Nepal ranges from very high mountains to jungle-filled plains—which means that, despite being a geographically small country, hopping quickly around the country can be a challenge. With five days, you’ll have time to see the cultural highlights of Kathmandu and Pokhara, or get a taste of the adventures Nepal is famous for with short treks and whitewater rafting. You can even visit Everest Base Camp (if you don't mind taking a helicopter to get there!).

Itinerary #1: Kathmandu and Pokhara Sightseeing

This five-day sightseeing itinerary is ideal for travelers who want to explore Nepal’s ancient Hindu and Buddhist cultures. Starting in Kathmandu, visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites, before flying to the beautiful lakeside city of Pokhara. This trip combines culture and history with some of the country’s most accessible views of impressive mountains and lakes.

Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu
Day Description Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Kathmandu; Visit to Swayambhunath Kathmandu
Day 2 Kathmandu Durbar Square; Bhaktapur for dinner Kathmandu
Day 3 Fly to Pokhara, explore Lakeside Pokhara
Day 4 Outdoor adventures in Pokhara Pokhara
Day 5 Fly back to Kathmandu Kathmandu

After arriving in Kathmandu, your first stop will be Swayambhunath, also known as the Monkey Temple, an ancient Buddhist stupa atop a hill overlooking the city. Spin the prayer wheels and admire the views. 

After a restful night, on day two you’ll visit Kathmandu Durbar Square. The old square features a mix of architectural styles, from the 16th to 20th century. In the afternoon, travel to Bhaktapur, east of central Kathmandu. Bhaktapur is known for its fine craft traditions, and you can see these on display in what is effectively an open-air museum. Have dinner in Bhaktapur and spend the night here.

On day three, leave the Kathmandu Valley and head west, to Pokhara, Nepal’s second city. After a quick but scenic 30-minute flight, explore the Lakeside area of this chilled-out city. Rent a boat to paddle on the pretty lake, and admire the impressive views of the Annapurna Himalaya behind the town.

Pokhara is the gateway to the Annapurna Himalaya, and while you won’t have time for a long trek, you can spend day four enjoying the outdoors. Drive or hike up to the Shanti Stupa overlooking the town, for amazing views of the mountains and lake. Have a go at paragliding from Sarangkot Hill, one of the best places in the world to try the sport because of the amazing views and stable thermals. Alternatively, there are short half-day or day hikes you can do around Pokhara.

On day five, return to Kathmandu by air and spend the rest of the day shopping for handicrafts and souvenirs to take back home. Learn more

Itinerary #2: Balthali Village Trek

To experience a Himalayan trek in a short time, you can’t get much better than the Balthali Village Trek. It’s a perfect introduction to trekking in the Himalaya, as the trail passes through small farming villages, lush green forests, ancient temples, and terraced farmland, all with the snowy peaks of the high Himalaya visible in the distance.

Views from the Dhulikhel district
Day Description Overnight
Day 1 Travel to Dhulikhel, on the edge of the valley, by vehicle and enjoy a scenic sunset Dhulikhel
Day 2 Trek to Namo Buddha, a sacred Tibetan Buddhist site Namo Buddha
Day 3 Trek to Balthali through picturesque villages and farmland Balthali
Day 4 Trek to Panauti, an ancient Newari town, then drive back to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 5 Sightseeing around Kathmandu Kathmandu

After arriving in Kathmandu, be driven out to Dhulikhel, a town high on a ridge just outside the Kathmandu Valley. You can choose between very high-end accommodation here, or something more basic and cozy. This is a great place to watch the sunset (and sunrise) over the Himalaya.

Prepare to walk on day two. Head to Namo Buddha, a sacred Tibetan Buddhist pilgrimage site. You’ll walk for about three hours. Arriving at your hotel in the mid-afternoon you can relax and enjoy the views or head to a lookout to catch the sunset. 

Start day three by visiting the famous Namo Buddha stupa, believed to be the place where an incarnation of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha offered his body to a hungry tigress. Continue walking to the village of Balthali, from where there are more beautiful views of mountains, farmland, and villages.

