Karachi, Pakistan: Exploring The City of Lights

Situated on Pakistan’s Arabian Sea coast in the country’s Sindh province is the capital city of Karachi. Pakistan’s largest city and the twelfth-largest city in the world, Karachi the city of lights is considered a beta-global city. It’s also an ethnically and religiously diverse city, as well as the country’s most cosmopolitan city in southern pakistan. That makes the best things to do in Karachi, Pakistan equally varied and unique!

Karachi has been inhabited for over a thousand years, though it was officially founded in 1729 as Kolachi. Then a fortified village, Kolachi’s importance grew rapidly after the British East Indian Company arrived in the mid-19th century.

The British transformed the city into a transportation hub by connecting it to the rail system (Karachi Cantonment Station) and the extensive rail network they’d built throughout the Indian subcontinent, and turning it into a prominent port city.

Over the years, Karachi has played a crucial role in the political landscape, becoming a focal point for major political parties.

After Pakistan won its independence in 1947, Karachi, now recognized as the seventh most prominent city, grew further as hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees from India flooded the city during the Partition. It continued its economic growth in the years that followed, as Muslim immigrants arrived from across South Asia.

Now Pakistan’s top financial and industrial center, and a vibrant nightlife destination, Karachi is known as karachi the city of lights. I loved my time in this incredible city, which really is world-class in many aspects. To explore the city, I teamed up with the amazing people at Manaky, a curated travel marketplace dedicated to creating unforgettable experiences for people traveling through Pakistan. They were a dream to work with and really made my time in Karachi truly special.

The people in Karachi are among the friendliest I’ve ever met in my life and the cuisine blew me away. It’s a true traveler’s dream and a city I think everyone should experience at least once. These are the top 20 things you must do in Karachi, Pakistan!

Go on a Breakfast Street Food Tour

You can’t talk about the top things to do in Karachi, Pakistan without mentioning a breakfast food tour. Early on my first morning in the city, my guide Furqan took me on a diverse and wide-reaching tour, starting with Karachi’s King of Parathas at Quetta Alamgir Hotel!

Quetta Alamgir Hotel

Parathas at Quetta Almagir Hotel in Karachi, Pakistan

This famous cook is known for cooking up hundreds of lachha parathas in a massive, circular pan just feet from the street. These flaky, layered, pan-fried flatbreads pair well with omelets and a chickpea and masala mixture called chana.  

Parathas, egg, chana, and chai at Quetta Almagir Hotel in Karachi, Pakistan

These flaky, crispy, golden-brown parathas are quite similar to the parottas you’ll find in southern India. I recommend tearing off a bit and eating it with the fiery, fluffy omelet and hearty chana. 

Eating parathas, chana, and eggs in Karachi, Pakistan

It’s honestly a mixture you can’t beat. The mix of contrasting textures and mouthwatering flavors is the best way to kick off your day. Add some chai for a scorching and frothy treat!

Quetta Alamgir Hotel

Alamgir Rd, Delhi Mercantile Society

Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh, Pakistan

+92 21 34926333

Sialkot Milk Centre

After your spicy breakfast, you’ll probably need some dairy to cool down the fire lingering in your mouth. For that, head over to a popular spot called Sialkot Milk Centre, which offers baked goods, milkshakes, and yes, lassi.

Lassi is a yogurt-based drink that’s often enjoyed after a spicy meal in Pakistan and India. It comes in many different flavors, thicknesses, and styles across the subcontinent. The lactose helps temper the heat on your tongue and coats your stomach to aid in digestion. Plus, the creamy texture is just plain delicious!

Sialkot Milk Centre

Apartment, West Land Apartments 

Ismail Naineetalwala Chowrangi

Bahadurabad Bahadur Yar Jang CHS

Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh, Pakistan

Visit Frere Hall

If you’re a history buff like me, you may want to break up your food adventures with a visit to one of Karachi’s most notable landmarks. In the colonial-era Saddar Town in the center of the city, you’ll find Frere Hall, a British colonial building that dates back to 1865.

