If you’re interested in ceramics and local handicrafts, then Foustat is the place to visit. The Foustat Traditional Crafts Center is very close to Coptic Cairo. It is in two parts and both are open to visitors from late morning until at least 4 (posted hours and actual hours are different, but showing up at 11 would be safe).
We started in the ceramic side where we saw people working on all the steps of the pottery. We had a tour that showed the steps. They had bags of clay dust from Aswan, which our tour guide said is the best powdered clay. They mix it with water to make the clay. We got to see a man making little cups on a potters wheel and another making tiles with a mold. Then they showed us where they fire the clay and where they paint it.
My favorite part was watching several people painting the final designs on the plates. Some were drawing with pencil and some were then painting over the pencil. Very detailed, meticulous work.
There was a shop where I got a cool vase for very very cheap.
Then we headed across the parking lot to the other building that did additional handicrafts. You could go into the different rooms and watch the workers. We didn’t have a tour on that side and most of the workers did not speak English, but it was fascinating watching them work.
Next we drove a short distance to the Souq el Fustat, directly across from the entrance to Coptic Cairo and next door to the site of the first mosque in Africa. The Souq has many shops inside a small mall type area. There are textiles, lotions, books, metal products, souvenirs, etc. There is also a restaurant.
Practical Information for Handicraft Center
Location–Foustat, very near Coptic Cairo. Pin Drop: https://goo.gl/maps/AjzxHuXQVxn. When you turn onto the road, the ceramics is on the right and the other handicrafts on the left.
Parking-yes, large lot at the craft center.
Cost-no, but there is a ceramics gift shop, bring plenty of small change
Food/Drink–don’t eat or drink inside as a courtesy to the workers, but you can outside
Bathrooms–Yes, inside the ceramics building
Stroller Friendly-Mostly. You might have to take it up some stairs, but there are ramps and paved areas mostly
Information for the Souq el Fustat
Location-Across the street from the entrance to Coptic Cairo and right next door to the location of the first mosque in Africa. https://goo.gl/maps/JL7K85A9Wtp
Parking-Street parking on a fairly busy street
Cost-none, but plan on shopping!
Food/Drink-there is a restaurant inside called Cafe al Khan where you can get a drink or food
Bathrooms-Yes, both inside the restaurant and inside the shopping center
Stroller Friendly-Yes, it’s a small inside shopping area with little shops