Pakistan is not your usual travel destination. Before I moved here for professional reasons I had never even consider visiting the country and didn’t know much about it!
However one year has passed by and I have learned so much about the culture and traditions that I have now a huge bucket list of places I want to see in Pakistan.
One of those places was Lahore, called by many the “heart of Pakistan” rich in history and culture with a lot of things I wanted to see!
Lahore is the second largest city in Pakistan with an estimated population of more than 11 million people making it extremely busy with crazy traffic all day long and crowds of people just gathering everywhere trying to make a living.
I planned to spend 2 full days in the city with the help of a tour guide and that’s what I recommend you to do for your first visit. It was enough time to see all the top places in Lahore and learn about the past history. Check out the top things to do in Lahore here.
We left on Thursday evening and drove from Islamabad to Lahore through the motorway which left us with Friday and Saturday all day. We came back on Sunday just after breakfast and I felt that was the best decision as we manage to avoid crowds in most places we seen and the drive felt quite relaxed too!
In this 2 day guide trip to Lahore I’m giving you as much information as I can to help you prepare yourself for your own trip: how to get there, what to expect, and things to do and see.
✎ ESSENTIAL INFORMATION BEFORE YOU GO
Before your visit to the city there are some things that are important if not detrimental to when you should go to Lahore.
① BEST TIME TO VISIT LAHORE
You can visit Lahore all year round but please consider the weather when planning. There will be some walking and most places to see are outside. During the summer months the temperatures can be really high and it will be unbearable to walk in certain hours of the day. Another factor to consider is the levels of pollution which are worse during the winter.
So the best months that are usually recommended to visit are from mid-February to the end of April and from mid-September to November.
I visited and the end of January with cold mornings but warm days and didn’t struggle with the pollution (maybe because I have been living in Pakistan for a year now?).
② HOW TO GET THERE
🚗 Car We drove all the way from Islamabad to Lahore on the motorway. It took us about 4h30 hours and it was an easy drive. For us it just made sense so we could take a lot of things we needed without any restrictions (suitcases, car seat for my toddler and travel cot for example).
✈ Plane A quick domestic flight of 1h from Islamabad to Lahore it’s a good option if you want to be in Lahore as quick as possible. Many airlines also fly directly from abroad to Lahore to Allama Iqbal Internationl Airport (LHE).
🚌 Bus A bus it’s another option to save a little bit of your budget. You can get the popular Daewoo Express that should connect most major cities to Lahore like Islamabad and Karachi.
③ WHERE TO STAY
There are many options for every budget. The city is really busy sightseeing will make you really tired. By the end of the day I really recommend you to stay somewhere with a good level of comfort.
Some good options in Lahore are the Pearl Continental Hotel, Avari Hotel, the Nishat Hotel Johar Town and the Luxus Grand Hotel.
④ HOW TO GET AROUND IN LAHORE
In a city with over 11 million people you can imagine how chaotic the traffic in the city can be. Driving can be really hard so I strongly advise you against it just to make your trip go smoothly and without stress.
So for my days sightseeing around Lahore we hired a car and a driver and that just made it so easy! There are literally no rules when it comes to traffic in Lahore: cars, rickshaws (two or three-wheeled passenger cart), people running, donkeys, cows, goats, horses, all in the street side-to-side, you have to see it to believe it!
If you’re on a budget you can also use services like Careem or Uber which are very popular in Lahore or even take a rickshaw ride if you’re feeling brave and adventurous.
TWO DAYS IN LAHORE: ITINERARY + THINGS TO DO
There are a lot of things you can see and do in Lahore; in fact some of the most famous places in the whole of Pakistan are located in the city. This two day itinerary covers some of those and a few others on the way from my first visit to Lahore.
⊵ DAY 1
We started early morning on the first day visiting the Lahore Fort or Shahi Qila, a fortress build during the Mughal era with beautiful gardens, stunning palaces, halls and mosques within its walls.
There is so much history within the fort and so many details that you should save at least 1h30 to wander around, especially if you have a tour guide like I did during my visit.
Inside the fort is the Sheesh Mahal also known as the Palace of Mirrors one of the most visited palaces in Lahore, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 16th century.
We then continued the visit to the Badshahi Mosque located west of the Lahore Fort. It’s the largest mosque from the Mughal era built by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1673 and the second-largest mosque in Pakistan.
From there we saw the Minar-e-Pakistan, a national monument where the Pakistan Resolution was passed on the 23rd March 1940 that led to the partition of India and Pakistan later in 1947.
We stopped for lunch at the Fort Food Street located between Fort Road and Roshnai Gate, offering Lahori cuisine and extraordinary views of the Badshahi Mosque. We had a tasty chicken handy for our main course with mouth-watering cheese naan at Haveli Restaurant that I 100% recommend for the food, atmosphere and rooftops views.
We relaxed a little bit on the street while having a coffee after lunch while my son had some time to play; it was amazing to see how welcoming people are with foreigners in Pakistan!
In the afternoon we drove to see the Shalimar Gardens built under the reign of the Emperor Shah Jahan in 1641 to represent perfect harmony with all elements of nature. It’s a beautiful place to see and it’s listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981.
The day ended with a long drive to the Wagah border to watch the flag lowering ceremony that happens every day. It’s quite the show, a ritual coordinated dance between Pakistan and India soldiers that will make a perfect end of a first day!
⊵ DAY 2
We started our second day with a visit to Jahangir’s Tomb built in the 17th century as a final place of rest of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir where we spend more than 1h walking around the beautiful gardens on site.
After that we were back to see the Lahore museum and learn a little bit more not only about the history of Lahore but also the history of Pakistan and its beginning.
After a quick lunch break and a lot of cheese naan it was time to experience a little bit of the real Lahore in the old city through the narrow streets of the different markets.
First stop was the beautiful Wazir Khan Mosque built in the 17th century under the reign of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the exact same Mughal Emperor who had the Taj Mahal built in Agra in India.
Then we continued to the Anarkali bazaar to see so many beautiful silk dresses, jewellery and all kinds of household items. I end up buying a few shalwar kameez for me which was much cheaper than what you would find in Islamabad and a little kid’s one for my son.
This is what I did in two full days in Lahore, you can adjust this itinerary to your needs and do less or more than what I did, Lahore is such a crazy city that you really have to see for yourself!
I didn’t try many places different restaurants because for dinner we were so tired that I was cooking at where we were staying so we only just had meals out for lunch. Next time in Lahore I want to check out Peeru’s Café and the restaurants in M M Alam Road which were recommended to me.
Have you visited or are you interested in visiting Lahore? Let’s talk about your experiences!
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