Nainital Tourism and Travel Guide

Nainital tourism’s popularity has endured over the decades. Located in the hills of Kumaon, Nainital’s proximity to Delhi is a major factor in its legacy as among the most popular hill stations in India. Known as the ‘City of Lakes’, Nainital sits at an altitude of about two thousand metres at the foothills of the Himalayas and is located near seven beautiful lakes. Nainital is famous for its namesake eye-shaped Naini lake. The name of the lake signifies a popular mythological story about Lord Shiva. It is believed that he furiously wandered the world with the body of Goddess Sati after her death, and the places where her body parts fell are now considered sacrosanct. The Naini lake is said to be where her eye fell. Due to its religious history, Nainital tourism invites many people of faith into the city from across the nation. Besides religious reasons, the snow-capped hills, deep lakes, and the all-year-round pleasant Nainital weather make it a famous hill station. Nainital tourism is the main source of livelihood for the city’s residents. Any Nainital guide on the Internet will inform you that this hill station is an ideal getaway from the hustle-bustle of metropolitan cities due to its natural beauty and amusing activities. There are many things to do in Nainital to keep you occupied and it’s the perfect place to recharge amidst nature. From trekking, boating, experiencing wildlife to visiting historical sites and gorgeous Nainital sightseeing places, Nainital tourism provides a wholesome experience to its visitors. The hill station has become commercialized due to a large number of tourists lured by Nainital tourism every year, but it is still a beautiful place for a quick getaway in North India. So pack your bags and read this Nainital guide to be fully prepared to visit this jewel of the Kumaon hills!
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Hotels and Homestays in Nainital

Best Time to Visit Nainital


The weather in Nainital is enjoyable throughout the year. Winter begins in November and it’s still pretty cold in March, with the temperature ranging from 2 to 11 degrees celsius in these months. April onwards, Nainital gradually becomes warmer, reaching up to 23 degrees celsius, which is a cool summer when compared to other North Indian cities. Nainital receives rainfall between mid-June and mid-September generally. Due to its closeness to the outer Himalayas, Nainital’s annual rainfall is pretty high.

Although Nainital weather is favourable throughout the year, Nainital tourism sees the maximum influx of tourists in the summer, which is the best time to visit Nainital. If you enjoy being outdoors during cold weather, the best season to visit Nainital would be winter when you can experience snowfall in Nainital. As Nainital tourism does not invite many tourists then, the hotels and outdoor activities are much cheaper too. Nainital in winter, therefore, can be enjoyed as much as summers there.

Best Places to Visit in Nainital


Nainital tourism offers a range of places to see as well as activities to do to keep tourists busy. As the city is such a popular getaway, there is ample information available on Nainital sightseeing. While you can choose to spend a week here, Nainital tourism mostly attracts the weekend crowd from nearby cities. 

The following are some of the places that can be added to your Nainital itinerary: 

Lake Naini

This lake is the heart and soul of Nainital tourism. With colourful boats dotting the edge of the lake and seven mighty hills protecting the valley, boating and paddling in the lake are the top things to do in Nainital. The view of sunsets and sunrises as you paddle across the lake from end to end is the most serene experience you can get out of Nainital tourism. Tourists are blessed with a calm view of the city from across the lake as well as snowy peaks and green hills. A lot of Nainital’s famous places such as Tiffin Top, Snow Peak and Nanda Devi temple can be seen while floating in a boat on the lake.

The Mall Road

This is one of Nainital’s best places for a nice stroll to enjoy the evening breeze as you relish some local Pahadi food. The momos are particularly famous here. The locals involved in Nainital tourism have put up some stalls in the Tibetan Market and Bhotia Bazaar too for travellers to buy some traditional mementos to take back home. Life on this road mirrors the energy of the whole city! The Mall Road runs through the centre of Nainital, along Naini Lake. Being a commercial zone, the area gets crowded with many travel agencies, hotels, and restaurants profiting off of Nainital tourism. This can be overwhelming for some, but thankfully, during the peak months of May, June and October, Nainital tourism does not allow vehicles in the area from 6-9pm.

