Shimla Tourism and Travel Guide

If there were a list of some of the most sought after tourist destinations in India, Shimla tourism would undoubtedly be grouped at the top, just like its geographical location on the map of India. Sitting peacefully at an altitude of 2,200 metres above sea level, over a 12 km-long ridge, Shimla is a hot favourite for hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit this picturesque hill station in the North India every year. The erstwhile summer capital of India during the British era, Shimla is now the capital of Himachal Pradesh. Cool climate, panoramic views of imposing yet beautiful lush green hills, eye-catching hotels, colonial-era architecture, and plenty of mouth-watering cuisines are some of the many reasons why Shimla tourism continues to woo visitors from not just India but all over the world. Also famously known as ‘the queen of hills’, Shimla has long been one of the most visited hill stations in India. And it’s not just the combination of spectacular hills and awesome climate that make Shimla tourism such a desirable option for travellers, but other tangible and intangible things of beauty and joy as well, that never fail to enchant tourists, especially the ones visiting the hill station for the first time. The historical monuments, the trafficless winding lanes where walking feels more than just pleasant, the aroma of fresh dishes that are being prepared at the local restaurants, the bustling local markets, the dense mist that plays hide and seek with you , and welcoming locals.– Shimla tourism sees to it all. Being the capital of Himachal Pradesh and one of the best hill stations in India, Shimla tourism has made sure of better connectivity between the hill station and other nearby cities by road, rail, and airways. ISBT Tutikandi is the main bus stand in Shimla. The airport in Jubbarhatti, about 20 km from the ISBT Tutikandi, is the nearest airport to Shimla. Shimla has a railway station of its own which is about 4 km from the bus stand. However, road transport remains the most common way of travelling to and from Shimla as buses and taxis are very easily available for tourists. Shimla tourism boasts of a number of famous tourist attractions and interesting things to do. The toy train Shimla–Kalka journey, the Mall Road, the Ridge, Lakkar Bazaar, Jakhu Temple, Kali Bari Temple, the Clock Tower, the Church at the Mall Road, the more-than-a-century old Gaiety Theatre, and the Scottish Viceregal Lodge are some of the many popular places to visit in Shimla. Those who wish to get more out of Shimla tourism can explore some of the best places to visit near Shimla including Kufri, Naldehra, and Narkanda which are very popular, especially amongst the adventure and peace lovers. So whether you’re looking for a romantic holiday in the hills, a family tour, or a weekend outing in Himachal with friends, a Shimla trip is the best choice.
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Best Time to Visit Shimla

The hills of Shimla pack in rare natural majesty, thanks to the towering hills that remain covered with dense forests of oak, deodar, and pine which are home to a wide variety of exotic flora and fauna. The typical Shimla weather conditions, which usually remain cool and pleasant for most of the time, just add more to the beauty and charm of Shimla tourism. But if you want to make the best out of your trip then you should know about the best time to visit Shimla. And although Shimla is a year-round destination, there still are seasons when the town is either full of tourists or bears a deserted look. Let’s delve into the details.

Peak season 1: 

During summers, which extend from early May to mid-July, daytime Shimla temperatures hover between 22 - 27 °C. This means that the weather remains pleasant for outdoor activities during the day. And that’s why this period is considered as the best season to visit Shimla. With the most number of tourists arriving during summer months, it is considered as the peak season for tourists in Shimla. However, the nights are moderately cooler and it is recommended that  the tourists visiting Shimla during this time of the year pack light woollens.

Off season:

Being a hill station, Shimla receives huge amount of rainfall during monsoons, which start mid-July and extend till late September. Incessant rainfall leads to frequent landslides and that’s why most tourists do not travel to Shimla during this season. No surprise that this is a lean period for Shimla tourism. However, this can be a great time to witness the beauty of Shimla during Monsoon at  pocket-friendly budget rates as some of the best hotels in Shimla are available at very low prices. 

Shoulder season: 

After the Monsoon is over, Shimla tourism is welcomed by the spectacular shades of autumn that adorn this already beautiful hill town in Himachal. This is the time when it’s neither too crowded nor absolutely deserted. Many tourists prefer to take advantage of this short shoulder season to explore Shimla tourist places which starts by around last week of September and lasts till the end of November. Many restaurants and budget hotels in Shimla offer lucrative deals during this season which can be very inviting for budget travellers wanting to experience Shimla tourism.

