The Ultimate 5-Day Itinerary For A Memorable Holiday In Kashmir

From picnics at alpine lakes to spotting black bears in national parks, here is the perfect guide to a mix of the known and the unexpected for a brief vacation in Kashmir
Take a shikara ride on the stunning Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir
Take a shikara ride on the stunning Dal Lake in Srinagar, KashmirImagesofIndia/Shutterstock

Cricket star Sachin Tendulkar recently shared an Instagram reel of his first visit to Kashmir, and the internet is obsessed with the photos. Whether it was the snow-capped peaks visible from his airplane window or the mountain trails, the images emphasised Kashmir's immense diversity.

Kashmir is renowned as "Paradise on Earth" because of its stunning scenery, which includes snow-capped mountains, high-altitude meadows, lush valleys, and pristine alpine lakes. If you have a short holiday lined up, here is a 5-day itinerary based out of Srinagar that lets you catch a glimpse of the many delights.

Day 1: Srinagar

Srinagar, known for the beautiful Dal Lake, Mughal gardens, and vibrant markets, exemplifies the region's rich cultural legacy. From houseboat excursions to touring ancient mosques, you can easily spend a packed day here. Along the iconic Dal, covering an area of 21sq km, a long and cheery boulevard lines the waters on one side, and a series of tourist interest spots on the other - the Shankaracharya Hill (with a 6th-century Jyeshtheshvara temple on top), an entertainment park, the Mughal Gardens, numerous shops, restaurants and hotels. Check out one of the most photogenic of Srinagar's old buildings, the Khanqah (a holy place associated with a Sufi saint as well as a place for gathering, praying and studying Islam), perched on the right bank of the Jhelum. 

With colourful produce being hawked on equally colourful shikaras, the early morning floating vegetable market on Srinagar's Dal Lake is a must-have experience for all tourists. Read more about it here. Handwoven carpets, intricate woodwork, papier-mâché crafts, willow cricket bats, saffron, and dry fruits—there are many local treasures you can pick up when you are in Srinagar. The craftsmanship of Kashmir is unrivalled. The areas to head to are the main market at Lal Chowk, Polo View Road, Budshah Chowk, Residency Road and the bazaars on the banks of the Jhelum. Check out our guide to shopping in Srinagar.

Getting There

The nearest airport is Sheikh ul-Alam International Airport Srinagar (SXR), 15 km from the center of the city. The nearest railhead is Jammu Tawi Railway Station, around 290km away.

Day 2: Chirsar Lake

Among its many natural wonders, the lakes of Kashmir hold a special place, mesmerising visitors with their serene beauty. Spend the day at Chirsar Lake in Kulgam. Located at an altitude of around 3,500m, Chirsar is a serene milky blue glacial lake with a stunning backdrop of the Brahmasakli peaks. The blue waters that flow into the lake come from the glaciers here. Situated at a distance of around 18 km from Halan Kulgam, it lies in the lap of the Pirpanjal mountains, in Kulgam district.

Day 3: Gulmarg

Skiing on Apharwat Peak is one of the main attractions in Gulmarg
Skiing on Apharwat Peak is one of the main attractions in GulmargSupermop/Shutterstock

Gulmarg is known for gorgeous snow-capped peaks, lush green valleys, and pristine alpine meadows. The resort town is well-known for its world-class skiing facilities around the famed slopes of Apharwat peak. Aside from skiing, you can take leisurely walks through beautiful forests. Whether you desire action or relaxation, Gulmarg offers an extraordinary experience that will leave you wanting more.

Day 4: Dachigam National Park

The Dagwan River flows through Dachigam
The Dagwan River flows through DachigamRubin Sagar/Shutterstock

Located 22 km from Srinagar, Dachigam National Park is home to the Dagwan River which runs through the forest here. Dachigam (which translates to "ten villages") was founded in 1910. It was once a collection of villages that were cleared to create a game preserve and catchment region for the former Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. The park was granted to national park status in 1981. It is home to a diverse range of regional species, including the endangered Hangul or Kashmiri stag, musk deer, leopard, Himalayan black bear, and yellow-throated marten. If you enjoy bird watching, this is a great place to bring your camera and binoculars.

Day 5: Daksum And Around

Men carrying maize and pine wood in the Daksum area
Men carrying maize and pine wood in the Daksum area Aasif Shafi/Shutterstock

Located on the Anantnag Simthan Kishwar route, surrounded by lush forests and the Pir Panjal, Daksum is a wonderful retreat for adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts, with the soothing sound of the Bringi River in the background. It's a perfect escape for a day of hiking or fishing and an ideal starting point for trekkers heading to the legendary Sinthan Top, which is only 31 km away.

Close to Daksum is Kokernag located at an altitude of about 2,000 m above sea level and well-known for its gardens, Kashmir's biggest freshwater spring, and trout streams.  

Daksum is a wonderful retreat for adventurers
Daksum is a wonderful retreat for adventurersAltamirartist/Shutterstock

Just 58 km from Srinagar and 38 km from Daksum is Achabal, also known as Achival in Kashmiri. The Mughal Empress Nur Jehan had her retreat at Achabal, accessible via Anantnag. Achabal, which is 1,677 m above sea level, has many scenic attractions, including one of India's finest Mughal Gardens.

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