Islamabad is a city rich with food and culture, where modernity meets tradition.
Approximate flight time: 7 hours 40 minutes (total distance 3813 miles)
Number of flights per week: 2
Airlines that fly direct: Pakistan International Airlines
Airports in Islamabad: Islamabad International Airport
Seasons: High: May - October : Low: November - April
Currency: Pakistani Rupee (PKR)
Departing from Birmingham Airport
Getting to Birmingham Airport is easy. You can take the train to Birmingham International Station and get the free air-rail link to the airport. On the bus, you can stop directly at the Airport Terminal or at Birmingham International Station.
If you’re travelling by car, there are several parking options available, ranging from drop off and valet parking to car parks accessible on foot or by free shuttle bus. Book a parking space online in advance and save up to 70%.
Once you’re at the airport, hit the shops for some retail therapy before you fly. Grab some last-minute gifts at Pandora, The Watch Collection or Superdry. Stock up on perfumes, spirits, and chocolates at tax-free prices from World Duty Free. If you need something for the flight, get snacks at M&S Simply Food, a book at WHSmith or travel-sized toiletries at Boots.
All that shopping might make you peckish, so we’ve got great cafés, bars and restaurants for you to enjoy. Grab food to go at Burger King, Wrapchic, or Pret a Manger, and get a coffee at Costa or Caffè Nero. If you have more time, savour a sit-down meal at All Bar One, Giraffe or Frankie & Benny’s.
We also have four fantastic airport lounges, with complimentary food and drinks, unlimited Wi-Fi and great runway views, all for a small fee. Business travellers may want to book into the Regus Express Lounge, which includes workstations, laptop stands, and printers and scanners. Families with young children may want to check out Sky Zone, our play area with accompanying online activities.
Arriving at Islamabad International Airport
Islamabad International Airport opened in early 2018, replacing Benazir Bhutto International Airport. Located approximately 20 km from the city centre, the airport is connected to Islamabad via the Kashmir Highway and to Rawalpindi via the GT Road. The best mode of transport to either city is getting a taxi. There are several taxi companies available 24 hours and fares can be negotiated with each driver.
If you’d prefer to drive yourself, there are also car hire options at the airport. There is some public transport available, but the bus routes can be very confusing, so you need to know exactly where you’re going.
Pre-book your transfer with HolidayTaxis and avoid the queues when you arrive.
What to expect in Islamabad
Islamabad melds the contemporary and the ancient, with tradition meeting modernity around every corner. As Pakistan’s capital city, it’s fast-paced and full of culture. Designed by well-known Greek architect Constantinos Apostolou Doxiadis, the city was built in the 1960s to replace Karachi as capital. Its sister city is nearby Rawalpindi.
Islamabad’s main language is Punjabi, with Pashto as the second most spoken language. Most hotels will have staff who speak English, but having a translation app or a dictionary is always a good idea.
Temperatures in Islamabad can hit extremes in each season. During summer (May – June), temperatures average around 30°C but can peak at 38°C. In winter, it can dip to below 10°C. During the rainy monsoon season (July – August), heavy rainfall is common and can sometimes cause flash floods.
Culture in Islamabad
For sightseeing, Islamabad doesn’t disappoint. The city’s most famous landmark is the Shah Faisal Mosque, one of the largest in Asia. Its geometric design echoes a desert tent and its minarets loom large over a massive courtyard.
Other sights well worth a visit include the Pakistan Monument and the Lok Virsa Museum, full of ethnographic artefacts. For a bit of nature, visit the lush Margalla Hills that surround the city or Shakarparian, a national park with lots of gardens.
As the capital city, Islamabad represents a broad range of Pakistani cuisine. You can taste the flavours of every province here. Dishes mix influences from the country’s neighbours – Iran, Afghanistan and India – to create a unique flavour profile. Try seekh kebabs (delicious skewers of seasoned beef or lamb), haleem (a slow-cooked stew of grains, lentils and meat) or biryani (baked spiced rice with vegetables and meat).
Finish a meal with a dessert of kheer (rice pudding seasoned with saffron and cardamom, then topped with nuts), and then wash things down with a fruit lassi or a glass of sugarcane juice.