Lahore (Punjabi: لہور; Urdu: لاہور) is Pakistan's second largest city after Karachi, and the capital of the north-eastern Punjab province. It is widely considered the country's cultural capital. The heart of Lahore is the Walled or Inner City, a very densely populated area of about one square kilometre.
Founded in legendary times, and a cultural centre for over a thousand years, Lahore has many attractions for the tourist. The Mughal and Sikh legacy survives in the Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque and Gurdwara, the Mall is lined with colonial-gothic buildings from the British Raj, and the suburbs of Gulberg and Defence feature palatial mansions and trendy shopping districts.
Today, Lahore is certainly worth a visit - but don't come expecting a tranquil city overflowing with history, art and culture - these qualities do exist but are hidden under the surface of a sprawling, traffic clogged and polluted south Asian city. Forward planning is recommended if the tourist is going to get the most out of what Lahore has to offer - the time of year to visit, the choice of hotel, the restaurants to dine at, the art galleries and the shopping areas to frequent are all key to getting the most out of your stay.
Lahore is a relatively friendly and liberal city. There is an old saying, that in every Lahori, there is a Mughal prince. The city has known ages of cultural, intellectual, musical, literary and humanistic evolution, which has consequently led to the fermentation and over fermentation of this rich brew we call Lahore.
Legend has it that it was founded about 4,000 years ago by Loh, son of Rama, the hero of the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. Reminiscent of its hoary past are the remains of a subterranean temple attributed to Rama, in the northern part of the Royal Fort. Lahore is at least 2,000 years old. After Islam came to South Asia, it became a centre of learning, and attracted some of the region's greatest mystics, writers and artists. The people of Lahore, when they want to emphasize the uniqueness of their town say "Lahore, Lahore aye" (Lahore is Lahore). Lahore is the city of poets, artists and (until very recently) the centre of the Pakistani film industry. It has the largest number of educational institutions in the country and some of the finest gardens in the continent. Apart from being the cultural and academic centre of the country, Lahore has the finest Mughal architecture in Pakistan. For more than 200 years (beginning from about 1524), Lahore was a thriving cultural centre of the Mughal Empire, and Mughal emperors beautified Lahore, with palaces, gardens and mosques.
Hiuen Tsang, the famous 7th century Chinese pilgrim, gave a vivid description of Lahore. Lying on the main trade and invasion routes to South Asia, Lahore has been ruled and plundered by a number of dynasties. Muslim rule began here when Qutub-ud-din Aibak was crowned in Lahore in 1206 and became the first Muslim Sultan of the Subcontinent.
Lahore waxed and waned in importance during the Sultanate. However, it touched the zenith of its glory during the Mughal rule from 1524 to 1752. The Mughals, who were famous as builders, gave Lahore some of its finest architectural monuments, many of which today are no longer.
Lahore was Akbar’s capital from 1584 to 1598. He built the massive Lahore Fort on the foundations of a previous fort, and enclosed the city within a red brick wall boasting 12 gates. Jahangir and Shah Jahan (who was born in Lahore) extended the fort, built palaces and tombs, and laid out gardens.
Jahangir loved the city, and he and his wife Noor Jahan are buried at Shahdara on the outskirts of Lahore. Aurangzeb (1658-1707) gave Lahore its most famous monuments: the Badshahi Masjid (Royal Mosque) and the Alamgiri gateway to the fort.
During the eighteenth century, as Mughal power dwindled, there were constant invasions. Lahore was a suba, a province of the Empire, governed by provincial rulers with their own courts. The 1740s were years of chaos, and between 1745 and 1756 there were nine changes of governors. Invasions and chaos in local government allowed bands of warring Sikhs to gain control in some areas. Lahore ended up being ruled by a triumvirate of Sikhs of dubious character, and the population of the city invited Ranjit Singh to invade. He took the city in 1799. Holding the capital gave him enough legitimacy to proclaim himself the Emperor. Descriptions of Lahore during the early 19th century refer to it as a “melancholy picture of fallen splendor.”
The British, following their invasion of Lahore in 1849, added a great many buildings in “Mughal-Gothic” style as well as bungalows and gardens. Early on, the British tended to build workaday structures in sites like the Fort, though later they did start to make an effort to preserve some ancient buildings. The Lahore Cantonment, the British residential district of wide, tree-lined streets and white bungalows set in large, shaded gardens, is the prettiest cantonment in Pakistan. Since Independence in 1947, Lahore has expanded rapidly as the capital of Pakistani Punjab.
All this makes Lahore a truly rewarding experience. The buildings, the roads, the trees and the gardens, in fact the very air of Lahore in enough to set the mind spinning in admiration. A poet has written about this phenomenon one experiences in the environs of Lahore. When the wind whistles through the tall trees, when the twilight floods the beautiful face of the Fort, when the silent canal lights up to herald the end of another chapter in history, the Ravi is absorbed in harmony, mist fills the ancient streets, and the havelis come alive with strains of classical music, the spirit of Lahore pervades even the hardiest of souls.
