Are you travelling to Lahore?
Welcome to the former Mughal capital, where you can see stunning architecture, explore bazaars in a maze of alleys in the Old City, and hop over to the Indian border for a bizarre ceremony.
There are a lot of famous places in Lahore, and if you only have one day to visit the city, you’ll need an excellent plan to make the most of your time. Fortunately, in Lahore, most attractions are located close to each other, so you can see some of the most exciting parts in just a few hours.
In this post, we’re going to talk about the best places you need to visit, how to make the most of your time if you only have one day in Lahore, and we’re even going to talk about the best places to eat in Lahore.
Keep reading to learn about all the fantastic things this Pakistani city has to offer.
One day in Lahore – the best places to visit in Lahore
#1 Badshahi Mosque
We’re going to start at one of the most important tourist spots in Lahore, the Badshahi Mosque.
In Lahore, many tourist attractions are located within or close to the Walled City. At its Northern end, you can find the Badshahi Mosque. It dates back to 1673 and is one of the biggest mosques in Pakistan.
The mosque is famous for its red sandstone, intricate carvings, and paintings. It’s easy to spend half an hour or longer wandering through the arches and admiring the marble decorations.The Badshahi Mosque should be one of the first places to go in Lahore. It faces east, so on a sunny day, you can get the best pictures in the morning, just after the mosque opens.
When visiting, leave your shoes at the entrance. You can get a plastic bag and carry them with you, so you won’t risk losing them. Also, if you’re a woman, make sure to bring along a scarf that you can use to cover your head.
#2 Lahore Fort
The Lahore Fort is one of the most visited places in Lahore. It was named a UNESCO site in 1981 and includes many different monuments from the Mughal Empire.
We’ve mentioned the Mughals before, but in case you’re not familiar with them, the Mughal Empire ruled most of South India between the 16th and the 19th century. The rules loved Lahore and even made it the capital of the Empire for a while.
In Lahore, you can see the remaining architecture from multiple generations of Mughal rulers.
The fort is the one place to visit in Lahore that you should not miss and for which you should take enough time. The complex sprawls out over 20 hectares, and it’s easy to see that many different rulers left their marks.
Each of them used a different style than their predecessor, trying to make their buildings better, bigger and more impressive.
#3 Sheesh Mahal
The Sheesh Mahal might be the most beautiful place in Lahore, which is why it deserves a separate mention.
It’s part of the Lahore Fort, but you need to buy a separate entrance ticket to get inside.
The Sheesh Mahal is also known as the “Palace of Mirrors”. Shah Jahan, the guy who you might know as the Mughal ruler who also constructed the Taj Mahal, built this palace in the 1600s.
The Sheesh Mahal is famous for its countless small mirrors. Go into one of the darker rooms on the sides and turn on the torch on your smartphone. The reflection on the ceiling looks like stars, especially if you move your phone.
Back in the day, multiple candles lit up the room, so take a moment to imagine how amazing that must have looked!
From the Sheesh Mahal, you have a great view of the Badshahi Mosque and the nearby Iqbal Park. The huge tower in the park is the Minar-e-Pakistan, a reminder of the Lahore Resolution, which was the first call for an independent Pakistan.
#4 Walled City of Lahore
The next stop on your Lahore sightseeing tour should be the Walled City, also known as the Old City.
When visiting the Fort of Lahore, you’re already at the edge of the Walled City. Now it’s time to go in deeper and explore the maze of alleyways.
In the Walled City, you can find multiple bazaars, which are amongst the best places in Lahore to watch people go about their daily lives. You can find an overview of all the bazaars online, but one of the best things to do is to wander aimlessly.
Close to the Delhi Gate, you can find Gali Surjan Singh. With its colourful decorations and flowerpots, this road is one of the most beautiful alleys in the Walled City, so make sure not to miss it.
#5 Wazir Khan Mosque
If you’ve enjoyed the Badshahi Mosque, you’re also going to love the Wazir Khan Mosque. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Lahore.
We came here early in the morning when the mosque was still very empty, but even during the day, it doesn’t get as many tourists as the Badshahi Mosque. In its middle, you can find a crypt with the tomb of a Sufi Saint known as Miran Badshah.
Keep crossing the courtyard, and you’ll arrive at the main prayer hall, which is famous for its fantastic decorations. The tilework, the frescoes and the calligraphy are stunning.
Currently, the frescoes of the Wazir Khan Mosque are undergoing restoration by art students who participate in volunteer internships at the mosque. You might see them work on the frescoes during your visit.
Just like when visiting Badshahi Mosque, you should cover your hair if you’re a woman.
#6 Shahi Hammam
The next item on our list of things to do in Lahore is a quick visit to the Shahi Hammam. You’ll find this hammam next to the Delhi Gate, just a few minutes from the Wazir Khan Mosque.
During the Mughal era, this hammam was one of the most important places in Lahore. People would gather here to take a bath, chat, and do business. On the other hand, servants and spies might sneak through the tunnels of the heating system to overhear critical political information.
The heart of the hammam is the central chamber with its stunning wall paintings. The baths were restored between 2013 and 2015, and it’s now easy to imagine how people would meet up and hang out in this chamber.
While walking around, you can also discover the private baths as well as get an insight into the heating system.
#7 Shalimar Gardens
Now that you’ve explored the Walled City, it’s time to head towards the Indian border. Along the way, you can find a place to relax from the bustle of the city.
The Shalimar Gardens are a complex that dates back to Shah Jahan, the guy we mentioned earlier who built the Taj Mahal.Many of the historical places to visit in Lahore go back to Shah Jahan. Besides the Shalimar Gardens and the Sheesh Mahal, he also constructed the Wazir Khan Mosque you visited earlier. The Shahi Hammam dates back to his reign, too.
