Why go to Islamabad?
Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, is quite a vibrant, modern city in the north of the country, with a population of around 800,000 and is the seat of Pakistan's government. More relaxing than many capital cities, Islamabad has a laid back atmosphere and its many scholarly institutions have made it an attraction for travellers with an interest in history and education. However, it has a lively nightlife and great shopping opportunities, including the Jinnah Supermarket, which is not one shop but an area containing a great variety of stores, including clothes, book and souvenir retailers.
One of the more popular attractions in Islamabad is the stunning Faisal Mosque, Pakistan's largest and, arguably, it’s most striking; as a working mosque, it's important to observe all necessary rules regarding dress and behaviour. Other attractions include the Lok Virsa and Monument museums and the park surrounding the Rawal Lake, which is a great place for a family outing.
How far is the airport from city centre and which airlines fly to Islamabad from UK?
The Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad's adjoining city of Rawalpindi, which is less than seven miles away as the crow flies, is the third largest airport in Pakistan. Most large UK airports provide flights to Islamabad, including London's Gatwick and Heathrow airports - from which the journey takes between seven and eight hours - as well as Birmingham, Manchester, Belfast, Newcastle and Glasgow. Airlines providing travel to Islamabad include Emirates, Etihad and Virgin Atlantic.
How to get to city centre from the airport?
The main form of transport from the airport into the city is by taxi, as several companies have manned desks at the airport, although some local hotels provide shuttle services for passengers heading to their establishments. The journey takes approximately thirty minutes.
What are the visa requirements for British and other nationals?
It usually takes five days to get a visa for travel into Pakistan if you are a British citizen, they can be obtained via the Pakistan High Commission in London. At the time a visa is issued, the applicant's passport must have at least six months remaining validity. The same visa rules apply to non-European travellers.
How to get around the city?
Public transport is available in the city, but is often crowded and can be rather slow, although it is very cheap. For a more reliable and roomier method of transport, taxis are reasonably priced and convenient or visitors can hire cars quite easily and follow the many road signs to navigate the area. An interesting way to see the sights is from the back of one of the local rickshaws, which may be motorised or pedal-powered.
What’s the best time to visit Islamabad?
As well as the temperature, tourists need to consider the monsoon season; this runs from July through to late September, causing enormous amounts of rainfall. During March and April, the rainfall levels are very low, yet the temperatures are pleasantly warm, at around 25 - 30°C, conditions are similar during October and November, making these periods the most suited to British tastes.