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Known as a place of energy, culture, and adventure, these amazing things to do in Lahore are a must for your travel itinerary when visiting one of Pakistan’s most popular tourist destinations.
Lahore boasts magnificent architecture, sweeping beauty, and rich history. It is also home to Pakistan’s film industry, and it is renowned for its educational institutes.
Together, let’s take a closer look at the must-see experiences in this unique Pakistani city. Here are 15 things you simply must do when in Lahore, as recommended by a local writer.
Cool Things to Do in Lahore
1 – Witness History at Fakir Khana Museum
Fakir Khana Museum is one of the biggest private museums in South Asia. The term ‘Fakir Khana’ means ‘The House of the Humble Ones’. Open to the public since 1901, it is run by the Fakir family, who were Wazirs (Ministers) of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
The museum is home to over twenty thousand ancient artifacts, dating back as far as the 18th century. It holds gifts from Queen Victoria and Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The museum boasts multiple halls, which represent the elite living standards of the then rulers of Punjab.
Masterpieces of the Mughal era, portraits of the old rulers, and artifacts from the ancient Gandhara and Buddhist civilizations are kept in the beautiful halls of Fakir Khana Museum. Calligraphy, handwritten scriptures of the Quran, Persian carpets, and sculptures of the Maharaja can be found here as well.
Visiting Khana Museum is truly unique experience that exhibits how diverse the region of Punjab is. If you are visiting, be sure to make an appointment as the museum is not open to the public.
2 – Flag Lowering at Wagah Border
The Wagah-Attari border crossing is famous for its daily flag-lowering ceremony. Men from the Pakistan Rangers and India’s Border Security Force parade in a show of ultra-machismo. Expect boot thumping, loud shouting, and death stares, pumping up the crowds from both sides.
If you are visiting from the Pakistani side, you will experience animated crowds chanting ‘Pakistan Zindabad’, while from the Indian side the crowds chant ‘Jai Hind’. The crowds back their men and give out thunderous applauses to outdo each other’s side. There is plenty of patriotism and rivalry at the border.
The small parade is accurately choreographed, with hugely built men marching and kicking as high as they can, stomping the ground like they are about to crack open the Earth. As the sun sets, both parties synchronize the lowering of the flags and give each other a handshake in a show of mutual respect and cooperation.
3 – Relive the Glory of Pakistan at the Army Museum
The Army Museum in Lahore is a newly built museum that showcases the country’s inception, culture, heritage, and its fight towards stability. Spanning a large area, the museum hosts several decommissioned helicopters, tanks, artillery guns, and warplanes.
The museum has beautifully curated statues of the heroes of Pakistan. Moving down the gallery, there is a memorial wall, paying tribute to more than a thousand servicemen who sacrificed their lives for the country.
On entering the different galleries, you can see life-sized statues of elephants and horses with their riders. Portrayals of significant events are recreated in the museum, taking you through the history of Pakistan. The museum not only shows the wars and battles fought by the country, but it also represents each province, its people, and the minorities of Pakistan who stood firm during the challenging times of the country.
4 – Enjoy a Picnic at Shalimar Bagh
The Emperors Garden, better known as the Shalimar Bagh, is a masterpiece of the Mughal civilization. Created during the reign of the fifth Emperor Shah Jahan, it sits on a vast 40 acres. Filled with beautiful green gardens, fruit orchards, large ornamental ponds, magnificent Mughal architecture, and over 400 fountains, it is the perfect spot for a family picnic.
It is said that Shah Jahan wanted to recreate the Kashmir Gardens in Lahore, so he created the Shalimar Bagh. Initially, it was exclusive to the royal family and its guests only.
The garden is divided into three levels of descending terraces, with each assigned an important role. The first terrace was used to address the general public, the second was reserved for the private audience, and the last terrace was exclusive to the royal family.
The garden has been well kept ever since, and is one of the most visited tourist sites in Lahore. If you are planning to visit, try to visit in the morning when it is not so crowded. Tickets to enter are extremely cheap, and the view is priceless.
