Karachi, known as the “City of Lights,” stands as the largest city on the Arabian coast, serving as a prominent industrial and marine port in Pakistan. The city’s plethora of tourist attractions reflects its vastness, offering a wide array of activities for visitors. Karachi’s major tourist highlights encompass cultural, architectural, and archaeological heritage, alongside an abundance of top-notch food outlets, entertainment centers, and numerous educational institutions. The city’s diverse offerings make it a compelling destination for a varied and enriching travel experience.
Quaid-i-Azam’s Mausoleum (Mazar-e-Quaid)
Quaid e Azam mausoleum
Perched gracefully atop a 54 square meters platform, providing a commanding view, the Quaid-e-Azam’s Mausoleum stands at the heart of Karachi and serves as the final resting place for Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the father of the nation and founder of Pakistan. Reflecting a fusion of traditional and modern Islamic architecture, the mausoleum draws inspiration from the Samanid Mausoleum in Uzbekistan. Within its walls, the mausoleum accommodates the graves of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Pakistan’s first Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, in its basement. This monumental structure, built by Pakistani architect Yahya Merchant from 1958 to 1968, features an exterior adorned with white marble and an interior embellished with a four-tiered Chinese crystal chandelier, complemented by an Iranian silver railing. This architectural marvel not only commemorates a significant historical figure but also stands as a testament to the artistic blend of cultures and influences.
The Wazir Mansion holds historical significance as the birthplace of Pakistan’s founder, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This protected national monument, a three-story building located in Kharadar, Karachi, draws thousands of devoted Pakistanis who come to pay homage to their founding leader. Presently, the ground floor of the mansion serves as a museum, offering a glimpse into the life and times of Jinnah, while the upper floors showcase his personal belongings. Following partition, the house was acquired by a landlord who later named it Wazir Mansion. In the 1970s, the government of Pakistan purchased the property and designated it as a heritage site. The Wazir Mansion stands as a cherished landmark, preserving the historical legacy of Pakistan’s founder for generations to come.
Constructed in 1925 by Marwari businessman Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta, the Mohatta Palace served as his summer residence, spanning an area of approximately 18,500 square feet. Demonstrating distinctive features of Rajasthani architecture, the palace was crafted using pink Jodhpur stone and local yellow stone from Gizri. The terrace of the Palace was dedicated to the Hindu God, Lord Shiva. Mohatta could enjoy the palace only until the partition, after which he left for India. Post Pakistan’s independence, the palace was subsequently occupied by two sisters of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Fatima Jinnah, and Shireen Jinnah, until 1980. Following Shireen Jinnah’s passing, the palace transformed into a museum. Presently, the Mohatta Palace serves as an art gallery and museum, with the premises utilized for hosting exhibitions. The rich history and architectural elegance of the palace make it a notable cultural and artistic venue in Karachi.
Built in 1865, Frere Hall stands as a testament to the era of British rule in the subcontinent, exuding architectural charm and surrounded by verdant gardens. The well-preserved structure, designed by Henry Saint Clair Wilkins, now serves as a library and art gallery. Nestled in the Saddar district, known for its picturesque colonial architecture, the hall was erected in honor of Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere, the commissioner of Sind (1851-1859), who played a pivotal role in promoting economic development in Karachi. Constructed with Karachi limestone, the yellowish tower comprises two floors housing a hall, an orchestral gallery, and the Liaquat Municipal Library on the ground floor.
Sindh High Court
Erected between 1923 and 1929, the Sindh High Court building in Saddar stands as an iconic colonial structure, showcasing exquisite Renaissance architecture. Constructed with the reddish-tinged Jodhpur sandstone, the building is adorned with cupolas, balconies, and towering Roman-style columns. The inauguration ceremony was officiated by His Excellency Sir Frederick Hugh Sykes, the Governor of Bombay. This architectural gem, crafted with meticulous detail, is among the few well-preserved heritage buildings in Karachi. Visitors are welcome to explore the Sindh High Court from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday to Saturday, without the need for tickets or special permission.