Frere Hall was built in the Venetian-Gothic architectural style, but blends elements of local and British architecture. It was initially was built to serve as the town hall, but it now operates as a library and exhibition space. The library inside, Liaquat National Library, is one of the largest in Karachi. It’s home to over 70,000 books, including rare manuscripts.

Frere Hall is surrounded by a large park with lots of benches and street food vendors. The vendors sell chaats and a delicious cross between ice cream and sorbet called kulfi. The kulfi is dense and creamy, and contains caramel and nuts. It’s a great way to cool off in the Pakistani heat and one of my favorite things to do in Karachi, Pakistan!

Frere Hall

Fatima Jinnah Road

Saddar Civil Lines

Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh, Pakistan

Eat a Bun Kabab at Super Foods & Biryani Center

As you explore the streets of Karachi, you may come across a number of cooks preparing and stacking a massive number of fluffy, pancake-like egg patties on the edge of a grill. The egg patties are for a dish called bun kababs, which is a small sandwich consisting of kebab meat, egg, onions, and green chili chutney inside a white bun.

One of the best city to see this spectacle—and try a bun kabab—is Super Foods & Biryani Center. You can take your food to go if you wish, or you can eat in their dining area upstairs. I recommend sitting down and eating them.

The bun kababs are essentially slider-like breakfast sandwiches. The crispy and airy bun, coupled with the fluffy eggs, and the kick of heat from the chutney is outstanding. If you wish, you can add more onions and chutney, which are provided on the side. The onions add a nice touch of acidity and help bring the whole dish together! Having one is another thing you must do in Karachi, Pakistan!

Super Foods & Biryani Center

Plot R 1340

Federal B Area Block 15 Gulberg Town,

Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh, Pakistan

Visit the Shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi

When you travel to Karachi, one of the must-visit localities is the Clifton neighborhood. It’s a bustling, wealthy seaside area full of restaurants and street vendors. It’s also home to the Shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi, a Muslim mystic and Sufi from the 8th century.

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Ghazi was a descendent of the prophet Mohammed and visited the area to spread Islam. After being killed by his enemies in the interior of the Sindh Province, Ghazi’s devotees buried him on a hill near Clifton Beach. The present-day shrine, the most visited in the country, was built around his grave 1,000 years later.

Keep in mind that, while the shrine is beautiful, you can only film and take photographs of the exterior. Cameras are not allowed inside, but phones are. If you visit, remember to be respectful of the rules as you marvel at the building’s beauty.


Shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi

Block 4 Block 3 Clifton

Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh, Pakistan 

Explore the Street Food on Burns Road

If you don’t explore the Pakistani street food on Burns Road while you’re in Karachi, you didn’t experience Karachi properly. From small holes-in-the-wall selling kachori, potato curry, dal, and achar to vendors grilling chargha (chicken stacked vertically on spits and arranged in a circle) to much more, you can find it all there!

The great thing about Burns Road is that they close half of the road to traffic nightly after 6 p.m. At that time, each restaurant along the road extends its seating out into the street to allow for the bustling dinner rush. It’s a great concept and one I personally enjoyed a lot!

New Delhi Gola Kebab House

My guide Furqan and I were sure to stop at New Delhi Gola Kebab House, an incredible spot that sells some of the best kebabs I ate in Pakistan. We ordered chicken kebabs, dhaga kebabs (a type of soft, minced seekh kebab), kebab fry, and a tender and smoky dish called khiri with parathas and chili chutney. 

With so many dishes, I barely knew where to begin! I loved the flavors of the dhaga kebab and kebab fry. The kebab fry was particularly tender and buttery, with a delicious minced texture. Eat them with the parathas for a real treat!

The chicken kebabs were also phenomenal. They had been nicely marinated in a beautiful spice mixture. I recommend dipping them into the chili chutney for some heat, but be warned—it’s very spicy!

Eating street food on Burns Road in Karachi, Pakistan

My favorite dish there was the khiri. I couldn’t get enough of the smoky flavor and fatty, juicy texture. Together with the parathas and the chili chutney, it was heaven on my palate. I highly recommend this dish when you go to New Delhi Gola Kebab House. It’s one of my favorite dishes I ate in Karachi!

