Hill Stations

Top 20 Things to See and Do in Nainital

Top 20 Things to See and Do in Nainital
Last Updated: November 29, 2020

There is no place like home… Agree?? I mean no matter where you go and where you live, the moment you reach home you experience a queer peacefulness… isn’t it? AND NOOO I am in no way trying to justify myself for being Nainital’s advocate here, nonetheless it is my hometown and I admit I love it more than I love myself but I swear by all my LBDs I will write the TRUTH and nothing but the truth! Ok, enough of the melodrama, sometimes I get really carried away to the point that I actually don’t believe myself! Let’s get back to the real thing now…

The Formal Introduction AND Here It Goes…

The Lake City, Nainital is situated in lap of Uttarakhand and it vies with several hilly destinations to secure a place in the list of top 10 hill stations in India. A quiet little valley at an elevation of about 2084m (According to Kumaon Vikas Mandal Nigam) with a centrally located lake, it is also one of the most visited hill stations in North India. During the summer break many tourists visits here, since the trend is changing, a lot of people take a weekend tour to Nainital as well. Adding further to its glory, the city is also one of the favourite destinations for honeymooners and couples.

Now the Informal Introduction AND Here How This One Goes…


Morning’s first sunray that peeps in from your room’s window, offers warmth and with it the beckons a good start of the day. As you pour yourself coffee and sip on it while your eyes gaze at the sprawling and sparkling lake with couple of boats sailing over it surrounded by yet to be brightened mountains; makes you feel that you are witnessing one of the paintings of Claude Monet. As per my observation most of the tourists come to Nainital to regain the lost peace of mind and the benevolent city never ever fails to provide just that! Since it is a popular hill station, it remains crowded and once you get out of your hotel you may feel that you have entered funfair (that too quiet a lively one!). The best things to do in Nainital would be to shop, eat and sit beside the Lake! However, you have spent your hard earned money on this trip and it would be really rude if I ask you to stick merely to a short list of things to do. Apparently, there is so much that one can do in Nainital and without further ado I will discuss these activities with you:

Take a Lake Tour


OBVIO! If you are in Nainital, you have to go and see the lakes situated around the city. Naukuchiatal (Lake with 9 corners), Bhimtal (with the small island in the middle of the lake) and Sattal (there are 7 lakes in this area), Khurpatal (the hoof-shaped lake) are must see places in Nainital. Each lake is situated at a short distance from each other, thus it merely takes half a day to see all of these. You can decide to stop for lunch at any of these lakes as most of lakesides are replete with number of small and big eating joints except for few lakes in Sattal. To talk about Sattal, this place is a loner (except for Government Lake, which has commercialized). Sattal is in fact one place where fishing is allowed; it is a perfect getaway for those who would like to spend some time in utmost peace and amidst surreal nature. Few isolated lakes here would be Panna Lake, Sita Tal and Ram Tal. One must see the island aquarium in Bhimtal that has variety of fishes.

Eat at Chandani Chowk: Savour the Taste of Delhi on Nainital Budget


NO, it is not one of those busy bazaar area as that of Chandni Chowk in Delhi, this place is quiet a fascinating restaurant on the Mall Road of Nainital. The architecture and the interior have been inspired from Chandani Chowk to beguile tourists and guess what? It actually does the trick for this restaurant. Tourists barge in seeing something totally out of the box and exit with a belly full of delicious food. The restaurant serves mostly Punjabi cuisine along with the famous Dilli ki Chaat. The best part of the restaurant is the moving mannequins that apparently looks like as if cooking different items. The interior is also a scene depicted of a busy street of Chandani Chowk in Delhi with a life size traffic police signaling vehicles to wait.

Himalaya View from Snow View: Awe at Gleaming Himalayan Mountain Range


Take a cable car/ropeway to reach one of the most popular tourist attractions in Nainital called Snow View. The place is sort of miniature fun park, which is absolutely perfect for some family enjoyment. MAY THE WEATHER BE WITH YOU, if you are a nature lover, on a clear sky day you shall be able to see the part of farfetched snow-clad Himalayan mountain range. The view is simply outstanding and the experience can be exhilarating. There are number of other activities that you can indulge and my personal would be getting a picture done with a snake/python around the neck (CRAZY RIGHT! But it is worth experiencing! BLINK)

Visit the Nainital Zoo: Respond to the Original Nature’s Call


Yeah, I know, Zoo were actually one of those places that we enjoyed going to while we were kids BUT who doesn’t want relive those childhood days…You’re right! I should work more on my convincing skills…LOL. It is actually a must visit place in Nainital and I believe have been reckoned as amongst the most well-maintained zoo in India. I am sure you will agree with me once you visit this lovely place. Besides the number of animals and birds species that you can spot here, you will go WOW over the view of the city from here.