Naina Devi Temple 

One of the important places to visit in Nainital, Naina Devi Temple is a pilgrim site that sits beside the Naini Lake. A shrine is said to have been there for thousands of years which pays homage to Goddess Sati, Lord Ganesh and Goddess Kali. The temple’s ceiling has two eyes that signify the remains of Goddess Sati. For a complete spiritual experience of Nainital tourism, the best time to visit Nainital is during the Nanda Ashtami festival organised every September at the Naina Devi temple. Nainital tourism welcomes thousands of tourists during Navratri and Chaitra as well.

Nainital Zoo

Aside from the zoos in Sikkim and Darjeeling, Nainital tourism boasts of having one of the only high altitude zoos in India. Perched on Sher Danda hill, it houses many different kinds of animals such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, Himalayan Bear, and Tibetan Wolves. In fact, the last of the Siberian Tiger species in India took his last breath in this very zoo in 2011. Other species on display in the zoo include Golden Pheasant, Kalij Pheasant, Rose-ringed Parakeet as well. This is one of Nainital’s famous places as it allows visitors to witness some of the lesser-seen wildlife. The zoo also organises awareness events to teach locals and tourists alike about the importance of wildlife conservation, which is a significant subject of interest due to the impact of the growth of Nainital tourism. This is probably one of the more important things to see in Nainital especially for parents who want their children to be more sensitized and informed about endangered wildlife.   

Naina Peak

Naina Peak, or what is locally known as China Peak, is one of Nainital’s best places as it is the highest peak in the region. It makes for an amazing hike due to the vivid greenery and the unforgettable bird eye’s view of the town. Apart from hiking up the hill on foot, you could ride a pony as well. You should ideally begin the hike early in the morning and descend after a splendid view of the sunset to have a classic Nainital tourism experience. There are no food joints on the hill, so you should pack some up to take with you on your way to this Nainital picnic spot. 

Tiffin Top

Situated on Ayarpatta hill, Tiffin top, or Dorothy’s Seat, is another popular Nainital picnic spot. Locals would enjoy Nainital tourism by visiting the hilltop to enjoy their lunch with a view, which is how the place gets its name. It’s a fun spot to casually hang out for a nice evening. This Nainital tourist spot is also a haven for photographers looking for a magnificent view of the Himalayas. You can also participate in several adventure activities like rock climbing, ziplining and rappelling that are organised there by Nainital tourism.

Land’s End

This is another one of the significant tourist attractions in Nainital for adrenaline junkies. At the top, it seems as though there is no land beyond the cliff, which makes for a killer Nainital sightseeing point. For nature lovers, it’s a double treat as you wade through lush greenery on your hike or pony ride to reach this spot from where even Khurpatal is visible. The picturesque location is also famous among amateurs for practising photography. Note that there is no barrier railing at the edge of the cliff, so be careful! 

Snow Peak 

Slightly away from the city centre, Snow Peak is one of the main attractions of Nainital tourism. The glorious view one gets of the mighty, frosted Himalayas is why this spot remains at the top of tourists’ things to see in Nainital list, as it should be! You can use the large binoculars here to enjoy the view and go on to indulge in some instant noodles and tea at the various snacks shops in the area.  You can reach it via road, but to experience the best Nainital sightseeing, the aerial ropeway is the preferred alternative. There is a Tibetan monastery called Gadhan Kunkyop Ling Gompa nearby as well that is worth a visit.   

Pangot and Kilbury Bird Sanctuary 

This bird sanctuary is one of the most sought out places to visit near Nainital. At a distance of 13 kilometres from the main city is a village called Pangot, which is home to the Kilbury bird sanctuary. Nainital tourism encourages travellers to see the diverse species of birds inhabiting the sanctuary. Not only is this one of Nainital’s best places for people interested in avifauna, but the magnificent environment truly enhances one’s experience. Kilbury bird sanctuary reflects the best of Nainital tourism’s flora and fauna, which is why it should not be missed. Besides, on the drive up to Pangot, travellers get to cross some of Nainital’s famous places such as the Naina peak, the Echo point and the Himalaya View point.   