Karachi Metropolitan Development Corporation Building (KMC)
Situated on M. A. Jinnah Road, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) is a historic building with a foundation stone laid in 1927, construction completed in 1930, and inauguration in 1932. Karachi boasts numerous architecturally captivating structures from the British Raj era, many of which now house public offices, making them less accessible for sightseeing. Among these remarkable buildings is the Karachi Metropolitan Development Corporation Building, constructed in 1935 to commemorate George V‘s Silver Jubilee. Characterized by pointed Oriental cupolas at its four corners, the building features a prominent clock tower also domed in the same distinctive style.
Three Swords Monument (Teen Talwar)
Commonly known as Teen Talwar, Three Swords stands as one of the oldest monuments in Clifton, Karachi. Commissioned by Pakistan’s former President and Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and constructed by the renowned Pakistani architect Mr. Mistri in the early 1970s, the swords symbolize Jinnah’s principles of Unity, Faith, and Discipline. Originally erected on Clifton Road in Karachi, it quickly became a prominent landmark.
Hindu Gymkhana (National Academy of Performing Arts)
Located on Sarwar Shaheed Road in Sadar, Karachi, the Hindu Gymkhana serves as a significant tourist attraction. Established in 1925 during the colonial era, this building was originally conceived as a club for the Hindu elite class, occupying a leased area of approximately 47,000 square yards with a lease set to expire in 2020. In 1984, the Gymkhana faced imminent demolition due to its deteriorating condition but was fortunately preserved by the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan. The architectural style of the Hindu Gymkhana is a fusion of both Mughal and Hindu influences. Notably, within its premises, the Gymkhana houses the National Academy of Performing Arts—an institution dedicated to the preservation and education of performing arts and music.
Quaid-e-Azam House Museum
The Quaid-e-Azam House Museum, situated in the heart of Karachi, holds great significance as a National Monument and was the residence of Quaid-e-Azam from 1944 until his passing in 1948, while his sister Fatima Jinnah resided there until 1964. Also known as “Flagstaff House,” it was initially rented by the British Indian Army and allocated to senior officers, including General Douglas David Gracy, who later became the second commander in chief of the Pakistan Army. Designed by British architect Moses Somake, this striking yellow stone double-story house boasts features like arched openings, carved pillars, semicircular balconies, and six spacious rooms. Acquired by Quaid-e-Azam in 1943 for Rs. 1,15,000, the Pakistani government took ownership in 1985, preserving it as a museum for historical conservation.
National Museum of Pakistan
Established in 1950, the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi stands as the city’s most extensive repository, boasting a diverse array of artifacts encompassing paintings, relics, sculptures, coins, manuscripts, and more, spanning all facets of Pakistani culture. With eleven galleries presenting a collection that includes 58,000 coins, 70,000 books, and various antiquities, the museum features exhibits ranging from the Indus Valley and Gandhara Civilization to Islamic art, showcasing rare manuscripts of the Holy Quran. It provides comprehensive insights into Pakistan’s economic and political history. The museum was founded with the primary objective of promoting the people and history of Pakistan through its wealth of collections.
The PAF Museum in Karachi is a well-known institution that showcases a collection of planes, jets, radars, and weaponry utilized by the Pakistan Air Force over the years, with a specific focus on their roles during the 1965 war with India. Additionally, the museum features scale models representing aircraft from both World War I and World War II, alongside modern planes. Situated adjacent to PAF Base Faisal on the main Shahrah-e-Faisal, the museum was inaugurated on August 14, 1997, and opened its doors to the general public in October of the same year.
Pakistan Maritime Museum
The Pakistan Maritime Museum recognized as a prominent naval museum, stands among the city’s top attractions. Spanning 28 acres, the museum complex includes six galleries and an auditorium. It serves as an educational destination for visitors, offering informative galleries and an auditorium, complemented by exterior marine displays. The surrounding park provides a serene environment, fostering a relaxed atmosphere for visitors while enhancing their knowledge about aircraft. The museum offers a unique opportunity to witness a real submarine, various aircraft, and different artillery from previous years that were once utilized by the Pakistan Navy.
