Cross the 26th of July bridge from Downtown and you will come to Zamalek, at the northern end of the island of Gezeira. The quiet, leafy streets and 19th-century apartment blocks and villas make this one of the most attractive areas of the city and the favourite residential location for many of Cairo’s European ex-pats. It is also the site of many of the best restaurants, bars and cafes, from open-air ahwas serving Turkish coffee to western cappuccino bars. The area is well-served culturally, with a number of art galleries and museums and two of Cairo’s major music venues: the spacious Cairo Opera House complex and the Sawy Cultural Centre. The southern part of the island is occupied by the Gezeira sporting club, which has tennis courts, swimming pools and horse riding. Membership is open to all but is, like everything else about the island, pricey. Other downsides of living in this area include the lack of a metro station and a good, cheap vegetable market (otherwise one of the highlights of the city), the high rents and the fact that you are living the ex-pat cliché. Average rent for a two-bedroom furnished apartment: 4,000 LE.
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