Nainital is a picturesque hill station in Uttarakhand centred around the mesmerising Naini Lake. A classic Indian hill station, it offers an alpine break from the daily humdrum and gives you an opportunity to reconnect with nature. The places to visit in Nainital are mostly natural attractions, temples, lakes and viewpoints with spellbinding views, giving you the perfect itinerary in the mountains.
While two to three days are ideal for Nainital, we recommend including a couple of days more if you want to explore nearby places to visit in Nainital.
Nestled amidst the foothills of the mighty Himalayas in the Kumaon region, Naini Lake is a sight to behold and part of most places to visit in Nainital itineraries. The lake is surrounded by seven peaks that are Ayarpata, Deopata, Handi Bandi, Cheena Peak, Alma, Laria Kanta and Sher Ka Danda. The lake is a freshwater lake and is surrounded by Naini Peak from the northwest and Tiffin Top from the southwest. You can’t expect to explore the hilly hamlet without including Naini Lake in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary.
The lake covers a perimeter of around 3.2 kilometres and its depth varies from 6 meters to 28 meters. The discovery of one of the most famous tourist places in Nainital makes for an interesting story. It's said that a British businessman, Mr.P.Barron, chanced upon it in 1839 while on a hunting expedition and fell in love with this natural masterpiece. He was so taken in by the beauty of the lake that he decided to build a European colony on the shore of the lake.
The emerald lake is popular among locals as well as visitors as a picnic spot and for boating. One can seek blessings of Goddess Naina Devi at the Naina Devi Temple located near the lake. If this is your first visit to the hill station, you can't miss including boating in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary. The sparkling waters of the lake and the majestic mountains make up for a mesmerising sight while on a boat. There are a variety of boats to choose from such as gondolas, kayaks and small boats. Most of the boats here are painted in vibrant colours and they are a beautiful sight in themselves. The cost of boating ranges from Rs.200 to Rs.400 per hour and may increase in peak season.
Mall Road runs parallel to the lake and is the perfect place for shopping buffs to include in their places to visit in Nainital itinerary. A number of restaurants are also located here. The Boat House Club is anchored on the banks of Naini Lake and is the ideal place to enjoy a beer or evening tea on the banks of this picturesque lake. Though the lake is a treat to enjoy throughout the year, March, June, November and December are ideal to visit. In winter, it gets cold and hence it is advisable to carry warm clothes. Apart from boating, the best way to enjoy and explore the beauty of the lake is on a morning walk.
Cost: Exploring Naini Lake in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary can cost between Rs.200 and Rs.600 per person.
No hill station in India is complete without a bustling mall road. Nainital also boasts a mall road which runs along the scenic Naini Lake. Officially known as Govind Ballabh Pant Marg, the 1.5-kilometre-long Mall Road was constructed by the British. It connects two parts of Nainital city, Mallital and Tallital, through a picturesque stretch. Mall Road is the hub of the city's cultural, gastronomic and shopping experience. As the lifeline of Nainital, the road is always busy and at times overcrowded, especially during peak season from May to October.
Mall Road is a delight for shopping enthusiasts since there are a plethora of shops to explore. Woollens, home decor, handmade soaps, scented candles and wooden artefacts are some of the popular things available on Mall Road. A number of great restaurants and hawkers on Mall Road ensure that one can savour amazing delicacies. Among the best restaurants on Mall Road, we suggest including a meal at Boat House Club, Embassy and Sakley's in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary. The Boat House Club also sees numerous locals and tourists, owing to its unique location. Anchored on the banks of Naini Lake, it is more famous for its location than the food, but one can enjoy tea and hot pakoras in the evening. The view of Naini Lake from here is spellbinding.
Mall Road is not only a place to shop and have great food, but it is also the perfect place to include in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary if you enjoy scenic walks. The best time to do so is either early in the morning or in the evening. The shops on Mall Road are open from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm and the best time to include a visit here in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary is in the evening. It is important to remember that Mall Road is located in an eco-sensitive area and hence a number of restrictions are in place with respect to parking, vehicle entry and general cleanliness.
