Attractions That Make Islamabad Pakistan’s Must-visit City

Part II

As the country's capital and a city of diplomats, Islamabad offers a wide selection of high-end hotels, providing all the luxuries and comforts for the most discerning travellers. Those on a more restricted budget can also choose from an array of mid-range and budget hotels, as well as guesthouses and hostels for the adventurer and the backpacker. But luxury is not the only thing this beautiful city has to offer. Here are some of the best attractions that make Islamabad worth-visiting.

The Monal
Offering what is beyond a doubt the best view of any restaurant in Islamabad, The Monal is nestled up among the lush Margalla Hills, away from the city noise, but providing a breathtaking panoramic view of its urban area. It is a bit out of the way, but the view and the mix of European and Asian specialties make it well worth a visit.

Kabul Restaurant
This is more of a rugged, local restaurant than the fine dining that can be found in more expensive places, but locals keep coming back to Kabul for the fantastic Afghan specialties, particularly the barbecue and the dumplings. The place itself is simple and no-nonsense. They let the food do the talking.

Located on the road to Saidpur, Andaaz offers a truly unique experience. It combines traditional local flavours with a classy and elegant surrounding, subdued lighting and a relaxing and intimate feel. There are pictures of famous Pakistani singers hanging on the walls along with traditional instruments, which only adds to the experience.

The Shopping Experience
Shopping in Islamabad-Rawalpindi can be as varied as the cities themselves. Spend the afternoon browsing, shopping and eating at one of the many large modern shopping malls, which contain everything a shopper could need, or head to one of the more traditional open-air markets to pick up some local handicrafts or traditional garments. Some real unique finds await the patient shopper who takes the time to explore the city's many shopping possibilities.

Rajah Bazaar
For an authentic, albeit chaotic, shopping experience in Islamabad, you can hardly do better than Rawalpindi's Rajah Bazaar. Spreading out from Fawara Chowk, you can find vendours, shops and stalls in every direction selling everything you can think of, from clothing to daily needs. Towers remain of old Hindu temples in the area, as well.

Centaurus Mall
Massive, modern, sleek, imposing, the Centaurus Mall is truly impressive. Combining a shopping centre, a hotel and residential housing, it is a beacon of modernity in Pakistan for which Islamabad is a symbol. The mall has all you could need in terms of shopping, entertainment and restaurants, and visitors can easily spend a whole day exploring its many floors.

Jinnah Super Market
Jinnah Super Market is where the wealthy citizens of Islamabad come to shop. The stores here sell the latest fashion from international designer brands and traditional Pakistani garments for men and women, as well as household items, furnishings and decorations.

Beverly Center
Beverly Center is another modern shopping centre where local families and groups of friends often go to shop for essentials, or spend an afternoon browsing the many designer shops, sampling some delicacies at the numerous restaurants and cafés, and enjoying an afternoon out.

Al-Janat Mall
For some shopping in the Rawalpindi area, try Al-Janat Mall. In operation since 1974, this large shopping centre specialises in clothing, cosmetics, bags, perfumes, jewellery, shoes and any type of accessory you can think of, all at quite competitive prices.

Islamabad International Airport (ISB)
The Islamabad International Airport commenced operations in 2018 and replaced the defunct Benazir Bhutto International Airport. Taxis are readily available outside the airport, but be sure to agree on a price before stepping into a cab, as they are seldom metered. There are also a number of local buses which can transport visitors to and from the airport, but the number of routes can be overwhelming and confusing, so unless you know exactly what to take to get where you are going, it might be best to stick to taxis. This airport is an attraction worth visiting on its own as it is huge, clean, sparkly, and beautiful, and has many of its own attractions inside, like cafés, shops, foods etc.

Public Transport
Islamabad recently unveiled its brand new network of metro buses, much to the delight of the citizens. These modern, air-conditioned and WiFi-enabled accordion-style buses have dedicated lanes to help commuters skip traffic jams, and they connect the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Probably the best way to get around the city is by a combination of the metro buses and taxis. Other options for getting around include pedal and motor-rickshaws.