Once the residence of great Mughal royals, the fort calls for a slow-paced examination of its grounds, believed to contain some of Lahore's most ancient relics. Taking a guided tour is highly recommended (prices and duration negotiable). On-site museums include an armoury and painting exhibitions, along with a Mughal Gallery containing artefacts dating back to the era.
The splendid Badshahi Mosque ranks among the world's largest, and the city of Lahore's finest attractions. Apart from elaborate decor and architectural detail, mosque grounds contain the Tomb of Allama Iqbal, a prominent Pakistani philosopher and poet. It's beautifully illuminated at night; look over from the top floor of a restaurant in nearby Food Street.
The splendid Lahore Museum offers fascinating insight into the rich history of the Indian subcontinent. Artefacts and displays date back to the earliest findings of early pre-historic times all the way through to the late 20th century, including Gandharan, Mughal, Sikh, and British relics.
Animal-lovers and those travelling with children should try and write the Lahore Zoo into their itinerary. Its variety of animal species is among the widest on the subcontinent, including tigers, lions, hippos, crocodiles, and a great many birds. The drive-through safari park on the southern edge of town provides a further glimpse of animal life.
The tomb of Mughal emperor Jahangir is a majestic work of architecture, commissioned by his son Shah Jahan in memory of his late father. The complex is known especially for its intricate detail which includes ornate frescoes, carved marble, and mosaics of semi-precious stone known as "pietra dura" style.
Rooftop Monal commands sweeping views of Lahore, all the while offering discerning guests a lengthy menu of Pakistani and Continental dishes. The daily dinner buffet (6.45-11pm) is a real hit, followed closely by Sunday brunch (10.30am-2pm) and "high tea" on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons.
It doesn't get much better than this on the Lahore dining scene: set inside the old walled city, Andaaz offers seating on an airy terrace overlooking the splendid Badshahi Mosque, which lights up beautifully at night. The menu centres on cuisine from the subcontinent, featuring a variety of karahi (thick curry) and tandoori dishes.
Take advantage of the intimate outdoor courtyard seating and tuck into delectable barbecue specialities (get the mixed grill platter to share among several diners), or come for the popular Sunday brunch (10am-3pm), a family favourite. Stop by the on-site dessert shop for take-away goodies.
Do not be deterred by the cafe's location on shopping mall premises: fame of The Pantry's fabulous salads has travelled all across town, bringing in a steady flow of return customers. While you're there, do not skip on the delectable cheesecake and/or other desserts in the glass display.
One of the pioneers of its time, Coffee, Tea & Company remains an excellent spot for breakfast and high tea in Lahore. The menu features dishes of Continental and international cuisine (including some loose interpretations of Mexican), along with atypical desserts such as deep-fried chocolate bars.
This longstanding, fine cafe has loyally served generations of Lahore natives, and continues doing so to-date. The menu consists of primarily Continental and international specialities, including burgers, steaks, pasta, Asian noodles. What makes it especially attractive come sundown is the music, which ranges from traditional to popular western hits.
Adjacent to the only museum of puppetry in the country, Peeru's is a very special establishment with an elaborate decor like none other. Quirky artwork adorns the walls, and every Thursday through Sunday night sees a live band perform music of a different cultural tradition (e.g. sufi and ghazal).
The foodie city of Lahore keeps going come sundown, and some of the best places to head to experience its vibrancy are the so-called "food streets", of which there are two most popular: the older one, located in Gawalmandi, and the new, pedestrian-only Fort Road, a stone's throw away from the fort and famous Badshahi Mosque.
The brainchild of Lahore Art Council operates as a cultural centre open to the public, whose sole goal is preserving and showcasing the country's artistic heritage. There is a permanent art gallery on-site, but the main attraction is the open-air theatre that regularly plays host musical and theatrical shows, as well as other cultural evenings.
The sprawling Anarkali Bazaar is one of the oldest and best-known shopping neighbourhoods in Lahore. Come here if not for the traditional garb and jewellery, then to experience local flavour at its most vibrant and, at times, most hectic. There is plenty of street food to be had off the sides of shopping arteries.
Now here's a stadium like none other you've had the luck to experience – it teems with visitors day and night, with no sporting events in sight on most occasions. More of a shopping and entertainment complex, Fortress Stadium and the adjacent Fortress Square Mall contain an abundance of stores, ample dining joints, along with a cinema and children's entertainment centre.
Bring plenty of time when headed to the Emporium Mall, for its shopping toils aren't easily escaped. Apart from ample local and international-brand stores and restaurants, the mall contains a cinema and kids' entertainment centres. Daily visitors number in the tens of thousands, so peak hours (weekdays after 5pm) and weekends might be best avoided.
Most travellers will need to apply for an entry visa via one of Pakistan's diplomatic missions. Visa on arrival may be issued in certain cases, but only applies to a selected number of nationalities, and only for visitors travelling as part of an organised tour group or on business. Visa-free entry is granted to nationals of the Maldives, Nepal, Samoa, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago. Indian residents are subject to extra regulations and are not issued tourist visas, but may enter the country on a different type of visa. Citizens of India, along with Bangladesh, Bhutan, Israel, Nigeria, Palestine, Somalia and Uganda are required to register with the police upon arrival.
The city of Lahore is served by Allama Iqbal International Airport. Getting to and from here is possible by public transport (there are two bus routes that run through the city and have stops at the airport; check the website for detailed schedules). Another convenient option, aside from official taxi, are the auto-hiring apps Uber and Careem, its Asian equivalent. The official following taxi companies service the airport: Metro Radio Cab Concourse Hall, Lahore Airport +92 42 111 222 787 www.metrocab.com.pk City Radio Cab Concourse Hall, Lahore Airport +92 21 111 111 129 [email protected]
As a general rule, the summer months of May through August are bets avoided, for this period is both the hottest (often uncomfortably so) and most humid (especially in August and September). Most religious celebrations take place between November and January, so plan accordingly depending on whether or not you would like to coincide with those. Winter and early spring are best in terms of temperatures, with degrees rarely going into the negatives.
Although the walled city is entirely walkable, getting to locations across town might require using public transport. The Lahore Metrobus line connects the city's north to south, from Shahdara Terminal to Gajjumata Terminal (tickets may be purchased at vednding machines at bus stops). If speed is of priority, taking an official taxi or qingqi (small auto rickshaw) may be your best bet. There is also a red double-decker sightseeing bus whose route includes stops at most of Lahore's attractions. The entire loop takes approximately 2 hours to complete.