One would not do justice to the attractiveness of the country if one thought it was only an Eldorado for mountaineers and trekking enthusiasts. Culture enthusiasts and art lovers have long since discovered the multi-ethnic country for themselves and are fascinated by its ancient traditions and religious customs, the wealth of architecture and decor, colors and shapes. Whether hiker or art historian, every visitor will experience Nepal as a land of contrasts.
Sandwiched between the two giants of Asia, overpowering India to the south and suspiciously eyed China to the north, lies tiny Nepal with its breathtaking landscapes, its hundred peoples and even more languages. From the subtropical sultriness of the Ganges lowlands, the country rises a short distance to the “throne of the gods”, the ice-armored peaks of the eight-thousand-meter peaks of the Himalayas.
Crossing cultural zones and climatic zones, densely populated and deserted stretches of land, accompanied by an initially lush, then sparser vegetation that ends where the eternal ice begins. For centuries, the Nepalese have been accustomed to the close coexistence of very different cultures and to a significance of religion that is hardly familiar to Westerners and permeates all areas of life. This has left its mark on them and allows them to better endure the adverse circumstances of life. They radiate calm and composure. They are friendly and tolerant.
Enjoy our list of the 16 best places to visit in Nepal.
The lively city in the heart of the Kathmandu Valley is home to impressive architectural monuments that have not for nothing been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Amidst the vast and scenically breathtaking valley, Kathmandu offers very special cultural experiences with the Durbar Square of ancient temples and the extraordinary Buddhist stupa complex of Swayanbunath.
Discover the most interesting buildings of Kathmandu just like the warm people of the capital. The capital of Nepal is always a very special destination. Authentic encounters, a wonderful landscape and extraordinary buildings await you in Kathmandu in the heart of Nepal.
Nagarkot is a village located about 32 km east of Kathmanduin Nepal of Bhaktapur district of Bagmati zone. At an altitude of 2,195 m, it is one of the most beautiful points in Bhaktapur district and equally famous for its breathtaking sunrises with the view of the Himalayas. Nagarkot also offers a panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley. Nagarkot village is an international tourist destination with spectacular views of the entire Langtang area during sunrise and sunset over the mountains.
Nagarkot is known for its world famous Nagarkot Hills, which also offer breathtaking views of the majestic Himalayas. The view of rolling hills, deep valleys and lush pine forests sway in a picturesque rural atmosphere.
The best place to enjoy the view with the magnificent sunrise and sunset over the spectacular Himalayas is offered by Kathmandu Valley. The area includes the Annapurna, Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Langtang, Jugal, Rolwaling, Mahalangur (Everest area) and Numbur areas with a magnificent view of Kathmandu Valley and Shivapuri National Park.
Bhaktapur is located about 16 km east of Kathmandu and is the third largest of the former royal cities in the Kathmandu Valley. Between the 14th and 18th centuries, Bhaktapur was the capital of the kingdom.
Some of the temple complexes and dwellings date back to the Malla Dynasty and are decorated with fascinating wood carvings. The architectural heritage of Bhaktapur is one of the reasons why the city has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
The Royal Palace of Bhaktapur is the oldest temple in the Kathmandu Valley. It is located in Durbar Square and is famous for its Golden Gate (Sun Dhoka).
In the western part of the palace is the National Gallery of Bhaktapur and in the eastern part is the Palace of 55 Windows, elaborately and artistically made of wood.
In front of the former royal palace is a life-size statue representing King Bupathindra Malla.
The Nyatapola Temple is located in Taumadhi Square on a five-tiered platform surrounded by four Ganesh shrines. It has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979. On the sides of the staircase, each of the five levels is flanked by a different pair of figures.
The Bhairavnath Temple also stands in Taumadhi Square, southeast of Durbar Square, and is dedicated to the deity Shiva. The rectangular building with three floors has its seat for the deity on the upper floor.
13. Boudhanath Stupa
Boudhanath Stupa is one of the 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Kathmandu Valley and is one of the most famous sights in the country. Boudhanath surrounds a mystical and spiritual atmosphere that captivates every traveler.
