Cairo nightlife swirls around the aromatic social centre of the city, the coffee shop. The ahwas, as they are called, are day and night social gathering spots for locals. Many Muslims don't drink alcohol (although some do) and the ahwas serve the same social purpose as the bars and pubs in many other countries; they are great places to mingle or relax and take a break from frenetic Cairo. In the night hours some cafés also sell alcohol to a select local crowd and foreign visitors are usually welcome.

Most large hotels house a pub, bar or large club. These are very popular spots with locals as well as visitors, and bookings for club tables may need to be made in advance. Clubs usually have relaxing lounge or restaurant atmospheres, often centred around a performance of music or dancing. While this can be great entertainment, some belly dancing shows and clubs in Cairo are fronts for prostitution and travellers should be wary. Large hotels have reputable shows as well as popular western-style discos, usually with an Egyptian-themed twist.

Westerners are generally welcomed everywhere, although women should dress a bit more conservatively than they might at home. During Ramadan, alcohol is only served in 'foreigners only' establishments and drinking and eating in public during the day is frowned upon.


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