Best Places to Visit in Islamabad
As the capital and modern metropolis of Pakistan, Islamabad is one of the most visited cities in the country. It is the starting point for many Pakistani journeys, thanks to its large international airport and easy access to northern Pakistan’s attractions, and is frequently visited by business travelers. What all these groups of travelers have in common, however, is that they may not spend a lot of time in the city. So what if you only have one day to explore Islamabad? There are a lot of places to visit in Islamabad.
Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Islamabad and make your trip enjoyable.
Top 28 Best Places to Visit in Islamabad
Here are the top 28 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Islamabad:
1. The Monal
What if you are in the middle of an exciting adventure and your hunger strike continues? Don’t worry, because Islamabad has the right place to satisfy your appetite. Head to The Monal and enjoy delicious food that will keep your stomach from complaining. First, you can enjoy cheesy naan or Lahori’s special chicken naan.
You can then choose from a variety of rice dishes such as Chicken Dum biryani and Lamb Dum biryani. Other specialties served here include chicken karahi, beef kebab masala and chicken makhani. If you like fast food, try the beef burger or the chicken tikka burger.
Address: 9KM Pir Sohawa Rd, Islamabad
Working Hours: 9am – 12:30am (Daily)
2. Natural History Museum of Pakistan
Do you like science and natural history? To discover everything related to earth science, zoology and botany, you need to have fun at the Natural History Museum of Pakistan. Skulls and replicas etc. I can’t wait to see it. The museum will also help you learn more about Pakistan’s ecology and paleontology. Take the kids to an afternoon that is both exciting and educational.
Pakistan Natural History Museum
Address: Shakaparian National Park, Garden Road, Islamabad
Website: Pakistan Natural History Museum
Working Hours: 9:30am – 5:30pm (Daily)
Price: 30 Pakistani Rupees ($0.20)
3. Shah Allah Ditta Caves
You may want to forget about the museums for a while and spend time outside instead. If you want to reconnect with nature in Islamabad, the Shah Allah Ditta Caves, which have been around for centuries, are the place you must visit. Shah Allah Ditta is actually an ancient village with many caves believed to have been used by Buddhist monks for meditation. You can also find ruins from the Buddhist period here. You can admire the view of the caves as well as the surrounding mountains.
Address: Shah Allah Dita, Islamabad
Opening hours: 24 hours (every day)
4. Mount Margara National Park
Welcome to Margala National Park and enjoy the beauty of nature. Follow the trails for stunning landscapes and diverse flora and fauna. Some cheetahs, wild boars and red foxes can be found in the area. There are various options for outdoor activities such as rock climbing and hiking in this national park.
Margala National Park
Opening hours: 24 hours (every day)
A slice of heaven can be enjoyed in Bruty, with its lush greenery and clear blue waters. You may feel a little tired from your adventures and there is no better place to unwind than Bruti. Feel free to get your feet wet and feel instantly refreshed. Here you can enjoy a full bath.
Working Hours: Friday – Wednesday: 06:00 – 18:00; Thursday: 05:00 – 18:00
6. Raval Lake Aviary
Bird lovers should definitely spend time at Laval Lake Aviary located in Lake View Park. The aviary has a wide variety of birds and has become the third largest aviary in the world. Pelicans, parrots, you name it – you’ll find your favorite bird here.
Laval Lake Aviary
Address: Islamabad Lake View Park
Working Hours: 10:00 – 20:00 (Daily)
Price: 120 Pakistani Rupees ($0.80)
7. National Arts Council of Pakistan
The first reason to visit the Pakistan National Arts Council is that it is the first national art gallery in Pakistan. So this is a very special place. The art institution, which was opened to the public in 2007, has a total of 14 galleries where the works of local artists are exhibited. In addition to art exhibitions, the venue regularly hosts events such as music performances and dancing.
Pakistan National Arts Council
Address: Islamabad F-5/1 F-5
Hours of Operation: Sunday-Thursday: 9am-5pm (closed Friday-Saturday)
Price: 1,000 Pakistani Rupees ($7)
8. China-Pakistan Friendship Center
Pak China Friendship Center is a popular venue for events such as conferences, concerts, seminars, and workshops. If you’re nearby, you can drop by to see what’s going on inside and feel free to attend if anything catches your eye.
