9 Best Places to Visit in Bhaktapur, Nepal

Nepal is a gorgeous place that anyone should visit at least once in their life. If you’ve finally saved up the money you need to afford the trip of a lifetime, then you should visit Bhaktapur this summer. With fantastic architecture, glorious temples, and superb cuisine and culture, there's no reason not to go to Bhaktapur.

Witness some of the most magnificent and historic structures in all of Kathmandu with buildings such as the 55-Window Palace (Nge Nyapa Jhya Laaykoo), Vatsala Temple, Nyatapola Temple, Bhairava Nath Temple and the Golden Gate which display the culture and craftsmanship unique to the people of Bhaktapur.

Best Places to Visit in Bhaktapur Nepal

Whenever you walk around the streets of this royal town or chat with the residents, you’re sure to find something beautiful to explore, learn about, and enjoy.

1. Gokarneshwor Mahadev Temple

Whenever you walk around Bhaktapur, your eyes will hardly be able to rest. Almost every structure you come across has the most gorgeous architectural design. And each of them is notable for the intricate woodwork that adorns their windows and doors. Of course, the beauty of architectural design and intricate woodcraft in harmony culminates in the gorgeous temples sprinkled throughout the town.

If you’re interested in learning more about ancient woodcraft techniques passed down through generations and maybe even want to try it out for yourself, there are a few workshops you can join in Bhaktapur.

If you visit Bhaktapur to get to know the area before moving here, we recommend keeping your eyes peeled for two things most structures have in common. They are all gorgeous, and they are all small. If you want to move here, you’ll probably need to find some sort of storage solution and mix it with some serious decluttering.

Remember that although you might be able to fit some things in a storage unit farther away from Bhaktapur, some items don't belong there.

2. Pottery Square

Within the mysterious walls of Bhaktapur, you can discover a world that is untouched by westernization. The pottery square at Bhaktapur upholds the traditional way of making clay vessels. The vessels are made from a special black clay known as Dyo Cha, which literally means clay of God. Everyone has a role in the process of pottery-making, from young men and women to old men and women.

Bhaktapur has become a hotspot of artistic expression and creation. And one of the most popular options for artists here is pottery. Every day in Potters’ Square, artists from Bhaktapur create gorgeous pieces, from intricately painted bowls and pots to unique souvenirs and small sculptures. You can even just visit this area and spend the day watching your souvenir be created from scratch.

It’s the old men who use their graceful hands to shape the clay into traditional pots, not leaving the slightest crack. Clear sunny days are the best for visiting the square as it is usually littered with several pots and vessels set for drying. You can even try your hand at pottery in one of the workshops, but be warned, it’s not as easy as it looks.

So, get your cameras and experience a form of art that has been passed down through generations of Newar potters at Bhaktapur’s pottery square. Aside from the unique pottery-oriented tradition, Bhaktapur also houses Nepal’s National Art Gallery. Here you can see an astounding collection of traditional artifacts and paintings from Nepal’s storied past.

3. 55 Window Palace

If you enjoy learning about and experiencing cultures different from yours, you should visit Bhaktapur this summer. Compared to some of the other Newari towns in Nepal (ex., Basantapur, Patan, and Kritipur), the residents of Bhaktapur have, to a much higher degree, preserved their traditional culture. For example, the language you hear on the streets of Bhaktapur is a lot more distinctively Newari than some of the other local dialects.

Additionally, when you walk around Bhaktapur today, you can still see people from the older generations wearing traditional Newari garments. However, this may not be the case for much longer. Since most younger people are turning to modern Western fashion, these traditional garments will slowly stop being in use daily and likely remain more of a festival garment.

4. Try their famous curd desert

The local sweetened curd dessert, known in the Newari language as juju dhau, is a staple of Bhaktapur. It’s made locally using unique traditional curd-making techniques. Traditionally this wonderful dessert is served in handmade ceramic bowls, although today, you might also find it in plastic containers to go. If you are a foodie with a sweet tooth, you will enjoy a serving of juju during your visit to Bhaktapur.

You can try other Newari foods as well. Of course, you should try other Newari foods during your visit to Bhaktapur besides juju dhau. Here are our two favorite recommendations, although nothing beats going out to local restaurants and discovering local foods by yourself:

Bara – Otherwise known as Wo, this is a savory lentil pancake made with various lentils. It’s usually served with eggs, minced meat, or a traditional buffalo meat soup.

