Uttarakhand, nestled in the lap of the mighty Himalayas, is aptly known as the “Land of Gods” for its abundant natural beauty and spiritually significant pilgrimage sites. This northern state of India is blessed with a number of hill stations that serve as popular tourist destinations offering a scenic retreat amidst the mountains.
From the bustling hill resorts of Nainital and Mussoorie to the offbeat villages like Mukteshwar and Kanatal – Uttarakhand has something to offer for everyone. Families, couples, solo travelers and adventure enthusiasts can all find their perfect hill holiday in Uttarakhand.
The pleasant climate, breathtaking vistas of snow-capped peaks, pine forests, and untouched natural beauty make these hills stations a great escape from the scorching summer heat in the plains. The colonial architecture dotted with famous landmarks, tranquil lakes, ancient temples, fun outdoor activities, and unique culture also add to their charm.
This comprehensive guide will take you through the top hill stations in Uttarakhand along with their best tourist places, how to reach, ideal time to visit, and more, so you can easily plan your holiday in the hills.
List of Top Hill Stations in Uttarakhand
Nainital is undoubtedly the most popular and sought-after hill station in Uttarakhand. Surrounded by lush forests and the azure Naini Lake at its center, it offers stunning mountain views, pleasant climate, and plenty of tourist attractions.
Some top places to visit in Nainital are:
- Naini Lake – Go boating or take a leisurely stroll around the lake
- Naina Peak – Trek to this peak for panoramic views of the entire town and surrounding mountains
- Tiffin Top – Ropeway ride up to this vantage point offering breathtaking views
- Eco Cave Garden – Unique natural caves and rock garden
- Snow View Point – Cable car ride for views of snow-clad peaks
- Naina Devi Temple, Jama Masjid, St. John Church – Significant religious sites
Best time to visit hill stations in uttarakhand Nainital is during the summer months of March to June when the weather is pleasant and perfect for sightseeing. Winters are extremely cold with the possibility of snowfall.
Reaching Nainital is easy by road, rail or air. The nearest railway station Kathgodam (35 km away) well connected to cities like Delhi and Lucknow. Pantnagar Airport is 65 km away. Buses and taxis are available from major cities to reach nearest railway station kathgodam
Nestled amidst the Garhwal Himalayan ranges, Mussoorie hill station in uttarakhand offers a perfect blend of nature and colonial history. With its green hills, varied flora and fauna, along with British landmarks, it has become one of the most popular hill resorts in north India.
Top attractions in Mussoorie include:
- Gun Hill – Ropeway ride up to the second highest peak
- Lal Tibba – Early morning hike for sunrise views of snow-capped peaks
- Kempty Falls – Beautiful waterfall perfect for chilling swims
- Camel’s Back Road – Picturesque loop offering views of Doon Valley
- Mall Road – Vibrant shopping area with restaurants and Victorian architecture
- Jwalaji Temple, Christ Church – Significant religious sites
April to June is the ideal time to visit Mussoorie before the monsoon rains. Winters can be very cold with occasional snow.
Mussoorie is just 35 km away from Dehradun Airport and the railway station at Dehradun. It is well connected by road to major destinations like Delhi, Chandigarh, Lucknow and Jaipur.
Surrounded by lush green pine and deodar forests, Ranikhet is a quaint cantonment town in the Almora district of Uttarakhand. It offers unmatched views of the Himalayas along with insights into colonial history.
Top tourist attractions in Ranikhet:
- Jhula Devi Temple – Ancient temple dedicated to a local goddess
- Chaubatia Orchards – Lush fruit orchards perfect for nature walks
- Bhalu Dam – Scenic artificial lake for picnic and hiking
- Golf Course – Picturesque 9-hole golf course with Himalayan views
- Mankameshwar Mandir – Ancient Shiva temple
- Majkhali – Panoramic views of the Himalayas
- Upat Golf Course – Another scenic 9-hole golf course
Ranikhet enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year. March to June is ideal to avoid monsoon.
