Let’s face it — Kabul isn’t on many travelers’ radars nowadays. However, those considering it are likely wondering about the best time to visit Kabul, how to save a buck or two, what months to avoid, and so on.
So, buckle up as we spill the tea on everything you need to know about Kabul, together with some FAQs answered and other useful travel tips to ensure you’re armed with all the necessary Kabul-related info.
Ready to start? So are we — let’s dive in!
Should You Visit Kabul in 2023?
Just because visiting Kabul, or Afghanistan in general, is deemed as a dangerous undertaking at the moment, that won’t put off the more adventurous travelers among you.
On the contrary, you might get extra motivation. Regardless of that, bear in mind that the country is in a rather hostile state of affairs, and though that may change, the situation regarding safety is tenuous at best.
We’ll touch on more info regarding safety a bit later in the guide, but for the time being, here are some reasons why you should visit Kabul in particular. First of all, the city has many attractive points of interest.
Our favorites include Babur Garden, Chehelseton Garden, The National Museum of Afghanistan, Darul Aman Palace, Pul-e Kheshti Mosque, Eidgah Great Mosque, the Presidental Palace, and Zarnegar Park.
Another positive note is that, although the situation in Kabul is strained, past travelers have reported having very kind interactions with locals.
If you do end up going to Kabul, a must-have cultural experience is attending a cricket match at the Kabul International Cricket Stadium. If watching cricket isn’t for you, you can always enrich your itinerary by visiting a few tea houses.
An essential part of the country’s culture, paying a tea house a visit will allow you to taste the well-known Afghan chai, as well as interact with locals in a much more neutral way and even play a game of backgammon.
To steer away from the city crowds, consider heading to Qargha Lake and marvel at the manmade water basin. To get a nice view of the city, however, we recommend the Bilal Hissar Towers.
Try shopping in Kabul City Center, Majid Mall, Rahmanian Shopping Center, and Dawoodzai Shopping Mall, to name a few. For a more authentic experience, however, we suggest the Ka Faroshi Bird Market.
People can purchase kaftar, budanas, rabbits, and kandharis, but the most popular bird seems to be the kwok.
For a much more spontaneous approach, simply wander all the vibrant markets you may come across at Flower Street and Chicken Street. Expect to encounter traditional Afghan clothing, high-quality carpets, special spices, and crafted items.
Kabul alone is special, but its nearby attractions further boost its relevance and beauty. Take the Bamiyan Buddhas, for instance.
Located 80 miles northwest of Kabul, these statues are some of the most monumental landmarks in the entire country. If you’re still up for completing your Kabul itinerary plans, let’s help you pick the dates that work for you.
Overall Best Time to Visit Kabul
The best time to visit Kabul is in spring (March–May). The climate is comfortable and relatively mild, and Kabul’s bloom is at its prime.
To experience the lush landscape the way you’re meant to, we suggest heading to the well-known Jinnah Garden, or Gul-e-Bagh-e-Jinnah, and soaking in the natural beauty. Temperatures at this time range between average lows of 34°F and highs of 75°F.
Spring is ideal for recreational activities such as picnicking and hitting the hike trails. For a more relaxed approach, you can wander the local bazaars and buy a souvenir or two.
March visitors get to attend the Afghan New Year (Nawruz) and observe the capital’s festive vibe, as well as engage in some of the cultural activities available at this time. If you visit during Eid e Fitr, you can join Ramadan’s last month’s activities.
Cheapest Time to Visit Kabul
Budget-conscious folks should pay Kabul a visit in February. Past travel data indicates this is the least expensive month. This means affordable airfare tickets and cheaper accommodation rates.
February sees Liberation Day celebrations to honor Afghanistan’s liberation from the Soviet Union in 1989. This month has temperatures between 23°F and 41°F.
Least Busy Time to Visit Kabul
The least busy time to visit Kabul is in the fall (September–November). Not only do you get sleepier streets and lesser queues but also a pleasant climate, as summer’s heat has subdued, and winter’s harsh conditions are yet to begin.
That said, considering Kabul isn’t a major tourist hub, the city never gets extremely crowded anyway.
If you’re there in September, you’re just in time for the grape harvest season — whether you can go on a wine-sampling spree is up for debate.
Then, there’s also Mawleed al Nabi, honoring the day when the prophet Muhammad was born. Fall visitors should expect average temperatures between 32°F and 82°F.
Worst Time to Visit Kabul
The worst time to visit Kabul is in summer (June–August) or winter (December–February).
Kabul summers are dry and quite warm, with temperatures between 55°F and 90°F, making them unsuitable for those hoping to explore the great outdoors. Heading to the nearby mountains may alleviate some of the heat, though.
Winters can get really uncomfortable, with temperatures fluctuating between 19°F and 46°F.