Our article On the trail of Kipling's Kim, and the book Kim, both begin in Lahore. The author, Rudyard Kipling, like his character, Kim, grew up in Lahore.
Allama Iqbal International AirportThe airport is a major hub by Pakistan standards, but not by international standards. Pakistan International Airlines with daily departures to the rest of Pakistan, connecting flights into nearby hub airports Qatar, Dubai, Bangkok for onward connections to the Middle East, Europe, North America, and South-East Asia.
By trainThe Lahore Junction station is located near the city centre. There are routes from all major Pakistani cities. The Samjhauta (Friendship) Express runs twice a week between Lahore and Amritsar, across the border in India.
Trains to southern destinations (Multan, DG Khan, Karachi, etc.) and northern destinations (Gujrat, Gujranwala, Jhelum, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, etc.) run from the main station. It also connects to the western part of Pakistan to Faisalabad and beyond.
Local stations in Lahore are Shahdara Bagh, Badami Bagh, Moghalpura, Baghbanpura, Harbanspura, Jallo, and Wagah. These stations mostly have peak-hour services for commuters to Lahore.
A modern motorway connects Lahore to Islamabad, Faisalabad and Peshawar. The motorway is considerably better than the GT road, even though it is longer.
While Pakistani traffic is generally chaotic and highly dangerous, the motorway is very comfortable and one of the few places traffic laws are enforced. Nowadays, new Traffic Police has arrived and is enforcing traffic laws on Highways too.
Taxis are possible to/from the Indian border for ~Rs 400.
From the Indian border, bus #4 runs to the Main train station for Rs 20.
Minibuses are the cheapest way to get between the larger cities, and the only way to get to some more remote destinations. They can be uncomfortably crowded, so if possible opt for a more comfortable larger bus.
Daewoo has its own terminal away from the main bus station, on Ferozpur Road near Kalma Chowk and Liberty Market. Clean, comfortable, air-conditioned coaches run regularly between Lahore to all major cities of Punjab, KP and Sindh including Karachi plus many smaller cities and towns such as Islamabad, Multan, Faisalabad and Peshawar. Daewoo is more expensive but much more comfortable and reliable than the competition. Between Lahore and Rawalpindi/Islamabad they have a 'Premium Plus service' which gives you a business class style seat and more space.
Faisal Movers has its Lahore terminal on Bund Road. It is popular due to its safety and refreshments in the bus. Faisal Mover is less expensive than Daewoo but not other companies. This is a comfortable and easy way to go from Lahore to cities such as Murree, Rawalpindi, Sahiwal, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan.
Skyways, Niazi Express and a couple others operate large, comfortable buses to Islamabad, Peshawar, Faisalabad and many other cities and towns from their own bus terminals near M2 Motorway Interchange. These services are rather affordable and convenient.
Lahore is a huge and sprawling city. In the old town walking or a tuk-tuk are your only options. You get to see a lot more on foot, just remember to wear comfortable shoes if you are going to be walking a great distance. Other than in winter, it will be too hot to walk long distances during the day. Sunday mornings are quiet and are a good time to explore.
Locals are generally helpful in providing directions to well-known spots. However, you should still ask two or three people to confirm the address, especially if you are driving. Using the GPS function on your phone can also be helpful.
By auto-rickshawAuto-rickshaws/tuk-tuks are open rickshaws with (narrow) rear-facing seats, or with two seats facing forward and two backward. They are handy for moving around in the Inner City, since it's easier to see where you're going. Tourists used to average western road etiquette might be horrified by the chaos on the roads - but it almost seems to work. Qingqi drivers have an unbelievable sense of space, speed and angles and you may well learn to trust them (or not). Rickshaws are the cheapest and, for women, the safest individual forms of public transport. Haggle thoroughly with the driver; if you do not speak Punjabi or Urdu or are clearly a foreigner, try to get a Lahori friend to ensure you don't get ripped off. Try to find a rickshaw with a well-padded seat, otherwise you will come out bruised and aching.
By taxiTaxis are a rarity on the streets of Lahore - with auto-rickshaws having cornered the market - for a taxi you need to book one by phone. Most taxi drivers and, indeed, rickshaw drivers, carry mobile phones; it may be useful to take a number down if you find someone especially reliable. Do not take taxis in the Inner City, as the streets are narrow and very crowded. Either walk or take a qingqi. "Uber" and "Careem" are also now available in the city
Minivans are probably the most dangerous form of public transport, with very rash drivers. Women will find these especially uncomfortable, as they are very crowded. Often women must sit in an undersized cubicle or with the driver, to prevent harassment.
Buses are usually cleaner and more comfortable than minivans, and usually a have a separate seating area for women. Saami Daewoo bus service is an airconditioned bus service operating in different parts of the city.
