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10 Best Places to Visit in Swat Valley for Your Next Trip

Best places to visit in Swat Valley Pakistan
Credit:Hilal Aziz Yousafzai

Swat is located in the northwest region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which is home to stunning landscapes and one of the oldest civilizations. From natural wonders to many trekking possibilities and Swat River winding through the valley to remnants of Buddhist culture, this valley offers all. In addition, this valley also offers great lodging options. This mountainous valley is just 236 km away from the capital city, Islamabad. Swat has relatively low-altitude mountains compared to the Gilgit Baltistan region. Mingora is the capital city of Swat, and once you get a few hours past this bustling city, the captivating landscape turns into scenic river valleys adorned with pristine rivers and lush green pine forests running in all directions. Here’s the best places to visit in Swat Valley, which is famously called the “Switzerland of Pakistan.”

10 Best Places to Visit in Swat Valley

1-Malam Jabba

places to visit in Swat Valley - Malam Jabba Kalam Swat

Malam Jabba is considered to be one of the most stunning resorts in the region of Swat. This town stands at 8700 feet above sea level in the Hindu Kush range. Pakistan has only two Ski resorts and one of them is Malam Jabba ski resort. Malam Jabba is just 45 km away from Mingora City and is considered one of the most popular tourist destinations in Swat Valley. The ski resort has an ice skating rink and a ski slope stretching to 800 meters, where the winter sports festival is held every year in winter. If you visit this place in summer to avoid colder temperatures, you can ride on the chairlift and enjoy lush green pastures from above and experience a thrilling zip line, and giant swing adventure. As it is Swat’s tourist hub, so avoid visiting this magical place in peak season, which is between June and August and between November and December.  

Location

At a distance of 45 km from Mingora

How to get there: 

It takes more than an hour from Mingora City via Malam Jabba Road by car. 

Highlights: 

Skiing at Malam Jabba Ski Resort, Zip lining, winter sports festival, chairlift rides.

2-Kalam Valley

Places to visit - Kalam Valley

Kalam is a tourist mecca in Swat where the true beauty of this mountainous region can be explored. This crown jewel of Swat Valley is located 327km from Islamabad, 34km from Bahrain. It is the most visited tourist destination for a good reason. You will find snowcapped peaks, beautiful Swat River, mesmerizing waterfalls, and picturesque lakes in Kalam Valley. In addition, lively meadows and thick forests add more beauty. The famous Kumrat Valley also borders Kalam. The climate of Kalm is relatively warm, that’s why it can be accessed in all seasons, even in colder months, without enduring the colder temperatures. Bafar, Kundol Lake, Ushu Forest, Spinkhor Lake, Boyun Village, Mahodand Lake, and Jarogo Waterfall are some of the most popular tourist attractions in Kalam Valley. Camping, fishing, hiking, and trekking are some of the best things to do in Kalam Valley. 

Location

34 km from Bahrain

How to get there:

It can be reached through Kanju Road or via the N95 route from Mingora by car. Both routes take around 3 hours to reach there.

Highlights: 

Camping at Mahodand Lake, bird’s eye view of Kalam from Boyun Village, exploring Ushu forest, views of icy-blue Swat River from Bafar, trekking and camping at Kundol Lake.

3-Bahrain

Bahrain Swat - Places to visit in Swat

Another beautiful place in Swat is Bahrain, which is located at a distance of 60km from Mingora city. Bahrain means two rivers as it is located on the confluence of two rivers, i.e., Swat River and Daral River. The Swat River flows through Bahrain, making it a great spot for fishing and rafting. The base camp of the hiking trails leading to Saidgai and Daral is also located in Bahrain. Tourists can enjoy the view of the merging of the Swat River and Daral River and a riverside stroll. A cable car ride in Bahrain can let you enjoy a bird’s eye view of the mountains. This riverside town is also known for its local handicrafts like woolen hats, tribal jewelry, and shawls. Summer months are a great time to explore this town when it is at its magnificent. However, if you want to avoid crowds, visit this place in spring and fall. 

Location: 

60km from Mingora

How to get there: 

It takes around 2 hours from Mingora by car.