Eco Cave Gardens 

Families have now started to visit the Eco Cave Gardens when they visit Nainital without fail. It is managed by Nainital tourism and surely makes for an interesting addition to your Nainital itinerary.  Here, natural caves have been groomed into a garden, with the rocks shaped into 6 different animals. This is a great spot offered by Nainital tourism for people travelling with children as it provides unique insight about Kumaon’s natural habitat. Moreover, the garden’s musical fountain and vintage lamps make it a good location for some family photos.

Besides these spots, there are many places near Nainital that make it to tourists’ itinerary as well. Aside from contributing to Nainital tourism, the following are some other tourist destinations you should consider visiting:

  • Bhimtal: 22 kilometres from Nainital, this is the largest lake among the seven lakes in the area. It is one of the most popular places to visit near Nainital. 

  • Sattal: The lake here is a confluence of all seven freshwater lakes in the area. It’s surprising how many tourists skip this place given how beautiful and serene it is (that’s probably the reason it still retains its untainted beauty). 

  • Sariyatal: An ideal place to spend some time with yourself in solitude. 5 kilometres from Nainital, there is a Himalayan botanical garden here as well.

  • Naukichiatal: The name of the place literally translates to ‘lake with nine corners’. With a depth of around 40 metres, it is the deepest of all seven lakes.
     
  • Khurpatal Lake: Situated in a secluded town, this lake gives birth to several natural springs. A diverse variety of fish can be found here.

  • Corbett National Park: Located within the Nainital district, this is probably the most visited national park in North-India by wildlife lovers.

  • Ranikhet: This is another one of the popular places near Nainital to enjoy the view and serenity of the Himalayas. 

  • Mukteshwar: This town is situated at a high elevation on the Kumaon hills, 51 kilometres away from Nainital. It also has a mythological connection to Lord Shiva. Tourism is gradually growing there, but its beauty is still largely untouched.

  • Rishikesh: It is a holy destination, and is visited by many tourists to learn yoga and meditation. One can also participate in several adventure sports like river rafting and bungee jumping.


All the places to visit in Nainital, as well as the places near Nainital, mentioned above would surely pack up your itinerary and give you loads to experience. Nainital tourism maintains these tourist spots to make sure that travellers keep coming here.

Activities & Things to Do in Nainital


Nainital tourism not only boasts of some great sightseeing spots but keeps them engaged with a range of activities for every kind of traveller. Some of them are:

Boating

Boating in Naini lake is the most popular activity in the city. Accompanied by a rower/guide, you get to enjoy the beautiful, shimmering water of Naini lake, surrounded by the seven Kumaoni hills for thirty to sixty minutes. Imagine being on a colourful boat, with birds chirping around you and fish swimming beside you, all the while having a glorious view of snow-clad peaks. This is what Nainital is most famous for! There are other options like yachting and paddling on the lake as well. 


Ropeway

Taking an aerial ropeway is the best way to engage in Nainital sightseeing. Nainital tourism provides tourists with an opportunity to look over the magnificent city. You can take the ropeway all the way from Mallital up to Snow Peak, which is one of Nainital’s best places to see the Himalayas in their full glory. On the cable car, Nainital tourism offers you about three minutes of a panoramic view of the city and its heart, Naini lake. Managed by Nainital tourism, it is safe and the preferred mode of commute to Snow Peak.
 

Hiking and Experiencing Wildlife

There are a couple of small hiking trails in the area where one can go to enjoy the beauty of Nainital tourism in its natural state. Some popular trails are to Snow View point, Naini Peak, Land’s End, Tiffin Top, Nainital Zoo and Kilbury, Pangot. All these spots are great for Nainital sightseeing and provide a great view of the neighbouring Himalaya peaks. This activity is best for nature lovers who want to truly dive right into the beauty of the Kumaon region. 