From the airport - When you arrive at the airport you will likely be besieged with touts offering you taxis and rooms. It's wise not to book anything through them and arrange a taxi yourself to the hotel of your choice. Some of the mid-range and most top-end hotels offer a courtesy shuttle from the airport. If you do use an airport taxi then be firm, agree on a price before you sit (which includes the Rs 50 to leave the airport carpark) and pay in advance. Should be around Rs 600 to Gulberg, Rs 800-1,000 to the old city.
By busMetro Bus is a recently opened separate bus rapid transit (BRT) line. Buses are air-conditioned, comfortable and have special sitting for the disabled. The price is very cheap (Rs 20). There are 27 stations starting from Gajjumata Terminal to Shahdara Terminal. Buses arrive every 3 minutes.
Lahore Transport Company buses are also a cheaper means of traveling within the several areas in Lahore. They are also a clean and cheap option. A detailed route map can be found here.
Walled CityThe Walled City of Lahore is one of the oldest cities in the world and comprises the following places for sightseeing.
Lahore FortA huge structure where the Mughal and Sikh rulers built their imperial quarters. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. There is a small museum dedicated to the Sikh period of the 18th century. A friendly museum caretaker might agree to take you into the summer rooms underground.
Alamgiri GateThe iconic entrance to the fort. Located opposite the Badshahi Mosque.
Shah Burj gateDecorated with colored tiles. Known as the "Elephant Gate" because royal elephants would enter here. Just inside the gate is the Hathi Paer (Elephant Path) - a staircase with very wide steps so that an elephant's feet could fit on them while climbing to the upper level of the fort. The fort's wall outside this staircase is decorated with tiles including pictures of elephants. (You will also find the Alamgiri Gate occasionally called the Elephant Gate, because its two columns vaguely resemble elephant feet.)
Badshahi MosqueBuilt by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, this was long the largest mosque in the world. Entrance is free, but you will be asked to pay about Rs 10 (Nov 2006) to the shoekeeper upon exit. Try going late at night, when there are few people there. Since mosques are holy places, do not wear shorts to this or any mosque; women are advised to wear long or half-sleeved clothing, and to carry a shawl so they can cover their head. Remove shoes before entering.
Tomb of Ranjit SinghTomb of this Sikh ruler of Lahore. Located next to the square between Lahore Fort and the Badshahi Mosque.
Minar-e-PakistanThis tower, sometimes called the "Eiffel Tower of Pakistan", was built on the site where in 1940 the creation of a separate state for Muslims was recognized. Located in a park in front of the Fort and Badshahi Mosque.
Wazir Khan MosqueAn exquisite tiled mosque located near Delhi Gate.
Shahi HammamA Persian-style bathhouse built in 1635, restored in 2015, and covered with beautiful frescos.
Haveli Asif Jah
In the Mughal days, the Old City was surrounded by a 9-metre-high brick wall and had a rampart running around it which served as a protection for the city. A circular road around the rampart gave access to the city through thirteen gates. The walls were mostly destroyed by the British after the 1857 rebellion, but some of the imposing structures of the gates are still preserved. Listed clockwise, starting from Lahore Fort in the north:
- , or the "Gate of Light" is between the royal mosque and the citadels. There is a very famous gali (row or narrow street) commonly known as the Shahi Mahala. The name Shahi has been given after the Shahi Qila. People living here are simple. There are various food shops located around the gate.
- , so called because it faces the direction of Kashmir.
- . The river in former times flowed by the city walls, and the crossing was near this spot. The gate was named after the name of Khizr Elias.
- . The original name was "Zaki," which was derived from the name of a martyr saint, who, according to legendary tradition, fell fighting against Mongol invaders.
- , so called because it faces the direction of Delhi.
- , named after Muhammad Jala-ud-din Akbar, who rebuilt the town and citadel.
- , might be named after Moti Ram, an officer of Akbar, who resided here at that time.
- , named after Muhammad Mo'azzam Shah 'Alam Bahadur Shah (the son and successor of Aurangzeb). He was a mild and generous emperor, who died in Lahore on the 28th February 1712.
- , also known as the Lohari gate, named after the city of Lahore.
- is the smallest of the gateways and, as its name implies, was in old times used as an outlet for the refuse and sweepings of the city.
- , named after the Bhatis, an ancient Rajput tribe who inhabited these quarters in old times.
- , named after the Taxal or royal mint, which used to be in its neighborhood in earlier times.
Mall RoadThis road, also known as Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam road, is a central road constructed in the British era, which has many historic buildings.
General Post Office
Lahore High Court
Punjab University (Old Campus)Buildings were erected here as early as 1858.
National College of ArtsRudyard Kipling's father was the principal here. Offers a thesis show every winter. Kim's Gun is outside the NCA
- Charing Cross - Lahore's monumental square dating to the British era. Surrounded by historic buildings. It has been renamed to Faisal Square (Faisal Chowk in Urdu/Punjabi).
Islamic Summit MinarAn obelisk built to commemorate the 1974 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation conference. Located in the Charing Cross roundabout. Few know the presence of a library/museum below the roundabout that is all about the OIC and Islamic Summit and is a treat to visit.
Shahdin ManzilAn impressive building, dating to 1914.
