Pakistan might not be on the radar for most travelers, but that’s not for its lack of beauty, culture, and opportunities for adventure. Set to become a tourism hotspot over the next few years, there’s never been a better time to visit Pakistan than while it’s still one of the world’s best-kept secrets. Explore the cultural and natural highlights of this fascinating country.
Sometimes, the capital city isn’t the highlight of the country and this is definitely true of Pakistan. The city of Lahore is the artistic and cultural hub of the country and you’ll find a mish-mash of architectural influences here from imposing Mughal monuments to relics from the British Raj. Let your feet guide you around the Old Town and enjoy the serenity and spiritualism that the city is famous for. It’s a great choice for cricket fans too – lots of high-profile international matches are played here.
Okay so it might not be the prettiest thing to look at, but it’s the significance of the Khyber Pass that grants it its place in this list. Formerly part of the Silk Road, this passage connecting Pakistan with Afghanistan starts in Peshawar and continues all the way on to Kabul. The pass has divided and linked empires for centuries and some of the most famous travelers to pass through it include Darius the Great, Babur and soldiers of the British Empire.
Reaching an elevation of 15,397ft (4,693m), the Karakoram Highway is the highest paved road in the world, and there really is no better way of getting around Pakistan than by taking this scenic route. Passing through some of the most beautiful places in the world, the highway follows the ancient Silk Road and winds through the Himalaya, Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges. Expect some breath-taking scenery along the way, with views over the Hindus River, as well as the Gilgit and Hunza valleys being particular highlights.
This part of Asia is famous for its bazaars, but Anarkali Bazaar is one of the oldest on the continent. A favorite with local school children after a long day of learning, the bazaar will delight your senses with its mixture of beautiful silk wares, the sound of jangling glass bangles and the spicy smell drifting from the food stalls. The bazaar is famous for its famous chaat, and you’d be a fool to leave without sampling some!
Just north of Islamabad, Naran is one of the most popular areas in Pakistan during the summer months, and it’s not hard to see why it’s such a hit with tourists and locals alike. Most are drawn here by the stunning scenery and the opportunity to escape the sweltering heat in the south. One of the country’s most scenic areas, some of the highlights of Naran include the popular Lake Saif-ul-Malook as well as the more serene Lulusar and Ansoo Lake. Babusar Top and Dudipatsar Lake are also great choices for anyone looking to escape to some peace and quiet, and feel at one with the wilderness.