Kathmandu, the heart of Nepal, vibrates with people and their bustling nature. Whether you are here for a day or a whole year, the city offers a variety of things to do and explore. Even the small aspects of Kathmandu are refreshing, attention-grabbing, and heart-stealing. The options for indulgence are never-ending for travelers of all types. The vibrancy of the city, despite its small size, is truly commendable. Its rich cultural heritage and history never fail to keep people entertained and pleased. For tourists, it can be quite daunting to find the must-visit places that will shed light on history and culture, as there are a good number of places worth visiting. Hence, to make the travel experience of visitors slightly better, we have set out below a list of the top 10 best places to visit in Kathmandu.
Check out the blog and make plans to visit these iconic places as per your flexible schedule.
The Kathmandu valley comprises three beautiful cities: Bhaktapur, Patan, and Kathmandu. Each city has an epic history that distinguishes it from the others. Easy to visit in one day and offers several options for short tours. However, it is suggested to see the uniqueness of the place by taking time. Every city houses multiple cultural heritage sites that are part of UNESCO world heritage sites. Henceforth, if you have time and energy, make a simple yet impactful itinerary of visiting all three cities for their charms.
The city of Kathmandu entails Kathmandu Durbar Square, which is otherwise popular as Basantapur Durbar Square or Hanuman Dokha amongst locals. Besides the durbar square, the city houses multiple religious pilgrimage sites in its surroundings. These religious sites include Swayambhunath, Boudhanath Stupa, and Pashupatinath Temple. For a better understanding of the city, make plans to visit all these fantastic landmarks that reveal rich art, history, architecture, and cultural perspective. Once home to royal dynasties, there are various monuments treasured within the city for visitors to witness.
After Kathmandu, the city of artisans- Patan is another iconic place in the Kathmandu valley. The city possesses the incredible Patan Durbar Square, with striking palace buildings and temples. One would be able to delve into the palace’s rich history and ancient civilization.
Likewise, another amazing city is Bhaktapur, which harbors the exquisite and enigmatic Bhaktapur Durbar Square and one of the oldest temples- Changunarayan. Although quite far from central Kathmandu, the number of visitors is no less than any other heritage site. The palace upholds a large ancient civilization as well as impressive temples and palace structures for viewers to admire. Likewise, the interesting designs plastered on the palace building are another interesting factor not to be missed while roaming around Bhaktapur.
Considering everything, each place preserves historical palaces and almost identical cultures and traditions. Yet, it is truly worthwhile to visit all three cities individually to learn their specifics. Additionally, after getting a dose of the cultural aspect of Kathmandu, spare some time to visit the Pashupatinath temple, Swayambhunath stupa, and Boudhanath stupa, which are also UNESCO listed world heritage sites to witness the prolific religious side of Nepal. These places are worth every second spent exploring their rich history and fascinating cultures.
If you wish to see the real Kathmandu, then do not miss out on walking through the busy and always jam-packed markets of Ason and Indrachowk. A shopping destination for everyone, here you can observe the usual hustle and bustle of Kathmandu residents. These places feature shops for all kinds of things. However, one has to be a good navigator. The town consists of several small alleyways that lead to separate places, which can be confusing to most travelers. Nevertheless, figuring out and finding paths is another fun thing about the Ason and Indrachowk. Walking along the streets, checking out the lines of shops and stalls selling goods unknown to you but common to Nepalese households, and experiencing the chaotic ambiance of Ason and Indrachowk is one of the must-do things while in Kathmandu.
A medieval settlement located just outside of Kathmandu in the southwest is the beautiful town of Kirtipur. It is particularly a Newari settlement adorned with beautiful old-fashioned houses, temples, and traditional water taps. Along with great architectural and artistic monuments, the history attached to the town specifically is interesting. King Prithvi Narayan Shah’s victory against Kirtipur was significant in Nepal’s unification history.
On the other hand, the Newars’ remaining ancient art and architecture provide witness to the town. Baghbhairab temple, Lokeshwar Shikhara, Chilancho Bihar, and many more stunning structures can be seen in the town. Besides great history and rich cultural assets, the town is home to Nepal’s first higher education system- Tribhuvan University. Above all, a history tied to the town and its peculiar culture makes Kirtipur undeniably one of the interesting places to visit in Kathmandu.
Sapana ko Bagaincha, translation in the Nepali language, is a favorite amongst the denizens as well as foreigners of Kathmandu. The Garden of Dreams is a tranquil neoclassical oasis notable for its beautifully manicured gardens, fountains, and decorative urns and statues. In honor of Nepal’s six seasons, the park has constructed an amazing freestanding six pavilions, each devoted to one of the six seasons. The garden of dreams features paved perimeter walkways accented by pavilions, diverse flowering sections, and trellises, and is inspired by traditional European parks. Amid the garden is a beautiful sunken flower garden with a large pond giving life to beautiful lotuses. It’s an elegant environment that allows visitors to walk about and explore the garden’s delights from several viewpoints. Henceforth, most city dwellers will visit this appealing garden as an escape from the noise and crowds of Kathmandu.
