Murree, once a charming colonial town nestled in the Himalayan foothills is now a popular hill station and bustling summer resort in the Galyat region of northern Punjab. Due to being a picturesque and pleasantly scenic places in the country, the last one decade have seen rampant development and today Murree more closely resembles a litter-strewn overcrowded and a thriving tourist resort. However it remains exceedingly popular with Pakistani families for whom its truly a tourist paradise and receives glowing recommendations from this demographic. In summer it is cool - even chilly in the evening - while light rain is common. In winter Murree hides herself under thick blanket of snow.
An American journalist Camile wrote, that, "Everything and anything can happen in Murree. Romance is in the atmosphere; intrigue is in the air. The roads to this happy holiday's resort embrace both the heaven and earth. In Murree it is easy to fall in love".
The name "Murree" means ""high place" and it stands at 7,517 feet above sea level in the Pir Panjal range. It was founded in the 18th century by the British, and served as the summer headquarters of the British Raj in the Punjab Province until 1864.
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Murree's cool climate is the precise reason why it is such a popular summer retreat. Located at an altitude of approximately 2,300m above sea level, the region has a hilly terrain and is covered by dense evergreen forests. A few visitors choose to visit Murree during winter, when the place is less crowded, snowy and the views are too spectacular for words.
There is no airport and railway station in Murree due to its mountainous terrain and therefore, only accessible by road. The nearest air link is Islamabad International Airport and the nearest rail Link is at Rawalpindi Cantonment Station.
Murree is the administrative headquarters of the Murree district and therefore, it is well connected by road to other towns of the district. Murree is also linked by road to the larger towns of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Muzafarabad and Abbotabad. No matter whatever is your mode of transportation is, make sure that it is in good condition because the moment you enter Murree you'll face roads having sharp turns and as road is taking you on top of mountain so it requires more fuel consumption which often heat-up the car engine and you have to stop it.
There are four routes to Murree from the capital, Islamabad: it takes 1.30 hour to reach Murree from Islamabad via the old Islamabad-Murree Road, it takes 1 hour to reach Murree from Islamabad via the 4-lane Islamabad-Murree Expressway M-75. The Expressway have made travelling to Murree more safer and convenient. This Expressway links Islamabad to Muzaffarabad via Murree. The expressway has a bad reputation for accidents and there are often police stopping speeding motorists
There are two less used routes that are worth exploring if you are not in a hurry. The third longer route to Murree from Islamabad via Nilore and Simli Dam - this joins at Lower Topa. The fourth is even more adventurous and starts from the Monal restaurant in Pir Sohawa - if you keep following the road you will eventually end up on the 'old Murree Road' - this route requires a 4x4 as the road is unpaved in parts, and you have to bump over a riverbed where a bridge has been washed away. For this fourth route a print out of a google map and a GPS is strongly advised. Takes 3 hours or so - although you'll want to stop for photographs.
The mountain drive is refreshing and the scenery is breath-taking especially on the Nilore-Simli-Lower Topa route.
Be cautious if you are driving on your own. Though roads are fine, the constant melting of snow tends to damage the road conditions. There are always a chances of landslides, so don’t venture at the edge of the road.
If you don't have own conveyance, hiring private taxi is a good option. Taxis run from Islamabad and, usually, take about 1.30 hour. The best option is to hire taxi from Faizabad bus stand in Rawalpindi. Find if any Murree based taxi is there, because they must have to go back anyway and so they will charge you less. If you are to hire a taxi from Rawalpindi to Murree you need to pay Rs. 1,000 but you can bargain with Murree taxi drivers to Rs. 500. and the taxi will drop you from Faizabad to Murree and if you want it double way you may even get it in around Rs. 700 for round trip.
There are many buses and hiace runs from Islamabad and Rawalpindi to Murree, cost around Rs. 100 to 150 as one way fare and take 1.30 hour. you can take hiace from SADAR-Rawalpindi, Peer Wadhai Adda, and Faizabad. Recently, Daewoo Express Bus Services has started its regular bus service for Murree. They are operating daily non-stop 15 buses (luxury 33 seater coaches.) from Rawalpindi to Murree and return to Rawalpindi. First bus departs rawalpindi at 6AM and reach Murree at 8AM, this first bus leaves Murree for Rawalpindi at 8:30AM and last bus leaves Rawalpindi for Murree at 7:30PM. Bus fare is approximately Rs. 270 one way from Rawalpindi to Murree. The main terminal of Daewoo Express is located near Kohinoor Textile Mills, Fazalabad Peshawar Road, Rawalpindi Cantt and can be reached at phone: +92-51-111-007-008. There is no terminal in Islamabad.