Boudhanath Stupa – or simply Boudha – is a Buddhist temple complex in the eastern part of Kathmandu. It is located about 8km from Thamel city center and is one of the most imposing landmarks of the capital. With its 36m height, this stupa is one of the largest structures of its kind in the world.
The large Buddha eyes look in all four directions into the distance and symbolize knowledge. The Tibetan community in Nepal has also settled in this part of the city. Well over 50 gombas (Tibetan monasteries) have already been established there.
Boudhanath Stupa is considered a haven of peace from the hectic capital. Although the stupa is located directly on a main road, this place is surrounded by a calmness accompanied by the mantras of praying pilgrims. The best time to visit is in the morning or evening. Then you will witness many devotees doing their religious practices and lighting butter candles. Please behave respectfully during these important moments for pilgrims.
Certainly the most interesting city of the Terai, Janakpur is located southeast of Kathmandu at a distance of 380 km.
In the mythical past, the capital of the ancient Mithila Empire is said to have been located here. The king of the empire was the holy Jarnak. The place plays an important role in the great Hindu epic Ramayana, as Jarnak’s daughter, the goddess Sita was born here. Later, she would also marry Rama, the hero of the epic, on the territory of present-day Janakpur. Rama and Sita are worshipped as incarnations of the god Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi.
This is the reason why the colorful city with its winding streets is considered a sacred place today. About 120 temples are located here, plus many pilgrims and sadhus.
Janakpur is also considered the most Indian of all Nepalese cities because of its proximity to India. Most of the population comes from the vast subcontinent, whose border is only a few kilometers to the south. The streets offer a picturesque picture with an immense number of people and countless bicycle rickshaws.
Janakpur is one of the hottest cities in Nepal. Only from November to March do temperatures reach somewhat tolerable levels.
Dedicated to Sita, the Janaki Temple is the city’s most important shrine. The massive white marble structure in the style of Mughal architecture in 17th century India was completed in 1911 after 12 years of construction.
In the middle of a courtyard inside the complex is the “Holy of Holies”, a small but magnificent temple building. An ancient Sita figure is kept in it.
Especially in the evening, the temple complex and forecourt are crowded with people. Market stalls and street restaurants in the surrounding area are not to be missed. At the entrance, merchants sell the mala, fragrant flower garlands, which are offered to Sita.
Geographically, Pokhara is located relatively in the center of Nepal, about 150 km as the crow flies from Kathmandu. The city is surrounded by a total of eight lakes and the impressive Annapurna massif.
Directly adjacent to Pokhara is the largest of the lakes, Phewa Lake (also spelled Fewa), in which the mountains are reflected in good weather (a magnificent sight!).
Just east of Pokhara is Begnas Lake, which is the second largest lake in the area and also fantastic for day trips. Pokhara, by the way, is the second largest city in Nepal after Kathmandu, with a population of around 300,000.
Lakeside is the name given to the part of the city that lies on the northeastern part of Fewa Lake and is the tourist center of Pokhara.
This is where the vast majority of hostels and countless delicious restaurants are located. Whether you are looking for a really good café or for real Nepalese specialties, you will find it here!
10. Annapurna Region
On a trekking trip through the Annapurna region, travelers have the opportunity to cross all climate zones of Nepal. While the landscape is also constantly changing, the spectacular circumnavigation of the mighty Annapurna I (8,091 m) always offers new vantage points of the impressive nature of the Nepalese high mountains, including the 8,000-meter Dhaulagiri (8,167 m) and Manaslu (8,163 m).
The entire Annapurna region, including the Annapurna massif, falls under the Annapurna Nature Reserve. In this nature reserve, which is considered the largest protected area in Nepal, snow leopards, red pandas and blue sheep can be spotted if you are lucky.
One of the biggest highlights on the Annapurna Circuit Trek is the Annapurna I base camp at an altitude of 4,113 meters. Right here you can enjoy the unique panorama consisting of a series of 6,000m, 7,000m and one of the world’s highest mountains. In addition, directly in front of you is the overwhelming south face of Annapurna, which is one of the highest steep faces in the Himalayas.
Also impressive are the Kali Gandaki and Marsyangdi rivers, which have cut deep into the green gorges at the foot of the mountain giants.
9. Chitwan National Park
Nepal has much more to offer than the ice giants of the Himalayas. Discover the diversity of animal species in the Terai lowlands of south-central Nepal on a safari through Chitwan National Park. A safari on elephant back, on foot, in a canoe or by car will bring you close to the local wildlife. From cobras to royal tigers, Chitwan National Park has much to offer.
An absolute highlight on the safaris is of course always the sighting of a tank rhino or one of the many species of monkeys that are at home throughout the park. The Tharu people live as an indigenous population in the National Park.
On a tour you can also get a glimpse of what life is like today. The 932 km2 Chitwan National Park is bounded by the border with India to the south, the Parsa Game Reserve to the east and the Narayani River to the west. A 2000 km² area consisting of the national park, the Parsa Wildlife Reserve and the Valmiki National Park (located in India) forms the Chitwan Tiger Conservation Unit. By the way, Chitwan is also called the heart of the jungle. The special landscape and the different animals will surely not only be captured on the photo, but also in your experiences and adventures on the trip, which you will never forget.
8. Langtang Region
In 2015, the Langtang region was almost completely destroyed by a severe earthquake. Some villages were rebuilt and so the area is again accessible for trekking tours. However, alternative trekking routes had to be found, since old routings could not be restored. Especially for trekkers who have already explored the Langtang area before the earthquake, this offers completely new perspectives.
The highlights on a Langtang trekking trip are the famous lakes of Gosainkund, majestic glaciers and the impressive snow peaks of the 7,000-meter peaks in the alpine mountain world in the Langtang massif. From Gosainkund, there are breathtaking views of Manaslu (8,156 m), Annapurna (8,091 m), Langtang Lirung (7,227 m) and Ganesh Himal (7,422 m).
The diverse nature of the Langtang region ranges from jungle-like forests to rocky pastures. Here many yaks and horses can be observed in the wild. In the jungle there are unique chances to spot red pandas, monkeys and parrots.
Swayambhunath – or simply Swayambhu – is a large Buddhist-Hindu temple complex in the western part of Kathmandu. Here Buddhism and Hinduism go hand in hand. Swayambhu is considered the center of Newar Buddhism, while Boudha is the center of Tibetan Buddhism.
There is a special atmosphere at Swayambhunath. Ancient carvings, shrines and sculptures decorate the entire temple complex. A soothing aroma of incense and butter lamps hangs in the air. Mysticism, tradition and religion make visiting Swayambhu a great experience!
The temple site is located on a hill and is one of the most famous sights in the country. The gold decorated stupa on Swayambhu is smaller than Boudhanath Stupa. However, the entire temple complex is much larger!
In the vernacular, Swayambhu is also affectionately called “Monkey Temple”, because the temple complex is inhabited by a large number of monkeys. It is also for this reason that the temple enjoys such a high profile. The monkeys have already become accustomed to humans. Since the temple visitors like to feed the monkeys, the animals have almost forgotten any shyness.
On Swayambhunath you will have a fantastic view of the whole Kathmandu valley. The view of a small sea of houses enclosed by a green range of hills is indescribable. On a clear day you can see the white peaks of the Himalayas in the distance!
6. Everest Base Camp
Nepal is the roof of the world. High up, in the middle of the Himalayas, the richness and true beauty of the country really come to light. The area around Mount Everest (called Khumbu region or Khumbu Himal) is located in Sagarmatha National Park.
It is known worldwide for its magnificent high mountain panorama, crowned by views of the highest mountain in the world, which sometimes seems close enough to touch – Mount Everest!
But not only the snow-covered ice giants or the breathtaking landscape of the eight-thousanders make the climb to Everest Base Camp so extraordinary, but also the exciting insights into the culture of the Sherpa ethnic group living there with their warm-hearted hospitality.
Of course, many mountain enthusiasts dream of once marveling at Mount Everest in Nepal from close range. So it’s no wonder that the Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the most frequented routes in the country.
The trekking tour leads from Lukla via the lookout mountain Kala Patthar to Mount Everest Base Camp and is known for its spectacular views of five of the highest mountains in the world: the eponymous Mount Everest (8,848m), as well as the mountains Lhotse (8,501m), Makalu (8,463m), Ama Dablam (6,812m) and Cho Oyu (8,188m).
5. Bardiya National Park
Bardiya National Park wildlife sanctuary was established in 1988 as Royal Bardia National Park. With an area of 968 km², it is the largest wilderness area in Nepal’s Terai and borders the eastern bank of the Karnali River in Bardiya district.
Together with the neighboring Banke National Park, it forms the contiguous Bardia-Banke Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU), which covers an area of 2,231 km². Bardia National Park is located in southwestern Nepal, not far from the town of Nepalganj.
Bardia National Park can be explored on an elephant riding, walking or jeep safari. Travelers should not go without a local safari guide.
The park offers a variety of experiences in its vast, undisturbed wilderness. About 70% of the forest consists of sal trees with a mixture of grassland and riverine forests.
Wildlife in the national park includes various species of mammals, birds, snakes, lizards, and fish that are native to the forest, grasslands, and river here.
Wildlife in Bardia National Park includes some of the rarest species that can be observed in their natural environment.
4. Pashupatinath Temple
Just east of Kathmandu lies the temple district of Pashupatinath. It is one of the most important sites of the Nepalese Hindus and attracts many believers since its construction in the 5th century. The Pashupatinath temple complex is the largest temple complex of Nepal and is one of the most impressive sights on a Nepal tour.
Dedicated to the god Shiva, the main temple was built in pagoda style. Its four sides are silvered, it has a golden roof and extraordinary wood carvings. It has become famous mainly for the public cremation of deceased Hindus. The temple itself is only open to Hindus, but the outer area may also be visited by visitors.
The Pashupatinath temple complex has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. Around the main temple are numerous other temples dedicated to various other deities. Nearby is also the Guheshwori Temple, which belongs to Sita Devi, the consort of Shiva.
Lumbini is an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, because Siddhartha Gautama, better known as Buddha, was born here. With the new Peace Park, which displays Buddhist temples from all over the world, the city on the border with India offers another highlight.
Shining white is the Maya Devi Temple in Lumbini. Inside, a stone slab indicates the birthplace of Buddha. Police officers take care that everyone is only allowed to take a quick look at it once and then move on. In 2013, archaeologists here discovered remains of a temple made of wood from the time of Buddha, which, according to tradition, included the Sal Tree.
In the sacred garden, one is almost magically drawn to the enormous Bodhi tree with its many prayer flags. Around it sit monks dressed in orange cloths in a semicircle. Siddhartha Gautama was enlightened under such a poplar fig, which is why these trees are not just a symbol of Buddha.
The whole atmosphere in the park is peaceful and atmospheric. Prayer flags of all sizes flutter between trees. Remnants of other stupas can be seen in the grass. Sit on a bench nearby for a while and enjoy the special magic of the sacred garden.
Somewhat away from the highest mountains in the world is the Helambu National Park, a popular trekking area in Nepal. Already on the way to Syabru Besi, the starting point of the trekking, a fantastic panorama opens up to you. On your journey, experience the daily life of the mountain people and approach the Gosainkund Lakes, the important pilgrimage site for Shiva devotees.
The mountains are almost within your reach. Here you have the opportunity to climb the technically easy 5,125 m high Syra Peak. A great mountain panorama awaits you at the summit! Like a pilgrimage route, the trekking passes monasteries, prayer walls and colorful prayer flags.
Magnificent buildings, bright colors and an extraordinary location in the mysterious and formerly almost inaccessible Kathmandu Valley characterize the city of Patan. The oldest city in the valley was founded a good 2,300 years ago and is a special attraction on any trip to Nepal. Much smaller than the capital, Patan has a special charm and charming buildings that you really can’t miss.
Explore the impressive Durbar Square, the Golden Temple and the Temple of the Thousand Buddhas. Another highlight in Patan is the famous five-story pagoda. Discover the cultural treasures of Patan and get to know the warm Nepali people, who have always maintained their friendly and open nature despite all natural disasters.