Ranikhet has its own railway station connecting it to major cities. The nearest airport is Pantnagar (78 km). Buses ply regularly from Delhi, Haldwani, and Kathgodam.
Lansdowne is a quaint hill cantonment town surrounded by thick oak and blue pine forests in Pauri Garhwal district. It has retained its old-world colonial charm and offers a rejuvenating retreat amidst unspoiled nature.
Top attractions in Lansdowne hill station in Uttarakhand include:
- Tip N Top Viewpoint – Breathtaking views of the Garhwal Himalayas
- Bhulla Tal Lake – Scenic artificial lake perfect for boating and picnics
- St. Mary’s Church – Beautiful Anglican church with stained glass windows
- War Memorial – Tribute to the soldiers of the Garhwal Rifles
- Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple – Ancient Shiva temple
- Kalagarh Tiger Reserve – Home to tigers, leopards and over 600 bird species
October to February is the ideal time to visit Lansdowne before the summer heat.
Lansdowne is easily reached by road from Delhi (270 km), Dehradun (170 km) and other major cities. The nearest railway stations are at Kotdwar (40 km) and Haridwar (150 km).
Situated on a horse saddle shaped hilltop surrounded by thick pine trees, Almora is a scenic town boasting panoramic Himalayan views, ancient temples and splendid trekking opportunities.
Top tourist attractions in Almora :
- Jageshwar Dham – Ancient Hindu temple complex with over 100 shrines
- Kasar Devi Temple – Offers sweeping views of snow-capped Himalayan peaks
- Chitai Golu Devta Temple – Dedicated to the main deity of Kumaon region
- Bright End Corner – View of sunset and sunrise with valley views
- Zero Point – Perfect spot for trekking amidst lush greenery
- Katarmal Sun Temple – 9th century temple dedicated to the sun god
March to June is the ideal season to visit Almora before the monsoon showers.
Almora is well connected by road and rail. The nearest airports are Pantnagar (116 km) and Dehradun (164 km).
Perched at an altitude of 2286 metres, Mukteshwar is a secluded hamlet near Nainital surrounded by dense coniferous forests and fruit orchards. It offers stunning vistas of Himalayan peaks along with adventure activities.
Key attractions in Mukteshwar:
- Trekking and hiking trails
- Mukteshwar Temple – Ancient Shiva temple with 350 year old architecture
- IVRI vet campus – Sprawling grounds perfect for nature walks
- Chauli ki Jali – Spectacular vantage point for valley views
- Adventure activities like rock climbing, rappelling and ziplining
- Nanda Devi and Trishul mountain views
- Secluded cottages and homestays amidst orchards
March to June and September to November are good times to visit Mukteshwar.
Mukteshwar is about 51 km from Haldwani which is connected by rail and road to major cities. The nearest airport is Pantnagar (95 km).
Auli, nested amidst the snow-capped peaks of Garhwal Himalayas, is India’s premier ski destination along with being a popular hill town. It offers stunning mountain views and opportunities for skiing, trekking and sightseeing.
Major attractions in Auli include:
- Skiing slopes – Long slopes ranging from beginner to expert levels
- GursoBugyal – Immense meadow perfect for skiing and picnics
- Joshimath – Ancient pilgrim town and gateway to Badrinath
- Trishul and Nanda Devi peaks – Dramatic Himalayan views
- Vishnuprayag – Confluence of Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers
- Chenab Lake – Scenic high altitude lake perfect for trekking
- Artificial lake – Built for snowmaking during skiing season
The best time for skiing in Auli is from November to March during winters while summer months are pleasant for sightseeing and trekking.
Auli can be reached from Rishikesh or Haridwar which have the nearest railway stations and airports. Joshimath is the nearest major town just 13 km away.
Nestled amidst dense Deodar forests, Dhanaulti is a peaceful hill station that promises untouched nature, scenic treks, and adventure activities along with amazing views of the snow-capped Himalayas.
