Karachi’s most prominent landmark is a memorial to Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder and first head of state of Pakistan. The mausoleum is where Pakistan's great leader remains buried, making the location of immense historical significance to the local populace.
This spectacular 1920s palace, once officially belonging to the country's government, is now a museum showcasing the cultural heritage and narrating the history of Pakistan via a few dozen galleries belonging to its jurisdiction to-date. Check the website for current exhibitions.
The National Museum provides an excellent insight into the history of the region. Although the maintenance does leave some to be desired, the museum does contain a collection of 58,000 old coins, hundreds of well-preserved sculptures and other interesting artefacts dating back to various points in Pakistan's history.
The best places to admire the splendid monuments of the colonial era are Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar Road, Zaib-un-Nissa Street and M.A.Jinnah Road. Be sure to check out Liaqat Hall on Abdullah Haroon Road, the Empress Market, and the Karachi Port Trust building.
Escape the heat of the city and catch the breeze at one of the nearby beaches. The best ones are Sandspit Hawkes Bay, Clifton Beach, French Beach (privately owned, with clear water) and Paradise Point, with its scenic rock jutting out into the Arabian Sea. Camel rides are available for entertainment.
The museum adjacent to an actual Pakistan Air Force base in Faisal is Karachi's prime attraction for aviation enthusiasts and not only: the grounds contain an extensive collection of military aircraft (some even open to be looked inside of), and a small amusement park operates on-site.
An excellent Japanese restaurant serving some of the best sushi and sashimi in Pakistan - and beyond. You will find Fujiyama at the top floor of the Avari Towers, offering sweeping views of the city. Some dishes are cooked teppanyaki-style, guests watching the chef work before their eyes.
One of the most popular restaurants in Karachi serving a fabulous assortment of Pakistani dishes, Afghani and Middle Eastern specialities, barbecued meats and seafood dishes. There is a dinner buffet on Mondays and Wednesdays, and a seafood buffet on Tuesdays and Thursdays (7.30pm-midnight).
For cheap and delicious traditional Pakistani cuisine head down to Burns Road. Every night legions of food vendors take to the street to sell their delicious, freshly cooked-on-the-spot delicacies. Boat Basin, in Clifton, is a building complex housing a plethora of international restaurants.
This well-liked ice cream parlour offers a substantial selection of reasonably priced, high-quality ice creams. Be sure to try their falooda, a traditional Pakistani dessert drink that often comes topped with a scoop of ice cream. They also offer many delicious milkshakes. There are several locations across town.
An atmospheric cafe and young locals' favourite hangout location, the Roadside Cafe is a rare find. Images of world celebrities adorn the walls, and vibes are relaxed. Seating available both inside and in the outdoor patio. The menu is varied, and includes meals and drinks, as well as shisha.
Its logo not-so-vaguely reminiscent of a different worldwide coffee shop chain with a similar-sounding name, Sattar Buksh is, however, entirely original in its concept. It's a rather popular evening (and daytime) hangout spot that serves an international menu of dishes and offers shisha.
One of the cities liveliest arteries, the Zaibunnisa Street has historically been a bustling commercial centre, lined with all manner of shops and old colonial buildings. The street remains a prime shopping location today, with outlets selling higher-end clothing, shoes, jewellery, and more.
The maze of Zainab Market is primarily known for selling cheap export-quality clothing, originally manufactured for reputable international brands. Clothing items on sale are overwhelmingly without fault, but did not quite make the cut to be shipped on to overseas distributors. Leather, woven rugs, shawls, jewellery, spices, and many further goods are sold here - remember to haggle.
When it comes to shopping centres, the Dolmen Mall in Clifton knows no competition. It's a one-stop shopping location for clothing, shoes, accessories, and even groceries. A few local and international store brands are represented, including the well-known British retailer Debenhams. There is a food court and children's entertainment centre on-site.
The Empress market's story dates back to the times of the British Raj, when it was first inaugurated and named after the then-empress Queen Victoria. It remains in operation today, and is a busy marketplace selling all manner of produce, including that which isn't in stock at markets elsewhere in the city.
The shopping hot spot of the city's north is Lucky One Mall, an enormous shopping complex that ranks among the largest in the world. Apart from an abundance of retailers, the mall also houses a two-storey theme park for visitors of all ages, as well as an outdoor food street with a variety of restaurants.
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 Jinnah International Airport lies 15 km northeast of the city. Taxis are always available for hire outside the arrivals building. It takes approximately 25 minutes to travel from the airport to downtown Karachi. Agree on the price before boarding the cab, and familiarise yourself with the average fare at your time of travelling. A bus runs from dusk to dawn every 30 minutes. The journey takes approximately 50 minutes, but heavy traffic may extend this time.
The best times to visit Karachi are either at the very start of the summer monsoon season (in July), or during the winter months, from December to February. Mind that due to its waterside location, Karachi maintains rather high humidity levels throughout the year. The summer months, from roughly May to September, tend to get quite hot, temperatures sometimes reaching highs of up to 45°C.
The black-and-yellow taxis do not use meter, so agree on the price in advance and enquire at your hotel about approximate fares if you intend to use these. Convenient, metered, private taxis also operate around the city. Some of these include: White Cab +92 21 111 789 786 Metro Radio Cab +92 21 111 222 787