10 Best Places to Visit in Kathmandu

10 Best Places to Visit in Kathmandu
Photo by Raimond Klavins / Unsplash


Kathmandu, Nepal's capital and largest city, has long been the focal point of the country's vibrant art, culture, history, and economy. Boasting a diverse population, with Hindus and Buddhists forming the majority, Kathmandu is often seen as the gateway to the Himalayas. Here's a list of the top 10 must-visit places in Kathmandu.

  1. Swoyambhunath Temple
a very tall building with a lot of flags on top of it
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Swoyambhu, also known as the Monkey Temple, is Nepal's oldest site, holding immense cultural and historical significance. Perched atop a hill west of Kathmandu, it features a large stupa at its centre. The stupa's white dome symbolizes the earth, while its 13-tiered tower represents the 13 stages of Nirvana. The eyes painted on the structure symbolize Wisdom and Compassion, with the squiggle below them, resembling the Nepali number "Ek (one)," signifying unity. Surrounding the central stupa are prayer wheels inscribed with the sacred mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum." The temple offers a breathtaking panoramic view of Kathmandu City and accommodates various chaityas, temples and painted deities, along with numerous restaurants and local shops. A Hindu temple dedicated to "Harati Mata" is located on the premises, attracting devotees seeking relief from health issues. The top can be reached from Buddha Park, known for its three massive golden statues of Buddha, Chenresig, and Guru Rinpoche, or from Bhagwan Pau, where 365 steps lead directly to the summit. Swoyambhu is a remarkable example of Hindu-Buddhist harmony and is a must-visit for all travellers to Kathmandu.  

  1. Nyatapola Temple
brown concrete building during night time
Photo by Pritush Munankarmi / Unsplash

Nyatapola, an iconic pagoda-style five-story temple, was built in the 17th century by King Bhupatindra Malla. Dedicated to Goddess Siddhi Lakshmi, a powerful tantric deity, it is renowned for its architectural splendour and is the tallest monument in Nepal. The temple's five tiers symbolize earth, water, fire, air, and sky. Constructed using seismic design principles, Nyatapola has withstood all earthquakes since its creation. It is a must-visit for art lovers and photographers alike. 

  1. Pashupatinath Temple
a group of people standing in front of a building
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Pashupatinath, a Hindu temple honouring Lord Shiva, stands near Kathmandu by the Bagmati River. Recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1979, it comprises temples, ashrams, and statues of various deities, all built along the river over centuries. The main temple is accessible only to Hindus, while others can view it from the terraces. Leather items such as shoes and belts are strictly prohibited, and photography inside the temple is restricted. Being near Pashupatinath offers a serene experience, with rhythmic chants and rituals creating a peaceful atmosphere scented with incense. Whether as a casual observer or a devoted pilgrim, the surroundings evoke a timeless spirituality for contemplation. The temple exudes a sense of tradition and devotion spanning centuries. Its tranquil ambience transforms it into a spiritual sanctuary and connects with the divine.

  1. Kumari House 

Nepal is renowned for its living goddess, Kumari, revered as the reincarnation of the Hindu warrior goddess Taleju Bhawani, an avatar of Goddess Durga. The Kumari House, constructed in 1756, is a three-story building strictly off-limits to all but Kumari's attendants and select guests. However, the inner courtyard, a notable exception, is often bustling with tourists and locals alike. The building features exquisite wooden carvings and panelling of exceptional quality. It is believed that witnessing Kumari brings good fortune, making late August or early September an ideal time to visit. During this period, the city hosts Indra Jatra, one of Kathmandu's grandest and most lively festivals, during which Kumari is paraded through the streets in a magnificent golden palanquin. 

  1. Kathmandu Durbar Square
a group of people standing in front of a building
Photo by Martijn Vonk / Unsplash

Situated in the heart of the capital city, Kathmandu Durbar Square is encircled by Buddhist and Hindu temples, primarily constructed in the pagoda style, boasting intricately carved exteriors and interiors. The square, adorned with ancient temples, palaces, and courtyards, reflects the religious and cultural essence of the region. Key attractions include Kumari House, Kastha Mandap, Big Drums, Kal Bhairav, and Taleju Temple, among others. Basantapur, the central square, captivates first-time visitors with its elaborate wood carvings and rich history. Surrounding the square are palace complexes dating back to the Malla and Shah periods, distinguished by their finely carved Newari architecture. Often referred to as "The Museum of Temples," Kathmandu Durbar Square boasts over 50 temples, adding to its historical and architectural significance.

