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Shimla is a picturesque and popular hill station located in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. Since it's located in close proximity to major cities in Himachal, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, a lot of people come here to take a break from the city life. You'll find a few things to do in Shimla like local Shimla sightseeing, shopping at Mall Road and eating at nice cafes. However, the major joy lies in sitting back and enjoying the views of the mountains. With this in mind, this post contains all major information you need for planning a trip to Shimla and figuring out the things to do in Shimla city.
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How to Reach Shimla
Shimla, being a popular sightseeing destination can be reached in numerous ways. Shimla is connected to all major nearby cities by road, train and flight. Take a look at the various ways of reaching Shimla.
Travelling to Shimla by bus is a popular option that most people tend to choose. There are frequent buses to Shimla from all major cities within and outside of Himachal. From Delhi, you'll find a range of buses such as ordinary, semi-sleeper, Volvo etc based on your level of comfort. Similarly, there are regular buses from Chandigarh, Manali etc.
One of the best ways to reach Shimla would be to take the toy train from Kalpa to Shimla. The scenic journey will take you through rolling hills, tunnels and stunning landscapes. If I could change one thing about my Shimla trip, I would've travelled by train instead of bus.
Shimla has a small airport located 22 km away from the city. You'll find inexpensive direct flights from Delhi to Shimla quite easily.
Where to Stay in Shimla
If you're looking for a short stay in Shimla to travel further towards Kinnaur and Spiti, it's best to find a hotel near the ISBT Tutikandi bus stand. I stayed at Star A-One Homestay which was located right at the bus stand. However, if you're there for more than just a day for sightseeing in Shimla then find a hotel near the Mall Road, which will be the central location for visiting all the Shimla attractions.
Things to do in Shimla - Sightseeing Places
Shimla is one of the most popular hill stations in India. It's close proximity to Delhi makes it a favourable destination for city dwellers. There's not a whole lot of things to do in Shimla. Since it has a lot of natural beauty, Shimla is a place to relax, unwind and disconnect from the city life. There are just a handful of Shimla sightseeing places. Take a look at them and the various other things to do in Shimla.
City point is exactly what it sounds like - a point in the city. I had presumed it might be called so because it would be a point where you get a view of the city. But it turns out it's a location from where one end of the mall road stretch begins. You can start your Shimla sightseeing tour from here.
If you're an architecture buff like me, you'll fall in love with the Town Hall in Shimla. This beautiful building has been constructed in the Tudor style of architecture which originated in the 1500's under King Henry VIII in England. One could spend hours admiring the make of this building. Luckily for me, I found a cafe with windows overlooking the Town Hall. But more on that later.
The Ridge is the upper section of the mall road from where you get to see incredible views of the Shimla city, Christ church and the square area. The mall road opens up to a wide area where you'll find lots of people walking around, college kids hanging out, parents buying treats for their kids from the street vendors and lots of activity. This area looks particularly beautiful on a snowy or a rainy day.
The Christ church in Shimla is located right next to the ridge. This church is the backdrop of the open square area. You'll identify this church in many Bollywood movies that are shot in Shimla. One of the more popular ones being 3 Idiots movie where two scenes where filmed in front of Christ church and at the ridge.
Where to Eat - The Best Cafes in Shimla
As I had mentioned earlier, I came across a cafe directly across the Town Hall. It was a charming little place with large windows to enjoy the outside view. The name of this place is Wake and Bake cafe. When I visited the cafe, there were two guys there practising their music on the guitar. With a little drizzle outside and the melodious music next to me, I can say it felt like I was sitting in the best cafe in Shimla. What a beautiful afternoon that was! Other than Wake and Bake, Cafe Shimla Times is a popular cafe, especially famous for it's view of Shimla city.
Shopping at Mall Road
You can't leave Shimla without doing a little (or lots of) shopping at Mall Road. This stretch of road is lined with the latest stores as well as small home businesses. Moreover, you'll find lots of cafes and eating joints as well so you never go hungry! The area near Town Hall has the branded stores whereas the stretch near City Point has local stores. Shopping at Mall Road was definitely one of my favourite things to do in Shimla.
What to Wear in Shimla
No matter when you visit Shimla, always be prepared for a little cold. I did my Shimla sightseeing in the month of September when there were still light drizzles and it got especially cold in the mornings and evenings. If you're visiting Shimla in the rainy months, carry a raincoat or umbrella. Whereas if you're taking a trip to Shimla in the winter months from November to March, carry sweaters and expect snow in the peak winter months. Carry thermals accordingly. In the summer, you'll need a light shrug for the evenings but the afternoons will be pleasant.