Shimla, the capital of India’s northern state of Himachal Pradesh, is a popular winter holiday destination. Situated at an altitude of 2,200 meters in the lower Himalayas, this scenic hill town was once the summer capital of British India. Today, Shimla entices travelers with its old-world colonial charm, snow-capped peaks, lush green hills, cozy cafes, bustling bazaars, and promise of a magical white winter.

As temperatures start to dip in October, Shimla begins its transformation into a winter wonderland. Between late December and February, the hill station is covered in a heavy blanket of snow, giving it an enchanting, fairytale-like appearance. The snow-capped mountain vistas, frosted trees, and locals wrapped in colorful woolens make Shimla a postcard-perfect scene during winters. From leisurely strolls on The Mall road to ice skating in snow-laden valleys, Shimla offers a myriad of experiences to savor. So if you’re looking to trade in the summer heat for frosty mountains, swirling mists, and roaring fires, winter is the best time to visit Shimla. The Queen of the Hills welcomes you with open arms.

How to Reach Shimla

Shimla is well-connected by road, rail and air, making it easy to reach this popular hill station from all parts of the country.

By Road

Shimla is located around 350 km from Delhi and Chandigarh. The convenient road network consisting of national highways and state highways allows you to drive to Shimla from nearby cities. Many tourists choose to make the road trip from Delhi or Chandigarh by car or bus to enjoy the scenic route through the mountains. The route is mostly smooth with well-maintained roads except for some winding uphill sections.

By Rail

Shimla has a railway station that is directly connected to Kalka railway station near Chandigarh by the scenic Shimla-Kalka narrow gauge railway track. The toy train ride from Kalka to Shimla takes around 6 hours, passing through 102 tunnels and crossing 900 bridges. It is one of the most remarkable engineering feats built during British rule. You can book your train tickets in advance through IRCTC.

By Air

Though Shimla does not have its own airport, you can reach Shimla easily by air as well. The nearest airport is the Chandigarh International Airport, located around 115 km away. You can take a taxi or bus directly from the airport to Shimla, which takes about 4 hours. There are also daily flights to Dehradun Jolly Grant Airport, around 280 km away. From Dehradun you can continue the journey to Shimla by road.

Weather in Shimla during Winter

Shimla experiences cold, snowy winters from late November to early March. This is one of the best times to visit Shimla to see it transformed into a winter wonderland.

The average temperatures range from highs around 10°C during the daytime to lows around -1°C at night. In January, the coldest month, temperatures can drop as low as -5°C at night.

Heavy snowfall occurs frequently during the winter months. On average, Shimla receives about 120 cm of snowfall from December to February. The snow cover lasts for 2-3 months around higher elevations. Lower regions also receive plentiful snow but it melts faster.

The peak tourist season is from late December to January. This period sees the highest influx of tourists who come to experience Shimla’s picturesque snowcapped landscapes. From late January to February, tourist numbers start to reduce but there are fewer crowds which appeal to some travelers.

March heralds the end of Shimla’s cold season, though light snow can continue in the upper reaches. By early March, temperatures start rising as spring sets in. The snow begins melting rapidly at lower altitudes. Mid-March is a good time to visit to experience the beauty of the thawing snow before the crowds pick up again in April.

Places to See

Shimla has many interesting and beautiful places for visitors to explore. Here are some of the top attractions:

The Mall

The Mall is a large open pedestrian shopping street in Shimla. It runs along the ridge and connects it to the town. The Mall is lined with shops, restaurants, and colonial buildings. It’s a lively area to walk around and do some shopping. Some key attractions along The Mall are Gaiety Theatre, Town Hall, Municipal Library, and old Post Office.

The Ridge

The Ridge is an open area that runs above The Mall. It offers beautiful valley views of snow-capped mountains. The most prominent building on The Ridge is the Gothic structure of Christ Church. Other attractions include a Bandstand, State Library, and old profile Victorian buildings like Auckland House School.

