Are you planning to go on a trip with your family or friends but haven’t decided on the location yet? Well, if you love exploring nature, enjoy trekking through lush green trails, yet want to stay at lavish hotels offering a beautiful view of the magnificent mountain tops, there is no better place to visit than the Galiyat region at this time of the year. Located between Murree and Abbottabad, this breathtaking tourist destination comprises some of the most popular hill stations of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In fact, there are so many wonderful places to visit in Galiyat that it might take you a few days to even check out the top spots.
The region is extremely popular among domestic and international tourists alike. In 2019, Galiyat saw an unprecedented hike of 139% in the influx of tourists.
To help you figure out an itinerary for your next vacation to the northern areas of Pakistan, we have put together a list of places to visit in Galiyat that will make your trip unforgettable.
Nathia Gali is one of the best places to visit in Pakistan during winter.
This veritable piece of heaven on earth is situated approximately 7,900 feet above the sea level. Considered one of the best places to visit in Galiyat, this tourist destination is known for its captivating landscape that looks like something right out of a fairytale. The tall pine, oak and walnut trees, vibrant flowers, beautiful hiking tacks, historic buildings and charming markets all set against the backdrop of a magnificent valley make this hill station even more enchanting.
Owing to its proximity to Murree, Nathia Gali sees a lot of visitors throughout the year. In summer months, the pleasant weather of this mountain resort makes it the perfect place to spend the holidays with your family. During winter, the area receives heavy snowfall, which leaves the mighty mountain peaks covered in snow, adding to its beauty and charm. However, during severe cold spells, the temperature can drop as low as -8 degrees Celsius. So, if you’re planning to go hiking, December and January may not be the best months. However, if you want to enjoy snowfall, Nathia Gali is one of the best places to visit in Galiyat to spend your winter vacations.
Apart from its scenic landscape, Nathia Gali also features a bustling market where tourists can buy souvenirs and traditional handmade items. The wooden building of St. Matthews Church, which is among the most historic churches in Pakistan, is also situated in Nathia Gali. There are also several hotels, resorts, restaurants and cafes located in the area.
Along with other top tourist destinations in Pakistan, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has also introduced camping pods in Nathiagali in a bid to promote tourism.
How to Get There?
There are two main ways to reach Nathia Gali from Islamabad. You can either drive through Abbottabad or travel through Murree to get there. If you choose the first option, it will take you a little over two hours to get to Abbottabad through Hazara Expressway. Also, the traffic within the city limits tends to get jammed during the daytime. However, the route from Abbottabad to Nathia Gali is considered one of the most picturesque roads in Pakistan.
On the other hand, if you want to reach Nathia Gali from Islamabad through Murree, you will have to drive for about two and a half hours. While this route is beautiful, it also has quite a few sharp turns and curves. Therefore, it is recommended to hire a local driver for this trip.
Ayubia National Park
If you are looking for places to visit near Murree, you can’t miss out on exploring the unparalleled beauty of the Ayubia National Park.
Sprawling over 3,312 hectares of land, this national park is located between Murree and Nathiagali at an elevation of about 8,000 feet. It gained the status of a national park in 1984, prior to which it was considered a hilltop resort complex. The Wildlife and Parks Department of the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is currently managing the Ayubia National Park.
The charming tourist destination is surrounded by dense green forests that are home to exotic birds and wildlife, mighty mountain peaks covered with coniferous pine trees, as well as some of the most popular hill stations in Pakistan, including Thandiani and Nathia Gali.
The recreational spots and picnic points at Ayubia National Park are simply breathtaking. The hilltop also features stunning viewpoints, adventurous hiking trails, cafes, a PTDC motel, and most importantly, the famous Dunga Gali or Pipeline Walking Track, which connects Ayubia to Dunga Gali.
The national park is also home to one of the most famous chairlifts in Pakistan that can visitors from Ayubia to Mushkpuri Top, another mesmerizing tourist destination in Pakistan. The captivating Miranjani peak is also located in the Namli Maira area of this expansive national park.
However, be warned that covering the entire park in one day is almost impossible. Therefore, you must allocate at least two days to get acquainted with the beauty of this remarkable landscape.
Moreover, you can visit the Ayubia National Park throughout the year. During summer months, the weather here is quite pleasant, which is why it remains rather crowded between March and October. Though if you want to enjoy snowfall, consider visiting this national park between December and February.
How to Get There?
For those travelling from Islamabad, reaching the Ayubia National Park will take about 2 hours via Islamabad-Murree Expressway. However, if you are staying in Murree like most other tourists, this mountain resort complex is barely an hour away from the famous hill station. However, due to the condition of the roads and sharp turns, it is recommended to travel with a local driver who is accustomed to driving in the mountains.
Mushkpuri Top, also known as Mukeshpuri Top, is the second-highest mountain peak in the Galiyat region. It is about 9,200 ft high and located about 90 kilometres north of the capital city. The track to this mountain peak is probably the most popular trekking route among domestic and foreign tourists alike. Since Mushkpuri Top is just above Nathia Gali and can be accessed directly from Ayubia National Park, you are bound to find a significant number of tourists and adventure seekers moving along this scenic path at all times of the year.
