Exploring Murree: The Queen of Hill Stations Tall pine and oak forests, cool breeze, scenic uphill views, mountainous backdrop, colonial buildings reflecting the rich cultural heritage, and unforgettable views from the chair-lift rides all define Murree – the most popular hill station in Pakistan. As soon as the scorching summers become a little unbearable, a large number of visitors, from across the country and abroad, throng the northern areas and adventure-seekers take to some of the most treacherous yet beautiful hiking trails in Pakistan. However, of all these spots, Murree remains exceedingly popular among tourists. The hill station stands at an altitude of around 7000 feet above sea level. It only takes one and a half-hour to drive from Islamabad along the Kashmir Highway to get there. In case you’re also planning a long summer vacation or just looking for a fun weekend getaway, check out our pick of the best places to visit in Murree.
The name Murree is derived from the word ‘mar-hi’ meaning ‘high place.’ Another popular belief is that it was named after Virgin Mary during colonial rule. When the British rulers captured Punjab in 1849, it was soon decided that a hill station will be constructed at the site. It was a sanatorium meant to facilitate the British military officials located conveniently near the Military Cantonment of Rawalpindi. Later, it was also used as the headquarters of the Punjab Government. Now, it has become a hill station and a top tourist destination in Pakistan.
BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN MURREE
The Mall Road
Patriata Chair Lift
Visiting Galiyat from Murree
Near Murree: Lalazar Park
Mall Road is a marketplace and a popular tourist attraction in Murree. It is a stretch of the road having various shops comprising unique souvenirs, hand-crafted cultural artifacts, plenty of dry fruits, and some popular restaurants that serve mouth-watering dishes like fish and chicken karahi. You will find this road bustling with people till late at night.
An important landmark in Murree exists at the highest point on Mall Road – the General Post Office (GPO). It was constructed on Mall road in 1867. The façade of the building underwent some renovation in 1970. This historical building in Murree is open to the public. Some of the rooms inside GPO require restoration and will then become accessible to the local people and tourists alike.
Another important landmark in Murree is the Holy Trinity Church. It is a significant historical building in Murree and is also located on Mall Road. It was constructed between 1850-1857 and provided church services mainly to the officials of the British Army and their families. The main hall can host around 400 worshippers at a time. With a wooden floor, and the windows of the hall are made of stained glass depicting Indian style. Even the furniture used in Church has Kashmiri carvings. The original pipe organ that used to play carols and hymns in pre-partition days exists in the main hall – not functional though. On the walls, there are plaques having names of famous people who died during the colonial period.
You will find a number of hotels, rest-houses, and resorts dotting the Mall Road as tourists flock this thoroughfare – if they are planning to stay the night in Murree. Some of the prominent hotels on Mall Road are:
Holiday Express Inn Murree
Hotel One Mall Road
Hotel Cecil Homes
There are flats also available in Murree in case you have planned a longer stay and are searching for a rented space.
PARKS IN MURREE
Among various things to do in Murree, visiting Chhattar Park should definitely be on your travel bucket list. Take a stroll in the gardens, while the children enjoy bird aviary, haunted house, and thrilling rides. You will find rush at the restaurants serving chicken tikka and other fast food items. Located on Kashmir Road, there is no entrance ticket to the park and it is open to the general public.
Another local park that offers natural scenery of pristine hills, pine trees, and the gushing water streams coming right through Murree Hills is Sangrela Park. Located on the main Islamabad-Murree Expressway, 16 km from Toll Plaza, it is a perfect place for camping and outdoor activities in Murree. There are small ponds in a natural setting where people go for a swim. And if you love to barbeque on your own, then bring along skewers and your grill for a memorable bonfire experience. There is an entrance ticket of PKR 60 only.
PATRIATA CHAIR LIFT
New Murree is located about 15 km away from the main hills towards Lower Topa. It is well-developed and one of the best places to see in Murree–especially in summers. It is also famous because of its chair lift rides and cable car system which starts from New Murree and ends at Patriata. It is a 7 km long ride. Enjoy the breathtaking sight of pine forests and the real views between Murree and Nathiagali that you can only see when you have open-air transport.
If you want to avoid the rush of tourists visiting Patriata, then better plan your trip in the summers. You can enjoy the chair lift ride at peace. However, if you are bent upon visiting Murree in its peak season in winters, then be prepared for a long wait in getting the tickets. But once you are done with the process of purchasing tickets and are buckled in your chair lift, you will enjoy every bit of the snow-covered mountains below, the cool breeze striking your face, and the top views of the hills.
A heads up: Check out the weather update before planning your trip to Patriata, because the weather can turn cold anytime and you might want to keep a jacket or two – just in case.
Pindi Point is a vantage point in Murree. It is named Pindi Point because from the top you can view the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. You can also see the beautiful Murree hills and the pine forests. It only takes around 15 minutes to reach Pindi Point from Mall Road. There are various eateries and cafes for families to enjoy. Those who love chair lift rides can enjoy another journey here, which will take you 1.5 km down from Pindi Point to Bansara Gali.
Kashmir Point can be reached in 15 minutes if you are traveling from Mall Road. Either you go in your car or hike up to reach Kashmir Point. You can visit the Government House – which is located right in the middle of Kashmir Point. It is one of the popular tourist attractions in Murree.
A train called Murree Safari Train runs through the Government House, guiding tourists and providing entertainment to both children and adults alike. The train imported from Germany chugs through the entire Kashmir Point. You have to pay a ticket of PKR 200 per person. Special concessions are available for senior citizens and students. A ride in the Safari Train generally takes around 20 minutes, traversing through the official residence where no other vehicle is allowed. You can see vintage pictures of Murree in the colonial era on the walls.
It is one of the best places to visit in Murree and is also a perfect getaway for couples. Bhurban is located at a 20-minute drive from Murree and it takes around an hour from Islamabad. Pearl Continental Hotel, Bhurban enjoys beautiful landscape and views of the valley. It also has a nine-hole golf course and provides easy access to a beautiful hiking trail in the nearby Ayubia National Park.
Ghora Gali is a little half an hour drive away from Murree and it is the administrative division of Murree Tehsil in Rawalpindi District. It is one of the best places to visit near Murree. It features a 1,100-meter long chairlift ride that goes from Ghora Gali to Pindi Point. In pre-partition days, it used to serve as a resort for British troops. In 1860, Lawrence College was built as a haven for children who became orphans during the war. Murree Brewery was also established in the same year. However, it was destroyed in the riots that took place after independence.
VISITING GALIYAT FROM MURREE
People who visit the hill station never miss a chance to visit the places near Murree, like Nathiagali. It is located around 35 km from Murree and Abbottabad and at an altitude of 8, 400 feet.
A tip: Reach Nathiagali early in the morning and hike the scenic pipeline trail to Ayubia or to the Miranjani top. Don’t forget to take your weather-proof jacket along as the weather is quite unpredictable and you might see a heavy downpour any time of the day. The Mukhshpuri hike also known as the Dunga Gali track is also a favorite among adventure-seekers.
LALAZAR PARK – A LITTLE AWAY FROM MURREE
Many travelers who arrive at Nathiagali to enjoy the summers miss trekking through the picturesque landscapes of Lalazar as it lies only 1 km uphill from Dunga Gali. If you move further on the same track you will reach Mukhshpuri mountain which is the second-highest peak in the area. From here people can view Ayubia, Murree, and Azad Kashmir. Lalazar Park boasts thick forests, mesmerizing views, and a meandering trek along the way to Mukhshpuri peak, leaving a lasting imprint in the minds of its visitors.
MURREE – A HISTORY BUFF’S PARADISE
Apart from the various things to do in Murree, there are many buildings that reflect rich colonial history. You can see chapels and cemeteries in the area that were built before the partition. The Holy Trinity Church, The Garrison Church Gharial which has now turned into an indoor basketball court, Lawrence College Chapel, St. Denys’ High School Chapel and Jesus & Mary Convent Chapel are some of the names in this regard.
So, these were the best places to visit in Murree. With new developments, tourism activities in Murree have increased and people who visit the hill station also plan to visit other parts of Pakistan. In case you are planning your trip from Karachi to Lahore, read our detailed piece on travel options from Karachi to Lahore. Also if you love to explore the natural beauty of Pakistan, then have a look at the best road trips in the country. For more updates, stay tuned to the best travel and tourism blog in Pakistan.