Himachal Pradesh

How to Plan a trip to Shimla and Manali?

Every year thousands of tourists plan a trip to Shimla and Manali with their families and loved ones. I too get loads of questions regarding planning the trip to Shimla and Manali on this blog. No wonder why as both Shimla being known as “Queen of Hills” and Manali popularly-known as a “Honeymoon Destination“, are the most popular tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh.

Are you planning a Shimla and Manali trip?

Personally speaking, Shimla now being converted to nothing but a concrete jungle still offer around a few peaceful places. Manali, on the other hand, has much more natural offerings.

Today, I am going to make the lives of tourists looking forward to making a plan for a trip to Shimla and Manali easier. In this article today, I will be sharing the most common itinerary for a trip to Shimla and Manali.

Should I spend more time in Shimla or Manali?

I am going to suggest the plan in such a way that you spend more time in Manali than in/around Shimla. Manali has a lot more to offer than Shimla, so it is better to spend more time in Manali. The river element in Manali adds more charm to the missing beauty of Shimla.

While Shimla may appeal more to people close to architecture, Manali is more to people who are close to nature. In the past, I did write a detailed travel guide to Manali which can be referenced for more details, in case required.

Both Shimla and Manali are well connected to Delhi / Chandigarh by Volvo buses. I always prefer taking an HPTDC or HRTC Volvo, which can be booked by their official websites. It is a fair warning that you should avoid private Volvos when both HRTC and HPTDC have an excellent fleet on offer. Otherwise, for reaching Shimla, you can also enjoy the toy train ride from Kalka to Shimla.

Beautiful Road in Manali

Road Conditions in Shimla and Manali

Well, the road conditions to Shimla from Delhi are excellent in shape. Now, with operational Himalayan Expressway that bypasses the messed up traffic of Kalka, the journey to Shimla and ahead to Kinnaur & Spiti Valley is so much smoother and faster.

On the other hand, though the majority of road conditions between Delhi and Shimla are excellent, the section between Swarghat to Bilaspur/Sunder Nagar makes you feel frustrated. You need to get past this section patiently and rest all is a breeze on Delhi to Manali route 🙂

Beautiful View in Manali

8 Day Plan for a trip to Shimla and Manali

Given below is an 8-day plan for a trip to Shimla and Manali, which you can follow and have a good time with your family. The trip is balanced and comfortable for people of all ages, including kids and adults.

Hence, your family will enjoy the balance of both Shimla and Manali while you collect those memories to be cherished forever. Feel free to shoot any questions or doubts you may have in the comments section of the article below.

Day 1 | Delhi to Shimla

Reach Shimla from by overnight Volvo from the previous night or by toy train. Check-in and rest at the hotel. In the second half, explore local Shimla, including Shimla Ridge, Mall Road, Lakkar Bazaar, Back to Hotel By Evening. You can even plan to stay at Mashobra.

Day 2 | Shimla Local Sightseeing

Around Shimla, a relaxing day. Jakhoo Temple, State Museum, Mall Road, Ridge, etc. as you like or maybe you can visit Kufri in the first half of the day and all this in the second half of the day.

Day 3 | Shimla to Narkanda & Hatu Peak

Shimla – Narkanda – Hatu Peak – Narkanda – Shimla (a bit long day) or you can do Shimla – Kufri – Chail – Shimla (Little less hectic :)). You can of course club it with Kufri as well. However, spending time around Narkanda – Thanedar – Hatu Peak will be worth the time. Also, if you plan to go Manali over Jalori Pass, then it makes more sense to stay overnight at Narkanda.

Day 4 | Shimla to Manali

This day will be used by mostly traveling from Shimla to Manali. You can plan to either travel from the Jalori Pass route. There is also a route that goes via Tattapani – Chindi – Rohanda. Or, you can also plan the regular route via Bilaspur.

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Day 5 | Manali Local Sightseeing

Manali Local sightseeing which includes Hadimba Temple, Manu Temple, Mall Road, Local Monastery, Vashisth Hot Water Springs (never found it interesting), etc. You can plan to spend some time by the riverside as well or take some trekking trails in the woods near Old Manali.

Day 6 | Manali to Solang Valley or Rohtang Pass

Manali – Snow Point either at Solang Valley or Marhi/Gulaba on the way to Rohtang Pass. Enjoy the snow, and come back to Manali. In summers, you can go up to Rohtang Pass as well. You can also plan to spend the night at Solang Valley, which is less touristy in comparison to the Manali crowd.