The Shalimar Gardens consist of multiple terraces with fountains and pavilions. During the reign of Shah Jahan, gemstones adorned some of the buildings. Those have long been removed, but the gardens are still a fantastic sight.
If you’re lucky, you’ll see the hundreds of fountains in action. The Shalimar Gardens are also a great place to relax or enjoy a picnic, making them one of the best places to visit in Lahore for couples.
#8 Wagah Border Ceremony
It’s time to head to one of the most bizarre but also most fascinating places to visit near Lahore – the Wagah Border.
The Wagah Border is the only border checkpoint between India and Pakistan that foreigners can cross. Besides the Wagah Border, the only other border crossing with immigration and customs is the Munabao border, but that one has been closed since 2019.
The reason you want to visit the Wagah Border is to see the border ceremony. Every evening, the Pakistani and Indian border guards take down their flags in a joint ceremony.
Both sides have built stadiums at the border, where you can sit to watch the ceremony. When you arrive, you’ll notice children with Pakistani flags painted on their cheeks, people waving Pakistani flags and popcorn sellers going through the rows.
On top of that, music blares at what must be the highest volume that the loudspeakers can support.
The atmosphere is very cheerful, especially when the flag bearers arrive. People will clap, there are chants that everyone participates in, and the atmosphere reminds much more of a sports stadium than of a border.
It’s worth coming here just for this atmosphere, but the ceremony itself is also fun to watch. There’s a lot of impossibly high lifting of legs and threatening gestures.
Before you set out to the border, double-check the ceremony’s timing with your hotel staff. In winter, everything starts early at around quarter past four. You should arrive at the stadium at least an hour in advance.
If it’s getting late and you don’t have enough time to see everything on this one-day Lahore itinerary, skip the Shalimar Gardens. They’re fun to visit, but choosing between the gardens and the border, you should head to Wagah. It’s one of the must-visit places in Lahore.
2h (or more, if you arrive earlier)
#9 Food Street
After the Wagah border ceremony, you must be hungry. For dinner, you should head to one of the best places to visit in Lahore at night – Food Street.
You can find multiple streets in the city that people will call “Food Street”, but we’re talking about Food Street Ford Road. This street is inside the Walled City, next to the Fort and the Badshahi Mosque.
Along the street, you can find some of the best places for dinner in Lahore. It’s fun to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere first before settling for one of the many restaurants.
We went to Haveli at the recommendation of a local, who told us it’s one of the top places to eat in Lahore. Compared to the average Pakistani restaurant, it’s pretty fancy, but the view from the rooftop terrace is fantastic.
From here, you can see the lit-up Badshahi Mosque and admire its minarets while you enjoy dinner.
We ordered Chicken Malai Boti here, and it was delicious, but I’m convinced that most items you can find here on the menu taste amazing.
Best time to visit Lahore
The best time to visit Lahore is either in early spring or late autumn, so March to April or September to November.
In summer, the city can get very hot. Combined with high humidity, the heat makes it difficult to walk around and visit all sites. When we went at the end of July, I was sweating so much that I had to empty multiple water bottles within a few hours.
In spring or autumn, the weather is much more pleasant.
If you prefer colder temperatures, go in winter, from December to February. You’ll need a light jacket, but there’s a good chance that the weather is still pleasant.
How to get to Lahore
When you’re planning a visit to Lahore, the first thing you need to consider is how to get there.
Fortunately, Lahore has an international airport, so if you’re coming from abroad, you can fly there. Most connections go via the Middle East, but you’ll also occasionally find flights from other parts of the world.
The easiest way to find flights is to search on a website like Skyscanner, where you can compare multiple airlines.
If you’re already in Pakistan, the easiest way to get around is by bus. You can get from Islamabad to Lahore in around four and a half hours. From Karachi, on the other hand, the bus takes about 22 hours, so unless you have a few stops along the way, you should consider taking a flight.
Getting around Lahore
You have multiple options for getting around Lahore.
If you only have one day in the city, a great option is to hire a guide who can take you around. That way, you can see as much as possible and learn about the city along the way.We visited the city with Ahmed Mahbub, a tour guide who was recommended to us as he knows the city very well. He’s very knowledgeable, and we can highly recommend him. You can contact him on WhatsApp at +92 300 800 6645.
If you prefer to explore the city by yourself, you have multiple options. You can either use taxis, Uber or rickshaws. We highly recommend getting into a rickshaw at least once, as it’s a very cool experience.
If you’re unsure about prices, download Uber and see how much they charge. Then you can compare it to what the taxi or rickshaw drivers ask for.
Lahore also has an extensive network of public transport, as you can see on this route overview. The easiest way to understand where each bus is going is to ask locals. Using buses is always a great way to get in touch with locals and experience their lives, so it can be a fun experience if you’re willing to give it a try.
We hope you now have an overview of the best things to do in Lahore if you only have one day.
This Lahore itinerary covers the most important sights and all of the places where we highly recommend going. If you have any other suggestions, please leave us a comment below!
While you’re here, make sure to check out some of the other posts on our blog that you’re going to find useful for your trip:
- Everything you need to pack for your long-haul flight
- Worried about getting lost in Pakistan? Check out the essential apps you should download before your trip
- The best travel lenses for the Sony A7III that you should check out for your Pakistan trip
Until your next adventure!
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Same architecture is found in delhi and other parts of india.
Thanks for sharing as we can see them on digital world only.
Love from India
Thanks for sharing
I got the post via friend and loved your work.
Your style of presenting is good
Keep it up. All the best and thanks for sharing
Thank you so much for sharing such a valuable info about Lahore.