Islamabad, although valued highly by its long-term residents, is often criticized by people who have moved here for personal or professional reasons. “It’s like a ghost town,” a recent arrival commented.

While a long-time resident remarked, “Islamabad is a place for retirees. Anyone younger would go crazy there.”

serena hotel islamabad

I have heard mixed reactions from tourists. I often hear acidic remarks like “Islamabad has a lame and depressing social scene and I prefer not to socialize here,” and “the nightlife is sleazy and full of shady old uncles.”

But there is much to love in this sleepy, young town. One visitor remarked:

“I was pleasantly surprised by my last trip here; I found art-house movies that you can’t find in Lahore, I had the entire National Gallery to myself because no one was there, and loved the romantic atmosphere of Saidpur village at night.”

Here are ten more reasons I have found Islamabad residents love the city by the hills:

10. It is less flashy. There is less conspicuous consumer consumption than Karachi and Lahore.

9. It has a small community feel and it’s easy for friends to pop over.

8. The mountains are lovely and there are lots of outdoor activities, like climbing and hiking.

7. You can find a wider range of books in Islamabad, and a good range of non-Bollywood DVDs including foreign language films and historical TV series.

6. It’s not too polluted and you can breathe better.

5. There are always new people to meet, people are always coming and going.

4. It has all four seasons.

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3. It’s more diverse and international than your average Pakistani city.

2. It’s less cliquish and materialistic than Karachi, and more intellectual and professional than Lahore.

1. It’s not Pindi!

By Subhan Aslam