Shopping in Tibetan Market

Nainital tourism will definitely give you countless memories, but you shouldn’t forget to collect some souvenirs! Located near the Naini lake, you cannot miss this vibrant marketplace. The Tibetan market is reputed among integral experiences of Nainital tourism. You can find various, high-quality items like local clothing, bags, embroidered shawls and designer jewellery, along with many other handicrafts that reflect the local Tibetan and Himalayan culture. It isn’t surprising then how this street is always busy! Selling in such markets is how many locals benefit from Nainital tourism, and travellers should consider supporting them. Shopping here involves quite a bit of haggling though.

Cuisines & Best Places to Eat


Nainital tourism is great for food lovers looking forward to trying Kumaoni and Garhwali cuisine. Regional recipes and spices make the cuisine delicious and the food is simple yet heavily nutritious and well suited to the cold climate of Kumaon. Such cuisine can be found in most local restaurants in the city. What is famous in Nainital for food, you ask? Rice and rotis (often made with Mandua flour) are essential components of the cuisine. Chutneys are quite popular among locals as well. These staples are usually paired with the following dishes: 

  • Ras: This is made of a mixture of different kinds of pulses like toor, gehet and channa, in a simple curry form, eaten with rice and chutney. It is easy to cook and highly nutritious — perfect for the inhabitants of the region.

  • Bhatt ki Churkani: Another healthy yet traditional delicacy, this is a recipe with black beans. 

  • Baadi: A famous Pahadi recipe, Baadi is prepared with buckwheat and ghee. It tastes best with gahat dal and is a great dish for cold areas as it keeps you warm. 

  • Aloo Gutke: This is a spicy, potato dish that is served as an appetizer. It is also consumed with bread or added as a side dish to rice and pulses.

  • Arsa: A traditional dessert, mainly prepared for special events like weddings and other family gatherings, Arsa is an integral Pahadi dish. It utilises simple ingredients like rice, jaggery and mustard oil. 

  • Gulgula: This is another dessert, made of wheat flour and jaggery. It is one of the healthier alternatives for a sweet dish.


Some amazing restaurants that serve delicious food from a variety of cuisines in the city are:

  • Anupam Restaurant
  • Embassy Restaurant
  • Sakley’s
  • Machan Restaurant
  • Giannis Pure Veg Restaurant
  • Zooby’s Kitchen

A lot of the hotels and homestays in Nainital offer mouth-watering food to their guests as well, so you need not wander far to get a taste of the local dishes. 

Typical Costs in Nainital


A Nainital trip is fairly affordable. 

There are many budget hotels in Nainital with rooms priced at as low as 1,000 rupees per night to some luxury resorts in Nainital costing 10,000-12,000 rupees per night, with many more options in the middle. The accommodation thus can be managed easily depending on your budget.

Transportation from Delhi to Nainital is inexpensive as well. Both seater and sleeper buses ply from the capital and can cost you between 500-1000 rupees for a  one way. A round trip to Nainital via taxi would be in the range of 6000 to 8000 rupees. The popularity of Nainital tourism ensures comfortable and affordable transportation services to and from the city.

A lot of hotels provide taxis for sightseeing. You can also rent bikes or taxis from various rental shops to travel within the city. During the peak season for Nainital tourism, a WagonR would cost about 3200 rupees and an Innova 4000 rupees per day. The same cars during the off season would be about 2700 rupees and 3700 rupees respectively. Cycle and auto-rickshaws are cheap options to commute within the city as well but they do not run on a fixed price, so you may have to use your bargaining skills if don’t want to be overcharged!

How to Reach Nainital


Nainital tourism is prospering and the hill station is usually brimming with tourists. Needless to say, it is well connected and can be easily reached. 

By Road: 

This is the best way to reach Nainital. There are daily buses from Delhi and Kathgodam, both air-conditioned and non-air conditioned. Most tourists take an overnight bus from Delhi to reach the city. 