The occasional snowfall may also ruin your itinerary, but if you’re planning on engaging in winter sports, such as snowboarding and skiing (check out ski resorts in close proximity), then this season may be ideal for you.
For an unusual public holiday, mark your travel calendar for Eid al-Qurban (June), which sees the sacrifice of animals such as sheep, goats, and camels to denote the beginning of the Muslim pilgrimage.
Summer visitors should be on the lookout for Ashura (July), a day of commemoration in Islam. Denoting the day when prophet Musa freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, Ashura sees people gathering in a local mosque.
In August, residents celebrate Afghan Independence Day to honor the Anglo-Afghan Treaty (1919) and the end of British control.
Things to Consider
Traveling to Kabul doesn’t come without any risks. There are rules you may not be familiar with, so here’s what you need to keep in mind for a safe(r) stay:
- Be ready to be flexible with your itinerary at all times. Just because one area of the city (or the entire country) was safe to head to today doesn’t necessarily mean you can access it tomorrow. Follow local advice and keep up with the most recent information. That said, certain border crossing points might be closed without any prior notice, especially at times of heightened tensions.
- The country is prone to earthquakes.
- Foreigners are sometimes detained without any due process.
- Kabul has very few ATMs, and not many businesses accept credit cards, so bring enough cash just to be on the safe side.
- Friday is a sacred day, so don’t be surprised if most stores and businesses end up being closed.
- If you visit during Ramadan, note that many businesses close earlier than usual, which may affect your sightseeing plans. Also, eating or drinking during the day may be illegal. If you’re not fasting, make sure to check what and when you’re allowed to do to avoid breaking any laws.
- Taking photos of government buildings, palaces, military sites, or checkpoints is considered illegal. Same-sex relationships are also illegal.
- There are buses in Kabul, but don’t rely on them too heavily.
- Conservative dress code applies, especially for women.
- Showing affection in public isn’t advisable.
- Penalties for drug-related offenses are severe (hefty fines and even jail time).
- Insect-borne illnesses are more than common. Malaria outbreaks may happen during the April–September period, so bring insect repellent and wear long and light-colored clothing. Also, it may be worth taking prescription medicine for malaria if you visit during that period.
- Medical facilities aren’t the best. If you’re in need of serious medical service, you may need to be evacuated first to receive the necessary healthcare.
- Get travel insurance before your Afghan adventure.
- When in doubt — seek local advice! Better to be safe than sorry, especially when you visit a destination that not only has different laws and customs than your country of origin, but it’s a very risky one to visit too!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are 5 facts about Afghanistan?
1. The country has had a total of 26 flags.
2. The country is landlocked, with six countries surrounding it — Iran, China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan.
3. The country’s main source of income is said to be agriculture.
4. Afghanistan’s national sport is buzkashi.
5. You can find the world’s oldest oil paintings in Afghanistan.
Is it safe to visit Kabul now?
Unfortunately, Kabul (and Afghanistan in general) isn’t the safest place to be at the moment. Most embassies around the world advise against traveling to the country in general.
The US Department of State has issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory due to “armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, terrorism, and kidnapping.”
Do I need a visa for Afghanistan?
If you’re American, you’ll need a visa to enter Afghanistan. Certain countries are exempted from obtaining a visa, so make sure to check with your local Embassy/Consulate to get the most relevant information.
What foods do Afghans eat?
2. Borani kadoo
3. Gosh-e fil
4. Chopan kabob
5. Borani banjan
8. Afghan mantu
10. Kabuli pulao
Do they speak English in Kabul?
While it’s perfectly possible to come across people who are fluent in English and speak it as a second language, the majority of locals speak Dari and Pashto, Afghanistan’s official languages.
So, What Is the Best Time to Visit Kabul?
|👍 Best Time to Visit||March to May|
|💲 Cheapest Time to Visit||February|
|🗓️ Least Busy Time to Visit||September-November|
|👎 Worst Time to Visit||June to August & December to February|
The best time to visit Kabul is in spring (March–May). The temperatures are comfortable and allow for plenty of outdoor city exploration and activities to take place.
The cheapest time to visit Kabul is in February. This is when you stand a chance at finding nice airfare deals and better accommodation rates.
The least busy time to visit Kabul is in the fall (September–November). That said, chances are you’ll have a crowd-free experience regardless of when you visit, as Kabul or Afghanistan aren’t that busy when it comes to tourists.
The worst time to visit Kabul is in summer (June–August) or winter (December–February). The temperatures in summer will prevent you from enjoying the city, as they’re too high; the ones in winter will stop you from enjoying Kabul, as they’re too low.
However, if you’re planning on hitting the ski slopes in some of the nearby resorts, by all means, go for it.
All in all, Kabul may not be the ideal destination for the majority of travelers considering the overall safety situation, but if you wish to experience Afghanistan authentically and see things for yourself, pack your bags and embrace the Middle East unknown!