The Islamabad Tourist Attractions range from ancient archaeological sites to contemporary structures housing commercial offices, shopping malls, and eateries.
Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan and there are very few capital cities in the world that are blessed with such close proximity to nature. The capital city is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and has a charming historic aspect. With a history dating back to the Stone Age; Islamabad is known to have been one of the ancient human settlements duly testified by relics and human skulls found on the banks of the Soan River. Soon after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, Karachi was made the capital of Pakistan but for several reasons, Islamabad was found more suitable and moved the capital city to Islamabad in 1960. The capital is surrounded by the lush green Margalla Hills, an extension of the Himalayan mountain range, and presents diverse colors of nature in different seasons.
Below are the details.
Lok Virsa Museum
Lok Virsa Museum on the Shakarparian Hills Islamabad, also known as the National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage or the Heritage Museum, is the first state museum of ethnology in Pakistan presenting the history and living traditions of the people of Pakistan both from the mainstream and from the remotest regions of the country. Covering some 60,000 sq ft area, it is the finest cultural museum housing rich history and art in the form of statues, pictures, pottery, music, jewelry, and textile work. The museum has a well-organized display of all cultures in Pakistan we well as the historic timeline of this landscape besides the information on relations with neighboring central Asian countries.
It almost takes about 2-3 hours to explore the museum.
Open: Tuesday to Sunday (10 am to 6 pm with break time from 1 pm to 2 pm)
Closed: Every Monday
Address: Garden Avenue, Shakarparian, P.O. Box 1184, Islamabad, Pakistan
Tel: +92-51-9249209 +92-51-9249203,
Local Adults: Rs.50
Students: Rs. 20
Foreigners: Rs. 800
Children: Free for children below 7 years of age
The Islamabad Museum is located on the ground floor of the Sir Syed Memorial building on the main Ataturk Avenue. The main entrance hall of the building has two very long murals on either side of it representing the history of this nation from 1857 till the creation of Pakistan in 1947. The walls of the other half of the hall are well composed of picture frames of key monuments including archaeological sites and heritage sites. The hall has access to two annexing halls and one of the two halls is the museum while the other is being used for concerts and official purposes.
Sir Syed Memorial is a hidden secret housing a variety of artifacts. The museum has a very well-organized display and information on artifacts of virtually all civilizations this land has hosted since the time of ancient hunters and gatherers. The display includes a unique collection of fossils, stone tools, antiquities from the 7th century Mehergarh, artifacts from the Indus Valley Civilization, Gandhara art and architecture, coins and seals from different periods, ceramics and paintings from the Islamic period, edicts and manuscripts, and finally the Muslim rule in the subcontinent.
Open: 09:30 am to 04:30 pm (Thursday to Tuesday)
Closed: Every Wednesday and all gazette holidays by the Government of Pakistan
Address: 19 Ataturk Ave, G-5/1 G-5, Islamabad, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Tel: +92 51 9221325
Entrance Fee: Nil
Wheel Chair: Not available
Pakistan Railways Heritage Museum
The Pakistan Railways Heritage Museum, also known as Golra Sharif Railway Museum, is located at the Golra Sharif Junction Station near the F-13 sector of Islamabad. The museum was created in 2003 by accumulating the railway scrape from the stations & garages all over the country and was later renovated in 2018. The Pakistan Railway Museum has two separate halls and an open yard by the Railway offices. The halls contain relics and memorabilia reflecting the history of the railway over a period of more than 150 years including 100 years of the subcontinent. These relics include communication tools, mechanical models, signaling systems, original furniture, surgical tools from Railway hospitals, and the evolution of operational protocols preserved in a chronological display besides showcasing the social impact as well as the anthropological implications of the railways on human geography. The big yard has cranes, saloons, locomotive trolleys, coaches, and narrow gauge tracks assembled impressively. It also displays a wide array of relics almost on the verge of extinction on most railway lines around the world. Special displays include a German postal car, the steam and electric locomotives, a saloon car used by Lord Mountbatten – the last Indian viceroy, and the special 1888 saloon car belonging to the Maharaja of Jodhpur. This saloon car was made at the Ajmer Sharif Carriage Workshop and Jodhpur railways and the Maharaja had given it as a wedding present to his daughter. The huge old banyan trees around this railway museum add to the scenery.
