Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is a bustling metropolis known for its rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture. For those pondering things to do in Kathmandu, exploring the historic Kathmandu Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with palaces and temples, and visiting the sacred Swayambhunath Stupa, also known as the Monkey Temple, are top activities.
The city’s bustling Thamel neighborhood offers a haven for travelers, with numerous shops, restaurants, and cafes catering to every need. Nearby, the Pashupatinath Temple stands as a significant Hindu shrine, attracting pilgrims and visitors with its impressive architecture and spiritual atmosphere.
Beyond its historical and cultural attractions, Kathmandu is also renowned for its artisanal crafts, with numerous markets and workshops showcasing traditional Nepali artistry. For those seeking the best places to visit in Nepal, Kathmandu’s blend of ancient traditions, architectural marvels, and lively atmosphere makes it a captivating destination.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Kathmandu, Nepal
1. Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple)
Swayambhunath Stupa, affectionately known as the Monkey Temple due to the holy monkeys living in parts of the temple, sits atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley. This ancient religious complex is adorned with colorful prayer flags and offers panoramic views of Kathmandu.
Travel Tip: Be mindful of your belongings as the monkeys are known to be quite mischievous, and make sure to walk around the stupa in a clockwise direction, respecting local customs.
2. Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the historical heart of the city, surrounded by spectacular architecture that showcases the skills of Newar artists and craftsmen over several centuries. The square was heavily damaged in the 2015 earthquake but remains a key historical attraction.
Travel Tip: Pay for a guided tour to fully appreciate the history and details of the palace and surrounding structures.
3. Boudhanath Stupa
Boudhanath Stupa is one of the largest stupas in the world and a focal point of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. The stupa is surrounded by houses and monasteries where lamas reside.
Travel Tip: Visit in the early morning or late afternoon to observe local devotees performing kora (walking meditation) around the stupa.
4. Pashupatinath Temple
The sacred Pashupatinath Temple, situated on the banks of the Bagmati River, is one of the most significant Hindu temples of Lord Shiva in the world. This sprawling temple complex is a center for annual Shivaratri and Teej festivals.
Travel Tip: Non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple but can observe the ceremonies from the eastern bank of the river.
5. Garden of Dreams
The Garden of Dreams, also known as the Garden of Six Seasons, is a neoclassical historical garden located in the midst of Kathmandu’s hustle and bustle. It is an ideal place for relaxation and leisure.
Travel Tip: The garden has a very nice café where you can enjoy a quiet lunch or a cup of coffee amidst the greenery.
6. Thamel Area
Thamel is Kathmandu’s main traveler’s hub, packed with shops, restaurants, bars, and hotels. This lively district is also a great place to buy trekking gear and souvenirs.
Travel Tip: Haggling is expected when shopping in Thamel, so don’t be shy to negotiate the price.
7. Patan Durbar Square
Just across the river from Kathmandu, Patan Durbar Square is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its arts and crafts. The square and its surroundings are a stunning example of ancient Newar architecture.
Travel Tip: Consider visiting the Patan Museum to understand the richness of Nepalese art.
8. National Museum of Nepal
The National Museum of Nepal offers a vast collection of historical artifacts, artworks, and weapons, providing insights into the rich cultural history of Nepal.
Travel Tip: Plan your visit during the daytime as some exhibition halls might not be well lit.
9. Asan Tole Market
Asan Tole is a traditional and bustling market area of Kathmandu, offering everything from food to fabrics, and it is an excellent spot to experience the local way of life.
Travel Tip: The market is most lively in the late afternoon; be prepared for crowds and narrow streets.
10. Bhaktapur Durbar Square
A short trip from Kathmandu, Bhaktapur Durbar Square is known for its exquisite art, culture, and festivals. This city is less touched by modernization and offers a more medieval experience.
Travel Tip: Bhaktapur requires an entrance fee to maintain the historical site, so make sure to carry cash.
FAQ About Things to Do in Kathmandu, Nepal
What are the must-visit cultural sites in Kathmandu?
Kathmandu is rich in cultural heritage with must-visit sites like the Kathmandu Durbar Square, Swayambhunath Stupa (Monkey Temple), Pashupatinath Temple, and Boudhanath Stupa. These sites offer a glimpse into the city’s ancient architecture and religious significance.
Can I explore the local markets in Kathmandu?
Absolutely! Exploring the local markets like Asan Market or the Thamel area is a great way to experience the local culture, buy handicrafts, and sample traditional Nepali cuisine.
Are there any day hikes near Kathmandu?
Yes, there are several day hikes near Kathmandu that provide stunning views of the Himalayas. Popular ones include the Nagarkot hike, Shivapuri National Park, and the hike to the Namo Buddha Monastery.
What adventure sports can I do in Kathmandu?
Kathmandu offers several adventure sports, such as paragliding, bungee jumping, and mountain biking. The nearby Shivapuri National Park is a popular spot for such activities.
Is there a place to learn about the history of Nepal in Kathmandu?
The National Museum of Nepal is an excellent place to learn about the country’s history. It houses an extensive collection of artifacts, sculptures, and historical documents.
Can I visit a traditional Newari village while in Kathmandu?
Yes, the Kirtipur village is just a short drive from Kathmandu and is an ideal place to experience Newari culture, traditional homes, and local cuisine.
Where can I enjoy live music in Kathmandu?
Thamel is the heart of Kathmandu’s nightlife and live music scene, with numerous bars and restaurants hosting live bands playing both traditional Nepali music and contemporary tunes.
Are there any cooking classes for Nepali cuisine in Kathmandu?
Yes, there are many cooking classes available in Kathmandu where you can learn to prepare traditional dishes like momo (dumplings), dal bhat (lentils and rice), and other Nepali specialties.