Kathmandu: what to see and do in the capital of Nepal

durbar square kathmandu nepal
durbar square kathmandu nepal

Journey of Kathmandu, visiting temples, monuments and palaces in the mystical land of this city, the starting point for many excursions to the bold peaks of the Himalayas.

Guide to Kathmandu

Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu has always been the entry point of the nation, in a mystical land of temples, monasteries and mountains, a place where large groups of adventurous travelers get together to share their experiences before facing the high passes mountain that await them as a challenge to human nature.

From 1950 geologists and mountaineers come here to study and climb those that are the highest mountains of the earth. The valleys are dotted with medieval villages that are worth a visit, including the ancient Patan, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu where internet cafes, restaurants and pizzerias are found next to the temples from secular history.

Since 1979 Kathmandu has become part of the UNESCO World Heritage, its downtown is like a living museum with temples, palaces, shrines and effigies of deities scattered around its narrow streets. Many visitors spend a few days in Kathmandu to acclimatise, before embarking on a difficult but fascinating trekking on the chains of Himalaya.

What to see in Kathmandu

Boudhanath Stupa
Topped with a golden spire and adorned with painted eyes of Buddha, this famous Buddhist monument for the preservation of relics, dating back to 600 AD. Thousands of Tibetan refugees and Buddhist devotees gather in this place every day at sunset to go around the stupa, 36m high, fitted with butter lamps in auspicious sign.

Durbar Square
It is a square formed by a magnificent complex of palaces, courtyards and temples that mark the heart of the old city, with stepped roofs that rise above the cobbled streets and wooden statues finely carved to serve as a side dish.

Hanuman Dhoka
Built by King Pratap Malla in the 17th century, the former royal palace overlooking the southern end of Durbar Square. The royal apartments have been converted into a museum containing objects of kings, but what is most striking are the lavish decoration of the rooms.

Perched on a hill west of Kathmandu, this Buddhist temple offers spectacular views of the Kathmandu Valley. The main stupa is topped by a golden tower with the eyes of Buddha which cast a vigilant over the city. Swayambhunath is commonly called Monkey Temple due to the wild monkeys who flock to the stone stairway to the sanctuary.

Kathesimbhu Stupa
The Kathesimbhu stupa is located in a courtyard near secret Thahity Tole. Surrounded by statues, miniature stupa and shops selling Buddhist paraphernalia, the monument was built in 1650 as a scale model of Swayambhunath.

Kumari Ghar
This palace dating 18th century is dedicated to Goddess Kumari, a young girl worshiped by Nepalese Hindus as an incarnation of the goddess Taleju. On special occasions, the statue of the goddess child is exposed to the crowds of devotees on the balcony of carved wood.

Patan Durbar Square
In the past, independent city-state, Patan Durbar Square looks like a rich fantasy of palaces, temples and courtyards with the decorations typical of the Nepalese.

Bhimsen Tower
Highest vantage point in the center of Kathmandu, the Bhimsen Tower stands as a beacon in front of the main post office. From the top of the tower, 62m high, it is possible to detect the streets of old Kathmandu and the mountains sawtooth beyond the valley wall.

Garden of Dreams
In an oasis of calm amid the noise and bustle of Thamel, the garden of dreams seems a miniature piece of Parisian gardens of Versailles. The ponds and pavilions, built in 1920 by Kaiser Shumsher using the proceeds of a successful night gambling, were restored in 2006 with funds from the Austrian government.

National Museum
West of the center, in the district Chauni, the National Museum houses an extensive collection of ancient artifacts, sculptures of the temple, statues, paintings and medieval weapons. Among the treasures are the personal armor and weapons of the King of Nepal.