Cave Garden: Give Adventure a Way


This place will give you the feeling of being in the world of TEMPLE RUN, well, except for the eagle-faced beast running after you. One will like visiting Eco Cave Garden in Nainital for small time adventure and fun. It is a group of interconnected natural caves, which can be crawled in. There are about six caves that you can choose from; the easiest being the Tiger Cave and the most difficult is Bat Cave in which one literally has to crawl. The place has been maintained well by KMVN who has fairly decorated the place with life size effigies of rural men and women and small yet beautiful park for the visitors to relax. It is all together a new experience for the tourists (Unless you have tried the similar thing somewhere else as well) and is amongst the best places for some great time in Nainital.

Learn Rock Climbing


Not that far from Cave Garden is the Barapathar or Bara Pathar, behind which is a rock climbing spot. No, amateur climbers are not welcome here, you have to take at least a 7 days course in which you can learn abseiling, bouldering, climbing, scrambling and river crossing. Now, physical agility and your duration is the main question here, if you are in the city for a long time and you are looking for something really enthralling to do, rock climbing is the best thing to do in Nainital. Being the native of Nainital, I can honestly tell you that climbing up a mountain and reaching the top is the best feeling EVERRR!

Shop at Tibetan Market


Ladies! I know you are smiling… Here is a thing SMILE, BARGAIN, SMILE AGAIN, SAY THANK YOU and REPEAT!! Bargain is the key and the riches of trendy clothes shall be bestowed upon you at the Tibetan Market in Nainital. The market is situated at the far end of the Flatts forming an L-shape shopping paradise. Men do not be disheartened, although the collection is limited for men wear, one might end up buying some good t-shirts and jackets.

Eat at Sonam’s


Not eating at Sonam is a SIN! While you squeeze yourself in the narrow alley of Tibetan and let your sweat and blood flow to find the favourite pair of skirt or trousers in the congested market; your nose smell something that eventually makes your stomach gurgle violently. AND you cannot help move briskly towards the far end of the market to grab a plate of hot steaming momos. The first bite of this lipsmacking momos will prove that it was worth stealing out time from shopping. Sonam is a small eating joint in Nainital that has a huge fan following. Momos are the must try here along with Dry and Soup Thupka.

Get a Desi Head Massage

Forget about the hi-fi health and fitness spas, it’s to get a typical Desi head massage in Nainital! After all that loitering around, you spending too much on your wife’s and kids shopping in the Tibetan Market, you have to take one of these hillbilly-style massage. You may not have to lookout for these yokels much as they can be found sitting on the side of the Upper Mall Road with a Head Massage signboard. For merely Rs 50 to Rs 100 you can get a good deal of refreshing massage that guarantees to keep you feel alive all through the trip! TRY IT… You can THANK ME later.

Row Row Row Your Boat


Boating is definitely a must thing to do in Nainital. Why do you think God has created this big, beautiful lake right in the middle of the city after all?? Of course for boating! Seriously, boating in Nainital is one of the best experiences that one gets in this gorgeous city. You can choose rowing boats or the paddle boats here and sail for at least an hour amidst serene beauty.

Skating at Zoomland

A bit under-maintain now, this place used be a happening place where young boys and girls eyed each other along with learning skating… I have seen lot of love stories take shape here. Gone are those GOLDEN DAYS. However, it is still open for kids to learn skating from professional skaters. Even you can take a pair of skates here and hit the skating ring and skate while some great music is played in the background. AHH… I feel like going back home now!

Governor’s House: Witness the Buckingham Palace in India


The Brits were homesick I guess and therefore they tried to build things that could remind them of their homeland. The Governor House in Nainital is precisely the example of their love for their country. This building resembles a lot to the majestic Buckingham Palace in London and thus becomes one of the prime attractions in Nainital. Built in 1900 in Gothic-style of architecture, this majestic building still maintains its charm and now has an 18-hole golf course as well. Who wants to go to London, when we have our own version of Buckingham Palace?

