tourist places in islamabad

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tourist places in islamabad

Best Diplomats

20 beautiful places in islamabad that attract visitors.

  • Post author: Oleksandra Mamchii
  • Post published: November 22, 2023
  • Post category: Blog
  • Post comments: 0 Comments

In Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, you’ll find not only stunning beauty and a peaceful environment but also a high quality of life. It has earned the title of the world’s second most beautiful capital due to its picturesque landscapes. The city offers a mix of iconic landmarks, contemporary dining options, lush green parks, and a variety of recreational activities. With so much to explore, boredom is practically non-existent for anyone visiting Islamabad.

List of 20 Beautiful Places in Islamabad

Here is the list of the 20 most beautiful places in Islamabad

  • Faisal Mosque
  • Daman-e-Koh
  • Pakistan Monument
  • Lok Virsa Museum
  • Shakarparian Park
  • Rose & Jasmine Garden
  • Saidpur Village
  • Margalla Hills National Park
  • Rawalpindi Arts Council
  • Centaurus Mall
  • Trail 3, Margalla Hills
  • Islamabad Zoo
  • Japanese Park
  • Pakistan Museum of Natural History
  • Fatima Jinnah Park
  • Peer Sohawa
  • Pakistan Sports Complex
  • Golra Sharif Museum
  •  Monal Restaurant 

1. Faisal Mosque

The Faisal Mosque stands out as one of Islamabad’s most renowned landmarks. Holding the title of the largest mosque in Pakistan and the grandest in South Asia, it offers a breathtaking view of the Margalla Hills in the distance. Situated in the capital city of Pakistan, the mosque spans an impressive 5,000 square meters or 91,984 square feet. With a design reflecting modern Turkish architecture, the mosque features four minarets, adding to its majestic appearance.

Surrounded by lush greenery, the mosque becomes even more captivating, making it a must-visit attraction in Islamabad. Its construction is a testament to meticulous design, and people from near and far are drawn to witness the beauty of this iconic site in the heart of the city.

  • Address: Shah Faisal Ave, E-8, Islamabad
  • Timings: 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM
  • Entry Fee: Not charge an entry fee for visitors

2. Daman-e-Koh

Perched atop the Margalla Hills, Daman-e-Koh offers a mesmerizing panoramic view of Islamabad. This viewpoint serves as a perfect retreat for nature lovers and photographers alike. Visitors can reach Daman-e-Koh through a scenic drive up the hills or by hiking the picturesque trails. 

The lush green surroundings and the cool mountain air create a serene atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

  • Address: Margalla Hills National Park, Islamabad
  • Timings: 9:00 AM to 11:00 PM

3. Pakistan Monument

A symbol of national pride, the Pakistan Monument is an architectural marvel representing the four provinces of Pakistan. Located at the west viewpoint of the Shakarparian Hills, it offers a splendid view of the city. The Monument Museum, located beneath the structure, provides insight into the nation’s history and culture. The surrounding gardens and the reflecting pool enhance the overall appeal of this iconic site.

  • Address: Shakarparian, Islamabad
  • Timings: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Monday Closed
  • Entry Fee: PKR 20 for adults local and free for children

4. Rawal Lake

Rawal Lake, an artificial reservoir nestled in the lap of the Margalla Hills, is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Boating facilities are available, allowing visitors to enjoy the serene waters surrounded by hills and greenery. The lake offers a tranquil escape, making it a popular spot for picnics and leisurely strolls along the waterfront.

  • Address: Murree Road, Islamabad
  • Timings: 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM
  • Entry Fees: PKR 20 per person 

5. Lok Virsa Museum

For those interested in Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage, the Lok Virsa Museum is a treasure trove. Located near the Shakarparian Hills, this museum showcases diverse exhibits, including traditional costumes, crafts, and artifacts from different country regions. It provides an immersive experience, allowing visitors to delve into the vibrant tapestry of Pakistan’s cultural diversity.

  • Address: Garden Avenue, Shakarparian, Islamabad
  • Timings: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Mondy Closed
  • Entry Fees:  PKR 50 for local persons and for foreign visitors PKR 500, PKR 10 for Students

Also Read: Best picnic spots in Lahore

6. Shakarparian Park

Situated at the foothills of the Margalla Hills, Shakarparian Park is a lush green haven in the heart of Islamabad. The park’s well-maintained lawns and walking paths make it ideal for a leisurely stroll or family picnic. The expansive view of the city and its surroundings from the park adds to its charm.

  • Timings: Open 24 hours
  • Entry Fees: Completely Free

7. Rose & Jasmine Garden

Spread over acres of land, the Rose & Jasmine Garden is a sensory delight with its vibrant display of flowers. It’s a haven for flower enthusiasts and photographers, offering a picturesque setting for a relaxing day. The garden hosts an annual flower show, attracting visitors with its fragrant blooms and colorful landscapes.

  • Address: Bagh-e-Jinnah, Islamabad
  • Timings: 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM
  • Entry Fees: Free

8. Saidpur Village

Transport yourself back in time by visiting Saidpur Village, a historic village that has been beautifully preserved. Nestled in the Margalla Hills, the cobblestone streets and traditional architecture provide a glimpse into Islamabad’s cultural heritage. The village is home to art galleries, cafes, and craft shops, creating a unique blend of history and contemporary culture.

  • Address: Saidpur, Islamabad

9. Margalla Hills National Park

For hiking enthusiasts, the Margalla Hills National Park offers a network of trails with varying difficulty levels. The trails provide stunning views of the surrounding hills and the city below. The park is a biodiversity hotspot, home to diverse flora and fauna, making it a must-visit for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

  • Address: Trail 5, Islamabad

10. Rawalpindi Arts Council

Located near the Rawal Lake, the Rawalpindi Arts Council is a hub for the arts. It hosts exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, showcasing the talents of local and national artists. The council’s commitment to promoting the arts adds a dynamic cultural dimension to Islamabad.

  • Timings: Monday to Saturday 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Entry Fees: PKR 500 per Ticket

Also Read: Quaid-e-Azam’s Role in the Creation of Pakistan

11. Centaurus Mall

Indulge in a shopping and dining experience at the Centaurus Mall, one of Islamabad’s premier shopping destinations. Boasting a range of international and local brands, the mall also features a diverse array of restaurants and cafes. The panoramic views of the city from the mall’s upper levels add to the overall allure.

  • Address: Jinnah Avenue, Islamabad
  • Timings: 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM
  • Entry Fees: PKR 100 Per Person

12. Trail 3, Margalla Hills

For a more challenging hiking experience, Trail 3 in the Margalla Hills offers a steep and adventurous trek. The trail rewards hikers with breathtaking views of Islamabad and the surrounding hills. It’s a popular choice for fitness enthusiasts seeking an adrenaline rush amidst nature.

  • Address: Trail 3, Margalla Hills, Islamabad

13. Islamabad Zoo

The Islamabad Zoo is a family-friendly destination featuring a variety of animal species. It provides an educational experience for visitors of all ages, allowing them to learn about wildlife conservation. The well-maintained enclosures and green spaces make it an enjoyable outing for families and animal lovers.

  • Address: Pir Sohawa Road, Islamabad
  • Timings: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM

14. Japanese Park

Known for its serene ambiance, Japanese Park offers a peaceful retreat in the heart of Islamabad. The park’s design reflects Japanese landscaping principles, with cherry blossom trees and serene water features. It’s an ideal spot for those seeking tranquility and a break from the urban hustle.

  • Address: G-5, Islamabad
  • Entry Fees: PKR 30 per person

15. Pakistan Museum of Natural History

Located in the lush surroundings of Shakarparian Park, the Pakistan Museum of Natural History is a haven for science enthusiasts. The museum features exhibits on paleontology, geology, and biodiversity, providing an engaging and educational experience for visitors.

  • Timings: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Entry Fees: PKR 30 for local visitors and PKR 20 for students, PKR 100 for foreigners

16. Fatima Jinnah Park

Named after Fatima Jinnah, the sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Fatima Jinnah Park is one of the largest parks in Islamabad. With vast green spaces, jogging tracks, and play areas, it caters to both recreational and fitness enthusiasts. The park’s serene atmosphere makes it a popular destination for families and individuals alike.

  • Address: F-7, Islamabad
  • Entry Fees: 30 per person

17. Peer Sohawa

Situated atop the Margalla Hills, Peer Sohawa is a picturesque spot offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. It serves as a popular stop for visitors exploring the hills, providing a serene setting to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Islamabad.

  • Timings: 11:00 AM to 1:00 AM

18. Pakistan Sports Complex

The Pakistan Sports Complex is a hub for sports enthusiasts, featuring state-of-the-art facilities for various sports and recreational activities. The complex hosts national and international events, making it a vibrant center for sports and fitness in Islamabad.

  • Address: Kashmir Highway, Islamabad
  • Timings: 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM

19. Golra Sharif Museum

Golra Sharif Museum offers a glimpse into the rich cultural and religious history of the region. Located in the historic village of Golra, the museum showcases artifacts, manuscripts, and exhibits related to Sufism and the railway heritage of Pakistan.

  • Address: Golra Sharif, Islamabad
  • Timings: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
  • Entry Fees: PKR 10 per person

20. Monal Restaurant

Perched on the Margalla Hills, Monal Restaurant is a culinary gem that offers not just delectable cuisine but also breathtaking views of Islamabad. Located at a high vantage point, the restaurant provides a panoramic vista of the city below, making it a popular choice for both locals and tourists.

  • Address: 9KM Pir Sohawa Road, Islamabad
  • Timings: 9:00 AM to 12:30 AM

Also Read: What Can Be Done to Calm the India-Pakistan Crisis?

Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, emerges as a city of captivating beauty and diverse experiences. From the majestic Faisal Mosque, an architectural marvel, to the serene landscapes of Daman-e-Koh and the cultural richness embodied by places like Saidpur Village, Islamabad offers a harmonious blend of modernity and natural charm. The well-planned parks, museums, and the scenic Margalla Hills National Park provide a range of attractions, ensuring that visitors are enveloped in the city’s allure. 

With a reputation for safety, cleanliness, and high quality of life, Islamabad stands as a unique destination where each locale, from the bustling Centaurus Mall to the tranquil Monal Restaurant, contributes to the city’s multifaceted appeal, making it a must-visit for those seeking beauty, culture, and a respite from the ordinary.

What is the most scenic area in Islamabad?

Islamabad is surrounded by the beautiful Margalla Hills National Park, offering stunning panoramic views of the city. The hiking trails, diverse flora and fauna, and the peaceful atmosphere make this area a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The Daman-e-Koh viewpoint within the park provides a mesmerizing vista of Islamabad.

Can you name a popular landmark in Islamabad?

