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Top 10 things to do and places to visit in Karachi

Here’s our guide to best things to do and places to visit in bustling Karachi, including the most popular markets, beaches and museums.

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1. Frere Hall

This grand exhibition hall and library is named after the British-born former Governor of Bombay, Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere and was built in the British colonial era. The architecture is a rather peculiar blend of Venetian-Gothic and British styles, but the result is a pretty mixture of mosaic pillars, pointed arches, buttresses and carvings on the walls. It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Karachi because of its important place in the city’s history. It also features a number of stone busts, including one of King Edward VII, and some oil paintings. It’s set in some beautiful gardens which make a welcome escape for the general buzz of Karachi.

Address: Fatima Jinnah Rd, Karachi, Pakistan

2. Clifton Beach Karachi

Clifton Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Karachi, especially on weekends and public holidays. We don’t recommend you swim, but it’s a nice place to buy a traditional chai drink and a grilled corn, and do some people-watching! There’s a small park nearby and the promenade is popular with sunset strollers. Another popular beach in Karachi is Sandspit, a natural breakwater at the Arabian Sea coastline.

Looking for a hotel while you’re in Karachi? Check out our article on the best Karachi hotels to suit every budget.

Address: Saddar Town, Karachi, Pakistan

3. Empress Market

This market is another place in Karachi where the British colonial rule is very evident; it was named to celebrate Queen Victoria when it was built in 1889. The foundation stone of the market was also laid by a Brit, James Fergusson, who was the Governor of Bombay at the time. It’s now one of the city’s oldest markets and is located in one of the busiest areas – so it’s not for the faint hearted! You’ll find everything and anything for sale, with lots of household items, plastic jewelry, clothing, and much, much more.

Address: Saddar Bazar Quarters, Karachi, Pakistan

4. St Patrick’s Cathedral

Close to the Empress Market is the St Patrick’s Cathedral, the official seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Karachi. It was designed in traditional British Raj architecture and stands at 52 meters high with a capacity of around 2,000 worshippers. It holds a regular service at 9am every Sunday but you can still visit the rest of the week.

Address: Off Iraq Road, Karachi, Pakistan

5. Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Museum

This well-stocked museum has more than 30 aircraft on display, and is a good place to go in Karachi to see the country’s military might (despite its rather poor military record). Highlights at the museum include the Viking – Quaid-e-Azam’s personal aircraft, and an Indian Gnat captured by the Pakistani military in 1965. One attraction you shouldn’t miss is the Pakistan Air Force Women Association shop which sells fabrics, trinkets and other locally-made goods. The organization helps provide education, financial and social welfare to low-paid employees of the Air Force.

Address: PAF Base Faisal, Karachi, Pakistan

Opening hours: 8.30am – 10pm Saturday through Thursday, 3pm – 10pm on Friday

Entry: PKR50 (Dh2) for adults, and PKR30 (Dh1) for children over 3

6. Quaid-e-Azam Mausoleum (Mazar-e-Quaid)

This white marble mausoleum is particularly striking due to its understated architecture. It was built as a monument to the founder of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, between 1959 and 1969 and is now one of the most popular places to visit in Karachi, especially with those wanting to pay their respects to Al Jinnah. It also houses the tomb of the founder’s sister, Fatima Jinnah (known as Mader-e-Millat, meaning ‘mother of the nation’). The mausoleum site is the scene of military and official ceremonies in Pakistan’s calendar, including Pakistan Day (March 23) and Independence Day (August 14) and security is tight, so time your visit wisely.

Address: Quaid-e-Azam Mausoleum, Shahrah-Qaideen, Karachi, Pakistan

7. Jinnah House Museum and Flag Staff House

The Jinnah House Museum was originally known as the Flag Staff House and was bought in 1943 by Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah. His sister continued to live in it after his death, only leaving in 1964. The house was neglected until 1985 when authorities restored it and converted it into a museum celebrating the life of Jinnah. You can see his reading room, dining rooms, bedrooms and dressing room, many of which are still full of their original furnishings and possessions.

Address: Fatima Jinnah Road, Karachi, Pakistan

Opening hours: Saturday through Tuesday, and Thursday, 9am – 1pm, 2pm – 4pm. Friday 9am – 12pm

8. National Museum of Pakistan

This large museum gets mixed reviews but is a useful place to visit to learn a bit more about Pakistan’s tumultuous history. There’s a particularly good “Freedom Movement” gallery which contains newspaper clippings, accounts and photographs from the Independence movement. Other galleries include Islamic Art, Ancient Coins and a Quran Gallery with 300 copies of the Holy Book.

Address: Shahrah-e-Kamel Ataturk, Burns Garden، Karachi 75500, Pakistan

Opening hours: Daily 9am – 5pm, closed Wednesday

9. Chaukhani tombs

Around 30km east of Karachi is the Chaukhani tombs, beautifully carved and intricate tombs which spread over around 2 square miles of land. It’s not known exactly when they were built, but it’s believed they contain the tombs of Saloch warriors who were in the area in the 17th and 18th centuries BC. They are an incredible sight, and have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Address: Port Qasim Rd, Karachi, Pakistan

Best places to visit in Karachi: Chaukhani tombs

10. Mohatta Palace Museum

Just back from Clifton beach is the colorful Mohatta Palace, which was built by the Hindu Marwari entrepreneur, Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta, from what is now Rajasthan, India, in 1927. He was able to enjoy his seaside retreat for around 20 years before Pakistan became independent and he was forced to move to India. He used the pink stone that is so familiar in Indian cities such as Jaipur and Jodhpur, and mixed it with local yellow stone. Fatima Jinnah moved into this house in 1964 when she left the Flag Staff House, remaining here until she died. It was converted into a museum in 1995 and now has a busy and popular calendar of events, visiting art collections and permanent exhibitions.

Address: 7 Hatim Alvi Road, Clifton, Karachi, Pakistan

Opening hours: Daily 11am – 6pm, closed Monday

*Published November 2017. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.

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