The grounds of beautiful Islamia College are open to the public, allowing anyone to enjoy the glory of its Victorian architecture and tranquil, green premises. It is a reputable academic institution, too, and one important enough to be displayed on the 1000 Pakistani Rupees banknote.
The Sethi Mohallah area within the walls of Peshawar's old town contains rare examples of Central Asian-inspired architecture, building constructed by the once prosperous trader family. The intricate woodwork and carvings, along with ornamental interiors and stained glass windows and ceilings, make for a fascinating look around (mind that most houses are now privately owned).
The imposing fort was once the seat of Afghan Durrani royals; ownership was transferred to the Sikhs in the 19th century, the fort eventually being rebuilt by Britain to achieve the look it has today. Bala Hisar now houses the paramilitary forces of Pakistan (which makes a look inside problematic), but an on-site museum is open to the public.
The Cunningham Clocktower, known locally as "Ghanta Ghar", lies a mere couple of hundred metres away from the city's busy centre, Chowk Yadgar. It was inaugurated in 1900, to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of British queen Victoria. The Kalyan Bazar road that runs from here is lined with interesting examples of old merchant dwellings.
Security is of concern at present and trips to the Khyber Pass are best left for a better time (check official safety advice at your planned time of travel), but do seize the opportunity when the opportunity comes. The pass has long been a gateway to South Asia (part of the ancient Silk Route), travelled by merchants, explorers and conquerors, the likes of Alexander the Great and Mughals, a channel that now connects Pakistan to the troubled Afghan territories via Torkham. Michni Checkpoint is as far as most visitors can count on getting.
For a BBQ feast the region is know for, try the excellent Habibi, whose best offering is a special BBQ platter (the full version serves a party of 4 or 5, while the 1/2 is enough to feed a couple), which includes a variety of chicken, mutton, and fish dishes, as well as the Afghani rice-based speciality kabuli palaw.
Meat is ordered by the kilo at this reputable Old Town establishment, diners' selection then sent straight to the open kitchen to be cooked to their liking before their very eyes. Transparency is certainly part of the appeal, and so is the traditional ambience and authentic cuisine of Peshawar, where meats are cooked on low heat.
The rooftop barbecue restaurant is one of the finest dining establishments in the entire city, offering panoramic views, live music, and traditional floor seating for those who prefer it. Both a la carte and buffet service are available. Prices are higher than at most local establishments, which means there are rarely too many diners.
Cafe Crunch is a pleasant surprise - unlike at many other city eateries, guests are welcome to linger for longer than the exact amount of time it takes to finish a meal, which is great news for those who happen to love the breezy courtyard. The menu lists a selection of meals and snacks, including the recommended steaks and pizza, as well as desserts and soft drinks. There is live music in the evenings.
Mr. Cod is a local take on the traditional UK fish and chip shop, with a fast food menu that includes fish burgers, deep-fried prawns, chicken rice, and fish tikka, all of which come as part of great value combo meals with fries. The breakfast special includes an egg muffin sandwich, red beans, salad, and a hot beverage.
The Italian bakery and restaurant Cafe de Milano occupies the basement of Aman Center in the Main University Road (use the Telenor office as a reference point). Many come here for the scrumptious cakes, but meals like steaks, barbecue, seafood, and even Thai and Chinese dishes are served.
The Pearl Continental is one of the very few places in Peshawar that serve alcoholic drinks to non-Muslim foreigners, including beer produced by Pakistan's longest standing Murree Brewery. The dining offer is extensive, and includes Italian and Chinese cuisines, as well as a rooftop barbecue restaurant. Live music and shows set the scene on occasion.
The BarBQ Tonight rooftop terrace remains open well after most establishments had closed thier doors, until as late as 1am, all through the week (except on religious holidays). An extensive menu of BBQ specialities certainly helps its popularity, with chicken, mutton, and seafood grills served alongside masala and tundoor dishes.
The recently revamped Nishtar Hall is a cultural centre aimed at preservation of the Pashtun traditions and art. Plays and musical performances marked it being re-opened in 2016 after forced shut down nearly a decade prior; exhibitions and other cultural events are hosted here on a regular basis.
A city's busiest shopping area across Pakistan and India is often known as "saddar", Peshawar being no exception. The array of shops and vendors is simply staggering, and may prove overwhelming to the unprepared visitor, so do consider hiring a local guide. Haggling is acceptable at both markets and stores.
The part of Khyber Bazaar known as Qissa Khawani, or the "street of storytellers", is where traders and travellers of olde shared tales of grand adventures in foreign lands - hence the poetic nickname. Much has changed since, but Qissa Khawani remains a vibrant market street, where clothing, teas, spices, crockery and metal housewear are still sold.
Best known as the place to get quality jewellery (including pieces featuring authentic precious stones), Ander Sher is a popular market with an abundant offering of various ornaments - and not only. A separate section within specialises in items of gold. Custom-made pieces may be ordered.
The Karkhano Market has gained notoriety for the weapons and opiates sold in its closed-off-to-foreigners far end; venturing here without a trusted guide is an endeavour we do not endorse. The sprawling shopping area leading up to here, however, can be visited freely, although remaining vigilant at all times is essential.
Multiple terrorist attacks have been carried out in Pakistan in recent years, including at places of interest attractive to tourists like markets, cinemas, restaurants, and other places known to be frequented by foreigners. This applies to Peshawar especially, party due to the city's proximity to the Afghanistan border and lawless Tribal Areas, through which guns and drugs are known to flow freely. At the time of writing (early 2018) all but essential travel to Peshawar is advised against. Threat of terrorist attacks and kidnappings is imminent, and solo exploration, particularly for female travellers, is not recommended, and strongly advised against after sundown. Modesty in dress is advised, which implies loose-fitting clothing that covers shoulders and legs.
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 Bacha Khan International Airport (formerly Peshawar International Airport) is one of the busiest air hubs in the country. It services multiple destinations within Pakistan and abroad. The airport is located a short drive away from the city centre. It is possible to hire a rental car or taxi upon arrival. Afridi Rent a Car Concourse Hall & Car Parking Area PABX BKIAP: +9291 9211525
In terms of weather, the months that boast most comfortable temperatures are late spring's April and May, as well as early autumn's September and October. As for the safety situation, it can change and deteriorate quickly, so doing research immediately prior to travel is absolutely essential.