Nathia Gali and Murree make one of the best day trips from Islamabad or for simply spending a night in the cooler air not far from the city.
Located up in the Murree Hills it isn’t a complete break away from everyone as it is a popular place for Islamabadi’s to go for on the weekend, but it’s still peaceful enough and you can escape others by going on short hikes if you like.
Nathia Gali is the personal favourite of the 2 as it’s more relaxed and quieter and that’s what we went into the hills for.
But that’s all subjective to what you want out of visiting somewhere.
Getting to Nathia Gali from Islamabad takes around 2 hours (in a private car) on a winding hilly road with good views as you go up.
Colourful Pakistani vehicle seen on the drive up.
There are a few side trips from Nathia Gali area but some are very disappointing such as the nearby ‘lake’ which turns out to be nothing more than a glorified pool with a few ducks in by a dam.
We did enjoy meeting a few people when there though and the drive down was beautiful in itself which made up for the crappy ‘lake’.
Honestly the best thing is to go to Nathia Gali itself and hang out for a few hours then go to Murree to do the same, have dinner in Murree, then head back to Islamabad.
Local children near Nathia Gali.
There’s some good history in Nathia Gali and the centuries old small wooden church there is the highlight. Even if you’re not religious its a beautiful little wooden church and very peaceful to visit.
The old wooden church in Nathia Gali.
Inside the church.
Horse riding is one of the things you can get up to when there and there are some short trails you can go on for 20 minutes or so just for fun.
Getting ready for a horse ride.
There’s even a very short zip line across the small park in the centre you can do although it only last 20 seconds!
In the evening things cool down considerably and you can get some picturesque views in the fading light of the nearby mountains, weather permitting.
We visited in October and there was a few autumn colours on the trees.
View across the mountains at dusk.
After some time in Nathia Gali you can retrace the drive in back to Murree.
Ok here’s the honesty part… we spent so much of the day around Nathia Galli area that by the time we got to Murree it was already dark and we didn’t get out to see any ‘nature’ that may have been there to see.
But it seems that a lot of Pakistanis come from Islamabad and nearby cities to Murree to simply hang out in the cooler air and enjoy eating and relaxing.
We had fun in some small souvenir stalls and having a very cold late night walk around the main shopping street.
One of the views from Murree.
Dinner with friends in Murree.
Checking out the souvenir shops (no I didn’t buy the hat).
As said there isn’t much to do in Murree so just hang out and enjoy the views (if in the daytime) and eat and enjoy the relaxed (and cooler) atmosphere.
Day Trips From Islamabad
The friends I was with on the day trip.
To get to Nathia Gali and Murree it’s best to have your own car, especially if day tripping. If you don’t one option is to get a Careem car for the day but that won’t be cheap, probably around 4000 rupees ($30) upwards for the whole day.
The cheapest option is to go up by local van but its not very practical for a day trip so I would recommend staying for the night if doing this option.
So as far as day trips from Islamabad go you can’t go wrong with Nathia Gali and (maybe) Murree.
This is what I recommend for things to do in Islamabad itself.
Another great day trip that I recommend from Islamabad if you have your own transport is Peshawar, or spend the night there if taking the public bus.
If you’re thinking of spending the night in Nathia Gali you can find places to stay here.
Or if you prefer stay in Murree.
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