Known historically as the Mughal City of Gardens, Lahore is today one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Serving as a regional capital since the 11th century, Lahore is considered the cultural heart of Pakistan and hosts the majority of the nation's arts and cultural festivals.
Lahore is home to many British colonial structures built in the Indo-Saracenic style, such as the Lahore Museum, the General Post Office, the High Court, Lahore Railway Station, and many older universities and colleges including the University of the Punjab, Government College, and King Edward Medical College.
Several prominent Mughal structures are also major tourist attractions, including the Shalimar Gardens, the Mausolea of Jehangir and Nur Jehan, and Chauburji Gate. The Walled Inner City is one of the oldest cities in the world, and includes prominent sites like the Lahore Fort, the Badshahi Mosque, and the Royal Baths. The 13 gates of the city themselves make an interesting tour.
Another popular tourist centre is Mall Road, which offers museums, art galleries, restaurants, parks, and the Lahore Zoo. As an important cultural capital, Lahore hosts many festivals during the year; it is a city that loves to celebrate! Some of the most popular include the Festival of Lights, the World Performing Arts Festival, Basant (which includes city-wide kite-flying competitions), and the National Horse and Cattle Show.
Lahore is very near the border to India, which makes a great excursion. The evening ceremonies at the border crossing itself are fun to watch, and it is just a 20-mile (32km) trip to the Amritsar to see the famous Golden Temple.
Lahore has a semi-arid climate, with warm weather year round. June is the hottest month, when temperatures often exceed 104°F (40°C) and drop to about 81°F (27°C) in the evening; this is followed by the wettest months of July and August when heavy monsoon rains fall on the city. As such, these are not the most pleasant months to visit Lahore. The winter months of December and January experience the most pleasant weather, with temperatures ranging between 41°F (5°C) and 70°F (21°C).
Getting around Lahore can be a challenge. Buses and minibuses run along set routes across the city; although they are relatively cheap, they are not always the most comfortable means of transport as they tend to be slow and overcrowded. If using buses and minibuses, it's important to note that seats in the front are reserved for women and children. Taxis are not as common in Lahore as in some other Pakistani cities, but they can generally be found around major tourist areas. Auto-rickshaws (qingqi) are a popular and relatively cheap means of transport around Lahore, especially in the inner city areas. Fares are usually negotiable, so ensure that you discuss this with the driver before embarking on your journey. Car hire is available at the airport and all major hotels; it's best to hire a vehicle with a driver.
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