New Delhi Gola Kebab House


Burns Road 

Karachi, Pakistan

Delhi Rabri House

Another spot along Burns Road you cannot miss is Delhi Rabri House. This dessert spot is the perfect place to grab something sweet and creamy after a heavy and spicy meal elsewhere on the street.

I recommend the restaurant’s namesake, rabri, which is a pudding-like sweet made from condensed milk and millet flour, and then topped with nuts. If you have a sweet tooth, it’s the perfect dish for you, as it’s full of sugar! You can get it plain or topped with pistachios. I recommend the latter, as the pistachios add a nice crunch and a delicious nutty flavor!

Delhi Rabri House

Sadiq Heights, 108/3 Alamgir Road

Bihar Muslim Society BMCHS Sharafabad

Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh, Pakistan

+92 333 3839507

Eat Pakistani Sindh Biryani at Biryani Wala

Pakistani sindh biryani in Karachi, Pakistan

One of the most popular and most desirable neighborhoods in Karachi is the Clifton Neighborhood, which borders the ocean. There are a number of things to see there, but one of its best restaurants is Biryani Wala, which offers a number of varieties of the famous rice dish, biryani.

Biryani is a layered rice dish that’s made up of basmati rice, various proteins, vegetables, herbs, and masalas. It’s extremely popular throughout South Asia and can contain chicken, beef, fish, eggs, paneer, prawns, and more. 

Chicken and beef sindh biryani in Karachi, Pakistan

Furqan and I went with their chicken and beef varieties. As is customary throughout the region, we dug in with our hands. The chicken biryani was full of texture and flavor despite being relatively light on spices. It also contained potatoes. Adding a yogurt dish called raita made it creamier and even more delicious!

The beef biryani was my favorite, though. It had a heavier and heartier feel than the chicken, and the spices cooked into it really made the biryani come to life! I’ve eaten biryani all over the world, and I can say that this is one of the best I’ve ever had!

Biryani Wala

Shop No 1 

Tai Zainab Arcade  

Plot No 35/358 main 

Dhoraji Karachi, 74200, Pakistan

+92 21 34851112

Explore the Clifton Neighborhood

The Clifton neighborhood is Karachi’s wealthiest neighborhood. This seaside neighborhood is home to Clifton Beach, as well as a bustling commercial area where you can find a number of fantastic street vendors. Exploring the neighborhood was one of my favorite things to do in Karachi, Pakistan!

These vendors sell everything from biryani to pani puri to a tangy, citrusy mosambe juice with black salt. But my favorite shop in the area is Sohny Sweet & Bakery, which sells dozens of different South Asian sweets. They include kalakand, barfi, halwa, and numerous cakes.

One thing you’ll learn in Pakistan and India is that they love their sweets, and boy do they love them to be extra sweet! If you’re like me and don’t have a massive sweet tooth, I recommend the walnut halwa, which was nutty and sweet without being overbearing. Their herbal baklava and rasgulla are other great options!

Sohny Sweet & Bakery

Zone A – Block 7 

Clifton, Karachi, Sindh 75600


+92 21 35838140

Visit Clifton Beach

Clifton Beach is the most prominent beach and port city in Karachi and stretches from the city, all the way to the town of Ormara in Balochistan. Located along the Arabian Sea coast in the Clifton neighborhood, the beach also goes by the name Sea View. 

The beach is famous for its picturesque black sand, as well as recreational activities like camel, horse, and buggy rides. Visitors also don’t have to go far for food, as the beach is home to street food vendors and a number of restaurants, including a McDonald’s.

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When I visited the beach, I was amazed by the width of the beach at low tide and its striking black sands. I also met a man who offers 15-minute-long camel rides for 100 rupees each. It’s very touristy but is still one of the top things to do in Karachi, Pakistan!

Eat Nihari at Javed Nihari

There are a number of hearty, meaty, and mouthwatering dishes in Pakistan, but the one called nihari has to be my favorite. This unbelievable dish consists of beef, bone marrow, and beef brains in a thick, rich, and oily stew. To try some of the best nihari Karachi has to offer, head over to Javed Nihari.

From the street, you can see the cooks preparing this Pakistani comfort food in gigantic pots along with freshly baked naan. You eat the nihari with the naan, and it is one of the most incredible flavor explosions I’ve ever experienced.