Newari khaja – Khaja directly translates to the word snack in English. There are multiple varieties, although while visiting Bhaktapur, eating the traditional Newari assortment makes the most sense. Khaja is an assortment of lentils, peanuts, meats, and veg typically served with beaten rice.

5. Bhaktapur Pati

If you plan to visit Bhaktapur this summer to meet and connect with locals, you’re going to enjoy the traditional resting spots called pati, which are sprinkled throughout the town. On most days, they are mainly inhabited by older men looking to catch up on and discuss recent developments in the world or play traditional games.

However, sometimes you might also come across a few younger people enjoying similar activities. Either way, if you want to meet new people, play traditional Newari games such as Kashi peach, and hear new perspectives on the world, you will want to visit a few pati.

6. Bhaktapur Durbar Square

The Bhaktapur Durbar Square in the historic town of Bhaktapur. Located 13 km east of Kathmandu, it is one of the three main Durbar Squares in the Kathmandu Valley. This complex was the royal palace of the ancient kings of Bhaktapur. The Bhaktapur Durbar Square is definitely worth the visit if you're ever in Kathmandu.

Bhaktapur is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and with good reason. Entering Durbar Square feels like being transported to the past. Bhaktapur has breathtaking architecture, gorgeous temples, and amazingly preserved courtyards. After all, it was one of the three largest Newa kingdoms. Some reconstruction is still going on after the 2015 earthquake, although even in its current state, it’s more than just impressive.

You can also take a few road trips outside of Bhaktapur and visit surrounding towns and villages. Make sure to stay safe on the road if you decide to venture a bit further out of Bhaktapur by car.

7. Doleshwor Mahadev Temple

Doleshwar Mahadev is a temple of glory to all devotees around the world, and one must visit here to gain the ultimate religious experience, as some claim, the great opportunity to worship both the body and the head part of Shiva is obtained only by the virtue acquired from multiple births.

According to religious beliefs, Pandav brothers, after the Mahabharata of Kurushetra, left for the Himalayas in search of forgiveness from Shiva for the killing of many people during the war. But Shiva was not willing to forgive them thus he disguised in the form of bull.

After knowing about Shiva's disguise, when Pandav brothers tried to catch the bull, they could catch only the tail while the head of bull got separated from the rest of the body. According to scriptures, the remaining body is in Kedarnath of India, while it is believed that Doleshwar is the head part. It is also mentioned in Shiva Puran and other holy books being passed from generations to generations.

Before you settle on a date for your trip to Bhaktapur, you should check out a calendar of local festivals. Bhaktapur’s vibrant history and culture truly get to shine when its residents celebrate one of their traditional festivals.

8. Kailashnath Mahadev Statue

Standing at 143 feet tall (43.5 m), the Kailashnath Mahadev statue in Sanga is the world's tallest Shiva temple. It is situated on the border of Bhaktapur and Kavrepalanchok districts.

Another one of the biggest reasons to visit Bhaktapur this summer is the fact that a trip to such a traditional area gives you a unique chance to learn about Hinduism in Nepal firsthand. The majority of the population in Bhaktapur is religious. And most people are practicing Hindus, so you’ll be able to witness different kinds of rituals and prayers every day.

One recommendation we have is to try and get up early since most prayers are before 7 AM.

9. Take as many pictures as you want

Leaving Bhaktapur without a full memory chip in your camera is impossible. With every turn, there’s more beautiful scenery to capture. Even everyday residential structures are stunning, although, as we have mentioned before, you should keep in mind that, lovely as they are, most residential structures are relatively small. Experts from statetostatemove.com advise you to get ready to declutter and downsize if you decide to move here seriously.

To wrap up

With so much to do, see, try, and experience, there’s no doubt why everyone should visit Bhaktapur at least once. A gorgeous town with wonderful and kind people and an amazing culture – you can’t go wrong with this place. Getting here can be a bit tricky, but it’s well worth it. Remember to accommodate any specific needs you have well in advance.

For example, if you want to fly with your dog so you can both visit Bhaktapur this summer, you’ll have to get things sorted on time.

Kalyan Panja