Faisal Mosque, situated against the backdrop of the Margalla Hills, is not only an architectural marvel but also a symbol of Islamabad. Its modern design and expansive surroundings make it a must-visit landmark. The mosque’s serene ambiance and the reflecting pools at its base contribute to its cultural and aesthetic significance.

What adds to the charm of Islamabad?

Islamabad’s charm lies in its well-planned layout, with wide, tree-lined avenues and a plethora of parks and green spaces. The city’s cleanliness and orderliness, coupled with the modern infrastructure and the soothing presence of Rawal Lake, create an environment that is both aesthetically pleasing and conducive to a high quality of life.

What is Islamabad known for?

Islamabad is renowned for its unique blend of modernity and natural beauty. Beyond Faisal Mosque, the city is home to various landmarks, including the Pakistan Monument, Shakarparian Park, and the Rawal Lake. Islamabad is also the political and administrative center of Pakistan, housing government institutions, foreign embassies, and diplomatic enclaves. The city’s reputation for safety, cleanliness, and a pleasant climate further adds to its appeal.

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Oleksandra Mamchii

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tourist places in islamabad

THE 10 BEST Islamabad Sights & Historical Landmarks

Islamabad landmarks.

  • Sacred & Religious Sites
  • Points of Interest & Landmarks
  • Architectural Buildings
  • Government Buildings
  • Monuments & Statues
  • Educational sites
  • Arenas & Stadiums
  • Auto Race Tracks
  • Churches & Cathedrals
  • Neighborhoods
  • Scenic Walking Areas
  • Civic Centers
  • 4.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 3.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • Good for Big Groups
  • Good for Kids
  • Budget-friendly
  • Good for Couples
  • Good for Adrenaline Seekers
  • Honeymoon spot
  • Adventurous
  • Good for a Rainy Day
  • Hidden Gems
  • Things to do ranked using Tripadvisor data including reviews, ratings, photos, and popularity.

tourist places in islamabad

1. Faisal Mosque


2. Margalla Hills


Recommended Sightseeing Experiences (92)

tourist places in islamabad

3. Daman-e-Koh


4. Saidpur Village


5. Pakistan monument


6. Quaid-i-Azam University


7. Shahdara Valley

tourist places in islamabad

8. Golrah Shrine


9. Parliment House


10. Bari Imam Shrine


11. Saudi Pak Tower Building


12. Fatima Church


13. Jinnah Sports Stadium


14. Supreme Court of Pakistan


15. Islamabad Stock Exchange Tower


16. Lal Masjid


17. Sir Syed Memorial


18. Pak China Friendship Center


19. 2f2f Karting Club


20. St. Thomas Church

21. aabpara mosque, 22. police martyr monument, 23. rahmat farms, what travelers are saying.

Hedia A

  • Faisal Mosque
  • Daman-e-Koh
  • Margalla Hills
  • Saidpur Village
  • Pakistan monument

Off the Atlas

The Best Things to Do in Islamabad

faisal mosque islamabad

Islamabad is sometimes referred to as a “boring city.”

I take issue with that statement. 

Wherever you are in the world, there’s always something to be found. Whether you’re in the middle of Siberia or the streets of Pakistan, makes no difference. You can have fun…if you know where to look.

Having visited almost a dozen times by now I can confidently say, YES, there are many things to do in Islamabad. This city and what it offers may not look and feel like other South Asian cities, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause.

Over the course of this article, I will show you everything that Islamabad has to offer, from the best places to visit to the best restaurants to eat at. It is my goal to show you that staying in Islamabad isn’t a death sentence. You can stay here and have a good time and you don’t have to treat it as an extended layover. 

Let’s get to it.


Every year I lead unique trips to Pakistan including the K2 Base Camp Trek and to the Hunza Valley?

Things to Do Around Islamabad

Islamabad is a planned city and a relatively new one at that – it’s only been inhabited (as the city of Islamabad) for about 50 years. This means that Islamabad follows has very modern city planning. 

Islamabad is laid out like a grid. Neighborhoods are almost perfectly square in shape and all built around a central business area. As such, Islamabad is extremely navigable, although it can take some time to get across town if traffic is bad. 

When you do want to get around Islamabad, I recommend using Uber or Careem.

Admittedly, Islamabad can feel a bit dull at times. It certainly lacks the frenetic energy and controlled chaos of other older cities like Lahore or Peshawar and can seem like it lacks energy or soul or something like that.

That being said, there are still PLENTY of fun and interesting things to do around Islamabad. You’ll just need to look in different places and have slightly different expectations. 

Below is a map showing where all the best things to do in Islamabad are located:

map of islamabad best places to visit

Visit Faisal Mosque for evening prayer

Often considered one of the best places to visit in Pakistan, Faisal is one of the largest and most modern mosques in the world. It can accommodate a RIDICULOUS 300,000 people at once so, needless to say, it can get a bit crowded here. 

I’ll spare you the long-winded explanation behind its inspiration (yes, it is shaped like a Bedouin tent because a Saudi king funded the project, and, no, the towers aren’t meant to be rockets); I’ll simply say that the Faisal Mosque is quite impressive architecturally. It’s a harmonious blend of the old and the new and, at one time, was very forward-thinking in terms of design.

visiting faisal mosque at dusk

The best time to visit the Faisal is in the evening when the temps are cooler and the light is better for photography. There will be two calls to prayer around this time: one at sunset and another when it is fully dark. If this is your first time experiencing the call, be prepared to be emotionally (and maybe spiritually) moved. 

Since this is a place of worship, please remember to be respectful and wear modest clothing – no bare knees or shoulders, and women need headscarves. Note that non-Muslims are not allowed to take part in the prayer ceremonies while underway.

Going hiking in the Margalla Hills

Contrary to popular belief, Islamabad is not located in a desert nor is it a sprawling urban mess. In fact, it’s not even remotely arid. Neither is it totally concrete jungle 

Islamabad is actually a tropical city, which means that it’s quite green. It’s also located very close to some beautiful terrain. The lush Margalla Hills (also spelled Margallah), located literally on the edge of the city, are a great place to escape the city and hit the trail. 

best hikes in islamabad

The hills aren’t so tall, at least by Pakistani standards. They are still steep, enough to get a real workout in, and it can even get downright chilly up there. Snow, although extremely rare, is not unheard of. Most of the maintained trails are given simple numerical designations. 3 and 5 are reportedly the most popular. If you decide to do Trail 1, then you will end up at Monal Restaurant. Trail 2 will take you to the famous Daman-e-Koh Viewpoint.

Admire (and be admired at) the Pakistan Monument

For photographers and just general appreciators of architecture, the Pakistan Monument is probably the best thing to see in Islamabad. 

The monument itself is gorgeous, with beautiful etchings and curving shapes that really draw the eye. At dusk, it is especially beautiful as the sky turns a deep blue and the monument lights up to become a radiant orange. 

A little backstory: the Pakistan Monument was designed to emulate the Mughals, who had a profound effect on the region in their time. Each “petal” represents a major culture of Pakistan: the four larger ones are for the Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi, and Pashtun people, while the smaller petals are for the minorities of Azad Kashmir and the peoples of Gilgit-Baltistan. 

pakistan monument islamabad

One thing to keep in mind is that the Pakistan Monument is a very popular place to visit in Islamabad for Pakistani tourists, which can only mean one thing for foreigners visiting: selfies . If you look anything like a Westerner, then be prepared to be SWARMED by Pakistanis wanting a photo.

As someone who lives rent-free on half of Pakistan’s social media profiles by now, all I’ll say is that the selfies get a bit old. Sure the first dozen or so are fun as you feel a bit like a celebrity. But after a while, and a few pushy photographers, you get sick of it. 

When you’re ready, quietly exit the monument and say “no thank you” to any more photos.

There is a bunch of cultural stuff to do in the area around the monument – and most of it can be done on foot.

Get a History Lesson at Lok Virsa Heritage Museum

Located right next to the Pakistan Monument is the Lok Virsa Heritage Museum, dedicated to the many peoples and cultures of Pakistan. It is primarily an ethnographic museum with exhibitions covering everything from ancient artifacts to remnants of the British colonization. 

For anyone interested in Pakistani history, spending an hour or two wandering the halls is a great thing to do while in Islamabad. 

While you’re there, ask the front desk if there are any Sufi performances planned at the museum. These happen from time to time and are very fascinating to watch. 

Entrance is 500 rupees for all foreigners (around 3 USD).

If you’re looking for a more traditional art gallery, rather than an ethnographic museum, you’ll want to visit the PNCA (Pakistan National Council of Arts) instead. It’s located in Islamabad proper in F-5.

Eat at Kabul Restaurant

Some of the best food in Islamabad comes from Pathan restaurants. Glistening grilled meats, hearty bread, rich pulao , and zesty side dishes define this style of cooking. Everything is delicious.

The best Pathan restaurant in Islamabad – or the most well-known at least – is Kabul Restaurant in F-7. From the outside, the place looks pretty assuming: it’s just a couple of plastic high-tops, a weathered Coca-Cola banner, and a big ol’ grill. Standard Pakistani fair right? 

But Kabul Restaurant is oh so much more. The kebabs are perfectly cooked and piled (very) high. The bread is always warm. And there is also a surprising amount of vegetarian options – I personally love the eggplant dish, which reminds me a bit of baba ganush . 

Kabul restaurant Islamabad

Note that there are TWO Kabul Restaurants located quite close to each other: the first, which is tucked away into a lot, is an imposter. Don’t go here. The real Kabul is located on the main drive (College Road) and is usually packed with people. 

If you want to grab a table, make sure you arrive before 8 pm. The place fills up quickly after that.

Drink in the Views at Monal 

If Kabul Restaurant is the local joint that every local knows about, then Monal is where all the big spenders go. This restaurant, located high up in the Margalla Hills, is the cushiest place in all of Islamabad (that or the Serena Hotel) and every night is like a gala. It seems that ambassadors, industrialists, politicians, and other well-off folks all come here to rub shoulders. 

That is not to say it’s entirely exclusive. In fact, a simple phone call is usually all you need to secure a reservation. I’ve managed to get in every single time I wanted to eat there, and I’m usually with a large group of guests as well. 

monal restaurant islamabad

Unlike some other up-scale restaurants in Pakistan, Monal is well worth the extra expenses as well. The food, especially the kebabs , is fantastic here. Even the western food, which is usually pizza, steaks, and hamburgers, is good! The service is also exceptional. 

I’ll wrap up this particular thing to do in Islamabad with one last gush: the views from Monal are hard to beat. You see nearly the entire city from the restaurant. At night, the glittering city lights are a real treat, especially after you’ve spent weeks traveling in the wild north.

Treat yourself on your a bit and have a last meal at Monal before leaving Islamabad. You won’t be disappointed.

Celebrate Pakistan Independence Day

Independence Day is BIG in Pakistan. For one week in August, people go all out during this time: decorating everything in green and white, lighting fireworks, and playing games (polo if you’re in the north). 

