The Hunza Valley in Northern Pakistan’s Gilgit Baltistan region has long been a hotspot destination for local and foreign tourists.
As a result, the Hunza Valley is probably the most developed part of the mountain areas and is the perfect introduction to those looking to experience Northern Pakistan. The big draw to Hunza is of course the accessibility to epic mountain views and local hospitality – both of which are hard to beat elsewhere in the country.
So what is there to do and see here? From epic multi-day hikes to cultural festivals to feasting on local apricots and traditional dumplings – there are enough awesome places to visit in Hunza to keep you busy for a while – that’s for sure.
The area that makes up the entire Hunza Valley can be classified like this: Any area from Aliabad to Attabad Lake is considered “Lower Hunza” while areas north of Attabad Lake are considered “Upper Hunza”.
Below is a list of the best things to do in Hunza Valley for people keen on visiting this magical part of Pakistan
#1. Stay with a Local Family
The concept of village homestay in Pakistan has not been around for very long, but has become one of the best things to do in Hunza for a couple of years now.
The idea is simple: tourists can stay with a local family in their home and see what day-to-day life is like in a rural mountain village.
Epic Backpacker Tours was the first company to start including homestay experiences on our trips when we started staying with our dear friends in Ghulkin Village back in 2016 as independent travelers.
There are now a handful of other homestay options to choose from in both Gulmit, Ghulkin, and Charpursan Valleys respectively.
Staying in a local homestay is perhaps the best way to meet local people, experience Hunza Culture, of of course, enjoy a home-cooked meal.
#2. Visit Hussaini Suspension Bridge
If you have ever seen a photo of Hunza Valley, odds are you have seen images of the iconic Hussaini Suspension Bridge.
In recent years, the popularity of this site has swelled – with local people capitalizing on the sudden boom by charging a fee to tourists for visiting.
To be honest, the bridge can get very busy these days! That said, it is still one the best places to visit in Hunza, if not just once.
#3. Bridge to Bridge Hike
If you want to take your vist to Hussaini Suspension Bridge up a few notches, then make a hike of it!
There is a much less frequently visited bridge (Passu Suspension Bridge) just a few kilometers down the road where you can start the hike to Hussaini Suspension Bridge.
The entire hike takes a couple of hours from bridge to bridge and is the best way to escape the crowds.
You can break up the hike as you pass through a small agricultural village before pushing on to finish at Hussaini bridge.
We advise that you go with a local guide as navigating the terrain can be pretty tricky if you have never been here.
#4. Eat Yak Burgers
Typically speaking Yak burgers are not really a thing in other parts of Pakistan. But in Hunza, thankfully THEY ARE A THING.
A small, misleadingly humble shack on the side of the road in Passu called the Yak Grill is serving up one of the tastiest burgers and thick-cut French fries we have tried anywhere in the world.
All burgers are made to order fresh using local yak meat and freshly baked brioche-style buns. This is the perfect meal to follow a big hike.
#5. Hike to Baskochi Meadows /Attabad Lake View Point
The Baskochi Meadows /Attabad Lake View Point is a spot to take in some of the best views in all of Hunza,
The vibe could not be more different too than the weird carnival-like feel of the Attabad lakefront.
The hike is steep but well worth the effort as very few people know about the hike or make the effort to come here.
Access to the hike is right near the turnoff to go down to the lake shore itself.
#6. Eagles Nest
Another one of those must-see Hunza viewpoints is at Eagles Nest.
Eagles Nest – much like the name suggests – is a 360-degree viewpoint situated up the hill from Karimabad (30 minutes by car from there).
Like other places in Hunza, the area around Eagles Nest has gotten developed to the point where we no longer recommend to spend the night up there. As you drive up the road to Eagles Nest, you will see what I am talking about; there are hotels every 50 meters!
That said, the view point remains unaffected and is probably the best place to visit in Hunza for the sunrise.
#7. Sleep in a Luxury Eco-Yurt Cottage
Hunza is one of the few places in the whole country where you can find a legit boutique hotel offering yurt-cottage accommodation with incredible mountain views.
There are even multiple options of great places to stay in both Aliabad and Gulmit.
Our friends at Mountain Story resort in Aliabad have built something truly special and for the last few years, we make a point of visiting them every time we roll through Hunza.
From the terrace of the property, commanding views of the valley and Rakaposhi dominate the landscape.
The menu at Mountain Story also makes it one of the best places to visit in Hunza – if not just for the food. The chocolate mousse and local manti-style dumplings rank as our favorite options on the menu.
#8. Visit The Old Hunza Forts
As recently as the middle of the 20th century, Hunza Valley was actually still a kingdom lorded over by a local royal family.
Their former residences – which are actually fortresses – are located at the top of two villages: Karimbad and Altit.
The Baltit and Altit Forts were expertly restored in the 1990s and remain one of the most fascinating historical sites in Northern Pakistan.
You can visit both forts in the afternoon and with a local guide who can explain a bit about the history and features each fort possesses.
The views from both forts are equally impressive.
#9.Try Local Food in Karimabad
Traditional Hunza food is very different from the typical curries and meat barbeque found across Pakistan.
And… it is amazing.
There are a couple of local food stalls in the center of Karimabad that serve up some of the tastiest traditional Hunza food we have found anywhere.
Our favorite dishes are Chapshuro – a sort of local pizza-style thing filled with minced meat (beef) and a local version of pasta called Hoi Lo Garma.
#10. Visit Nagar and Hopper Glacier
Located directly across the river from Karimabad, the Nagar Valley is a great place to a day trip.
There are not a ton of touristy attractions here – which is exactly why a drive through it is special.
Nagar Valley is peppered with small, traditional villages and agricultural fields – and arguably one of the best Chapsuro joints in the whole region.