5 – Get Spiritual at Data Darbar
Ali Bin Usman Hajveri, better known as Data Ganj Baksh (the bestower of treasures), was a famous Sufi mystic in the 11th century. To this day he is known as a symbol of tolerance, peace, and love. The shrine of the patron saint of Lahore is not to be missed.
The spiritual aura of the Data Darbar shrine attracts thousands of devotees every year. People of all ages come and pray for their wishes. There is a yearly celebration known as the ‘urs’, in which hordes of devotees come to pay homage to the saint.
If you visit on the day of the urs, or any special Islamic occasion, there is a chance you can catch a qawwali or a Sufi dhamaal (mystic trance) at the shrine.
6 – Buy Books at Urdu Bazaar
The Urdu Bazaar (Urdu Market) is one of the oldest book markets in Pakistan. Dating back to the Mughal Empire, the Urdu Bazaar is the go-to place for book worms. It hosts a vast collection of novels, books, guides, maps, travelogues, and literature.
The market offers a wide range of books in Arabic, English, and Urdu, with the cheapest prices you can imagine. It is not a high-profile market, but it holds great significance in Lahore. Books from this bazaar are ordered from all over the country.
The place is a little short of space, with crowded shops and small streets. The market is wedged between ‘fruit waalas’ and ‘chai walaas’. When you are done buying your favorite books, go to the food street nearby and enjoy some chai with the locals.
7 – Get localized at Anarkali
The Anarkali Bazaar is named after Anarkali, a slave who had a notorious love affair with Salim, the son of Emperor Akbar. Legend has it that the Emperor had Anarkali immured in a wall for this illicit relationship. It is quite the story, but fortunately based entirely on fiction.
The market however is a shopaholic’s dream. Overflowing with food and people, it is a must-visit if you want to experience the true essence of Lahoris.
The market is segregated into two parts: Old Anarkali and New Anarkali. Old Anarkali is for the foodies, and New Anarkali is for the fashionistas. Particularly if you’re looking to buy traditional Pakistani dresses, this is your go-to place.
8 – Get Boujie at MM Alam Road
MM Alam is the place to go if you want to experience the urban side of Lahore. The upscale area is one of the busiest commercial hubs in the city, lined wine with high-end retail stores and fine dining. You will find all your favorite clothing and fashion brands here.
If you want to take a break from touring Lahore, visit the place and chill at your favorite cafes for a cup of coffee. There are all sorts of cuisines available, from Italian and Turkish to continental and Desi. You’ll find everything at MM Alam road.
9 – Peerus Café
Peerus café is a unique modern café, located in the outskirts of Lahore. The café offers both outdoor and indoor dining, with each area decorated with a modern/cultural vibe. The main attractions of Peerus café are the puppet museum and the live qawwali sessions that happen on the weekend.
You can watch puppet shows on a Sunday, hear a ghazal on Thursday, and catch a qawwali on Saturday. The café gets even cozier in the winters when you can enjoy live music, food, and even a bonfire.
10 – Witness Mughal Architecture at Lahore Fort
Lahore Fort is yet another masterpiece of Mughal architecture. Made during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan, it showcases the grandeur of the Mughal Empire. The fort is made from marble palaces and decorated with mosaics and gilt.
The fort has been destroyed, rebuilt, demolished, and restored several times. Over the years, different rulers modified it by their standards, and the star attraction of Lahore is well-kept by the authorities.
There are small museums inside the fort, with an arms gallery showcasing historic weapons, rare oil paintings, and old manuscripts used in the Mughal era.
11 – Catch a Sufi Dhamaal at the Shrine of Madho Lal Hussain
The name Madho Lal Hussain is a combination of two people. The story goes that the Sufi Saint Shah Hussain met a Hindu boy Madhu Lal, and fell in love with him. Ever since Shah Hussain and Madhu Lal met, they were inseparable. They lived together and have been buried side by side in the shrine.