The beef is unbelievably soft and tender, and falls apart in your mouth. The buttery bone marrow, flavorful broth and oil, garlic, and green chilies in the dish only add to its amazing flavor profile. Combining it with the crispy, fresh naan elevates the entire dish and adds even more pleasing textures!

Eating nihari in Karachi, Pakistan

My mouth would not stop watering as I devoured this mind-blowing stew. It’s one of my favorite breakfasts I ate during my time in Pakistan. And it’s also one of the top things you must do in Karachi, Pakistan!

Javed Nihari

Dastagir Road

Federal B Area Block 15 

Gulberg Town, Karachi

Sindh, Pakistan

+92 333 3411029

Try Halwa Puri

Another popular breakfast item you must try when you visit Pakistan is halwa puri. To be fair, the dish is so common, it’ll probably be offered to you at some point without you even trying! The dish consists of a puri—a leavened, hollow flatbread that puffs up when it’s fried—along with a flavorful pickled dish called achar, chana (chickpeas), aloo (potatoes), and a sugary semolina dish called halwa.

I ate this dish multiple times over my twelve days in Pakistan, and one of my favorites was at Dilpasand Sweets, Bakers & Nimkoz in Karachi. Just watching the puris be prepared is a spectacle—roughly a dozen guys flatten the puri dough and toss them into a huge vat of bubbling oil, one after another!

The puris puff up and cook in just ten to fifteen seconds. They’re flaky and soft, as opposed to the crispier puris many people may be used to. The texture works well for this variation, which combines the sweet halwa, savory chana and aloo, and sour achar.

Eating halwa puri in Karachi, Pakistan

I suggest trying the puri with each dish separately and then start mixing and matching to see which combinations you enjoy the most. They were all extremely tasty, but the halwa was a step above the others. It’s one of my favorite sweets on Earth, and having some is one of the best things to do in Karachi, Pakistan.

Dilpasand Sweets, Bakers & Nimkoz

Shahrah-e-Jahangir Road

Federal B Area Block 7 

Gulberg Town, Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh, Pakistan

+92 21 111376376

Explore the Biggest Fish Market in Karachi

Fresh fish at the seafood market in Karachi, Pakistan

Clifton Beach isn’t the only point of interest along Karachi’s Arabian Sea coast. There, you’ll also find Karachi Fish Natural harbour, the largest fish market in the city. Roughly 90% of the seafood and exports in Pakistan pass through this bustling, chaotic seaside marketplace.

You can go for a ride on a boat if you want, but the real action is on dry land. That’s where you’ll see the fish vendors, who sell freshly caught kingfish, red snapper, barracuda, grouper, prawns, crabs, tuna, and more. 

Best of all, you can either buy the fish to take home with you, or you can take it to one of the karachi harbour area’s restaurants for them to cook for you!

My guides Furqan and Shehroze and I bought a dhotar fish and kingfish and some prawns. We took them to Rashid Sea Food Fish Counter, where they made kebabs out of the kingfish, grilled the dhotar, and made two prawn dishes: grilled prawns and prawn karahi.

To say these were some of the best south asian seafood dishes I’ve ever eaten wouldn’t do them justice. The prawn karahi was spicy, oily, and succulent, with a kick of ginger, fresh vegetables, and hot peppers. It was perfect with the roti they gave us on the side.

I also adored the chunky, meaty kingfish kebabs with the pepper sauce. The dhotar, or gunter fish, had a deceptively spicy masala on it, which crept up on me after a few bites. Even though it was grilled, it was still perfectly juicy and tender.

Trust me, Karachi Fish Harbour is a must for any foodie. It’s one of the best things you can do in Karachi, Pakistan, and is one of the best places to have a true local experience!

Try Anda Parathas at Dhamthal Sweets, Bakers and Nimco

The world of Indian and Pakistani flatbread is nearly as diverse as South Asian cuisine itself. Most Westerners know about naan, but remain at least somewhat unfamiliar with roti, kulcha, chapati, appam, and one of my personal favorites, parathas. Parathas also come in many varieties, and one I fell in love with in Karachi is the anda paratha at Dhamthal Sweets, Bakers and Nimco.

