Home to over 18 million people, Karachi is not just Pakistan’s largest cities, but one of the top ten largest in the world by population. So where do you start to find the best places to visit in Karachi? I’ve rounded them up for you in this post!
Known as the city of lights that never sleeps, there are a number of fun things to do and places to visit in Karachi for anyone visiting. These include historical sights, outdoor adventures, endless shopping, and endless opportunities to eat.
I spent ten days in Karachi as a participant in the International Entrepreneurship Summer School Program where we explored many sides of Karachi, discovering the best places to visit and things to do.
This guide will provide you with information about IESS, the best places to visit and fun things to do in Karachi city, as well as for where to stay, getting around, and keeping safe while visiting Karachi.
My participation at IESS was kindly sponsored by IBA Karachi. As always, reviews and opinions are my own.
Pakistan Quick Facts
Karachi is home to the University of Karachi and Institute of Business Administration (IBA). Every summer, IBA hosts the IESS program. During this, local students, students from other universities in Pakistan, and international participants join together for 25 days to learn together and explore Pakistan.
The IESS program is broken down into two parts. For the first half of the program, lectures and classes are held at IBA during the day as well as tours around Karachi. For the second half, participants travel through other places in Pakistan.
Mazar e Quaid (Jinnah Mausoleum)
One of the best places to visit In Karachi is the mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. The tomb is made of pure white marble and intricately designed both inside and out.
Aside from being visually beautiful, the mausoleum holds an important historical significance – remembering the person who was behind Pakistan’s independence. Pakistan has only been a country since August 14th, 1947, after it gained independence from British rule.
Visitors can go inside the tomb, and on certain days there are guard ceremonies to honor the founder which we were lucky enough to take part in. Next to the tomb is a small museum in which you can learn more about Pakistan’s fascinating history.
Close by to the mausoleum is the TDF Ghar, a restored 1930’s house where you can learn more about Karachi’s history and get excellent views of the mausoleum and surrounding city from the rooftop.
This restored home was Pakistan’s founders final resting stop, and for just 50 rupees entrance fee you can get a glimpse into what his home used to look like.
At TDR Ghar you can also eat food, play games, drink chai, and spend the night chatting away with your friends. It is open to the public with an aim to promote informal learning spaces in Karachi.
Opening hours: 10-10 Tuesday to Sunday. Closed on Monday.
A fun thing to do in Karachi is to visit the local street markets and get a glimpse into daily life and the heart of business trading in the city.
We visited Karachi’s oldest markets, Jodia Bazaar, which was one of my favorite experiences in the city. Walking through the streets is absolute chaos – you can find just about anything you want there.
All imaginable groceries, live animals, textiles, stationery and spices to last you a lifetime! Walking through the market will awaken all of your senses – be sure to try some of the local street food!
Going to a mall might not seem that exciting but the contrast between Karachi’s modern malls and old bazaars is so interesting.
The Dolmen Mall is the largest mall in Pakistan and home to a number of local and international brands. It’s a good place to shop if you want to get some quality Pakistani clothing.
When we visited the mall they had celebrations going on inside for Pakistan’s independence day, and we were even interviewed on the news!
Opening Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11-11pm. Friday 3pm-12am and Saturday 11 am to 12 am.
State Bank Museum
The state bank museum in Karachi has an impressive collection of money used throughout history in the region, including items that were used as currency when people bartered.
There is a local guide to bring you through the whole museum who has been working there for over 30 years! He is extremely knowledgeable and will answer any of your questions about the history of money in Pakistan. There is also a small art gallery inside the museum.
Opening hours: 9:30-5 every day. Closed Sundays.
Due to its seaside location, Karachi has a number of beaches to visit. French Beach is a favorite among locals because of its private admission and unique location, making it much cleaner than some of the other beaches in Karachi, and safe to swim in. You can rent homes by the sea for the day with private beaches.
Going to the beach in Pakistan is a very different experience then what I’m used too! It’s not appropriate to wear bathing suits and you still need to keep shoulders/knees covered while at the beach. But this doesn’t stop anyone from enjoying the water. During our visit to French Beach, all of the locals were jumping in the water splashing around fully clothed. It’s quite entertaining to watch!