The most famous trail for Mushkpuri Top starts near the Pines Hotel in Nathia Gali. From there, it takes about three hours to climb through the breathtaking pine forest to reach the destination. This route is on the western side of the mountain and is relatively steady. The distance between the starting and endpoints is around 4-kilometer.
On the other hand, if you start your journey from Dunga Gali, you’ll have to climb your way through a steeper slope. However, the stunning bird sanctuary created near this trail makes up for the challenges of navigating through this tricky terrain that extends towards River Jhelum. It also gives you a panoramic view of the Ayubia National Park, though if you have a fear of heights or aren’t a seasoned hiker, it is advised not to opt for this route.
Once you reach the Mushkpuri Top, the view is simply enchanting. All you can see here is a sprawling meadow filled with flowers, a captivating freshwater spring, mountains covered with dense forests and a clear blue sky. Owing to its altitude, you can see the picturesque Kashmir Valley from this mountain peak. This alone makes Mushkpuri Top one of the best places to visit in Galiyat.
How to Get There?
As mentioned above, you can either start your trek in Nathia Gali near Pines Hotel or choose the steeper path that starts in Dunga Gali. Since they are both popular tourist destinations in Pakistan, you won’t have a hard time finding accommodation and sustenance in either of these areas.
Miranjani, also spelt as Meranjani, is the highest hill in the Galiyat region. The mountain peak is approximately 9,816 feet above sea level. Trekking to Miranjani Top is one of the most popular activities among tourists visiting the area. If you are a seasoned hiker, reaching the top will take you about one and a half hours. However, for beginners, the hike can take up to three hours or more.
The trail for the Miranjani Top starts near the historic Governor House in Nathia Gali. However, the path soon divided into two, with one route taking you to the mountaintop through a semi-circle that ascends towards the charming village of Namli Maira. If you opt for this trek, you will explore the lifestyle and culture of the villagers residing on the beautiful mountain before walking further up towards your destination. Most beginners and those trekking with their families choose this route as it is easy, safe, and picturesque. However, it is a little bit longer than the second route.
The second trail is relatively steep at an angle of 60 to 65 degrees. It spirals towards the Miranjani Top and can get a little challenging for children and those with health conditions. There is also no water available on this route, so make sure to carry a few bottles with you if you choose to take this route.
Regardless of which trail you choose, it is recommended to hire a local guide to help you navigate and reach the mountain peak without any hassle. Remember, you won’t find a lot of markings in this area, so it is fairly easy to get lost if you are unfamiliar with the trial.
You must make sure to start your hike as early as possible and take along enough food and water to last for up to eight hours. A basic first aid kit, warm clothing, walking stick and hiking boots are also mandatory items for this trek.
Once you reach the Miranjani Top, you can see the snow-covered peaks of the mighty Nanga Parbat, one of the tallest peaks in the world.
How to Get There?
If you plan on trekking to Miranjani Top, you should stay the night at Nathia Gali and hire a guide from the main bazaar area. The trail for the top starts near the Governor House.
The picturesque hill station of Thandiani is one of the most remarkable places to visit in Galyat. It also makes for the perfect weekend getaway from Islamabad. The trek to Thandiani is known as Dugri Trek. Though it is considered the longest mountain trail in the Galiyat region, it is extremely popular among adventure seekers for its otherworldly beauty surrounded by thick pine forests and a clear sky. The trek for Thandiani starts at Miranjani Top, which then leads to Dugri and then Beran Gali before spiralling towards the relatively isolated tourist destination of Thandiani. The entire trek takes about two days.
Once you reach Miranjani Top, you will have to make your way to the Dugri rest house, which can be easily seen from the mountain top on a clear and sunny day. From Dugri, it will take you approximately 6 to 8 hours of hiking to reach Beran Gali. You can rest here for a bit before making your way to Thandiani. If you are not a fan of trekking, you can simply book a jeep or a car and take the scenic road from Nathia Gali to Thandiani through Abbottabad.
The view from Thandiani is absolutely magnificent. Since Thandiani literally translates to ‘very cold,’ the weather at this hill station is very pleasant during summer months, offering the residents of Islamabad, Abbottabad and nearby areas a much-needed respite from the summer heat. On the other hand, it gets really cold in winters, so make sure to wear thermal clothing and warm boots if you are planning to visit this tourist attraction.
Thandiani is situated at an altitude of 9,022 feet and is quickly gaining popularity among local and foreign tourists. It is covered with lush green forests and meadows with wildflowers, making it a perfect place for those who love exploring nature. There are also a few restaurants and cafes located in this area, so you don’t have to worry about food or refreshment during your trip to this paradise on earth.
How to Get There?
There are two main ways to reach Thandiani. The first is trekking from Miranjani Top to the hill stations. However, it is only ideal for adventure seekers and professional hikers. The easier way to reach Thandiani is by a jeep or a car. Once you enter the city limits of Abbottabad, the drive to Thandiani will take about an hour.
So, which of these tourist attractions in Pakistan would you be visiting next? You can send us your thoughts and comments on the best places in Galiyat by dropping an email at email@example.com.
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