Islamabad City Guide

Islamabad City Guide
Quick Facts
Known Names:
Area Code:
Time Zone:

General Information / Guide

Islamabad is Pakistan's capital and awaits visitors with its well-planned urban landscape. In the 1960s, it replaced Karachi as the nation's official capital and is famous for its safety, cleanliness, and abundant greenery. Islamabad's plan, designed by Greek architect Constantinos Apostolou Doxiadis, includes diverse zones ranging from administrative to educational sectors and is enhanced by parks such as the Margalla Hills National Park and popular landmarks such as the Faisal Mosque and Pakistan Monument. The city has a high cost of living, is dominated by upper and middle-class residents, and is home to several notable universities. It is a must-see site due to its reputation as one of Pakistan's safest cities, with a comprehensive RFID-enabled monitoring system.


Climate / Weather / When to Go

Islamabad experiences a humid subtropical climate with five distinct seasons: Winter (November–February), Spring (March and April), Summer (May and June), Rainy Monsoon (July and August), and Autumn (September and October). June is the hottest month, with temperatures often exceeding 38°C, while July is the wettest, featuring heavy rain and the possibility of cloudbursts and flooding. January is the coolest month, with mild temperatures. Winters are characterized by morning fog and sunny afternoons, with occasional snowfall in nearby hill stations like Murree and Nathia Gali. Temperatures range from 13°C in January to 38°C in June. 


How to Get There

Islamabad is accessible through Islamabad International Airport, located approximately 20 kilometers from the city center. The airport serves domestic and international flights, ensuring convenient access for travelers. From the airport, you can reach the city center via taxis, which are available 24/7, or by bus and Metrobus services that connect the airport to various parts of the city.


Food / Restaurants / What to Eat and Drink

Islamabad is a good destination for food enthusiasts, offering different cuisines influenced by various cultures. Some must-try dishes include Seekh Kebabs, succulent skewered meat, Nihari, a slow-cooked beef stew, Golgappa, crispy and spicy street food, and Biryani, fragrant rice with meat or vegetables. You can try these unique delights at iconic spots like Monal Restaurant, Faisal Mosque Food Street, and Savour Foods.
For an authentic Pakistani culinary experience, visit Kabul Restaurant or Tayyab Foods. To indulge in fine dining, enjoy Pakistani and international dishes at Wild Thyme. Don't forget to complement your meals with a cup of Kashmiri Chai or a refreshing glass of Sugarcane Juice.


Important Places / Places to Visit

  • Faisal Mosque: One of the largest mosques in the world, known for its stunning architecture.
  • Daman-e-Koh: A viewpoint that offers breathtaking panoramic views of Islamabad.
  • Lok Virsa Museum: A cultural museum showcasing Pakistan's diverse heritage.
  • Pakistan Monument: An iconic national symbol with a museum and an observation deck.
  • Rawal Lake: A serene reservoir perfect for boating and picnics.
  • Shakarparian Park: A beautiful park with sculptures and lush greenery.
  • Pakistan Museum of Natural History: A museum dedicated to the natural history of Pakistan.
  • F9 Park: A vast urban park for leisurely walks and outdoor activities.
  • Rana Caves and Monuments: Ancient Buddhist caves and rock carvings.
  • Islamabad Zoo: A family-friendly attraction featuring a variety of animals.
  • Lok Virsa Arts and Crafts Museum: A museum showcasing Pakistani arts and crafts.


What to Do

Islamabad, a modern and stunning city, offers many attractions for tourists. You can explore historic landmarks such as the Faisal Mosque, which is one of the world's largest mosques. If you love nature, you can hike in the Margalla Hills for a breathtaking panoramic city view. Pakistan Monument, featuring cascading pools and fountains, and the rich cultural heritage at Lok Virsa Museum await you to explore. Take a scenic boat ride on Rawal Lake and discover rural Pakistani life in Saidpur Village. Additionally, Islamabad has numerous parks, gardens, shopping malls, and restaurants, making it an enjoyable destination for all interests.


Nightlife / Bars / Entertainment

Public alcohol consumption is technically prohibited in Pakistan, but high-end hotels and some large embassies have their own bars. The Marriott's basement sports bar is a popular choice among hotel bars. Most locals consider public alcohol displays or drinking as impolite and offensive. Nightlife options are limited, with no open nightclubs, but occasional word-of-mouth events occur every two months. Some embassy clubs host dance parties primarily for expatriates. Non-Muslim visitors can obtain a 'non-Muslim declaration' from the local police to legally purchase alcohol. Local brands like Murree Brewery are available, along with non-alcoholic options like Budweiser and Bavaria. To buy alcohol, you'll need the 'non-Muslim declaration' or possibly just a foreign passport. 


Shopping / What to Buy

Besides famous mall options like Centaurus Mall, Giga Mall, and Safa Gold Mall, Islamabad has numerous options for shopping, especially authentic handcrafted artifacts and fabrics. Visit Art Planet Cashmere Shawls and Handicrafts for textiles and fabrics, including Pashmina shawls, silk fabrics with intricate designs, and traditional embroidery. Handicrafts and artifacts featuring woodwork, ceramics, and miniature paintings can be found at Pakistan National Arts Council Craft Shop or Lok Virsa Museum Gift Shop.
Jewelry in the city shines with gemstones and silver craftsmanship, and spices and tea introduce you to authentic Pakistani flavors, do not forget to visit Gold Market, Spices Market, and Chaaye Wala. Traditional carpets, rugs, and Kilims, showcase the cultural richness of Pakistan, and Islamabad Carpet Market is ideal for purchasing one. If you want to taste culinary delights including dry fruits, sweets, and local cuisine, visit Liberty Market and F-7 Markaz. Lastly, Raja Bazaar is the place where you can find almost everything mentioned above, and leather goods. 


Festivals/ Events

March: Jashan-e-Nowruz
April: Spring Blossom Festival
May: Joshi or Chilimjusht
July: Utchal
August: Independence Day
August: Ashura (Muharram)
October: Chowmas
November: Iqbal Day
December: Quaid-e-Azam Day (Jinnah's Birthday)


Holidays / Festivals / Important Days

1 January: New Year's Day
5 February: Kashmir Solidarity Day
23 March: Pakistan Day
1 May: Labour Day
14 August: Independence Day
9 November: Iqbal Day
25 December: Quaid-e-Azam Day
Eid Al-Fitr
Eid Al-Adha
Mawlid al-Nabi (Prophet Muhammad's Birthday)


Things to Pay Attention to / Important Information

Dress modestly and respectfully when visiting religious sites and local communities.
Use reputable transportation services and negotiate fares before taking a taxi.
Embrace the local culture and respect the diverse communities you'll encounter.
Respect local customs, and use your right hand for eating and handshakes.
 Avoid disrespecting Islam or the Pakistani flag.
Don't photograph military or government buildings without permission.
 Stay away from dangerous areas, like the Afghan border, Balochistan, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.



In Islamabad, the formal transportation options include the Metrobus system with two routes, Red and Orange, which is popular but criticized for its cost and reliability. Local buses and wagons follow fixed routes, offering a more affordable but crowded option. For sightseeing, various tour companies provide bus tours. Rickshaws are common for short trips, though slower and less comfortable. Taxis offer a pricier but more reliable alternative, and ride-hailing apps like Careem and Uber are gaining popularity as convenient and affordable transportation alternatives. 

View on the Map