Nepal’s capital is an alluring blend of sacred monuments, medieval landmarks and lively shopping districts as well as being a gateway to Kathmandu Valley.
A cacophony of sights, sounds and smells welcomes visitors to Kathmandu. It is a spellbinding combination of medieval center, holy city, shops and breathtaking natural scenery. Kathmandu is Nepal’s capital city, set in the picturesque Kathmandu Valley. Wander its maze of winding streets to discover centuries-old traditions amid stunning Newari architecture.
A great place to start your visit is at Kathmandu Durbar Square, the city’s architecturally impressive historic and religious heart. Spot multi-tiered pagoda temples, colorful shrines and exotic wood carvings. Highlights include the Hanuman Dhoka Palace, Kumari House, Kasthamandap and Maju Deval Temple. Weave between rickshaws, cows and holy men as you stroll through the square’s surrounding alleyways. Bargain for fresh fruit and flowers at the markets and peak into courtyards to see carpets of sundried chilies.
A short walk north of Kathmandu Durbar Square is the Thamel district. Within this popular backpacker hangout you’ll find a variety of guesthouses and hotels, bakeries, bars and restaurants. Explore the bazaars, where shops sell everything from prayer beads and bronze Buddha statues to pashmina scarves, incense and spices. Escape the noise at the serene Garden of Dreams and then learn about Nepal’s royal and political history at the Narayanhiti Palace Museum, the palace where Nepal’s monarchs used to live.
South of Durbar Square is Freak Street, a bohemian enclave home of chic cafés. Discover more temples and street hawkers at Indra Chowk and relax in Ratna Park, one of the few green spaces in the city center.
Be sure to visit Kathmandu’s ancient sacred landmarks. Climb the 365-step staircase to the magical Swayambhunath. Spin prayer wheels as you walk around the Boudhanath stupa with monks and devotees. Watch ancient Hindu rituals at Pashupatinath Temple and glean insights into the lives of Buddhist monks at Kopan Monastery.
Reach Kathmandu by flying to Tribhuvan International Airport and get around on foot, rickshaw, public buses and low-cost taxis. Save some time to visit Patan, Bhaktapur and Nagarkot, some of the atmospheric towns scattered around the Kathmandu Valley. For adventurists, Kathmandu is also the jumping off point for treks to Everest Base Camp.