Your last day of trekking takes you to Panauti, one of the best-preserved Newar towns in the country. After your arrival, spend some time exploring the riverside temples, then drive back to Kathmandu. Stop at Bhaktapur en route, a 9th-century city that’s famous for its craft traditions, which you can see on display everywhere, from the carved windows and doors to the hand-made pots drying in the sun. Back in Kathmandu, visit Pashupatinath Temple at dusk, the holiest Hindu site in Nepal, to watch the evening pujas.

Depart on day five, after some last-minute souvenir shopping if you have time. Learn more

Itinerary #3: Nagarkot Trek and Kathmandu Tour

To enjoy both sightseeing and hiking, this Nagarkot Trek and Kathmandu Tour itinerary is a great option. The trek to Nagarkot is suitable for travelers of many ages and abilities and offers beautiful mountain views. Spending a couple of days in Kathmandu will let you see some of Nepal’s finest cultural and historic attractions.

Paragliding near Machhapuchhre near Pokhara
Views from Nagarkot on the edge of Kathmandu Valley
Day Description Overnight
Day 1 Fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Go Paddling on Phewa Lake Kathmandu
Day 2 Kathmandu Cultural Tour: Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, Patan Durbar Square Kathmandu
Day 3  Drive from Kathmandu to Sankhu, Hike to Nagarkot (7,136 feet / 2,175 m) Nagarkot
Day 4 Sunrise from Nagarkot, Drive back to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 5 Depart Kathmandu  

After your arrival in Kathmandu, depending on the time of day, visit a nearby attraction or two. A conveniently located attraction is the Kathmandu Durbar Square, with its eclectic mix of architectural styles.

The next morning, start a full day of touring Kathmandu’s highlights, such as Swayambhunath Stupa, Pashupatinath Temple, and Patan Durbar Square. These places will give you a thorough overview of the Buddhist and Hindu traditions of Nepal.

On day three, drive to the village of Sankhu, from where you’ll begin your hike to Nagarkot. The hike takes around 4-5 hours and passes through villages and jungle. Nagarkot is on the edge of the Kathmandu Valley and is famous for its sunset and sunrise views across the Himalaya.

Wake up early on day four to catch the sunrise. If you’re lucky you’ll see Everest, Annapurna, Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, Langtang, Jugal, and Numbur Himal on the horizon. Return to Kathmandu after breakfast by vehicle, and spend the rest of the day shopping, getting a massage, or checking out some final sights that you didn’t have time for on day two. Learn more

Itinerary #4: Central Nepal Multi-Sport Adventure

Adventurous travelers needn’t miss out on some of Nepal’s best outdoor activities due to lack of time, on this multi-sport adventure in central Nepal. Get a taste of trekking, rafting, and paragliding from Kathmandu and Pokhara.

Phewa Lake in Pokhara
Paragliders descending from Sarangkot Hill
Day Description Overnight
Day 1 Sightseeing around Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 2 Drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara, Trishuli River Rafting Pokhara
Day 3 Paragliding from Sarangkot Hill, Trek to Australian Camp (6,168 ft / 1,880 m) Aust. Camp
Day 4 Trek from Australian Camp to Phedi, Drive to Pokhara Pokhara
Day 5 Fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu, Depart Kathmandu

You’ll be met at the airport on arrival in Kathmandu. Depending on your time of arrival, spend the evening exploring the Thamel neighborhood and having your first dal bhat for dinner.

After breakfast on day two, depart Kathmandu for Pokhara. The journey follows the Trishuli River for much of the way, and after driving for a couple of hours you’ll stop for some white-water rafting fun. The Trishuli has some good medium-sized rapids, so is suitable for beginners, but there’s the option not to raft if you’d rather relax at a riverside resort. Continue on to Pokhara, and enjoy the sunset from Lakeside.

More adventures await on day three. In the morning you’ll be driven up to Sarangkot Hill, where is the jumping-off point (literally!) for paragliding above Pokhara. Enjoy the incredible mountain and lake views on a tandem flight with an instructor. In the afternoon, drive to Kande, where you’ll start your trek to the Australian Camp. You’ll have great views of the Annapurna Himalaya along the way.

