From time immemorial, hills and mountains have been man’s favourite haunt to relax and unwind. Time and again hill stations feature on each of our bucket lists, because it combines the exhilarating experience of trekking with the ultimate satisfaction of gazing at the breathtaking view from the top. Hill stations have something in store of people of all age groups and categories. Want to have a good time with your family and friends away from the hustle-bustle of the city or respite from the hot summers? Go through our list of the most beautiful hill stations across the world and if you love them don’t forget to add them to your bucket list or list of things to do in 2020.
Guide For Most Beautiful Hill Stations In The World
Be it a solo traveller looking for adventure galore, a family on the lookout for a calm vacationing spot or honeymooners searching for a perfect romantic destination, here are five handpicked suggestions for top hill destinations around the globe. For the globetrotters who are eager to explore the path less trodden, our list is tailor-made with your demands in mind. We have made things easier for you by compiling the must-visit places in and around the destination, from pristine lakes to Buddhist monasteries, quaint villages on the hilltop to lavish gardens that no traveller can afford to miss. Make sure to feel and experience the local culture and cuisine by indulging in street food and shopping if time permits. Gear up for the list of beautiful hill stations in the world and keep your bags ready.
This serene hill station situated in Sikkim is the most favoured destination for honeymooners, adventure enthusiasts and anyone who loves calm sightseeing experience. It has a temperate climate all year round, but October -November and March-May make for the best times to visit. During summers, the average is 22 degree Celsius, and in winters this drops till 4 degree Celsius. On a clear day, one can see Mt. Kanchenjunga (the third highest mountain in the world) from the Tashi viewpoint.
Major Attractions in Gangtok,
Nathula Pass: Nathu means “listening ears”, and la means “pass”. The pass connects Sikkim with Tibet, which was once the part of the ancient silk route. One can get there in a shared cab costing around INR 500-1000.
Monasteries and Stupas: Adding to the quaintness of Gangtok are Buddhists monasteries and stupas. The popular ones among these are the Enchey Monastery, Rumtek Monastery and the Do Drul Chorten Stupa. There is no entry fee for the monasteries but to visit the stupa, it is INR 10 per ticket.
Himalayan Zoological Park: Just 3 km away from Gangtok, the park hosts Himalayan flora and fauna in natural conditions. Himalayan monal pheasant, Himalayan red Panda, Snow leopard cat and Himalayan Palm civet being among the few. From the watchtower of the park, one can get a magnificent view of the splendid Mt Kanchenjunga. Entry fee is INR 25 for adults and INR 10 for kids.
Shingba Rhodendron Sanctuary: The sanctuary lies in the village of Yumthang lined by the surreal Tsomgo Lake. One can find sprawling in never-ending stretches the beautiful Rhodendron flowers. Entry is free.
Namgyal Research Institute of Tibetology: A one of its kind repository of Buddhist and Tibetan artefacts. A must-visit museum of Tibetan iconography and religious art. Entry fee is INR 10.
Waterfalls: Bhanjakri falls and energy park. Entry is INR 50 and Bakthang waterfalls is free.
Festivals: Saga Dawa Festival celebrating the birthday of Gautama Buddha happens from April- June and International flower festival happens in May. Entry cost is INR 20.
Adventure Sports: One cannot miss the experience of Yak safari which is only for INR 300, paragliding at INR 2500 and rafting for INR 3500/ raft. Enjoy the Birdseye view of the city from the cable car that stops in major locations.
Accommodation: Available at MG Marg located in the centre of the city.
Shopping: Along Mahatma Gandhi Marg and Lal bazaar road one can find major shopping destinations in the city.
Cuisine: The staple food of Gangtok is maize and rice. While in Gangtok do not miss Sikkim cuisine, try out their Momos, Thukpa, Chow mien, and Wontons.
Do’s and Don’ts: Make sure to register at the forest/wildlife check post before entering and ensure that you are aware of the restricted area permit and protected area permit to be on the safe side. Take care to make a safe fire while camp firing to avoid fire breaking out. Always ask permission of the locals before taking their photographs and do not stray from the designated path during treks since the vegetation is fragile.
How to Reach Gangtok: The nearest airport is in Bagdogra, West Bengal and from there it’s just 20 minutes to Gangtok by choppers or 2 hours by taxi. Nearest Train is from Jalpaiguri in Siliguri, hail a bus or taxi from there to Gangtok. NH 31 A connects to other cities like Darjeeling, Siliguri, Kalimpong, Bagdogra.
Mount Rigi, Switzerland
The name of the mountain says it all, Regina Montium known as ‘the Queen of mountains’. It’s the part of the Alps ranges located in central Switzerland and is surrounded on all its sides by Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug and Lake Lauer. The panoramic view from the peak overlooking the pristine waters of these lakes is mesmerising. It is one of the most beautiful hill stations in the world.
Rigi has something to offer to travellers irrespective of the season one plans to visit. In winters Rigi hosts skiing or sledging, whereas hiking trails become prominent during the summers. Public grilling stations dot the hiking trails on the way. Other attractions are steam train rides, and boat cruise on Lake Lucerne. There are around 30 mountain inns on the way where one can refresh and try out Swiss cuisine. Getting hold of Switzerland tourism’s Swiss travel pass will come handy as it includes among other sights a trek to Mt. Rigi.
Major Attractions in Mount Rigi
Steam Train Rides: Goldau- Rigi Kulm Cogwheel Railway is another must-visit, and it is also covered in the Swiss pass.
Mineral Bath and Spa: Mineral spa and bath is INR 2500 for adults and INR 1000 for children.
Rope Park Rigi: Rope Park Rigi has some amazing ropeway for adventure lovers, and it costs only INR 3,000 for adults and INR 2,000 for kids.
Cuisine: While in Mt Rigi, it’s a must to try their local freshly churned dairy products like cheese. The Trib alpine diary offers the Alpine cheese, carefully made by hand from the best milk from Mt. Rigi’s cows if you are missing home food head on to Gourmindia, an Indian restaurant that serves tasty Indian cuisine.
Skiing: Try out Skiing at Mt Rigi at The Rigi Staffel skiing area which charges around INR 3500 for adults and INR 1800 for kids.
Accommodation: Best place for accommodation here that offers a beautiful view is The Hotel Rigi Kulm which holds the title of Switzerland’s first mountain inn. The hotel has been hosting guests all over the world for about 200 years, but the prices are little on the higher side with INR 12000 per day for a room.
One’s looking for a budget-friendly hotel can check out the Backpackers Lucerne, priced at INR 4,370 per room.
How to get there?
One can take rack railway from Arth-Goldau and Vitznau, operated by the Rigi Bahnen. You can also consider Gondola lift from Weggis to Rigi-Kaltbad. Or a cable-car ride from the Kräbel station on the Arth-Rigi-Bahn line to Rigi-Scheidegg.
Da Lat, Vietnam
A former French colony – it sports marvellous French villas and gardens, and its name means ‘a city of thousand pinewood’. It is an offbeat hill stations in the world featured in CNN’s list of Asia’s overlooked destinations in 2007. Far away from the touristy Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi known for their tropical locales, Da Lat has a temperate climate throughout the year.
Major Attractions in Vietnam
Crazy House: Popular for its characteristic eccentric architecture that appeals to both old and the young. It is a perfect place for accommodation as it provides four kinds of rooms; Termite room, bamboo room, kangaroo room and bear room costing from INR 2700-3700 per day.
The Valley of Love: Da Lat is also a preferred honeymoon spot with its Eiffel tower-shaped radio tower and the Valley of love. The entry fee for the Valley of love is INR 350
Adventure: For those craving for adventure Da lat hosts many adventure sports like canoeing, mountain biking, white-water rafting and treks into the surrounding hills. Hiking in Lang Biang Mountain is INR 70 and the Cable Car to Truc Lam Pagoda INR 60 for a round trip.
Elephant Waterfalls: The highlight of the stay in Da Lat is the motorcycle drive to the Elephant Waterfalls. No entry fee.
Emperors Palace: Bao Dai’s summer palace and the adjacent Da Lat Flower gardens can be visited in just INR 120.
Cuisine: One cannot miss the vibrant night market and the street food culture of the Vietnamese. Dine on Vietnamese favourites like wet rice pancake with chicken and grilled rice papers
Do’s and Don’ts: Photography is not allowed inside the Truc lam pagoda.
How to get there?
The nearest airport is Lien Khuong Airport, 30 kilometres south of Da Lat; take a shuttle bus or taxi from the airport. Nearest Train at Da lat Railway station. Intercity bus called Phuta bus connects the cities; First shuttle bus from the airport to the hotel is free for foreign nationals.
Pokhara is the ultimate paradise for adventure lovers. From trekking to hiking to paragliding the list is never-ending. Adventure sports are so prominent in this part of the world that proper infrastructure and professional agencies are in place to bring the visitors the most remarkable experience. A cable car service is being constructed from Fewa Lake to World peace stupa. The best time to visit Pokhara is from September to November and the again early May. Nepal deserved every bit of acknowledgement on our list of most beautiful hill stations in the world.
Major Attractions in Pokhara
Adventure: Ones looking for adventure can try out the Upper Seti river rafting- INR 3180, Bungee jumping-INR 5732, Paragliding – INR 7714 and Annapurna base camp trek – INR 27,400. Recently the city got its second bungee jumping site called water bungee jumping and trekking happens in the Pokhara to Annapurna trail regularly. A short hike to the Sarangkot offers the panoramic view of the whole city below, and if timed correctly, one can see the sunrise and sunset too from here. Entry- INR 10. Begnas Lake is a popular fishing hole for those who want to try their hands at fishing.
Davis Waterfall: The famous underworld waterfall is a must-see. The entry fee to Davi falls is INR 30. Just opposite to the falls is the famous Gupteswar Mahadeva Gupha or caves.
Shopping: Get hands on the fine handicrafts products of Pokhara and other souvenirs from markets that line the city. Visit handicrafts shopping at the Tashiling handicraft centre just next to it.
International Mountain Museum: Apart from the mountain people gallery and the Mountain gallery, there is a live museum that shows the real setting of the cultures of different tribes. Entry fee is INR 250.
Cuisine: Try the most favoured Nepalese dish called Dal Bhat Tarkari and different varieties of momos.
Accommodation: Budget hotels are available with a lakeside view from INR 1700.
Do’s and Dont’s: It’s better not to take photographs of locals, holy shrines & temples unless they have given their consent. Even while receiving money or giving something use the two hands because that’s a gesture of respect in their culture.
How to get there?
Public buses are the main mode of transportation. Board buses from the Purano Bus park. It connects almost all the places in Nepal. Pokhara airport has regular flights to and from Kathmandu and Mustang. Flight duration is just 30 minutes.
If you are up for a risky, thrilling sightseeing experience in a remote highland, then the picturesque Tusheti is the place for you. The treacherous road along the Albano mountain pass connecting lowlands with the highland villages is considered an attraction in itself. The steep and narrow roads with sharp turns make for a turbulent ride but the view on the way, of the meadows and the rivers, are breathtaking and worth the risk. It’s the adrenaline rush from the nerve-wracking 4-5 hour journey through this dangerous path that leaves an everlasting impression in the travellers. The pass is only open in the summer seasons from months early May-early October. Tushetians are nomads and cattle rearers. They travel to the lowlands once the winter sets in and the road to Tusheti closes off.
Major Attractions in Tusheti
Ancient Remains: Remains of a pagan culture can be noted in the Stone shrines (Khatebi) and old defensive towers (Koshkebi) and ruined fortresses that stand atop the villages. These can be visited by horseback riding, trekking or hiking.
Tusheti National Park: Tusheti national park in Omalo is exciting since many campers live on their premises. Though Tusheti is part of a reserved area, camping in tents is allowed. The entrance to the park is free, and the only conditions laid down are that one can’t hunt animals or drive a vehicle inside it. Nearby to the national park is the Ethnographic museum that charges INR 40 for adults and INR 13 for children under 18. The only orthodox cathedral is situated in the nearby village of Shenako. Diklo, another village is also dotted with fortified walls that date back to the 19th century.
Cuisine: Tushetian cheese and Guda cheese are their specialities
Dos and Don’ts: Do not cook or eat pork. Women are not allowed in sacred places like churches and shrines. Photography is allowed except in some holy places. No hunting and vehicles allowed inside the park premises.
How to get there?
Delica Mitsubishi van or 4WD is necessary (even to move between the villages) for navigation. Once you reach the village of Omalo, guides and horses can be arranged. Hitch-hiking too is a good option since other modes of transports are expensive.
60 km south of Jakarta, in West Java, the highlands of Bogor provides the much-wanted getaway from the busy and crowded cities of Indonesia. Though the place isn’t that popular to the international crowd, the locals, mostly the elites escape to this charming cool hill station to enjoy its panoramic sights and calming weather. While it was a colony under the Dutch, it was called Buitenzorg which means “without any care”, and it served as the summer residence for the Dutch Governor generals. Since it is nicknamed as the city of rains, it is better to start one’s trip a little early in the morning. Other than that its climate is conducive for travelling all year long which makes Bogor one of the beautiful hill stations in the world.
Major Attractions in Bogor
Botanical Garden (Kebun Raya Bogor): Currently operated by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences the expansive gardens showcase a wide array of tropical flowers. The Giant flower called Bunga Raksasa in full bloom is a treat to the eyes. Entry fee is INR 121.
The Presidential Palace: Adjacent to the gardens is what was once the summer house of the governor of java, now converted into the Presidents summer house. 250 or so deer’s grazing in the garden is a welcoming sight for the tourists.
Bogor Cathedral: One of the oldest catholic churches in Indonesia dating back to 1750.
The Buddhist temple Hok Tek Bio: Dating back to 1672, is one of the oldest in Indonesia.
Bogor Museum of Ethnobotany: Explore the relationship between people and plants with 1,300 artefacts made from botanical materials including household items, toys, clothing, and farming, fishing and musical equipment.
Taman Safari Park: A breeding centre where one can spot rare species of albino tigers, rhinoceroses and Asian bears. Make sure to take the night safari tour and camp overnight at the designated campsites.
Adventure: Funfilled experiences that await one in Bogor are: Paragliding at the Bukit Parayalang Bogor, Swim at the Nymph waterfalls and rafting at Taman Mata Hari Puncak. Get the feel of Venice while taking gondola rides in Bogor.
Cuisine: Adjacent to the Botanical Garden is the Pasar Bogor Market which serves the local cuisine at very low prices. Bogor’s local specialities like the Asian (pickles) and touge goring (grilled bean sprouts) are a must-try.
Shopping: Get hands-on the latest fashion from the factory outlets in Pajajaran Streets, Raya Tajur and Kutalampa streets.
Accommodation: there are many resorts in Bogor like Novotel Bogor hotel, which is just 50 minutes from the city. For naturalists, who loves living close to nature the Taman Safari lodge is a good option
Dos and Don’ts: Don’t forget to bring an umbrella since Bogor receives the highest rainfall in Indonesia.
How to get there?
By Car: easiest way to reach from Jakarta which is just one hour away.
By Train: take the local train to get anywhere in bogor
By Buses/ Minibuses: the cheapest and most convenient option preferred by locals.
The most spectacular Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis can be seen between late September and early April. But Fairbanks is more than just a viewing point for the panoramic Northern lights. At the old Gold Dredge No. 8, you can pan for gold, just as people did in the Gold Rush. The town’s gold-mining heritage is also reflected at the University of Alaska Museum and Alaskaland Pioneer Park, a Wild West-style theme park that recreates early Fairbanks and includes a replica of a Native American village. The best time to visit Fairbanks is from July to August.
Major Attractions in Fairbanks, USA
The Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center- gives an overview of the region’s history, its Inuit natives and its flora and fauna. Also home to the official visitor centre, the cultural centre offers local maps, information on things to do and historical artefacts. Entry is free.
Pioneer Park: The area’s gold rush heritage. Entry is free.
HooDoo Brewing Company: A favourite watering hole and the best place to meet the locals
Adventure: Snowshoe Tour at Chena Lakes costs INR 3,131 per adult. Guided Fairbanks Snowmobile Tour costs INR 6,436 per adult. Fairbanks Ice Fishing Expedition in a Heated Cabin with Fish Cookout is INR 9393 per adult, and the 4-hour Dog Sledding and Kennel Small Group Tour is INR 10,089 per adult.
Running Reindeer Ranch: A family-owned ranch in the outskirts of the city which will provide a guided walk to get a hands-on experience of interacting with the Reindeers.
University of Alaska Museum of the North: Discover Alaska’s native culture, natural wonders and diverse wildlife.
Cuisine: And at the end of a long day exploring, treat yourself to a meal at one of Fairbanks’ riverfront restaurants for some Alaskan salmon and king crab.
Accommodation: For the lowest rates, visit during the offseason, which begins after Labor Day and runs through Memorial Day.
Dos and Don’ts: Dress in layers. Prepare for white nights. If you visit during the light-filled, long summer nights, check to see if your hotel room is equipped with blackout shades. Check for winter closures.
How to get there?
By Air: the Fairbanks International airport has direct flights to the place.
By Train: During the summer the Alaska Railroad provides daily service between Anchorage and Fairbanks, stopping in Denali National Park and other spots along the way. Rates between INR 11500-14400 for a one-way ticket between Fairbanks and Anchorage. Rail tickets can be booked at Alaska Railroads website.
Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
Only a few hours from Colombo, Nuwara Eliya perches on the hill country in eternal temperate winter and is called “Little England”, because this is where British settlers built their holiday bungalows and spent their summertime.
Major attractions in Nuwara Eliya
Single Tree Mountain: A path from the race course leads to Single Tree Mountain that affords a bird eye-view of the surrounding hills. It offers a marvelous view of the entire town of Nuwara Eliya including the Pidurutalagala Mountain, Hakgala Mountain, Lake Gregory as well as the Northern section of Horton Plains.
Take a boat ride on the Lake Gregory Lake: Lake Gregory is a huge lake in the middle of the Nuwara Eliya. Horse rides are available for a few hundred rupees, and tourists can also take a 20-minute speedboat ride on the lake.
Roam the Winter Market: The Bale Bazaar in Nuwara Eliya is aptly named the Winter Market because they sell winter clothes for the cold Nuwara Eliya weather.
Cuisine: Eat strawberries at Adma Agro Farm. Sample some Ceylon tea grown in the area.
Walk around the tea estates and see
St. Clair’s Falls: There are hundreds of acres of tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya and plenty of tea factories to visit in the area. A little further away from town is St. Clair’s Falls, one of the widest falls in Sri Lanka and worth a visit.
Take a hike on the Moon Plains: The Moon Plains of Nuwara Eliya is a perfect place to go for a stroll in the laps of nature.
How to get there?
Nuwara Eliya does not have an airport and the closest airport to the place is located in Colombo, about 180 kilometres away. Visitors can land in Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo and take either road routes or the railway to reach Nuwara Eliya. While Nuwara Eliya does not have a railway station, visitors can take the train to Nanu Oya, which is located about 10 km from the place. Nuwara Eliya is connected to Colombo by two routes, one via Kandy and one via Hatton.
Altyn Arashan, Kyrgyzstan
Probably the most popular destination from Karakol is the picturesque Altyn-Arashan, set in an alpine valley at 3000m. Much of the area is a botanical research area called the Arashan State Nature Reserve, which is home to snow leopards and a handful of bears. The resort has numerous wooden sheds which contain hot sulphurous pools to cure various ailments. Altyn-Arashan, which translates to Golden Spa, is a valley retreat, high up in the mountains, filled with natural hot springs and quaint guest houses. This one had to be on our list of beautiful hill stations in the world.
Major Attractions in Altyn Arashan
Medical tourism: There are numerous different soaking pools at your disposal. From self-contained tubs in private wooden huts to open stone pools along the river’s edge and even pools high up in the peaks. The sulfurous water is believed to cure aching joints, skin ailments, and even indigestion. One has to consult with their physician before partaking in the hot springs.
Adventure: Altyn-Arashan lies along a trekking route from Teploklyuchenka (Ak-Suu) and contains Palatka Peak in its southern part. You will have to pay INR 250 person and INR 100 for the tent.
Cuisine-Pick up snacks at the Karakol market. The market in Karakol has a variety of chocolates and sweets, as well as a healthier selection of fruit and nuts.
Do’s and Don’t’ s: Check the weather in Karakol. Travelling in harsh weather in the high altitudes will be a difficult task. Bring a map to stay on the right track.
How to get there?
Trekking from the outside of Karakol is one option. Few trucks navigate the muddy trail of the region.
Victoria Peak, Hong Kong
On top of Victoria Peak, one can get a sweeping view of the entire Hong Kong city. Looking down at the city from this popular vantage point, you’ll see one of the most beautiful harbours on Earth. If in Hong Kong, this is a place one should visit. Right in the middle of the city, the peak allows detaching oneself from the hurry burry of the Hong Kong city and yet have a panoramic view of the place.
Major Attractions in Victoria Peak
Charter a junk-Junk is the term formerly applied to traditional Chinese fishing boats now refers to any motorised pleasure vessel. Night-hour charters start at around at INR 33,000 from Tramway.
Temple Street Night Market: Explore the street shopping and nightlife of Hong Kong.
Heli-Tour of Hong Kong: The Peninsula hotel in Hongkong conducts Heli Tours from its helipad. Arranged either through the hotel or through the charter company Heliservices the tours start at a minimum of INR58000 for a 15-minute whirl around Hong Kong Island, during which the buildings can be seen up close.
Cuisine: Visit Lin Heung Tea House, a decades-old parlour in Hong Kong’s Central District. Don’t leave without trying the lotus paste buns or the glutinous rice dumplings.
Do’s and Don’ts: Make sure to go on a sunny day. Take a Cantonese friend with you as most locals don’t speak English.
How to get there?
You can reach the peak via the Peak Tram, the 120-year-old funicular railway that departs from its terminus on Garden Road. You can also take a bus 15C from Central Pier 8 or walk from MTR Central Station.
With time, hills stations have undergone a makeover, and they no longer cater to only specific kind of tourists. They are fast reconstructing themselves to serve the demands of the growing population of adventure junkies and solo trotters. When most hill stations today are either overcrowded or polluted, it has become more critical than ever to look for not so mainstream options that remain least explored.
In our list, we have featured offbeat destinations that combine enthralling sightseeing experience with a tinge of adventure to redefine your hill station experience.
“The best view comes after the hardest climb”. The enchanted mountains are beckoning you to an experience like never before. So what’s the wait? Get your trekking shoes on, pick the best ones you liked from our list of beautiful hill stations in the world and start striking these destinations from your bucket list. Listen closely; the hills are calling.