In the heart of the Himalaya, 100 or so miles west of Kathmandu, lies the laidback lakeside city of Pokhara.
Sprawled along the banks of the serene Phewa Lake with its cobalt waters and brightly painted paddleboats, Pokhara provides the perfect atmosphere for returning hikers looking to unwind after a Himalayan trek, as well as all the supplies needed for those just setting off. This is the start and endpoint for many of Nepal’s best-loved treks, including the iconic Annapurna Circuit, but you can also enjoy more leisurely afternoon strolls through the valley and surrounding hills.
As well as being a trekker’s hub, Nepal’s second-largest city is a wonderful place to spend a few days simply soaking up the serene surroundings and fabulous mountain scenery. Paddle boats can be hired along the edge of the lake, and there are an array of atmospheric temples to explore including the World Peace Pagoda and the two-storey Tal Barahi Temple which sits on an island at the centre of the lake. For those seeking adventure beyond the trails, Pokhara offers rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, zip lining and some of the world’s best paragliding.
Meanwhile, the Lakeside district on Phewa’s eastern shore beckons with its yoga centres, local restaurants, friendly cafes and handicraft shops. For history buffs, the International Museum in the south of Pokhara has excellent exhibits on the mountains, climbers and people of the Himalaya - including original gear from some of the very first ascents - whilst the Gurkha Memorial Museum tells the stories of Nepal’s elite Gurkha soldiers.