The shrine welcomes people of all genders, ages, castes, and religions. You can witness devotees dressed in rags, performing a dhamaal in a tree-filled courtyard. The massive trees tower over the courtyard, and the faqirs (Sufi Muslims who are wholly dependent on God) twirl and dance in a trance-like state to the beat of the ‘Dhol’.
After the ritual, ‘langar’ (free food) is distributed to the people. This practice can be found at every saint’s shrine. The menu is usually of ‘roti and Haleem’ or ‘biryani’.
12 – Relax at the Tomb of Jahangir
Jahangir, also known as Prince Salim, was the fourth Mughal Emperor of India. The tomb of Jahangir was made for his wife Nur Jahan after his death in the early 16th century.
The tomb of the emperor Jahangir is the third most visited heritage site in Pakistan. It was given the status of a UNESCO heritage site in 1993. It is a grand monument with beautiful marble work, finished with red sandstone and floral designs that cover the walls of the tomb.
The gardens in the vicinity are full of beautiful flowers and huge trees. The trademark Mughal architecture defines the exemplary monument and the craftsmanship of the workers. The tomb was considered the second Taj Mahal of the Indian Subcontinent but sadly suffered a lot of damage during Sikh and British rule. Over time, it has been restored to its previous glory, and today, it is well preserved by the authorities.
13 – Wazir Khan Mosque
The Wazir Khan Mosque is one of Lahore’s most elegantly crafted mosques. One of the gems of Mughal architecture, this mosque is a tranquil space amid the walled city of Lahore.
The mosque has four minarets, marking the corners of a vast courtyard in the center. The ambiance is serene and peaceful, and the architecture truly beautiful.
The mosque is decorated with Quranic calligraphy, fresco paintings, Kasha Kari (tile mosaic), and Taza Kari (brick outline fresco). This is a great place to visit, particularly if you love and admire building aesthetics.
14 – Shahi Hammam
Close to the Wazir Khan mosque is the Shahi Hammam, or Royal bathhouse. The building was made in the 17th century as a Turkish/Persian style public bathhouse, but today is a cultural relic that has been preserved for tourism.
It was used for the service of both travelers and locals of the city of Lahore. The bathhouse has beautiful fresco paintings, calligraphy, and intelligently made baths.
There are three main areas in the Shahi Hammam: the dressing room, the warm baths, and the private baths. The building has a main dome, which lets natural sunlight into the quarters. If you are visiting the walled city of Lahore, make sure you pay a visit to the Shahi Hammam and the Wazir Khan mosque.
15 – Hiran Minar
An hour’s drive from Lahore is a small town called Sheikhupura, home to the only tomb in the world dedicated to a pet. Legend has it that Jahangir had the Hiran Minar built to honor his pet antelope, Mansiraj.
The tomb was made as a game reserve, so the elite could visit and hunt near Lahore. After Jahangir’s death, Shah Jahan added a pavilion and lavish pool to the tomb to enhance its beauty.
If you visit the tomb at dawn, you can observe the beautiful reflection of the auburn sky in the still waters, and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the area.
Things to Do in Lahore Summary
Lahore is a city of wonder, history, and beauty, and the ideal place to visit if you want to discover Pakistan and what it has to offer.
These amazing things to do in Lahore are 15 of the city’s must-see and must-do experiences, along with so much more to discover. Be sure to include them in your travel itinerary, and prepare yourself for an adventure like no other!
Looking to book a trip to Pakistan?
Here are some resources to help you book your next trip to Pakistan:
- Skyscanner to find great deals on flights
- Booking.com or Agoda to find a comfortable hotel
- Rentalcars.com for trips into the countryside
- Safety Wing for insurance
- GetYourGuide for tours and activities
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Author: Momin Asif is a content writer and publisher from Lahore Cantt, Pakistan. Having lived across Pakistan, he is eager to share more about the country’s unique culture, history, and tourist attractions through his writing.
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