Peshawar is the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa province (KPK as it is usually called). It is a really important city not only in modern Pakistan but also in older kingdoms like Gandhara and was an important religious centre for Buddhism.
Fun Fact: Peshawar was the capital of Kushan empire hosting the tallest building in the ancient world; the stupa of Kanishka.
It is an important city for personal reasons, it happens to be the city of my father and despite never living here, I have special affinity for the city and its people. Peshawar gay travel is a distant dream that I really hope comes true one day (guys are really cute I swear!).
Check my ultimate Pakistan travel guide for a perfect trip.
Getting to Peshawar
Peshawar has an international airport which has limited flights. The easiest way is to travel from Islamabad or if you’re coming from the north of Pakistan, stop here on the way back to Islamabad.
There are two ways to get to Peshawar from Islamabad; motorway and Grand Trunk Road (GT Road as it’s called on Pakistan). Motorway takes roughly 2 hours but it is the boring way.
I took the GT road (Grand Trunk Road) which took 3 hours instead but I got to see some interesting places on the way:
Attock Bridge & Fort
Attock is a city slightly off the GT road but the bridge is on the road and required no detour. It is interesting because the fort looks beautiful in the surroundings with river flowing at its feet. It becomes more interesting because it is not just one river but the meeting point of muddy Kabul River and beautiful turquoise blue Indus River. I loved the waters merging together.
I stopped in Nowshera to appreciate the Art nouveau style pink building called The Taj building on the main road and to eat some famous Chapli Kabab from the city of Mardan.
Public Transport in Peshawar
The best way to travel in Peshawar is rickshaw. They are easily available and work best in the crazy traffic of Peshawar. Only Careem app works in the ride hailing apps. There is a metro service which is almost always fully packed but if you go off peak it provides quick movement. It doesn’t go all parts of the city though. Traffic is absolutely crazy and the city comes to a standstill at peak hours, try not to move around lunch time and between 5-7pm.
Food in Peshawar
Pakhtoons/Pashtuns/Pathans are hardcore meat eaters. Food here is not only different than the rest of Pakistan, it also has its own traditions. The most famous is the Charsi Tikka which if you literally translate means ‘hash meat’. There are no drugs involved so don’t worry about that. It was either because the guy who started the trend was a druggie or the meat was so good, it felt like taking hash, no on really knows the actual reason. I can vouch for the second reason, it does taste amazing.
Now a special word of warning, if you want a lunch or dinner, go at least an hour to 90 minutes before you want to eat. You will choose your preferred cut of meat right in front of your eyes which will be then freshly grilled or fried. It doesn’t get any fresher than this. In a lot of places, there are just no plates and you have to eat communially from the same plate, I really love it.
It is an upscale restaurant which offers great food but the main reason for coming here is the music. You can listen to the typical musical instrument here called Rubab. The food is delicious and ambience is great.
One of the oldest and most famous restaurants located in Namak Mandi in walled city of Peshawar. The area behind the restaurant has been converted to a small food street but the food here is legendary. It is an institution in Peshawar and people come from far and wide to eat here, as far as from Karaci and Lahore (and in my case London).
Another institution in Peshawar. They only offer Chapli kabab which are made of minced meat and are really soft owing to high fat percentage. Absolutely delicious and must try in Peshawar.
Another interesting place famous for its food. They do a dish called ‘Paenda’ which is made of thin roti and a sot fo meat curry. It is quite heavy though and you won’t be able to finish it on your owns o ask for hald or quarter portion if it is just one or two of you.
Loose clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses, wet wipes.
Where to Stay in Peshawar
Peshawar has fairly limited options when it comes to accommodation. The oldest and most prestigious hotel is Pearl Continental but it is located far from tourist locations. I decided to stay in Shelton Rezidor on University Road. It was fairly comfortable and easy to get around from.
Be careful, there are quite a few Shelton hotels around, this is the most convenient.
Best Time to Visit Peshawar
The best time to visit Peshawar is either March – April or September – October. Peshawar is a pretty difficult place during summer and winter both.
How Many Days for Peshawar
There is a lot to see and explore but I would recommend at least 2 days for Peshawar.
Is Peshawar Safe?
Peshawar is a difficult place. In the past, it has been dangerous enough that it was blocked off for tourists. Being so close to Afghan border, it is still a difficult place. I would recommend finding someone local to go around with you not only for safety but also to overcome language barrier. I would also recommend staying out of Bara area and not crossing Karkahno market beyond which the former tribal area starts.
Is Peshawar Expensive?
Peshawar is generally quite a cheap city. From food to accommodation, there are no big expense items. Travelling around is also cheap and entrance to most places is also free. Food is also quite cheap and really delicious. Value for money is high for Peshawar.
Gay Peshawar/ Peshawar Gay Travel
Funny enough, Pathans are famous for homosexual predilections in the entire country. Things are quite different on the ground though. It is a fairly conservative city and the gay scene is small. Guys don’t trust each other and foreigners are also looked at suspiciously (because people make fake profiles all the time). Grindr also barely had a few guys, most were fairly awkward interactions on apps. If you do meet someone local though, most of them are very friendly and sweet. I met a couple of guys, both showed me around and were really friendly.
I would highly recommend meeting guys outside first. There are no gay venues here as expected but I have heard of a few parties here and there. These are private parties and you will need to know someone local to get invited.
Check out my Gay Pakistan guide for more details.
Free Walking Tour Peshawar
There is no free walking tour of Peshawar.
How to Explore Peshawar
Peshawar has three main areas; the old walled city of Peshawar, the newer neighbourhoods like University Road (University Town, Saddar etc) and the the newest more modern areas like Hayatabad. Most touristy places are located either on University road with one spot in Saddar or the old walled city. I didn’t find anything interesting Hayatabad.
Is Peshawar Tourist Friendly?
Sigh! Sadly it isn’t. It is an incredibly busy city with lots of traffic, lots of bureaucracy which makes it hard to see places. I would recommend getting up early to see the mosques, well before the prayer times. Dress conservative even though things have modernised a bit and find someone local to go around with you, language barrier can be a big issue in Peshawar for tourists.
Top 10 Things To Do In Peshawar
Below is the list of places you shouldn’t miss in Peshawar. To find complete details, check my Top Things To Do In Peshawar article. It includes details on how to plan your trip by proximity.
- Sunehri Masjid
- Qila Balahisar
- Khyber Pass/ Bab e Khyber
- Islamia College
- Chowk Yadgar (Hasting’s Memorial)
- Mahabat Khan Mosque
- Qissa Khuwani & Khyber Bazar
- Ghanta Ghar (Sir Cunningham Clock Tower)
- Historic Street (Bazaar Kalan) & Sethi house
- Tehsil Park (Ghrokhatri) and Gorakh Nath Temple Ruins
Peshawar is a really underrated city with lots of potential, I hope this article helps you plan your perfect trip. If you have more questions feel free to reach out.