But no other city does Independence Day better than Islamabad.

Being the capital of the country means you gotta show off your nationalism more than anyone else. Having spent Independence Day in Islamabad myself, I gotta say: these guys really put on a show. 

pakistan independence flag faisal mosque

Horns blowing. Massive flags paraded in the city. Trucks full of people celebrating.Constant fireworks. It feels like Pakistan wins the world cup every time it’s Independence Day here. At times, it almost feels like America’s own Fourth of July except without booze. Which begs my next question”¦

How in the hell can these guys party so much whilst DEAD sober? 

Regardless, Independence Day is a great time. If you’re planning on being there around 14th, you should absolutely join in. Hands-down, it’s one of the best things I’ve done while in Islamabad.

Sample food at Kohsar Market

Can’t decide on what you want to eat in Islamabad? Why not go somewhere you can get try everything and anything? 

bazaar in Pakistan

The Kohsar Market is probably the closest thing you will get to a food hall in Pakistan. It’s not a food pod or a farmers market by any means and there isn’t a lot of local choices (it’s mostly Western foods). But if you want a good selection of cuisine and something different than karahi or handi , this is a great place in Islamabad to visit.

Here are some options for you to choose from:

  • Tuscan Courtyard – “ Italian” food. Don’t expect authentic Italian cooking. Do expect a lot of carb-laden, heavy dishes though.
  • Porterhouse – A steakhouse. Simple as that. Reliable since Pakistanis do grilled meats very well.
  • Street 1 Cafe – A good selection of food you would normally find in a western cafe e.g. bagels, salads, pastries, etc.
  • Street Burger – Your standard hamburgers and fast-food fare. Good but nothing over the top (except those weird black buns”¦)
  • Nom Nom Wok – Large selection of East Asian foods, including Thai. Chinese is usually a good choice as it’s a favorite for Pakistanis.

Visit the Best Book Shops in Pakistan

Almost every time I am in Islamabad, I rock up to Saeed Book Bank in F7. They have the best selection of imported English-language books I have found after checking out others all over the country. What sets Saeed Book Bank apart is that they have recent titles, political books, western non-fiction, and a huge variety of works by Pakistani authors.

There is something for everyone in this book store. Prices are not so different from what you might find in your home country, so don’t come in here expecting to get a new book for 50 cents.

Another favorite of mine is the National Book Foundation book shop. If you want things specific to Pakistani history and culture – this place is where you will find it all.

national book foundation islamabad

Find a Qawwali Show

Qawwali is a musical performance with roots based in Sufi mysticism. The band is usually composed of a primary singer backed up by a group of musicians who provide additional vocals and driving rhythms. 

Qawwali shows are a helluva good time. Everyone, including the frontman and the musicians, gets really into the show and really puts themselves out there. Chanting, sweating, racing hands, the whole show is just a frenzy. The frontman, in particular, is usually a great showman as he sings about love, spiritualism, and Allah almost totally improvisational.

Here’s a video showcasing a qawwali group called Fanna-Fi-Allah (shout-out to Oregon native Aminah Chishti Qawwal, first-ever female tabla player inducted into qawwali brethren):

qawwali band playing in islamabad

Unfortunately, qawwali is not so common in Islamabad – it’s more of a thing in the Punjab and Lahore. But that’s not to say it never happens in the capital city, as every once in a while, a show pops up. 

Be sure to ask around about upcoming shows and keep an eye on the local dargah (sufi shrines). If you see someone with dreadlocks and a set of drums, you’re on to something. 

Go Shopping at Centaurus Mall 

Listen: I’m not a shopper. Never have been and never will. I would never recommend going to a mall to anyone EVER…unless it was a fascinating cultural experience. 

Centaurus Mall is luxurious, not to mention enormous. Composed of three glittering towers, it looks like something straight out of Singapore or Tokyo. Inside, it’s just floor after floor of shops and kiosks, swarming with people. 

The only reason I suggest Centarus as something to do in Islamabad is that it is an interesting juxtaposition with typical Pakistani life. Most Pakistanis shop at conventional, outdoor bazaars, which are obviously much less opulent. To see people wandering around a mall – a mall that could put most in America to shame – is an interesting change of pace and a sign of what might come in the future for Pakistan. Visit here and reflect upon this. 

Also, you can literally find everything at Centaurus. It is particularly useful for finding clothing, electronics, or real brand name items. If you’re interested in purchasing your own shalwar kameez or a dress, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better quality and a greater selection than here.

Things to Do Outside of Islamabad

The best things to do around Islamabad may actually be found just outside the city. Hidden caves, cool grottos, and plenty of archeological sites make the surrounding area rife for adventure.  

Depending on where you’re going, the furthest you will have to drive outside the city is 2-2.5 hours. Destinations like Rhotas Fort and Katas Raj are flow-blown day trips from Islamabad so prepare appropriately. 

Here are the best things to do near Islamabad:

Get lost in the Raja Bazaar of Rawalpindi

Located quite literally next to Islamabad, Rawalpindi is the much older, grizzled sibling town. Gone are the manicured hedges and wide boulevards of the planned city; back are the twisting alleyways and manic energy that you’d expect from South Asia. 

The centerpiece for the city is the massive Raja Bazaar. This is one of the finest examples of a bazaar anywhere in the country and features a staggering amount of shops. I’ll admit that when I said that you could everything at Centaraus, I was lying a bit; you’ll find even more in Raja. 

Raja Bazaar at night

So get lost in the alleyways and see what you can find!

Remember though, you’re back in bartering country. Prices are never fixed and you should always try to get a better deal. 

If Islamabad really isn’t your cup of chai , then plan on spending more time in Pindi. It may just be exactly what you need.

Explore the Ruins of Taxila

Few people realize that a long time ago Pakistan used to be a hugely important region for Buddhism. Pilgrims carried the religion through Pakistan on their way to Central Asia and further east from the subcontinent. During the Gandhara period, Buddhism was at its peak as were the arts (thanks in part to Greek influence). 

Taxila is the former capital of the Gandhara Kingdom and is one of the most significant archeological sites in all of Pakistan. The open-air museum is covered with old stupas and remnants from the ancient city, whilst the museum houses an incredible finest collection of Gandhara art. History buffs should be chomping at the bit to visit here. 

Taxila is only 45 minutes away by taxi. With Kareem, it’ll cost $5 tops to get there. That makes for an excellent half-day trip from Islamabad.

Make the Day Trip out to Rohtas Fort

Rohtas Fort is an old fortress dating back to the 16th century. Not only is it one of the largest fortifications on the subcontinent but it is also one of the best-preserved. 

One could easily wander around Rhotas for an entire day, checking all of the old watchtowers and walking along battlements. Perhaps you could imagine you’re a soldier standing guard against the local tribes. Or perhaps, like me, you just like the melancholic nature of ruins. 

rhotas fort punjab

I will say that despite the excellent condition of the fort, the amount of garbage here is a bit sad. Many of the old cisterns, which are incredible feats of architecture, are filled with trash by this point. Seems a shame for this place to have survived 500 years, only to become a bit of a dump. Nonetheless, Rohtas is still worth visiting!

At 2.5 hours, this is a pretty long drive from the city. One could even argue that it barely counts as “a thing to do in” Islamabad. I will contest that Rohtas is in the middle of nowhere so no matter from which direction you’re coming, it will still take a few hours to arrive.

Since you’ve already driven out this far as well, you might also consider visiting nearby Malot. There is another less impressive fort here but it does feature some pretty intricate ruined temples.

Cool Off at Neelan Bhoto or Bruti

Hidden deep inside the Margalla Hills are a handful of remote grottos and valleys. Clean, refreshing, and turquoise in color, the waters here are great for swimming or just admiring. 

Neelan Bhoto comes highly recommended by a local expert in the region. To reach here, you will need to arrive at the eponymously named village first, then walk or take a motorbike on a dirt track to reach the pools. The pools of Neelan Bhoto are famous for their brilliant color and large schools of fish. 

Fishing is illegal at the pools so please don’t try. Swimming is allowed though.

Another possible place to go for a dip is Bruti . Bruti is a series of streams and cascades that is more of a hike than Neelan Bhoto. 

To reach the falls, you’ll need to first arrive at the parking lot for Loh-e-Dandi and then walk to the Bari Imam Shrine before hitting the trail to Bruti. It can seem a bit vague how to get there but this guide offers the most comprehensive explanation I’ve found yet.

Note that both Neelan Bhoto and Bruti will be very busy in the summer months. If you’re looking for a quieter time, visit in the winter. Trust me, it’ll still be hot then.

Visit the Shah Allah Ditta Caves

The Shah Allah Ditta Caves are another interesting Buddhist archeological site located very close to Islamabad. Originally used as a place for deep meditation, the caves are now largely abandoned. 

There isn’t much in the way of religious reliquary leftover at the caves. There are some old murals and paint on the old walls but it’s all quite faded. 

caves near islamabad places to visit

The caves themselves still look very cool. There are some gnarly banyan trees scattered around the site, complete with hanging roots that sometimes twist around the caves themselves.

The Shah Allah Ditta Caves are a relatively quiet and undiscovered tourist attraction. If you’re looking for something alternative to do in Islamabad, this is a good choice. Consider doing this in conjunction with Taxila. 

Go Chasing waterfalls 

Umbrella Falls and Sajjikot Falls are two semi-famous waterfalls located quite close to one another. They can easily be knocked off back-to-back in a single day. 

First, you will need to reach the village of Poona, which is a bit of a long drive (2.5 hours). Once you arrive, find the parking area and pay to park (50-100 rupees). Now you will begin the hike to Umbrella Falls.

Of the two waterfalls mentioned, Umbrella Falls is arguably the more photogenic. It has only become famous in recent years by local influencers. The hike down to the falls from parking takes around 30-45 minutes. It’s a bit steep but there should be ropes there to help. Bring a plastic bag for your camera!

Further down the road from Umbrella Falls is Sajjikot. Like Umbrella, this waterfall entails a semi-steep descent from the parking area but nothing an experienced hiker can’t handle. 

NOTE that there are reports that the water at Sajjikot is quite contaminated, being runoff from a local village. Swim here at your own risk.

Go on a Temple Tour

So far we’ve introduced several Muslim and Buddhist places to worship as potential things to do around Islamabad. Why not add in a Hindu one and make it a hat trick?

katas raj temples day trip from islamabad

Katas Raj is a Hindu temple complex located only 2 hours away from Islamabad in northern Punjab. Judging from the grandeur and size of the complex, one might mistakenly think that they’re actually in India! (Just don’t say this out loud in Pakistan.) 

This complex was, at one point in time, one of the most important sites in all of Hinduism. There are several stories surrounding its creation and purpose, which you’ll have to ask about when you arrive. 