I am sure in winter, this day will be most exciting as you are looking forward to visiting snow points near Solang Valley or Rohtang Pass. Make sure you leave early to avoid traffic jams toward Rohtang Pass.

Day 7 | Manali to Jagatsukh to Naggar Castle

On this day you can travel from Manali to Jagatsukh and then further to Naggar Castle. Jagatsukh is one of the offbeat places in Himachal Pradesh whereas Naggar Castle is one of the romantic places in Himachal.

You should stay at Naggar and enjoy the place. It is very romantic with great views and food. Visit Roerich Museum, Art Gallery and do not miss the hike to ancient Krishna Temple at the top.

Day 8 | Naggar Castle – Manali – Delhi

Today you can checkout from Naggar Castle by noon and travel back home. Since the Volvo to Delhi will be around 5.30 PM types, so either you can spend a sometime hanging around Naggar only and after lunch leave for Manali or you have the option to come back to Manali and hang around on Mall road and finally take the return bus.

Or, you can also coordinate with bus HPTDC guys so that the bus picks you from the nearest pickup point for Naggar on the way to Delhi. Naggar Castle guys will arrange the taxi for the drop there.

** if you have time then try, Manali Sanctuary can also be covered as it is just about 2-3 km from Manali town and there is a trail which starts from Manali Log Huts or Dhungri temple that leads you into the woods.

A beautiful morning in Shimla

Where to stay in Shimla and Manali?

There are a lot of hotel options available in Shimla and Manali with a wide range of budgets. Hence, all type of accommodation options exists in both Shimla and Manali, ranging from high-end five-figure per night luxurious rooms to economic to cheap budget rooms as well in Old Manali. There are many hotels that also offer honeymoon packages for Shimla and Manali as well.

Hence, it will be no trouble for you to find a hotel in Shimla and Manali, which is suitable to your budget even after reaching the place. You may also browse our hotel’s section in DoW Community: Hotels, Guest Houses & Home Stays in the Himalayas.

Where to eat in Manali?

  • Johnson’s, located near Circuit House is very famous for its cuisines. A meal here is a must for us whenever we go to Manali.
  • Chopsticks, located at Mall road, has a great variety of Chinese dishes topped with great taste.
  • Grozy, located just at the start of Mall road shops is also quite good in food quality. In fact, one of the trip we just had our meal in this restaurant only.
  • IL Forno is by far the best place for Pizzas in Manali. If you love Pizzas then do not forget to check this awesome place.
  • Sher-e-Punjab or Shan – e -Punjab (the original one) is also a good food joint.

You should always carry your water bottle and refill it as many times as you need water. It will not only keep you hydrated always, but you will also help in saving the Himalayas from plastic garbage. Remember, every tiny step counts and your step in this direction can help save the Himalayas too !! 🙂 🙂

Are you planning a winter trip to Shimla and Manali?

  • Do take heavy woolens with you especially a heavy woolen jacket.
  • Do take 2-3 pairs of inner thermals cots.
  • Do take woolen long socks. Airtight shoes would be perfect for helping you avoid freezing feet.
  • Do not exert yourself too much and try to keep your body hydrated on the day when visiting snow points.
  • Take at least one full day rest in Manali before venturing further heights. i.e., snow points in Solang or Gulaba. DO NOT go to snow points on the very first day you reach Manali region.
  • In winter, you will find plenty of discounts in most stay options of Himachal. (except Christmas – new year week) HPTDC runs about 30% off-season discounts [also valid for Naggar Castle]if you like to stay in their hotels. All other private hotels can offer as much as 40-50%. Keep in mind that X-mas and New Year week is the costliest week of the year in Manali and Shimla.
  • Do not forget to check this list of things to carry for the Shimla – Manali trip.
A beautiful view from Shimla’s Mall Road


I am sure that the above article will help you plan a memorable trip to Shimla and Manali or at least act as a starting point for it. Please feel free to share any thoughts or questions or doubts you may have in the comment section of this article or the DoW Community | Itinerary Advice forum for Himachal Pradesh. We can discuss or help planning your upcoming trip to Shimla and Manali to be a memorable one 🙂

Have a travel question?? You can follow me on Instagram and subscribe to my YouTube channel to ask your travel questions in a direct message on Instagram or comments on my YouTube videos.

If your family or friends are planning a trip to Shimla and Manali, please feel free to share this article with them.

This post was last modified on Mar 31, 2021 23:14

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