The Narayanhiti Palace, where the tragic royal massacre took place, is now one of the major tourist attractions in Kathmandu. The palace displays a mix of both the Nepali style of architecture and simple modern design. The palace, now a museum, holds great memories of the royal family. The royal palace was built for the residential as well as official purposes of the royal family. Since then, the successors of the Shah Kings continued to reside until the saddening event took place. The palace had undergone several changes following destructive events. Despite that, it’s a great place to spend a few hours learning about Nepali royalty’s history and lifestyle. The palace building includes a reception hall, a private chamber for the royal family, living rooms, rooms for the house diplomats, dining halls, a kitchen, and others. Not all parts of the palace are open to visitors, but most integral parts are.
The Royal Botanical Garden, located in the Godavari, Lalitpur, is Nepal’s largest garden, covering an area of 82 hectares with variable topography. Set at the foot of Mt. Phulchowki (2765 m), the garden adorns natural streams, various styles of gardens, and multiple greenhouses. Here, one can stroll along with the perfectly cultivated gardens with beautiful horticultural collections that feature a serene ambiance. Similarly, the garden offers magnificent shorelines, brilliant colors of flowers (seasonal), and exhilarating scenery. As it is a garden, it is important to mind the time. Consequently, to enjoy the garden to the fullest, plan your visit around what’s in bloom. Nevertheless, Godavari is always a happening place that promises peaceful times no matter what time you decide to visit. A little travel would entail visiting this beautiful garden, as it is quite far from the city.
Located in the South-West, 16 km away from Kathmandu, Chandragiri is one of the new Nepal’s most loved destinations for day trips. The destination attracts city dwellers and religious pilgrims looking to spend some relaxing and spiritual time. The hill occupies one of the significant temples on top, which carries great historical value. Similarly, if you are a hiking enthusiast, then Chandragiri is also perfect for a hike. With all these highlights, the hilltop is also famous for offering grand views of the great Himalayas, stretching from Everest to Annapurna on a good day. Similarly, the hills offer cable car facilities for visitors wanting to spend their day pleasantly taking in the breathtaking scenes. Overall, it is a lovely spot to visit that combines historical significance with natural beauty.
Panauti, once a significant commerce center, is another great destination near Kathmandu for a short gateway. Panauti, known for its rich history and sacred rivers, provides a softer side to hectic Kathmandu. It is one of the country’s oldest communities, with temples going back to the 15th century. Henceforth, here you get to see the culturally rich town that shines beautifully, revealing authentic culture, tradition, and art. Mostly inhabited by the Newar community, throughout the town, one can witness the unique expression of wood carving common to their ethnicity. Most importantly, the town is quite affluent for its outstanding wood craftsmanship skills, which are pretty evident in all the traditional houses and temples around the semi-rural town. This ancient town will take you through medieval times as you cruise through commendably preserved old houses, ghats, and temples.
One of the major national parks encircling the Kathmandu valley is Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. It is one of the best spots for city dwellers for short hikes around the valley. The national park has several hiking trails. However, we recommend hiking from Fulbari Gate to Jamacho Hill. It is one of the easiest and most accessible hiking trails among many that the national park offers. The national park is home to several types of numerous floral and fauna vegetation due to its location and large area. Because the national park is quite large, it offers several hiking trails, some of which pass through villages, allowing visitors to become acquainted with less crowded areas of Kathmandu. Similarly, some trails entail just walking through familiar yet friendly jungle routes. Nagarkot to Chisapani, Sundarijal to Chisapnai, and Kakani to Shivapuri peak are a few of the popular hiking trails that include local interactions. For any hiking enthusiast, there are trails suitable for them. From extreme to easy, all types of hiking trails are available to explore the Shivapuri National Park.
Kakani has broad vistas across waves of hills to the snowy peaks, providing tourists with a true feeling of Nepal’s distinctive geographic condition. Best known for its Himalayan scenery, Kakani has always been a go-to place for a short day trip to the weekend gateway. Located at a distance of 23 km northwest of Kathmandu, accessing this astonishing destination is quite easy. Along with the beauty of snowy peaks, visitors also get to experience the diverse cultural groups that call Kakani their home. One can easily spend hours admiring the hills and deep valleys with mountain tops in the backdrop.
Kathmandu has a plethora of delightful and outstanding holiday destinations. These are the most popular destinations among domestic and international visitors, however as you sail around Kathmandu, you will witness more unique and spectacular features of Kathmandu.