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Top 10 best places to visit in Islamabad

best places to visit in Islamabad
best places to visit in Islamabad

Islamabad is the glitzy and modern capital of Pakistan. It is the country’s most visited city and gateway to the northern areas. It is a relatively new metropolis that has been inhabited for over 50 years. Lies in the foothills of the Margala Hills, it offers a glimpse into Pakistan’s modern urban life. 

Unlike Lahore, it lacks historical and cultural sights, but it does make up for in viewpoints to enjoy scenic views of the city and watch the sunset, and expensive parks to relax in and indulge in fun activities. It is frequented by tourists as it provides access to one of the largest airports in the country, and one can take flights to famous tourist spots in Pakistan like Chitral, Gilgit, and Skardu. Admittedly, it lacks the frenetic energy of other Pakistani cities like Lahore and can feel a bit dull at times, but there are still many places to visit in Islamabad. 

Above all, its sister city, Rawalpindi, AKA Pindi, is less than half an hour away from the capital city, and you can visit it on your trip to Islamabad. When you go for haveli-hunting in old Rawalpindi, roam around Raja Bazar, or visit the Jamia Masjid in the old city, you will feel the vibes of the Walled City of Lahore there. It is also home to the best 5-star hotels in Islamabad, which are close to the top tourist attractions and offer exceptional service. If you are in a rush to visit this city, like most travelers, here are some of the best places to visit in Islamabad that you can explore in a day or two. Let’s get into it!

Top 10 best places to visit in Islamabad

1: Faisal mosque

Faisal Mosque-top 10 places to visit in islamabad

Faisal Mosque is Pakistan’s largest and most modern mosque, which is considered one of the most famous places to see in Islamabad. It is named after the late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia and is located in the foothills of lush green Margalla Hills. This mosque is the epitome of contemporary Islamic architecture and shaped like a typical Arab Bedouin tent, which is believed to represent the Holy Kaaba abstractly. Unlike other mosques in Pakistan that feature domes and arches, this mosque has no domes. However, there are four minarets (80 meters high) on each corner of the main hall. 

These minarets are the tallest in South Asia, and their design is inspired by Turkish architecture. The mosque is built on an elevated area, enhancing its majestic appearance. The main hall’s interior is adorned with mosaics and calligraphy by Sadequain, giving a touch of indo-Islamic roots. The Qibla wall features calligraphic tiles in white and blue hues, which are designed by a Turkish artist. There is also a library, museum, café, and lecture hall. Remember to wear modest clothing while visiting Faisal Mosque. The best time to visit this one of Islamabad top attractions is before sunset because temperatures will be more comfortable and you can take photos in good light. Visitors can also get a chance to hear the call for evening prayer around this time.

Location: 

Shah Faisal Ave, E-8, Islamabad

How to get there:

It takes around 10 minutes from Islamabad’s blue area.

Highlights:

The Arab Bedouin tent like shaped mosque with picturesque backdrop of Margalla Hills, South Asian tallest 4 minarets, and interior decorated with calligraphy by the famous artist Sadequain.

Faisal M^osque inner view

2: The Margalla Hills 

The Margalla Hills - Places to visit in Islamabad
The Margalla Hills

The crown jewel of Islamabad is the lush green Margalla Hills that are part of the foothills of the Himalayas and stretch from Shahdara Valley to Shah Allah Ditta village. The hills are located on the northern edge of this tropical city. Known as a famous weekend gateway due to a variety of well-marked hiking trails for every level of hiker, it adds charm and touristy grandeur to the capital city, similar to that offered by the sea view, Karachi.

These hills surround the capital city on two sides and are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, hiking trails, and picnic spots for families, including Rawal Lake, Dam-e-Koh viewpoint, Dino Valley, and Pir Sohawa. It features many valleys and tall peaks, including Tilla Charouni, which is the highest peak of this range of hills. Between 250 and 300 species of plants are found in the hills, and most of them are used to treat various diseases. Exotic birds, monkeys, and the endangered Margalla leopards also live in the Margalla Hills. 

