Things to Do in Nainital – A Complete Travel Guide

Table of Contents

  1. About Nainital
  2. Things to do in Nainital
  3. How to Plan a trip to Nainital
  4. Places to stay in Nainital

About Nainital

Nainital

One of the oldest and most popular tourist locales of Uttarakhand, Nainital is a town steeped in local traditions and abundant natural beauty. The town serves as the district headquarters as well as the judicial capital of Uttarakhand. Nainital is located at the foothills of the Kumaon Range, at a distance of 285KM from Dehradun and 345KM from the country capital of Delhi.

With uninterrupted views of the Garhwal Himalayas, ample greenery, and sparkling glacial lakes, the town provides the perfect recipe for an ultimate mountain vacation. Here’s a handy travel guide for a wholesome trip.

Geography

Nainital

Nainital is set within a valley, sitting at an altitude of 6358 feet, flanked by the Kumaon Range of the Himalayas. The town’s highlight is the eye-shaped Naini-Tal or Naini Lake (Tal is Kumaoni for waterbody). The highest point of the town is at Naina Peak, rising to 8579 feet, followed by Deopatha at 7999 feet and Ayarpatha at 7474 feet. The town is known for being home to sparkling, naturally-formed glacial lakes and is often called the City of Lakes. Khurpa Tal, Saat Tal, Naukuchiya Tal, and Bhim Tal are some of the famous lakes in the Nainital district that attracts tourism here.

History

Nainital has been historically associated with the Kumaon region and its people. But the hill station of Nainital was founded in 1841 when the Kumaon Hills was occupied by the British after the Anglo-Nepalese war between 1814-1816. The colonial influence on the town is still visible in its old edifices. The name of the town is derived from local folk mythology and translates to an eye-shaped lake, owing to the massive lake around which the town developed.

Video Credits: DesiGirl Traveller

Things to do in Nainital 

Apart from the famous places, you can also engage in these interesting activities to make your holiday more exciting – 

  • Discover the hidden places in Nainital by taking a heritage walk around the town, seeing the old bungalows, colonial buildings, ancient temples, etc. You can also do a bicycle tour, but not around the steep slopes and explore the Himalayan town like a local.
  • Take the cable car ride from Mallital to Snow View Point and get a bird’s eye view of the town, the Naini Lake, and the surrounding valleys.
  • Walk along the lake promenade and the Mall Road, shop for souvenirs, trinkets, and local art and crafts. You can also plan a romantic evening by the lake, with a boat ride and a dinner with a view.

Best places to visit in Nainital

A land of lakes and forests, Nainital offers endless sightseeing options. From places to visit in 2 days to those you can cover in a day tour, there are a host of tourist places to explore. Here are the best tourist places you can add to your tourist places list – 

Nainital Lake
Nainital Lake
  • Nainital Lake – the most popular tourist spot, Nainital Lake is the highlight of the town and an adventure hub. It is best known for sunset views, boating, picnics, or dining by the lake.
  • Snow View – one of the most famous tourist attractions, this local viewing point offers stunning views of the Himalayas at sunrise and sunset.
  • Tiffin Top – a local hotspot for picnics and day hikes, Tiffin Top offers 360-degree views of Nainital and the surrounding mountain ranges. You have to do a short trek to reach the top.
  • Eco-cave Gardens – a recreation park, this public spot houses a series of ancient rock-cut caves, landscaped gardens, and a musical fountain. This is the best place to spend a day with kids and family. Don’t miss the musical fountain show, held every evening.
  • Nainital Zoo – Also known as the High Altitude Zoo, this local zoo houses several endangered Himalayan wildlife species like Himalayan Bear, Himalayan Civet, Hill Patridge, Tibetan Wolf and other animals.
  • Land’s End – this mountain ridge is set across the Khurpa Tal and is known for uninterrupted, panoramic views of mountains and valleys. You need to trek for about 4KM to reach the Land’s End. There are also local taxis and pony rides available to reach the top.
  • Governer’s House – a 16th-century Victorian mansion, this colonial building resembles the Castle of Scotland. You can take a guided tour and explore the interiors and the gardens.
Tiffin Top Nainital
Tiffin Top

Popular places to visit near Nainital

Apart from the popular attractions in Nainital, you can also visit many other tourist places near Nainital. There are some scenic hill stations near Nainital which you can add to your trip package. These Nainital tourism packages are easily available online on any travel portals or check with your local travel agent for the best trip package. 

