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Book a flight to Islamabad and you may be surprised at the peacefulness of Pakistan's capital city.
Surrounded by greenery, Islamabad has none of the disorganised chaos of a South Asian metropolis, yet those who linger a while will uncover a more lively side to this charming city as well. You can fly to Islamabad with Qatar Airways and use the city as a jumping-off point to other destinations, or enjoy a longer break and soak up the city's culture and history.
Start your trip to Islamabad by visiting the city's museums and art galleries. Lok Virsa Museum is the city's finest museum, with over 25 galleries dedicated to textiles, architecture and traditional music. Alternatively, you can check out the National Art Gallery, home to over 450 pieces of art, from sculptures to classical and contemporary paintings.
No visit to the city is complete without seeing Faisal Masjid, Islamabad's most famous landmark. A gift from King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, this huge mosque is one of Asia's largest and its blend of traditional and modern architecture makes it a striking sight. You should always remember to dress respectfully when visiting religious sites in the city.
A taxi ride to nearby Taxile is an opportunity to visit the excavations. It's easy to spend a whole day here wandering around the museum and the archaeological sites. This ancient city is one of Pakistan's most important historic locations and was once a centre of Buddhist and Hindu learning.
The city is filled with green spaces. Rawal Lake and the adjacent Lake View Park are popular spots for picnics or boating and fishing on the lake, offering panoramic views over the city. Families will enjoy a day out at Islamabad Zoo, where over 300 animals can be found including lions, tigers and more than 200 different birds.
When you travel to Islamabad, take a day trip to Saidpur Village, the perfect place to enjoy a break from the busy city. This ancient village has been recently remodelled and is filled with cafés and restaurants. There are also regularly updated exhibitions showcasing Pakistan's rich cultural heritage.
The area surrounding Islamabad is known for its rock climbing crags at Margalla Hills. Cycling is also a popular pastime here, and renting a bike in the city is a great way to take in some of the area's scenic trails.
Known for its flavour and richness, Pakistani cuisine is aromatic and spicy. Islamabad may not appear to offer many exciting restaurants, but scratch the surface and you will find plenty of options for dining. Arabic, Pakistani and Thai food can all be found in the F6 and F7 sectors of the city. For international cuisine, the Blue Area is home to fast-food chains and European restaurants.
Saidpur Village and the Margalla Hills offer fine dining and some of the best Pakistani food around.
Islamabad is also home to a number of authentic Chinese restaurants, most of which are in the F8 sector. Don't miss out on a visit to one of the city's coffee houses.
On your trip to Islamabad, you'll find each area in the city has its own shopping area or 'markaz'. The most popular markets are located in F6 and F7. Local handicrafts and textiles such as pashmina shawls are available to buy at very reasonable prices.
The city's shopping malls are the best place to find international brands. Head for The Centaurus Mall or Safa Gold Mall in F7, while the Al Taqwa Mall is also worth visiting for its food court. Islamabad Super Market is one of the city's most popular market areas. Here you will find shops and stalls selling crafts, jewellery, clothing, rugs and more. Haggling is essential, and most of the shopkeepers speak English well.
Flights to Islamabad with Qatar Airways arrive at Islamabad Airport (also known as Rawalpindi Airport) in the centre of Rawalpindi. You should ensure you have at least six months validity remaining on your passport before you fly to Islamabad.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Islamabad please check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: Pakistani Rupee (PKR)
Voltage: 220 V 50 Hz
Plugs: Type C / D
Language: English / Urdu
International dialing code: +92