Mesmerizing landscapes, warm hospitality, thrilling winter sports, and pleasant climatic conditions are just some of the experiences waiting for you in Shimla, India’s dearest and most well-known hill station. It is a place where adrenaline junkies can find their fix while the city also attracts nature lovers, history buffs, and solo travelers with its many attractions. From trekking, hiking, and camping to sightseeing and ice skating, there are many things to do once you check in at your hotels in Shimla.
Want to prepare an itinerary that includes the best of experiences in this scenic hill station? Here is a list of things to do in Shimla to help you plan your trip.
1. Take the Kalka – Shimla Toy Train Ride
Taking a ride in the Shimla Toy Train is one of the best ways to relive your childhood while soaking in Himachal Pradesh’s old-world charm. This 2-feet-6-inch narrow-gauge railway passes through some of the most stunning landscapes, deodar and oak forests, and quaint stations that seem frozen in time. Put aside a few hours of your Shimla trip for this UNESCO World Heritage icon that is more than 100 years old. And, wait for the best part, this 96-kilometer ride will take you through 100 plus tunnels and over 800 bridges and viaducts.
- Popular Trains: Himalayan Queen, Kalka Shimla Express, Shimla Kalka Passenger
- Journey Duration: 6 hours (approx.)
- Tickets: ₹ 65 to ₹ 470 approx. (depending on the class chosen)
2. Visit the Shimla Ridge
Every major hill town has that one spot where the people converge for various activities. For Shimla, it is the Ridge. Apart from its colonial-era buildings, Gothic structures, bars, restaurants, boutiques, shops, and cafés, the Ridge is a nice spot to engage in people watching and town photography. During the winter, the snow-covered street is a favorite stop for nature lovers and photographers who come here for the snowy scenes.
- Timings: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
3. Shop at Lakkar Bazaar
If you are at the Ridge, you must head over to the adjoining Lakkar Bazaar, one of the best shopping places in Shimla. The street bazaar is known for its carved wooden toys and curios, made by the local Sikh community. Apart from these quintessential Shimla souvenirs, you can also dig into the delicious snacks in the nearby eateries. They say the aloo tikkis and chole bhatures at Sita Ram are not to be missed out. Afternoons and evenings are the best time to experience the pulsating vibes of the market.
- Timings: 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
- What to Buy: Wooden toys, walking sticks, pashmina shawls, woolens, Kullu shawls, and handicrafts
4. Chill Out at the Mall Road
Your Shimla trip would be incomplete without getting lost in the crowds and stalls of the Mall Road, the commercial and recreational heart of the town. From handicrafts and jewelry to books and souvenirs, you can shop for an amazing range of goodies here. The tourist attractions in the vicinity, such as the Scandal Point, Gaiety Theater, and Town Hall will add to your experience. Strolling around aimlessly on the Mall Road hunting for bargains definitely counts among the fun things to do in Shimla.
- Timings: 9:00 am to 9:00 pm
5. Explore Johnnie’s Wax Museum
Fancy spending some time with historical figures, global sports icons, your favorite movie stars, and other popular fictional characters, all made of wax? Head over to Johnnie’s Wax Museum, one of the top places to visit in Shimla. It is a small venue and you probably need an hour or so to say hello to all the residents here, including Mahatma Gandhi, Harry Potter, James Bond, and Michael Jackson. Take a few selfies with your favorite icons and have a few laughs.
- Timings: 10:00 am to 10:00 pm
- Entry Fee: ₹ 250 per person
6. Go Trekking
Being located in the middle of such a celebrated topography makes Shimla a perfect base for moderate treks. An early start is best for one-day treks while there are options for multi-day expeditions too, which are arranged by local agencies. Climb along the mountain trails, wander through orchards and thick alpine groves, and enjoy the views of snow-capped mountains that accompany you wherever you go. Some of the popular treks in and around Shimla are:
- Dhanu Devta Temple Trek
- Kamna Devi Temple Trek
- Chadwick Falls Trek
- Churdhar Trek
- Shimla – Jalori Pass Trek
- Shali Tibba Trek
7. Camp Under the Stars
Camping under the stars is one of the best things to do in Shimla for youngsters and couples. There are many campsites in and around Shimla and you can choose between high altitude spots, forests, and valleys that are usually close to a stream or water source. During these camping expeditions, you can also engage in adventure activities, enjoy campfires, and go on trekking tours.