Clifton beach is another fun place to visit in Karachi, where you can get excellent views of the city. It’s best for people-watching as the water is not so clean.
Try a cooking masterclass
Entrepreneurship can be taught in many ways and one of the funnest for me was taking a cooking MasterClass at the Hospitality Business School. The facilities are extremely modern inside – I actually felt like I was walking into Masterchef!
We were put into teams and challenged to create a dish with the ingredients provided (ie. using your burning hand!). No direction was given but the school’s chefs were there to provide tips as we cooked. It was a fun evening and interesting to see how everyone came up with such different dishes using the same ingredients. Plus we got to taste them all afterward!
Join a Cricket Game
Pakistani’s go crazy for cricket and one of the fun things to do in Karachi is to join the locals in a game. At the IBA campus there was a field where we often went to play. Like every other sport I’ve tried I was terrible at it, but it was fun to try!
Mohatta Palace was built by a Hindu prince for his wife in 1927. The doctor advised it would be best for her health if she lived by the sea, so he built her a palace for her final years. Talk about relationship goals!
After Pakistan gained independence in 1947, Mohatta Palace was acquired by the Government to house its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When the Foreign Office moved to Islamabad in 1964, the palace was given to Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, the sister of the founder of Pakistan. Today, it is used as an art gallery and museum, making it one of Karachi’s most beautiful places.
Locals say there is a secret underground tunnel that leads to a Hindu temple that is just a kilometer away. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go through it, but I’m very curious about this!
Visitors are allowed inside the palace for a very reasonable fee of 30 rupees, but cameras are not allowed. But there are lots of photo opportunities outside of the palace, which is surrounded by a beautiful garden.
Opening Hours: 11-6pm every day. Closed on Mondays.
Eat your heart out at Burns Road
Pakistanis LOVE food and eating is a big part of the culture and experience of visiting Pakistan. I have to admit though as a vegetarian I found it sometimes difficult to eat in Pakistan due to the lack of meat options. However one of the best places for vegetarian food I experienced was actually the street food!
Burns Road in Karachi is a street dedicated to food vendors, and is a must-do experience when visiting Karachi. On the streets, you can find vendors selling all kinds of Pakistani delicacies including bun Kebabs, Haleem, Rabri, and lassis to wash it all down with.
Like most of Karachi, Burns Street is open late into the night. Even if you come at 2 or 3am, you will still be able to grab a delicious snack.
Dine by the sea at Do Darya
Another foodie experience to have in Karachi is to go to one of the restaurants by the sea in the Do Darya area. This is a great place to try an upscale food establishment in an open-air environment. Visit Do Darya at sunset to enjoy a delicious meal while watching the sun set into the Arabian ocean.
I didn’t get a chance to check out the following places, but these are some other places to visit and fun things to do in Karachi:
For water sports in Karachi including scuba diving, cliff diving, jet-skiing, and snorkeling, head to Charna Island. This small island sits in the middle of the Arabian sea just 7 kilometers away from Karachi. This is one of the fun places in Karachi I really wish I could have gone diving here – I’ll definitely be checking it out my next time in Pakistan.
Frere Hall is an iconic building built in the British Colonial Era. After the British rule, Frere Hall was used as a town hall but it is now a library and exhibition place. The hall is still in use today, containing over 70 thousand books including rare handwritten manuscripts.
Saint Patricks Cathedral
Located near Empress Market, St. Patrick’s Cathedral was the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Karachi. It was the first church in Sindh, built-in beautiful Gothic Revival architecture.
Another major attraction in Karachi, Tooba Masjid is a beautiful white marble dome mosque that can hold up to 5,000 people, making it the largest known single-dome mosque in the world.
If you’re interested in the history and culture of Pakistan then a trip to the national museum is one of the best places to visit in Karachi. Containing 58,000 old coins, hundreds of well-preserved sculptures, and some 70,000 publications, books and other reading material you’ll be sure to find something interesting.
Opening hours: 9-5 every day. Closed Wednesdays.
Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Museum
Home to multiple aircrafts including planes, jets, radars, and weaponry that have been used by the Pakistan Air Force throughout history. Perfect place to go if you like aircrafts!