Often considered one of Islamabad beautiful places, it is also a great place to hit the trails, which can be accessed from the center of the city. When the temperature is moderate, go for a hike in the Margalla Hills and immerse yourself in the serenity of nature. There are seven officially recognized trails in Margalla Hills, and all are given numerical designations.

They are frequented by locals and foreign tourists to enjoy adventurous hikes and the natural environment. Trail 3 and Trail 5 are Islamabad’s most popular hiking trails. Trail 7 also has a track for mountain bikes. If you decide to hike on Tail 2, then you will end up at Dam-e-Koh viewpoint, while Trail 3 offers panoramic views of the city and takes you to the famous Monal Restaurant, and the views from there are hard to beat.

Location: 

Northern edge of Islamabad

How to get there: 

Around a 23-minute drive from Faisal Mosque

Highlights: 

Well-marked Hiking trails for hiking and mountain biking, Pir Sohawa Road, Dam-e-Koh viewpoint, and panoramic view of Islamabad city from Trail 3.

The Margalla Hills - Top 10 Places to visit in Islamabad
Trail3 – Image belongs to the author

3: Dam-e-koh viewpoint

Dam-e-koh viewpoint - visiting places in Islamabad
Dam-e-koh viewpoint – Image belongs to the author

Positioned at the center of Margalla Hills, Dam-e-Koh viewpoint is one of the most beautiful places in Islamabad. This famous viewing point offers panoramic views over Islamabad City without hiking up the Margalla Hills. It not only gives the visitors a sense of the capital city’s layout but also offers breathtaking views of prominent landmarks. From the southern spot, tourists can see the famous landmarks of Islamabad, the majestic Faisal Mosque, and other famous attractions, including Rawal Lake and Seventh Avenue. Telescopes are also provided to enhance the viewing experience. If you want to enjoy even better city views, you can move up further to Pir Sohawa and enjoy breathtaking views of Islamabad from its viewpoint. Dam-e-Koh is just 13 km away from Pir Sohawa and serves as a stopover en route to Pir Sohawa.

This vista is especially captivating when the splendid sunset lights up the sky, and the city is bathed in yellow, red, and orange hues, leaving a lasting impression on visitors. Adventure seekers can also access the Dam-e-Koh viewpoint by hiking from Trail 2 of Margalla Hills. Furthermore, this scenic tourist spot is a great place to unwind and escape the hustle and bustle of city life due to its serene atmosphere up in the Margalla Hills. Visiting Daman-e-Koh is one of the best things to do in Islamabad, especially before sunset and at night. You can witness the illuminated cityscape if you visit Dam-e-Koh at night. Visit this one of the best places in Islamabad in the early morning when the temps are cooler and there are fewer visitors.

Another notable aspect of this famous tourist spot in Islamabad is its diverse wildlife, which includes many playful monkeys and various bird species. Dam-e—Koh viewpoint can be visited from 9 AM to 11 PM.

Location: 

E7, Islamabad

How to get there: 

It takes around 17 minutes to get there from Faisal Mosque.

Highlights: 

Panoramic views over Islamabad, views of Faisal Mosque and Parliament House from the southern side, species of birds and monkeys, linked to Trail 2, souvenir shops, and cityscape view at night.

Dam-e-koh-viewpoint-tourist-places-in-Islamabad
Dam-e-koh viewpoint -Image belongs to the author

 


Don’t forget to check out as well…

4: Pir Sohawa

Pir Sohava- islamabad famous places
Pir Sohava – Image belongs to the author

Pir Sohawa is one of the best Islamabad outing places that offer adventure and mountain views and let you enjoy some time in the laps of nature. It is one of the most beautiful places near Islamabad, located on the top of Margalla Hills. It is definitely worth a visit, as it has several hiking trails, resorts, and restaurants that serve spectacular city views. This tourist resort near Islamabad is an 11-mile drive from the capital city, known for the famous Monal Restaurant that offers scrumptious meals, and the vantage point provides a bird’s eye view of Islamabad city. Most hiking trails in Margalla Hills lead to Pir Sohawa near La Montana and Monal Restaurant, such as Trail 5 and Trail 3. Trail 3 takes you directly to the La Montana and Monal Restaurant, while Trail 5 leads you to the top of twisted Pir Sohawa Road.

