You should know the places to visit in Islamabad, If you ever dream to travel to Pakistan. The chance is much higher that you will be landed in Islamabad or pass by, especially if you are travelling to the beautiful north where adventure awaits the wanderers. A city like Islamabad may not be as exciting as the northern part of Pakistan but you will surely enjoy your time exploring Famous Places in Islamabad.
Islamabad is located on the foothill plain at an altitude of 540 meters in the northeast of the national border, near the Margalla Mountain in the north, Rawal Lake in the east, and 11 kilometers from Rawalpindi in the southwest. A population of 550,000 (1996). Pakistan decided to build a new capital in 1959, construction began in 1961, and it was basically completed in 1970. The urban area is 907 square kilometers, with many modern buildings and traditional Islamic characteristics.
It is one of the youngest cities in the world. Compared with other cities in Pakistan, Islamabad is definitely a modern garden capital, there is no mess, some are fresh air and beautiful parks, although the city does not have many tall buildings. Rickshaws are banned due to loud noises and the streets are as clean as day. It is what the government envisioned a capital city should be and they went all in with it.
Islamabad also has an ugly twin sister city called Rawalpindi which is situated next to it. You may also have noticed traveling from other cities that buses coming to Islamabad is labeled Rawalpindi instead of Islamabad, do not be alarmed. Rawalpindi is an old city that is the polar opposite of Islamabad. It’s loud, dirty, terrible traffic and unorganized. If you want a calmer experience, I would recommend avoiding accommodation in Rawalpindi. Also, be sure that an accommodation you booked is really in Islamabad and not Rawalpindi because that makes a big difference.
Best Time to visit Islamabad
The best time to go to Islamabad is from September to October as the weather becomes much cooler around the city especially at night when the weather is most comfortable. September and October is also a good time if you are planning to go to the north and do some hiking as the weather is mostly calm and the colors of the autumn are in full swing. If you are going to the North for adventure like K2 Base Camp Trek, Biafo Hispar, K2 view points, Gondogoro La Trek, the best time is summer from June to September.
Famous Places in Islamabad
1. Pakistan’s Monument
The Pakistan Monument is located between Islamabad and Rawalpindi. It is one of the Places to visit near Islamabad. The National Monument began construction on May 25, 2004, and officially completed on March 23, 2007. It covers an area of about 2.8 hectares.
In general, the shape of the monument looks like a large lotus with buds placed. It consists of 4 large petals and 3 small petals. The four large petals symbolize the four major provinces of Pakistan: Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and Northwest Frontier Province; the three small petals symbolize the three territories of Pakistan: the northern jurisdiction, the Pakistani Kashmir region, and the federally-administered tribal areas. A crescent shaped by seven petals, surrounded by a star shaped obelisk, happens to be the star and moon symbol of the Pakistani flag.
2. Lok Versa Museum (Heritage Museum)
Only a few minutes walk away from the Pakistan Monument, you will find the Lok Virsa also known as Heritage Museum, a great modern museum of history, art and culture of Pakistan and other Central Asian countries. The museum consists of both outdoor and indoor exhibitions ranging from a collection of displays showcasing the vibrant and diverse cultures of Pakistan from different areas to allowing you to listen to recordings of traditional music and watch several locally-produced cultural documentaries. There is no better place to learn about Pakistan than at the Lok Virsa Museum.
3. Faisal Mosque(Shah Faisal)
It is located in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan and is one of the largest mosques in Asia. In 1966, King Faisal visited Pakistan and expressed his willingness to fund the construction of this mosque. Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay designed it and construction started in 1978, and was finally completed in 1988. The Faisal Mosque is a bold fusion of modern and traditional architectural styles.
Unlike traditional domes, the top of this mosque is composed of polygons and looks like a big tent. There are also four minarets next to the mosque, which are 91 meters high. The total area of the mosque is 51,000 square meters, and the worship hall and courtyard together can accommodate about 100,000 people. Faisal Mosque (FAISAL MOSQUE) is located in the northwest of the city of Islamabad. The mosque has a novel design and is unique among mosques all over the world.
4. Centaurus Mall’s Food Court
You are probably wondering why visiting a mall is on this list. Pakistan, from the outside, is a very conservative country and when you walk around a city like Lahore or Rawalpindi, you might forget that there is also a modern side to this country and it is best seen in a place like the Centaurus Mall. Also, they have a food court full of both local and western food chains that will indulge you for days. This is also the best place to stock up food and snack before you start heading up north in the mountains of Pakistan.
5. Daman-E-Koh Viewpoint
At around 3 PM, where the light is just perfect, take an Uber up to the Daman-e-Koh viewpoint. You will be able to see why they call Islamabad the greenest city in the country. There is no better view of the city than this.
If you are there on a Sunday, you will also be greeted with a small carnival-like market full of snacks and small amusement rides (bouncing castles and the spinning teacups) and lots and lots of locals enjoying themselves, having fun with their families. It is one of the best time to go mingle with the locals in Islamabad. They are very welcoming, especially when they are happy!
6. Pir Sohawa
Pir Sohawa is further up the hill from the Daman-e-Koh viewpoint. There, you will find a nice restaurant called Monal where you can dine both local and western food with a high vantage point of Islamabad surrounded by Margalla Hills. The food is quite expensive and may not be the most delicious but you can’t beat the view of Islamabad from above at sunset.
7. Hiking Trails
There are 3 hiking Trails at Margalla Hills Islamabad. The trail 3, 5 and 6. Trail 3 and 5 are interconnected while trail 6 starting point is behind the Faisal Mosque several Km from Trail 3 and 5. Trail 3 and 5 originates at the northern end of Margalla Road along F-5/F6 Sector and separated by just a half kilometre distance.
There is a tourist information center at the entrance of Trail 5 that can guide hikers about the route. A fresh water stream welcomes you when you start trekking. After crossing the stream the hike is gradual for about two kilometres.
For a more strenuous hikers at 1.3 kilometres from the base point a path goes right across the stream and joins the main track at about 3 kilometres. It is very steep route and goes through thick forest and not recommended to beginners.
This steep hike takes you to trail three. An off shoot from that track goes up and joins normal trail 5 at top of the hill. Two and half kilometres up the trail joins Islamabad Zoo Pir Sohawa Road. Mostly, hikers get down from this point but if you make it to the top. You can come back using the same route or by taxi and public transport to Islamabad city.
As already said the trail goes through thick forest any deviation from the main route can make you lost in the jungle.
There are no mobile signals on quite a few points on the trail. Travelers should have a stick, torch, water and something to eat with them.