Unsurprisingly, the temples were a bit neglected after the partition, but, in recent years, the government has actually tried to restore them. Though still a bit dilapidated, the grounds are a bit less littered and the pools are not so terribly polluted as they used to be.

So if want to go on a tour of three of the world’s major religions in one day, you certainly can. Combine this with Taxila and Faisal Mosque for an amazing full-day experience in Islamabad.

Beat the Heat in Murree

Murree is where the British Army used to run away to in order to escape the oppressive summer heat of Punjab. Located high in the Margalla Hills, it is far cooler up here than in muggy, often boiling Islamabad. 

Following the extradition of the British, Murree became a mountain resort town for high-ranking Pakistani officials and families. It is now one of the most popular places to visit near Islamabad, at least among locals. 

Aside from the agreeable climate, most of Murree’s appeal comes from the old colonial architecture and forested setting. There are a number of trails you can walk on around the town or there is a chair-lift offering some lovely views of the surrounding Kashmiri mountains.

Stay away from the amusement parks in Muree though. They are awful and have largely ruined the vibe of the place.

Where to Stay in Islamabad

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Islamabad is arranged like a giant grid, which makes wrapping your head around the city quite easy. 

There are hotels spread throughout Islamabad but, for one reason or another, I always end up staying on the edge of the city in E or F 11/12. This area is pretty nice – hosting mostly ambassadors’ homes – and is relatively chill as well. You’ll be further away from Islamabad’s main attractions, but they’re still just a short taxi ride away.

best hostel in islamabad

Here are some of my favorite places to stay in Islamabad:

  • Grand Islamabad Hotel – Hitting the “just right” mark in terms of service, location, and price, this is a great all-around 3-star hotel in Islamabad for a comfortable stay
  • Backpackers Hostel & Guesthouse Islamabad – A step up from the typical budget hostel, this comfy spot is a great place to meet other travelers while keeping your spending down. Tell Haris Chris says hi!
  • Islamabad Regalia Hotel – Classy and romantic without being outrageously expensive, this hotel in Islamabad has a good location for both hiking and city attractions.

Important note : I’ve heard a few people say that Islamabad’s tap water is fine to drink. I call bullshit.

I still insist on purifying the water. Pakistani tap water just has a horrible reputation to begin with and I’ve definitely gotten sick mysteriously while staying in local hotels. Don’t put yourself at risk. Use a purifier, like the GRAYL Geopress , and save yourself the trip to the bathroom.

Getting To and From Islamabad

Islamabad is very easy to reach from all major Pakistani cities. You could take private transport, like Kareem or a shared taxi, to get there, but unless you’re coming from the north or just really need the privacy, I suggest using the bus. 

I suggest using Daewoo when traveling around Pakistan . It’s one of the largest carriers in the country and the buses are very comfortable. Compared to northern buses like NATCO, Daewoos are like limousines. 

tourist places in islamabad

Islamabad doesn’t have a bus station per se. Rather, all buses bound for Islamabad actually stop in Rawalpindi. Here is the location of the main station .

TIP : Make sure you book your taxi or Uber from the Pindi station BEFORE you step outside. Otherwise, you will be harassed by local drivers and will also lose that juicy WiFi. 

The nearest major cities to Islamabad are Peshawar (3 hours) and Lahore (5 hours). If you’re coming from Lahore, you will stop at a large rest area about â…— of the way. 

It is possible to fly in to Islamabad but that is really only applicable if you’re coming from either the north, the far south i.e. Karachi, or internationally. The airport is located about 30-40 minutes away from the city. Expect to pay around 1000-1500 rupee for a taxi. If it is late at night, the fixed taxi cost is 2000 rs.

If you have found some alternative stuff to do in Islamabad, please let me know in the comments below so I can consider adding it to the list!

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Pak Tours Guide

Best Places to Visit in Islamabad: 20 Tourist Attractions

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Famous as one of the most populated cities with statistics to be the ninth largest urban sector, Islamabad can never lose its charm. Although the city is a residential place for 4.1 million residents, it is wonderfully administered by Pakistan’s federal government. 

Islamabad has many unique places that the world still does not know. Besides being an immaculate and highly advanced city, it is also famous for facilitating residents with rich natural life. There are several places to visit for couples and even families. 

Table of Contents

Why is Islamabad Very Famous? 

The picturesque city is geographically distinctive and famous for its beautiful and entertaining life. The city’s excellent infrastructure makes it one of the visiting places listed by many residents of Pakistan and foreign cities. 

From Margalla Hills National Park to Monal, Shakarparian to Kabul Restaurant, the city never keeps anyone behind. Everywhere, you would be entertained by the famous tourist attractions, restaurants, and even historical places . 

Does Islamabad Have Night Life?

Being the ultra-modern city of Pakistan where businesses and markets keep serving people is considered a Nightlife territory. In the town, shopaholics remain engaged in visiting the famous Centaurus, Giga, and other malls. Entertainment lovers like to watch movies in the malls and attend festivals related to arts and festivals. Places to visit at night offer a high-quality environment that visitors enjoy. 

Private dance parties also remain a favorite activity for many who enjoy an active social life. Eating out is normal, and people like visiting one after another restaurant regularly. Thus, the residents of Islamabad always continue celebrating life to the fullest. Enjoying and being grateful for city life is also on the priority list. 

How Many Beautiful Places are There in Islamabad? 

Magnificent and breathtaking places are part of Islamabad’s identity, so it is not limited to bringing peace into people’s lives. It is filled with the best places to visit in Pakistan with family . Here is a list of the top 20 tourist attractions that you can consider for a one day tour.

Shah Faisal Masjid

Shah Faisal Masjid

Shah Faisal Mosque is situated at 5,000 square metres of the area and remains at the top of the must-visiting place for tourists . The mosque is filled with spectacular beauty and architecture and remains the most attractive place . The religious essence also remains alive, and people offer prayer in the mosque. The famous landmark consists of four tall spires gleaming from a vantage point.

Shah Faisal Masjid Jumma Timings & Other Prayers

Margallah hills and daman e koh.

Daman E Koh

A hilltop known as Margalla Hills and Daman-e-Koh Park are the following fantastic places people mainly choose for hiking. The natural wonders of this park soothe the senses, and people especially organize picnics while enjoying the weather. Different species of birds and monkeys also roam here and there, giving an essence of wildlife to the park. Lush green trees and the view on the horizon add more to the experience.

Pakistan Monument Museum

Pakistan Monument Museum

Shakaparian forest gives place to the Pakistan Monument Museum amid mountains. Representing the nation’s unity and the sacrifice of the devoted people, the museum depicts the country’s history and culture. Constructed on 2.8 hectares of land, the domes of the museum appear magnificent. The short petals-based structure represents the territories of Pakistan.

Shakar Parian National Park 

tourist places in islamabad

The next park on the list of most beautiful places in Islamabad is Shakar Parian , National Park. The park is famous for its stunning beauty and natural appeal to visitors. Visitors admire the breathtaking views of the park from every side. Especially at night, the visitors enjoy the idea of the city glistening from a distance. The fountain, greenery, and food stalls make this spot my favorite.

Bahria Enclave Zoo

tourist places in islamabad

The place admired by millions of children is the next spot, “Bahria Enclave Zoo”, which provides high-quality based facilities to visitors. Many different exotic animals can be seen through the boundary of cages. Surprisingly, a well-maintained shelter for cats can also be seen here. Other than that, white lions and even elephants are kept to let people enjoy the wildlife from a distance. 

Saidpur Village 

The historical background of Saidpur Village is connected with the Gandhara and Kushan periods. Lastly, the Mughal Empire of the 14th century was gifted by Sajid Khan to his daughter on marrying Babar’s son and received it as a dowry and present. 

It is located on the famous Margalla Hills of the Himalayan Range foothills. It was refurbished in 2006 by the development authorities, which finally gave it the identity of being a gem of arts and crafts. A restaurant named Des Pardes enhances the ambiance and makes it more lively. 

Allah Ditta Caves

Known for many centuries, Allah Ditta Caves, filled with dense trees, is a must to visit delightful places. Although isolated, this is the safest area in Islamabad . The weathered hills give an odd look, but they seem untouched and a natural element of Islamabad that most tourists visit yearly. 

People even encounter mischievous monkeys that can distract you while leaping from trees. Enjoy the different carts offering snacks and take pictures on the way. 

Lok Virsa Museum

By paying a simple fee, you can visit the museum to enjoy the history and culture of the different states of Pakistan. The locals also sell handicrafts and traditional accessories to visitors. Enjoy the horse cart ride and collect memories by clicking pictures of enjoyable memories. There are hangings displaying information about various regions and civilizations. 

National Art Gallery

Pakistan’s first famous national art gallery opened its doors to visitors in 2007. The structure consists of modernistic cubes of bricks that give it a new element of beauty. Situated at an 1800-yard area, the gallery has 14 mini-galleries displaying paintings. Visitors can also visit the library and laboratories. Open-air theatres and auditoriums are also fun places built inside. 

Golra Sharif Railway Museum 

The next museum on the list of the most beautiful places is Golra Sharif Museum, built by the British. Dating back to 1882, the museum tells millions of stories about the history of the railway. If you are a history enthusiast, learning about the historical narratives of Pakistan’s and British Raj period railway would give you new insight. 

Korang River 

Flowing through Murree Hills to Islamabad is the Korang River, which falls into Rawal Lake. The primary location is at Malpur village, where it adds value to the place as a reservoir. Adjoining gardens and picnic spots welcome visitors to spend leisure time with family and friends. 

It is a peaceful environment under the blue sky where groups can organise picnics while eating in the open air. Motorboating and paddle boating is also available for visitors to enjoy the cold water sports. It is a highly recommended place because it is the cheapest area and offers good service.  

Neela Sandh 

A magnificent waterfall, Neela Sandh located on Lehtrar Road in Rawalpindi District. Upon covering the long distance, visitors mainly encounter the rich greenery and the tall trees that cover the entire area. Most people visit the place in scorching summer to stay safe from the overwhelming heat of the summer season. Pure water refreshes the soul, while purity normalizes the body’s temperature. It only takes 40 km to reach the destination. 

Bruti Waterfall 

For nature lovers, the next destination is Bruti Waterfall which is adjoined by turquoise ponds. It is near the Margalla mountains near the tallest waterfall. You can stand under the waterfall and rinse yourself with fresh water or sit near the pond while soaking your feet in the water. The white painted floor of the spot makes it appealing to sit and enjoy the beauty everywhere. There is a limited time to visit the location, so you must check the administration to look for the schedule.

Fatima Jinnah Park

Fatima Jinnah Park, made in the name of the national figure from the history of Pakistan, is the next destination for many. The prepossessing consists of a wildlife sanctuary that gives a fantastic soothing experience to the visitors. The steel fence separates the park from the outer area and footpath, which is safe for walking or jogging. Visitors mainly enjoy different activities in the park with their family and friends. 

