While Kathmandu holds Nepal's main cultural highlights, Pokhara is Nepal's base for adventure. The city lies on the doorstep of the Annapurna Himalaya and borders Phewa Lake and other smaller foothills, making it a great spot for a variety of outdoor activities. It also offers a number of ways to relax, whether you're interested in yoga or pleasant walks around Phewa Lake.

Tandem Paragliding Flight

Paragliders taking off from Sarangkot Hill
Paragliders taking off from Sarangkot Hill

Pokhara is one of the best places in the world to paraglide given the stable thermals created by the lake and surrounding mountains. If you've ever thought of trying it, this is a great opportunity and perhaps one of the best backdrops you'll find. The flight lasts 20-30 minutes and takes off from Sarangkot Hill, where you'll often see a large number of parachutes descending each morning. The entire experience itself, including the drive up to the launch pad, takes about one hour. For the flight, you'll be flying tandem, securely attached to your pilot.

Visit the Tal Barahi Temple

Tal Barahi temple in the middle of Phewa Lake
Tal Barahi temple in the middle of Phewa Lake

Popular for first-time visitors to Pokhara, a thirty-minute boat ride across Phewa Lake takes you to Tal Barahi temple located on a small island in the middle of the lake. It's a picturesque spot and a nice way to relax, especially combined with the peaceful boat trip across the lake. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Barahi. With the head of a sow, Barahi is the Shakti (feminine energy) of Baraha, the boar incarnation of the god Vishnu. In Nepali, she is called Barahi.

Hike or Drive to the World Peace Pagoda

World Peace Pagoda
The World Peace Pagoda, perched on a hill above the Pokhara Valley

You can either drive or take a short hike up to the World Peace Pagoda which commands one of the best views of the Pokhara Valley and the Annapurna Himalaya. The pagoda was built by Buddhist monks from the Japanese Nipponzan Myohoji Order and is one of 80 Peace Pagods worldwide. To hike up, take a boat across Phewa Lake to the trailhead, where you'll begin the climb through the forest to the steps leading to the pagoda. 

Watch Sunrise or Sunset from Sarangkot Hill

Looking down from Sarangkot at sunrise
View from Sarangkot Hill at sunrise

Sarangkot Hill is just on the edge of Pokhara and rises right above Phewa Lake. You can either drive or take a three-hour hike up to the hilltop village. The trail takes you through lovely forests and for a large part of the way there are uncut slabs of stone forming a rough path of steps. From Sarangkot, you'll have great views of the Annapurnas and Machapuchare, especially beautiful at sunrise. 

Visit Davi’s Waterfall

Just upstream from Devi's Falls, Pokhara
The stream leading into Devi's Fall just outside of Pokhara

The outflow of Phewa Lake forms a small stream that cuts through the surrounding valley, then passes through a narrow gorge before forming a waterfall. The small gorge is about 500 feet long and 100 feet deep, making it a fun place to explore. After exiting the gorge, the stream passes through Gupteshwor Mahadev cave. The falls were named after Mrs. Devi, a Swiss tourist who visited Nepal in 1961 and accidentally was swept through the waterfall after the dam overflowed on Phewa Lake.

Explore Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave

Underground in Gupteshwor Cave, Pokhara
Underground in Gupteshwor Cave, Pokhara

Just after Devi's Fall, the stream leads into an underground cave. A giant stalagmite within this cave is honored as a Shiva lingam and the devout flock here to pray. Entry tickets allow you to enter the temple. You can also obtain entry to the tunnel behind, which comes out at a wet cavern right behind the gushing Devi's fall. Once inside the cave, look up at the ceiling and you will see detritus and branches in cracks in the rock; these have actually been pushed up there by floodwaters that fill the cave during the monsoon.

Visit & Shop at Tashi Ling Refugee Camp

Prayer lamps in Tashi Ling village
The lighting of butter lamps are a daily act of prayer for Tibetan Buddhist  practitioners, Tashi Ling monastery

Tashi Ling is one of twelve official settlement camps in Kathmandu and Pokhara for Tibetan refugees. There are also several smaller settlements in the hillsides around Nepal. Up until 1989, Tibetan exiles were allowed ID cards and economic assistance, but due to recent political pressure, Nepal no longer recognizes Tibetan Refugees. Because of this, Tibetans are not allowed to legally work nor own a house or claim state benefits. Therefore, the refugees have resorted to making their living by selling homemade jewelry, trinkets, carvings, and carpets, making this a great place to stop and shop to support their local community.

Stroll Along Phewa Lake

Boats line the shore of Phewa Lake
Boats line the shore of Phewa Lake

Phewa is the second largest lake in Nepal at around 4.43 square km. The warm waters are inviting and great for a short tour on one of the many small wooden boats you'll find along the lakeside. Along lakeside, you can explore the various souvenir stores, bookshops, and restaurants. From the shore, on clear days, you'll have views of the Himalaya and see the reflection of the peaks on the water's surface.

Take a Yoga Class

Yoga classes in Pokhara
Numerous small yoga studios line the streets along the lakeside in Pokhara

There's a wide selection of yoga studios around lakeside in Pokhara, perfect to relax and unwind after a long trip in the mountains. Classes range from 60-90 minutes and have yoga mats on-hand. For a more substantial retreat, check out Purna Yoga Retreat. If something more luxurious, there may also be retreats being held at the Pavilions Himalayas Resort, just outside of Pokhara. 

Half or Full Day of Mountain Biking

Mountain biking just outside of Pokhara
One of numerous mountain biking trails and roads just outside of Pokhara

There are a number of trails and routes you can take in the surrounding hills around Pokhara. A half day or full day of riding can be arranged and customized to your skill level. By bike is also a great way to explore around Phewa Lake, as well.

Ultralight Flight

Pilot flying an ultralight in Pokhara
A pilot flying an ultralight in Pokhara

For something a bit more unique, an ultralight flight gives you a panoramic view of the entire Annapurna Range. The speed of this flight ranges from 50-90 km per hour and at a maximum altitude of 5,000 feet. 

Go Ziplining or Bungee Jumping

Also atop Sarangkot Hill, if you're looking for a bit of adrenaline, you can go zip lining and bungee jumping. The zip-line has a vertical free fall of 2000 feet (600 m) and runs a distance of almost 5,900 feet (1800 m) at 140 km per hour. It's one of the tallest and steepest zip-lines in the world. For bungee jumping, the jump site offers a spellbinding view of the Himalaya, the hills, and the rivers below. 

Enjoy a Massage

Especially nice after a trek, enjoy a local message at one of Pokhara's many spas and massage centers around lakeside.