A couple of tourist places near Nainital within 50 km – 

  • Pangot, 18 KM – A paradise for bird lovers and bird watchers. You can stay at the cosy hill retreats and go birdwatching at the Snow View Point and Kilbury Road or head out for a wildlife safari. Pangot is home to endemic and migratory species of avifauna like woodpeckers, the famous Khalij pheasant, all types of thrushes, kingfishers, forktails, and more. You can also spot wild animals like Himalayan Goral, Wild Boar, Yellow-bellied Himalayan weasel, red fox, civets, and even jungle cats.
  • Mukhteshwar, 46 KM – The idyllic town is surrounded by an expansive deodar forest spanning 15 square miles, with 22 snow-capped mountain peaks Mukteshwar is famous for pilgrimage to Mukteshwar Dham and outdoor sports like trekking, hiking, and rock climbing.

You can also visit these interesting places near Nainital – 

  • Ranikhet, 58KM – This quaint hamlet in the Almora district, is a picture-perfect settlement with lush meadows, cosy cottages and terraced grasslands. Ranikhet is known for its colonial past, boasting vintage bungalows. For an insight into the good ole days, you can stay at one of the bungalow-turned resorts and experience the classic charm.  
  • Jim Corbett National Park, 69 KM – The oldest national park in the country, Jim Corbett spreads across 520 sq. km. of hills, rivers, marshes, grasslands, natural reservoir and dense forests, housing about 110 different species of trees, 50 species of animals, 580 species of birds and 25 species of reptiles. You can do day safaris or camp at the forest lodges overnight.

Places to Eat in Nainital

Here are a few must-visit places to sample the local flavours – 

  • Machaan Restaurant
  • Papa’s Grill Restaurant
  • Sakley’s Restaurant & Pastry Shop
  • Zooby’s Kitchen
  • Simz Café
  • Boat House Club
  • Café Lakeside
  • Giannis Pure Veg Restaurant
  • Cafe Chica, Abbotsford Heritage Hotel

How to Plan a Trip to Nainital

How to reach Nainital

Nainital is best connected to the nearest metro city and the country capital at Delhi and other places in northern India. Here’s how to reach the scenic town.

By Train

There is no railway station in Nainital. The nearest railway station to Nainital is in Kathgodam, about 34KM away. There are regular trains from Delhi to Kathgodam, among other major cities and towns in the neighbouring states. It takes about 5.5 hours to travel from Delhi to Kathgodam by train. You can also reach the town by train from Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Hyderabad, etc. From Kathgodam, you can take the local bus or book a cab to reach here.

By Road

Nainital is well-networked with the rest of Uttarakhand, and other neighbouring states by national and state highways. The best and nearest junction for road travel is in Delhi, about 350KM away and you can take NH 9 to reach Nainital from Delhi. There are regular state-run and private bus services to Nainital from Delhi and NCR, Agra, Allahabad, Bareily, Dehradun, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Meerut, Faridabad, etc. The best way to travel is to book a private cab or rent a car to drive from any of these cities to Nainital. 

By Flight

The nearest airport to Nainital is at Pantnagar Airport, about 65KM away. There are frequent flights to Nainital from Delhi, Agra, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chandigarh etc. From Pantnagar, you can book an airport taxi to reach Nainital. If you are travelling from any other city in India, you can also fly to Delhi or Chandigarh and then drive to Nainital. 

Best Time to Visit Nainital

Like all hill towns in Uttarakhand, Nainital also experiences classic mountain weather. The summers are cool and pleasant. The winters, on the other hand, are cold and chilly with Nainital temperature dropping below zero. The most popular travel season is between March to June when the weather in Nainital is comfortable for both indoor and outdoor activities.

Hotels & Resorts in Nainital

To make your vacation truly comfortable and memorable, here are some of the best places to stay in Nainital – 

  • Season’s Hotel by Xperience
  • Hotel Chevron Fairhavens
  • The Naini Retreat
  • The Earl’s Court
  • Alka The Lake Side Hotel
  • Hotel Shivraj 
  • Ayar Jungle Resort 
  • Offbeat Nainital 
  • Emily Heritage Villa
  • Lakeside Inn 

Witness the magic of Nainital by booking a car rental to take you to all these places with a local driver. Install Savaari cab booking app for offers and discounts on outstation rentals.  

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Nainital: The City of Lakes | A Complete Travel Guide
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Nainital: The City of Lakes | A Complete Travel Guide
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One of the oldest and most popular tourist locales of Uttarakhand, Nainital is a town steeped in local traditions and abundant natural beauty. The town serves as the district headquarters as well as the judicial capital of Uttarakhand.
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I grew up sneaking away to read the well-worn travel magazines I found at my grandfather's house. Today I write stories of my travel experiences and adventures.

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