Nainital is the Crown of Uttarakhand and a charming hill station present at the green foothills of the majestic Kumaon ranges. I am always fascinated with hills, and without any doubt, Nainital is my next travel destination. Based at an elevation of 1938 meters, the town is popular for its beauty, and gorgeous Naini Lake. The town got its name after the lake. I was amazed after exploring some of the must-see places to visit in Nainital
After stepping inside the town, I came across some colonial structures, which further enhances the beauty of the place. The peaceful little town experiences and pleasing climate throughout the year make it a perfect tourist destination for families and honeymooners. Nainital has more in it besides the places to visit in Nainital.
I was also amazed to learn that there are 7 more lakes in Nainital apart from Naini Lake. These are some of the places to visit in Nainital. These lakes are:
Out of these, you will find Naini Lake as the most visited lake, whereas Sattal is the most beautiful but least visited.
Places to visit in Nainital: The City of Lakes
Well, I feel the name “The City of Lakes” is apt for Nainital. Including Naini lake, there are 8 beautiful lakes. I travelled during September, and the climate was soothing. During the evening and at night I felt a little cold. You may need jumpers or sweaters, but the weather is comfortable most of the time. The lakes further add to the beauty of the place. You can spend hours sitting on the banks of the Naini Lake with your soul mate or family and enjoy the soothing breeze that blows from the lake. I could manage to visit Naukuchiatal & Sattal besides the Naini Lake. But the lakes are the places to visit in Nainital.
Is Nainital a good place to study?
I was not sure whether Nainital could be a decent study destination besides harbouring so many places to visit in Nainital. But I was amazed to hear from some of the locals there are a couple of quality colleges present here. The St. Joseph’s College, Birla Vidya Mandir, and Sherwood College, to name a few. I learned that celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan, Kabir Bedi, Manish Pandey, Majo Nath Sharma, and Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw have studied from here.
While I travelled, I also learned the place is connected to ancient mythology. Nainital means ‘The Lake of the Eye,’ which traces back to ancient mythology. It is said that one of the charred remains of Goddess Sati fell here. This is why Nainital has one of the Shakti Peeths in India, i.e., Naina Devi. The Naina Devi temple is one of the places to visit in Nainital.
Shopping, Shopping, and only Shopping!
I came across a plethora of shopping places and markets here. You will come across a range of products from the branded ones to locally manufactured. The products range from apparel, showpieces, souvenirs to appliances. I bought 4 wax candles, 4 showpieces, a pair of shirt and jeans, and 1 souvenir.
I found a long chain of shops on the bank of the Naini Lake selling apparel, decorative stuff, and not to forget the wax candles! It reminds us of the establishment of a flourishing wax industry in the 90s. If you are travelling your partner, buy her scarf or shawls from the Tibetan or Bhoti Market. I bought two shawls for 800 INR for each of my mom.
Also, explore the Bara Bazaar in Mallital to experience shopping for food and clothing at pocket-friendly prices. These are some of the famous places to visit in Nainital for shoppers. Also, you must taste mouthwatering. Don’t forget to try the roadside bhelpuri, which is every shopper’s favourite!
Best Things to do & Places to Visit in Nainital
Well, when I travelled to Nainital, the following were the places to visit in Nainital, that I visited, so listing them down for you:
Eco Cave Gardens – Found this spot very intriguing with its six inter-connecting caves resembling that of animals. In the evenings, you can enjoy the see the musical fountain with various audio-visual effects. I had to pay 20 INR as an entry fee. For children, 10 bucks more. It thus tops my list of places to visit in Nainital.
Naini Lake – This lake is the cynosure of every traveller’s eyes. From the top, it appears green with lush green vegetation surrounding from all sides. I felt relaxed and calm while I looked at the green waters of the lake. Not to forget the gentle breeze, which will have a soothing effect on your mind, body, and spirit. Indeed, it is the landmark of Nainital. This is truly one such places to visit in Nainital.
Mall Road, Nainital – The Mall Road, you can say, is the city centre. It has various restaurants and shopping places for tourists. You will come across various hotels and lodges as well. The road connects the two ends of the hill station.
Snow-View Point – This point is 3 km away from Nainital and offers a panoramic view of the snow-covered peaks of the majestic Himalayas. After reaching there, I found locals offering binoculars to enjoy the visuals better. The charge for this is 50 INR. This is one of the places to visit in Nainital.
Tiffin Top – Perched at an altitude of 7520 feet, this is one of the places to visit in Nainital. Tiffin Top is 4 km away from Nainital and will offer you picturesque scenes of the surrounding peaks of Aryapatta Hills and the Himalayas. You can hike or trek to Tiffin Top. The hiking trail is about 4 km. I though travelled by booking a taxi! This is one of the places to visit in near Nainital.
Naina Peak / China Peak – Naina Peak or China Peak is the highest in Nainital. It is a significant tourist attraction in the city, with snow-covered peaks throughout the year. This is one such places to visit in near Nainital. The blanket of trees offers a picturesque view. It is a popular spot for hikers and trekkers due to its altitude and scenic trails—the China Peak, also known for its romantic sunrise and sunset.