The Chaukhandi Tombs
Another one of the best places to go in Karachi if you are interested in history. This UNESCO World Heritage Site houses tombs of the ancestors of a local tribe, which are estimated to be from the 15th and 18th century. They are famous for their intricate sandstone carvings… and apparently haunted!
Pakistan Maritime Museum
For Naval enthusiasts, a visit to the Pakistan Maritime Museum is one of the best things to do in Karachi. Inside the museum, you can see a real submarine, along with several aircrafts and artillerys that were used by the Pakistan Navy.
The timings of the museum are 8:00 to 22:00 and the ticket cost 2-3$ (Rs. 150-250) depending on adult or children.
Set on 130 acres of land, this is the largest park in the city. Inside there is a turtle pond and a rose garden, a perfect place to escape from the chaos of the city!
As a participant in the IESS program, you will be able to stay at the International Housing residence on campus. I spent a night there and found the rooms spacious, clean, and private.
For most of my time in Karachi I was accommodated at the Avari hotel, sharing a room with another blogger. Avari hotel is a 4-star hotel with excellent security and modern facilities. As a guest, you have access to the gym, outdoor pool, and sauna. There is a restaurant on the main floor where a nice breakfast buffet is served each morning. There is also a BBQ restaurant on the top floor of the hotel, which has excellent views of the city below.
If you don’t want to stay in a hotel in Pakistan, another option would be to rent an Airbnb. This is very affordable in Karachi, and by using my reader’s discount code you can get up to $45 off your rental.
Karachi is a large city and the traffic is CRAZY! As participants at the IESS program, we were taken around Karachi either by private cars or bus. Watching the traffic in the city is an experience in itself, and always entertaining.
If you are visiting Karachi you could rent a car to explore the city but I wouldn’t recommend it if you aren’t comfortable driving in the traffic conditions – I know I wouldn’t be comfortable.
There are local buses which reminded me a lot of the chicken buses in Central America. Painted colorfully and usually crammed, this is one of the most affordable options for getting around Karachi.
Hiring a private driver in Karachi is actually really affordable and something you should consider if you want to visit a lot of places in Karachi. Otherwise, you can find taxis throughout the city using Uber.
Uber is a great way to get around Karachi as you can simply download the app, input where you want to go, and a driver will come and pick you up. I like using Uber while I’m traveling because it solves the issue of language barriers if the driver cannot speak English – by using the app to show where you want to go. If it’s your first time using Uber you can get a discount on .your first three rides by using this link.
Safety in Pakistan is a big concern for travelers, and even I was feeling nervous as I left on the plane to go there. However, once I got there those concerns quickly went out the window.
Pakistan is not a country full of crazy extreme terrorists. The media has it wrong. Pakistan is a country full of the kindest and warm-hearted people I’ve ever met. Every single person I met in the country welcomed me with open arms and went out of their way to make sure I was ok at all times. I cannot stress to do you how nice Pakistanis are – this alone is a good reason to visit Pakistan.
There was no time during my month in Pakistan where I felt in danger or threatened. But of course, Pakistan does have its problems and I can’t say the entire country is safe. It’s important to realize that many of these issues are localized, mostly in the border areas near Afghanistan.
Pakistan is a big country, and the IESS team would never take you to an unsafe area. During my time there it was clear that safety for international participants was a big priority. The hotel we stayed at and the campus has excellent security, and when we left to go explore Karachi, we were always guided by an official.
While visiting these places in Karachi you will most likely see a security gate with armed guards at the entrance. Even at McDonald’s they have them. It can be a weird adjustment getting used to seeing so much security but understand that this is there for your safety and not a threat.
One of the best things you can do to keep safe while traveling is to have travel insurance to protect you in case something goes wrong. I recommend World Nomads for coverage in Pakistan.
Final thoughts on places to visit in Karachi
I never imagined I would be spending my summer in Pakistan but I am so grateful to have gone on this experience with IESS. It was one of the most unique travel experiences I’ve had to date and opened my eyes in many ways.
I hope this post gave you some insight into the best things to do and fun places to go in Karachi. If you have any questions or recommendations for more places to visit in Karachi, please let me know in the comments below!