Located just a few blocks from Dilpasand, this is another favorite haunt among locals. Anda parathas are essentially egg parathas—parathas baked with an egg and masala mixture brushed on top. The result is a crispy, flavorful, and golden brown flatbread, which they serve with fried eggs.

Eating parathas and eggs in Karachi, Pakistan

The anda-paratha-and-egg combination is remarkable. The different textures of the egg with the chewy, flaky paratha are absolutely mouthwatering. Enjoying it with the creamy, milky, spice-filled chai was the perfect way to cap off a breakfast tour. Easily one of the top things you must do in Karachi, Pakistan!

Dhamthal Sweets, Bakers and Nimco

Gulshan-E-Ali، No 2 Ayesha manzil

Federal B Area Block 7 

Karachi, 75950, Pakistan

+92 21 36330775

Enjoy Haleem at Karachi Haleem

Haleem with toppings in Karachi, Pakistan

There are a number of places in Karachi where you can enjoy a local favorite called haleem. This thick, pasty stew typically contains meat, lentil, and grains, but has many variations throughout Southern Asia and the Middle East. The best spot in town to try some is Karachi Haleem, a local favorite on Burns Road.

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My guide Furqan with our haleem in Karachi, Pakistan

At Karachi Haleem, you can get two different varieties—chicken and beef—so, naturally, I got both! They came with naan; a sweet rice dish called zarda; and several toppings including mint, chilies, and fried onions.

Haleem toppings in Karachi, Pakistan

I recommend trying the haleem by itself first, so you can get a sense of its flavor and texture before adding the toppings and naan. The chicken haleem with the mint and chilies was unique, tasty, and satisfying, and the crispy fried onions added a nice acidity.

Eating haleem in Karachi, Pakistan

The beef haleem, which Furqan told me is his favorite, was even thicker and richer than the chicken. It was full of chilies and masalas that all worked in conjunction with one another. I honestly couldn’t get enough of it. As much as I enjoyed the chicken, I liked the beef even more!

Zarda in Karachi, Pakistan

The orange-hued zarda was very sweet but also had a nice herbal flavor. It was a nice dessert and palate cleanser. Best of all, this delicious meal for two only cost 440 rupees, or about $3 USD. It’s a cheap way to fill yourself up and among the top things to do in Karachi, Pakistan!

Karachi Haleem

Pak Mansion, Burns Road

Shahrah-e-Liaquat, Saddar 

Karachi, 75950, Pakistan 

+92 21 32633584

Explore Empress Market

As you may already know, Pakistan was once part of India before it broke off and became its own country. Before then, India was occupied and controlled by Great Britain from 1858 until 1947—the year India gained its independence and the year Pakistan was formed. Landmarks from this period, known as the British Raj, still remain throughout both countries. One of them is Empress Market in the Saddar Town locality.

This bustling, old-school bazaar resides in a large, beautiful British-style building and dates back to 1889. There, you’ll find vendors selling vegetables, fruits, spices, chilies, pickled achar, clothing, cooking oils, children’s toys, and much more.

The vendors are incredibly warm and friendly and may even let you sample some of their goods before you buy them. One of the most unique vendors there will extract oil from any seeds, nuts, or coconuts you bring him! 

And while Empress Market is actually quite small compared to others I’ve visited, it’s a must. Visiting is a fascinating peek into local life and will give you a greater understanding of what Karachi is all about. It’s definitely one of my favorite things to do in Karachi, Pakistan!

Empress Market Saddar

near Rainbow Center

Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh 74400, Pakistan

Eat Dahi Baray at Fresco

The number of incredible dishes available in Karachi is seemingly never-ending. I ate dozens of incredible dishes during my time in the city, but one I highly recommend is dahi baray. Also known as dahi bhalla or dahi vada, this dish consists of fried lentil balls served in sweet yogurt with crispy, fried dough on top.

Eating dahi baray in Karachi, Pakistan

To try this dish, head over to Fresco Sweets on Burns Road, where you’ll find cooks preparing this snack in a monstrous vat. The sweet and creamy yogurt, combined with the savory lentil balls, was exceptional. It’s cold and refreshing and is a great way to cool down after a heavy or spicy meal! One of my favorite things to do in Karachi, Pakistan, for sure!