The PIA Planetarium in Karachi is a Pakistani educational facility that features a Sky-Dome and a Boeing jet plane situated in a park. Established in 1985, it serves as a valuable resource for science education, particularly for students. Special shows are organized for school and college student groups, offering an engaging learning experience. Inside the plane, a documentary showcasing tourist attractions in Pakistan is presented, while the Planetarium itself provides an opportunity to watch a documentary on the solar system. Operated under Pakistan International Airlines, a short visit to the PIA Planetarium offers an informative and immersive journey into astronomy and aviation.
State Bank Museum
The State Bank Museum in Karachi is the best-preserved and informative art gallery. The museum features information panels throughout its premises, guiding visitors through the evolution of trading and bartering to the current state of currency. On the lower floors, a vast collection of stamps, coins, and notes is displayed. The upper floor central hall showcases frescoes by Sadequain on both sides, with a smaller room presenting smaller artworks and the opposite side adorned with larger paintings. Constructed in the 1920s with red stone, akin to other British-era buildings in the city, the museum exudes architectural similarities to Greek design, featuring a grand entrance with four-column façades. Located on I.I. Chandrigar Road near the Karachi City Railway Station, the building adds an elegant touch to the surrounding concrete structures, mainly banks. However, parking remains a challenge due to limited space. Entry requires proof of identity, visitors must carry their CNIC.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
The St. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral Church in Karachi holds the distinction of being the city’s first place of worship. Located on Shahrah-e-Iraq near Empress Market in Saddar, the cathedral’s initial construction took place in 1845 under the design of the renowned architect Father Karl Wagner. Unfortunately, it faced destruction due to a storm in 1885. However, the church was reconstructed with a more expansive and improved design under the supervision of architect Kausar Ali. The new structure, intelligently constructed, can accommodate approximately 1500 worshippers. Recognizing its outstanding architectural beauty, the cathedral was declared a protected monument under the Sindh Cultural Heritage Protection Act in 2003.
Masjid-e-Tooba, also known as Masjid-i-Tuba, is recognized as a prominent tourist attraction in Karachi due to its unique architectural design. Locally referred to as the Gol (round) Masjid or Defence Housing Authority Mosque, this mosque is constructed entirely of pure white marble. Notably, it features a dome with a diameter of 236 feet, supported by a low surrounding wall without a central column. The thermally proofed interior is adorned with thousands of mirror tiles, creating the illusion of twinkling stars. Ranking as the 18th largest mosque globally, Masjid-e-Tooba can accommodate up to 5000 worshippers simultaneously. Situated in the Defence Housing Society of Karachi, the mosque’s design was conceptualized by Pakistani architect Dr. Babar Hamid Chauhan in 1969.
Ziarat of Abdullah Shah Gazi
The mausoleum with a distinctive green dome, overlooking Clifton Beach in Karachi, is dedicated to the 9th-century Sufi, Abdullah Shah Ghazi. Originally a small and modest hut on a sandy hillside, the shrine underwent renovations during the 1960s under Ayub’s regime, subsequently attracting a growing number of devotees. Weekly Qawwali and Dhamaal (devotional singing) gatherings occur, particularly on Thursdays, believed to possess mystical healing qualities. Additionally, there persists a belief among many that the spirit of Shah Ghazi serves as Karachi’s formidable safeguard against the cyclones prevalent in the Arabian Sea.
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
The Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, established in 1849, stands as the sole Swaminarayan temple in Pakistan. Located at the heart of a Hindu neighborhood on M. A. Jinnah Road in Karachi, this temple is dedicated to Shri Swaminarayan, recognized as an incarnation of God, who lived in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. While numerous temples worldwide honor him, the Karachi temple holds the distinction of being the only one in Pakistan. During the partition in 1947, the temple served as a refugee camp, and the original images of Lord Swaminarayan were transported to India. With a remarkable size and front spanning over 27,012 square meters, the temple celebrated its 150th anniversary in April 2004. Beyond Hindus, Muslims also visit the temple, contributing to its significance. The premises include a sacred cowshed.
