It’s hard to imagine a more magnificent landscape than the rugged peaks, hidden villages and wind-swept plains of Pakistan. Here are 20 of the most beautiful places in Pakistan, from wild mountain passes and unreal lakes, to ornate mosques and ancient fortresses. Western media might try to tell you otherwise, but trust me – Pakistan is an absolutely stunning country. Think famous mountain peaks, emerald-green and turquoise-blue valleys, deserts filled with remnants of ancient civilization… And that’s not even the half of it.

1. SWAT VALLEY

The Swat Valley – one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan.

Though it has had a rough past, the present and future of Swat Valley are shining very bright. This stunning valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan is something straight out of a fairy tale.Think bright green fields and forests, picturesque villages, and rivers boasting shades of blue so clear and bright you wouldn’t have thought them real!The true beauty of Swat can be found around the town of Kalam, which serves as a base to the explore the beauty of the valley. Here are 3 places you can’t miss in Swat Valley:

Boyun Village

Boyun, also known as Green Top, is a short drive or manageable up-hill walk from Kalam town. When you finally reached the pinnacle, you’ll be rewarded with a panorama of one of the most vast and beautiful villages I’ve ever seen – along with sweeping views of the valley below. Boyun is an easy day trip from Kalam.

Swat Valley – does it get any more picturesque than this!?

Kandol and Spindhor Lakes

These alpine lakes lie 2 hours away from Kalam. These days, Kandol Lake is accessible via jeep track and is a bit more commercialised, whereas Spindhor can only be reached on a 2-hour trek. Whichever you choose to visit, both are absolutely counted among the most beautiful places in Pakistan.

Ushu Forest

This well-preserved forest is full of deodar trees and is a fabulous place to get lost. The road that leads into the forest continues on to several villages set along the Kalam River.

2. HUNZA VALLEY

The exquisite Hunza Valley is a must-visit place in Pakistan.

If you live in Pakistan – or have read anything about the country – it’s almost certain you’ve come across the name Hunza. Don’t let the word ‘valley’ confuse you, though – Hunza is actually a massive district made up of numerous valleys and villages. One part of the ancient Silk Road, here are some of the most beautiful sights in Hunza:

Passu Cones

The Passu Cathedral is a natural work of art and one of the most recognisable scenes in Pakistan. Though staying overnight in Passu village is no longer allowed, the cones are visible from a ways away, starting from the village of Gulmit. The most iconic view of the Cathedral is from the Karakoram Highway, about an hour’s drive from Gilgit City.

Attabad Lake

A lake that doesn’t look real… Even when you’re standing right in front of it. Attabad was born out of tragedy when a massive landslide occurred in 2010. The flow of the Hunza River was blocked, and the now-famous lake was created in its wake. Its bright-blue turquoise waters make the it one of the most beautiful places in Pakistan.

The Hunza Valley is one of the best places to visit in Pakistan.

Eagle’s Nest

Want to see one of the most epic sunsets in the Hunza Valley? Head to Eagle’s Nest around golden hour! The name comes from an upscale hotel/restaurant nearby, but you can drive up to the viewpoint without going there.

3. YARKHUN VALLEY

Though it’s relatively unheard of and forgotten compared to Pakistan’s most famous tourist spots, I think Yarkhun Valley was the most beautiful place I visited in the country. Located in the Upper Chitral district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Yarkhun dazzles with its mountain ranges and untouched villages.

Reaching the valley, which stretches for many kilometres past the administrative town of Mastuj, requires a bit of effort if you don’t have your own vehicle. If you do have one though, the ride isn’t too bad – just prepare for mostly dirt roads!

The side valley of Gazin is most definitely worth a detour if you make it all the way to Yarkhun. Here, you can see the mountains of the Thoi Pass, a high-altitude pass that connects Upper Chitral with Yasin Valley in Gilgit Baltistan.

4. PHANDER LAKE

Phander Lake, located in Phander Village, is almost too good to be true. The teal-coloured lake sits silently amongst light-green trees befitting a landscape painting.

Despite being insanely beautiful, Phander Lake doesn’t see anywhere as close to the number of tourists as the more popular Attabad Lake does.

Phander Valley

During the 4 days I spent in Phander relaxing lakeside, I didn’t encounter any other tourists. If you do visit, I highly recommend you stay at the Lake Inn, which is a short walk away and charges 1,000 rupees per night.

There is also the expensive (5,000 rupees) PTDC that overlooks the lake, but the hospitality and value at Lake Inn reign superior.

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