Fresco Sweets

Shahrah-e-Liaquat, near Aram Bagh Park

Aram Bagh Burns Road

Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh, Pakistan

+92 21 32218926

Try Fire Paan

When you travel to Southern Asia, you’ll come across a number of curious treats that may seem odd or surprising to you if you’re a Westerner. None are more curious than fire paan, a version of the street food called paan. 

Regular paan consists of nuts, dried fruit, betel nut, and sometimes chocolate wrapped in a betel leaf. It serves as a palate cleanser, digestive, and breath freshener. Fire paan takes it a step further, as the vendor lights the mixture inside on fire and shoves the whole thing into your open mouth!

If you’re brave enough, head over to Panwaari to try this flaming treat. This version also contained ice and coconut, which made it very crunchy and cold. The flame gets extinguished the moment it enters your mouth, and within minutes of you chewing, you get an intense rush of energy! I’ve had it many times before and it never gets old. No list of the things to do in Karachi, Pakistan is complete without fire paan!


3rd St D.H.A Phase 6 Rahat Commercial Area 

Phase 6 Defence Housing Authority

Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh 75500, Pakistan 

+92 324 2336464

Enjoy Stuffed Naan at Cloud Naan

Nearly everyone in the Western world knows about naan, the soft, fluffy flatbread often eaten with butter chicken and chicken tikka masala. But how many of you know about stuffed naan? That’s what you’ll get if you head over to Cloud Naan, a fusion restaurant that has tons of inventive recipes on their menu.

I highly recommend their creamy tikka naan. This savory dish takes the naan you know and love, and stuffs it with a hearty, creamy mixture of chicken, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, onions, and spicy cream cheese. It’s crispy on the outside, doughy on the inside, and full of flavor. If that wasn’t enough, it also comes with a rich garlic mayo dipping sauce!

But if you’re more in the mood for dessert, never fear. Their hazelnut chocolate oreo naan is like a decadent dessert pizza you’ll get in Rome! It’s topped with a Nutella-like chocolate and hazelnut spread, and the Oreo cookie pieces inside are beyond amazing. Whatever you order, go there with an appetite!

Cloud Naan

Shop No 4 & 5, Plot 5-E

Bokhari Commerical No 1, Street 1

D.H.A Phase 6 Phase 6 Defence Housing Authority

Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh 75500, Pakistan 

+92 21 35850174

Dine at Kolachi Restaurant

Although street food reigns supreme in Karachi, there are also some incredible fine dining options. One of them is Kolachi Restaurant, an enormous beachside restaurant with a massive, multi-level outdoor terrace. 

You’ll find spectacle after spectacle inside, from the chicken chargha stacked vertically to the over 200 cooks in the kitchen. But my favorite thing about the restaurant is their outdoor seating, which overlooks the Arabian Sea.

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Food-wise, it’s hard to go wrong. Whether you go with their creamy chicken makhani handi with roghni naan, the mutton chops, the Afghani boti, or something else, you will leave satisfied. The Afghani boti, in particular, was fatty, meaty, and one of the best lamb dishes I’ve ever eaten.

You can also try savory potatoes and vegetables, as well as grilled chilies. Pair the carrots, zucchini, and asparagus with the meat dishes for a meaty and fresh bite with some naan. Don’t forget to wash it all down with their pure, fresh apple juice. It’s the perfect way to cap off your meal!

Kolachi Restaurant

Ocean Towers, 5Th


Block 9 Clifton

Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh 75600, Pakistan

+92 21 111 111 001

Stay at the Hotel Excelsior Karachi

I recommend staying in Karachi for at least three days. Of course, to make the most of your visit and ensure convenient access to the city’s attractions, you’ll need a place to lay your head at night. There’s no better spot in town than the Hotel Excelsior Karachi in Saddar Saddar Town, conveniently located not only for exploring the vibrant city but also offering easy accessibility to Jinnah International Airport for a seamless and stress-free travel experience.