Masonic TempleAn impressive old building. Since 1972, no longer used by the Masons.
Punjab Provincial Assembly Building
WAPDA HouseA modern office block, with a glass dome and a roof garden.
Lahore ZooOne of the oldest zoos in the sub continent, founded in 1872. The material used in some of the construction even bears the marks of 1853. The Lahore zoo attracts a large crowd throughout the year. Driving east along the Sharah-e-Quaid-e-Azam, just past Charing Cross and opposite the WAPDA House is the main gate of the zoo.
Al Hamra Arts councilUsed for theater and other cultural events.
Fortress StadiumAn attempt to combine the architecture of a fort like Rohtas with a sports stadium. Many exhibitions held here. The Stadium is the site of the famous Horse and Cattle Show in March. Joyland amusement park is also located here.
- Lahore Art Gallery. The Croweaters Gallery
Masterpieces of Mughal architecture are scattered throughout the city, even in neighborhoods that today seem a little dilapidated. Buildings and sites include:
Shalimar GardensA three-tiered formal garden built in the 1600s, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Chauburji GateAn impressive, ornate 4-towered gate dating to 1646.
Tomb of JahangirBuilt in 1637 for the Mughal emperor Jahangir.
Tomb of Nur Jahan
Data DurbarA Sufi Muslim shrine to Lahore's patron saint, Hazrat Daata Ganj Bakhsh. This vast modern structure is always filled with people praying, collecting or bestowing alms, or eating at the huge charity 'langar' or soup kitchen.
Trafalgar SquareA replica of the famous Trafalgar Square in London is located in the Bahria Town suburb. A Mini Egypt and a Zoo are located nearby and also worth a visit.
Lahore MuseumThe largest museum in Pakistan, established during the British Raj in 1864. It displays a complete cross-section of the culture and history of the region with a fine collection of Buddhist art from the Gandhara Period, Islamic artifacts, calligraphy, old manuscripts, arms, costumes and jewelry. John Kipling, father of the writer Rudyard Kipling, was curator in the 19th century. Unfortunately the presentation is old-fashioned and basic, and captions are sometimes in Urdu only.
Tollinton marketaddress: Mall RoadBuilt as an exhibition hall and later a market, it now hosts the Lahore City Heritage Museum. Built in 1864.
Shakir Ali MuseumThis museum was actually Shakir's House at 93, Tipu Block, New Garder Town, Lahore, which he made for himself. After his death it was bought by Idara-I-Saqafat-e-Pakistan, and turned into a museum on April 3, 1976. The idea behind it was not only to preserve the great artist's paintings and other masterpieces under one roof but also to open this combination of modern and traditional architecture to the public.
Fakir Khana MuseumA very large and interesting private Museum known as Faqirkhana lies inside the Bhatti Gate and is worth visiting. The museum houses a variety of old paintings, including some by great masters, original manuscripts in different languages and artifacts from South East Asia and the Indo-Pak subcontinent.
Mughal Museumaddress: Poonch house, Multan RoadAn industrial and commercial museum, established in 1950, which is meant to depict country's economic resources both in the form of raw products and worked objects. Its collection is arranged in one gallery and one large hall of the building. The main hall displays a range of variety of material such as well plated musical instruments, table lamps of camel skin from Multan and Bhawalpur, cotton, silken-woolen and embroidered textiles from all important cites of Pakistan.
Lahore Gymkhana Cricket Museumaddress: Mall RoadA museum of Pakistani cricket history, next to a historic cricket ground which hosted many notable matches between 1880 and the 1950s. Located in Lawrence Gardens (Bagh-e-Jinnah).
National Museum of Science and Technologyaddress: UET Grand Trunk Road.
Javed Manziladdress: Allama Iqbal RoadA museum commemorating Muhammad Iqbal, Pakistan's national poet, who lived in this building for several years before his death in 1938.
- On Thursdays there is a regular Sufi gathering at the . The renowned drummer Pappoo Saein and his disciples perform on the huge two-sided dhol, and devotees of the saint enter trances and dance wildly as hundreds of people watch. There is a separate seating area for women and foreigners; this is very comfortable and has the best view in the enclosure.
- Catch a movie. Theaters include Sozo World (in Fortress Stadium), the DHA Cinema (R Block DHA near Defence Public School for Boys), Cinestar (Township), Cinegold (Bahria Town), or The Plaza Cinema (on Queen's Road).
- On Saturdays there is a regular "Movie night" organized by Lahore Film and Literary Club at South Asian Media Centre. The projector featuring full HD/Blu-ray 1080p resolution, followed by discussions after the films, available as part of the LFLC evenings. You can also interact with friends over a cup of coffee at the cafe which also serves as a perfect place to initiate debate or simply share an idea. The club offers other facilities with its literary club offering literary seminars, poetry readings and a library.
Lawrence Gardens & LibraryAmong the biggest gardens of Lahore.
Jallo ParkFollowing the canal side road to the east of the city is Jallo Park. It is a large drive-in park with drive-in zoo and a man-made lake. Spreading over 450 acres, it has expanses of lawns, a forest research centre, a children's park, a small museum and a gift shop. Sozo Water Park is another attraction in this park. Also see Sindbad, Joy Land and Sky Land. It can be visited by road and by rail. A rail car leaves for Jallo Railway Station every half hour.
Race Course Parkaddress: Jail RoadA huge park featuring vast lush grounds, a lake for boating, and a well-maintained jogging track. The park hosts special flower shows during the spring season.
Gulshan-e-Iqbal ParkA vast park with a lake for boating, a mini-zoo, and recreational rides.
- Lovers park
BazaarsThe traditional bazaars of the inner city are roughly divided according to what is produced and/or sold there. Bargaining is de rigueur.
Anarkali bazaarNamed after a courtesan who was buried alive for loving a prince, is one of the chief shopping areas. Anarkali Bazaar is a treasure-trove, selling virtually everything from handicrafts to transistor radios, women's clothing to refrigerators. It is a maze of lanes and alleys which stretch northwards from the Mall to the Central Museum's end. The bazaars in the old city are the ones people romanticize in literature and films. They consist of tiny alleys, some of which will admit a rickshaw, a string of donkeys or carts- and pedestrians have to leap into doorways to give room. Some alleys are only possible single file.
Ichra BazaarHas the best quality of unstitched silk, cotton and printed material of all sorts.
- Mozang Bazaar sells some particularly interesting hand-block printed cloth, tablecloths and bedspreads.
Panorama malladdress: Mall RoadAn ideal place to buy informal clothes. It houses over 1000 shops so you have a large variety of clothes to choose from and that is too at a competitive price.
PACEShopping mall with food, clothes, electronics, movies. Located in Link Road, Model town.
Mall of LahoreA very prestigious shopping mall with a super market named green valley mall.
- Xinhua Mall has brands such as Nike, The Body shop, Levis, Cross Roads, Next, Minni Minors and from the local brands we have Ammar Bilal, Nomi Ansari, Out Fitters and Saira Ahsan.
OtherTrendy types congregate in the Gulberg and Defence suburbs. In Gulberg, MM Alam Road is the hippest part of town, with all the most expensive designer shops, including fine furniture and clothing, both Western and Pakistani, and the best restaurants.
Liberty MarketA large circular market with hundreds of shops selling clothing, electronics, and so on. A basement shop in Liberty (tell the rickshaw driver it's near H Karim Bakhsh) has good handicrafts, and can be bargained with.
Ferozsons Book Centreaddress: Mall RoadThe oldest book shop in Lahore.
- Readings bookshop in Main Boulevard Gulberg and Variety Books in liberty market are a must see.
- Last word in Gulberg at 32-A, Mian Mehmood Ali Kasoori Road.
- Raja Centre in Gulberg has a good selection of handloom 'khadi' fabric, both stitched and unstitched. Higher end khadi can be bought at the Khaadi shop in Mini Market.
Hafeez CentreOne of the famous mobile and computer market of the province Punjab, with inexpensive software (pirated), and hardware that can be bargained for.
- Fortress Stadium has a huge variety of inexpensive linens, clothes, DVDs.
- Ehsan chappal house has shoes for ladies, also check out Stylo shoes for stylish shoes and clutches/purses.
Moon MarketJewellery market, banks, clothes market (mostly for women and children), restaurants.
Kareem Block MarketMen's wear - casual and formal wear for men of all ages.
- Joray Pull is a developing area near airport and Rangers HQ. It's safe and you do a lot of eating activity here along with shopping.
Lahoris are famed for their food and for their consumption thereof. This is reflected in the array of restaurants in town.
- For nihari, go to Haji Nihari on Jail Road or inside Lohari Gate ; for chicken paratha rolls go to Karachi Silver Spoon in Liberty Market, and so on.
- The 'Food Street' of Gowal Mandi is a must-visit for dinner - you'll find a street full of shops selling fine Lahori fare, and the setting, amidst traditional jharoka architecture, is lovely. If you make it to Food Street, go by auto rickshaw (Rs 30) or walk to Mochi Gate and try Rasheeds kebabs or Saiyns kebabs. Mochi Gate is also home to Fazal Sweets and Rafique Sweet House. Bhaiya kabab in Model Town is foremost name in Kabab Street, where you will enjoy bar-b-que with fresh soda. A 200/300-m long street with historically preserved 2/3 storey old houses on both side which are lighten up in a very special way giving a very historical and magnificent look. The envoirnment is a real creatio nof culutre of Lahore, the mughla era. You will find around a hundred restaurants in this street which mouth watering menus. Do try Chappal Kababas, Saag with Makai ki roti, Golas of Ice, Sardar ki Machli and anything you like because a lot of variety is present.
- Phajjay Ke Paye at Red Light Area - Heera Mandi Lahore, is very famous and highly energetic. Those having physical weakness must try this dish.