Open: 09:00 am to 04:00 pm (all week)
Address: Golra Sharif Railway Station
Can be approached from E 11 and G 13, Islamabad, Pakistan
Entrance fee: Rs. 400 for foreigners
Wheel Chair: Not available
Pakistan Monument Wax Museum
The Pakistan Monument Museum on the premises of Pakistan Monument in Shakar Parian Hills Islamabad is a very unique museum featuring the depiction of the history of the subcontinent in wax form. The museum preserves the memory of diverse past and decisive happenings on this landscape making today’s Pakistan. All the movements have been displayed in chronological order on its two floors. The lower section displays the ancient civilizations, the arrival of Islam, the war of independence, rare manuscripts and books in the library, and relics of Iqbal and Muhammad Ali Jinnah the creator of the country, and the entire pre-partition movements in the history of rich and distinct Pakistan. The upper floor has all the key information and a pictorial display of post-partition developments in the country that includes sports, culture, education and research, military, geography, agriculture, industry, and politics.
Recommended duration: 1-2 hours
Open: Tuesday to Sunday (10:00 am to 09:00 pm)
Closed: Every Monday
Address: Garden Avenue Shakarparian Hills, Islamabad Pakistan
Tel: +92 51 9249209
Foreigners: Rs. 250 at the main entrance of the Pakistan Monument and Rs. 500 for the museum
Wheel Chair: Not available
Pakistan Museum of Natural History
Established in 1976, the Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH) is a museum located near the Lok Virsa Museum in Islamabad. Its several galleries showcase the biodiversity of Pakistan including flora, fauna, and geological heritage besides showcasing minerals, rocks, fossils, and meteorites. The collection has therefore been categorized into three distinct divisions – Botanical Sciences, Earth Sciences, and Zoological Sciences – which describe the collection, preservation, and display of Pakistan’s natural heritage while the fourth category Public Services is responsible for mass education and popularization of the natural history through various displays and exhibits. The key attractions of the PMNH are its dinosaur gallery, which showcases the fossils of various dinosaur species found in Pakistan, and the botanical garden and a live animal display featuring several species of birds, mammals, and reptiles. The PMNH also carries out research in the field of natural history and offers valuable educational programs and resources for visitors, students, and researchers.
Open: 09:00 am to 08:00 pm
Address: Shakarparian National Park, Garden Ave, Islamabad.
Entrance fee: Rs. 20 for adults, Rs. 10 for students
National Insect Museum (NIM)
The National Insect Museum (NIM) houses the country’s insect heritage and was established in 2005 in Chuck Shehzad, Islamabad, on the premises of the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council. The museum houses more than 150,000 species of insects in dead form and displayed under different orders, identified and properly maintained as a reference collection. Scientists and staff are working to collect and report prevailing insect fauna from different agroecologies through country-wide surveys. Key objectives of NIM are:
- Conducting research on insect biodiversity and biosystematics.
- Maintaining and updating insect collections as reference museums of the country.
- Monitoring climate change impact through indicator insect species.
- Preparing and updating databases for sharing knowledge using Information & Communication Technology (ICT).
- Undertaking molecular characterization of preserved insect species.
Open: 08:00 am to 04:00 pm (Monday to Friday)
Closed: Saturday & Sunday
Address: Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, Chuck Shehzad, Islamabad
Cell: +92-300-5233259 (Mr. Anjum Shehzad)
Entrance Fee: N/A
HISTORIC AND CULTURAL MONUMENTS
Named after King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, the Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad is the largest mosque in South Asia and 6th largest in the world, located in the foothills of Margalla hills. The Faisal Mosque was completed in 1986 at a hefty cost of USD 120 million. It was the largest mosque in the world from 1986 until 1993, when it was overtaken in size by the newly completed Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. Bearing a contemporary design, inspired by a desert Beduine tent-shaped structure with four 80m high minarets in corners, the mosque was designed by the Turkish Architect Vedat Delokay. The interior of the Faisal Mosque is simple and elegant, with white marble walls and floors, and large chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The prayer hall is surrounded by arched colonnades and is free from any decorative distractions, allowing worshipers to focus on prayer and reflection. The mosque can accommodate over 100,000 worshipers at a time and is open to visitors of all faiths and is a symbol of the unity and diversity of Pakistan. The Faisal Mosque is not only a religious site but also a tourist attraction in Islamabad.