Holy Trinity Cathedral
The Gothic-style Anglican Holy Trinity Cathedral, situated on Fatima Jinnah Road near Zainab Market, was constructed in 1855 to cater to the spiritual needs of the British community. Designed by Captain John Hill of the Bombay Engineers, the cathedral initially served as the garrison church, marking it as Karachi’s first major church. Inside, there are captivating plaques commemorating British soldiers who lost their lives in various campaigns in Sindh. The original tower, unusually tall, once functioned as a lighthouse for ships arriving at Karachi Harbor, although its height was later reduced by two stories in 1905 for safety reasons. Sunday services are held at 09:00.
St Andrew’s Church
Constructed in 1868, the Gothic-style Saint Andrew’s Church, located in Saddar, Karachi, and colloquially known as the Scottish church, was designed by architect T G Newnham for the Presbyterian (Scottish) mission in British India. Initially used by foreigners until 1947, the church conducted services in English. In 1969, Urdu services were introduced by Christians residing in the Saddar area. After the amalgamation of Protestant churches nationwide, it became affiliated with the Church of Pakistan in 1970. The Anglican St. Andrew’s Church hosts services every Sunday at 09:00.
Dolmen Mall Clifton
Standing as a modern shopping complex adhering to international standards, the Dolmen Mall in Karachi features a comprehensive array of renowned brands and a diverse selection of restaurants. Catering to various shopping needs, it serves as an ideal destination for outings with family and friends. While the mall is accessible at any time, Saturdays are exclusively reserved for families. Furthermore, Dolmen Mall offers ample parking space for visitors.
A well-known name among Karachi residents, Zainab Market is renowned for its diverse offerings, including export leftovers, imported goods, and a wide range of local casual and fashion wear. This market, situated near the historic shopping area of Zaibunissa Road in Saddar, close to Avari Towers Hotel, has expanded its shopping options by incorporating the Rex Center, International Market, Atrium Mall, and Madina Mall. Visitors should be aware of the market’s reputation as a hub for various clothing-related items.
Vibrant yet bustling, Empress Market in Saddar, Karachi, is a bustling marketplace offering a wide array of groceries, live animals, pets, stationery, textiles, and more. Dating back to the British era between 1884 and 1889, the market was named in honor of Queen Victoria, the Empress of India. With historical significance, it also serves as a major tourist attraction. Notably, Empress Market is situated on the grounds where several rebels were brutally executed after the Indian rebellion of 1857, with their heads severed in an attempt to quell local sentiments of mutiny.
Arabian Sea Country Club
The Arabian Sea Country Club offers an ideal escape from the city center, featuring a golf course and a sports club with various activities to explore. Whether you fancy a shooting experience or horseback riding, the club provides diverse options for recreation. Additionally, visitors can enjoy facilities such as cricket, squash, tennis, snooker, and swimming.
Ibne Qasim Park
Spread across 130 acres in Clifton, Karachi, Bin Qasim Park stands as the largest urban park, attracting over 10 million visitors annually. Also known as Bagh Ibne Qasim, named after the Arab conqueror Muhammad bin Qasim, this beachside park accommodates around 300,000 people at a time. With lush greenery, numerous trees, and jogging trails catering to health-conscious individuals, the park offers a serene environment. Enhanced with stone benches, lighting towers, footlights, a turtle pond, washrooms, canopies for shade, dinosaur murals, and a rose garden, Bin Qasim Park is an ideal destination for families. Moreover, it remains open 24/7.
Beaches and Harbors
Clifton Beach, situated along the Arabian Sea near Sadar town, stands out as one of Karachi’s busiest and most popular destinations. Locals and tourists alike gather here for leisurely strolls, particularly during holidays and weekends, transforming the evenings into vibrant and lively scenes. The beach’s golden sands, coupled with an amusement park and a variety of food stalls lining its perimeter, make it a magnetic attraction for tourists. Engaging activities such as camel and horse riding on the sandy shores add to the charm of the beach, providing ample entertainment options for visitors.
Sandspit is a beach renowned for its significance as a nesting ground for Green and Olive Ridley Turtles during the winter months. Located southwest of Karachi near Hawks Bay, it has gained popularity as a tourist destination following Clifton Beach. The beach derives its name from the pits where turtles lay their eggs. Apart from being a crucial habitat for turtles, Sandspit is home to various algae and crabs. The shallow waters make it an ideal spot for swimming and sunbathing. The beach showcases a distinctive rock formation, adding to its unique appeal. Similar to Clifton Beach, Sandspit offers horse and camel rides, providing additional recreational options for visitors.
Turtle Beach serves as a breeding ground for the green turtle species and is situated between Hawk’s Bay and Sandspit. Particularly during winter, these turtles can be observed, often after dusk. The beach is renowned for its charming blue waters and the captivating presence of turtles, making it a significant draw for visitors.
Hawks Bay, named after a Victorian-era Governor, is located approximately 25 km southwest of Karachi. This sandy beach, characterized by its crystal blue waters, is a favorite among beach enthusiasts, especially during the summer. Hawks Bay offers a unique and tranquil retreat, providing a peaceful escape from the bustling city life of Karachi. Visitors from outside the city are advised to opt for weekdays to fully appreciate the serenity of the beach. Rental huts are available for those planning an entire day’s stay, and camel and horse rides can be enjoyed at negotiable prices.
Situated 40 km from the city center, the picturesque French Beach in Karachi is a favorite among the city’s upper class and expatriates. Nestled between Hawks Bay and Paradise Point, this rocky beach is enveloped by clear waters, offering an ideal setting for activities such as surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming. Locally referred to as Haji Ismail Goth, it is a small fishing village enclosed by a boundary wall, featuring rentable huts. As there are no grocery shops in the vicinity, visitors are advised to bring their own supplies.
Paradise Point, situated along the Arabian Sea, is adorned with sandstone rock formations and a natural arch. Accessible through the Mubarak Goth Road, it’s approximately a 45-minute drive from the city center. A prominent tourist attraction in Karachi, Paradise Point offers various beachside activities, including swimming, camel rides, and amusement parks.
Kemari Harbor is a naturally formed harbor strategically located on the Arabian Sea. Functioning as a gateway to Karachi’s bustling port, it plays a pivotal role as an economic hub for Pakistan.
Manora Island is a compact 2.5 km2 peninsula easily reachable by a brief ferry journey from Kemari Harbor. This location holds historical significance as it was where Karachi’s Talpur rulers capitulated to the British. Additionally, a well-preserved lighthouse stands as a testament to this historical episode. Visitors can relish the refreshing sea breeze that Manora Island offers.
Cape Mount, also known as Cape Monze Beach, is a shoreline along the Arabian Sea situated on Beach Street near Mubarak Village, west of Paradise Point. It has historically served as a navigational landmark for ships heading towards Karachi Harbor.
Do Darya is a popular waterfront dining destination located in Karachi, Pakistan. Situated along the coastline, Do Darya offers a unique culinary experience with a variety of restaurants and cafes serving diverse cuisines. Visitors can enjoy a scenic view of the Arabian Sea while relishing a range of dishes from Pakistani, seafood, and international menus. It has become a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike to enjoy a delightful meal in a picturesque setting.
Port Grand is a vibrant destination in Karachi, offering a diverse array of high-end open-air restaurants set against the backdrop of the Arabian Sea. Beyond its culinary offerings, the location provides a stunning view of the port, making it an ideal spot to enjoy a romantic sunset from the deck. Families visiting Port Grand can engage children with various activities, and there are cultural attractions to explore. Additionally, the facility offers valet parking for the convenience of visitors.