Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan. It is a very beautiful city with great places to stay, a variety of shopping, and interesting things to do.
Having served as the capital of Pakistan since 1963 when construction of this purpose built city was complete enough for administrative functions to be shifted away from the harried chaos of Karachi on the coast, Islamabad has accrued many cultural assets that that short time, and also sits among a natural environment that is refreshing and inspiring to locals and guests alike!
Indeed, with only 1.15 million people in a city that extends over 906 square kilometres, Islamabad is an infinitely more relaxing place than Karachi, which is pushing 20 million in population and quickly, as migrants flood in as they search for employment opportunities.
An abundance of leafy trees give plenty of shade on the sides of its streets, and excellent views to many picturesque mountain peaks abound, which is not surprising given its location well upcountry.
As the nation’s capital, there is no shortage of galleries, museums and mosques to explore, and its proximity to Pakistan’s frontage on the Himalayan mountain range make it an excellent base from which to launch trekking excursions into the alluring peaks that await within a short journey of one of Pakistan’s youngest cities.
10:00am-11:30am : Saidpur Village
Visit Saidpur Village on the slopes of the Margalla hills to experience a site influenced by three cultures, as Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs used to live here together. Once a garden resort, Hindu commander Raja Man Singh converted the area into a place of Hindu worship, with the village still boasting preserved temples and ponds that represent a microcosm of Hindu civilization. In 2008, France assisted in renovating the village, turning it into a tourist destination with facilities to support longer holidays, not just one-day visits. Find local accommodations, visit art galleries and antique showrooms, and acquaint yourself with the village's folklore, heritage, and cuisine.
11:30am-12:30pm : Faisal Mosque
Completed in 1986 to designs by Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay, Faisal Mosque features a modern white facade inspired by the Bedouin desert tents. Pakistan's largest mosque, this structure boasts a prayer hall that can accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers at any given time. The building also includes a library, lecture hall, museum, and cafe. Although tourists of all faiths can visit this shrine, non-Muslims are asked to refrain from coming on Fridays and during daily prayers. Be sure to take your shoes off before you enter, and dress appropriately for a sacred place of worship.
12:30pm-4:30pm : Margalla Hills
At the end of winding roads and hairpin turns, Margalla Hills rewards with sweeping views of Islamabad. A perfect setting for hiking, this well-kept national park in the midst of the Lesser Himalayas also features chairlifts and various rock-climbing spots, while city-based clubs organize paragliding and hang gliding activities. With excellent restaurants overlooking the city panorama, the park provides a popular escape from the city for both locals and foreigners. Keep your eye out for wildlife, such as monkeys and rare birds.
5:00pm-6:00pm : Pakistan Monument Museum
The blooming flower shaped Pakistan Monument Museum symbolises the nation's progressive future while the museum preserves the memory of a diverse past. Explore the pre-partition history of rich and distinct Pakistan while walking through the sleek and minimalistic museum. Learn more about the diverse traditions, struggles, and accomplishments in chronological order with vivid mannequins on display. See rare manuscripts and books in the library, and relics of Iqbal and Muhammad Ali Jinnah the creator of the country. Don't miss the stunning vista spreading across the Shakarparian hills.
10:00am-11:00am : Saudi Pak Tower Building
Admire Saudi Pak Tower Building, a prime example of Islamic architecture. This commercial building has become a landmark of Islamabad, thanks to its height and exterior design. Multinational companies, telecommunications organizations, media offices, and even a hospital rent the space at the building. Take great photos of the building's facade and enjoy the surroundings, as you won't be allowed inside.
11:30am-1:30pm : Shakarpariyan Hills
For centuries used as a relaxation place during travel, today Shakarpariyan Hills remains a favorite among tourists. Graced with a pleasant breeze, the hill and its park offer a cool, quiet getaway even during the warmest June weather. Go for a walk in the park and see the trees, specific for being named after foreign dignitaries who, during their visits, each planted a tree. Enjoy the views of the city and picturesque mountainside.
2:00pm-6:00pm : The Centaurus Mall
A large mall bustling with visitors, The Centaurus Mall offers extensive shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Upon its completion in 2011 as part of a high-rise complex, the shopping center brought dozens of foreign brands to the city. In addition to diverse international retail, the mall boasts local brands, a food court, a movie theater (with movies in English, Hindi, and Urdu), and an arcade and indoor amusement park for children and families. Note that weekends can be very crowded, and that some visitors may have to pay a small entry fee.
10:00am-12:00pm : Lok Virsa Museum
Discover Pakistan's rich cultural heritage at Lok Virsa Museum, from early Pakistan culture to the glorious Mughal dynasty and the contemporary struggles of the modern nation. The mannequins portraying everyday life for ordinary families feel realistic and vividly tell each story. Wander among additional displays of pottery, pictures, statues, fine jewelry, and embroidered costumes. Learn more about traditional Pakistani architecture with exhibits of fresco, marble inlay, and mirror work, as well as intricate tiles and mosaics.