This road starts from Islamabad Zoo, and the drive to Pir Sohawa is an adventure in itself. You will see the breathtaking views of the Margalla Hills and surrounding landscapes. If you go in your own car, you can park at various points and enjoy views of the city from above.  The famous Dino Valley is also located on Pir Sohawa Road. It features a dinosaur theme park, camping sites, a carnival restaurant, and numerous food stalls, making it one of the best entertainment places to visit in Islamabad with family. Pir Sohawa is not only a famous place for hanging out but also serves as an alternative to Queens of Hills, Murree.

Location: 

17 km away from Islamabad City

How to get there:

33-minute drive to get there from Islamabad Zoo, Islamabad

Highlights: 

Dino Valley, scenic Pir Sohawa Road, Monal & La Montana Restaurant, Hiking trail 3 & 5 connectivity to Pir Sohawa Road and Monal Restaurant, bird’s eye view of Islamabad City, and Highland Country Club & resorts.

PIr Sohava - places in islamabad
Pir Sohava

5: Lake View Park

Lake view Park - beautiful places in Islamabad
Lake view Park – Image belongs to the author

Located on the edge of Rawal Lake, Lake View Park is a famous picnic spot and one of the best places to visit in Islamabad for couples.  It is like an oasis and contains a walk-in bird aviary with 300 different species of birds, well-kept gardens, and a BBQ area. It also has lakeside lounging area, motorsport ranch, boating arena, and fishing places.

In addition, it offers various fun and adventurous activities, including horse riding, rock climbing, road train riding, boating, swimming, and kayaking, making it an excellent retreat for visitors. You can relax by water, enjoy live music performances, explore the park on the golf cart or road train, and indulge in various fun activities. 

This park also features M1 Traxx amusement park, Battlefield, and Ibex Club, which allows you to play paintball with your friends, and try rock climbing. Its walk-in bird aviary is the world’s third largest, where visitors can see varieties of falcons, emus black swans, Australian parrots, and peacocks, among others. There are fifteen varieties of fish found in the lake, making it an excellent spot for fishing. It receives more visitors on weekends and school holidays. Entry ticket is 20 rupees, and the park is open to the public from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Location: 

Murree Road, Islamabad

How to get there: 

15-minute drive time from Blue Area, Islamabad

Highlights: 

bird aviary, boating arena, motorsports ranch, paintball battlefield, road train ride, fishing places, and rock climbing and horse riding opportunities. 

Lake View Park – Image belongs to the author

6: Saidpur Village

Saidpur Village - Best places to visit in islamabad
Saidpur Village – Image credit(aminazaheer)

Saidpur Village is an ancient village located down Margalla Hills on the hill road near Dam-e-Koh. This Mughal-era village has experienced the presence of multi-ethnic groups with different religions. It was an example of interfaith harmony as Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs lived here side by side before the partition of Pakistan and India.

There are many places of worship of different religions in this village, including an old Hindu Temple, a church, a mosque, and a Sikh Gurudwara. In the 16th century, it was set up as a place for Hindu worshipers and became a prominent Hindu pilgrimage site where Hindu worshippers celebrate Baisakhi. The remains of the village are still present and tell the tales of a bygone era. In 2006, the Capital Development Authority renovated it to attract tourists and turned it into a cultural tourist attraction and a heritage site. 

The historical sites are decked in bright colors that draw the eyes. Visitors can take a stroll through the village and see the essence of simple village life, visit the temple and Gurudwara, enjoy the panoramic view of Margalla Hills, relish delicious food at restaurants like the famous Des Pardes restaurant, visit the museum and photo gallery to see its historical art and shop jewelry from antique shops. In addition, adventure seekers can try rock climbing in Saidpur village. You can visit this ancient village during the day and night. Its beauty is worth seeing in the cloudy weather. At night, it is especially stunning and considered one of the best places to visit in Islamabad at night. To avoid crowds, consider visiting this village on weekdays as it is swarmed by visitors on weekends. 