By Rail:

The nearest railway station to Nainital is in Kathgodam, which is located at a distance of 23 kilometres. Cities like Delhi, Agra, Lucknow, Kolkata etc. have direct trains to Kathgodam every day. The journey from the railway station to Nainital is cheap and easy, with a number of buses and taxis (both private and shared) available. 

By Air:

There is no Nainital airport, but people who want to visit the Kumaon region can still do so without any difficulties. Although there are no flights to Nainital, one can fly to the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi from anywhere in the world, which is about 300 kilometres from Nainital.  You can take a bus or taxi, or drive up to Nainital from Delhi then. There are also direct flights from Delhi to the Pantnagar Airport which is only 70 kilometres from Nainital. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Nainital Tourism


Why is Nainital such a popular tourist spot?

It is popular for its mythology as well as for being a relaxing hill station with a great climate that is not very far from metro cities like Delhi. Over time, it has become a well-known spot for summer getaways. Besides, Nainital tourism offers a range of experiences to its visitors. There are many things you can do in the city, which makes it a fun holiday destination.

 

How long should my Nainital trip be? 

Nainital tourism can be completed in a weekend. A trip of two days and a night can suffice to visit Nainital’s most famous places. This might be a slightly rushed itinerary, so for a truly relaxing trip, it would be better for you to extend your trip to at least three to four days to visit some of the places near Nainital as well. 

 

Is Nainital a good vacation spot for families?

Nainital is a great location for family vacations. The kind of attractions and activities Nainital tourism provide, such as boating at Naini lake, aerial ropeway, Nainital Zoo and Eco Cave Gardens can be enjoyed by both adults and children. Not only families, but this hill station is frequented by groups of friends and couples as well. Nainital tourism has something in store for all kinds of travellers!

 

How should I travel within Nainital?

Nainital tourism has made travelling within the city very simple. Public transportation like cycle and auto-rickshaws as well as buses can be easily availed. For a more comfortable trip, you could also rent bikes or cars on a per-day basis. It’s important to haggle to get the best price!

 

Which route from Delhi to Nainital is the most convenient?

National Highway 24 connects Delhi to Nainital, a distance of about 298 kilometres. This is the shortest possible route which crosses Hapur, Moradabad, Rampur, and Haldwani on the way.  

 

Which location in Nainital is best for accommodation?

Due to the flourishing state of Nainital tourism, there are many hotels of different kinds and budget range for tourists to stay at. If you want to stay in the centre of the city, Mall road is the place for you. It is lined up with many hotels. Otherwise, for people who want to stay in a more peaceful environment, the outskirts would be a better option.

 

Is Nainital very crowded? 

Although Nainital temperature is decent the whole year, summer is the peak season for Nainital as many people visit the hill station to beat the heat. That is when kids have their long vacations too, pushing families to go for Nainital tourism. Therefore, between April and June, the hill station can get crowded. For a solitary experience, you should consider visiting Nainital during the off-season. Winter in Nainital is mesmerizing and the city is also beautiful during the rainy season. 

 

Will I get mobile network in Nainital?

You don’t have to worry about losing connectivity in this region. Airtel and Jio sims work best in Nainital. 

 

Is Nainital safe for solo travellers?

Nainital tourism gets its pleasant reputation due to the safe experience the tourists have in the district. Mostly frequented by couples, families and groups, the city proves to be an enjoyable getaway for solo travellers as well. The transportation to and from Nainital are well maintained. Within the hill station, the locals are helpful and humble and they make one feel at home. However, like any other tourist destination, caution should be practised here as well. 

 

Should I make my own Nainital itinerary or go for a pre-planned package?

There is enough information on the Internet to navigate through Nainital tourism on your own. A Nainital trip is generally inexpensive and easy to plan. But for a completely relaxing time, that also includes some of the neighbouring areas, you could check out some affordable packages to have a stress free holiday!

Written by Shruti Mishra, an in-house Tripoto writer.

 

 

 

 

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