12:30pm-1:30pm : Pakistan monument
A national heritage museum, Pakistan monument serves as a perfect spot for sightseeing and learning about Pakistan's history. See the masterpiece of celebrated architect Arif Masoud, boasting richly decorated murals depicting scenes from the past. Designed in the shape of a blooming flower, and as a star and a crescent moon from a bird's eye view, the site symbolizes the country's rapid progress and development. After dark, the lights in the evenings make the monument look magical.
2:00pm-3:00pm : Daman-e-Koh
Climb up to the hilltop garden of Daman-e-Koh to enjoy panoramic views of Islamabad, seen through telescopes. The drive to the hilltop garden offers incredible natural scenery, but that's nothing compared top the view of Faisal Mosque and Rawai Lake from the top. In addition to the natural scenery, you can see some monkeys, peacocks, and some other animals frolicking in the area. You can leave your car in the onsite parking lot and a grab a bite to eat at the restaurant.
3:30pm-5:30pm : Pir Sohawa
Enjoy the breathtaking views of Islamabad and Faisal Mosque at Pir Sohawa. Located in the Margalla Hills, the area offers a selection of restaurants, which offer a serene atmosphere while you look over the picturesque scenery. Located 17 km (11 mi) from Islamabad at an altitude of 1524 m (5000 ft), the spot provides a combination of peaceful nature and excellent views over the city, creating a magical scene both during the day and at night, when the city lights add to the atmosphere.
10:30am-5:30pm : Ayub National Park
Go on lake rides, rest in gardens, and see wild animals at Ayub National Park. Named after Pakistani president Ayub Khan, the park offers boating facilities, an open-air theater, and a garden restaurant. Kids can enjoy the play area, which includes different rides and swings, before visiting the park's small zoo, where you can see a range of animals, such as, tigers, lions, zebras, llamas, monkeys, and red deer. If you get tired from all the activities, take a moment to relax on huge lawns. You can refreshments at the park's onsite restaurants, and also browse through a range of shops.
10:00am-12:00pm : Rawal Lake
Enjoy a picnic at Rawal Lake, and take a hike to the nearby hills for panoramic views over the water. Lush green trees and flowers surround the water, creating a picturesque scene around the lake, which serves as a reservoir for a few cities in the area. As you explore the lake, engage in various activities, such as water-skiing, diving, kayaking, sailing, boating, and bird-watching. Keep an eye out for residents of the picturesque lake, including wild ducks, porcupines, foxes, yellow-throated marten, pangolins, and various other birds. You can find restaurants and accommodations nearby.
12:00pm-2:00pm : Lake View Park
See rare bird species at the small zoo in Lake View Park, and take a tour of the park on a passenger train. Located alongside Rawai Lake, the park offers numerous water sports, such as riding scooter boats and speed boats, as well as fun rides for kids. Adults can try some more adventurous options, such as quad motocross and paintball. Relax and grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants or refreshment stalls. The park has picnic area equipped with grills, so you can bring some food with you and get cooking.
2:30pm-5:00pm : Bird Aviary
See rare bird species in their natural habitat at Bird Aviary, an aviary housing over a thousand different species and providing birds with a safe, natural environment. See parrots, pheasants, doves, swans, ducks, peacocks, cranes, and many other species at the aviary. Go to the birdwatching tower to get a better look at the birds' environment and see more birds up close. The birds aren’t scared of people, so you can feed them, a treat that kids in particular enjoy.
10:00am-11:30am : Pakistan Railways Heritage Museum
11:30am-1:00pm : Parliment House
See Pakistan's history come to life in the architecture and ornamentation of Parliment House. On the ground floor, you can explore the foyer, a bank, a restaurant, a post office, and a mosque. The office of the chairman and chambers for the leader of the house sit on the second floor, while the third floor features the offices of the senate and the national assembly secretariat. Climb to the top floor, where you'll find the president’s chamber. In front of the building, which was designed by Edward Durel Stone and took 11 years to build, you can see a collection of different trees planted by guests of the house.
5:30pm-6:00pm : Libra Jewellers
11:00am-12:30pm : the Mall Muree
An iconic shopping site both for tourists and locals, the Mall Muree offers a wide choice of products, from food to clothes and souvenirs. Visit this busy, colorful place and immerse yourself modern-day Pakistani life. See some of the historic sites and churches included along the road, or just wander around the quaint shops and outdoor stalls. Grab a drink and a snack, whether from a local food booth or one of the international fast-food restaurants.
3:00pm-4:30pm : Karakoram Highway
Embark on an epic journey along Karakoram Highway, the high-altitude, transnational road that famously crosses the Himalayas. Originally a basic caravan trail, the road was converted by the Chinese and Pakistani governments into the highway it is today. Although conditions on the highway have improved dramatically, take care during times of heavy rain, as landslides may occur. You can't ride bicycles along the highway; you'll be stopped at the border if you try to cross with your bike.