Rose and Jasmine Garden 

As the name denotes, this garden is where most flower exhibitions occur.

Seasonal exhibitions revive the essence of natural beauty, and visitors from all sides take the direction towards looking and taking pictures of the beautiful flowers. It is even famous out of the season as both rose and jasmine bunches are planted to give visitors a fresh and loving vibe. Visiting the palace in summer is also excellent as you can see the different flowers. 

Hiking Track 

Dara Janglan is the hiking track that hikers primarily get attracted to throughout the year in every season. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the hike with family and friends. Most workaholics make their way on weekends to enjoy the place’s natural beauty . The track reminds people of the basic rules of living a healthy life; therefore, it never stays isolated. It only takes 2 hours to completely cover the entire course of the track.

Japanese Children Park 

The name of the park tells the entire narrative of the exciting activities that children mostly enjoy in the park. Swings in the park entertain the children, and they like to spend most of their time there. Other than that, families also visit the park to enjoy their free time, laugh and eat together. Even schools visit the park for picnics as the spot is clean and perfect for organizing children-related activities. 

Art and Craft Village 

The next spot in the nighttime entertainment category is Art and Craft Village in Islamabad. The place attracts visitors from Pakistan and outside to enjoy the cultural elements and artifacts. The primary artifacts are related to the facts about the country’s culture that reminds people of how prosperous the nation is. Most people enjoy looking at decorative items and often buy them as gifts for friends. 

Monal Restaurant 

The next spot that everyone in Pakistan is familiar with is Monal Restaurant . The restaurant offers delicious food items to the hungry and provides a comfortable ambiance to chit-chat with friends. World’s famous cuisines are available in the restaurant, and the background music always welcomes people with a soothing appeal. Youngsters like taking pictures and looking at the view from the restaurant. 

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Travel Guide: Places To Visit in Islamabad and Things To Do


  • Nov 12, 2019

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When it comes to travelling to Pakistan, visiting Islamabad is almost unavoidable, especially if you are flying into Pakistan. Some people might want to skip the city and jump into their adventure trips to explore the northern part of Pakistan or other parts of the country, but I would recommend you not to do so.

I already wrote about what you need to know before travelling to Pakistan and answered the most frequently asked question: “Is Pakistan safe to visit?”. For this reason, in this article, I will mainly focus on Islamabad.

Islamabad is not just like any other capital cities in the world. The city is unique and it is very different from other cities in Pakistan.

There are a lot of things to do and beautiful places to visit in and around Islamabad. It is worth spending at least 2 or 3 days in Islamabad to explore the city and its surroundings. This is our guide to Islamabad and things you should know before you visit.

When is the best time to travel to Islamabad?

Islamabad can be very warm during the summers and humidity makes it feel even warmer. Mid-July is considered the hottest time of the year when the temperature can fluctuate around 40°C. It is best to avoid travelling to Pakistan during the hot seasons, especially if you are planning to go to the centre of the country or the southern areas.

tourist places in islamabad

Many tourists prefer to travel to Islamabad between September and October or between March and April when the weather cools down and it is more comfortable to be outside. Moreover, these months are considered the best months to travel to the mountains in the northern parts of the country.

Islamabad can get cold and frosty during the winters, but the temperature will not be unbearable. If you plan to visit Pakistan in the winter, you can fly to Islamabad and then travel to the south to visit Karachi and Balochistan to enjoy the milder weather.

Where to stay in Islamabad

Islamabad is a lush green city with a population just below 1.9 million people. This city doesn’t have a single city centre. You will find a variety of shops and restaurants in various areas, but the Blue Area is considered one of the main central locations in the city.

It is good to book your accommodation not too far from the Blue Area. If you book anywhere in the sectors G6-G8 or the sectors F6-F8, you will have to walk 20 to 30 minutes or get a taxi to get to the main shopping malls and restaurants in the Blue Area.

There are a variety of options for different budgets. Keep in mind that accommodation is quite cheap in Pakistan compared to the other parts of the world, and you should be able to book a decent room in a good hotel for less than £50 per night.

Serai Boutique Hotel in F6, you can book it here

Riviera in F8, you can book it here

Hill View Hotel in F7, you can book it here

Jasmine Inn in G8, you can book it here

How to get around Islamabad

Islamabad is a safe place to walk around, but you might not be able to find pavements next to every street and crossing some roads could be dangerous. Taking a taxi or an Uber is the most convenient way to travel around Islamabad.

Taxis in Islamabad don’t have taximeters readers or a fixed price. When you arrive at your destination, the taxi driver might ask you to pay as much as you like, and it can be a little confusing for tourists. If your ride is around 10 to 20 minutes, you should pay roughly 150 to 200 Rs.

tourist places in islamabad

If you would rather avoid the headache and the confusion, take an Uber. Uber is widely used in Islamabad, and it is also very cheap.

Let me share our experience. We took a 10-minute taxi ride on our first night in Islamabad and we were clueless about the prices. When the taxi driver asked us to pay as much as we wanted, we were honest and told him we just arrived in the city and we had no idea what was fair. He ended up charging us 1000 Rs. Later on, we found out that 150 to 200 Rs was a fairer price for the ride. Once we got back to Islamabad from our travels around the country, we only used Uber in the city.

Internet and How To Buy SIM Cards in Islamabad

Most of the hotels in Islamabad offer free WiFi, but it is not as easy to find reliable WiFi networks in the city. I would recommend you to buy a SIM card with a data plan.

Keep in mind that as a foreigner you can’t buy a SIM card at the airport. In general, buying a SIM card as a foreigner in Pakistan is not as easy as in most other countries. You can only get a prepaid SIM Card at Franchise. You must have your passport with you to be able to purchase one. You have two options, a data-only SIM card or one that includes calls. If you need to be in touch with your local guide or call hotels to book rooms while travelling around the country, you should probably opt for a SIM card that allows you to make calls as well.

Places To Visit in Islamabad and Things To Do

Visit the shah faisal mosque.

The Shah Faisal Mosque, situated at the foot of the Margalla Hills, is the largest mosque in Pakistan and it holds a special place in the country’s Muslim community.

tourist places in islamabad

The mosque has been named after Saudi King Faisal, who granted $120 million to Pakistan to build this unique mosque. It can accommodate more than 100,000 worshippers in its main hall and its vast courtyard.

You should visit this impressive landmark during the sunset to be blown away by its outstanding beauty.

The Pakistan Monument

The Pakistan Monument, located on the western Shakarparian Hills in Islamabad, is considered a national museum in Pakistan and part of its heritage. This amazing monument was built as a symbol of unity between people in the country.

tourist places in islamabad

If you want to have the whole monument to yourself, you should visit it in the early morning, before the local tourists arrive. I would recommend you to go there during the sunrise or sunset for taking some amazing photos.

Centaurus Mall

I usually don’t add visiting malls to my top things-to-do list, but here in Islamabad, you should visit the Centaurus Mall, the biggest mall in Pakistan. The mall is not that huge but it will let you experience the modern side of Pakistan. In addition, if you need to buy anything, it is the best place to shop.

tourist places in islamabad

This mall can be a great place to eat because it hosts some international restaurants and a large food court. I always recommend eating local dishes when you travel to a destination, but here is a little different. We enjoyed eating in La Terrazza (on the 3rd floor), an Italian restaurant, where we had an amazing view of Islamabad and tried some Italian dishes with a Pakistani twist.

Hiking in Margalla Hills

Margalla Hills is a lush green hill range in the north of Islamabad on the foothills of the Himalaya mountains.

tourist places in islamabad

There are various walking and hiking trails you can take. You might see some wildlife such as wild boars, Asian paradise flycatchers and monkeys. You can find the trails map in major bookstores in Islamabad. Some of the trails are good for a short walk, but some of them can take up to three days.

Daman-E-Koh Viewpoint

Daman-E-Koh is a combination of two Persian words and means foothill. This park is located in Margalla Hills, easily reachable by taxi or Uber. Here you can have a great view overlooking the whole city of Islamabad. Daman-E-Koh Viewpoint is where you can have a better look at how green and beautiful Islamabad is.

tourist places in islamabad

This place is popular amongst local families and it can get busy in the evening. You should keep an eye on your belongings, especially your phone and your food, because there are many wild monkeys around the park. They are a little aggressive and they tend to collect anything they can. I got close to one of them to take a photo when it suddenly jumped at me trying to take my phone from my hands. Luckily, I was faster and managed to keep it to myself.

Where to eat in Islamabad

If you never tried Pakistani food, get ready to gain some weight, because Pakistani dishes are tasty. The food can be spicy, and if your stomach doesn’t tolerate chilli food make sure to let the restaurant know before ordering.

There are a lot of good restaurants and here I listed some of the best places to eat in Islamabad.

Kabul Restaurant : Kabul restaurant is located in the sector F7, close to the Safa Gold Mall. This place is famous for its grilled meat and it serves Afghan food. It is popular amongst locals and suitable for both lunch and dinner.

Monal Restaurant : If you go further up the hill from Daman-e-Koh, you will find a very nice restaurant with a great view: Monal Restaurant. You might find this restaurant a bit pricey but one meal or even just a drink (a soft drink, of course) is worth it for the view.

tourist places in islamabad

Rawalpindi Food Street : Rawalpindi is one of the busiest street food markets in Pakistan. You will need to take a taxi to get there. It usually takes less than 20 minutes to drive there from Islamabad. It is worth a visit as you will find a lot of good restaurants in one single street.

Islamabad is the most modern city in Pakistan where most tourists start their trips before going on exploring the country. We really enjoyed our time in this city and I hope you have a great time there, too.

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Travel Guide: Places To Visit in Islamabad and Things To Do

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The Best Places to See in Islamabad for Tourists

Home » Tourism » The Best Places to See in Islamabad for Tourists

Update (Dec. 13, 2021): The Capital Development Authority (CDA) is planning to install Pakistan’s largest Ferris wheel in Islamabad, according to a recent statement by a key CDA spokesperson.

The largest Ferris wheel in Pakistan will be around 180 feet high. It will be installed at Lake View Park. The development of phase-II of the park, which was stalled for over a decade, has now also been resumed. 

Work on the country’s largest Ferris wheel and the expansion of the park is rapidly progressing and is expected to be completed and inaugurated by March 23, 2022.

As the capital city of Pakistan, Islamabad is the go-to tourist destination for both foreign as well as local travellers, particularly since the country was declared to be the top tourist destination for 2020 . Located in the northern part of the country, the city is also an ideal starting point for any journey that is being planned to explore the areas further up north, such as Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir or even a little south towards Murree Hills. As such, if you’re planning to visit Islamabad any time soon, you need to know just where to go, what to see, and what to do once you arrive. We’ve rounded up some of the top attractions in Islamabad that should not be missed by any tourist visiting the city.