North China Friendship Center
Address: Garden Ave & Shakarparian Rd, Islamabad
Working Hours: Uncertain
9. Rose Jasmine Garden
Flowers are meant to add color to life, and among the most beautiful are roses and jasmines. Admire the vibrant blooms in the Rose and Jasmine Gardens, away from other landmarks. The place is huge and there are hundreds of varieties of roses. For jasmine, you may also appreciate some varieties, but not as much as roses. If you visit in the summer, you can watch the flower show.
Rose and Jasmine Garden
Address: Islamabad Kashmir Highway
Working Hours: 08:00 – 21:00 (Daily)
10. Golra Sharif Railway Museum
Golra Sharif Railway Museum, located in the Golra train station, built by the British in 1882, is definitely a frequent destination for train lovers. However, if you’re not a die-hard train fan and are just curious about Pakistan’s railroad history, you should still check out the museum. Inside, there are many artifacts and memorabilia describing how this vehicle came to be in the country, with a focus on British rule.
Gorla Sharif Railway Museum
Address: Golra Railway Station, Golra Rd, Islamabad
Price: 10 PKR ($0.1)
11. Trail 5
For outdoor enthusiasts who want to participate in nature activities even on vacation, you can enjoy hiking on Hiking Track 5, also known as Dara Janglan, one of Islamabad’s most popular trails. Compared to other hikes, this trek is more popular because it is easier and therefore suitable for hikers of all ages. You will begin your hike on the Magalla Trail and complete the entire route, which takes approximately two to three hours depending on your walking pace. However, it is recommended to stop once in a while to catch a glimpse of the surrounding scenery.
Hiking Trail 5 Dara Janglan
Address: Islamabad Road 5
Working Hours: 5am – 7pm (Daily)
12. Bahria Enclave Zoo
If you think Islamabad Zoo is not enough and you are interested in exploring another zoo, Bahria District Zoo is what you need. The high quality of the zoo’s facilities shows how much the animals enjoy a lazy and relaxed life. If you’re a fan of cats, this place is perfect as it houses cats of different sizes. The white lion is a special attraction, as it is a particularly rare species. You can also see deer, elephants and more.
Bahria Region Zoo
Address: Bahria District, Islamabad
Working Hours: 8am – 7pm (Daily)
Price: 100 Pakistani Rupees ($0.70)
13. Lal Masjid
You will see a lot of mosques all over the city as most people in Pakistan are Muslims. Another mosque that arouses admiration is the Lal Mosque. It literally means “Red Mosque” in English. You can see how beautiful this mosque is, there are red bricks everywhere that make it different from other mosques. Go inside and say your prayers and don’t rush when you’re done. Instead, you can take a walk in the area and admire the lush green surroundings.
Address: Islamabad G-6/4 G 6/4 G-6 Masjid Road
Opening hours: 24 hours (every day)
14. Japanese Children Park
If your Little Solo is going with you to Islamabad, you should take them to the Japanese Playground. As the name suggests, this park was made to entertain children. Your child can play with other children in the playground. There are also picnic areas and resting areas where you can relax or have a snack while watching the young people running around.
Address: Saidpur, Islamabad
Working Hours: 8am – 11pm (Daily)
15. Sir Sayed Memorial Museum
Finally, be sure to stop by the Sir Saeed Memorial Museum before leaving Islamabad. Take a leisurely walk and admire the murals and paintings that tell the story of the Pakistani movement. There is also a hall in the Memorial Museum that hosts many performances and events from academics to religious subjects, from music to art.
Sir Said Monument
Address: 19 Ataturk Street, G-5/1 G-5, Islamabad
Working Hours: Monday to Friday: 09:00 – 17:00 (Closed from Saturday to Sunday)
What could be better for a morning in Islamabad than climbing the Margalla Hills for morning city views?
Just kidding, you don’t have to walk. You can easily reach Daman-e-Koh, Islamabad’s most famous viewpoint, by car. From there you can see all the famous attractions of Islamabad including the Faisal Mosque, 7th Street and Laval Lake. You can also go higher for a better view from Pir Sohawa and dine at the famous Monal restaurant.
Visiting Daman-e-Koh is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Islamabad in the morning, as the temperature will be more comfortable, the light will be softer and there will be fewer crowds.
Daman -e- Koh Rd, E-7, Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory 44000
9:00am – 11:00pm (actually closed when I arrived but security still let me in)
17. Saidpur Village
I never thought I would find a village in the center of the Pakistani capital!
