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You’re tired of the scorching Islamabad summer and craving an escape from the heat. But you only have a few hours to leave the city and don’t want to waste half your day driving. Don’t worry; there are plenty of places near Islamabad where you can beat the heat without venturing too far from home. We’ve compiled a list of 10 spots within a 3-hour drive from Islamabad where you can find respite from the sweltering temperatures.
From the cool mountain vistas of Murree to the refreshing waters of Khanpur Dam, there are options for hiking, boating, and just relaxing in nature. So pack a bag, fill up the tank, and get ready to escape the heat with these ten destinations just a short drive away. Your summer salvation awaits!
The Queen of Hills, Murree, is a popular hill station just an hour from Islamabad. At over 7,000 feet, the cool mountain air will give you sweet relief from the sweltering city.
Head to Mall Road, the heart of Murree, for shopping, food, and people-watching. You’ll find cozy cafes, souvenir shops, and stunning views of the hills. For the best photo ops, check out the Murree Hills viewpoints. At Patriata, see far into Kashmir and even glimpse Nanga Parbat.
If you enjoy the outdoors, Murree Hills has activities for you. Take a hike through thick pine forests on trails like Mushkpuri Top or hike to the Murree Hills and enjoy various waterfalls. In winter, go skiing or tobogganing. Or keep it simple – find a quiet spot for a picnic amidst the deodars.
No trip to Murree is complete without trying the local cuisine. Be sure to sample hearty fare like saag, dal makhani, and rogan josh. And drink Kashmiri chai while enjoying jaw-dropping vistas.
With stunning natural scenery, pleasant weather, and lots to experience, Murree Hills offers the perfect quick getaway from the heat. Lose yourself in the mountains and return home recharged. A day or weekend in the Queen of Hills will lift your spirits and cool you down.
Are you looking to escape the sweltering summer heat? Head to Khanpur Dam, a sparkling gateway just a 30-minute north of Islamabad. Hills surround this sparkling artificial lake and offer various activities to help you cool down.
Rent a boat and go paddling or fishing on the lake. The dam is stocked with mahseer, a type of large carp, so you have a good chance of reeling one in. If boating isn’t your thing, you can swim in the lake’s refreshing waters.
For a breezy picnic spot, head to the lake’s dam. Find shade under the trees and enjoy the views of the water and Margalla Hills.
There are many activities you can enjoy at Mabali Island, which is located on Khanpur Dam. You can also go on a hike in the hills around the dam. Trails lead to secluded spots like Mushkpuri Hill and Pir Sohawa. The wooded paths and elevation will make you forget the hot weather in the city.
The dam gets crowded on weekends, so claim your spot early. But during the week, you’ll often have the place to yourself. Take a quick road trip to Khanpur Dam and cool off in nature. You’ll return to Islamabad, rejuvenated and ready to face the heat again.
Soon Valley, located just 45 minutes from Islamabad, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. Lush green mountains surround this picturesque valley, offering respite from the blistering heat.
There are several spots worth exploring in Soon Valley. Head to the iconic Soon Sakesar, the highest peak in Punjab, for panoramic views of the valley. The trek up is scenic but strenuous, taking around 4 hours. Alternatively, visit the mysterious Pharwala Fort, an ancient fort nestled in the mountains with remnants of its glory days still visible.
You can also spend a day hiking through dense pine forests, following the trails along gushing streams and waterfalls. Pack a picnic and make it an adventure. The valley’s natural beauty will leave you breathless at every turn.
For a more laid-back experience, visit the Nurpur Spring, a natural spring in a mango garden. The gushing spring water and shade from mango trees provide the perfect escape from the summer heat. You can even take a dip in the refreshing water.
Whether seeking an action-packed adventure or peaceful solitude, Soon Valley has something for everyone wanting to escape the city heat. Its raw, rugged beauty will stay with you long after you’ve left.
Nestled in the Salt Range hills, Kallar Kahar Lake is a picturesque getaway just under 2 hours from Islamabad. The lake was formed after the construction of the Kallar Kahar Dam and offers a cool respite from the summer heat.
You can rent a boat to paddle around the lake, go fishing for mahseer and rohu, or sit back and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. The lake is home to many species of birds, including little grebes, cormorants, moorhens, and egrets. You may even spot a snakebird gracefully gliding across the water if you’re lucky.
After spending time on the lake, head into Kallar Kahar to see the historic Kallar Kahar Fort. Believed to date back over 2,000 years, the fort has been occupied by everyone from the Greeks and Buddhists to the Mughals and Sikhs. You can climb to the top of the fort’s ramparts for panoramic views of the lake and surrounding hills.
As the sun sets over the lake, find a spot to enjoy a picnic dinner. The temperatures will start to drop, allowing you to stargaze into the night—a perfect ending to a rejuvenating escape not too far from the city.
Nestled in the Margalla Hills, the picturesque hill station of Pir Sohawa is just a 30-minute drive from Islamabad. At an altitude of over 5,500 feet, the pleasant weather and dense pine forests offer respite from the sweltering heat of the plains.
There are many ways to beat the heat in Pir Sohawa. Pir Sohawa is ideal for long walks along the hiking trails, leading to viewpoints with panoramic vistas of the valley below. If you want a longer stay, book a hotel room here, swim in the PineWood Waterfall pond, or enjoy a picnic in the woods. For adventure seekers, there are hiking opportunities; for kids, you can visit Dino Valley and much more.
The hill station has basic visitor facilities, like restaurants, picnic spots, camping sites, and guest houses. A few upscale resorts offer luxury amenities if you want a comfortable stay. A popular spot for day trippers and campers is the PTDC Motel, with its recreational area, paddle boats, and well-maintained lawns.