We’ve divided the tourist attractions in Islamabad into categories so you can choose which ones you want to visit based on your interest.

Cultural and Historic Locations

Islamabad is a fairly new city in comparison to the ancient settlement of Lahore or another old fellow, Karachi. However, as it is the country’s capital, there are several cultural and historic places to visit in Islamabad, each with their own stories to tell:

1. Pakistan Monument

Pakistan Monument is One of the Many Historic Attractions in Islamabad

The Pakistan Monument is a national monument located on the western side of Shakarparian Hills. The monument, whose construction began in 2004 and was completed in 2007, symbolises the unity of the people with four granite flower petals rising from the ground and converging together to depict the four provinces (Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) standing in unity. Three smaller petals inside the larger ones represent the smaller territories of Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, and FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). The monument stands atop a marble base and is at a height that gives you a scenic view of Islamabad. The monument is located close to another attraction, a wax museum, showcasing the events that ignited the Pakistan Movement in 1940.

2. Lok Virsa Museum

Built in 1974, the Lok Virsa Museum is located quite close to the Pakistan Monument. It is one of the largest museums in Pakistan with several exhibit halls as well as an outdoor museum, exhibiting the heritage of Pakistan. The name literally translates to ‘Museum of People’s Heritage’ and it surely does justice to the name by detailing the history of the people of Pakistan amidst its halls. There is also a library and a research centre built inside the premises.

3. Shah Faisal Mosque

Shah Faisal Mosque is the Most Famous Landmark in Islamabad

Named after the Saudi King Faisal who granted monetary aid for the completion of its construction, Shah Faisal Mosque is the largest mosque in Pakistan. It was also the largest mosque in the world between the late 1980s and the early 1990s. What’s truly unique about this mosque is the lack of a domed structure which is typical of mosques all over the world. Constructed in 1986 by a Turkish architect, Vedat Dalokay, the mosque looks like a tent pitched in a desert, with four spires towering up from each of its corners. The mosque can hold nearly 70,000 worshippers, with space to accommodate about 10,000 people in the central prayer hall. This prominent landmark is located just a short drive away from F7 Markaz , a popular commercial district.

4. Saidpur Village

Gate of the Revived Saidpur Village That Can Take Tourists Into an Ancient Era

The revived town of Saidpur lies at the foothills of the mountains that surround the capital and provide a welcome break from modern life. Visiting this part of Islamabad is like taking a trip through history, where you can experience life in an authentic village even in the 21 st century. While modern life has found its way into the settlements here, it has been incorporated in a manner that blends all the modern eateries into the ancient surroundings. The village itself is more than 500 years old, but it was renovated by the CDA (Capital Development Authority) in 2006.

Natural and Scenic Attractions

Islamabad’s location and close proximity to the Margalla Hills offers plenty of opportunities for recreation and exploration among the wilderness. The most scenic tourist attractions in Islamabad are:

5. Margalla Hills

View from Margalla Hills

It goes without saying that if you live near the mountains, you’ll probably want to spend some time exploring them. The feeling is no different for tourists visiting Islamabad, and for those who want to see the wilderness up close. Hiking trails are marked throughout the hills and enthusiasts often backpack through them at their leisure. The hills are ideal for bird watchers as well since many species call the hills their home. Exploring Margalla Hills is a unique experience and offers panoramic views of Islamabad once you make it to the top.

6. Daman-e-Koh

While many might argue that they are the same, Daman-e-Koh, translated into ‘foothills’, is actually a viewing point on Margalla Hills, from where you can get a fabulous bird’s eye view of the entire city spread out in front of you. The beautiful Faisal Mosque is also visible from here. You can choose to visit the point while you hike through Margalla Hills or drive up here by road.

7. Rawal Lake

Streams flowing down from Margalla Hills collect at a reservoir which forms Rawal Lake. Paddle and motor boats are available here for a fun-filled afternoon. Having a picnic at Lake View Park is also an option when you are considering things to do in Islamabad. However, visiting the lake at sunset will give you the best views of the scenic beauty that awaits you.

Eating and Shopping Destinations

If you are heading to Islamabad as a tourist, there are certain eating and shopping destinations that you should not miss. Every visitor to the city should, at least once, enjoy dinner at the famous Monal Restaurant and visit the following shopping destinations:

8. Monal Restaurant

Monal Restaurant is a Must-Visit for Travellers to Islamabad

Located at a short hike upwards from Daman-e-Koh, Monal restaurant is the best restaurant in Islamabad, offering not just delicious food but also amazing views of the city spread out in front of the hills. While the menu offers everything from fast food, pizza, and pasta, to continental and oriental cuisine, Monal is best known for its Pakistani cuisine. Their must-try food items include Handi, Biryani, and a range of barbeque dishes.

9. Jinnah Super Market

Jinnah Super Market Which is Best for High-End Shopping in Islamabad

While Centaurus Mall is the best mall to visit in Islamabad during your trip, the best market for high-end brands is Jinnah Super Market in Sector F-7 Markaz. It has a unique circular shape with shops lining both the inner and outer sides of the circle. From branded clothing to fancy restaurants and jewellery stores, this is the place to go for shopping in Islamabad if you want to skip the malls.

10. Sunday Bazaar

Called Sunday or Itwar Bazaar, this market is open on other days of the week as well. Although the most popular of these is the one in Sector G-11, smaller bazaars are set up in different sectors across Islamabad. These markets are often open on Tuesdays or Fridays as well, and offer everything from fresh produce to clothing, tech accessories, and more. As a foreign tourist who is eager to explore Islamabad and its bazaars, you should know that haggling is a common practice in Pakistani street markets and while some easy bargaining tips can help you secure a good deal, it is advised that you let a trustworthy local accompany you on your shopping spree.

These are some of the top tourist attractions in Islamabad to visit on your next trip. If you are planning to move to the capital, make sure you know the best areas with houses for sale in Islamabad before you make an investment. For more posts on travel and tourism, keep following Zameen Blog, best tourism blog in Pakistan .

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14 Best Places to Visit in Islamabad

by ahblog · Published June 4, 2021 · Updated February 26, 2024

Best Places to visit in Islamabad - ahgroup-pk

Speaking of Pakistan specifically, when it comes to tourism, Islamabad has the best tourist places in the country. Islamabad is the second most beautiful capital in the world and has lots of famous places to visit in Islamabad. The city is lush green, astonishingly attractive, and the beautiful capital of the country and offers heartbreaking views of the mountains. Apart from this, the city is also packed with lots of tasty restaurants, impressive hotels, fun shopping malls, historic places, and interesting sightseeing areas. In addition to that, the capital is rich for having the top colleges, best schools, top housing societies, real estate companies, and universities in Islamabad . 

If you are in a search of a place that can offer you exceptional recreational activities at affordable pricing? We are here to help you.

Now, let’s get started with the history and culture of Islamabad.

History & Culture of Islamabad

places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

Islamabad means the “City of Islam” and is located on Pothohar Plateau on the northern side of the Punjab region. It has a population of almost 1,129,000 and is known for the most historical and best Islamabad picnic points. Weather-wise, the city has a humid subtropical climate including four seasons: summer, winter, spring, and autumn. And the good thing is that you can enjoy all weather and try outdoor activities since there are several parks in Islamabad . Normally, the people will tell you that there is one more season in this city, called the rainy monsoon season. Islamabad’s weather is highly unpredictable and can change at any time. Combined with the weather and its amazing spots, it makes for an interesting place to be. You can also read about best shopping malls in Islamabad .

Here is a compiled list of all the picnic spots and Islamabad beautiful places to visit.

List of Top 14 Places to visit in Islamabad:

1. lok virsa museum.

lok virsa islamabad - places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

Lok Virsa is the best heritage museum of Islamabad, located 5.2 km away from Shakarparian Road. Spanning over a total area of (20,000) sqft., it was established in 1982 and is currently being managed by the Lok Virsa – National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage. The main purpose of the museum is to represent the traditions and culture of Pakistan. There are a variety of cultural items in the museum including pictures, statues, pottery, textile work, and music. Apart from this, it also consists of a library that has a tremendous collection of books about culture, history, folklore, ethnicities, and traditions. It’s also famous for hosting exhibitions to present antique jewelry, shiny metalwork, block printing, stunning woodwork, bone work, and horn products. Lok Virsa is the best place to visit as it is listed as the top historical places in Islamabad .

2. Pakistan Monument

pakistan monument - places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

It’s also a heritage museum, like Lok Virsa, located in Islamabad. Its construction started in May 2004 and by 23 March 2007, it was completed and inaugurated by General Pervez Musharaf – the president of Pakistan at the time. It covers a total area of 2.8 hectares (6.9 acres) with a state-of-the-art design that represents Mughal architecture. It has a petal-shaped structure that looks like a star and crescent moon from above the two things in the country’s flag. It is also a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, who want to learn more about the history and culture of Pakistan. If you are planning to visit Islamabad, you might want to check out some of the best real estate companies in Islamabad that can help you find a suitable accommodation near this amazing attraction.

The Pakistan monument consists of a wax museum, audio-visual archive, reference library, conference hall with a capacity of 62-seats, and an auditorium known as Panorama Hall. If you are looking for Islamabad beautiful places, Pakistan monuments should be on the top of your list. You can also read about northern areas of Pakistan

3. Faisal Mosque

faisal masjid - places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

Faisal Mosque is the epitome of Islamic architecture that is located in the foothills of the Margalla Hills. Faisal mosque is located a few minutes away from PIMS, one of the best government hospitals in Islamabad . The mosque consists of eight sides of concrete shell-shaped sloping roofs, creating a triangular prayer hall that can contain 10,000 persons at one time. The construction of the mosque started in 1976 and was completed by 1986, at a construction cost of US 120 million. It has 4 minarets; each of height almost 90 m (300 ft). It covers a total area of 1,400,000 sq. f.t with an influential piece of Islamic architecture. Globally, it is listed as the fifth-largest mosque and the largest one in the entire Asia region. It is one of the best place in list of Islamabad famous places. Get to know about Schools in Islamabad .

4. Margalla Hills

margalla hills - places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

Margalla Hills is a part of the Himalayas range, located on the stunning north side of Islamabad. It’s a picture-perfect place that is a must-visit location point for tourists and travelers. It has picnic points, viewpoints, trails, and restaurants that attract everyone to come and enjoy nature. This range is home to many birds, including laggard falcons, peregrine falcon, robins, sparrows, shrikes, kites, crows, Indian sparrow hawk, larks, paradise flycatchers, black partridge, pheasants, spotted doves, Egyptian vultures, falcons, hawks, eagles, Himalayan griffon vulture, kestrel, white-cheeked bulbul, etc. Therefore, for all the bird lovers, it’s the perfect place. You can also read about housing societies in Islamabad .

