When is the Cheapest Time to Fly to Islamabad?
There are no distinct peak or low seasons for travel to Pakistan, but you will find cheap flights to Islamabad outside of school summer holidays and the Christmas period when many people travel to visit family. Islamabad flights in the autumn and spring are often cheaper than other times of the year. Be wary of travelling during the monsoon season, lasting from July to November.
When is the Best Time to Book your Flight to Islamabad?
Book flights to Islamabad at least four months in advance to make sure you get the best deals, especially if you want to travel in the summer or at Christmas. Outside of these periods, you might be able to find last-minute flights to Islamabad, but this is not always possible. The best way to find cheap flights to Islamabad is to be flexible with your travel dates.
Flying to Benazir Bhutto International Airport (ISB)
Benazir Bhutto International Airport (ISB) is named after the late Pakistani leader, Benazir Bhutto, after she was assassinated in 2007. It will soon be replaced by the new Islamabad International Airport, which is expected to be completed in 2018.
Only one airline provides direct flights to Islamabad from the United Kingdom (UK). Pakistan International Airlines offers direct flights to Islamabad from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester. However, you can find return flights to Islamabad from other UK airports if you don’t mind a stopover or two. You can fly with Qatar Airways through Doha, Etihad Airways and Airblue through Abu Dhabi, Emirate through Dubai and Turkish Airlines through Istanbul. If you choose to take an indirect flight, you may have to change airlines, but this is not always necessary.
On Arrival and Getting Around the Airport
There is one terminal at ISB. There are a number of ATMs at the airport as well as branches of national banks and currency exchange counters. Separate prayer rooms for men and women are available in the business lounges, departures and international arrivals hall. Free Wi-Fi is provided throughout the airport. You can do duty-free shopping upon arrival, and there are a number of shops where you can buy food and drink and souvenirs. The airport has business and VIP lounges. Hotel desks for a number of international hotels are situated in the arrivals hall.
Getting to the City from Benazir Bhutto International Airport (ISB)
There are a few ways to make the journey from the airport to the city centre. The journey typically takes about 30 minutes. Hotels will often offer a free shuttle service, but if not, then taxis can be found outside the arrivals hall; it is expected for passengers to haggle for the fare before entering the vehicle. Most taxis are black with a yellow roof. Many public buses that serve various areas of the city can be picked up at the airport; check with the information desk on which one to take. Hiring cars without local drivers is not recommended.
Why Visit Islamabad?
Pakistan’s capital likes to surprise visitors with its modern style and leafy parks. The city was designed in the 1960s, so its cutting-edge architecture and grid-layout make navigating this city much easier than other Asian metropolises. Tourism in the country and its capital has consistently suffered due to the ongoing volatile security situation, but for intrepid travellers it is a city full of culture, excellent cuisine and a burgeoning business and financial centre.
Visitors will want to check out this contemporary city and explore Shah Faisal Mosque, which stands out thanks to its size and unusual shape. Mosques are usually dome-shaped, but this one is shaped like a desert Bedouin’s tent. Learn about Pakistan’s cultural history at the Lok Virsa Museum before heading to the Pakistan Monument and its wax museum. Be sure to take a trip outside the city to explore the Margalla Hills, part of the lesser Himalayas; this area is perfect for some short hikes or drives to get a birds-eye view of the capital.
Don't Forget Before you Fly
It is strongly recommended that you check the Foreign Office website prior to travel for the latest information and guidance on safety and security. Before booking last-minute flights to Islamabad, remember that British citizens will need a visa. These can be obtained through the High Commission for Pakistan. Your passport must be valid for at least six months past your date of entry. The currency of Pakistan is the Pakistani rupee, but this cannot be bought outside of Pakistan. The United States dollar is the most widely accepted foreign currency, but notes must be in good condition.