I have been visiting Kashmir for several years. So far my spring visits have been the most gorgeous, though this slice of paradise is lovely in all seasons. Presenting a family-friendly Kashmir itinerary for 7 days. This compact itinerary will help you and your family enjoy some of the loveliest places in Kashmir in comfort. The family-friendly Kashmir itinerary is suitable for travelers with small children, groups with elderly travelers, people with less time on their hands, and comfort lovers. The adventurers and offbeat lovers can add some exciting offbeat destinations to this basic itinerary.a shikara on the Dal Lake in Kashmir

Basics of the 7 days Kashmir itinerary

  • Day 1 – Arrival in Srinagar by road or flight. Spend the day exploring Srinagar after checking into your hotel or houseboat.
  • Day 2 – Day trip to Sonamarg. Overnight at Srinagar.
  • Day 3 – Transfer to Pahalgam. Overnight at Pahalgam.
  • Day 4 – Day trip to Chandanwari. Overnight at Pahalgam.
  • Day 5 – Day trip/Hike to Betab Valley. Overnight at Pahalgam.
  • Day 6 – Return to Srinagar via Martand Sun Temple. Overnight at Srinagar.
  • Day 7 – Departure from Srinagar.

Day wise Kashmir itinerary

  • Day 1 – Explore the Srinagar gardens namely the Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, and Pari Mahal. Shalimar Bagh has the gorgeous Zabarwan Mountains as a backdrop and Nishat Bagh is a 17th century beautifully maintained terraced garden. Pari Mahal offers gorgeous views of Kashmir Valley. Between the end of March and April, one can visit the stunning tulip festival at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden. In the evenings, enjoy a shikara ride on the tranquil Nigeen Lake or the bustling Dal Lake. Glide through the pamposh (lotus) forests, see the floating shops, emporiums, and curio sellers. Enjoy a cup of saffron tea (kahwa) and sunset. For some authentic Kashmiri wazwan, try goshtaba, tabak maaz, and rishta at Mughal Darbar. Sleep overnight at Srinagar.
  • Day 2 – After a leisurely breakfast, head over to Sonamarg. The journey will take you through the rural areas where you can see the daily life, orchards, agricultural fields, and bands of Bakarwal (local shepherds) herding their animals. After crossing the Sindh river, you will reach Sonamarg. This is a seasonal resort as in winter the snow is too deep for visiting. Hence, there are only a handful of resorts. At Sonamarg, take a break at one of the resorts, and have lunch there before hiking in the nearby meadows and fields. On clear sunny days, you can even hike all the way to the Thajiwas glacier. Ponies are available for those who are not keen on hiking. This is a beautiful place to photograph. Return to Srinagar in the evening.
  • Day 3 – On this day, after breakfast, you will head over to Pahalgam. On the way, you will cross Awantipora (famous for making willow cricket bats) and Pampore saffron colony. Blooming saffron fields can only be seen in autumn and it is a sight to behold. You can shop for authentic Kashmiri saffron there at half the market price. After crossing the Lidder river, you will reach Pahalgam. Overnight at Pahalgam.
  • Day 4 – After breakfast, head over to Chandanwari, the last motorable point for the Amarnath trek. This is yet another photogenic place. The stunning Sheshnag Lake is located here. Pony rides are available for short excursions into the surrounding areas. In the evening, return to Pahalgam and sleep overnight.
  • Day 5 – Across the Lidder river, lies the gorgeous Betaab valley where the famous 80’s movie Betaab was filmed. It is a scenic charming place that does not see many tourists and is relatively quiet. After breakfast, on Day 5, you can walk over to Betaab valley where you will find meadows, forests, and mountains. There is also a little stream and a wooden bridge. This is the perfect place for a picnic and children to run around. Return to Pahalgam in the evening. Read more about Pahalgam here.
  • Day 6 – After a leisurely breakfast, start your journey towards Srinagar. On the way, stop at the magnificent Martand Sun Temple. Though it is a bit of a detour from Pahalgam, this Hindu temple is worth a visit. Commonly called Martand or Mattan, and the Pandu-Koru, or the house of the Pandus and Korus, it is believed to have been built around A.D 370 and 500 and is full of intricate carvings. After the excursion, drive on towards Srinagar. In the evening, walk along the Dal Lake promenade, shop for Kashmiri souvenirs such as paper mache articles, Kashmiri shawls, and walnut carvings. Spend your last night in Srinagar. Read about Martand Sun Temple here.
  • Day 7 – Departure from Srinagar either by flight or road. Make sure to leave at least 3 hours before your flight to avoid a last-minute rush. This is due to the heightened security measures at the Srinagar airport.