Peak season 2:

Not just during the summer, the demand for Shimla tourism shoots up  even during the winter. And why not? After all, that’s the time when one can best experience snowfall in Shimla! Everything is draped in the white of snow and it makes for the perfect place to be for the people who love snowfall. Honeymooners and families flock in large numbers to experience Shimla tourism during winter, despite the harsh cold. For adventurers, resort towns like Kufri and Narkanda are some of the best tourist places near Shimla in winters, for they offer skiing, skating, and other winter sports.

 

How To Reach Shimla

As it happens, Shimla tourism is one of the most sought after holidaying experiences for tourists in India. Quite necessarily, the hill station is very well connected to nearby towns and cities by all modes of transportair, rail, and road. So, getting  to this hill station that you have to worry the least about.

By air:

If you wish to travel by air, the domestic airport located in Jubbarhatti is the nearest airport to Shimla at approximately 20 km. Frequent flights to Shimla are available from the airports in the nearby cities of Chandigarh and Delhi.

By rail:

Even though Shimla is located at an altitude of around 2,200 metres, there is a railway station right in the heart of this hill town. Located at 2,075 metres, Shimla railway station is  part of the 96km-long UNESCO World Heritage Kalka-Shimla rail line. It serves the purpose well for those who prefer to travel by train. Also, the toy train between Kalka and Shimla is a great way of beginning your Shimla tour. One can reach Kalka Junction, which is the nearest broad gauge railway station connected to multiple major cities of India via rail, and then board the Kalka-Shimla toy train from there. 

By road:

Even if you have never experienced Shimla tourism  before, you might have a fair idea of its popularity by now. In order to ensure better connectivity, the hill station is well connected by roads to almost all nearby cities and towns. Shimla is around 260 km from Delhi and 110 km from Chandigarh. State-run and private buses of all classes are easily available from Chandigarh, Delhi, Ambala, Amritsar, and various other cities. One can also avail the  more luxurious option of travelling to Shimla by taxis, many of which are available online as well.



Top Places To See In Shimla


Mall Road

Located in the heart of Shimla, one level below Shimla Ridge, the Mall Road is one of the popular attractions of Shimla tourism. It is as much a popular hangout site for tourists as it is for the locals. Being the main street of the capital city of Himachal Pradesh,  Mall Road brims with number of cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and other famous historical structures that add to the charm of Shimla tourism. If you are in Shimla and planning to take a leisurely walk down the Mall Road, make sure you visit Kali Bari Temple, Town Hall,  Gaiety Theatre, and Scandal Point as they make for some of the best of Shimla tourist places. During winters, the Mall Road is thronged  by honeymooners and families who love to witness the beauty of this site when covered in snow. No Shimla travel guide is complete without the inclusion of Mall Road.

Shimla Ridge

Sitting one level above the Mall Road, Shimla Ridge is a large open area surrounded by picture-perfect views of the hill station. It is arguably one of the top tourist attractions of Shimla tourism. This is where most of the cultural activities and celebrations take place in Shimla. Usually misty in summers and draped in snow during winters, the ridge is also home to the iconic Christ Church which is more than 150 years old. Adorned by neon lights of cafes, restaurants, and international stores, Shimla Ridge is definitely a must visit for every tourist who wishes to get the best out of their Shimla tour.

Jakhu Temple

Situated at a distance of around 5 km from the Mall Road in Shimla, Jakhu Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman and is another major attraction of Shimla tourism. It is home to the 108-feet-tall statue of Lord Hanuman built atop the highest peak of Shimla at 2,455 metres. Apart from being a major religious attraction of Shimla tourism, Jakhu Temple is also known to offer sweeping views of Shimla and is quite popular amongst nature lovers and peace seekers. Interestingly, the temple is also home to thousands of monkeys that climb down from the surrounding pine and deodar trees. You can either trek uphill or take a taxi to visit this temple.

Viceregal Lodge:

Located in the observatory hills of Shimla, Viceregal Lodge, also known as Rashtrapati Niwas, is a historic building and one of the best places to visit in Shimla. It was built in 1888 by an architect of British origin named Henry Irwin and was later used as the residence of the British Viceroy of India. It is one of many  iconic buildings that Shimla tourism is known for. The lush green lawns and its green houses are now being used by Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla.