Location:

Near Dam-e-Koh, Islamabad

How to get there: 

It takes around 15 minutes from Dam-e-Koh by road.

Highlights: 

16th-century Rama Temple, a Sikh Gurudwara, Photo gallery, shrine of Zinda Pir, antique shops, Tanzara art gallery, and rock-climbing spot

Saidpur Village
Saidpur Village

7: The Pakistan monument

The Pakistan monument - Top Attractions in Islamabad
The Pakistan monument

Included in the list of famous Islamabad tourist places, Pakistan Monument is a national monument in Pakistan. Visiting this iconic landmark is the best thing to do in Islamabad, especially if you are an architecture admirer. This monument offers stunning views of Islamabad as it is situated on top of a hill. It is shaped like a blooming flower, and its design is influenced by Mughal architecture. A viewing platform is located at the farthest end of the monument, where one can see Islamabad City from a bird’s eye perspective.

The petal monument symbolizes the unity of the people of Pakistan and features seven petals, of which four are larger petals, and three are small petals. Larger petals represent the culture of the four provinces of Pakistan, while smaller petals represent Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, and the minorities of Pakistan. Though these petals are independent of each other, they all stand together to protect the crescent and star of Pakistan’s national flag.  

The inner walls of each petal are adorned with murals from the history of Pakistan. The Pakistan Monument Museum is also located inside the complex, which depicts the freedom struggle of Pakistan and important events in the history of the subcontinent. It is worth visiting both during the day and the night, but visiting it at dusk allows you to witness expansive deep blue skies, and the petal-shaped structure lights up to become radiant yellow.

Lok Virsa Museum is also located near the Pakistan Monument and can be reached on foot, making it the best tourist attraction in Islamabad to enjoy cultural stuff. There is also a souvenir shop within the complex where visitors can buy handicrafts and traditional jewelry. The entry ticket is 20 rupees for adults and can be visited from 09:00 am to 9:00 pm. 

Location:  

Shakarparian Hills, Islamabad

How to get there: 

10-minute drive time from Shakarparian National Park

Highlights: 

Seven petals structure, Murals on each petal, hand impressions of construction works on walls, view of Islamabad city from viewing platform, monument arches, Pakistan Monument Museum, souvenir shop, sunset, and night view. 

Pakistan Monument Museum
Pakistan Monument Museum

8: Shah Allah Ditta Caves

Shah Allah Ditta Cav5es
Credit: misatalpur

Shah Allah Ditta Caves is one of the best places to visit near Islamabad, which is a 700-year-old Buddhist archeological site. Located at the foothills of Margalla Hills, it once served as a route connecting Kabul City (present-day Afghanistan’s capital) and Gandharan City of Taxila. It is said that the Alexander the Great, and Mughal Emperors used to pass through this region on their way to Afghanistan to Taxila and India to Afghanistan, respectively. The caves were used as a place for mediation. It is an undiscovered tourist spot near Islamabad, which is largely abandoned. Its old walls feature carvings of Buddha. Shah Allah Ditta Caves are believed to be remnants of the Buddhist monks, Muslim ascetics during the Mughal era, and Hindu sadhus. 

Banyan trees scattered around the caves represent meditation, silence, and self-awareness through reflection. These caves are located at the very edge of Sector E-11 in Islamabad and can be easily accessed by road. If you are looking for a quiet place to unwind and enjoy stunning sunset views over Margalla Hills, this ancient archaeological site is the best place to visit. It is not frequented by tourists, but it is a cozy place where people come and immerse themselves in the calmness of the surroundings.

Location: 

North of Shah Allah Ditta Village near Islamabad

How to get there:

It takes over half an hour to get there from the center of Islamabad.

Highlights: 

Buddha carvings on the cave walls, 700 old caves decorated with murals from the Buddhist period.

