Kathmandu is particularly famous for its religious monuments. Various temples, monasteries, and stupas adorn the city’s landscape, particularly the Pashupatinath Temple and the Changu Narayan which are famous for their stunning, intricate religious artworks.
Cultural tours are among the list of top things to do in the city. One can take cultural tours to the various heritage sites such as the Kathmandu Hanuman Dhoka, Patan, Bhaktapur and the Buddhist stupas such as the Boudhanath and the Swayambhunath.
While in the city, one can visit the many museums like the Natural Art History Museum, the Taragoan Museum, the National Art Gallery, the Kaiser Library, the Nepali Art Council Gallery and many more. Kathmandu also has a Jazz festival known as Jazzmandu during October/November.
Do check it out if the festival is on, while on a visit to the city. For a memory to cherish life-long, take a hike to the various stunning natural trails and witness the sight of nature’s spectacular beauty.
Top 5 Reasons to Visit Kathmandu
1. A Staggering Array of Festivals
Many of Nepal’s most important festivals take place in Kathmandu, which hosts pilgrimages, harvest celebrations, and the Festival of Lights, an important Hindu festival. These events take place throughout the year and are not to be missed.
2. Adventure Around Every Corner
Kathmandu’s location under four mighty mountains – Shivapuri, Phulchoki, Nagarjun, and Chandragiri – makes it an ideal launching point for all sorts of adventures. From treks through the Kathmandu Valley, to bungee jumping, to trips to local villages, there’s much to explore.
3. A Rich History
Kathmandu is over 2,000 years old, and it’s easy to tell. Many of Nepal’s most important religious and historical sites are located in Kathmandu. While in town, be sure to visit the Narayanhiti Palace Museum to learn more about this heritage.
4. The Incredible Durbar Square
Renowned since ancient times, Durbar Square is filled with magnificent palaces and temples, as well as the Kasthamandap from which the city is named. Over 10 sites of interest can be found in the square, though some were heavily damaged in the 2015 earthquake.
5. Experience Nepalese Culture
Kathmandu is one of those rare places where it doesn’t matter what you’ve got on your itinerary – just experiencing the city and the living culture of the Nepalese is enough to fill up your days.
What to do in Kathmandu
1. Boudhanath Temple: A Colorful Cosmos
Boudhanath Temple, also known as Boudhanath Stupa, is a Buddhist temple and one of the largest stupas in the world, located in Kathmandu, Nepal. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the holiest Tibetan Buddhist pilgrimage sites outside of Tibet.
The Boudhanath Temple was built in the 14th century and has since become an important center of Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture in Kathmandu. The stupa features a large central dome surrounded by four smaller stupas at the corners, each with its own distinctive characteristics. The dome is adorned with the iconic “all-seeing eyes” of the Buddha, symbolizing his ability to see all things and his compassion for all beings.
Visitors to Boudhanath Temple can take part in a traditional kora (circumambulation) around the stupa, spinning prayer wheels and making offerings at the shrines. There are also many shops and restaurants in the area that offer traditional Tibetan goods and food, making Boudhanath a great place to immerse oneself in the local culture and experience the rich heritage of Tibetan Buddhism.
Whether you are a Buddhist pilgrim, a cultural traveler, or simply looking for a peaceful and spiritual place to visit, Boudhanath Temple is a must-see attraction in Kathmandu.
2. Durbar Square: A Magical, Mystical Square
Durbar Square is sure to feature on your visit to Kathmandu. The name means royal palace square and the square faces the Hanuman Dhoka Palace. This was the seat of the Nepalese royal family until the 19th century and was the setting for the coronation of Nepalese kings. Today, you can visit the state rooms, where you will find elaborate wooden carvings, decorative window frames and the Mahendra and King Tribhuwan museums.
To the south of the square you will encounter one of the strangest attractions in all of Nepal. The Kumari Chowk is a gilded ‘cage’ (actually a beautiful building) which is home to the Raj Kumari, a young girl regarded as the living embodiment of the Hindu goddess Durga.
3. Pashupatinath Temple: Experience Living History
Pashupatinath Temple is one of the four most important sites in Asia dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is said to date from around 500 AD and there may have been a site of worship as much as 500 years before that. It is the most extensive temple complex in all of Nepal, stretching along both banks of the Bagmati River.
The main temple is built in pagoda style and features a roof gilded in silver and intricate wood carvings. Unlike other World Heritage Sites, Pashupatinath is a working temple and you can watch the fascinating daily rituals of the monks when you visit.
4. Garden of Dreams Kathmandu: An oasis in the heart of Kathmandu
The Garden of Dreams is a beautiful and peaceful garden located in the heart of Kathmandu, Nepal. It was designed by an Austrian architect, Gustav Klutsis, in the early 20th century and was restored in the early 2000s. The garden covers an area of 6 acres and features a variety of plants, flowers, trees, and fountains, along with six beautifully designed pavilions.
The Garden of Dreams is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and well-maintained gardens in Nepal. Visitors can enjoy peaceful walks through the garden, relax in the pavilions, and admire the various species of plants and flowers that are grown there.
In addition to its stunning beauty, the Garden of Dreams is also a cultural and historical landmark, and is a popular venue for concerts, events, and exhibitions. Whether you are looking for a peaceful escape from the bustling city or a place to admire the beauty of nature, the Garden of Dreams is a must-visit attraction in Kathmandu.
5. Narayanhity Palace: An American architect and Nepalese Traditions
The Narayanhity Palace was the principal residence of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Nepal until the 19th century. It housed state occasions with lavish hospitality and includes a huge complex of buildings, courtyards and gardens.
The current palace is not as old as you might think; it was built in 1970 by the American architect Benjamin Polk. After the 2006 revolution, the palace was converted into a museum. It holds a fantastic collection, including the fabulous crown jewels of Nepal.
You can also admire the beauty of the Reception Hall and Throne Room, with its 48-foot chandelier.
6. Swayambhunath Temple: A Stunning Stupa from the Lake
The Swayambhunath Temple sits atop a hill around two miles west of Kathmandu. It is the oldest Buddhist temple in Nepal and one of the most holy. Legend says the temple appeared spontaneously when the valley emerged from a lake 2,000 years ago. The temple complex includes lots of shrines, statues and countless prayer wheels.
Some highlights are the huge gold Vajra, or thunderbolt, on the east side and the Sleeping Buddha on the west. It is still a working temple and is one of the best places in Nepal to see religious ceremonies.
Best time to visit Kathmandu
The best time to visit Kathmandu, Nepal depends on what you’re looking to experience and enjoy during your visit.
Autumn (September to November) is generally considered the best time to visit Kathmandu as the weather is pleasant and clear with comfortable temperatures, making it ideal for sightseeing and outdoor activities. This is also the time when the annual Dashain and Tihar festivals are celebrated, adding to the festive atmosphere of the city.
Spring (March to May) is also a good time to visit as the weather is warm and sunny, with the flowers in full bloom and the city comes alive with the festival of Holi.
Winter (December to February) can be quite chilly in Kathmandu, but it is still possible to enjoy sightseeing and other activities. This is also a good time to visit if you are interested in experiencing the local winter festivals.
Summer (June to August) is the monsoon season in Kathmandu, with heavy rains and potential flooding, making it a less ideal time to visit. However, if you are interested in seeing the city during the monsoon season, you may find that it is less crowded and that there are fewer tourists, which can be an advantage for some travelers.
Keep in mind that weather conditions in Kathmandu can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to check the forecast and plan accordingly.