I only heard of this place after one of my followers recommended it to me and I’m so glad they did! I actually can’t believe so many Islamabad tour guides are skipping this place because I believe visiting this rural enclave is one of the best things to do in Islamabad whenever and wherever.
Saidpur Villages is a 500-year-old village located below the Margalla Hills and adjacent to the famous Faisal Mosque. During its long life, the village has experienced the presence of numerous ethnic and religious groups, so you can even find an ancient Hindu temple and Sikh Gurdwara there. Escape the hustle and bustle of city life by wandering around the village and dining at Des Pardes Restaurant 1.
Follow Saidpur Village Road until you reach the village
18. Faisal Mosque
The modern architecture of the Faisal Mosque attracts worshipers and tourists alike.
Islamabad’s most famous landmark, the Faisal Mosque, is undoubtedly one of the most iconic mosques in Pakistan and the world, and visiting it is one of the must-do things in Islamabad.
The mosque was first opened in 1988 after a generous donation of approximately $120 million from Saudi King Faisal bin Abdulaziz. Inspired by the shape of a traditional Bedouin tent, the unique modern design of this mosque was selected after a global competition. Due to its large courtyard and place of worship, Faisal Mosque is not only the largest mosque in Pakistan but also the fifth largest in the world.
Visiting a mosque for touristic purposes is still a controversial issue in Pakistan, but you can see crowds of tourists flocking to Faisal Mosque every day to take selfies. This mosque is undoubtedly one of the main attractions of Islamabad and you can safely visit it for worship and sightseeing as long as you dress modestly and behave modestly.
Shah Faisal Ave, E-8, Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory 44000
19. Centaurus Mall
Shopping spree in Islamabad’s biggest mall? Sure! Centaurus Mall is one of the largest malls in Pakistan and is a mid to high end mall in Islamabad. From international brands to local brands, from food to entertainment, you can find everything here. This is the perfect place to buy some traditional Pakistani clothing to help you fit in without worrying about bargains and overcharges at the local market.
Also, this popular mall has markets and exhibits you wouldn’t think you’d come across by chance, so there’s nothing you can’t do here. For example, there was a Pakistani mango fair while I was there and I could taste the juice for free!
The mall also has a large food court for casual dining. My personal recommendation is Mastana, a place that serves cheap combo meals and some of my favorite Pakistani food. (Yes, kebab, palak paneer, see you!)
F8 4 Jinnah Street, F 8/4 F-8, Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory 44220
Monday-Thursday: 11:00 – 23:00
Friday: 11:00 – 12:00
20. Lok Virsa Heritage Museum
Shop for traditional crafts at Lok Virsa Museum. Lok Virsa is an ethnographic museum representing past and present traditions and cultures across Pakistan. It’s a great place to get to know different parts of the country, especially if you can’t visit them all in person.
What distinguishes this museum from other museums in the country is its strong emphasis on the continuation of living traditions. Therefore, if you want to better understand the country you are traveling to, you should definitely visit the Lok Virsa Cultural Museum.
Entry for foreigners is higher than for locals (50pkr versus 500pkr), but still very affordable compared to similar attractions in other parts of the world.
Garden Avenue, Shakarparian Rd, Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory
Tuesday-Thursday, weekends: 10:00 – 20:00
Friday: same hours, but closed from 12:30 to 14:00
21. Islamabad Zoo
It’s always fun to see animals. If you want to meet friendly animals and observe their natural behavior, Islamabad Zoo is for you. Here you can see a wide variety of animals such as zebras, giraffes and wolves. Children will love these animals and you will have a lot of fun watching them.
Address: Pir Sohawa Rd, Saidpur, Islamabad
Working Hours: 9am – 7pm (Daily)
Price: 30 Pakistani Rupees ($0.20)
22. Pakistani Monuments
What could be better than the Pakistan Monument to display my Pakistani flag?
Another important landmark in Pakistan, the Pakistan Monument is located next to Lok Virsa on Shakaparian Mountain. Opened in 2007, the petal-shaped monument symbolizes the unity of the Pakistani people. Each petal represents one of the ethnic groups that make up Pakistan, which came together to protect the center’s flag star 3. Visited the monument the night before National Day and the atmosphere was even more special.
Visiting the Pakistan Monument is one of the best things to do in Islamabad during the blue hour after sunset as it allows you to enjoy the powerful lighting of the monument during the rush hour. The entrance fee is 20 rupees per person, but foreigners have to pay more.