The hotel is centrally located in the shopping district, so it’s within just a few minutes’ walk from malls, shopping streets, parks, museums, and movie theatres. You can also enjoy local, Chinese, and Continental favorites in their on-site restaurant. 

The rooms inside are spacious and modern. They come decked out with a workstation, couch, TV, mini-fridge, and a lockbox. You’ll also have a large, comfortable bed and a clean, sleek bathroom. Staying there is one of the best things to do in Karachi, Pakistan!

Hotel Excelsior Karachi

4, Plot Number SB

21 Sarwar Shaheed Rd

Saddar Saddar Town

Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh, Pakistan

+92 21 35631751

Try Gappa Ghotala

If you get hungry while you’re out exploring the Clifton neighborhood, stop inside Mirchili. This popular chain has several locations in the city and sells a number of snack food favorites. My guide Furqan took me there specifically to try their gappa ghotala, which is a giant, crispy puri stuffed with lentils, chickpeas, yogurt, cilantro, three different chutneys, and crispy noodles called sev.

It’s similar to dahi puri, the creamier cousin of pani puri, which contains yogurt instead of pani. The gappa ghotala is sweet, bitter, and salty all at the same. The crunch of the sev and fried dough, and the velvety smoothness of the yogurt, are incredible. 

If you still have some room in your belly after the gappa ghotala, you can also build your own dahi puris there as well. I highly recommend it! You get to fill them to your specifications. I personally loved the tamarind chutney with the yogurt. The savory coriander, masala, and chickpeas balanced it out perfectly. A must-try when you’re in Karachi!


Plot 10, Zone C – Block 7 Zone C Block 7 Clifton

Karachi, Karachi City

Sindh 75600, Pakistan

+92 300 8150831

BONUS: Have a Pani Puri Challenge

Eating pani puri in Karachi, Pakistan

It’s not a trip to South Asia without some pani puri! Probably my favorite street food dish of all-time, pani puri consists of a small, hollow ball of fried, leavened dough called a puri. The ball is then punctured and filled with a mixture of potatoes, chickpeas, vegetables, chutneys, and a spice-rich water called pani.

Aloo pani puri filling in Karachi, Pakistan

Because pani puri is a bite-sized snack, it makes it perfect for eating challenges. I had attempted a few pani puri challenges—both against myself and against friends—before and had a great time with them. So my friend Alizeh from Manaky set up another for me and my guides Furqan and Shehroze in her backyard!

Chana pani puri filling in Karachi, Pakistan

The pani puris themselves were incredible, from the aloo filling to the chickpeas to the crispy puri. The pani was also extremely flavorful and made it one of my favorite challenges so far! If you’d like to see who won our challenge, please check it out below.

Having a pani puri challenge in Karachi, Pakistan

Having a pani puri challenge is among the top things you can do in Karachi, Pakistan. It’s a fun way to immerse yourself in the food culture of the region with a delicious snack!

BONUS: Enjoy a Pakistani Haircut Experience

I’ve gotten my hair cut in many places around the world, from my hometown of Miami to the city I called home for over a year, Barcelona. But the haircuts in South Asia are on another level, as they usually also include full shaves, a washing, and relaxing back and head massages. You can’t beat them!

If you’re in need of some pampering in Karachi, head over to King’s Hair Dresser in the center of town near Empress Market.  My barber there gave me the experience of a lifetime, starting with a head massage and giving me a clean head shave.

Then, he applied oil to my head and used his fingertips to massage deep into my skull. He then worked his way down to the tight and tense muscles in my neck, shoulders, and back. Before he finished up, he even massaged my arms, hands, and even my eyebrows. 

The whole experience only cost me 300 rupees, or $1.94 USD, which is over $20 less than what I’d pay at home in Miami for just a haircut. It’s an amazing bargain, and you’ll leave with any tenseness in your head, body, and hands gone!


Having haleem in Karachi, Pakistan

I had heard many positive things about Karachi long before I touched down there. Everything I’d heard from fellow travelers turned out to be true. The city is bustling and alive, and the locals are some of the friendliest people I’ve met while traveling. The hospitality was on another level and was only eclipsed by the quality of the food, which makes my mouth water every time I think about it. If you want to experience the best things to do in Karachi, book a trip to Pakistan today!

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