In the centre of Cairo sits the Maydan al-Tahrir square, the centre of the city, where you'll find two useful landmarks and attractions in their own right; the Nile Hilton and the Egyptian Antiquities Museum. Central Cairo is home to many of the commercial properties in the city, as well as a varied selection of museums and galleries. South of the Maydan al-Tahrir you'll find Garden City and its collection of wealthy residents rubbing shoulders with embassies, consulates and the Citadel Mosque.
To the east the older section of Cairo is narrow streets, small houses and apartments together elbow-to-elbow with mosques, large and small. As a result of the mosques (many of which date back several hundred years and predate the Ottoman Empire) the east of the city is known as “Islamic Cairo” and is predominantly residential, home mainly to Egyptian families on low incomes as well as the popular Khan el-Khalili market.
The northeast is home to Heliopolis and the city's airport, military training camps, and homes for wealthy Egyptians and foreigners (many of the staff of the American University in Cairo have homes in Heliopolis). Sometimes referred to as “new Cairo”, it's also home to a collection of Coptic (Orthodox Christian) churches and is perhaps the most religiously varied region in Egypt. Its green-lined streets mark a distinct contrast to Islamic Cairo. On the western fringe of Heliopolis lies the City Stars Mall.
The west side of the Nile reflects a more modern construction and the influence of the many foreign cultures who have come here to trade and settle throughout the ages. Home to many distinct neighbourhoods including Mohandiseen and Giza, the west bank is almost European (and Parisienne in particular) in places.
The suburb of Zamalek sits alone on the island of Gazira, separated from its neighbours by water and joined by bridges. It's an exclusive area populated in the north (the Sixth of October highway roughly divides the residential area from the non-residential) by wealthy Egyptians (many with high ranks in the government and military) and foreigners, who enjoy the parks and sports clubs south of the highway and the spectacular views and easy access to both east and west Cairo.
Finding your way around Cairo is not as hard as it may seem. A lot of people think that they might get lost because of all of the crowds and traffic jams, but if you know your way around it definitely would be a lot easier to have a great tour around Cairo. Tahrir Square (Midan Tahrir) is at the center. Downtown is located Northeast of Tahrir. The main train station is at Midan Ramses. Downtown ends at Ataba Square (Midan Ataba) and heading east there is known as Islamic Cairo.
Al-Gezira neighbourhood is connected to Downtown by three bridges. The famous Cairo Tower and the Opera House are located in Al-Gezira. The bank of the Nile River became more of a residential place than it is historical. The main districts in Cairo are: Mohandseen, Agouza, Dokki and Giza. Giza district is the biggest of all of them and covers a large area stretching up to the straight road that ends at the pyramids.
It's better to consider the time of your visit to Cairo. For example, in Ramadan (the month of fasting in Eslam), most of the businesses work part time and all the sites close early and even the restuarants open only after the sunset. And of course, alcohol is only served in hotels.
Also, you should consider the weather since it gets very hot and humid in the summer. Between the months of November and March, the weather is very nice; Sunny and warm in the morning, and cool in the nights.
Cairo has many accomodation options since it is a very large city. One of the options is to stay in a hotel near the Pyramids. Or you could stay near the airport, but it's far from most of the sites. There are hotels in Downtown and you could stay in Zamalek where it is quiet.
travellers on a budget can find cheaper hotels in central Cairo, near Midan Tahrir.