Kathmandu Valley has three main cities that used to be autonomous states in the past and many smaller villages with many interesting sightseeing spots. Below are the most fascinating sites around Kathmandu Valley for day tours.
Kathmandu Durbar Square (1-2 hrs)
Kathmandu Durbar Square is one of the historic sites in Nepal located in the central area of the city. It used to be a royal residence place until the 19th century. Travelers can see the Hindu Temples and buildings with antique wooden carving windows and ornaments. In Kathmandu Durbar Square you can explore the Newari culture, see the temple of Kumuri – the living goddess, the Statue of Hanuman, and many other temples and museums. It is very close to Thamel – the vibrant, main tourist hub of Nepal. Travelers can go there even on foot and buy all the things they will need for traveling or trekking.
Swyambunath (2-3 hrs)
Swyambunath is a complex of Buddhist temples situated on top of a hill ca. 3 km away going straight from Durbar Square. It can be accessed by charming although steep stairs. Is it one of the historic monuments of Nepal combining the elements of both Buddhist and Hindu culture. It is the best example of harmonious co-existence of these two great religions. A large, nearly 2000 years old stupa is the central point of the hill. A nice view of the Kathmandu Valley and the hill can be seen from Swyambunath.
Pashupatinath (2-3 hrs)
Pashupatinath is one of the largest Hindu temples in the world which lies on the bank of the holy river Bagmati. This site has been listed among the UNESCO world heritage sites since 1979. You can see a famous pagoda with the golden roof in Pashupatinath and about 500 temples and monuments exist there. Only the Hindu people are allowed to enter the main temple. However, people of any nationality can visit the temple premises from the outside. In Pashupatinath, on the bank of Bagmati river, there is a cremation place for dead bodies of Hindu people. Watching the cremation ceremony will certainly be an unforgettable experience. Every year there is a special festival called Shivaratri. On that day about 700000 people visit the temple.
Boudhanath (1-2 hrs)
Boudhanath is another unique site in Kathmandu. Listed among the UNESCO world heritage sites, it is an unusual amenity with the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal. It is a Buddhist religious center with the greatest number of stores offering Buddhist artistic handicraft. It is a very popular pilgrimage site for Buddhists. There are 13 Steps around the stupa and it is believed that they are the ladder to enlightenment. It can also be a nice place for meditation if you are interested.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square (3-4 hrs)
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is one of the most interesting sightseeing spots in the Kathmandu Valley that has not been affected by civilization. This is where travelers can experience the typical Newari culture, explore their traditions, and see their temples and spectacular architecture. The site is listed among the UNESCO world heritage sites. It used to be the palace of the royal family of Nepal until 1769. It is one of the most popular sites visited by travelers in Nepal. The main squares in Bhaktapur are Durbar Square, Taumadhi Square, Dattatreya Square and Pottery Square.
Patan Durbar Square (2-3 hrs)
Patan is located 5 km south of Kathmandu. It is one of the three ancient capitals and an important carpet industry trading hub – the second largest city in the Kathmandu Valley. Patan is now in the process of changing its name to the historical name – Lalitpur – which translates as “Beautiful City”. Here, you will find the Durbar Square, which is a space shared by the four parts of the city. Durbar Square in Lalitpur is considered to be one of the most interesting urban locations in the world. Largely destroyed during the devastating earthquake in April 2015, it is now regaining its former charm. Royal Palace with three magnificent courtyards, gilded Vidya Mandir, Krishna Mandir inspired by the architecture of the Mughal Empire, statues made of bronze, a wonderful museum bringing us closer to the artistic side of Nepal with its Hindu and Buddhist culture, temples that provide charming ornamentation to this old town. It is here, that we will find the Mahabuddha – the temple of a thousand Buddhas. Lalitpur has 136 bahals and 55 large temples – it’s the cradle of craftsmanship and architecture of the entire valley and a place that is largely inhabited by Newar Buddhists.