Manali is a beautiful resort town that will compel you to leave the cocoon of your home for its enchanted snow hills, splendid cliffs and verdant thickets. Be it any time of the year, this hill station in Himachal Pradesh is always bustling with vacationers. Along with sightseeing, there are so many interesting things to do in Manali that make it bucket-list worthy. From river rafting to skiing to trekking, the power-packed adventure that you experience in Manali is something that you can proudly brag about in front of your friends and family. Then there are hot springs, parks, countryside and local markets that you cannot miss while here.
Don’t get overwhelmed by reading so many options, just incorporate the following things to do in Manali in your itinerary to not miss out on anything amazing.
Things to Do in Manali:
1. Indulge in Unlimited Adventure
Manali is one of the very few destinations in India that offers a mixed bag of adventure activities that can be tried by amateurs as well as experienced adventurers. If you love trekking, you will be spoilt for choice as Manali boasts of ample options, including trekking to Bhrigu Lake, Vashisht Jogini Waterfall, Chandrakhani Pass, Chandratal Lake, Hampta Pass, Deo Tibba, etc. You can also feel the thrill of height through rock climbing, rappelling, paragliding, hiking, etc. Other exhilarating activities that you can enjoy here include zorbing, skiing, backpacking, cycling, camping, angling and river rafting that will definitely pose a challenge to you.
2. Get Delighted by its Natural Charm
Manali is undoubtedly one of the prettiest hill stations in India with amazing natural treasures to impress you. Along with alpine meadows, towering deodar trees and evergreen thickets, beautiful waterfalls in and around Manali are simply picture-perfect. Be it Jogini Falls or Rahala Falls, these cascades are famous picnic spots too. Nature lovers will also enjoy exploring the high altitude Bhrigu Lake, Nehru Kund and Beas River, among others. Manali Sanctuary, Van Vihar and Great Himalayan National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, provide an unparalleled wilderness experience by allowing you to explore the rich flora and fauna of the region.
3. Enjoy a Glimpse into its Culture
The best way to know about any place is to explore its cultural and historical treasures. Manali too has its share of attractions that provide an insight into its rich heritage, such as the amazing collection at Museum of Himachal Culture & Folk Art and the artefacts of the famous Russian artists at Nicholas Roerich Art Gallery and Museum. Then there is the 15th-century Naggar Castle, which has now been converted into a heritage hotel. Besides, an easy way to get acquainted with the culture of this hill station is to attend the festivals celebrated here, such as Manali Winter Carnival and Lossar Festival.
4. Explore its Religious Sites
Manali is dotted with a number of temples and other religious sites that must not be missed. The one that tops the list of places to visit in Manali is the famous Hidimba Devi Temple, also known as Hadimba Temple and Dhungari Temple. Along with this 16th-century shrine with unique wooden architecture, you must visit Manu Maharishi Temple, Vashisht Hot Water Springs and Temple, Gauri Shankar Temple and the nearby town of Manikaran, which is a popular pilgrimage destination. Other popular religious sites include Arjun Gufa or Cave that is associated with the Hindu epic Mahabharata and Nehru Kund, which is a sacred natural spring.
5. Embark on Culinary Journey
If you are a foodie, you will be delighted with the culinary scene of this resort town. Manali is chock-a-block with cafes and restaurants serving lip-smacking local and international delicacies. Among the many available options, few standouts are Johnson’s Café, Casa Bella Vista and Café 1947. To relish authentic local Himachali food, head straight to Vibes, while to savour delectable Tibetan and Chinese food, you must visit Tibet Kitchen. Other popular places to eat in Manali are Drifters’ Inn & Café, The Lazy Dog, Chopsticks, La Plage and Il Forno, among others.
6. Shop to Your Heart’s Content
One of the most enjoyable things to do in Manali is shopping in the narrow lanes of the markets in this hill station. One of the first shopping destinations that visitors and locals explore is Mall Road, which is the lifeline of this hill town. Always buzzing with shopaholics scouring the items or bargaining for better prices, Mall Road has a number of shops selling Tibetan items, souvenirs, woollen clothes, accessories, etc. Bhuttico, a cooperative established by a group of village women in 1944, is another popular place to shop and has three outlets in Manali. The bustling Manu Market, the rustic Old Manali Market, the colourful Tibetan Market and the standalone Himachal Handicrafts Emporium attract shopaholics in large numbers.
7. Experience the Exciting Nightlife
It is a common belief that there is not much to do at hill stations after sunset, but you will be pleasantly surprised in Manali. This resort town has many pubs and discos where you can hang out and enjoy even after the sun goes down. Johnson’s Bar & Restaurant on Circuit House Road and Tapas Bar & Restaurant on Prince Anwar Shah Road are two of the most happening places in Manali. Zing Zing Bar & Restaurant, Soma Café and Khopcha are equally popular among night lovers. Those who wish to dance the night away can visit the popular discotheques in Manali – The Buzz and Chelsea Club.
8. Embrace Spiritual Upliftment at Monasteries
Soak in the unique spiritual vibe of the monasteries in Manali that acquaint you with varied aspects of Buddhism. These monasteries draw a huge number of visitors every year not only for its religious significance but also for their impressive architecture, rich culture and history. Himalayan Nyingmapa Buddhist Temple and Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa, popularly known as Manali Gompa, are two of the most famous monasteries that you must try to visit during your stay here. Besides, you will find many shops in and around these monasteries selling Tibetan handicrafts items that make for great souvenirs.
9. Keep a Day Aside for Rohtang Pass
No trip to Manali can be considered complete without visiting the splendid Rohtang Pass of the Pir Panjal Range. Located around 51 km away from Manali and at a height of 4000 metres above sea level, this inescapable tourist destination manages to delight everyone – nature lovers, photographers, adventurers, couples, etc. Depending on your preference, you can either spend leisure moments exploring this stunning place that charms you effortlessly or indulge in thrilling adventure sports such as skiing and mountain biking. Irrespective of your reason for visit, this spellbinding escapade of nature will give you enough memories to last a lifetime.
10. Stopover at Solang Valley
Situated en route from Manali to Rohtang, Solang Valley is one place that you simply cannot afford to miss during your visit to Manali. Also known as Solang Nala, the place buzzes from dawn to dusk with visitors as there are numerous exciting things to do here, including cable car ride. During winters, the entire valley resembles a fairy-tale setup with snow covering every inch of the land, which forms the perfect ground for skiing, snow scooter riding, sliding and other winter sports. As the snow melts, this place is flocked by vacationers interested in paragliding, zorbing, rock climbing, parachuting, horse riding, etc.
With so many interesting things to do in Manali, it is understandable that this hill station is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the entire country. So, no matter what time of the year you plan your visit, you will surely have a memorable time in this resort town.