- Popular Camping Sites in Shimla: Mashorba, Narkanda, Junga, Shogi, and Kufri
- Camping Season: April to June, September to October
8. Hike to Jakhu Hill and Temple
A hike to Jakhu Hill and Temple, which is at an elevation of 2455 meters above sea level, is one of the top activities to do in Shimla for adventure seekers. The experience will leave you breathless literally as well as figuratively because of the picturesque vistas of alpine trees and the snow-covered Shivalik Ranges. The summit is also where you can visit the historic Hanuman Temple which houses a giant 108-feet-tall Hanuman statue.
- Temple Timings: 7:00 am to 8:00 pm
9. Enjoy the Architectural Splendor of Indian Institute of Advanced Studies
The prestigious Indian Institute of Advanced Studies is one of the most celebrated research institutions in the country. Apart from offering research facilities for smart minds from all over the country, this institute is also a highlight of Shimla’s architectural heritage. Originally built in the 19th century to serve as the residence for Lord Dufferin, the structure boasts of the Victorian style of architecture. It is also a historical landmark as it was the venue of the 1945 Shimla Conference, where the decision to form Pakistan was taken.
July to April – 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
May to June – 9:00 am to 7:00 pm
Closed on Mondays
- Entry Fee: ₹ 40 for Indians; ₹ 85 for foreigners; ₹ 20 for the garden visit
10. Enjoy a Session of Ice Skating at Shimla Ice Skating Club
Shimla Ice Skating Club, which is just shy of 100 years, houses the only open air and naturally formed skating rink in the country. You can rent your skating gear at the premises and sign up for training sessions. The venue also hosts many carnivals, events, and competitions around the year, so keep your eyes peeled on the Shimla calendar. It goes without saying that a visit to the skating club is one of the best things to do in Shimla with your family and kids.
- Timings: 8:00 am to 11:00 am and 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm (December to February)
- Charges: ₹ 200 onwards
11. Take a Trip to Chadwick Falls
There is no dearth of adventurous things to do in Shimla, and a trip to the beautiful cascades of Chadwick Falls is right on top of that list. Located amidst the verdant setting of the Glen Forests, it cascades down from a height of 86 meters. There are some scenic trails around the falls for short hikes while the picturesque surroundings make it an ideal spot for shutterbugs and picnickers as well.
- Timings: 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
- Best Time to Visit: June to September
12. Test Your Teeing Skills at the Naldhera Golf Course
Touted as the oldest golf club in the country, Naldhera Golf Course is located at an altitude of over 2200 meters and offers you stunning views of the surrounding areas. This 18-hole golf course, which was established in the early years of the 18th century under the supervision of Lord Curzon, is currently maintained by the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Department. The club admits non-members by charging green fees and you can also enjoy drinks and food at the clubhouse located within the premises.
- Timings: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
- Green Fee: ₹ 500 onwards
- Distance from Shimla: 22 km (approx.)
13. Watch the Sunset at the Scandal Point
Watching the sunset at the Scandal Point is one of the most romantic things to do in Shimla for couples. Located at the intersection of the Ridge and the Mall Road, it is also a great location for photography enthusiasts who are looking for that perfect Himalayan shot. While here, you can relax on the benches or walk around to catch a glimpse of the statue of Lala Lajapat Rai and the General Post Office, which is a grand colonial structure.
- Timings: 6:00 am to 8:00 pm
14. Explore the Army Heritage Museum at Annandale
History and military buffs will enjoy spending many hours at the Army Heritage Museum, another must-visit attraction in Shimla. The green surroundings add to the allure of the museum which has educational displays on the history of the Indian army, military leaders, awards, and the local history of Shimla. You can also see a collection of uniforms and weapons, some dating back to hundreds of years and contemporary ones like machine guns and pistols. Another famous exhibit here is the surrender letter of Pakistan for the 1971 war.