Chamman Ice Creamaddress: Beaden Road adjacent to Hall Road, next to Mall RoadA famous ice-cream parlour offering 20 different flavours. They also offer milkshakes and juices of various kinds.
- Basheer-dar-ul-Mahi at Mazang Chok Lahore - fried fish is served in 2/3 forms. You will see people queued up in lines to get their order here. Don't go if you don't have much time. But this fish is worth waiting this much. Parathas and Lassi at Mazang Lahore - Near the Baheer-dal-ul-Mahi is this very cheap and small scale restaurant. Serves paraths of potatoes, minced chicken, egg and others with Tea or delicious Lassi. Don't miss this at breakfast or anytime you want to have something energetic.
- Gourmet foods is very famous and it has over 100 outlets in Lahore.
- Student Biryani. Fortress Stadium. Popular Pakistani food chain that is best known for selling its biryani dish. Has branches all over the city as well in Karachi, Dubai and Sharjah.
- Cakes and bakes is a very good bakery. On the same range: Kashmir bakery, Bon vivant cafe, Massoms cafe.
- Bakers Boutique at the Pearl Continental Hotel, Quaid-e Azam Rd.
- Copper ketel bakery: Phase 2 DHA.
- Jalal Sons: 12 E main market, Gulberg.
- Kitchen Cuisine: in Allama Iqbal town, DHA, Defence, Gulberg, Johar Town, Model Town.
- Rinnas Kitchenette: Xblock, DHA, Lahore.
- Iceberg Parlour
- Iceland in Fortress Stadium.
- Gelato affair: 11 commercial, phase 2 DHA.
- Khan jee dry fruit and home made ice cream: Commercial area phase 1, DHA.
- Malees cafe: PSO filling station opposite Apwa college.
- Marble stones ice creamery: Gulberg, M.M Alam road.
- The Hot spot: Defence: 19 T block, DHA Phase 2.
Mid-rangeLahore has several mid-range cafes, notably Masoom's for cakes, desserts and coffee, and sandwiches at Coffee, Tea and Company nearby. In Defence, Hot Fuzon is another good cafe and a Masoom's franchise.
- Mexican cafes: Chalupa in Samnabad which has many tasty Mexican dishes like taco. There is also a bar with night time disco.
- Gun smoke is another Mexican cafe in MM Alam Road with a very good atmosphere and sitting.
- Latin, a Central American-styled cafe with a sheesha bar.
- Lebanese restaurants: Cock and Bull with three branches in Lahore serving shawarmas.
- Kim's snack bar in Samnabad. Lahore second best shawarma.
Chinese food is also very popular in Lahore. It is very strongly altered to local tastes. One notable example is Hsin Kuang which sits in a pagoda-like structure near Mini Market and is very popular, but the quality varies. It is renowned for its strong-flavoured soup.
Mini GolfDon't miss this place for great open air atmosphere where you can also get sheesha.
Mirchiaddress: MM Alam RdPerhaps the best Lahori food in the city, and is of good hygienic quality. Try the tamatar paneer and the sheesh taouk (charcoal-grileld chicken skewers).
PeppericaThis restaurant run by famous artist Rana Shujaat serves various dishes to suit the tastes of various types of customers. The chicken Jalferazi is the most popular and highly demanded by the customers.
ChatkharaServes snack food like samosas, chaat and dahi bhallay
Balouchi Sajjiaddress: Fortress StadiumOne of the best restaurant in Lahore. Best traditionally grilled lamb and chicken in town and after the meal one must have the traditional kawa (green tea)
Liberty MarketOffers good standard Pakistani food. The mutton karahi at Rs 510 is a popular dish and easily serves two people, while most dishes are half that price. They also offer salads, but see the Stay Healthy section below.
Cafe Aylantophone: +92 21 587-5724address: 2-C 9th Commercial LnHas the best non-Pakistani food in town. Try the shrimp and avocado salad. You can also take your own wine to the restaurant and they'll be happy to serve you; just make sure to inform them on the door, if you have an alcoholic drink with you.
Zoukphone: +92 42 571-2731address: MM Alam RdOne of Lahore's institutions, despite the distressing decor. It serves a mix of Continental and Thai food. It is highly popular among elites.
address: 6L Gulberg IIExtravagantly elegant restaurant with an inventive menu of generally superb food. One of Pakistan's best.
Freddy'sphone: +92 042 575-4416address: 12C MM Alam RdFamily-oriented restaurant which has a safe, vaguely continental menu. Freddy's offers an afternoon high tea buffet, which offers a full variety foods and some drinks.
Villagephone: +92 42 578-5523address: 103-B-2 MM Alam RdA vast mud structure which has an all-you-can-eat Pakistani buffet. It's a popular joint to take visiting tourists, as it combines a variety of local foods with good hygiene.
Salt n Pepper GrillOwned by the same company as Village, with a fine à la carte menu. Try their sweet lassi.
Ziafatphone: +92 42 575-0760address: 21-C-I MM Alam RdAuthentic Pakistani food in a buffet style. Their menu is not as grand as Village, but the ambiance is a little more laid-back.