Major tourist attractions in Dhanaulti:
- Eco Park – Dense forested area with artificial waterfalls and bridges
- Potato Farm – Learn potato farming techniques and sample organic potatoes
- Joranda Falls – Scenic waterfall amidst lush greenery
- Surkanda Devi Temple – Ancient temple atop a hill
- Chamba Viewpoint – Panoramic views of Chamba town and valleys
- Adventure camp – Offers activities like Burma bridge crossing and rappelling
March to June is the ideal time to visit Dhanaulti before monsoon. Winters can be cold.
Dhanaulti is just 24 km from Mussoorie and 77 km from Dehradun which are the nearest railheads and airports. It is well connected by road to major destinations.
Munsiyari is a quaint hill town perched at 7200 feet above sea level in the Pithoragarh district. It is nestled amidst snow-clad Himalayan peaks, glaciers, gushing rivers and apple orchards. It is fast emerging as a trekker’s paradise.
Key attractions in Munsiyari:
- Panchachuli peak views – Dramatic vistas of these snow-capped Himalayan peaks
- Thamri Kund – Turquoise blue glacial lake perfect for treks
- Tribal Heritage Museum – Insight into regional culture and artifacts
- Maheshwari Kund – Serene trekking trail leading to this waterfall
- Khaliya Top – Scenic meadow and campsite on the trekking route
- Darkot Village – Quaint Indo-Tibetan village near China border
March to June is the ideal season to visit before monsoon showers. Winters are extremely cold.
Munsiyari is about 132 km from Pithoragarh which has the nearest railhead. The closest airport is Pantnagar (380 km).
Snuggled in the Jaunsar-Bawar region at a height of 2118 metres, Chakrata is a scenic cantonment town with beautiful Himalayan panoramas, lush forests, waterfalls and temples. Its tranquility and natural beauty make it perfect for a rejuvenating holiday.
Major tourist attractions in Chakrata:
- Tiger Falls – Refreshing waterfall cascading down from 312 ft amidst forest
- Deoban – Thick coniferous forest perfect for nature walks
- Chilmiri Neck – Breathtaking vistas of the Ganges River
- Budher Caves – Ancient limestone caves housing Shiva temple
- Mundali – Starting point for treks to Kharamba Peak and nearby hills
- Ram-Talai – Green pasture on a Himalayan slope with temple ruins
April to June is the ideal time to visit Chakrata before monsoon showers. Winters can be very chilly.
Chakrata has a railway station connecting it to Dehradun (118 km) which has the nearest airport. It is well connected by road to destinations like Delhi, Shimla and Mussoorie.
How to Reach the Hill Stations of Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand’s hill stations are well connected by air, road, and rail to all the major cities in India. Here are the best ways to reach the top hill stations of Uttarakhand:
- The nearby airports are Jolly Grant Airport Dehradun and Pantnagar Airport which have regular flights from Delhi and other metro cities. Cabs are easily available from these airports to the hill stations.
- The major railway stations near the hill towns are at Kathgodam, Dehradun, Kotdwar and Rishikesh. All are well connected via regular trains to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Lucknow and other major cities. Buses and taxis are available from these stations.
- A good road network connects the hill stations to Delhi and other northern cities via state highways maintained by GMVN and KMVN tourism departments. Uttarakhand Tourism runs Volvo and deluxe buses from Delhi.
- Self-drive is an excellent option if you are coming from nearby cities like Delhi, Chandigarh or Lucknow. The hill roads are very scenic and well maintained. However, be mindful of landslides during monsoons.
- For inter-city transfers, shared taxis are easily available. But for sightseeing within hill stations, it’s better to hire private cabs or self-drive if you are comfortable in the hills.
Best Time to Visit Uttarakhand Hill Stations
Uttarakhand hill stations enjoy pleasant weather throughout the year but the best time varies across different places depending on altitude, region and activities.
Here’s an overview of the ideal time to visit top hill stations:
- Summer (March – June) is perfect for most lower altitude hill towns like Nainital, Mussoorie, Lansdowne, and Mukteshwar offering warm days and cool nights. Expect occasional summer showers.
- Monsoons (July – September) are ideal for the Kumaon region. Hill resorts like Ranikhet, Almora, Binsar, and Mukteshwar look refreshed and blooming with greenery. Avoid Garhwal region due to landslides.
- Autumn (October – November) brings crisp weather, clear skies along with festivals like Diwali. Hill towns like Dhanaulti, Lansdowne, Binsar are pleasant this time.
- Winter (December – February) transform higher altitude resorts like Auli, Munsiyari and Chopta into snowy paradises but lower regions get very cold barring their winter sun.
- Spring (March – April) sees the winter chill recede bringing blooming rhododendrons and clear skies perfect to visit Pithoragarh, Chakrata and Kausani before summer kicks in.
Top Things to do in Uttarakhand Hill Stations
Uttarakhand’s hill stations offer a myriad of activities to indulge in. Here are the top things you must experience during your hill vacation:
- Marvel at majestic snow-capped peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul and Pancha Chuli
- Visit historic colonial landmarks like churches, institutes and cantonment areas
- Explore local temples like Jageshwar and Baijnath showcasing stone architectural brilliance
- Hike up to viewpoints like Tiffin Top and Lal Tibba for stunning valley vistas
- Picnic by charming lakes like Bhimtal or Sattal amidst lush forests
- Walk through colorful local bazaars and charming cafes
- Trek through refreshing pine forests and valleys to hidden lakes and meadows
- Ski down the slopes of Auli, their longest run being 4 km
- Rappel down a rocky cliff or cross Burma bridges for an adrenaline rush
- Enjoy mountain biking on biking trails running through forests and villages
- Go on a wildlife safari at Jim Corbett or Rajaji National Parks to spot tigers, elephants and exotic birds
- Interact with locals and learn about regional customs and traditions
- Watch cultural performances showcasing folk dances and music
- Shop for exquisite handicrafts and handlooms like wood carvings, woolens, silver jewelry etc.
- Taste authentic Garhwali and Kumaoni cuisine like Aloo Ke Gutke, Phanu, Kulath Ki Dal, Kafuli etc.
- Stay in a heritage bungalow or Kumaoni homestay for an authentic experience
- Celebrate local festivals like Makar Sankranti, Basant Panchami, Holi and Diwali
- Go for a shikara ride on Bhimtal Lake and Naini Lake
- Watch the sunset together at scenic spots like Bara Pathar
- Take a walk in the clouds at Kempty Falls near Mussoorie
- Enjoy the charm of old-world cafes on Mall Road
- Cuddle together next to a bonfire amidst snowy landscapes during winters
- Experience surreal natural beauty together at Valley of Flowers
- Have a picnic by lakes and deodar forests
- Collect pinecones and enjoy forest walks and birdwatching
- Bond over indoor games, movie nights and barbeque dinners
- Enjoy kid-friendly activities like rock climbing, zip lining, cycling, fishing etc.
- Spot unique flora and fauna at Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary
- Splash around in adventure parks and amusement parks
No matter your interest, there are abundant experiences waiting to be explored in Uttarakhand’s rejuvenating hills that will create lasting memories.
Planning Your Uttarakhand Hill Station Trip
Planning a trip to Uttarakhand’s hills can seem exciting yet daunting. Here are some tips to plan a smooth holiday:
Keep aside at least 3-4 days to enjoy a hill station at a relaxed pace along with excursions to nearby attractions. About 7-8 days are ideal to club 2-3 destinations without feeling rushed.
Browse options like hotels, resorts, guest houses or homestays in your budget and book in advance during peak seasons.
Book trains or flights in advance to get discounted rates if you are traveling from other cities. Arrange local taxis or self-drive cars for getting around the hills.
Check expected temperatures and weather conditions during your travel dates and pack accordingly. Carry woolens and appropriate gear if planning activities like trekking or skiing.
Plan your itinerary balancing relaxation with activities and buffer in flexibility for unexpected delays, weather changes etc. Don’t cram in too much.
Factor in costs for travel, accommodation, food, activities, shopping and miscellaneous expenses. Have buffer for unplanned expenses.
With thorough planning, you are sure to have an amazing and hassle-free vacation in Uttarakhand’s mesmerizing hills.