Overnight Stay Points on this offbeat Kashmir itinerary

  • Srinagar
  • Sonamarg (optional)
  • Pahalgam

Gulmarg and Yousmarg instead of Pahalgam in Kashmir itinerary

Please note that you can opt for Gumarg and Yousmarg instead of Pahalgam (Betaab Valley and Chandanwari) in your Kashmir itinerary. Alternatively, if you have more time, you can add them as well. However, note that you need to be based in Srinagar to do this trip. Srinagar falls midway between Gulmarg and Pahalgam and the direct drive takes around 5 hours. So, if you have more time on your hands, you can do Srinagar – Sonamarg day trip – Pahalgam – Chandanwari day trip – Betaab Valley day trip – Srinagar/Gulmarg – Gulmarg – Yousmarg day trip – Srinagar. This trip will take at least 10 days/11 nights. Read more about Gulmarg here.

Add ons to Kashmir itinerary option 1

  • Overnight stay at Sonamarg – Note Sonamarg is at its best between May to October. Overnight stay is recommended if you wish to explore the Vishansar Lake and Kishansar Lake after visiting the Thajiwas glacier. Adventure lovers should do the Gaganbal trek from Sonamarg. Local guides are available for this trek. Sonamarg is only a 30 minutes drive from Srinagar.
  • Gumarg and Yousmarg – Gulmarg is also for its gondola ride and skiing and is at its best in winter. Yousmarg, however, is known for trekking and fishing and is better suited for either spring or summer. Skip Yousmarg if you want to visit Gulmarg in winter. Yousmarg has beautiful forests and meadows and there are several treks available. Accommodation facilities are nearly nil in Yousmarg. Read more about Yousmarg here.

    The herders’ houses at Yousmarg

Things to remember for this Kashmir itinerary

  • In Kashmir, prepaid mobile numbers from outside the state are banned by Government and will not work. Use mobile phones with postpaid numbers or buy a local sim card.
  • The weather in Kashmir can be very unpredictable. As a precaution, carry some warm clothes along with a raincoat or rain jacket.
  • Shikara ride rates are displayed everywhere in Dal lake. Tip the boatman if you like his services.
  • Bargaining is a part and parcel of tourism in many parts of the world. It is quite rampant in Kashmir too. Make sure you bargain for all services except food. However, have a heart and don’t push too much. Everyone needs to earn a living.
  • It makes sense to hire a car and driver on a daily basis. If you like his services, you can re-hire him. On the other hand, if the driving or the behaviour of the driver does not suit you, you can always hire someone else. Once again, bargain before agreeing and make you that both you and the driver are on the same page regarding the itinerary, the included costs, and the duration of the trip.
  • You can always ask the driver to stop for pictures or refreshments.
  • Insist on checking your houseboat accommodation or hotel room facilities before paying. Make sure that the room heater, geyser, electric blanket, etc are working in your room. It might get very cold at night or if the weather turns cloudy and rainy.
  • Kashmir is mostly a cash-friendly destination. Make sure to carry enough cash with you or use the ATMs in big cities. It is not easy to find an ATM in a remote destination or en route.
  • Buy local handicrafts like paper mache products, walnut carvings, authentic saffron, Kashmiri embroidery items, dry fruits, etc from government-authorized emporiums.
  • Don’t forget to try the delectable Kashmiri wazwan.
  • Security measures are heightened at Srinagar airport. Make sure to leave at least 3 hours before your flight to avoid a last-minute rush.
  • Be aware that in some areas the road conditions may not be very good. Expect a few bumps and be cautious about altitude sickness in high places. Altitude sickness can be very dangerous and might even lead to death. Watch out for symptoms like shortness of breath, dizziness, etc.
  • In Gulmarg, buy advanced tickets for the gondola ride online. Most of the travel agencies only give tickets for phase 1. The actual beauty lies in Phase 2. So, insist on visiting Phase 2 or purchase tickets for Phase 2 yourself. Gulmarg can get very crowded and it is full of touts. Make sure that you go early and collect your boarding pass early.
  • Ask your hotel or houseboat owner/receptionist to arrange for a floating market visit in Srinagar. You have to get up early for this experience. It is a photographer’s delight.
  • Dachigam National Park is less than 25 kilometers from Srinagar. It is one place where you can spot the elusive hangul or the Kashmir Stag. A special permit is required for the tourists to enter the area. So plan ahead if you intend on venturing to Dachigam and give ample time to a local travel agency to make the necessary arrangements for you.
  • During this Kashmir itinerary, make sure that you carry all your necessary documents with you all the time.

    Enroute to Gulmarg

    Beautiful reflections on the Dal Lake in Kashmir

    Beautiful reflections on the Dal Lake

Recommended Read: What is Altitude Sickness and how to avoid it?  

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