Nagarkot is a tiny mountain village located on the outskirts of Kathmandu. The village lies on top of a hill that commands incredible views of the Himalayas. Surrounded by greenery and traditional farms, Nagarkot is an ideal place to chill after a long trek. This place also offers a welcome respite from the chaos and pollution of Kathmandu.
Tourists love Nagarkot for its mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets. It's the only place close to Kathmandu from where you can view Mount Everest and other Himalayan mountains without having to trek or hike for multiple days. Nagarkot is also a popular honeymoon destination. Its pristine nature, breathtaking mountain views, and spellbinding sunrise and sunset create the perfect mood for romance.
- Panoramic views of the Himalayan mountains, including Mount Everest and other giants
- Colorful sunrise and sunset views. Mesmerizing vista of snow-capped peaks glowing in the rising and setting sun.
- Hiking and biking opportunities
- Stroll around the village and interact with the locals
- Visit a local farm and see how traditional farming is done
Nagarkot lies about 28 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu. From Bhaktapur, the distance is 14 kilometers. It sits at an elevation of 2175m/7136ft and offers amazing views of the Himalayan mountains. It's one of the few places close to Kathmandu where one can experience snowfall during the winter season.
In the earlier days, Nagarkot served as a strategic fort (‘kot’ is fort in Nepali) for the rulers of Kathmandu Valley. From here the army could guard and watch out for enemy incursions into their territory. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Nagarkot became a popular summer retreat among the Shah royals and the Rana nobles.
How to get to Nagarkot?
A winding asphalt road connects Nagarkot to Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. It takes about an hour and a half to drive from Kathmandu to Nagarkot. From Bhaktapur, it takes a little over thirty minutes to reach the hilly town.
You can also hike to Nagarkot from Changu Narayan, Chisapani Sundarijal, and Sankhu. The hiking trails traverse dense forests, small hills, paddy fields, pretty Newari and Tamang villages, and local farms.
There's also a helipad in Nagarkot used by helicopter companies to operate helicopter tours.
If you are on a tight budget, you can use local buses. It's difficult to find direct buses to Nagarkot from Kathmandu. You can board a local bus up to Kamal Binayak in Bhaktapur and catch another bus heading to Nagarkot from the bus stop.
If money is not an issue and you want to travel comfortably, you can hire a private taxi to drive you to Nagarkot. In case you don't want to stay overnight in Nagarkot, you can book a taxi for a full day and head to Nagarkot, explore the village, and return to Kathmandu the same day.
You can also rent a motorbike or a mountain bike and ride to Nagarkot. Cycling up the narrow and curvy road to Nagarkot offers a thrilling experience.
Things to do in Nagarkot
- Savor Himalayan view from the view tower- There's a view tower at the top of the village from where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Himalayan range. You can take a short walk to the viewpoint and enjoy gorgeous of the snow-blanketed mountains and hills. To enjoy the sunrise you need to reach the viewpoint before dawn. You can enjoy the same from your hotel if it offers a great view.
- Explore the village – You can stroll around the village area and visit the farms of villagers. The locals are pretty welcoming and friendly. The village has a school, a health post, an army camp, and a meditation center established by a spiritual organization (Brahma Kumaris).
- Hiking – There are hiking trails connecting Nagarkot with other scenic spots and ancient landmarks in Kathmandu Valley. A trail beginning from Tel Kot in Nagarkot leads to the temple of Changunarayan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can also hike to the medieval Newari town of Sankhu from Nagarkot via Deurali Danda. The hike takes you across isolated villages, pine forests, and paddy fields.
The Nagarkot-Chisapani Hike is a longer hike that will take 2 days to complete. The hike will have you walking on the rim of the hills surrounding Kathmandu Valley. During the hike, you will walk across Tamang and Newari villages where you will get to experience their rich culture and interesting lifestyle. The hike ends at the Shivapuri National Park.
- Biking Tour – The serpentine road from the valley to Nagarkot offers a thrilling ride to motorcyclists and mountain bikers. The curvy turns and uphill and downhill ride through rich forests of pine and oak and rural farms are sure to delight and gladden the heart of any rider.
- Chill and Relax – Surrounded by beautiful nature you can't help but switch into ‘relax mode’ in Nagarkot. The peaceful ambiance will soothe your senses and help you relax and rejuvenate. Far from the hustle and bustle of the city, Nagarkot offers a peaceful oasis to de-stress and recharge your inner batteries. If you have just returned from a challenging trek in the Himalayas, Nagarkot offers the right atmosphere to chill and relax.
Mountains Visible from Nagarkot
On a clear day, you can see the horizon covered by the tall summits of some of the highest mountains in the world. Nagarkot offers splendid views of Langtang, Annapurna South, Annapurna I and II, Mount Everest, Jugal Himal, Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Gaurishankar, Dorje Lakpa, Shisapangma, Huinchuli, Gyaltzen Peak and the Mahalangur range.
As Nagarkot is a popular tourist destination there are a lot of resorts and hotels in the village. You can choose to spend your time relaxing at a luxurious resort or stay overnight at a modest and budget-friendly hotel. Most hotels feature balconies from where you can enjoy the gorgeous views.
There are also homestays available at some of the local farms.
What to pack?
Apart from the essential items, do not forget to carry warm clothes. As Nagarkot lies at a much higher altitude than Kathmandu, it gets chilly, especially at night. Most hotels don't have central heating and the rooms get pretty cold as dusk falls. Dressing up warmly while enjoying the sunrise will protect you from the icy cold wind.
Best Time to visit Nagarkot
You can visit Nagarkot any time of the year. But to enjoy crystal clear views of the Himalayas, you need to time your travel during the drier autumn or winter months. There's snowfall during mid-winter, which turns this small mountain village into a winter wonderland.
Located above 2000 meters, Nagarkot gets its fair share of cloudy and misty weather. During the summer season, it's usually shrouded in thick fog and mist. While you can't see the mountains, the wispy and cottony clouds covering the forests and hills lend a different charm and beauty to the place.
Nagarkot is a place that deeply immerses you in nature. This hilly village will let you enjoy awesome views of the Himalayan mountains without having to take a long trek into the mountains. From here, you can follow ancient foot trails and hike deep into the Kathmandu Valley, away from the popular tourist routes. Nagarkot offers the perfect refuge to unwind and relax if you are seeking an escape from the chaos of busy cities.