Christ Church

Built in the Neo-Gothic style in 1857, Christ Church is one of the prominent attractions and landmarks of Shimla. Located on The Ridge, this Anglican church has stained glass windows and paintings. Its clock is said to be the oldest working one in the Northern region of India.

Jakhu Temple

Dedicated to Lord Hanuman, Jakhu Temple is situated at the highest point of Shimla ridge at a height of 2,455m. Visitors need to trek up the hill through dense deodar forests to reach the temple. According to mythology, the temple marks the spot where Lord Hanuman rested while searching for the Sanjeevani herb. The temple offers scenic views of the Shivalik Ranges and snow-capped Himalayas.

Viceregal Lodge

Built as the residence for British viceroys, Viceregal Lodge is a stunning Victorian building surrounded by well-maintained gardens. It has beautiful architecture with lavishly wood paneled interiors. There is a library inside that houses over 20,000 books. Viceregal Lodge offers an insight into the grand lifestyle of British rulers during colonial times.

State Museum

Himachal State Museum has a rich collection related to the culture, art, archaeology and handicrafts of the state. It displays miniature paintings, historical sculptures, colonial era photographs, local handicrafts, musical instruments and other interesting artifacts. The museum complex also houses a library and art gallery. There are many other places like Himalayan Bird Park, Scandal Point, Annadale, Shimla Reserve Forest Sanctuary, Chadwick Falls etc. that offer plenty for tourists to see and do in Shimla. The charming hill station transforms into a winter wonderland during snowfall, making it even more enchanting to explore.

Unveiling the Hidden Beauty

When winter arrives in Shimla, the entire city undergoes a magical transformation. The snow-clad mountains and the glistening white landscapes create a breathtaking sight that is sure to leave you spellbound. As you explore the city, you will come across hidden gems that are even more enchanting during this time of the year.

One such gem is the Chadwick Falls, located on the outskirts of Shimla. This majestic waterfall freezes during winter, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. The sight of the frozen waterfall surrounded by snow-covered trees is truly a sight to behold.

Another hidden beauty of Shimla is the Kufri Fun World, a popular amusement park that transforms into a winter wonderland during the snowy season. Here, you can indulge in various winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. The thrill of gliding down the slopes amidst the snow-covered hills is an experience that should not be missed.

Shimla Where Winter Dreams Come True

Shimla is not just a destination for adventure seekers, but also a dream come true for families. The city offers a plethora of family-friendly activities that are perfect for creating lasting memories.

The Ridge, a prominent landmark in Shimla, is a must-visit during winter. This open space offers stunning views of the snow-covered mountains and is a popular spot for families to enjoy a leisurely stroll. You can also find various food stalls and souvenir shops here, adding to the charm of the place.

For those seeking a bit of history and culture, a visit to the Viceregal Lodge is highly recommended. This architectural marvel, once the summer residence of the British Viceroys, is surrounded by lush green gardens that transform into a winter wonderland. The grandeur of the lodge combined with the snowy landscapes creates a truly magical experience.

Breathtaking Photos and Stunning Winter Landscapes

One of the highlights of visiting Shimla in winter is the opportunity to capture stunning photographs. The snow-covered landscapes, the misty mountains, and the charming colonial architecture provide the perfect backdrop for creating breathtaking images.

The Jakhu Temple, located atop the Jakhu Hill, offers panoramic views of Shimla and its surrounding valleys. During winter, the temple is often covered in a blanket of snow, creating a picturesque setting. The sight of the snow-covered temple against the backdrop of the Himalayas is a photographer’s dream come true.

Another popular spot for capturing stunning winter landscapes is the Shimla-Kalka Railway. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers scenic train rides through snow-covered valleys and quaint villages. The vintage charm of the toy train combined with the snowy vistas makes for a truly memorable experience.

Family-Friendly Winter Wonderland

Shimla truly transforms into a winter wonderland during the snowy season, offering a wide range of activities for families to enjoy. From building snowmen and having snowball fights to tobogganing down the slopes, there is something for everyone.

The Ice Skating Rink in Shimla is a popular attraction for families. This open-air rink is the largest in India and provides the perfect opportunity to glide across the ice amidst the snow-covered surroundings. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced skater, the rink offers a fun-filled experience for all.

For a unique winter adventure, a visit to the Himalayan Bird Park is highly recommended. This park is home to a variety of exotic bird species, and during winter, you can witness the birds in their natural habitat amidst the snowy landscapes. It is a great educational experience for children and a chance to appreciate the beauty of nature.

Activities Galore in Shimla During Winter

Shimla transforms into a winter wonderland during the chilly season, offering abundant snow adventures and activities for visitors to enjoy.

Hit the Slopes for Exhilarating Skiing

Head to the slopes of Kufri for an adrenaline-filled skiing experience amidst Himalayan peaks. With beginner, intermediate and advanced runs available, skiers of all levels can carve through fresh powder after heavy snowfall. Skiing equipment can be easily rented at the hill station.

Glide Gracefully Ice Skating

Shimla’s famous ice skating rink offers the unique experience of skating in natural ice. Twirl and glide on the frozen water accompanied by music in the evenings and enjoy spectacular views of snow-capped mountains. It’s a fun winter activity for families and couples alike.

Trek Through Snowy Landscapes

The winter landscape turns Shimla into a Narnia-like world with snow laden trees, misty valleys and white mountain tops. Go on guided treks through oak and pine forests, such as the Chadwick Falls trek, and be rewarded with stunning snow scenery. With proper gear, trekking is safe and enjoyable.

Eat Your Way Through Shimla

Shimla has a vibrant food scene that reflects its rich cultural heritage. From street food to fine dining, you’ll find delicious options everywhere.

Local Dishes

Try Himachali staples like siddu – steamed bread stuffed with lentils and served with ghee. Or sample rich curries like kullu trout, sepu vadi, and patrode. For breakfast, dig into fluffy aloo parathas or piping hot chole bhature.


For an upscale meal, visit The Lift or The Town Table in luxury hotels like Oberoi Cecil and The Clarkes. Family-run places like Wake & Bake Café are also popular. Try traditional Himachali thalis or continental fare.


Shimla has many quaint cafes tucked along the hills. Café Sol serves piping hot momos and noodles. Visit Café Simla Times for coffee and sandwiches. Or try Whistling Duck for freshly baked cakes, tarts, and croissants.

With a little exploration, you’ll find Shimla offers remarkable culinary adventures to suit every taste and budget. The local cuisine is hearty and perfect for the cold weather.

Shopping in Shimla

Shimla is a shopper’s paradise, with bustling bazaars, quaint boutiques, and modern shopping centers offering a wide range of goods. The main shopping areas are The Mall, Lakkar Bazaar, and the lower bazaar.

The Mall is a pedestrian only shopping street with many restaurants, clubs, banks and bars. It runs along the ridge and connects it with Scandal Point at one end and The lift on the other. Here you will find stores selling branded clothes, shoes, books, handicrafts and woolen items. Stop at stylish cafes for a break. 

Lakkar Bazaar, a cobblestone pedestrian street, is famous for its woodcrafts, woolen clothes and souvenirs. You can watch artisans at work carving intricate designs on wood. Shop for warm shawls, Himachali caps and other woolen winter wear here. Pick up pretty souvenirs like carved walking sticks, decorative temple figures, pottery, painting and jewelry. Stop at small eateries for local delicacies.

The lower bazaar has narrow market lanes winding down the slopes where you can buy fruits, vegetables and spices. Tibetan carpets, metal statues and other curios are sold alongside cheap winterwear. Haggle a bit to get a bargain.

For a more modern shopping experience, visit shopping complexes like Mall Road, Centre Point and Indira Market. Mall Road has showrooms from major clothing brands. At Indira Market you can find handicraft emporiums.

Shopping in Shimla is a fun experience. Wander through the charming bazaars and hunt for the perfect Himachali souvenir.


Shimla offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences.