9: Lok Virsa Heritage Museum

Lok Virsa Heritage Museum - islamabad places to visit
Lok Virsa Heritage Museum

Lok Virsa Heritage Museum is one of the best Islamabad places to visit in Shakarparian Hills National Park. It is an ethnographic museum that showcases the country’s multicultural society by displaying both the past and present culture and traditions of the various ethnic groups of Pakistan. From ancient artifacts to traditional architecture facades and artwork of local artisans to traditional jewelry, it exhibits everything that showcases the cultural heritage of the people of Pakistan.  

The distinguishing feature of this museum compared to other museums in Pakistan is its significant focus on preserving living traditions. Above all, this heritage museum allows you to learn about the culture and history of different parts of Pakistan. This museum has seven exhibit halls, including Sufi and shrines hall featuring performing postures of famous musicians singing the poetry of Lal Shehbaz Qaldar, Sachal Sarmat, and others. Spend a couple of hours wandering the halls and learn about the culture of Pakistan’s different places, especially the ones you have not visited yet. 

If you want to learn about ancient civilizations and Pakistan’s freedom movement, visit the Pakistan Monument Museum, which is just 900 meters away from Lok Virsa Museum. The entrance fee of Lok Virsa Museum is 50 rupees for locals and 500 rupees for foreigners, and it can be accessed from Tuesday to Sunday between 10 am and 8:00 pm.

Location:  

Garden Avenue, Shakarparian Road, Islamabad

How to get there: 

It takes 15 minutes to get there by road from Faisal Mosque.

Highlights: 

7 exhibit halls displaying displays the cultural heritage of Pakistani people, adjacent Lok Virsa Heritage Reference Library, 3 D Sufi and Shrines diorama, and nearby Pakistan Monument Museum.

Lok Virsa Heritage Museum - islamabad places to visit

10: Fatima Jinnah Park

Fatima Jinnah Park - F9 park
Fatima Jinnah Park – Image belongs to the author

Fatima Jinnah Park, locally known as F-9 Park, is a massive park that spans the whole of Sector F-9 of the capital city and is a great outing place in Islamabad. This recreational park is more than just a relaxing place to hang out. It is named after Madar-e Millat Fatima Jinnah. Jogging tracks, a gym, a dedicated cycling track, verdant laws, playgrounds, a sports zone, water ponds, man-made structures, a 9-hole golf course, walking trails, and numerous benches can be found throughout the park. 

It is the perfect place to leisurely stroll through the park after a busy day of sightseeing. This park is home to 200 species of trees, and most of its area is a wildlife sanctuary, making it a peaceful retreat for nature lovers. Margalla Hills can be seen from the park. The star highlights of this park are Baradari, three domes, and Aiwan-e-Quaid Library. With its natural green scenery and recreational activities, it is one of the best places to visit with family in Islamabad. Its entry ticket is 30 rupees and can be visited between 9:00 am and 11:00 pm.

Location: 

F-9 Sector, Islamabad, Pakistan

How to get there: 

Around a 20-minute drive from Faisal Mosque

Highlights: 

Leisure Arena, Baradari, jogging tracks, 9-hole golf course, water ponds, Aiwan-e-Quaid Library, cycling track, lawns for picnics and strolls, and walking tracks.

Fatim6ah Jinnah Park - F9 Park

The Bottom Line:

Islamabad is one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan, which may not feel like a typical South Asian city, but it offers a side of Pakistan you might not be able to experience in other Pakistani cities.

This city is close to very beautiful terrain and serves as a starting point for exploring the north of Pakistan. Plus, its Western flair makes it the perfect retreat for Western tourists. 

From Margalla Hills to Faisal Mosque and Lok Virsa Museum to Lake View Park, there are plenty of the best places to visit in Islamabad, which are hard to beat in any other city of Pakistan. The best time to visit Islamabad is between October and April. Two to three days is the perfect amount of time to see Islamabad famous places. 

If you have found some other place that tourists should not miss on their visit to Islamabad, let us know in the comment box so we can consider adding it to our list of the best tourist places in Islamabad.

If you are planning a trip with your family to beat the summer heat, check out these best places you must visit in Swat Valley.

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