Naina Devi Temple – Are you spiritual? Then obviously, you must not miss the Naina Devi Temple. It is an iconic temple based at an elevation of 1219 m above sea level at the upper end of Naini Lake. I am not a very spiritual sort of person, but still, I paid a visit just to by hearing several folklores about the temple. It is said that the temple is built exactly at the spot where Goddess Sati’s eyes fell. The temple is known as one of the 51 Shakti Peeths all over India. If you are at Nainital, visit the temple between 6 am – 10 pm. It is one of the famous places to visit in Nainital.
Zoo – As I am an animal lover, I never miss an opportunity to see wild animals wherever I visit. There is a high altitude zoo at Nainital, so I just thought of taking a stroll inside. Established in 1984, Pt. G.B. Pant High Altitude Zoo or Nainital Zoo is present on the hill, Sher ka Danda in Tallital. This zoo is one of the places to visit in Nainital for solo travellers (like me), family, and children.
The zoo is home to several endangered wildlife species like the – Himalayan Bear, Himalayan Civet, Hill Patridge, Tibetan Wolf, Sambar, Barking Deer, and the majestic Royal Bengal Tiger. I had to pay 50 bucks to enter the zoo. Videography and camera charges were extra. Truly, this is one of the places to visit in near Nainital.
Well, there are few other spots which I could not make it to or did not feel like visiting due to time constraints – Jeolikot, Neem Karoli Baba Ashram, Pangot, Peora, Khrupa Tal. But, next time I will surely cover those as well.
ALSO READ MY GANGTOK STORY HERE – Gangtok: A beautiful tourist destination in Sikkim
Nainital for Trekkers
The entire landscape of Nainital is perfect for hiking and trekking activities. Though I did not trek there, one thing I can assure you of is to do a trek to Naina Peak. The experience will be one to remember as it offers a six to seven hours of rigorous trekking experience to an altitude of 2611 meters. The trail will include a beautiful, green landscape along with plenty of bird species to watch out for. Thus it is one of the places to visit in near Nainital.
Another popular trek and hiking spot is the Tiffin Top Trek. The trek includes spectacular action and luxurious natural experience. The trail is of 3 km, and you must start early morning to enjoy the campfire by dusk on the base.
The Food in Nainital
I am an avid food lover, so I try out authentic local dishes wherever I travel. You can taste various cuisines like the Indian, Chinese, Continental, Italian, Thai, Tibetan, and local. But, I was more inclined towards eating local dishes. The dishes include – Ras (a dish made with several dals), Bhatt ki Churkani, Baadi, Aloo ke Gutke (spicy preparation of boiled potatoes, Arsa (a sweet dish), and Gulgula (a delicious snack).
Some of the famous restaurants in Nainital are – Zooby’s Kitchen, Gianni’s Pur Veg, Machan Restaurant, China Town, etc. There are dhabas as well, like – The Daba by Royal Kitchen. These are places to visit in near Nainital.
Places to visit in Nainital, but When?
Nainital is a popular tourist spot that attracts tourists all round the year. There are many places to visit in Nainital. So, time is important. However, you must visit between March to June (Summer/Spring) to enjoy most. This period is a perfect time for honeymoon couples and family to visit this beautiful tourist spot. For the snow lovers, late November to February is the ideal time.
I travelled during September; I felt the warmth as well as the comforting chill of the place. In my case, the evening and so after got a little chilly because of the breeze that blows from Lake Naini. Well, one must avoid Monsoons in hilly places because of landslides and slippery roads.
How I reached Nainital?
Well, I reached there by road boarding a Volvo Bus from Anand Vihar ISBT, Delhi. It cost me 600 INR and took 6 hrs 30 mins via NH34 & NH9 to reach the destination. There is no direct rail and air route though. So, I will recommend travelling by road either by Bus or Car or Bike. Cars can be quite expensive means of travel so as flights but will take less time. Trains will be as time-consuming as buses are.
Budget for places to visit in Nainital
The budget depends on the number of people travelling and the type of services you avail. I had to bear 11,000 INR approx, including food, lodging, travel cost, and shopping for 2 days 1 night. If you want to participate in adventure activities, like camping, paragliding, trekking, etc. then it may cost you a bit more.
I did not make any hotel booking in advance; I booked after reaching there. Well, I stayed in Hotel Ashok (near the city centre), and it cost me 2,500 INR. If you have a higher budget, you can book resorts. Shopping? Well, I spent 5,000 INR on that. For food, it cost me Rs 600. So plan well before deciding to see places to visit in near Nainital.
2 days & 1-night tour plan: How I made it in such short duration
In just 2 days & 1 night, you can definitely cover your trip. You will be able to cover the most important sites within this period. I covered places like Naini Devi Temple, Mall Road, Shopping, etc. on the first day of my trip. Next Day, I covered places like Tiffin Top, Naukuchiatal early in the morning. In the afternoon, on the second day, I departed for Delhi. Plan properly while you are planning to see places to visit in Nainital.
Well, this was my first solo trip, so the journey to Nainital has made a special place in my memory. It was a memorable experience for me. Costs will vary depending on a number of people travelling, your hotel & travel, your tour plan, and how much you shop and how you stay there. In my case, I am a shopping enthusiast plus foodie so my budget was like that.
It was a dream come true and a great experience for me after exploring some of the best places to visit in Nainital. If anyone of you loves hills do visit Nainital once, and you can share suggestions and experiences in the comment section.
There are various hotel and tour packages for Nainital, I have given their links below: