Islamabad Travel Guide: What to do, eat, and see!
July 25, 2019
by Zanib Syed
The capital city of Pakistan, Islamabad is one of the most beautiful cities in the world! Islamabad is the perfect city to explore different cultures, amazing food, and breathtaking views. Here are some places you should visit, foods you should eat and things you should do on your trip to Islamabad.
Don’t you just hate standing around and waiting for a taxi? Concerned about how you’re going to get around? Well, worry no more, because transportation in Pakistan is one thing you can cross off your list of ‘things to worry about.’
There are several ways to get around Islamabad, the most popular being Careem. Careem is one of the most efficient means of transport as it is easy to use and extremely affordable. It’s simple. All you have to do is download the Careem app, put in your location and where you’d like to go and that’s it!
In more local areas, rickshaws are a great option. They’re relatively cheaper and you can find them driving around everywhere. However, in most parts of Islamabad, rickshaws are banned because they can be quite noisy and contribute a fair bit to pollution.
Tip: Ask locals about how much you should pay for your journey. Often rickshaw drivers end up charging more when they know you’re from abroad.
Metro bus is another environmentally friendly and hassle-free way to get around Islamabad. Since the metro has a separate road, you save a lot of time by avoiding traffic and most metro stops are close by to shopping centers, restaurants and places you’d want to visit. Avoid office hours as the Metro can get packed quickly!
Places to see:
Most people will tell you that compared to other cities in Pakistan, there’s a lot less to see and do in Islamabad, and they aren’t necessarily wrong. However, that doesn’t mean you should cross Islamabad of the list completely. As a matter of fact, Islamabad has some of the most captivating views, modern architecture and arguably the best food in the country. Listed below are a few places you must visit in Islamabad!
Islamabad is home to one of Pakistan’s most beautiful mosques known as Faisal Mosque. It is located right beside Margalla Hills providing a scenic view, like something out of a painting. The modern and unique design of the mosque allows it to be seen from afar day and night, and visitors are always welcome. It’s best to avoid Fridays and prayer times because it can get really busy! It’s also important to dress appropriately (for women a headscarf is preferred.)
Daman-e-Koh, popular for its panoramic views over Islamabad, is located in the heart of Margalla Hills. It’s the perfect spot for a family picnic or simply for taking in the breathtaking views. It’s a short drive up, and if you’re feeling adventurous you can also take a 30-minute hike to the top.
Shakarparian, one of the most scenic places in Islamabad, is the ideal place for nature lovers. Shakarparian is also home to Pakistan Monument, another popular tourist attraction. It is considered the national monument of Pakistan, a tribute to all those who sacrificed their lives for the independence of this country. Its creative design and historical background are just a few reasons why you must visit this place.
Highland Resort, located amidst the lush greenery of Margalla Hills is another place you must visit in Islamabad. It’s the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. And the best part is, it’s only a half an hour drive from Islamabad! The road to Highland Resort is also a unique and eye-opening experience, with so much to take in throughout the journey (and a little thrilling I must admit…)
Places to Eat:
There are all sorts of cuisines to choose from in Islamabad. Along with the traditional Pakistani menu you can find: Irani, Turkish, Arabic, Chinese, Thai, Italian, Lebanese and so much more. Listed below are the top five restaurants you should visit in Islamabad.
The Monal Restaurant
Monal is located just a few kilometers above Daman-e-Koh, on Margalla Hills. Alongside authentic Pakistani cuisine, Monal offers a variety of other food choices including pasta, pizza and Chinese. As well as good food, Monal offers an amazing view of the capital city (it’s even more beautiful during the evening.) On cloudy days it feels like you’re dining on the clouds. It is a surreal experience. At The Monal you’ll also have the opportunity to shop for traditional souvenirs, handicrafts, and jewelry.
If you love Chinese/Thai cuisine then Asian Wok is THE place to go! Their food is a real treat for your taste buds. Not only is their customer service top notch but they also have an extremely pleasant ambiance. But wait, it doesn’t end there. Mint margaritas and fish crackers are on the house, so you can have as many as you want! There’s often a 15-20 minute wait time since it’s such a popular restaurant however, the food certainly makes up for it.
Looking for the perfect burger to fulfill your cravings? Then look no further than Cannoli. It’s a small modern cafe located in the Beverly Center. They offer some of the best burgers in Islamabad. It’s usually packed during peak hours so it’s a good idea to reserve your table beforehand.
Burning Brownie is the best place to satisfy your sweet tooth. Limited seating means there will be a short wait, but hey all good things take time! Enjoy the ambiance in the meantime, they have really cool vibes going on. Now coming to the point. You have not done your visit to burning brownie justice unless you’ve had their cheesecake. Best. Cheesecake. Ever. That’s it, you must try their cheesecake. It will not disappoint. Guaranteed.
If you’re looking for traditional Pakistani street food then Chikachino is the perfect place to go. It offers an outdoor, roadside experience, which is ideal for a family day out and evening tea. Bihari chicken paratha, papri chaat, along with their samosas and pakoras are all must-try items. Oh, and don’t forget the tea! They have seven different kinds and you can never go wrong with tea (unless of course, you’re a coffee lover in which case you can choose from a variety of other drinks).
Where to Shop:
Last but not least, no trip to another country or city is complete without some holiday shopping. Listed below are a few malls in Islamabad in which you can find the top brands of Pakistan such as Khaadi, Bonanza, Gul Ahmad, and Limelight. There are also many international brands available if you’re looking to splash the cash!
– The Centaurus Mall
– Giga Mall
– Kohsar Market
That’s all for my travel guide to Islamabad. I hope you find this helpful and enjoy your trip!