Nepal is widely regarded as one of the most scenic countries in the world. Its diverse geography includes mountains, forests, and eight of the world’s ten tallest peaks, including Mount Everest. If you want to explore as much of Nepal as possible in a limited time, we’ve put together a 10-day itinerary for you.
It’s impossible to see everything in Nepal in just a week and a half. You could easily spend more days than that simply trekking through the Himalayas. We’ve put together an itinerary that takes you to Nepal’s busy cities, its historic ancient cities, and a few of its geographical wonders.
Nepal is a bucket list country for many adventurous travelers. Here’s how to explore Nepal’s heritage sites, enjoy outdoor adventures, and soak up the unique culture in 10 days.
Day 1: Kathmandu
Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu, is best known for its beautiful temples and as a gateway to the Himalayas. While the 2015 earthquake destroyed some of the city’s temples, many were left intact. The city has been continuously inhabited since the 2nd century, and as a result, Kathmandu has an abundance of cultural and historical sites. You’ll start your first day in Kathmandu by visiting Thamel.
What to do and see in Kathmandu?
Thamel is the most popular area for tourists to visit for a good reason–the area is filled with stores, restaurants, cafes, and bars all catering to tourists. This area can be relatively intense because tourism is one of Nepal’s largest industries.
Thamel is full of shops and street vendors. While the prices are a little higher here because it’s a tourist area, you can still find nice souvenirs. The area is also home to a large number of bookstores. When you’re ready to get out of the crowds for a while, visit the Garden of Dreams and enjoy the beautiful fountains and relaxing open spaces.
After visiting Thamel, make the short walk to Kathmandu Durbar Square. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the city’s most visited landmarks. Some of the temples on this historic square date all the way back to the 3rd century. You’ll find the Hanuman Dhoka Palace Complex which are the Old Royal Palaces now turned into museums. While many temples and structures were destroyed in the 2015 earthquake, there are still plenty either left intact or reconstructed.
Where to eat in Kathmandu?
In Thamel, you’ll find every kind of food you might be craving. For the best Nepali momo, head to Thamel Momo Hut. If you want inexpensive, but filling Japanese food, try out Momotarou. If you’d rather have Mediterranean food, go to OR2K. It’s incredibly popular and has the best falafels and hummus.
Where to stay in Kathmandu?
- $$$ – The Dwarika’s Hotel
- $$ – Kathmandu Marriott Hotel
- $ – Hotel Jampa
Day 2: Kathmandu
Before exploring other destinations in Nepal, you’ll spend one more full day in Kathmandu. After the hustle and bustle of your first day in the city, you’ll take things a little bit slower.
What to do and see in Kathmandu?
An interesting way to experience more of the local culture in Kathmandu is with a cooking class. When you sign up for a class, you’ll start off by walking to the market to get your ingredients and then spend the rest of the time learning how to make a few authentic dishes. You may or may not be able to recreate the dishes on your own at home, but it’s a memorable experience.
For the afternoon, book a session at one of the many spas in Kathmandu. Whether you’re in need of a foot massage or a deep tissue massage after your flight to Nepal, you’ll be able to relax and unwind for a few hours.
Just before sunset, head to Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple). This sacred Buddhist complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Climb up the 300 stairs to get a beautiful view of the valley. You’ll also get to see the monkeys that live and wander around the temple. Avoid bringing food with you as the monkeys will try to run off with it if they can.
Where to eat in Kathmandu?
For dinner, you have plenty of great options to enjoy in the city. Try out the Third Eye Restaurant for Indian and Nepalese cuisine. If you would rather have Italian cuisine, head to Little Italy to enjoy your meal in a romantic sett. For a unique dining experience, try out the Old House Restaurant where you can try delicious French and Asian fusion dishes.
Day 3: Patan
Travel time: 30 minutes by bus
Known locally as Lalitpur, Patan is one of Nepal’s historic cities. The name Lalitpur means “city of beauty” and is fitting. Patan is located just across the Bagmati River from Kathmandu. Today, you’ll take a day trip to this city that was once an independent city-state. You can get to Patan by bus, but you can also walk there in about an hour if you would prefer.
What to do and see in Patan?
Patan is best known for its beautiful architecture and fine metalwork. As you visit the city, you’ll see extravagant temples and opulent palaces. Some parts of the city were damaged during the 2015 earthquake, but the damage was not as widespread as in Kathmandu.
Patan’s Durbar Square is the historical center of the city and the best place to begin your visit to the city. Here you’ll find the Ancient Royal Palace dating back to the 1600s as well as Mul Chowk which was home to the royal family until 1769. You’ll also see the famous statue of King Yoganarendra in the Hari Shankar Mandir.
Besides all the landmarks to see in Durbar Square, you can also explore other areas of Patan. Here are a few sites you shouldn’t miss.
- The Golden Temple
- Kumbheshwar Temple
- House of the Kumari
- Mahaboudha Temple
- Jawalakhel Handicraft Centre
Where to eat in Patan?