The Pakistan Monument is a popular tourist attraction and a symbol of national pride for Pakistanis. Constructed in 2004, the Pakistan National Monument in Islamabad is a heritage site and symbol of national progress built to commemorate the struggle for independence and the formation of Pakistan. The design of the Pakistan Monument is inspired by the Islamic architecture of the Mughal era. The four petals represent the four provinces (Balochistan, North West Frontier Province, Punjab, and Sindh), while the three sandwiched smaller petals represent the three territories (Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, and the Federal Capital Islamabad). The petals are made of granite and marble and are adorned with intricate Islamic calligraphy and patterns. The aerial view of petals representing a crescent and the central star together represent the Pakistan flag. It is illuminated at night and provides a stunning view of Islamabad and its surrounding areas.
Shah Allah Ditta Caves
Shah Allah Ditta Caves are situated to the west of Islamabad, about 15 km from Golra interchange, in a centuries-old village called Shah Allah Ditta (also known as Sadhu ka Bagh), just next to the tomb and shrine of Shah Allah Ditta. The more than seven hundred-year-old village was named after a Mughal period Darvesh. The caves, however, are believed to have been a meditation spot for Buddhist monks in the 4th century BC. There are only two caves on both sides of the spring which contain traces of human existence from ancient times. Hindu families lived in Shah Allah Ditta before the partition and the caves were used for their daily worship. There is a pathway right next to the village that is said to have been used as a route from Kabul to the Taxila by Alexander the Great and Sher Shah Suri while Mughal rulers and emperors often passed through while traveling from Afghanistan to the Hindustan. There is also a Buddhist stupa at a 1.5-hour walk from the caves.
Saidpur Model Village
Saidpur is a 500-year-old historic village and a popular attraction located in the foothills of Margalla hills. The model village is named after Said Khan, one of the sons of Sultan Sarang, the Gakhar chief of the Pothohar region during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Babur. It is a highly recommended place to experience the different cultures that coexist here in harmony—the Hindu temple, Sikh Gurdwara, and Sufi tomb. The village was converted into a place of Hindu worship by a then-Mughal commander, Raja Man Singh. It has been restored into a cultural tourist attraction and heritage site designed to preserve and showcase traditional Pakistani rural life – the terraced mud houses featuring traditional architecture, watch live pottery demonstrations, handicrafts, and local cuisine. Following its renovation, the Saidpur village is now home to a small 16th-century temple called Rama Mandir or Ram Kund Temple, dedicated to the Hindu God Rama, who Hindus believe lived in the area with his family during 14 years of exile. The adjacent Gurdwara built in the 20th century served as a school for spreading the teachings of Guru Nanak. There is a small photo gallery illustrating the early lifestyle of people before it was made the capital and the construction of Islamabad in the pictorial display.
During the reign of Sher Shah Suri (Farid Khan), also known as the Lion King, the Grand Trunk Road (GT Road) from Kabul to Calcutta was connected by many Traveler Inns for rest and recreation of travelers which were called the Sarai. Each Sarai was equipped with basic facilities for travelers. Sara-e-Kharbooza is one of them and is dilapidated and encroached on. Old caravanserai (caravan inn) from Mughal times, almost disappeared because of recent built-up
Rose & Jasmine Garden
The beautiful Rose and Jasmine Garden is a public garden running under the administration of the Capital Development Authority and is located within the recreational area of Shakarparian Hills on the Srinagar Highway adjacent to the Islamabad sports complex & Aabpara market. The 20360 sq. meters garden has a collection of almost 250 different varieties of roses as well as a dozen types of Jasmines. People who visit the Pakistan Monument and Shakarparian also pay a visit to this stunning garden. The key public services include a parking area, sitting areas, a walking and cycling track, and a cafeteria (Dhaba).
Japanese Park is a children’s park located at the foot of Margalla Hills adjacent to Margalla Road across the F6 sector near Islamabad Zoo. The park is equipped with all modern facilities and is famous among children and families.
Fatima Jinnah (F-9) Park
Fatima Jinnah Park, also called F-9 Park is a public recreational park made of the entire F-9 sector of Islamabad. Named after Miss Fatima Jinnah (the sister of the founder of Pakistan: Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah), the park is considered one of the largest in Southeast Asia.
It is a beautiful modern park in Islamabad built to provide all kinds of recreational amenities. The Park has a panoramic view of Rawal Lake and the town across the lake. The Park has a beautiful bird sanctuary, outdoor cooking places, eateries, walking paths, running tracks, boating, and sailing facilities, live music, flower gardens, ample parking lot and shades, and a bathroom facility.
The Margalla Hills National Park is the offshoot of the Himalayas located to the north of Islamabad. The Park is made up of Margalla Hills, Shakarparian, and Rawal Lake. The park covers approximately 17,386 hectares (67.13 sq mi) and was established in 1980. Margalla National Park is rich in biodiversity, especially flora and fauna including 600 plant species, 250 bird varieties, 38 mammals, and 13 species of reptiles. Pir Sohawa and Daman-e-Koh are two major viewpoints visited by local and international tourists frequently.
At 3600 ft above sea level, Pir Sohawa on the top of the Margalla Hills is the highest viewpoint in Islamabad. The viewpoint has modern restaurants with ample parking and security facilities. Pir Sohawa is accessible by car in about 30 min from Islamabad Zoo and by foot via Trail 3 from F-6/3 in around 2-3 hours and along Trail 5 from G-5 in around 3-4 hours.
Daman e Koh
Daman-e-Koh is a viewpoint in the heart of Margalla Hills above the E-6 sector with panoramic views of the capital city. At an elevation of 2400 m above sea level, Daman-e-Koh is just a 5 km drive from Islamabad Zoo. This tourist attraction draws a huge volume of visitors every day, particularly during the summers. Daman-e-Koh can be reached by foot from the zoo via trail 2 in 40 min.
The Rawal Lake or Rawal Dam is an artificial lake in Islamabad and a source of water in the twin cities dug in 1962. The lake is fed by the Korang River and adjoining small creeks. The total covered area of the lake is 8.8 km2.
Shakar Parian Hills
Shakarparian is one of the most frequently visited tourist points in Islamabad located near Zero Point at 2000 ft. It is a small hill station with a beautiful view of Islamabad. Pakistan monument and the nearby wax museum are also located in Shakarparian. The old Ghakhar tribe leaders settled here before partition. Shakarparian used to be a “place to rest” and is basically the combination of two Potohari words Shakar (sweet) and Parian (parao).
Stretched over 82 acres Islamabad Zoo is a family attraction home to more than 300 animals including 200 birds of different kinds. The zoo is located at the foot of Daman-e-Koh viewpoint with easy access from all sectors of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The zoo is visited by a huge number of citizens and foreigners on a daily basis.
Islamabad has a range of shopping malls from high-rise air-conditioned malls selling international brands to open-air markets selling low-cost and second-hand products. Below is the detail.
The Blue Area is a corridor running along Islamabad’s Khayaban-e-Quaid-e-Azam serving as a commercial and business hub of Islamabad, Pakistan. It is named the “Blue Area” because it was represented in the color blue in the original design of the planned city. The Centaurus, The Stock Exchange Building, U Fone Tower, the Saudi-Pak Tower, the Green Trust Tower, the UBL Building, the OGDCL Building, the State Life Building, and the Shaheed-e-Millat Building are tall skyscrapers lined up along the blue area attracting significant business.
Centaurus Shopping Mall
The Centaurus Mall is a modern shopping mall featuring a unique architecture of three rising towers. The mall houses a wide range of high-end brands, food outlets, and entertainment options on its lower floors; hotel rooms on the middle floors, and residential apartments on the top floors. The mall has a dedicated ground parking area on its ground floor for in-house guests and residential apartments. It is one of the largest malls in Pakistan and is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
Safa Gold Mall
Safa Gold Mall is a famous shopping mall in the F-7 sector of Islamabad and is home to just about every major fashion brand in the world. It has the finest culinary sensations and is a leisure and entertainment destination for the entire family.
Aabpara Market is a popular shopping destination located in the heart of Islamabad with convenient access to all government offices. Aabpara is a bustling and vibrant place known for its wide range of shops offering a variety of goods and services at affordable rates including clothing, footwear, electronics, accessories, fresh and frozen meat, toys, banking and postage services, and street food.
F-10 Markaz is a commercial and business hub located in the F-10 sector of Islamabad. It is situated adjacent to F-9 Park and other popular commercial areas such as G-9, F-8, and Blue Area. F-10 Markaz is known for its variety of shops, restaurants, cafes, and Banks. It is a popular destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment. The sector is accessible conveniently from other sectors of Islamabad.