Trek to China Peak


Also known as Naina Peak or Cheena Peak, this is the highest point of Nainital and that is why it has always been the major tourist attraction. Today, many people trek to China Peak in order to avail themselves an extra dose of adventure. The trek is easy one, where you will pass through thick Deodar, Cypress and Pine forest. The rhododendron-strewn path is one delight for the trekkers to China Peak. The view from the trail and the top is simply fantastic; I guess the joy of reaching the top makes the panorama even more gorgeous. So, if you are in Nainital you must trek to Naina Peak for some adrenalin rush.

Capture the Beauty of St. John’s Church


This 1844 is one of the best places to visit in Nainital. Tucked in an isolated hill in Mallital, this Gothic-style Church stands aloof of all the noise and city bustling. Although there is a school situated just next to it, one will still find this place utterly peaceful. The architecture is beautiful and being a loner it makes for some gorgeous pictures. It is absolutely a must visit if you are in Nainital!

Watch Sun Disappear at Hanuman Garhi


Most of the hill stations offer a spectacular view of the sunset, where the sun slowly descent towards the hills and then simply hides behind the massive mountain. Whereas, in Nainital watching the sunset has a different feel; the sun here doesn’t hide behind the mountains it simply DISAPPEARS, it does! At Hanumangarhi, which is 3kms from Nainital City, you can watch the sunset on the horizon and believe me it is one of the most enchanting views that one can apparently catch in Nainital. There is a well maintained park and a Hanuman Temple that you can visit as well. Make sure you reach the place at least an hour before sunset.

Kilbury and Pangot


Yes, we understand sometimes is all you need a lazy holiday where you can lie on your back and watch the clouds float and Kilbury and Pangot are the best places around Nainital to do so. Far from the city’s bustles these two hideouts let you have your way. They are even great places to go for bird watching in Nainital, OF COURSE if you are interested. Where Kilbury is the home to about 500 species of birds, Pangot on the other hand is a heart shape hamlet offering an exhilarating escape from the usual. Now, this small place is dotted with many resorts that guarantee a pleasant stay amidst ever so surreal nature.

Attend Sharad Utsav


I know, this is a seasonal option, since October is just around the corner and in fact one of the most preferred time of the year for tourists (after May and June), you must not miss the chance to witness the Sharad Utsav celebrated in Nainital. In order to welcome the Fall Season, the city annually organizes a five-day culture fest. Pouring out the HEART and SOUL of the Kumaon culture, this vivacious festival is your getaway to know Nainital better! Boat races and folk dance and music are the main attractions and if LUCKY you might see a performance or two by a Bollywood celebrity as well!

Gurney House


A special tour to Gurney House or the house of wildlife conservationist Jim Corbett is a must if you are in Nainital. The house is not as large as the one in Kaladhungi (which has been converted as a museum) but sure is a delight to see! The current owner allows personal tour to this place, which has number of things that belonged to Jim Corbett. Gurney House as it is called is situated on the Ayarpatta Hill in Nainital (the opposite hill of the one which has lot of hotels); from here the view is spectacular as well.

Corbett National Park


This is worth every expense! One of the oldest national parks in India, Corbett is one place that you will never forget. The park is situated about 65kms from Nainital and thus is one of the best places to see near the city. Sprawling across a large area, Corbett National Park is the home to many species of animals and birds. Other than spotting wildlife, staying in Dhikala Lodge. that is built inside the park and taking safaris on jeep, canter and elephant adds to the excitement and adventure here.

Sit by the Lakeside


AAH… Like I said there is nothing better than sitting beside the lake in Nainital. As the evening closes in, this particular side placed on one end of the Flatts is thronged by number of tourists and locals. The view is magical with the lights of the hotels reflecting on the lake water, the dark mountains and gradually dimming sky. The cool breeze against your hair, the smell of coffee dominating all other fragrances, the cozy environment and the tranquility… YOU just cannot find a perfect end to a beautiful day than this!

The blog brought back all the memories of the Good Ol’ Days and I just cannot wait to go home now! Hope this blog helped you learn more about your options in Nainital. So, now the next time you are in this magical city, make sure you check thing off this list in order to get an unforgettable experience.

Published: 29 Aug, 2014
Nidhi Singh


From the Lake District, Nainital, Nidhi Singh is a travel writer whose love for mountains can be seen in her write ups. Talk about solo travelling, indulging in adventure activities, binging on good food, planning budget trips or the Aurora Borealis and you will get all her attention. It is the wanderlust that keeps her going and if at all she could get one wish granted she would love to live a life less ordinary. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

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