Cost: Including a tour of Mall Road in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary will cost you between Rs.200 and Rs.700.
Eco Cave Gardens is fast becoming one of the most sought-after tourist attractions in Nainital. A recently developed tourist attraction in Nainital, the cave gardens can be part of your places to visit in Nainital list if you are travelling with little ones. The cave garden is made up of a cluster of natural rock caves and is situated amidst lush natural beauty. The garden has six animal-shaped caves with names such as tiger cave, bat cave and flying fox cave. The garden offers an unforgettable experience and it’s advised to keep aside a couple of hours in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary if you want to explore the area properly.
Eco Cave Gardens is located in the Sukhatal-Mallital area that is quite close to Mall Road. The caves are of varying dimensions and require crawling or climbing to cross them. These caves offer a glimpse of animal habitat in the Himalayan region. The entire garden is decorated in a rustic manner with kerosene lamps and lanterns.
The musical fountain in the garden is quite an attraction with mesmerising audio-visual effects. However, the musical fountain is active only during peak season. The path leading to the caves is adorned with hanging leaves, creepers and lush plants adding to the beauty of the attraction. Since exploring the caves requires you to be on your fours, we don’t recommend the activity for toddlers and elderly folks. Eco Cave Gardens is open from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm and the ticket cost is around Rs.20 for adults and Rs.10 for children. There's also an additional fee of Rs.25 if you want to carry your camera.
Cost: A visit to Eco Cave Gardens in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary will cost you between Rs.100 and Rs.350.
Naina Devi Temple is recognised as one of the 51 shakti peeths in India. The temple is dedicated to Devi Sati and holds immense religious importance for the locals. So much so that no trip to the city is complete without including it in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary.
The temple is located in the city. You will only need to keep aside an hour in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary to explore the temple, which is said to be built on the spot where Goddess Sati’s eyes fell on earth. The mythological story explains that Lord Shiva was carrying the goddess’s charred body and different parts of her body fell on earth. This is also depicted at the entrance of the temple which shows a pair of eyes. The temple also has other deities such as Goddess Kali, Lord Ganesha and Lord Hanuman.
The temple is located next to the Tibetan Market and the best time to visit is typically in the morning. The climb is not tedious but we suggest wearing a sturdy pair of shoes to make it easier. The road to the temple is dotted with small shops selling prasad and puja paraphernalia. You can also stop for breakfast here if your temple visit is scheduled for the morning in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary.
Cost: It will cost you between Rs.100 and Rs.150 to include Naina Devi Temple in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary.
A vacation to Nainital is incomplete without including a few stunning viewpoints in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary. Viewpoints offer mesmerising views of the surrounding mountain ranges as well as the city below and Snow View Point is one such beauty. At an altitude of 2270 meters, the tourist attraction sees hundreds of tourists every day, especially during the summer.
On a clear day, you can expect to see Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Trishul peaks from the viewpoint. It’s also a preferred spot for those who would like to admire the sunset. During weekends, Snow View Point sees a number of locals from Nainital and surrounding areas since it’s an ideal picnic spot and promises a fun experience for children. A typical example of a viewpoint in the mountains, Snow View Point boasts an open field which is lined with shops selling hot tea, Maggi, bread with omelette, paranthas and packaged foods. There are also a few entertainment stalls to keep little ones engaged. If you are planning a trip to Snow View Point in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary, we suggest keeping aside between two and three hours including the time taken to reach.
There are two ways to reach Snow View Point. You can either enjoy an exhilarating cable car ride to the top or take a cab from Mall Road till the parking of the viewpoint. The cable car that is part of most places to visit in Nainital itineraries offers spellbinding views of the lake and the bustling city but the only disadvantage is that the boarding point is 200 meters up a dirt path. If you are travelling with elderly folks, this might be a little inconvenient.