For elevated traditional Nepali cuisine, try out Raithaane. The restaurant looks deceptively normal, but the food is some of the best you’ll find in Nepal. Another good place to try local cuisine is The Village Cafe which sources local, fresh ingredients. If you’re just looking for coffee and a pastry, try out Himalayan Java. This chain is the perfect place to spend a little time lingering over coffee and, maybe using the internet if needed.
Day 4: Bhaktapur
Travel time: 45 minutes by bus
Bhaktapur is just a short ride from Kathmandu, but this ancient city feels dramatically different from the capital city. Bhaktapur’s heritage buildings are more well-preserved, and thanks to the narrow streets, there’s much less traffic in the city. You can take a day trip to Bhaktapur from Kathmandu. However, you might consider staying overnight in Bhaktapur to enjoy the more laid-back atmosphere.
What to do and see in Bhaktapur?
Bhaktapur’s old city consists of four main areas: Bhaktapur Durbar Square, Pottery Square, Taumadhi Square, and Dyattraya Tole. Because there’s so much to see in Bhaktapur, you probably won’t be able to make it to all the sites in just one day. Start by visiting Bhaktapur Durbar Square. It’s the largest of the squares and is full of temples and other cultural sites.
Here are a few of the most popular things to see in this ancient city.
- Royal Palace of Bhaktapur
- Vatsala Durga Temple
- Pashupatinath Temple
- Nyatapola Temple
- Dattatreya Temple
- National Art Museum
- Woodcarving Museum
- Brass & Bronze Museum
- Kamal Pokhari (Lotus Pond)
Before going to Bhaktapur, be aware that you’ll need to pay a small entry fee to visit. The fee applies even if you’re staying overnight in Bhaktapur.
Where to eat in Bhaktapur?
In Durbar Square, try out Temple View Palace Restaurant. While restaurants near tourist attractions are sometimes overhyped, this one serves great traditional Newari meals. In Taumadhi Square, one of the best restaurants is Pagoda Guest House & Rooftop Restaurant. This restaurant also serves great Newari cuisine. Make sure to try King Curd, Bhaktapur’s famous buffalo milk yogurt while in the city. You can either order it at a restaurant or get it from one of the many local shops selling it.
Where to stay in Bhaktapur?
- $$$ – Hotel Bhadgaon
- $$ – Shiva Guest House
- $ – Tulaja Boutique Hotel
Day 5: Pokhara
Travel time: 7 – 8 hours by bus
Getting from Kathmandu to Pokhara takes quite some time by bus. The other option is to take a 30-minute flight, but sometimes flight time can be very unreliable and you may end up waiting hours in the airport instead. If you do decide to take a bus, it can be worth paying a little more for a higher-end bus company. You’ll spend the rest of today and tomorrow exploring Pokhara before beginning your trek.
What to do and see in Pokhara?
You won’t have too much time to explore Pokhara on your first day there thanks to the travel time from Kathmandu to Pokhara unless you are able to take a flight that departs and arrives as planned. Have a low-key day in Pokhara by just exploring one or two sites.
Spend your time in Lakeside Pokhara. Visit the World Peace Pagoda overlooking Phewa Lake. You can either take the bus or spend an hour rowing and then hike for about an hour to reach the Pagoda. Another interesting site is Varahi Mandir. This Hindu temple is located in the middle of Phewa Lake. You can row to the small island in the lake to see the shrine.
Another interesting place to visit is the old Pokhara Bazaar. Take the local bus to get to the bazaar located north of Lakeside. You’ll see some locals selling goods in front of their homes. Nearby, you’ll also find Bindhyabasini Temple, one of the oldest temples in Pokhara. Typically, there are fewer tourists in this area, so it’s a nice change of pace.
Where to eat in Pokhara?
Head to Godfathers Pizzeria for beautiful lake views while enjoying woodfired pizzas or delicious pasta. If you want to try one of the best mom restaurants in the city, make your way to Mo2’s Delights. If you’re looking to splurge, go to Rosemary Kitchen. Here you’ll find amazing dishes that blend elements of European and Asian cuisine.
Where to stay in Pokhara?
- $$$ – Rupakot Resort
- $$ – Pokhara Batika
- $ – Hotel Hakoniwa
Day 6: Pokhara
Many visitors come to Pokhara because it’s the gateway city to many famous treks in Nepal. However, that isn’t all the country’s second-largest city has to offer. The city offers access to multiple tranquil lakes, natural caves, and green forests in addition to the majestic mountains that surround it. It’s worth lingering for a day to enjoy the beautiful scenery and relaxed atmosphere in Pokhara.
What to do and see in Pokhara?
You have a lot of options for things to do in Pokhara. The city has a wide range of adventurous activities for thrill seekers including paragliding, bungee jumping, white water rafting, and zip-lining.
If you’d rather do something a little milder. There are plenty of things to see in Pokhara. You can visit Mahendra Cave to explore and see the small temple located there as well as the cave’s stalactites and stalagmites. Then, visit the Bat Cave (filled with bats, of course) just a 10-minute walk away. You could also visit the Sarangkot Viewpoint if you’re up for a 40-minute taxi ride.