Shimla has hotels ranging from luxurious 5-star properties to budget hotels. Some of the best 5-star hotels include The Oberoi Cecil, The Oberoi Clarkes, Radisson JWM Hotel Shimla, and Fairmount. Mid-range hotels like Hotel New Castle, Marina Hotel, and Hotel Combermere offer good amenities at reasonable prices. Budget hotels like Hotel Ritz Annexe, Hotel Classic, and Hotel Auckland House provide clean, comfortable rooms for budget travelers.


For those looking for a nature retreat, Shimla has excellent resorts located a short drive away from the main town. Some top picks are Wildflower Hall, a luxury Oberoi resort with breathtaking mountain views; Clarkes Hotel, a colonial style resort surrounded by dense deodar forests; and Snow Valley Resorts, set amidst apple orchards and offering skiing in winter.


To experience true Shimla hospitality, try a homestay. Local families rent out rooms in their homes and provide home-cooked meals and a cozy, authentic stay. Some popular homestays are Littlewood Estate, Kaith Madan, and Snow View Villa, all offering comfortable rooms and great views. Homestays let travelers get an inside look into local culture.

With options from 5-star luxury to budget picks, Shimla has accommodation choices suitable for all travelers. Advance booking is highly recommended during peak seasons.

Getting Around

Getting around Shimla during the winter is half the fun. With its steep, winding roads and maze of alleyways, Shimla practically begs to be explored on foot. Just be sure to wear proper footwear as pathways can be slippery.

For longer excursions, taxis are readily available. While hiring a private taxi for the day may seem expensive, the cost is worth it for the door-to-door service allowing you to maximize sightseeing time. Just be sure to negotiate the fare upfront.

Driving your own rental car is another popular option. The freedom of having your own vehicle lets you wander and stop spontaneously along the way. However, the hilly terrain and narrow, congested roads require caution and expertise. Snow chains are a must during the winter.

Whatever mode of transport you choose, traveling through Shimla is an adventure unto itself. Cruising along roads flanked by tall pines weighed down with snow, each bend reveals new vistas. So take your time and soak up the magic of Shimla in winter from every possible angle.

Safety Tips for Shimla in Winter

Shimla can be absolutely magical in the winter but the cold weather also requires some precautions. Follow these tips to stay safe and healthy during your winter visit:

Dress in Layers 

The key to staying warm is wearing multiple layers that can be added or removed as needed. Pack thermals, sweaters, jackets, gloves, scarves, and warm socks. Avoid cotton and opt for wool, silk or synthetic fabrics which insulate better when wet. Bring a warm winter coat, snow boots, and accessories like ear muffs and ski masks.

Protect Yourself from Snow 

Snow may seem harmless but it can quickly lead to hypothermia or frostbite if you’re not careful. Make sure no skin is exposed when outdoors. Wear waterproof shoes with good traction and gaiters to keep snow out of boots. Use sunscreen, lip balm and moisturizers since the sun and wind can still damage skin. Stay dry by limiting time outdoors during heavy snowfall.

Be Cautious of Ice 

Frozen sidewalks and roads can be extremely slippery. Walk slowly with your weight over your feet and keep hands out of pockets for balance. Avoid shortcuts over snowbanks or frozen ponds. Drive only if necessary, use tire chains, and steer/brake gradually. Beware of falling ice and snow from rooftops when around buildings.

Stay Hydrated 

It’s easy to get dehydrated in the cold, dry mountain air. Drink plenty of warm fluids and avoid alcohol which accelerates heat loss. The high altitude also lowers oxygen levels so rest when needed and don’t overexert yourself.

Know the Signs of Hypothermia 

Watch for early symptoms like shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, and confusion. Get indoors, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first, and take shelter near heaters. Left untreated, hypothermia can lead to unconsciousness and cardiac arrest so seek medical attention if needed. With some common sense cold weather preparations, you can safely enjoy the stunning beauty of a Shimla winter. The snow-covered hills provide picture-perfect scenery, if you bundle up and take care of yourself along the way.


Shimla in winter is a visual delight that offers something for everyone. Whether you are seeking adventure, tranquility, or quality time with your family, this snowy paradise will not disappoint. So pack your warmest clothes, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on a journey through the enchanting winter wonderland that is Shimla.