Himachal Pradesh, a state that is nestled at the foot of the Himalayas, is blessed with tall, dense forests, sprawling meadows, roaring rivers and majestic mountains. During the winters, Himachal is covered in a generous blanket of snow, bathing it in a beauty and charm you cannot find anywhere else. But the state has a different beauty during the summer months when the clouds clear to reveal the lush green forests, deep valleys and massive mountains in all their glory.

In fact, we would go far as to say that Himachal Pradesh should be one of your first choices if you are looking for summer vacation destinations. The weather is cold but pleasant, the roads and routes are open to explore, and the fauna and flora are in full bloom. This is also when the state sees several fairs and festivals.

So here is a look at the best and most popular summer vacation destinations in Himachal Pradesh.

Shimla

Shimla

Shimla

Shimla, once the summer capital of British India, is often called the Queen of Hill Stations and is probably one of the most famous of its kind in the country. The scenic British-era town is surrounded by imposing Himalayan peaks and deodar, pine and oak forests; with all of it combined, you get a picture-perfect setting to escape to during the summer months. You can spend memorable evenings walking across Mall Road and munching at the various restaurants, cafes and eateries.

Chail

Chail

Chail

Chail was once the summer capital of the kingdom of Patiala, but is now a popular yet quiet hill station lying on the Shivalik range. It offers numerous treks that take you through deodars and pine forests up to the nearby peaks. Choor Peak, for instance, is a popular trekking destination. Nature lovers can take a safari through the Chail Wildlife Sanctuary, where they can find black deer, porcupines, wild boar, Goral and other local wildlife. And wherever you go, you are guaranteed incredible views of the lower Himalayas around you.

Kullu

Kullu Valley

Kullu Valley

The ‘Valley of Gods’ is more than just an overly dramatic name for Kullu; this is a hill station that deserves the name, tucked among imposing Himalayan peaks that touch the sky and covered by scenic meadows, fruit orchards and dense woods. This is especially popular among honeymooners and couples, because of its private, secluded atmosphere in the midst of Mother Nature. Another popular demographic here: hikers and trekkers. The valley makes for a great base from which you can trek up the surrounding mountains, all the while getting close to the wildlife and glimpses of the mountains from breathtaking vantage points.

Dharamsala-McLeodganj

Mcleodganj

Mcleodganj

The town of Dharamsala is an important Tibetan pilgrimage spot and a hauntingly beautiful summer vacation destination in Himachal Pradesh. Split into two places, upper Dharamsala is also popularly known as McLeodganj, and you can cover both places with ease during your visit. Located on the Dhauladhar range, Dharamsala-McLeodganj attracts millions of travelers and tourists each year, largely because of its Tibetan heritage. But there is scenic beauty awaiting you here, along with some great local cuisine that you can munch on.

Nahan

Rani Tal, Nahan, Photograph Courtesy: Harvinder Chandigarh/Wikimedia Commons

Rani Tal, Nahan, Photograph Courtesy: Harvinder Chandigarh/Wikimedia Commons

Another former summer capital of an Indian kingdom, Nahan is a hill station that lies beside the incredible Renuka Lake, considered the largest in the state. The lake gets its name from the goddess Renuka, and you can find an ancient temple on the banks that is quite popular among visitors and locals. History aside, Nahan offers spectacular views of the Himalayas and is a popular honeymoon spot. You can explore the town’s cultural roots or go trekking up the nearby peaks. Churdhar Peak is a popular trail here among trekkers.

Parwanoo

Timber Trails, Parwanoo, Photograph courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Timber Trails, Parwanoo, Photograph courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

The hill station of Parwanoo lies close to Chandigarh and is a popular weekend getaway for the people of this city. With its beautiful fruit orchards and view of the lower Himalayan hills, Parwanoo makes for a great destination for a short summer break. The main draw here is the Timber Trail cable car ride that offers rare and incredibly beautiful views of the hills nearby and the far-off peaks. Mansa Devi Temple is a common pilgrimage site for the religious, and those interested in flora can visit the Cactus Garden.

Dalhousie

Dalhousie

Dalhousie

Dalhousie probably ranks right up with Shimla among the most popular hill stations in India. It attracts all kinds of travelers, from wildlife lovers to adventure junkies and those who prefer to just relax. The hill station actually spreads across five hills, and despite its popularity, it retains an old-school, laid-back rustic charm that is quite a break from the usual hustle of the city. Chamera Lake is a popular spot among honeymooners, but a boat ride along its tranquil waters can attract others too. Satdhaara Falls, Panch-Pulla and the Chamunda Devi Temple are other popular places of interest.

Kufri

Kufri in Himachal Pradesh

Kufri in Himachal Pradesh

The hill resort of Kufri is very close to Shimla, which is why it can often be overlooked by tourists who get taken in by the sights and experience of the bigger town. But Kufri has its own charm; it is just as picturesque, offering commanding views of the Himalayas and a pleasantly cool climate. In fact, you can easily spend your time here just looking out from the balcony of your hotel, lost in the beauty of the mountains. For those who have a thirst for adventure, there are rock climbing, trekking and zip line tours on offer.

Kasauli

kasauli

Kasauli

Kasauli lies around 70 km from Shimla and makes for a well-treaded break from the usual summer vacation destinations. In fact, you could say that this is a less-frequented, quieter version of Shimla, with its colonial-era buildings, cobbled roads and churches, surrounded by mountains and forests. Like Shimla, Kasauli has its own Mall Road, where you can savor the tasty local food or shop for handicrafts. You can also travel to its popular viewpoints, like Monkey Point, which is the highest point in the hill station that offers an incredible view of Chandigarh.

Palampur

Palampur

Palampur

Lying at the base of the Dhauladhar range, Palampur is often called the Tea Capital of North India because of the expansive, lush green tea plantations that cover its terrain. Pristine streams originating from the Himalayas snake through the tea gardens and landscape here, making for an incredibly beautiful view. Despite this, Palampur is relatively less crowded than other entries in this list, and should be a favorite among solo travelers. This is also where you go to experience the famed paragliding at Bir Billing.