5. Neela Sandh (Waterfall)

neela sandh waterfall - places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

Islamabad has beautiful waterfalls besides hills, scenic views, and contemporary infrastructure. One of the most famous waterfalls in Islamabad is Neela Sandh. It’s a waterfall located at mouri syedan and almost 40 kilometers away from Islamabad. It gives a stunning view with the surroundings of tall trees, greenery, and lush green mountains. As its name, Neela Sandh has blue crystal water that shines like pearls in the daylight and gives the waterfall a stunning view. The most mesmerizing part of it is the dripping water from the top. If you are thinking about the best places to visit near Islamabad, Neela Sandh is one of the best options to choose in list of Islamabad famous places. You can also read about the best hill stations in Pakistan .

6. Lake View Park

lake view park islamabad - places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

Easily approachable from Murree Road and located at the edge of Kashmir Highway and combined with Rawal Lake; this park is known to be one of the best Islamabad outing places. Rawal Dam is also a picnic spot and one of the most famous and visited dams in Pakistan .

The best thing about Lake View Park is the dedicated BBQ spaces, where you and your family or friends can throw a BBQ party and enjoy the stunning view at night with taste. Besides all this, it’s the perfect place for the kids as there are a lot of swings and other amenities in the park including passenger road train, paintball battlefield, boating arena, motorsports ranch, horse riding mobs, ibex club, rock climbing gym, and motorsports ranch. All of the above amenities make this park one of the best places to visit in Islamabad. If you are planning to visit Islamabad, read our blog on Hotels in Islamabad for accommodation.

7. Daman-e-Koh

daman-e-koh islamabad - places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

Daman-e-Koh is a hilltop garden located in the heart of Margalla hills. It’s about 2400ft from sea level and 500ft from the capital. It’s the highest point from where you can see the whole city. It’s also a stay point for the tourists on their way to Pir Sohawa. You can also enjoy the scenic view of the Faisal Mosque from the top of Daman-e-Koh. In 2007, it was further developed by the Capital Development Authority to offer more facilities and convenience to visitors. If you are fond of a quiet and peaceful environment, you must visit this amazing point to see the capital of Pakistan in one frame and to enjoy the silence of nature. Get to know about Provinces of Pakistan .

8. Saidpur Village

saidpur village - places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

Islamabad has many beautiful places but Saidpur is one of its kind.  The community has been renamed an ‘Arts and Craft Village,’ with the goal of preserving its centuries-old cultural history. It does go through encouraging tourism in the region in order to highlight how locals used to live and still do! If you get the opportunity to visit the village, you will notice the stark difference between the rush and bustle of modern-day life in Islamabad and the town’s ancient historical way of life. There are two temples in the village that are over 200 years old. A  gorgeous yellow Sikh shrine and a Hindu temple are among them. The village’s cultural mixtures have been retained in extraordinary shape, much as the structures. The village’s architecture represents the fading relics of four main civilisations: Gandhara, Ashoka, Mughal, and Greek. Personally, I enjoy the variety of events that the community provides on a regular basis. The residents are also quite kind to any visitors that come to see them. Many people go for a hike or to look at the oldest clay-model of train in Islamabad which was of pre-partition time period. Giving the entire thing a terrific finishing touch. In the suburban village of Saidpur on the outskirts of Islamabad, there is a 120-year-old handmade clay train. In 1901, Lal Mohammad Khan made this steam engine model of a train using clay with his bare hands which still stands today. Saidpur Village is without a doubt one of the most gorgeous spots to visit in Islamabad!Islamabad, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, offers a plethora of amazing things to see and do! Also get to know about real estate companies in Pakistan .

9. Local Bazaars

local bazaars islamabad - places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

Islamabad is a city with sectors dividing residential and community areas. Each sector, phase, or town has its commercial areas that are known as the markets or in common language bazaars. The main purposes of these markets are to provide the necessities of our daily life. However, some of the bazaars have taken more popularity in a very short time as the residents of the city are foodies and love shopping. Therefore, a lot of markets like Super Market – Sector F-6, Aabpara Market – Sector G-6, Karachi Company – Sector G-9, Jinnah Super Market – Sector F-7, and Sunday Market – Sectors G-11, H-9 are the point of shopping for the community of Islamabad. These markets are the most crowded areas and top places in the city. Looking for more fascinating content? Check out historical places in Pakistan .

10. Food Places

food places islamabad - places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

Amazing scrumptious food places like Kohsar Market or Jungle Spot or 1969 or F7 Markaz provide a hub of delicious restaurants in Islamabad. With top of the line food and unparalleled taste in Islamabad outing places. From desi to Chinese to continental, all these food places in Islamabad provide the most comfortable environment. You will find a great soothing ambiance in Islamabad, with lush green Margalla Hills and rivers flowing by. The restaurants have steaks, thai food and mouthwatering cheesy burgers. A markaz is essentially a sector’s commercial district, where anything from stores to marketplaces to food may be found. Almost every neighbourhood in Islamabad has its own markaz, so you can just go to the one nearest to your hotel. Islamabad’s markets are teeming with real eateries and street food, and they’re open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also read about famous restaurants in islamabad .

11. Korang River Banigala

korang river banigala - places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

Bani Gala is a beautiful locality in Islamabad, that harbours some of the wide ranging hills and river. It is also close to Rawal and Simli dam. The Korang River is a watercourse in Pakistan’s Punjab province. It rises in the Murree Hills and flows south to Islamabad. The artificial Rawal Lake in Islamabad was created by combining the Korang Stream with a few other tiny streams flowing from the Margalla Hills. Rawal Dam’s outflow stream is the Korang River. Korang river also has a number of fish Between Korang Town and Judicial Colony, this creek crosses the Islamabad Express Highway. The landscape of this stream is stunning, and the Loi Bhair Wildlife Safari Park is situated on the lovely left bank of the Korang Stream. Before reaching the Grand Trunk Road, this creek enters the Soan River. Now a huge cricket ground is also under process in Bani Gala, near to the river. Some of the most Islamabad beautiful places are Banigala. Also check out best Museums in Pakistan .

12. Giga Mall

giga mall islamabad - places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

Visit Giga Mall Islamabad for a pleasant shopping excursion with the family or to see a movie at the Giga Mall cinepax. There are over 200 national and international brands to choose from. Giga Mall Islamabad has altered the shopping experience of millions of customers each year since it first opened its doors in 2016. Giga Mall, a national and international leader in entertainment, retail, and attractions, is one of the most popular tourist sites in the country. One of the largest malls in Islamabad that was launched on 22 March 2016. It is constructed at a total area of 4 acres. The Giga Group was founded by Haji Abdul Rahim Giga Pardesi in 1956. It has many brands, cinema and food court. It has a spacious car parking space. Facility of Wi-Fi, prayer rooms and toilets is also available. It has 16 floors, being one of the famous places in Islamabad. You can also read about Cafes in Islamabad .

13. The Monal

The Monal - Places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

The Monal Restaurant Islamabad is a benchmark project of Monal Group of Companies. It was established in 2006 and since then Monal has been the priority of visitors to sit and dine among the attractive sceneries. It is located at 9KM Pir Sohawa Road, Islamabad.

Monal is one of the famous Islamabad places to visit. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor dining facilities to its guest with an exclusive view of the capital city Islamabad from the top of Margalla Hills.

However, Monal Peshawar is also one of the famous places to visit in Peshawar , but the Islamabad branch has more attraction as it is located amid breathtaking views of Margalla Hills. The opening and closing timings of the restaurant are 9 am to 12:30 am.

14. The Centaurus Mall

The Centaurus Mall - Places to visit in islamabad - ahgroup-pk

The Centaurus Mall has become an identity and landmark of the Islamabad. Currently, it is the best and famous shopping mall in the capital city. The Mall is located in at 4 Jinnah Avenue, F 8/4 F-8, Islamabad. Situated in a prime business hub of Islamabad, the Centaurus Mall promotes lucrative business ideas in Pakistan .

The construction work on The Centaurus Mall was started in 2006, and completed in 2015 at the cost of PKR 15 billion. Moreover, the Mall is one of the most beautiful and attractive infrastructures in Islamabad due to its unique and fancy design. It consist of a 4-story shopping mall hosting national and international brands outlets of cloth, cosmetics, shoes, and food; and also a cinema is there for entertainment of the visitors. The two residential towers, a 5-star hotel, and a corporate tower add more to the importance of the Centaurus Mall making it one of the best places to visit in Islamabad.

Summing Up:

So this was the list of top picks of the best places in Islamabad. If you are planning to visit Islamabad, these all places should be on your list. Visit these amazing places in Islamabad and let us know what your reviews are about any of them. If you are a resident of Islamabad you must read our blog about the famous Picnic spots in Islamabad .

What is the Specialty of Islamabad?

The Specialty of Islamabad is that it is one of the most beautiful capitals in the world. It host many attractive and historical places.

What is the special places of Islamabad?

There are various special places in Islamabad depend on your mood and priority. If you love nature, you can visit Margalla Hills, and if you want to see an epitome of infrastructure, you can visit the Centaurus.

Read more related blogs:

  • Mountain Ranges in Pakistan
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  • Deserts of Pakistan
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  • Swimming Pools in Islamabad

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tourist places in islamabad

17 Places Around Islamabad That are Perfect for a Day Trip

Once you are done with the tourist places in Islamabad, it is a good idea to move to the places which are close to the city. The residents of the capital city can take a day trip or less to the following places, which without any doubt are worth seeing.

1. Murree Hills

tourist places in islamabad

The queen of Hills (Malka-i-Kohsar), Murree is hardly 50 Km from the federal capital of Pakistan. One can easily cover this distance in around an hour’s time and enjoy the cold breeze during summers and snow during winters. Besides Murree, one can also visit Nathia Gali, Ayubia, Khanspur, Bhurban, Patriata etc. A detailed account of these areas is given separately on this website.

tourist places in islamabad

The second most visited destination in the vicinity of Islamabad is Taxila. The house of Gandhara Civilization is located only 30 KM on the North-West of Islamabad and it takes around 40 to 45 minutes to reach there. The best time to visit Taxila is winters or even March / April and October / November because one has to move a lot under sun in order to see archeological remains. In 1980, Taxila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in 2006 it was ranked as the top tourist destination in Pakistan by ‘The Guardian’ newspaper. A visit to Islamabad is actually incomplete without visiting Taxila. Details about Taxila are also given separately on this website.

3. Khanpur Dam

tourist places in islamabad

Just 20 KM further ahead from Taxila towards Haripur is located, Khanpur Dam. The dam is built on the Khanpur Lake, which originates from the water of Haro River. The dam, which is 51 meters high and can store approximately 110,000-acre feet of water, was primarily built to provide water for consumption and irrigations to different areas in the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. However, the beautiful location of the dam provides the tourists with a natural recreational spot. The dam located with the exquisite Margalla hills on one side and beautiful blue waters on the other, catches the attraction of the visitors. This is one of the few areas in Pakistan where water sports facilities are available. Camel ride, boating, fishing and other water-related adventures are the most common activities of the tourists. Private companies have invested by providing cliff jumping and diving lessons.