Driving in or through Murree is at best a nightmare - the roads are too narrow, and the cars too many. There are alternatives such as taxis and most tourists hire a taxi, which takes you around to all the sight seeing spots in and around Murree. Public transport (buses and vans) are also readily available but would be generally crowded.
The best way to negotiate Murree in a car is to take the old Murree Road and park to the north of Murree and walk in to the centre. Similarly if heading to Natia Gali or other towns north of Murree, take the old road (which acts as a Murree by-pass) and turn on to the Abbotabad road. If you must take the expressway then take this past Murree to Lower Topa, then take the Lower Topa - Murree road, which will take you to the Abbotabad road. Just to restate avoid driving through the centre of Murree at pretty much all costs.
Except for the Islamabad-Murree highway all other roads are single / two lane roads and the driver should be conversant with mountain driving skills.
While going from Murree to Nathiagali or Ayubia etc. Prefer taxi recommended by your hotel management. It will be helpful and driver will serve you as guide too.
There's noting much to do see in Murree other than its scenic vistas for which it is known and make it one of the more picturesque places in the country, and so a tourist paradise. It is surrounded by thickly forested hills of pine- and oak-covered mountains, criss-crossed with springs and rivulets and dotted with lawns and orchards. It is a rustic resort high on the southern slopes of the Western Himalayan foothills. It is an outstanding hilltop that offers great views of Himalayas, breathtaking mountain scenery and the most impressive views of sunrise and sunset. On a clear crystal days, one can see a good view of the snowy peaks of Kashmir, and the crest of Nanga Parbat can sometimes be seen as well.
- The Mall. The Mall is the main strip of Murree with shops, markets, hotels and restaurants. It is the main focal point of Murree and the center of major economic activities. Once a historical central area, is today full of shops selling a multitude of things for the tourists as well main point to stroll, eat, sleep and meet people who come to visit Murree from all over the country.
- Kashmir Point. the highest place in Murree.
- Pindi Point. a chairlift runs up to here.
- Murree Brewery Building Remenants.
The main attractions of Murree are its natural scenery and refreshing atmosphere. It is an ideal place for a family get away and vacation. Day trips can be planned for Nathia Gali, Ayubia, Patriata, Bhurban while Murree can serve as a focal hub of your stay. With many places of interests around, Murree offers many spots for mountain hiking and trekking. The Golf Course at Bhurban is unique because of its altitude and tough layout. The area around Patriata has been developed and provides excellent hiking and trekking paths. It also has a scenic two stage cable car that would take the tourists up to the top. Those not interested in waiting in the queue for the ride can drive up to the Patriata top.
- Take a leisurely walk at the Mall. If you're too lazy to walk, hop on a "strollers’.
- Take a chair lift tour of Murree and its scenic galyats
Murree has a variety of handicraft shops selling curios for the tourist to remind them of their visit to this hill station. Traditional clothing items, head wear, carved walking sticks, jewelery items and leather goods are abundantly available.
Also visit Millenium Mall - on main Mall road, next to Usmania Restaurant. A complete shopping mall with every kind of multinational brands in cosmetics, clothing, shoes, grocery, watches, leather, restaurants, coffee, ice cream parlors, sweets from all over the world, some of famous names are KFC, Pizza Hut, Indulge coffee shop, Nirala sweets, Gucci, Emporio Armani, Nike, Addidas, Piere Cardin, Rado, Tissot, Victoria Secrets, and many more have already got outlets in this mall. 1st floor is only for joy land amusement park for children.
There are many restaurants in Murree, mostly along The Mall. One very popular restaurant is called Al-mai-dah.
'Fuschia Restaurant' near Kashmir Point just before the Governors House is a newly opened restaurant. It offers a mix of English, Pakistani, Italian, etc. The Restaurant also has thrilling games for children such as a Jumping Castle, Trampoline, battery powered cars and an Arcade.
- Red Onion Chain of Restaurants situated on the main mall road, stands one of the most modern restaurant in Murree. Established in 1993, pioneer to 'Buy one Pizza & Get the second one Absolutely FREE' this restaurant offers a wide range of cuisines not offered anywhere else in the vicinity i.e. Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Pakistani & Continental. Prices are very moderate, ambiance is modern & customer service is very friendly! Other branches of Red Onion; Nathia gali, Abottabad, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Rawal Dam & Karachi.
- Saffron: An elegantly decorated restaurant with stunning views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Saffron offered the ultimate personalized culinary experience. The menu is a blend of continental and local favorites including our very own rendition of the ever-popular chicken karahi and chicken makhani. Saffron lies overlooking crisscrossing paths, beautiful hills and valleys. The restaurants outdoor patio allows you to dine under the roof of the world, in the most breathing natural surroundings our part of the world has to offer.