Highlights: 

Handicrafts, views of the merging of Swat River and Daral River, rafting in Swat River


Read Also: Top 10 Best Places to Visit in Kalam Valley

4-Saidu Sharif:

Saidu Sharif - Places to visit in Swat

Saidu Sharif is the capital of the Swat district, which is home to many archeological sites. It is surrounded by snow-clad mountains and green hills. It can be accessed by car and by air. Saidu Sharif is about 194 km away from Peshawar, which takes 3 hours to reach there by road and 2.8 km away from Mingora. Most notable archaeological sites include the Saidu Sharif Archaeological Museum and remains of Buddhist stupas of Butkara I and II, making it a must-visit place for history buffs. Other popular tourist attractions are the royal residential palace of former Wali-e-Swat and the white-marbled mausoleum of Saidu Baba, from whom the name of Saidu Sharif was derived. Saidu Sharif also serves as a base camp for mountaineering and trekking expeditions in Karakoram and the Hindu Kush Mountains. 

Location: 

At a distance of 2.8km from Mingora

How to get there

A short drive from Mingora via Saidu Sharif Road

Highlights: 

Ancient remains of Buddhist stupas of Butkara I and II, Saidu Sharif Archaeological Museum

5- Shingardar Stupa

Shingardar Stupa - Places to visit in Swat

With its stunning landscape, Swat is steeped in history and offers great sights for history buffs. The Shingardar Stupa is located in Shingardar Village, which is a small village between Ghalegay and Barikot. It is a relic from the Buddhist era, holding the distinction of being the largest of its kind across the Indian subcontinent. This giant stupa was built between the 3rd and 5th centuries by an ancient King of Swat named Uttarasena. This historical monument is adorned with many sculptures and superimposed rows of arches. It also features a small on-site museum. This Buddhist settlement’ remains are visible on the southern and eastern side. This major archeological site in Swat Valley can be accessed by car and is close to the road. 

Location: 

Shingardar Village

How to get there: 

It can be reached by the Bahrain Road, which takes around 32 minutes from Mingora.

Highlights:

An ancient monument, which is a remnant of the Buddhist era

6- Madyan

Madyan - Places to visit in Swat

If you are looking for a place that is less crowded and where you feel peace, then Madyan is a great place to visit in Swat Valley. It is a small town which is located at a distance of 55 km from Mingora City and known for its stunning scenery. There are many good restaurants where you can relish delicious local cuisines and trout fish. Madyan is particularly famous for its trout fish, so don’t forget to try it. Madyan is around 45 km away from the famous Kalam Valley, making it a great halfway tourist spot. This place also offers adventurous trekking trails that lead to Bishigram Lake in Besham. Another attraction of this place is its central mosque, which features beautifully crafted wooden pillars and mud-plastered west wall. Visitors can also come across many local handicrafts like wood carvings, embroidered shawls, jewelry, souvenirs, textiles, and pottery in its local bazaar. The best time to visit Madyan is between April and October. 

Location: 

45 km from Kalam Valley

How to get there: 

It takes around 1 hour and 40 minutes to get to Madyan via Rahrain Road from Kalam.

Highlights: 

Trout fish farms, trekking from Madyan to Besham, local handicrafts

7- Mingora

Mingora Swat - Places to visit in Swat

Another best place to visit in Swat is Mingora, which is the capital of the Swat district. Tourists often pass through as it is a congested city. People visit Swat to escape city life and spend time in nature. Once under the rule of the Taliban, now this city is safe to travel and known for its rich cultural heritage, cuisines, and breathtaking beauty.

However, this place deserves a place on your travel bucket list for your next Swat visit for many reasons. You can visit the famous White Palace or Sufaid Mahal and Buddhist ruins just a few kilometers away from Mingora. Mingora Bazar is also well worth a visit, which is a central business hub where tourists can shop for handicrafts, fabrics and other essentials. Jahanabad Buddha is another tourist attraction on the outskirts of Mingora city, and it is 6 meters tall, second largest carved Buddha statue, after the anthropomorphic Buddha statue in Afghanistan’s city of Bamyan.

Location: 

5.3 km from Saidu Sharif airport

How to get there: 

It takes around 18 minutes to reach there from Said Sharif airport.

Highlights: 

Jarogo Waterfalls trekking, viewpoint hike, Jahanabad Buddha, Mingora Bazar, Swat River


Read Also: Top 10 Best Places to visit in Skardu Valley

8-Ushu Forest

Ushu forest kalam swat
Credit: Hilal Aziz Yousafzai

With Perennial River, Swat is also known for its Deodar forest—Ushu Forest. This alpine forest is the ultimate tourist spot for wildlife and nature lovers due to its natural beauty and rich biodiversity. There are many treks and trails which offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Ushu waterfall and Kundol Lake are located within the forest where tourists can enjoy hiking, lake boating, and fishing. Another highlight of this slice of heaven is its flora and fauna. It is home to many rare species of animals and birds, such as the Red Fox, Lammergeier, the Himalayan Black Bear, the Golden Eagle, and many more. In rare cases, tourists can see them up close. 