Rothney Castle:

Rothney Castle is another colonial-era building that sits quite peacefully on a rather precarious slope of Jakhu Hill in Shimla. Once the home to Alllan Octavian Hume, the British-era civil servant and the founder of the Congress, Rothney Castle is now a heritage monument and a major attraction for people taking a Shimla tour. The castle is surrounded with natural vegetation offering stunning views of the hills and so is also a popular site amongst photography enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Chadwick Falls

If you are the one who is ready to go beyond the popular attractions of Shimla, Chadwick Falls in Glen Forest, around seven kilometres from Summer Hill Chowk, Shimla is one of the most beautiful and lesser known attractions that Shimla tourism has to offer. While the waterfall itself may not be as big as many others in Himachal, the trail that leads up to it is a rare example of serene and intact natural beauty of Shimla tourism. It is best viewed during monsoons when the flow is strongest. Once you reach here, just sit back on the benches and take in the gifts of nature.

Kufri

Just around 20 km from Shimla, Kufri is yet another resort destination of Shimla tourism that allows travelers to spend some time away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It only takes about 40 minutes to reach Kufri and the drive is absolutely stunning. You can take a day excursion to Kufri and visit its famous attractions which include Himalayan Nature Park, Indira Tourist Park, Kufri Zoo, and more. In winters, Kufri witnesses heavy snowfall, making it the best place for winter sport lovers.

Annandale:

Made famous by its lush green golf course and race course, Annandale is another British-era wonder under Shimla tourism that now serves as a major tourist attraction for tourists. . Located about four kilometres from Shimla, Annandale sits cosy in the valley of Kaithu village. With towering peaks overlooking the small hamlet, Annandale resembles a village straight out of paradise. If you wish to get some offbeat experience from Shimla tourism, Annandale is a must visit

Summer Hill

Do you love the idea of taking a walk along the naturally adorned trails of Shimla? If yes, then Summer Hill is one of the best places to visit in Shimla for you. This is a small hill that  offers unparalleled views of the bewitching natural beauty that Shimla tourism is blessed with. Only if you spend a few hours there doing nothing would you experience a sense of belonging towards Mother Nature. 

Shogi

Approximately 15 km from Shimla, Shogi is a quaint hamlet that is known for its incredible serenity, peaceful environs, and picturesque natural beauty. If you love camping in the hills and enjoy gazing at the stars, Shogi is the best Shimla tourism can offer. 

Mashobra:

Are you a honeymooner who thinks Shimla is going to be a bit too crowded for your post-wedding holiday? Well, Shimla tourism has Mashobra,a resort town situated around 12 km from the main city, for a romantic holiday that promises to offer you all the privacy and peace you need.. No wonder it is regarded as an idyllic place to enjoy a romantic holiday while exploring the best of Shimla tourism. Apart from the couples, Mashobra is also visited by families to explore its famous attractions including the Mahasu Devta Temple, the official retreat residence of the President of India, and Tattapani hot springs.

Lakkar Bazaar:

Quite close to the famous Indira Gandhi Medical College, Lakkar Bazaar is a popular market in Shimla and one of the major highlights of Shimla tourism. The iconic local market is home to a number of shops selling wooden handicrafts. You can also enjoy roller skating in Lakkar Bazaar.

Narkanda:

About 65 km from Shimla, Narkanda is a small and peaceful town nestled in a fir forest at an elevation of around 2,700 metres above sea level. It is one of the most beautiful places near Shimla. Come  winters and Narkanda turns into a popular destination for ski lovers. Even if you are visiting during summers, the natural beauty and cosy accommodations promise an equally exhilarating staycation.

Activities And Things To Do In Shimla


Shopping at the Ridge

Lined with a number of shops selling traditional handicrafts, Shimla Ridge is a popular shopping site. Few places in Shimla tourism offer better shopping experience than Shimla Ridge. Towards the east of the ridge lies the famous Lakkar Bazaar where you can go shopping for wooden handicrafts and other items of home decor.

Leisure stroll at Mall Road

Mall Road is one place under Shimla tourism that no one likes to miss. And why would anyone miss taking a walk down the Mall Road, for the street is lined with several streetside stalls and shops that offer a wide range of culinary and shopping experiences. Whether you are a fan of local food, continental cuisines, junk jewellery, or funky readymade apparels, a walk down the Mall Road is one of the best things to do in Shimla. Besides, it also offers you stunning views of the entire valley, especially the sunset from a vantage point there. If you are a photography enthusiast, you can get some great shots, all thanks to Shimla tourism.

