Last updated: August 1, 2017
Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and a big city with many historic temples and old buildings, several of which can be found on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.
In this article, I share my best tips when it comes to tourist attractions and things to do in Kathmandu.
A beautiful temple complex, also known as the “Monkey Temple,” since lots of monkeys live in the northwestern part of Swayambhunath Temple. From here, you also get a great view of nearly the entire Kathmandu Valley.
The stupa is of great importance among the pilgrims, and the temple is one of the oldest religious sites in Nepal.
Kopa temple is a gated community of Buddhist nuns and monks. In the morning you can watch the monks perform the sacred rituals of the morning. It’s also a place where one can learn more about yoga and meditation.
If you’re interested in knowing more about their courses, you can visit their website below.
Trekking / Hiking
When you think about Nepal, one’s mind wander rather quickly towards the Himalayas and Mount Everest. Kathmandu is for many the start of a long hike, and there are plenty of local travel agencies that organize hiking tours. One could also get some of the required certificates in Kathmandu.
Kathmandu itself has not much to offer when it comes to trekking, but from here you will find buses that take you to Pokhara and other places where you can begin your trek in the Himalayas.
Thamel is the backpacker area in Kathmandu and according to many even the heart of the chaotic capital. There is always something to do in Thamel, and there are plenty of shops that stay open from early morning to late evening. If you look carefully, there are several opportunities to make a bargain, especially when it comes to hiking clothes and accessories.
The Boudhanath Stupa was considerably damaged during the great earthquake that occurred in May 2015. It is still a very sacred building in Buddhism and Buddhists from all over the world come here to pay homage. At the moment it’s being repaired and rebuilt to its former appearance. The stupa is best to visit during the morning when the monks and locals perform their morning prayers. T
here are also plenty of souvenir shops with reasonable prices, but do not forget to bargain!
Overnight stay in Nagarkot
Nagarkot is a cozy little village where you can see the mountain range of the Himalayas in the distance. At clear visibility, it’s even possible to see Mount Everest from here. Nagarkot is most beautiful at sunrise and sunset, especially in summer when visibility is at its best.
I can heartily recommend all who go to Kathmandu to make a visit to Nagarkot and stay for at least one night. I stayed at the hotel “Hotel at the End of the Universe” and found myself eating breakfast overlooking the mountains.
Just the bus journey is an epic experience in itself, at least if you go there by local bus from Bhaktapur.
A classic square which is full of old buildings and a history that stretch far back in time. The hustle and bustle will continuously go on until darkness falls and there are plenty of shops and stalls selling everything from local food to clothes and handicrafts.
Durbar Square is a classic attraction in Kathmandu, which is also available on the UNESCO list of world heritage.
Not everyone in Nepal are Buddhists; there are also a lot of Hindus. Pashupatinath temple is the most important Hindu temple in Nepal and an interesting attraction if you want to learn more about the religion and life as a Hindu.
Fly over the Himalayas and Mount Everest
From Kathmandu, it is possible to book flights that will fly you over the Himalayas and the different peaks, such as Mount Everest. One should have in mind that it’s a private aircraft, so it is relatively expensive. However, it’s cheap compared to western prices. If you’re traveling in a group or if you find other travelers you can split the cost and share the airplane.
A good tip is to either stay at a popular hostel or walk past and hear if more people are interested in joining. From the aircraft, you get a magical view of the majestic mountains that together form the Himalayas.
Other things to do in Kathmandu
Garden of Dreams
A green oasis in the middle of central Kathmandu. Here you can escape the bad air and the stresses of traffic. Especially appreciated if you stay for more than a few days.
The Nepalese themselves call her a living goddess, personally I think it’s pretty awful. If you go on the guided tour, you will most likely visit the Kumari Chowk. Admittedly, it’s a cultural experience indeed, but in reality, it’s a little girl who has no choice and is trapped in a room, just because someone has decided that she’s a goddess.
She is considered to be a living goddess and must not do ordinary things. The locals worship her and visit whenever they want her to bless them.
Also known as Seto Gumba. A Buddhist temple is known for its five Buddha statues that look out over the valley.
Patan Durbar Square
Patan Durbar Square is Lalitpur’s equivalent of Durbar Square in central Kathmandu. Here you will find several old temples and buildings. The square is also a part of the UNESCO heritage in Kathmandu Valley.
Lalitpur is known for its handicrafts and artwork, which can be seen in all of the details available on the temples and buildings.
Hiranya Varna Mahabihar
This temple is situated at Patan Durbar Square in Lalitpur and is also known as “the golden temple.” A beautiful temple where locals still today pay their homage. Definitely worth a visit if you go to Lalitpur.
Bhaktapur is the third city in the Kathmandu Valley and just like the rest of them a historic city with several old temples and buildings. Bhaktapur is also a part of Kathmandu’s UNESCO heritage.