An interesting activity before departing on your trek is a visit to the International Mountain Museum. It has exhibits on the history, culture, and geographical features of the Himalayas and will enhance your trekking experience.
Where to eat in Pokhara?
Enjoy a laid-back brunch or lunch at the Juicery Cafe, a welcoming cafe with great coffee and fresh juice overlooking the lake. For a cheap, but delicious lunch, try out the chicken kebabs or other great Indian food at the Kebab King on the south side of Kaleside. If you’re looking for vegetarian food, head to Marwadi Restaurant for a selection of local and Indian dishes.
Days 7 – 10: Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek
Travel time: 1.5 hours by car
Nepal is famous for its epic hikes. Many of the world’s highest peaks are found in the country, and trekking is one of the most popular things to do in Nepal. Most treks in Nepal take many days, but it’s possible to take a shorter trek to experience the Himalayas. Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek can give you a taste of a classic Nepalese mountain trek without spending weeks on a trail.
What to do and see on Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek?
The starting point for the Ghorepani Poon Hill Trek begins in Nayapul which is about a 1.5-hour ride from Pokhara. You can either plan your trek yourself or go with a guide.
Trekking solo allows you to move at your own pace and can be cheaper, but you’re also responsible for planning everything in advance, including permits, food, gear, and accommodation. Trekking with a guide is less flexible and more pricey, but you’re able to just enjoy the hike and you have a local expert on hand in case of emergency.
There are different routes for the Poon Hill Trek, and you can plan for anywhere from 4-7 days depending on what route you decide to take. Doing the trek in 4 days is doable. You could even potentially do the hike in 3 days, but the final day would be somewhat unpleasant.
As you make your way through the trekking towns, you’ll come across beautiful farmlands scattered in the mountain slopes. You’ll pass by charming villages and stunning scenery. Each night you’ll stop at a comfortable guesthouse where other trekkers will be excited to exchange the highlights of their day with you.
While the Poon Hill Trek is mostly a low-altitude hike, you do cross the 3,000-meter mark at Poon Hill Summit. The view from the top and the feeling of excitement is entirely worth the difficulty. You will need to be moderately fit and able to walk for 4-6 hours a day to complete this trek.
Useful tips for traveling in Nepal:
Now you know where to go while in Nepal, let’s talk about a few things to make your trip go more smoothly so you can focus on enjoying your time in this wonderful country.
- Avoid solo trekking. While the risk is low, it’s safer to trek with other travelers or with a guide just in case.
- It’s normal to see the Nepalese Army at checkpoints throughout the country. You’ll need to make sure you have your necessary paperwork with you, but their presence isn’t a reason for excess worry. If you’re with a guide, they will have your paperwork already sorted.
- Make sure that you know what visas you need to enter Nepal and make arrangements in advance. Also, bring photocopies of all your documents stored separately from the originals just in case you need them.
- Pack your most important trekking gear from home, but know that you can buy some of the things you need while in Pokhara.
The best time to visit Nepal:
If you are planning to trek while in Nepal, any time between October and December is the best time to visit for clear blue skies and decent weather. While the weather stays dry until April, January and February tend to be cold. In general, Nepal’s spring and fall tend to be the best time to go for more moderate weather.
What is the currency of Nepal?
The official currency of Nepal is the Nepalese rupee.
Can you drink tap water in Nepal?
It is not recommended that visitors drink tap water while in Nepal. Either drink bottled water or use a water filtration device while in the country. While trekking, camp teams may boil water to make it safe to drink. Contaminated water can lead to sickness so pay attention to your water sources.
The language of Nepal:
Nepali is the most spoken official language in Nepal. English is widely spoken in most tourist destinations, but it’s a good idea to know a few basic phrases in Nepali when traveling through the country.
- Namaste: Hello
- Dhanyabād: Thank you
- Mapha garnuhos: excuse me/sorry
- Pheri bhetaunla: Goodbye
Is Nepal safe?
In general, Nepal is relatively safe for tourists and visitors. Crime rates are relatively low. Just like with any location, be aware of your surroundings and do not draw excessive attention to yourself. Avoid walking alone in secluded areas at night. Pickpocketing can be an issue in some locations.
Women may want to wear clothes that are more modest to avoid drawing attention to themselves. While it’s a good idea for everyone to trek with a guide or in a group, it’s especially recommended that women not trek solo as a precaution.
The biggest safety issues in Nepal tend to be nature-related. The country experiences natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, avalanches, and windstorms on occasion. Also, transportation through the mountains by bus or plane can be hazardous due to geographical features. Be sure to check your country’s travel warnings before visiting Nepal.
Now you’re ready to enjoy your visit to Nepal. Enjoy your time exploring this extraordinarily beautiful country. You’ll quickly see why it’s so beloved by visitors.
If you’re looking to extend your trip, see our guides to nearby India or check out all of our guides to Asia. Also, see which National Park in Nepal made our list for the best places to go on safari in 2023.