- Timings: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm; closed on Mondays
- Entry Fee: Free
15. Visit the Christ Church
One of the oldest churches in the sub-continent, the Christ Church is a lasting symbol of Shimla’s colonial legacy. The church dates back to 1857 and is a stunning example of Neo-Gothic architectural style. From the clock faces to the stained glass windows, everything about the edifice has unmatched grandeur and it looks even more spectacular when illuminated in the evenings. The church houses a large pipe organ which is more than a hundred years old.
- Timings: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
16. Explore the Shimla State Museum
Want to learn a bit about the vibrant cultures and traditions of Himachal Pradesh? Then a visit to the Himachal State Museum must be in your list of things to do in Shimla. The building was once was the residence of British administrators but for the last four decades, it has been a treasure trove of artifacts and exhibits in its new avatar as a museum. Highlights of the museum include paintings from the Mughal era, sculptures, Pahari art, and works by many famous contemporary artists. You will also be enamored by the special collection of Himachali dolls here.
- Timings: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; closed on Mondays
- Entry Fee: ₹ 10 for Indians, ₹ 50 for foreigners
17. Go Birdwatching at the Water Catchment Sanctuary
Because of the large green cover, Shimla is a haven for birding enthusiasts. If you are one too, bring your binoculars along and go birdwatching at the Water catchment Sanctuary. It is a protected forest established by the British over a century ago and is also home to rich avifauna. Chubby Koklass Pheasants can be sighted here in abundance along with several other endemic and vibrant species. The sanctuary has well-maintained cycling tracks and you explore the place on bicycles which are available on rent.
- Timings: 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm; closed on Mondays
- Charges: ₹ 10 for entry; ₹ 50 for bicycles (5 hours)
18. Watch Himalayan Wildlife Species at Himalayan Nature Park
The wildlife of the Himalayas is a fascinating spectrum of rare and hardy species, ranging from raptors to large cats that haunt the mountains like ghosts. You can enjoy a slice of this natural diversity at the Himalayan Nature Park, a well-maintained establishment that is home to animals and birds you probably will not come across in other zoos in India. The main residents here include Himalayan black bears, musk deer, bharals, hangals, and Tibetan wolves. Apart from the fauna, the orchids and rare plants here are also an attraction.
- Location: Chail – Kufri Road
- Timings: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; closed on Tuesdays
- Entry Fee: ₹ 20 for adults; ₹ 10 for kids
- Distance from Shimla: 14 km (approx.)
19. Offer your prayers at the Tara Devi Temple
The Tara Devi temple, one of the major temples in Shimla, testifies to the spiritual significance of the Himalayas in Hindu scriptures. Tucked on the hillside and facing the grand peaks in all their glory, the shrine is believed to be more than 200 years old. The deity, Tara Devi, is an incarnation of Goddess Durga and one of the biggest festivals here occurs during Navratri. Apart from the panoramic vistas of the mountains, one can also get a birds’ eye view of the city from the temple, making it a great place for photography.
- Timings: 7:00 am to 6:30 pm
- Entry Fee: Free
- Distance from Shimla: 18 km (approx.)
20. Take a Short Trip to Kufri
Fancy visiting the Winter Sports Capital of India? Then take a short trip to Kufri, a famous hill station located near Shimla. In addition to the panoramic views it offers, the region is also known as an adventure hub for those who want to try skiing and skating during winters. Mahasu Peak, Kufri Fun World, and India Tourist Park are some of the other attractions here. Don’t forget to visit Green Valley, a serene natural dale that has been featured in many Bollywood movies.
- Distance from Shimla: 18 km (approx.)
Shimla caters to all kinds of travelers and a well-planned itinerary is all you need to soak in the diverse experiences it offers. While this list of things to do in Shimla doesn’t cover everything, it’s a good start to plan your trip. Let’s get started, shall we?