G-9 Markaz is a famous shopping market in Islamabad, located in the G-9 sector of Islamabad. It is a hub for shopping, dining, entertainment, and office spaces. The market showcases a variety of products at affordable prices ranging from clothing and footwear to electronics and household items. The market is located at convenient access from within Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Sunday Market (Itwar Bazar)
Itwar Bazaar located in the H9 sector of Islamabad is an open-air market that remains open three days a week – every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. The market is the largest in terms of area and variety in Islamabad and has a range of products including vegetables, fruits, footwear (new and used) kitchen accessories, toys, garments, electronics, antiques, spices, and grains, at reasonable prices. The Sunday Market is conveniently accessible by Metro and is visited by people from all walks of life.
Situated at the junction of two major highways, the Grand Trunk Road (also known as the GT Road) and the Islamabad Expressway, Peshawar Mor is a busy and important intersection located in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan. In addition to its transportation and commercial importance, Peshawar Mor is also known for its vibrant street food culture, particularly Shinwari, Dunba Karahi, and BBQ. Several food vendors and small restaurants can be found in the area, offering a wide variety of local and international cuisines.
The Margalla Hills are the continuation of the Himalayan mountain range. The soil on the hill is fertile and completely covered with green trees, herbaceous plants, and rocks. The forest on the hills is the natural habitat for a variety of animals and birds. The forestry department of Pakistan and the authorities have tried their level best to revive tourism in this area. Every year, many private clubs along with the authorities conduct a hiking excursion to fetch up the importance of the Margalla Hills among all age groups. The authorities have made it possible for people to visit the forest, roam about safely, and explore the natural resort. People who want to experience hiking and overnight camping can come here as it is the safest place for the purpose.
The two sides of Islamabad are surrounded by hills. Therefore, it is possible and much easier to access. There are eight trails that vary in distance and are assigned with numbers, i.e. Trails # 1,2,3,4, 5, and 6. The remaining two tracks are named; the Saidpur Trail, and the Bari Imam Trail.
This trail leads to the top terminal of the Pir Sohawa road, in more or less two hours. The extension of the trail will reach Monal Restaurant in another twenty minutes.
Starting from Islamabad Zoo, it is roughly an hour’s walk and leads to Daman-e-Koh. It is possible to move beyond this spot upward to the cactus ridge.
It is the most famous trail that starts from the Margalla road F-7. The track, being uphill from the very start, is exhausting to some extent. The course further leads to the summit and concludes near the famous restaurants at Pir Sohawa. It is approximately a two-hour uphill hike. Besides fresh cool breezes, there are several stopovers providing magnificent views of the city.
This trail links Trail 3 and Trail 5. One can do this trail either way – from Trail 3 to 5 or in the reverse direction.
This easy-to-hike trail begins from Margalla Road in sector F-5 and runs almost parallel to Trail 3. Trail 5 leads to the top of Pir Sohawa Road. It is possible to switch to Trail 3 either midway via Trail 4 or on the top by walking an extra distance of 1.5 Km along the ridge of the Margalla Hills. The estimated time to cover the distance on the trail is about 3 – 5 hours depending on the pace.
This is another famous trail that starts from the back of the Faisal Mosque in Sector E7. Trail 6 leads through a valley along a well-defined route that guides to the top terminal of the Pir Sohawa road. The trail has a track for mountain bikes and a bird-watching point.
This trail leads to Monal Restaurant through the village right along the spring. However, the Saidpur trail is only used by the local residents and not much used by outsiders.
Bari Imam Trail:
Bari Imam Cave Trail is a 4.6-mile (11,000-step) route located near the Federal Capital Territory, Pakistan. This route has an elevation gain of about 1056.2 ft and is rated as hard.
Top Hotels in Islamabad
- Islamabad Serena Hotel
- Islamabad Marriott Hotel
- Best Western Hotel
- Ramada Hotel
- Roomy Signature Hotel Islamabad
- Islamabad Hotel
- Margalla Hotel
- Legend Hotel
- Crown Plaza
- Regalia Hotel
- Envoy Continental Hotel Islamabad
- Tabaq (De Papae) Hotel
- Viridi Hotel
Famous Restaurants in Islamabad
- The Monal
- Des Pardes
- Tai Pan (Islamabad Marriott)
- Rakaposhi (Isalambad Serena)