Abbottabad is the most advanced, beautifully established and scenic mountain city of Pakistan. This city is a large lush bowl surrounded by green Sarban hills which add to the magnificence. The Karakoram Highway divides the Abbottabad and thus makes it a very convenient base for the tourists heading further up towards Karakoram, Himalayas and the Hindu Kush ranges.
Located in the Hazara region of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the city is 110 kilometers north of the federal capital Islamabad. The distance of Abbottabad from the provincial capital Peshawar is 150 kilometers. Abbottabad is located at an altitude of 1,260 meters and considered as the city of most pleasant weather in summer. Hindko is the most common language in Abbottabad while Urdu and English are also widely spoken languages of the district. Like other popular mountain areas, tourism is one of the important sources of income in Abbottabad. Abbottabad and surrounding areas are also rich in crops and fruit production.
Abbottabad is a fabulous tourist place with extensive sightseeing options. Some popular tourist destinations in and around Abbottabad include:
The historical Ilyasi Masjid (Mosque) is the oldest and largest Masjid of Abbottabad. Located in the famous residential area ‘Nawanshehr’, the Masjid was built besides a hill and over a fresh, clear and cool water stream that flows from the mountain.
Many tourists and locals also visit the Ilyasi Masjid due to the popular Hot Pakora (a more spicy form of potato chips) stalls around the Masjid.
Dor River Harnoi Valley
Harnoi Valley is famous because of the well forested surrounding hills and clear water stream flowing down from the higher mountains. The stream which is also known as the Dor River is a popular swimming and bathing spot for youngsters from and outside Abbottabad.
Shimla Hill is the highest spot in the Abbottabad for superb views down to whole city and rural areas. Although, Shimla Hill is not a formal picnic or tourist spot but it is a good option for evening walk and photography.
Thandiani, Galiat and Ayubia National Park
A large mountain area at the heights of Hazara division is thickly forested and one of the most visited tourist region in Pakistan. The most prominent hill stations include Thandiani, Bara Gali, Nathia Gali, Dunga Gali, Khaira Gali and Ayubia.
In addition to the scenic outlook and tourist amusement arrangements, the whole area from Thandiani to Murree is also popular for its wildlife. To provide a safer environment to species like lions, leopards, guldar, foxes, monkeys and numerous kinds of birds, a large area was declared as the Ayubia National Park.
Due to well maintained roads and swift transportation facilities, the whole area is accessible in both summer and winter seasons. These family holiday spots have spacious accommodations as well for visitors either in snow falling or summers.
Tourists with own cars and jeeps find it an exciting long drive usually from Islamabad to Abbotabad via Murree and Galiat. In winter season when the snow blocks the roads, it can be a challenging and risky adventure. To avoid any risk, mountain driving experience and use of appropriate tools like wheel chains are recommended.
The trekking options in the majestically forested hills of Abbottabad and Hazara region include Thandiani to Nathiagali via Meerajani Peak, Nathiagali to Meerajani Peak and back, Ayubia to Muskpuri Top and Nathiagali to Kalabagh. Most of trekking can be done in a day or even less except the Thandiani to Nathigali which requires atleast a night’s camping in the remote forests.
There are several high standard shopping malls and markets in Abbottabad providing almost every kind of domestic, daily life and gift items. A large number of gift shops and stalls at hill stations and tourist spots sell a variety of imported and local made products including wooden decoration, gem stones, warm shawls, coats, caps, dry fruit, jewelry and embroidery etc.
Where to stay
The availability of all types of residential and night stay accommodation is fairly enough in Abbottabad. Tourist can choose from a number of options throughout the city and all surrounding tourist spots. In the rush seasons, it may require good negotiation skills to done a deal according to the budget.
Transport and Access
Abbottabad is located right on the Karakoram Highway which is the easiest access from the federal capital Islamabad. Abbottabad is also linked with the provincial capital Peshawar and Murree (Punjab province) by roads.
Public vans, coaches and buses from almost all major cities of Pakistan are available for Abbottabad. From Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Murree and Peshawar public transport is easily and frequently available.