Jakhu Ropeway Shimla

Enjoy the Jakhu ropeway that takes you from a building on Shimla Ridge to Jakhu Hill across the deep valley and take in the wondrous natural beauty of Shimla that you won’t be able to witness otherwise. We can’t think of a better seat in the city to enjoy scenic views of Shimla tourism. Can you?

Hiking and Trekking

Are you an adventurer who loves hiking and trekking whenever you go out holidaying? Well, don’t be surprised if we tell you that Shimla tourism has enough such activities on offer. So whether it’s a fun trek to Jakhu Hill, Kamna Devi temple atop Prospect Hill, the Chadwick Falls, or the slightly asking trail of Tara Devi Temple complex, Shimla tourism will definitely satiate the adventurer in you.

Kalka-Shimla toy train

Nothing can beat the experience of taking a Kalka - Shimla toy train ride, especially in winter, when everything is covered in snow. The journey of 96 km takes you across more than 800 bridges and through 102 tunnels, offering mesmerising views outside the window. This journey itself is like holidaying while travelling; something you can expect only from Shimla tourism. Another thing that shutterbugs wouldn’t want to miss.

Skiing in Narkanda

Apart from the variety of wildlife and natural beauty in Narkanda, it is also famous as a popular ski resort. So if you choose to experience Shimla tourism in winter, don’t miss out on skiing in one of India’s oldest skiing destinations.

Ice skating in Kufri

Not many places near Shimla offer experiences as adventurous and exciting as the ones offered by Kufri. Apart from hiking and horse riding, the beautiful town of Kufri offers awesome ice skating and heli skiing experience during winter.

 

Cuisine & Best Places to Eat In Shimla


Picturesque views, the chill in the air, and piping-hot, flavorful food just makes for a great holiday experience, doesn't it? And that’s exactly what Shimla tourism has on offer for all the visitors. Known majorly for the awe-inspiring scenic beauty, Shimla is equally good at sweeping you off your feet with its toothsome local food and beverages. From decades-old roadside food stalls to modern multi-cuisine restaurants, Shimla tourism has everything for all kinds of travellers who have a special love for food. Though the list of delicious local foods in Shimla is too long, here we are with some of the must-try local dishes in Shimla:

Dhaam

If you ask us to name the one thing that everyone in Himachal would love to have, it would be dhaam. It’s a proper meal, usually served during local functions, comprising various types of curries, vegetables, and white rice. All the dishes are cooked in huge utensils made of brass, locally known as charoti and served on leaf plates called pattlu. No matter how hungry you are, one course of dhaam is enough to satiate your hunger pangs. And guess what, the aftertaste is even better!

Thukpa

This Tibetan dish is quite famous in Shimla and other parts of Himachal. Thukpa is mainly thick soup mixed with chunks of meat, some noodles, various kinds of vegetables and spices. It’s a must have, especially if you are experiencing Shimla tourism during the winter months, for it is known to provide the much-needed heat during cold.

Babru

Do you know what kachoris taste like? Well, babru is a Himachali version of kachori. Babru is prepared by stuffing black gram paste within kneaded dough patties, which are rolled and then deep fried before being served hot with chutney.

Dim sum

Well, how can we not have mention dim sums (aka momos) when it comes to best foods in Shimla. This tourist-friendly hill station has an ample number of eateries, big and small, that offer some of the most sumptuous dim sums you can have in Himachal. Dim sums are  thoroughly steamed stuffings of vegetables or meat wrapped in dough covering, served hot with mayonnaise and other kinds of sauces.

Chana Madra

Chana madra is yet another popular dish of Shimla tourism which is served at almost all cultural festivals and major occasions. It's white or black chickpeas mixed with slightly viscous yoghurt based gravy, served with white rice or white bread. If you are someone who prefers staying at homestays over hotels, chana madra is one thing you request your host for.

 

Best Places to Eat in Shimla:

Krishna Bakers, Mall Road

Indian, Tibetan, Chinese

₹200-500 for two

Indian Coffee House, Mall Road

Indian, Beverages

₹500-700 for two

Honey Hut Cafe, Mall Road

Honey products

₹200 for two

Goofa Ashiana

Indian, Chinese Continental

₹400-600 for two

Cafe Sol, Mall Road

Continental, Indian

₹800-1,000 for two

Auntie’s Kitchen, Middle Bazaar

Tibetan, Indian, Chinese

₹200-300

Typical Costs in Shimla

For Budget Travellers: ₹500 - 800

  • Food in local cafes and street eateries: ₹150
  • Public Transport in buses and auto rickshaws: ₹15 - 80
  • Sightseeing: ₹10 - 50.

For Mid-range Travellers: ₹1,200 - 3,000 a day

  • Accommodation in mid-range hotels and resorts: ₹800 - 1,000
  • Food in mid-range cafes and restaurants: ₹250 - 500
  • Local transport in local taxis or car rentals: ₹200 - 400
  • Treks and Hiking packages: ₹1,000 and upwards.

For Luxury Travellers: ₹4,000 and upwards

  • Accommodation in 4 or 5star hotels: ₹3,500 and upwards
  • Food in upscale restaurants and bars: ₹700 and upwards
  • Local transport in private taxis: ₹2,000 and upwards
  • Guided tours: ₹1,500 and upwards.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the best way to reach Shimla?
The best way to reach Shimla is by road, even though Shimla tourism has an airport around 19 km. The nearest railway station to Shimla is 4 km from ISBT Shimla. The reason is the views that are on offer once you hit the road leading to Shimla.

When does it snow in Shimla?
Snowfall in Shimla usually starts in December and lasts till the month of February.

How many days are required to cover all nearby destinations during a Shimla trip?
Ideally, you need 3-4 days to get the best experience of Shimla tourism.

When is the best time to travel to Shimla with families with kids?
Shimla tours can be best enjoyed during summer with family and kids as the weather remains pleasant and great for outdoor activities.
 

Is public transport available in and around Shimla?
Shimla tourism boasts of great public transport. The town is well connected by road, rail, and air with most nearby cities of India. Intra-city transport is also great with easy availability of buses and cabs. However, you shouldn’t rely on public transport at night and rather hire a taxi if need be.

How’s the Shimla weather in winters?
The most important thing about the climate of Shimla is that winters are very cold. During winters, Shimla temperature can drop down to approximately -5 °C.

Are there any direct trains from Delhi to Shimla?
There is no direct train from Delhi to Shimla. However, you may board an express train from Delhi to Kalka and then board another train to travel from Kalka to Shimla.

Does Shimla tourism offer easy availability of hotels and homestay options?
There are ample homestay options offered by Shimla tourism at very affordable prices. If you are a luxury traveller, you can easily get accommodation in  top hotels in Shimla.

What are the best places to stay in Shimla?
Snow Valley resorts, The Oberoi Cecil, Silicon Inn, Honeymoon Inn, and Shimla Havens Resort are some of the best hotels and resorts in Shimla that offer great hospitality and stay.

What are the must pack items while travelling to Shimla during different seasons?
Though it completely depends upon what kind of traveller you are and what you wish to experience, but here are a few important items that can help you avoid any hassles during your Shimla tour:

  1. Light woollens
  2. Umbrella/raincoat
  3. Gloves
  4. Basic first aid
  5. Adequate cash

Also, it’s advisable that you only drink packaged drinking water, especially while having meals at local food stalls in Shimla.

How much cash should a solo traveller carry for a week-long holidaying experience of Shimla tourism?
Shimla tourism has quite a few ATMs spread across the city and you don’t need to  carry much cash. Also, it completely depends upon the kind of experience you want to have in Shimla. However, here’s the tentative estimate for 4-night 5-day Shimla tour: 

If you’re a budget traveller, carry around ₹4,000 - 5,000 in cash

If you’re a mid-range traveller, carry around ₹6,000 - 7,000 in cash

If you’re a luxury traveller, carry around ₹9,000 - 12,000 in cash

Is it possible to make cashless transactions in Shimla for shopping?
Yes, most restaurants and shops accept debit/credit cards and other modes of cashless transactions in Shimla as long as you’re not in areas where internet service is not available.

What should I buy in Shimla?
When it comes to shopping, Shimla tourism promises best experiences to visitors. In Lakkar Bazaar, you can go shopping for a diverse range of artefacts including pashmina shawls, traditional woollens, Himachali topis, wooden handicrafts, Chinese shoes, mats and more.

Will I get mobile connectivity in Shimla?
Mobile connectivity is Shimla is just as fine as in any other city, except for a few areas that are either higher up the hills, or surrounded by dense forests.

Are there any easy treks for family in Shimla tourism?
The trail to Jakhu Temple, Chadwick Falls, and Tara Devi Temple are some of the easiest treks on offer for families travelling to Shimla.