Location: 

8 km from Kalam Valley

How to get there

It can be reached by foot from Kalam

Highlights

Hiking trails within Ushu Forest, camping at Ushu Forest, wildlife watching, walking through the Ushu Forest

9- Marghazar White Palace

Marghazar White Palace

When it comes to the best places to visit in Swat, there is nothing like the White Palace that throws a magic spell over the visitors when they take their first step into its expansive, lush green lawn. This white-colored palace was built in 1940 by Miangul Abdul Wadud, the first king of Swat. The white marble used to make this historical residence was brought from the same Jaipur marble quarry from which the Taj Mahal’s marble came. Situated approximately 13 kilometers south of Saidu Sharif, the majestic White Palace stands surrounded by the verdant beauty of Marghazar’s narrow valley. It takes around half an hour to reach there from Mingora by road. This Victorian style palace has 24 rooms along with a royal suite where Queen Elizabeth II of England stayed during her visit to Swat. This palace is now serving as a luxury hotel, where tourists can stay and experience the royal ambiance and admire the scenic beauty of this area. In winter, one can’t spot a green patch due to snowfall. In summer, visitors can enjoy the pleasant weather of Marghazar town, ripe apricots and cold water springs.  

Location: 

13 kilometers south of Saidu Sharif

How to get there: 

It can be reached by the Islampur Road, which takes around 30 minutes from Mingora.

Highlights:

Royal Suites, Prince Block nestled among trees, balcony with marble benches and a grapes engraved marble table in the front lawn

10- Gabin Jabba

Gabin Jabba

Gabin Jabba, which is a fusion of two Pashtu means “Honey Marshes” in Pashto language, is a gorgeous meadow in Swat Valley. This place is known for its thick forest, cascading waterfalls, mineral springs and snow-capped towering mountains. Included in the list of best places to visit in Swat, Gabin Jabba is located 60 km from Mingora City in the Swat district. Lalkoo is the nearest village to this most popular tourist spot in Swat. This village serves as a gateway to Gabin Jabba, from where it can be accessed through a 4-wheel drive vehicle. If you are not a die-hard camper, you can stay at glamping pods built by the KPK government and enjoy their beauty through glamping pods. Gabin Jabba Snow and Sports Festival is the second major winter sports event in Swat which is held in winter. The weather is magnificent between May and September. So visit this place during these months.

Location:

At a distance of 60km from Mingora

How to get there: 

It is 2 hours and 8 minutes away from the Mingora by car.

Highlights: 

Glamping pods, Gabin Jabba hiking trail, Gabin Jabba Cliff Top, Gabin Jabba Waterfalls, Skiing at Gabin Jabba Snow and Sports Festival 

FAQs

How to reach Swat?

You can get to Swat by road and by air. Many transport companies offer direct routes to Swat from major cities like Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, etc. If you are planning to go to Swat in your own car, take the route of the Mardan interchange from the capital city, followed by Malaknad Pass, after one and half-hour’s drive you will reach Mingora. It takes around 5 hours to reach Swat from Islamabad. PIA offers three weekly flights to Saidu Sharif to get to your destination by air.

What is the best time to visit Swat Valley?

Swat can be visited all year round. Between April and September is the best time to visit Swat. However, if you are a budget traveler and want to avoid crowds, then visit Swat in October and November.  

What are the best things to do in Swat?

Visiting Buddhist Monasteries, rafting in the Swat River, skiing at Malam Jabba Resort, trekking in Kalm, and exploring Ushu Forest are some of the best things to do in Swat.

What local food must one try in Swat?

When you are in Swat, savor the taste of local Pashtun cuisines, such as Lamb Karahi, Kabuli Pulao, Chapli Kebab, and more.

Are there any adventure activities available in Swat?

Swat is a great destination for adventure seekers. It offers many adventurous activities to indulge in, including trekking, hiking, rafting, rock climbing, and skiing in winter.

What are the best hotels in Swat?

Swat has many accommodation options for every budget. Burj Al-Swat Hotel, Shelton Reizdor Swat, Swat Serena Hotel, Swat Hilton Hotel are some of the best hotels in Swat.

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