Based in the Naini Hills of Kumaon region, the Himalayan resort town of Uttarakhand is both picturesque and contemporary, unlike other destinations in the state. Nainital is surrounded by tall pine trees and is divided into two parts by the famous Naini lake—Tallital, the part that lies South of the lake and Mallital, the Northern part of the lake.
Known for its breathtaking beauty, Nainital is one of the most popular destinations in Uttarakhand which attracts thousands of tourists every year. Set in the Naini hills, the lake resort of Himalayas is surrounded by tall pine trees on all sides. The famous Naini lake, which located in the heart of the landscape, and snow-capped Himalayan peaks, which are easily visible from the town, beautify Nainital to an extent that it can get really hard to blink.
Heavy vegetation of pine trees in Nainital offers beautiful forest trails which is a perfect place for lazy strolls and if lucky, spotting some rare birds. The dense forests of Nainital are home to Himalayan langur, barking deer, Indian porcupine, wild pig, and black-capped marten. Along with the pines, Nainital also has grooves of Sal, Buruns, Oak and Kaphal trees that grow as tall as 6000 ft.
Location & How To Reach:
Located in the lap of Kumaon Himalayas, Nainital is at an elevation of 6,538 ft from the sea level.
Nearest Railway Station: Kathgodam (34 km away)
Nearest Airport: Pantnagar airport (68 km away)
Distance From Nearby Cities
Nainital to Delhi: 333 km (7 hrs)
Nainital to Haldwani: 41.2 km (1 hr)
Nainital to Kausani: 114 km (4 hrs)
Nainital to Almora: 62 km (2 hrs)
Nainital to Ranikhet: 56 km (2 hrs)
Getting around in the Town
Just like most hill towns, Nainital is also best explored on foot. However, to cover longer distances or to reach hilltops, taxis are easily available.
Some hilltops are enjoyed best when visited on a horse or on a ropeway. To go around the popular mall road, cycle rickshaws are the best option available.
Things to See & Do In Nainital
Although the beautiful Naini lake steals all the limelight, there are more than just a couple of other spots in Nainital that deserve attention.
Almost every city or a well-established town in the country has a zoo. But what sets the Nainital Zoo apart from others is its spectacular quality of maintenance and location. The zoo is home to several interesting high-altitude birds and animals such as leopard, Himalayan black bear and steppe eagle. Located at height, there is a steep road to climb from the parking to reach the zoo. The entry fee is Rs. 30 for adults and Rs. 10 for children.
Image Source: Gurukul Events (Flickr)
Get aboard an aerial ropeway to reach the top of Sher-ka-Danda Hill which is at a height of 7,448 ft and is popularly known as Snow View. The cable car ride is filled with opportunities to capture and witness the best of Nainital. A round trip to the snow view point on a ropeway will cost Rs. 150 and the timings are from 10 am to 5 pm.
Image Source: Nishant Verma (Instagram)
One of the many popular tourist spots in Nainital, Tiffin Top, also known as Dorothy’s seat, offers a breathtaking view of the Himalayas. Tourists can either walk the rugged road to reach the top or take a horse ride to avoid fatigue.
Image Source: Siddhesh Pisal (Instagram)
Boating at Naini Lake
Boating and yachting on Naini Lake are the most popular activities amongst the tourists. While renting a rowboat can cost up to Rs. 130, a roundtrip on a yacht can go up to Rs. 270 per hour. Yachts can be rented from Nainital Boat House Club which is located on the bank of Naini lake.
Boating timings: 10 am to 4 pm
Image Source: yugantarora (Flickr)
Bhotia Market (Tibetan Market)
Adjacent to Naini lake is the famous Bhotia Market. Lip-smacking and authentic dishes of the hills such as Thukpa (dry noodles with soup) and Momos can be enjoyed here. Also, Bhotia Market is the perfect place to get woolens at dirt cheap prices.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Nainital is during the months of May and June.
Planning a trip during the monsoons, which start from July and last till September, should be avoided. Heavy rainfall and fog can obstruct the beautiful views and can make trotting through the town inconvenient.
Visit Nainital in January and you have a high chance of witnessing snowfall.
The lake district of Uttarakhand has a pleasant climate throughout the year.
Summers are moderately hot and during Monsoons, the town receives heavy rainfall.
Winter season begins with October and lasts till February.
Nainital has a couple of exotic and luxurious resorts available for tourists who wish to unwind in the lap of nature. The tariff of these luxurious accommodations can vary anywhere between Rs. 9-12,000 a night during peak season. (Note: The prices can change depending on the season).
Budget hotel chains such as OYO and Treebo also run properties in Nainital and a stay at these accommodations can cost anywhere between Rs. 2-4,000 a night.
Where to Head Next? (Within 50-300 km)
(114 km, 3-4 hours)
Home to spectacular tea estates and breathtaking waterfalls, Kausani is one of the must-visit destinations of Uttarakhand. There are no direct buses or trains from Nainital. Thus, hiring a taxi to Kausani is the only way to reach. Also, for lesser transportation cost, hire a taxi to from Nainital to Almora and from there, take a state transport bus to Kausani.
Image Source: ᑌTTᗩᖇᗩKᕼᗩᑎᗪ (Instagram)
(63 km, 2 hours)
Almora, a small hill town in Uttarakhand, is home to picturesque hilltops that give a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks. Both state transport and private-owned buses ply regularly for Almora from Nainital. Also, shared taxis, which cost Rs. 250-300 per passenger, are easily available at Tallital in Nainital.
Image Source: thekurmanchalvillage (Instagram)
(151 km, 4 hours)
Known for being home to a wide range of flora and fauna, Jim Corbett attracts tourists and nature-lovers from all over the globe. The only convenient way to reach Jim Corbett from Nainital is to hire a taxi. No direct flights or trains run between these two towns.
Image Source: Corbett Aadil (Instagram)
(258 km, 9 hours)
Nestled in the lap of beautiful Himalayan peaks, Munsiyari is the perfect getaway for tourists looking for some peace and quiet. Taxis are easily available for hire from Nainital. However, for a cheaper ride, regular buses are available for Munsiyari from Kathgodam, Almora, and Haldwani.