DeraRight by the Gaddafi Stadium, sitting on your maniji and gulping lassi, you'll experience a unique truck driver atmosphere here. The food is excellent, but the prices are on the higher end. Favourite among the locals are the assorted naans, chicken mugalahi and mutton chops.
Fujiyamaphone: +92 42 636-6366 ext 2196address: 87 Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-AzamIt's the only real Japanese restaurant in town, and is considered to be the most expensive.
Nandosphone: +92-42-111626367address: Plot No. 100-B/II, M. M. Alam Road, Gulberg IIIA globally famous restaurant chain.
Costa NostraAuthentic Italian food, overseen by Pak-Italian owners. Started as a reservation-only, high-end gourmet experience with a rather well put together table d'hote, it now has a basement pizzeria where you can't go wrong if want a pizza pie that resembles something from Rome and not Chicago.
Alcohol is illegal for Muslim Pakistanis. Clubbing is quite popular but not easy to find, majority of the clubs being private and invite only.
- Parties at Farmhouse
- Caviar Lounge, a bar/club in Royal Palm.
- Club Bhurban, in Pearl Continental hotel
- Uptown LA in Defence R block. The club opens after 11PM at night till 4AM in the morning
address: Green Acres Main RdSituated about an hour outside of Lahore. Peeru's, a cafe with an artistic flair. Saturday night is always Jazz Night, Peeru's cafe is really the only place which has live jazz music. Tuesday is Sufi night. Sitting inside, it even feels like some cafe in Venice.
- Chalupa club.
- Disco beat in Muslim town.
- Bon vivant cafe
- Panini Italian Cafe.
- AK lounge:First floor shop4 and 5 in Xinhua mall in Gulberg 3.
- Cafe rock: 56 b3 Gulberg 3.
- Cafe forest: 57 T Gulberg.
- Chez Nur bistro: 39 C1 Gulberg 3.Tel:(92)35759835.
- Gulberg: 2B 3 Gulberg 3.
- Defence: 181/Y Block, phase three DHA.
- Cinamoon Coffee lounge and Bakery: Sharah e Quaid e Azam, Avari Hotel.
- Coffee tea and company: 3B3 Gulberg.
- Espresso: Chez Casa, Gulberg three.
- Florigelium: 73L, Gulberg.
- Gloria Jeans Coffee: Defence: 42Z, Commercial; and Gulberg: 25/2B, Kasuri road.
- Lahore Grand: Zafar Ali Road.
- Lums: DHA, Lahore Cantt.
- Mall of Lahore: 172 Tufail Road, Lahore Cantt.
- Hobnob Cafe:DHA phase 2.
- Jamin Java Cafe: Has three branches in Lahore mainly in Defence, Gulberg and Johar Town.
- Luciano at Ammar Belal: Kasuri road, Gulberg.
- Malees cafe: At Jail road and in Gulberg, three at MM.Alam road.
- White Dining Lounge: At MM.Alam road,Gulberg,Lahore.
- World Fashion cafe': Kasuri road, Gaulberg,Lahore.
- Roasters: Gulberg 3, Lahore.
- Nadia cafe: Pearl Continental Hotel, Sharah e Quaid e azam.
For the visitor there are three broad options of areas in which to stay
- 1) In or near the old town - has the advantage of having all the historical sights on your doorstep - however you are then limited for evening entertainment unless you want a long tuktuk ride. However the two 'rooftop' restaurants overlooking the mosque are nearby.
- 2) Along Mall Road probably in one of the big and expensive chain hotels - you will be equidistant from the old town and the nightlife
- 3) In Gulberg or Defense - where you will having the nice restaurants and shopping on your doorstep, and are nearer the airport.
These tradeoffs are important because of Lahore's awful traffic, and you want to minimise the amount of (daytime especially) travel in the city. Sunday mornings are very quiet however and this is a good time to visit Mall Road and the old town.
Hotels and guesthouses are the two main options in the city. Hotels are a bit more expensive but usually have western-style toilets and are cleaner.
There are scores of options for travelers. If you feel like staying on budget there are some fairly crowded and over-priced options near the train station, which is in an overwhelmingly busy and chaotic part of the city - not for the faint-hearted. Westerners will often need to bargain if they wish to receive a fair price.
phone: +92 42 37351544, +92 42 37351545address: Near UBL SD. Vault, 65 The MallBackpackers hostel. They arrange many trips to local cultural events and offer extremely clean accommodation at very reasonable rates. They can organize parking.
phone: +92 42 3731-1987address: Surriaya Mansion 65The owner, Malik, is a former journalist who can show you some amazing off-the-wall stuff in the city, including weekly trips to Shah Jamal on Thursday nights. It's slightly expensive for what it is, but pretty much the best option in town and worth it for the security and to meet other travelers.It is down an alley and upstairs, behind H. Karim Busch & Sons supermarket. They are pretty good at responding online bookings and often update their blog posts.
