
  • Tent Market
  • Cairo Festival City Mall
  • Khan Msr Toulon
  • Nomad
  • Siwa Souk

3. Local Brands

Below listed are a few local brands that you must try when in Egypt.

3.1. Clothing

Tala, Myne, Mamzi, The Sahara Collections, and FUFA are some of the local clothing brands that will provide you with enormous options, and styles to choose from.

3.2. Fragrance

If you are looking for authentic Egyptian fragrances in the form of soaps or oils you must try Royal Perfumes and oils.

3.3. Jewelry

Alhedia Jewelry, El Kahky Jewelry, Ammanii Jewelry, Azza Fahmy Jewelry, and Beit Ghaly are well-renowned local and international Egyptian jewellery brands you must visit.

3.4. Eatables

Groppi, Simonds, Trianon, Tseppas, El Malky, Delices, Mandarine Koueider, and Fluckiger are some of the top dessert shops and cafes that are over 5 decades old and quite famous. Hence, you must visit one of these to taste the authentic Egyptian sweets.

3.5. Makeup

Caroline Beauty, Base Beauty, Noon, Essentials, and Beauty by Heidy are among the top beauty brands dealing in all-natural beauty products. These local brands shouldn’t be left unexplored as they have a wide range of skincare essentials.

4. Tips to Remember

Video Travel Tip: Bargaining in an Egyptian Market

4.1. Bargaining

Always remember the seller in these flea markets sells according to the customer and not the product. Different customers are offered different prices depending on customers budgets.

Locals are offered products at cheaper rates whereas tourists are charged 10 times more. So also always remember to bargain. If you feel the seller is reluctant to move to another shop because multiple stores deal in identical products.

4.2. Carry Proper Packaging Material

If you are planning to get products made up of glass, ceramics, or other sensitive material then you must carry proper packaging material to avoid breakage.

4.3. Bring your Container

If you are planning to carry desserts to your home town remember to bring Tupperware or any hard-based containers so that the dessert can be carried safely. Though the desserts are already packed they are not done in a travel-friendly manner. Especially at airports where luggage is thrown randomly.

4.4. Stay Away from Scammers

It’s a generic problem with tourists all over. There will be times when a salesperson is trying hard to sell you something, you must tackle it with smartness and leave the shop to avoid getting scammed.

Common scams we fell for traveling in Egypt #egypt #travelscam #cairo

Bottom Line

Going for a tour or vacation to a new destination is always exciting as you get to know about the culture and ancient civilization of that place but what’s even more exciting is the shopping. Hope this article throws some light as to what to buy in Egypt.

Egypt is surely to surprise you with ample souvenirs, items for gifting, and products in general for self-consumption.

Last Updated on by Sanjana

Author

  • nazish

    Nazish is a member of ICSI (Institute of Company Secretaries of India) and also double graduate in Commerce and Law. Currently a full time mother and a homemaker trying to mark a difference through the power of pen. She is a voracious reader and has passion for writing. She has positive outlook towards life. She enjoys travelling and discovering new places.

  1. You transported me on an incredible virtual trip to Egypt. I adore this country and its rich cultural past.
    Egyptian perfumes and scent oils are so tempting, but I am practically susceptible to all of your recommendations. Everything you gave was so enticing and excellent that I was literally immersed in your stuff for a while. Your video collection is fantastic. Keep up the good work.

  2. These souvenirs seem so cool and interesting. If I or someone I know ever go to Egypt I’ll definitely try and get at least some of these items.

  3. Egypt is the place of the pyramids. This article gives delightful glimpses into Egypt’s diverse shopping scene beyond the iconic pyramids and mummies. Divided into Upper and Lower Egypt, it guides the best buys of souvenirs, from ancient art on papyrus to miniature pyramids and traditional clothing. I love the specific recommendations of local brands and where to find them, along with pricing tips. It also highlights traditional treasures with practical advice for future travelers. In a nutshell, this article is an excellent guide for exploring Egypt’s markets and culture.

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