Buying Souvenirs in Egypt

Buying Souvenirs in Egypt

Egypt Souvenirs You Must Buy in The Bazaars

What to buy in Egypt?

The mere mention of traditional Egyptian souvenirs and handicrafts brings to mind the atmosphere of a bazaar: spices and perfumes, copper and brass items, silver and gold jewelry, glass, ceramics, precious stones, carpets and rugs, cotton and leather products. Places such as Khan al-Khalili in Cairo and Shari al-Souq in Aswan are a dream for tourists looking for attractive goods.

In Upper Egypt and Cairo, you can buy antiques in reputable stores, and on souk El Attarine in Alexandria - antiques from Art Nouveau to Art Deco. All antiques offered on the street are undoubtedly counterfeits, which does not mean that there are no original works of Pharaonic, Coptic or Islamic art. However, these are illegal to export abroad.
Egypt is moving with the times. The young generation of designers, using traditional Egyptian motifs and taking into account global fashion, designs stylish clothes, jewelry and furniture. You will quickly discover that shopping in Egypt is one of the best ways to discover the country.

When browsing Egyptian souvenirs, look out for hand-blown glass, mother-of-pearl, or woven tablecloths. Items made of brass, copper or alabaster are also interesting souvenir gifts from Egypt, as long as they are made in accordance with the art and original traditions.

Buying souvenirs in Egypt

Shopping in Egypt, what to buy ?

While visiting the sights around Egypt, there are many opportunities to purchase souvenirs and gifts. Before entering the monuments, there are stalls and sellers offering various ancient egypt souvenirs.

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Some sellers offer their goods next to the monuments, for example beside the pyramids of Giza, Saqqara and Dahshur. They stop tourists offering them their Egyptian pyramid souvenirs and gifts.

During our longer tours (e.g., our 10-day tour of Egypt) we recommend taking some time to explore the local markets and wait a few days before purchasing Egytpian souvenirs. We advise you to wait a few days as you will then get to know and understand the pricing, the products have no prices, this is bartered (negotiated) with the seller.

Also note that in some hotels and on the ship there will be shops available that offer more elegant products, where you can buy more luxury goods. The best shopping location is the Khan El Khalili Bazaar in Cairo, with its fascinating medieval atmosphere, you are able to buy almost anything.
Whenever you buy Egyptian souvenirs, try to choose things that are actually produced in the country. In this way we are supporting the local economy, and giving back to the country.
Below are our 'must have' top 10 souvenirs and gifts from Egypt that we feel you must take home to remind you of our beautiful country:

1. Ladies handkerchiefs and scarves, and colorful high quality scarves for men

Egypt is a Muslim country where many women cover their hair with scarves. Therefore, no one will be surprised by the huge selection of scarves in various designs and colors. At the souks, or local markets, the prices are extremely attractive. When buying a shawl in Egypt, however, it is worth paying attention to the material from which it is made. Look for Egyptian cotton that stands out for its excellent quality. The best handmade shawls can be bought in Aswan directly from the weaving workshops.

A tourist in a shop with handmade Egyptian scarves in Aswan.

2. Galabeya

Galabeya is a wide, loose gown worn by Arab women or men. The Galabeya also works well as a comfortable lounging outfit to be worn in the home with its beautiful colors and great quality Egyptian cotton. The airy material and a huge selection of colors make it an idea for an original dress. Although we do not meet people dressed like this in the capital, in smaller towns it is still a popular outfit, the appearance of which differs depending on the region.

3. Dried dates - excellent source of vitamins and minerals

Egypt is the largest date producer in the world and as much as 17% of the world's date production comes from Egypt. The countries importing the most Egyptian dates are Morocco, Indonesia and Malaysia. Dates are not only a sweet snack or addition to cakes, the fruits also have healing properties.

Ripe dates have a very high sugar content, even up to 80%. They are simple sugars that are absorbed quickly. Despite such a high content of sugars, their regular consumption (even up to 100 g per day) does not raise the blood sugar level.

Dried dates, in addition to a large dose of potassium, contain vitamins B1, B2, B3 and vitamin A, as well as iron, phosphorus and magnesium. They have a lot of fiber, which improves the functioning of the intestines while cleansing them. Dates also contain a lot of antioxidants that increase the body's resistance to various diseases.

In Arab countries, they are also considered an effective aphrodisiac. Make sure to buy dates when you are on vacation in Egypt!