Shakarparian Hills, Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory
10:00 – 19:45, even more so for the adjacent museum, which is closed every Monday, although the monument itself has not strictly enforced its opening hours.
23. Dine in A Markaz
For the best, cheapest and most authentic dining experience in Islamabad, head to your local Markaz!
Eating at Makaz is undoubtedly one of the most authentic things to do in Islamabad. Markaz is essentially an industrial business district, where you can find everything from shops to grocery stores to food. Almost every department in Islamabad has its own sign, so you only need to visit the nearest branch to your place of residence.
Filled with authentic restaurants and street food, Islamabad’s bazaars are lively 24/7 and are the perfect places for a snack or a late-night bite. Last time, my wife and I had a delicious breakfast and “premium chai” for less than 200 rupees (~$1.20) at Markaz.
Thanks to the inexpensive bazaars, Markazes is also a great place to shop. This is an alternative to shopping at the mall.
Every industry has its own brand, probably within walking distance of where you live.
Always busy, but check the individual stores.
Other great things to do in Islamabad
These are the “must-do” in Islamabad, the city’s main attraction. However, there are many other great things to do in Islamabad that you can include in your Islamabad itinerary or spread out over multiple days. Here are some more comforting suggestions:
Take a deep breath at Lakeview Park
Like an oasis in a big city, Lake Laval is the perfect place to relax by the water in Islamabad, and that’s what Lake View Park is for. The park offers a great escape for visitors of all ages, with its colorful birds, gardens and many fun activities such as boating, fishing and swimming.
Murree Rd, LAKE VIEW PARK, Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory 49510
10:00 – 10:00
24. Fatima Jinnah Park
Fatima Jinnah Park, also known as Capital Park, is a great place to relax in Islamabad. Located in the F-9 district, this massive park has plenty of natural greenery, playgrounds, and walking spots, making it the perfect place to get some exercise in the middle of a busy day of sightseeing.
Jinnah Boulevard, Islamabad 44000 Pakistan
10:30 – 11:00
25. Kohsar Market
If you really miss the convenience of West Pakistani food, check out Kohsar Market. This high-end business district in the F-6 district is devoid of upscale Italian restaurants and quaint little cafes. For travelers who have been in Pakistan for a while and want to experience something different, visiting this area is one of the best things to do in Islamabad.
Street 10, Markaz F 6/3 F-6, Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory 44000
Check the opening hours of individual restaurants.
Islamabad day trip
So you ticked all the great things to do in Islamabad on your list? The good news is that there are many great places outside the capital that are great destinations for a day trip from Islamabad.
Did you know that Islamabad has a twin sister named Rawalpindi? Rawalpindi is Islamabad’s more traditional counterpart and a perfect quick getaway if things are getting a little too modern around you. This is a historical city where you can’t escape antiquities. Rawalpindi is the main transport hub and there are many buses connecting to Rawalpindi or you can take Careem or Uber from there. Almost the same city.
Taxila is a fascinating 3,000-year-old archaeological site located approximately 20 kilometers northwest of Islamabad. This important ancient Indian city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its rich ruins that reveal thousands of years of urbanization patterns. The location is in the modern city of Taxila and easily accessible by bus or taxi.
A popular destination in the foothills of the Himalayas, Muri is the closest resort to the city, just 40 kilometers from Islamabad. Due to its mountain location, Muri is a great place to cool off in the summer and enjoy the snow in the winter. Also, you don’t have to worry about accommodation as the town is almost full of hotels and hostels. The bus from Islamabad to Muri is very cheap (even cheaper than my breakfast in Markaz!) but you can also choose to take a taxi to get there.
It’s not really a day trip, at least a few days off, but Islamabad is the perfect base to explore Pakistan’s beautiful northern region. Some great destinations include:
Naran Khan Valley
Hunza Valley and Khunjerab Pass
There are plenty of buses going north to various destinations, but for more freedom, I recommend hiring a local driver. On the way home, my partner and I found a reliable driver in front of the bus station and instead took a three-day trip to Naran. Oh, how I love spontaneity!
Contrary to what some might say, Islamabad is a great tourist destination in Pakistan. There are so many wonderful things to do in Islamabad that one should set aside at least three days to explore. However, as many travelers pass only a short time from Islamabad, this guide highlights the city’s highlights that can be done in one day. Keep in mind that Islamabad has many other great things to do in addition to the city’s main attractions, and the city is also a great base from which to explore the rest of Pakistan.