Whether you want to escape the summer sun for a day or a longer vacation, the pleasant climate and natural beauty of Pir Sohawa offer a perfect refuge close to the capital city. Pack a picnic basket, gather your friends and family, and head to the hills to discover the hidden gem of Pir Sohawa.
Neela Wahn is a picturesque picnic spot located in the Salt Range area of Chakwal district, about 2.5 hours from Islamabad.
Surrounded by olive groves and pine trees, Neela Wahn offers a cool escape from the summer heat. The highlight is the emerald-green lake in a crater at the top of a hill. According to local lore, the lake’s water has healing powers. Whether or not that’s true, the scenic beauty of this hidden gem is rejuvenating.
You can rent a hut to relax, go boating on the lake, hike to nearby viewpoints, or find a shady spot for a picnic. Pack a lunch, swimsuit, and a good book, and spend a lazy day enjoying the peaceful surroundings. The lake’s clear water is perfect for swimming on a hot day.
For accommodation, there are a handful of basic guesthouses where you can stay overnight to avoid the drive back to Islamabad after dark. The best time to visit is spring through fall, from March to October. The road up to Neela Wahn Lake can be difficult to navigate in the rainy season or winter due to fog and icy conditions.
If you only have time for a quick day trip from Islamabad, Neela Wahn should be at the top of your list. The scenic drive there and back, combined with a few hours enjoying the fresh air and natural beauty of the lake, will leave you feeling refreshed and recharged. Beat the heat and escape the city for a perfect summer getaway at this mountain oasis.
About 2.5 hours from Islamabad, Pir Chinasi in Azad Kashmir is a perfect escape from the blistering heat. At an elevation of over 8,500 ft, you’ll find refreshingly cool mountain air and stunning vistas.
Pir Chinasi is home to dense deodar and pine forests with hiking trails that take you to panoramic viewpoints. There are lodges where you can stay overnight or stop for a meal with local ingredients like corn, cheese, and wild Himalayan herbs.
No trip to Pir Chinasi is complete without visiting the Sayed Hussain Shah Bukhari shrine. The shrine, located at the highest point of the area, is considered a sacred place by locals.
Pir Chinasi’s pleasant summer weather, natural beauty, and opportunities for outdoor recreation make it an ideal escape from the sweltering heat of Islamabad. The mountain scenery and spiritual significance create an atmosphere of tranquility that will rejuvenate your senses.
Rawalakot is a picturesque Azad Kashmir town surrounded by lush green mountains and dense pine forests. Only a 3-hour drive from Islamabad, Rawalakot offers a perfect escape from the blistering heat of the plains in summer.
Some of the must-visit places near Islamabad are:
Rawalakot, an undiscovered paradise, offers a perfect escape from the sizzling heat of Islamabad. With its lush green mountains, gushing rivers, and alpine lakes, Rawalakot is a natural air conditioner. Head out for a short Azad Kashmir trip to beat the heat and reconnect with nature!
Second last on the list of places near Islamabad within a 3-hour drive is the lush green valley of Balakot which is a perfect escape from the scorching heat of Islamabad. Balakot is just a two and half hour drive from Islamabad, a small town in the Mansehra District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, surrounded by mountains and dense pine forests.
In the summer, the temperature remains moderate here compared to nearby cities. You can hike and trek in the mountains, with trails leading to stunning viewpoints. The Kunhar River originates from Lulusar Lake and flows through Balakot. You can go river rafting or sit by the river bank, dip your feet in the cold water, and enjoy a picnic.
Balakot is a nature lover’s paradise, with activities like bird watching, camping under the stars, and photography. The region has many native birds like the common kestrel, crested kingfisher, and oriental white-eye. If you want to escape the blistering summer and recharge yourself amid serene natural surroundings, the Balakot tour is the perfect place to unwind within a few hours from Islamabad.
Nestled in the Margalla Hills, Makhnial Waterfall is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. If you want to visit this spell-binding waterfall, it is only a 45-minute drive from Islamabad; this scenic spot offers a refreshing escape from the summer heat.
The trek leading to the waterfall is a bit difficult for a normal; as you trek through the forested trail, the roar of the falls grows louder. Until you see the clearing and catch your first glimpse of the cascading water. Fed by mountain streams, the multi-tiered falls drop over 100 feet into a large pool below. The misty spray and cool breeze are heavenly on a hot day.
Pack a picnic lunch, extra clothes, and towels, and claim a patch of grass by the pool to lounge and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. If you’re feeling adventurous, large boulders and ledges around the pool’s edge are perfect for cliff jumping into the deep, emerald waters below. The more daring can even climb to the top of the falls for a thrilling ride down the natural rock slide.
After a refreshing dip, continue up the trail to explore remnants of an old water mill and several smaller falls upstream. Well worth the short trek, Makhnial Waterfall is a natural wonder providing the perfect escape for adventure and relaxation within an easy drive of the capital city. Beat the heat this summer and take a splash in this secluded mountain oasis.
In the end, there are many amazing places near Islamabad where you can escape the summer heat. You can choose from various activities, such as swimming in a clear pool, walking among the pine trees, or enjoying ice cream with a scenic view.
Don’t let the temperature stop you from having fun – leave the city and discover. Undoubtedly, Pakistan is full of natural wonders for you to explore. Plan your next tour to Islamabad with your friends or family, bring some snacks, and go for a relaxing trip. Summer won’t last forever, so make the most and cool off. Adventure is calling you! Book your tour with us today, and let us take care of everything.
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Since 2017, Saba Ghani has been serving as the talented and dedicated chief content writer for Pakistan Tour and Travel & EMHI Solutions. With her exceptional writing skills and in-depth knowledge of the travel industry, she has been instrumental in crafting engaging and informative content that captivates the audience. You can catch her at [email protected] or Twitter