4. Spices

Black knight (canna lily), cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, hibiscus, anise.
Egypt's capital, Cairo, has been one of the Middle East's largest spice trading centers for centuries, and exploring this aspect is a highlight of any Cairo city tour. There are numerous bazaars with colorful stalls filled with bags of spices, which you can experience firsthand during a Cairo city tour, immersing yourself in the vibrant and aromatic world of Cairo's spice markets.The prices of spices in Egypt are much cheaper than in the US or Europe, so it is worth buying the most expensive ones while you're here. Saffron, which costs a fortune in the US and Europe, is certainly one of them that is less expensive here. When in Egypt, be sure to go to the local market, known as the souk and buy a supply of spices! They are nothing like the ones we know from supermarkets.

Get ready to buy larger quantities at great prices as well as learning about original blends. First of all, we recommend a mixture of spices called zaatar, with which you will prepare herbal mini-pizzas, sumac, whose sour aftertaste will be brilliant as an addition to salads, cumin, which is an indispensable element of Arabic recipes, and hibiscus for the traditional drink Karkade.

Traditional Egyptian spices at the Aswan souk.

5. Papyrus

Papyrus is the world's earliest example of paper, made from reeds in the river Nile. Pieces of "papyrus" with painted scenes from the life of the pharaohs are often made from banana leaves. Real papyrus is resistant to bending and the production of the authentic papyrus can be seen at the Papyrus Institute of Aswan, Cairo and Luxor. You can buy there a range of souvenirs made of papyrus, from small postcards to beautiful works of art.

6. Alabaster

Alabaster "factories" are present all around Luxor, where the pink, orange, and purple-hued desert stone is carved into small decorative sculptures and vases. Alabaster is used to make statuettes and copies of antiques such as scarabs. The best places to buy alabaster are in the shops in Luxor and in the settlement of Gurna in the Theban necropolis. Products made of alabaster are the best Luxor souvenirs.

7. Carpets, rugs and tapestries

Egypt is famous for its handmade rugs. In Saqqara or Aswan, it is worth trying to look for a small rug or other weaving product with a wonderful African or oriental color. The carpets are most often made of camel wool. Camel wool is coated with lanolin (natural animal fat deposited on wool), which makes it allergy-friendly (does not attract dust and allergens) and does not quickly absorb dirt. Moreover, the strength of the camel wool fibers is 70% higher than that of Merino sheep.

Handcrafted carpet production in Egypt.

8. Stylish chandeliers and lamps made of brass or metal

Do you want to have a real substitute for Egypt at home? Be sure to get a decorative lamp. Traditionally used during Ramadan, they give a beautiful light effect and bring a wonderfully cozy atmosphere to your home. Egyptian handmade lights are unique in every way and will add a distinctive sense of character and personality to every interior.
Why not purchase an original souvenir from Egypt!

9. Gold jewelry

Egypt has always been famous for gold since ancient times. The skin of the ancient gods was said to have been made of gold. Today, Egyptians continue to prize gold, as you can see, with the number of jewelers in each city. As you wander about the tourist markets you will come across many stores full of golden trinkets. Don't forget to treat yourself whilst you're there!

Walking through the streets of Egypt, you will quickly get the impression that everywhere is full of gold. Part of this is due to mentality - Egyptians consider gold investment the best form of capital investment, and Egyptian women, the most beautiful jewelry. Tourists are eagerly interested in Egyptian jewelry, because gold in this country is relatively cheap.

Gold jewelry that we will see in Egypt will be partially adapted to the tastes of European women - here we most often encounter 18-carat gold. However, there are also many shops in Egypt, which have goods that are similar to the Egyptians themselves. Here, gold has to be 21 carats, and the design will rarely be accepted by tourists. The prices of jewelry depend on the weight of the metal used in production and the cost of the labor. The price of the pure gold bar is officially published in the daily Egyptian Gazette.

In addition to gold, tourists eagerly buy silver pendants in the form of cartouches, on which their name is engraved upon request - the name is written in ancient hieroglyphs.

10. Kohl 

Kohl is a black powder stored in a tiny wooden, plastic or iron bottle. It functions as a black eye crayon and can also be used as a pencil for eyebrows. An additional advantage of the original kohl is that it closes the blood vessels of the eye, making the eyes appear whiter.

Get all the gifts & Egypt souvenirs you need from a local bazaar, but don't forget to barter!

Inside Egypt’s travel agents in Egypt know what else you should add to this list and will endeavor to help you in your search for the best souvenirs to get from Egypt.

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