- The Huqqa Pani Lounge with its gracious old world charm serves a variety of fruit flavored tobacco or sheesha. Apart from the shakes and drinks, the room offers a wonderful and relaxing atmosphere with a glorious view of Murree and the surrounding hills.
- KFC, Millenium Mall Murree at the end of Mall road
- Angeethi - the Grill is located adjacent to the Huqqa Pani lounge and follows the same earthen traditional theme. So after relaxing in the lounge, you can come and watch our chefs prepare a variety of mouthwatering barbeque dishes. The beautiful backdrop and the traditional ambiance, combined with the delicious food make dining at The Grill an occasion to remember.
- Pesahawr Namak Mandi Restaurant' on main Kashmir point, an open air terrace with views of the surrounding parks and road. The restaurant is famous for traditional peshawar namak mandi (namkeen tikka and karahai).
Hard liquor is easily available even to Muslims at PC Bhurban hotel. However night receptionists at nearly all hotels are able to arrange some stuff for a little consideration. There are no bars or pubs in town.
Murree being a well established tourist destination has a wide variety of lodgings available to suit all pockets. There're many good standard hotels are available in Murree proper besides a number of other hired lodgings of various standards. Another option is to hire summer houses. Murree also has a number of private and government owned rest houses or Dak bunglows. Generally the summer season rates are 5 to 6 times the winter off season rate.
There are a lot of hotels and restaurants on Mall Road Murree.
- Shangrila Resort Hotel Murree (Adjacent to the Punjab House on Lawrence College Road). A nice and quiet get-away high up in the pine trees, has a restaurant, a grill, a tobacco bar, and a billiards room. Also have several individual cottages, located in a secluded corner of the premises.
- Jawa Hotel. This is off of the mall, up the hill from one of the last roundabouts in town (heading uphill). This hotel takes credit cards! 051 341295052, and it has internet access. Rooms are typical world-3 star class
- 34 Morning Side, ☎ 0331-5257229. The suites are equipped with internet, flat-screen television, mini-bar, etc. The hotel also has an amazing terrace, gym, pool table, foosball, caram board, etc. It also houses a mini-cinema.
- Cecil Hotel, Cart Rd, ☎ 0513411131-32-34.
- Hotel Amore, Donga/Doonga/Dunga Gali, ☎ 0992-355101-4.
- Hotel LeGRAND, Changla Gali, ☎ 0992-357136-9.
- Maisonette Firhill Murree, Murree.
- European Complex, Bhurban.
- Hotel Metropole, Hall Road, Kashmir Point, ☎ +92 513 411525, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. One of many good hotel in town. PKR 6,000-8,000.
- Usmania Hotel, On main Mall Rd, ☎ 051-3411337. In off season, a decent room will cost around R.s 500. In June-Aug. peak season costs around R.s 8,000. 8,000.
- PC Bhurban. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 12 noon. PC Bhurban is the top of the line is the only five star hotel in town. Hotel is 25 minutes drive away from Murree proper. Over crowded by day time visitors during summer seasons. The entry fee for the hotel is Rs. 500 per person for visitors which is fully redeemable while room booking, at restaurants and shops located inside the hotel.
Murree is quite safe even for foreigner travellers but during seasonal time a surge of visitors keep visiting this beautiful place and some people exploit this opportunity for their own benefits. So a note of cautious is given while roaming around the city. If you get lost and don't have enough directions get around the city then just ask for Mall Rd. From there you can easily head to any destination of your choice. Sometimes, temperature goes below freezing level, especially during winter season. So travelers are advised to carry appropriate clothing.
Murree has now become a highly commercialized place. The residents of Murree area have adopted the profession of gaining easy money by becoming agents that roams around every corner of main Mall Rd to trap the visitors and take them to the hotels, impersonating the hotel employees, however in reality these agents takes commission from the hotel owners by bringing in the customers and taking percentage of commission up to 40-50% of the total amount paid by the visitors to the hotels for room. These agents actually chase visitors and frustrates them to get a room through them. The best way to avoid these agents is to book a hotel in advance, or do not roam with luggage on Mall Rd.
There are many well-equipped medical centres in Murree and environs.
- Ayubia is about 26 km from Murree, (Khairagali, Changlagali, Khanspur and Ghora Dhaka, these four mini resorts spread over an area of 26 km have been developed into a resort complex called Ayubia). In addition to riding trails, hiking places and picnic spots, Ayubia has a chair lift at Ghora Dhaka, which attracts visitors to enjoy scenic beauty of Pine Hills. The bracing air of the surrounding mountains of Nathia Gali is as pure as fresh spring water.