Cost: Including a trip to Snow View Point in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary will cost you between Rs.250 and Rs.400 including transportation.
Adjacent to Mall Road is the bustling Tibetan Market, also known as Bhotia Market. Dotted with local restaurants serving steamed momos, spicy chilli chicken and hot garlic noodles along with rows of shops selling woollens, bags and cosmetics – Tibetan Market should be a highlight in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary if you enjoy shopping.
Restaurants here are popular across the region for finger-licking good momos and the variety of Chinese and Tibetan dishes. The ambience of the restaurants is not the highlight so don't keep your expectations high. However, the service and the food more than makeup for the lack of ambience. The restaurants are mostly busy so it's best to plan a meal here in the afternoon in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary. You can also combine shopping tours to Mall Road and Tibetan Market together in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary.
Woollens, shoes, home decor items, bags and jewellery sold here are mostly handmade and shopping dramatically boosts the local economy. If you want something stitched in traditional Tibetan design you can request the shopkeepers here to prepare something within the duration of your stay. For hemp bags and other sustainable products, you will have to tell the shopkeepers a day in advance. While bargaining isn't encouraged here, it will definitely help in getting some good deals.
Cost: A visit to the Tibetan Market in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary can cost you between Rs.100 and Rs.700 per day depending on the inclusions.
Situated approximately 25 kilometres from Nainital, Naukuchiatal is a dream destination for adventure lovers and nature seekers. A must include in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary, Naukuchiatal offers a memorable experience and also a break from the touristy crowds of the city.
Similar to Nainital, Naukuchiatal is also centred around a lake and offers travellers a range of activities including boating, zorbing, paragliding and trekking. A lesser-known beauty in Uttarakhand, Naukuchiatal has recently started gaining popularity among offbeat travellers. If you intend to include Naukuchiatal in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary, we suggest keeping aside at least a day. The trip from Nainital to Naukuchiatal will take you about an hour and the activities here can take anywhere between six and seven hours.
For those who are interested in including paragliding in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary, you can either book a trip in the city or head to the main market to book your tour. The paragliding session lasts for about an hour, including the short trek, the waiting period and the flight itself. As is with most adventure activities, you can take home photographs and videos from your paragliding session.
There are two paragliding excursions offered here which you can be part of your places to visit in Nainital itinerary. The paragliding tours are primarily dependent on your budget and interest. Both promise a minimum flying time of seven minutes but this is majorly dependent on the weather and the wind speed. If you are lucky, paragliding sessions can last anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes.
If you have enough time in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary, you can also include a two-day visit to Naukuchiatal. Camping, trekking, hiking, paragliding, kayaking and boating are some of the activities offered here. A few of these activities can be booked on the spot while for others you will have to make prior bookings. Naukuchiatal is also home to numerous luxury resorts that are a delight for travellers who are looking to add comfort and leisure in their places to visit in Nainital itinerary.
Cost: A trip to Naukuchiatal in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary can cost you between Rs.1000 and Rs.4000 per day depending on the inclusions in your itinerary.
Governor’s House in Nainital is strikingly similar to the Castle of Scotland and is high on the list of places to visit in Nainital for history lovers. A Victorian Gothic structure, it has a huge garden, a swimming pool, 113 rooms and a lush golf course. The Governor’s House was built by F.W. Steven as the summer residence of the Governor of North East Province in 1899.
If you want to include Governor’s House in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary, you can also book a guided tour. The guided tour is quite enthralling and gives you information about the architecture and history of the tourist attraction. While most of the areas are open to the public, there are some rooms which have restricted access.
Cost: Including a trip to Governor’s House in your places to visit in Nainital itinerary will cost you between Rs.100 and Rs.150. If you want to include a visit to the Golf Course, it will cost you between Rs.450 and Rs.500.
Written by Kirat Sodhi. She is a proud mom of three cats and lives for lemon tea, a good book and spontaneous travel plans.
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