On day four, trek from the Australian Camp to the village of Dhampus, and then on to Phedi. Your driver will be waiting for you at Phedi. Return to Pokhara and have the rest of the day to explore: you can get a post-trek massage, or paddle a boat on the lake.

Get an early flight back to Kathmandu on day five, from where you can depart Nepal or spend a bit more time enjoying the capital. Learn more

Itinerary #5: Best of Chitwan National Park

While many travelers equate Nepal with high mountains, those in the know realize that there are beautiful jungle national parks to explore. With five days in Nepal, get up close to rhinos, elephants, and other mighty creatures in the Chitwan National Park.

Rafters floating through the hills of Nepal
Rafters floating through the hills of Nepal
Day Description Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 2 Fly from Kathmandu to Chitwan National Park Chitwan
Day 3 Jeep and foot safari in the park Chitwan
Day 4 Boat ride downriver to Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge Chitwan
Day 5 Flight to Kathmandu  

After your arrival in Kathmandu, depending on how much time you have, check out a couple of the city’s cultural attractions. The Kathmandu Durbar Square and Swayambhunath Stupa are good options, as they’re located quite centrally.

Fly to Chitwan on day two (or, more precisely, to Bharatpur, which is about an hour’s drive from the Chitwan National Park). Settle into your comfortable accommodation with views over the Rapti River.

In the company of an expert naturalist, embark on a day of safari activities on day three. By touring the park in a Jeep and on foot, you have a strong chance of seeing rhinoceros, deer, gharial crocodiles, and a variety of birdlife. 

On day four, enjoy a peaceful boat ride down the Rapti and Narayani Rivers to the Tiger Tops Tharu Lodge, in a different part of Chitwan. Relax at the resort or take a walk to the Tharu village to learn about the local way of life. Take a bullock cart ride in the cool of the evening, if you wish.

Return to Kathmandu on day five, making the short flight from Bharatpur or going overland (5-6 hours) if you prefer. Learn more

Itinerary #6: Namche Trek & Everest Base Camp Helicopter Tour

Although five days isn’t enough time to embark on the full Everest Base Camp trek, you can experience the highlights of the Everest region on a five-day Namche Trek and Helicopter Tour. Trek the first couple of days of the EBC route, and then fast-track the rest of the way via a helicopter tour.

Ama Dablam views
Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to Kathmandu! Kathmandu
Day 2 Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, Trek to Phakding (8,563 feet / 2,610 m) Phakding
Day 3 Trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar (11,290 feet / 3,440 m) Namche Bazaar
Day 4 Everest Helicopter Tour from Namche, Fly back to Kathmandu Kathmandu
Day 5 Depart Kathmandu  

Depending on your time of arrival in Kathmandu, spend a bit of time getting to know the city. Kathmandu Durbar Square and Swayambhunath Stupa are good places for new arrivals to visit, as they’re quite centrally located.

The adventure in the mountains begins on day two: take an early-morning flight to Lukla, the gateway to the Everest region. Trek for 3-4 hours on your first day, alongside the Dudh Koshi River, to Phakding. 

Get a real taste of the Everest Base Camp trail on day three, as you climb from Phakding to Namche Bazaar. The trail is steep in places, but you’ll get your first glimpse of Everest through a clearing in the trees, and cross one of the longest and highest suspension bridges in Nepal en route. Spend some time exploring Namche after arriving, as this is the bustling heartland of Sherpa culture.

While you can’t trek all the way to Everest (this time!), get to the foot of the highest mountain in the world on a helicopter tour on day four. You’ll see Ama Dablam, Thamserku, Kantega, Lhotse, Nuptse, as well as Everest herself. Stop at Base Camp for unbelievable views, but not for too long because you may feel the effects of altitude here. Return all the way to Kathmandu after your tour, where you can relax, get a post-trek massage, shop, or do some last-minute sightseeing.

Depart Kathmandu on day five, with some incredible memories from your whistle-stop five-day tour. Learn more

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