This dam/lake has been an active tourist area and many families visit the place for a picnic. It is recommended that one should avoid visiting this area during hot days because there is hardly any shade. Besides, one cannot even enjoy eating fried fish during the summers. The fish restaurant, though do not provide a very hygienic environment, yet are worth trying. During the winter season, one can also enjoy the famous ‘Khanpur Malta.’ On the way there are many orange farms. People often purchase trees and thus kids could climb the trees and take oranges directly from the tree.

Those, who have some connections with the government sector, can also arrange for the beautiful guest house, situated on the top of the hill. It is place where one can even spend a couple of nights

4. Mughal Gardens

Mughal Gardens, constructed during the days of Akbar, are located in the city of Wah, which is less than an hour’s drive from Islamabad. Akbar employed Ahmed Mehmar Lahori for the structural and architectural design of these gardens. These gardens are beautifully designed and have also been the foundation for many major architectural structures because of its clever and innovative design. The Department of Archeology has taken responsibility for the restoration of the main areas of the gardens. A team of researchers, in 2006, found evidence of the modern water system at the foundation of these gardens. A person travelling on the Grand Trunk Road from Peshawar to Islamabad or one visiting Taxila and Khanpur Dam can halt for a while to see the historical gardens.

5. Gurdwara Panja Sahib

Gurdwara Panja Sahib, situated at Hasan Abdal around 50 KM from Islamabad, is one of the most sacred worship places for the Sikh community. The significance of the place is because of the presence of a rock believed to have the handprint of Guru Nanak imprinted on it. Twice a year, Sikhs visit this Gurdwara from all over the world. The Government of Pakistan can provide further facilities and develop the Gurdwara in a center of religious tourism. Even otherwise, the building of the Gurdwara is beautiful and is worth visiting. However, the compound is not open for the common people.

6. Ayub National Park

Ayub National Park or Ayub Park is historically known as ‘Topi Rakh’. It is located some 4 KM from Rawalpindi zero point and thus is not more than half an hour’s drive for the residents of Islamabad. This park is the largest national park of Pakistan and covers an area of about 2300 acres. Ayub Park is a very popular picnic point. A lot of attractions for both kids and adults are provided in the park

The park hosts Jungle Kingdom – an amusement park for kids with a rare collection of beautiful animals and birds, kept in open air areas. These areas are landscaped to the preferences of the species including lions, zebras, peacocks, swans and turkeys etc. There are a lot of very interesting rides for the kids and the grown-ups in the Jungle Kingdom. Besides this, Ayub Park also housed large gardens, a running lake with boating facility, an open-air theatre and a garden restaurant. The park is also indigenous for rare botany and marine life. There is an aquarium which is home to various rare fish and other marine life. The lake found in the park has water lilies and other various beautiful water plants. The park also includes a carving of all Pakistan’s major leaders and heroes. It is a replica of Mount Rushmore, South Dakota in the United States.

7. Khewra Salt Mines

tourist places in islamabad

The world’s second-largest Salt Mines are located in Khewra near Pind Dadan Khan. Though it is about 200 KM from Islamabad, yet the fast-moving motorway has reduced the distance to about two and a half hour. From the Lilla interchange on the Islamabad-Lahore motorway, a 30 KM metaled road leads to the oldest salt mines in Pakistan. Off late Pakistan Railways has also started tourist trains to Khewra from both Lahore and Rawalpindi.

The presence of salt in the region was felt for the first time by Alexander’s troops in about 320 BC. However, the real mines were discovered by Dr. H Warth, a mining engineer appointed by the British Rule, by developing an access tunnel to the ground level in 1872.

To enter the mines one has to go in a huge tunnel for which a train facility is also provided. Once inside the mine, one can feel salt all around him. Besides huge walls of salt, one can also see several ponds of salted water. However, the most attractive thing for tourists is the models of different places relevant to Pakistan and Islam, carved out by artists using salt. Sheesh Mahal, Minar-i-Pakistan and Mosque are a case in point. The mines are one the most important things to be seen in Pakistan.

8. Kallar Kahar

tourist places in islamabad

Kallar Kahar is a tourist resort located at 140 KM from Islamabad right on the Islamabad – Lahore Motorway. This beautiful place is known for its natural gardens, peacocks and a fresh water lake. Takht-e-Barbi, a flat stage of stone, built by Mughal Empror Babar to address his army enhanced the importance of the resort. Babar admired the place where he halted on his way from Kabul to Delhi. He also planted a garden, Bagh-e-Safa, which still exists. There are also rides for kids on the bank of the lake. TDCP motel provides lunch and snacks. One can stopover for a break during a journey from Islamabad to Lahore or vise-versa. A visitor to Khewra can also stop at the resort.

9. Katas Raj

tourist places in islamabad

Katas Raj, a temple situated in Katas village near Chakwal district, is a place of great religious importance for Hindu Dharam. This temple is as old as the days of Mahabharata and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The smaller temples, built in pairs around the larger central temple, were built around 900 years or so ago. Hindus believe that bathing in the pond, at the foothill of the temple leads to the forgiveness of sins and helps attain salvation. The temple, however, is in a very bad shape and can only attract photographers who can capture the semi-ruined temples on the mount. Renovation of the temple, and facilitation of Hindu pilgrims could enhance religious tourism and helps Pakistan to earn foreign exchange.

10. Rohtas Fort

tourist places in islamabad

Rohtas fort, famous for its unique and beautiful architectural structure, is located near Jehlum, about 110 KM from Islamabad. This fort was built by Sher Shah Suri to protect the northern frontiers of his empire. The strong fortifications are built to withstand enemy attack and natural calamities. This fort is surrounded by massive walls which extend for more than 4 KM – these walls have gateways and bastions to attack on the enemy. Though the fort is not well maintained and a proper village is housed inside the walls of the fort, yet archeological remains provide temptation for the lovers of history and photography. The fortification wall, gates, Shahi mosque, Baolis and Rani Mahal are the major tourist attractions.

11. Mangla Dam

Mangla dam is located in Mirpur district of Azad Kashmir and is around 140 KM from Islamabad. It takes less than two hours to cover the distance. It is one of the two biggest dams in Pakistan. It was constructed in 1960s and still provides electricity to many areas of the country. The huge lake filled with deep blue water looks attractive to the eyes. However, due to major military establishment in the city many areas are restricted for the common public. Yet, in order to facilitate tourism, one side of the lake has been developed into a recreation area where facilities like boating, fishing and other water sports have been provided. The major attractions of the tourists are speed boats and water scooters. Besides this Mangla is also site of the historical Mangla Fort. Though a portion of the fort has been demolished during the construction of the dam, yet some of its portions are still accessible for the tourists. A person visiting Rohtas Fort can detour for half an hour and can also see Mangla Dam.

12. Shinkiyari

Some 160 KM from Islamabad on the Karakoram Highway lies an eye-catching picnic spot named Shinkiyari. Though, because of heavy traffic on the way, mainly between Abbottabad and Mansehra, it sometimes takes even four hours to cover the distance between Islamabad and Shinkiyari. Yet, because of the entertainment that Shinkiyari provides, a huge number of people, especially student trips, travel the distance from Islamabad and plan picnics there. The main attraction is the Siran river with the water of not more than two to three feet and provides an opportunity to play in the water even without knowing swimming. Crossing the hanging wooden bridge is another temptation of the tourists. Tourists also enjoy the cultivation of vegetable grains, sugarcane, tobacco leaves, rice and at the top of it tea in the sloppy fields around the location. One can further travel half an hour up hill to reach a relatively cold, hill spot covered with trees and water at Dadar.

Kund is a unique place where two rivers – River Indus and River Kabul meet. This junction can be seen from the main GT Road almost on the border between the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, i.e. the Attock Bridge. However, this place at a distance of about 120 KM from Islamabad can best be reached by using Islamabad – Peshawar Motorway. One needs to get off from the motorway at Swabi exit and then take Swabi-Jahangiria road to reach the destination. Previously, the tourist could only see the meeting of the two colours water from the road but now the place has been turned into a major recreational area. People from the surrounding areas such as Islamabad, Attock, Mardan, etc. visit the place for a picnic and spend the entire day there. An amusement park, which hosts many activities for the tourists including boating, fishing, rides for kids, areas for playing sports and dining, adds importance to this scenic location. Eating fresh fried fish on the bank of the river is an old tradition of the tourists visiting the area.

14. Attock Fort

tourist places in islamabad

Attock Fort is another important historical monument located on the back of the river Indus at the border town between the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. There are contradicting versions about the construction of the fort. According to one school of thought it was built by the Mughal emperor Akbar while the others consider Nadir Shah as the one who constructed it. However, this is for sure that the fort featured a prominent role during Sikh – Afghan wars. The beautiful red brick construction and the scenic location of the fort, make it look beautiful. Off late the fort is under the military control and thus prohibited for the tourists. Yet, it is advisable for those who visit Kund or are travelling from Islamabad to Peshawar by GT Road to enjoy at least the distant view of this attractive historical monument.

15. Tarbela Dam

World’s largest earth-filled dam, Tarbela Dam is located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 130 KM from Islamabad. However, because of the motorway, it takes less than two hours to cover the distance. The dam forms the Tarbela reservoir with a surface area of approximately 250-square KM. The dam was completed in 1974 and was designed to store water for irrigation, flood control, and the generation of hydroelectric power. It provides for a beautiful scenic location. Recently, the Government of Pakistan has decided to develop recreational and theme parks to promote tourism on this spot of natural beauty. It is planned to construct water sports points, restaurants, and water jetty.

16. Chattar Park

18 KM from Islamabad on the way to Murree lies Chattar park. In the old days Chattar was known only for the loquat gardens and water stream. However, now an amusement park has been constructed and many families with children travel less than half an hour in the evening to enjoy the rides. There are also some eating places and some stalls of handicrafts and other items attracting mainly women. 6 KM from Chattar, on the same Islamabad – Murree road is another amusement park at Salgiran.

17. Lohi Bher Wild Life Park

tourist places in islamabad

Located just off the main Islamabad highway, some 15 KM from zero points is the Lohi Bher Wild Life Park. Though the park is not of international standards, yet the main attraction is the Lion House. In a huge compound with a natural jungle environment more than four lions are kept. One can drive in the area and see the lions in a pure safari atmosphere. Besides lions there are many other animals and birds mainly kept in a natural settings.

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You missed a very beautiful place near Islamabad named Shahdara Valley. It is most visiting traveler destination.

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