At the far end of the valley, the road stops, and the Hopper Glacier begins.
It is possible to actually go down from the view point and walk a bit on the glacier. If you opt to set foot on the actual glacier, use caution and go with a local if possible as there are crevasses and unstable ice that can be very dangerous.
#11. Go Camping at Patundas
The most spectacular 2-day hike you can do in Hunza involves crossing the Passu Glacier and a few nights camping at Patundas Meadows (or just below it).
The views from Patundas offer one of the best mountain landscape viewpoints we have seen anywhere in the world.
Crossing the Passu Glacier to get there is a whole other wild experience and one that should only be attempted with a local guide.
When we go to Patundas with our Discover the Hunza Valley groups, we tend to camp down below Patundas as there is often no reliable water source on the actual Patundas top (4300 m).
#12. Go Ice Skating / Play Hockey
One of the best things to do in Hunza during winter is ice skate!
When temperatures plummet, several lakes in the area freeze over, making them ideal for a few games of hockey or just a simple skate.
There are local children’s groups who play regularly during winter time – and even if you do not play yourself, attending one of the games is a lot of fun.
If you do plan to be in Hunza during winter, pack accordingly. Temps can regularly plummet below -15 c during the day.
#13. Rent a Motocyle and Drive the Karakoram Highway
One of the most iconic stretches of road in the world, the Karakoram Highway is the ultimate place to go for a drive on a motorbike.
The most common bikes in Pakistan are 125 cc Honda bikes – which are ubiquitous in just about every corner of the country.
It is possible to rent a bike in Gilgit or Karimabad for a very reasonable rate per day.
You should have previous experience riding motorbikes if you choose to rent one as the roads are not for beginer-lvel bikers. Always wear a helmet when you ride!
#14. Ultar Base Meadows and Base Camp Hike
Another awesome off-the-beaten-track hike in Hunza is to Ultar Base Camp.
Located in the mountains above Karimabad, the hike to Ultar Meadows / base camp is an all-day affair and is not recommended for those with poor fitness.
Very, very few people who visit Lower Hunza attempt this hike – which is a shame because the scenery is incredible.
Expect 7-8 hours roundtrip if you are a fast hiker. As always with these sorts of hikes, go with a local guide to avoid getting lost.
#15. Go for a Swim in Borith Lake
In the summertime, temperatures can heat up in the Hunza Valley and the only thing attractive to do is go for a swim!
Borith Lake is the prime spot to do it (Attabad Lake can be too busy and cold).
It is also possible to rent small boats or kayaks if that is more your thing.
Apart from swimming, Borith is just a cool area to hang out and absorb the mountain vibe over a picnic. There are also a couple of hotels right on the lake, so you order meals or stay overnight as well.
#16. Go to Hunza During Cherry Blossom Season
Once winter breaks and spring appears, the barren valleys erupt into a sea of color from the spring fruit blossoms.
The best time to visit Hunza for cherry blossom season is around the middle of march.
And it is not just cherries – apricots, apples, and other fruits are also in bloom around the same time.
If Japan is known as the world capital to see the cherry blossom explosion – then the Hunza Valley is a close second.
#17. Sip a Real Espresso in Cafe de Hunza
Much to our dispair, Pakistan is simply not a coffee-drinking nation. On all of the trips we run in Pakistan, we always bring our own coffee and French press from abroad.
But wait… there is a place in Hunza where you can get real coffee!
The Cafe de Hunza is a cozy little cafe in the heart of Karimibad serving real espressos, lattes, and their famous walnut cake. They also serve a variety of sandwiches and rostis – both of which are uncommon menu items elsewhere in the area.
Bring your favorite book, sip on a few espressos, and while away the afternoon. For people who love coffee and chill time, a visit here is clearly one of the best things to do in Hunza.
#18. Attend a Wedding Ceremony
While obviously not a thing just open to anyone, if you find yourself in the right place at the right time with some local Hunzai friends, you might just get invited to a local Hunza wedding.
Local weddings are probably the biggest parties that happen around here and are always a ton of fun.
Sometimes the festivities can go on for days and always involve a ton of good food, dancing, and local music.
#19. Try Hunza Water
Just because Pakistan is an Islamic country, does not mean that people do not drink and that there is no alcohol around. Hunza people (well, men mostly) like to drink – and there is no doubt about it.
A locally distilled spirit, Hunza Water is famous in the area. While not the best-tasting beverage we have ever tried, Hunza Water is the thing if you are wanting to have some alcohol at the end of the day while visiting Hunza.
Made from local fruits like mulberry or grapes, Hunza Water is a clear spirit and is often sold cut with water already.
Beware the hangovers from Hunza Water as they can do your head in if you over-indulge.
#20. Explore Ganish Village
Ready to step back in time? Visit Ganish Village.
Visit the oldest and first settlement on the ancient Silk Road in the Hunza Valley: here you will find various ancient watchtowers, traditional mosques, religious centers, and a reservoir (where local kids swim in the summer).
It is located 90 km and 2.5 hours traveling time from Gilgit. The meaning of the word “Ganish” is unknown but according to local “scholars”, it is derived from the Burushaski word “Genish”, meaning gold. Ganish has been a major town for travelers since the days of the Silk Road and now sits just off of the Karakoram Highway.
Wrap Up: Best Places to Visit in Hunza
It should now be no secret that there are plenty of awesome things to do in Hunza.
From epic hikes to village homestays to tasty local food – there is definitely something or everyone here in Hunza.
It is our hope that as tourism expands in the region, the magic that has made the Hunza Valley so popular is preserved for future generations of locals and visitors.
Want to experience Hunza yourself? Join Epic Backpacker Tours as we hit all of the best places to visit in Hunza during our Discover the Hunza Valley Tour!
Anything we left off of this list? Let us know in the comments below!