Alpine Hotelphone: +92 42 516-8401address: 38-M-Block
Ambassador Hotelphone: +92 42 631-6820address: 7 Davis Rd
phone: +92 42 711-5015address: 46 Lower Mall
Kashmir Palace Hotelphone: +92 42 631-6700address: 14 Empress Rd
phone: +92 42 7238126address: 21 Lake RdInternet/Wi-Fi and airport pickup and drop-off.
phone: +92-42-5312596address: House No 167-G/3 Johar Town
Shalimar Hotelphone: +92 42 575-8811address: 36 Liberty Market
phone: +92 42 35885060address: 16-C-3 Gulberg-3This place is a bit rough around the edges, and not recommended for a single female, but the rooms are clean, large, en suite, air conditioned and the rate includes a simple breakfast.
phone: +92 42 576-3810address: 72-D/1, Liberty Commercial Zone
Windmills Hotelphone: +(42) 578 5758 - 62address: 89-A, B-II, Husain Chowk, Gulberg-III
phone: +92 42 636-6366address: 87 Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam
phone: +92 42 111 444 333address: 24 Edgerton RdLahore's true Grand old hotel, built in late 18th century by an Italian and recently renovated.
phone: +92 42 631-0077address: 25-26 Egerton Rdformerly known as Holiday Inn
phone: +92 42 6360210address: The MallPearl Continental is a 4-star hotel.
phone: +92 42 111-395-395address: 39-A Zafar ali road Gulberg V
Street crimes in Lahore are not common but special precautions must be taken by visitors.
- Demonstrations aren't uncommon and should be avoided at all cost. In early 2006, the Prophet Muhammad cartoon protests quickly got out of hand, and several businesses were torched along with scores of cars. If a large demonstration or protest is underway, foreigners should try to remain at their hotels until the dust settles.
- In general, visitors will find the locals very curious, very eager to help. Being friendly and smiling at people goes a long way. If you're a woman, though, it's best to be sparing with smiles lest people get too friendly; though this is mostly in areas like bazaars, not the actual city.
- If you enter a mosque, women should wear a dupatta, which is a scarf used by local females to cover their heads. Men & women should also remove their shoes while entering in a mosque.
- Avoid traveling to unlit areas at night, especially alone. Use common sense when hanging out with friends, and definitely avoid being intoxicated in public as it is an Islamic country.
- Beware of pickpockets when you are in crowded areas like Liberty market, the airport, bus stands, the railway station, Anarkali, Ichra shopping centre, or Mall road.
In an emergency you can call police help line 15 or call Rescue Services at 1122.
Lahore abounds with excellent street food, but unless you've been on the road for some time and developed an iron stomach, it's always wise to exercise some caution. Look for busier street stalls, especially those in Gowal Mandi (food street), and stick to food that's hot and has just been cooked. Salads can also cause problems - if you must, one of the fancier restaurants in Gulberg is probably a safer bet than eating a salad at a dhaba or street stall.
Bottled water is highly recommended. Some budget places offer free filtered water, but even that is suspect in Lahore.
Medical care is excellent for those who can afford it and, if you can, avoid public hospitals. The Fátima Memorial Hospital is usually a fair bet, with decent rates, good hygiene, and good care.
Doctors hospital on Canal and National Hospital in Defence Housing Authority offers excellent services but at a higher cost.
Farooq Hospital (West Wood Branch) near Thokar Niazbeg offer better Health services and is not very expensive.
Greecephone: +92-42 576 3478address: 71-A, Main Gulberg
- Wagah Border The border between Pakistan and India is also an attraction for tourists, with a ceremony at the border everyday.
- For foreigners, crossing the Wagah border to India and visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar is a lifetime experience. However, for this you will need an Indian visa. If coming from Wagah at the Pakistan border, take a cycle-rickshaw (Rs 15, 3 km) to the Attari station, where you can catch a local bus to Amritsar (Rs 15, 25 km). Taxis also use this route and charge around Rs 200(800 from the raja sansi airport) for the entire vehicle. Amritsar is about 32 km from Lahore.
- Changa Manga is a man-made forest 68 km from Lahore. There is a lake, and a miniature railway, which winds its way through its forest. Chhanga Manga has 12,510 acres of plantations. It is a popular picnic spot spread over 50 acres with a lake and rowboats, motorboats, children's park, swimming pool, cafeteria, canteen and rest houses
Hiran MinarA peaceful rural park with a lake and minaret. It used to be favorite hunting sport of the Muslim kings, especially the Mughals. Jehangir erected the pavilion-like monument to commemorate the death of his pet deer (Hiran means deer). It served a double purpose as from its top the hunters could locate the habitations of deers. It is a beautiful picnic as well as a historic spot. A high Bara Dari Ghat is constructed right in middle of a Talab. A man made big lake, boating facility is also available. A good garden lay out is surrounding the place.
- The ancient city of Harappa was one of the first Indus Valley excavation sites; a must see if you're into archaeology. Harappa lies about 300 km southwest of Lahore