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Start your trip to Islamabad by visiting the city's museums and art galleries. Lok Virsa Museum is considered the city's finest, with more than 25 galleries dedicated to textiles, architecture and traditional music. Alternatively, you can check out the National Art Gallery, home to over 450 pieces, from sculptures to classical and contemporary paintings.
Faisal Masjid is Islamabad's most famous landmark. A gift from King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, this imposing mosque is one of Asia's largest, and its blend of traditional and modern architecture will live long in the memory. Remember to dress respectfully when visiting religious sites in the city.
A taxi ride to nearby Taxila is an opportunity to visit some exquisite excavation sites. It's easy to spend a whole day here, browsing the museum and the surrounding archaeological digs. 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 greenery. Rawal Lake and the adjacent Lake View Park are popular spots for picnics, and the lake offers opportunities for boating and fishing. The lake area also serves as a great source of panoramic views over the city.
Families will enjoy a day out at Islamabad Zoo, where more than 300 animals await, including lions, tigers and a wide variety of birds.
When you travel to Islamabad, taking a day trip to Saidpur Village, is the ideal way to catch a change of scenery. This ancient village was the subject of a two-year remodelling project that concluded in 2008, and is filled with cafés and restaurants. There are also regularly updated exhibitions showcasing Pakistan's rich cultural heritage.
The Margalla Hills, on the city’s outskirts, are part of the Himalayan foothills and offer some excellent opportunities for rock-climbing. 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.
Famed for its flavour and piquancy, Pakistani cuisine is something to be savoured and you will find plenty of dining options in Islamabad, if you are prepared to go looking. 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 several authentic Chinese restaurants, most of which are in the F8 sector. In addition, make sure you visit one of the city's coffee houses.
Each area in the city has its own shopping district, or markaz. The most popular markets can be found in F6 and F7. Local handicrafts and textiles such as pashmina shawls, are available to buy at 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.
Essential facts about Islamabad
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip