AFGHANISTAN: TOP PLACES TO VISIT
Afghanistan travel guide: top PLACES to visit
Afghanistan, a land of rich history, diverse cultures, and breathtaking landscapes, has been on the list for many adventurous travelers, but many find the country difficult to visit. This is a short guide on all the potential places you should add if you happen to travel to Afghanistan. If you’d like to learn more about how to actually visit the country, please make sure to check out this article. While it may not be easy to visit, it’s full of hidden gems, welcoming people and natural wonders that make it a unique and captivating destination worth going through the trouble for.
What are some of the best places to visit in Afghanistan?
I will be first listing all of the destinations that I personally visited during my time there. These are perfect for an 8-10 day itinerary, depending on whether you fly or travel by land.
Things to do in Kabul
Start your Afghan adventure in the vibrant capital city. Seeing this city in real life was so surreal, especially if you’ve read any of Khaled Hosseini’s books. Explore the historic Kabul City Center, visit the National Museum, and stroll through the bustling Kabul Bazaar. The Babur Gardens offer a serene escape, and of course, no visit to Kabul is complete without visiting the infamous Bibi Mehro Hill, or roaming around the local bird market.
Best attractions in Herat
Known as the ‘Pearl of Khorasan,’ Herat boasts a rich history reflected in its exquisite mosques, vibrant bazaars, and the iconic Herat Citadel. The Friday Mosque and the tomb of Gowar Shad are architectural wonders, while the local National Museum houses artifacts dating back centuries. The shrine of Khoja Ansari at Gazar Gah is also recommended. Best travel tip for Herat: get permits to go inside the workshop of the Herat Central Blue Mosque. You can see here how the tiles are refurbished, using techniques that have been passed on for generations. This was by far one of the most special moments of our trip.
What to see in Bamiyan
This is the chance to see what Afghanistan is like from a rural perspective. The Taliban isn’t as strict here, which means that you’ll get a better insight to life in the country. Most importantly, you are allowed to wear more colors besides the typical black. Bamiyan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is famous for the massive Buddha statues that once graced the region. Although tragically destroyed, going inside the Buddhas, going all the way to the top, and learning about the local history is highly recommended. The Band-e Amir National Park, with its stunning blue lakes, is a must-visit for nature lovers. Taking a ride in one of the iconic yellow ducks around the lake is highly recommended.
These are the stops that we visited during our trip, and we used both air and land transportation to cover these. Here are a few more suggestions if you happen to stay longer. Adding these to your itinerary is advisable if you are staying 10-15 days minimum
Mazar-e-Sharif – The Blue Mosque City:
Mazar-e-Sharif is home to the stunning Blue Mosque (Hazrat Ali’s Shrine), a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. The city’s vibrant bazaars and the serene Shrine of Hazrat Ali are must-visit attractions. Most people usually choose between Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif. I personally believe Herat has more to offer. If you have enough time, why not visit both?
The Panjshir Valley – Nature’s Paradise:
Escape to Panjshir Valley, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and lush greenery. Ideal for hiking and outdoor enthusiasts, the valley offers breathtaking landscapes, traditional villages, and the famed Massoud’s Tomb, which is not in great condition after the Taliban takeover but still worth a visit.
Kandahar – the Heart of Afghanistan
Among the mausoleums worth visiting, Mirwais Hotak and Ahmad Shah Durrani are highly recommended. The distinctive Red Mosque, Kandahar Museum, and the vibrant bazaars will definitely give you a sense of how prominent the city is historically.
Afghanistan, with its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage, promises a unique and unforgettable travel experience. Visiting these requires planning in advance and making sure that the situation in each location is stable. As I’m sure you can understand, the situation in Afghanistan is extremely volatile. If in doubt, I highly recommend hiring a local guide or joining a group trip like I did. You can find more information about that here. Remember to respect local customs and acknowledge the privilege you have for being able to visit this country safely as a foreigner. This Afghanistan travel guide serves as a starting point for those looking to visit the country. Best of luck! And if you have any questions, you know where to find me.
Hey there, and welcome to Go Global with Sibu! I’m a global citizen that has been living and traveling around the world since 2005 – all through budget travel, scholarships, study/work and living abroad opportunities. I share everything I’ve learned over the years here – to prove to you that you don’t need money or privilege to enjoy everything that this world has to offer.