  1. 55 Window Palace
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Photo by Dhruvin Pandya / Unsplash

Named for its 55 windows, this three-story palace is renowned for its exemplary wood carvings from the Malla era. The first floor features intricately carved wooden doors, while the second and third floors have arched windows adorned with carvings of "Asta Bhairav," Lord Ganesh, and Lord Kumar. The palace's first-floor walls are adorned with paintings depicting Malla Kings and Queens, various deities, scenes from the Ramayana, and more. Although the palace's interior has been closed for many years, visitors can still explore its exterior, which is an exciting and adventurous experience. Access to several inner courtyards, including the Golden Gate, a significant artifact, Taleju Chowk, and Nag Pokhari, is available. While visitors can approach the doorstep of Taleju Temple, only Hindus are permitted to enter.

  1. Nagarkot
green trees on mountain under white clouds during daytime
Photo by Ghana Shyam Khadka / Unsplash

Nagarkot, situated at an elevation of 2195m in Bhaktapur district, is renowned for its breathtaking Himalayas and the panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley. It is considered one of the most picturesque spots for observing sunrise, boasting a stunning vista including eight of the thirteen Himalayan ranges. These include the Annapurna Range, Manaslu Range, Ganesh Himal Range, Langtang Range, Jugal Range, Rolwaling Range, Mahalangur Range (Everest Range), and Numbur Range. Nagarkot is a popular hiking destination, attracting tourists and locals alike. The best times to visit Nagarkot are October to December and March to April.

  1. Dharahara
a large lit up monument at night
Photo by Sagar Rana / Unsplash

Dharahara, a 72-meter-tall monument in Sundhara, Kathmandu, features a spiral staircase with 213 steps and a circular balcony at the top. Following its destruction during the 2015 earthquake, it was rebuilt and reopened to the public in 2021. The top floor offers a panoramic view of the Kathmandu Valley and includes a 17-foot bronze mast on the roof. The architectural style of Dharahara blends elements of both Mughal and European design. The monument also houses a mini-exhibition theatre, a mint museum, a 'Green Park,' a musical fountain, a vehicle parking area, a souvenir shop, and a food court, with two lifts for accessibility, among other attractions.

  1. Narayanhiti Royal Palace Museum

The Narayanhiti Palace Museum, situated in Kathmandu east of the Keshar Mahal and adjacent to Thamel, was established in 2008 within the former Narayanhiti Palace complex following the 2006 revolution. Previously, the palace served as the residence and main workplace of the monarch of the Kingdom of Nepal, hosting various state occasions. Built by King Mahendra in 1963, the palace complex features an impressive array of courtyards, gardens, and buildings. The museum's establishment coincided with the dawn of The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, marking a significant political shift in the country following ten years of the People's War and the Nineteen-day People's Movement. The palace was transformed into a public museum in line with these political changes. The palace is divided into three wings: the guest wing, the state wing, and the private wing encompassing 52 rooms known as "Sadans," named after Nepal's districts. The interiors of the palace reflect the Late Victorian style. Visitors can explore the collection of old furniture and artworks housed in the palace for centuries, as well as marvel at the ornaments and lifestyle enjoyed by its former inhabitants. The museum also displays valuable medals and idols, including a historic fleet of vehicles, one of which was a gift from Hitler to King Tribhuvan. However, certain items such as the Royal Crown and throne are not open for viewing due to security reasons, given their immense value. Overall, the Narayanhiti Museum provides a fascinating insight into Nepal's history and the lives of its former rulers.

  1. Budhanilkantha Temple

This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is considered sacred by Hindus and Buddhists. At its centre lies a large reclining statue of Lord Vishnu, standing 5 meters tall, within a 13-meter-long pool of water. This statue, carved from a block of black basalt stone, is believed to be the largest stone carving in Nepal and is over 1400 years old. Adorned with a crown engraved with multiple Kirtimukha images, the statue depicts Lord Vishnu reclining on the serpent Shesha, symbolizing the cosmic ocean and the creation and maintenance of the universe. In this form, Vishnu appears to be in deep sleep, awakening only during cosmic crises to restore balance and protect the universe. The statue's intricate details include Vishnu's crossed legs and the eleven heads of Shesha cradling his head. Vishnu's four hands hold symbolic objects representing his divine qualities: a disc (representing the mind), a conch shell (representing the four elements), a lotus flower (symbolizing the moving universe), and a club (symbolizing primeval knowledge). This ancient temple, a masterpiece of the Licchavi dynasty, is steeped in history, spirituality, and beautiful architecture. Its complex carvings and design elements pay homage to Nepal's artistic past, showcasing the skill and artistry of ancient Nepali craftsmen and instilling a sense of cultural pride among the Nepali people. The temple's serene location, surrounded by a sacred pond believed to have purifying effects, provides an environment conducive to spiritual reflection and devotion.


Kathmandu's allure lies in its unique blend of tradition and modernity, offering visitors a glimpse into Nepal's rich cultural tapestry. From its ancient streets and vibrant markets to its breathtaking natural beauty and warm, welcoming people, Kathmandu is a destination that promises a lifetime of memories. Whether exploring its historic sites, immersing in its diverse culture, or simply soaking in its natural charm, visiting Kathmandu will surely be an unforgettable experience.