Is Shimla better or Manali? Somehow, I have been asked this question time and again, mostly from people who have limited time and can’t decide which place to pick.

Although both Shimla and Manali are very popular Himachal towns, both have a completely different character. I will help you in choosing one of the two for your next trip. 

Choosing between the two is not as simple as it sounds. Your choice of the destination would depend on your preferences as an individual. So, I suggest you stay with me till the end of the blog to get your answer to is Shimla better or Manali.

Is Shimla better or Manali_

Is Shimla Better or Manali: Consider These 9 Points Before Making Your Pick 

To find out which one’s a better destination: Shimla or Manali, you will have to evaluate it based of several factors. Below I have compared the two Himachali towns on the basis of nine factors.

Take a look at these comparisons, see what you value more and make a pick between Shimla or Manali

1. Which is more Accessible: Shimla or Manali?

Let’s talk about accessibility first. When it comes to accessibility, Both Shimla and Manali can be reached easily from any major Indian City. You can drive to both places easily and also, use public transport.

Reaching Shimla 

Shimla is the capital of Himachal Pradesh and hence, very well connected. Reaching Shimla is fairly easy and you can reach the city by a combination of road and rail/plane.

By Air 

The Closest airport to Shimla is Shimla Airport at Jubbarhatti. Although this is the quickest, but definitely not the cheapest, especially if you choose the Shimla Airport. Also, the flights to Shimla are not regular and not available from all cities in India.

I would suggest you take a flight till Delhi / Chandigarh, and from there take a Volvo Bus to Shimla. From Delhi, it will take about  8-10 hours to reach Shimla and from Chandigarh, it will only be a short and scenic ride of 4-5 hours.

By Road 

The bus service to Simla is quite frequent from all neighboring states and cities. If you are traveling from Delhi, the best way to reach Shimla by road is to take an HRTC overnight bus.

Apart from that, driving to Shimla in your own vehicle is also quite fun as the roads are in a good condition. The only time travelling to Shimla can be a bit of an issue is during the rainy season, since the road is pr

By Train

The nearest well-connected railway station to Shimla is Kalka. The station is well connected with several major Indian Cities.

From Kalka, you can either take a bus to Shimla or better still, take a ride in the famous “Shimla- Kalka Toy Train.”

Reaching Manali 

Manali is again one of the most famous travel destinations in Himachal. Therefore, just like Shimla, it is also easily accessible.

By Air 

The Closest airport to Manali is Bhuntar Airport, which is around 50 km away from Manali. Flights are available from major Indian cities to Bhuntar. However, they are very high priced.

The best option if you would like to travel by air to Manali is to take a flight to Delhi. From Delhi, take a bus to Manali.  It will take about 12-14 hours to reach Manali by road.

By Road 

Manali is well connected to cities in Himachal and some other major neighboring towns and cities. If you are traveling from Delhi, the best way to reach Manali by road is to take an HRTC overnight bus.

Although the journey to Manali is long, the roads are quite well maintained. However, I strongly advise against travelling to Manali during the rain season. The road from Mandi to Manali is very prone to landslides, which may lead to long and frustrating traffic jams.

By Train 

The closest railway stations to Manali are is Chandigarh (315 km) and Pathankot (290 km). From these two stations, you will have to travel till Manali by road.

So, Is Shimla better or Manali, when it comes to accessibility, I would say both are accessible but Shimla can be reached in fewer hours from the neighbouring cities. 

2. Which Has Better/ More Sightseeing Options: Shimla or Manali?

Shimla and Manali both have some beautiful places and spots to cover. What you choose for your next trip depends on what you are looking to do on your next holiday.

Best Places to Visit in Shimla 

Shimla was the summer capital of the British Empire in India. The influence of the colonial past is clearly visible in every aspect of Shimla. If you are someone interest in architecture, I would suggest you visit Shimla. Some of the places that every architecture buff must visit in Himachal are – Heritage Walk, Gaiety Theatre, Christ Church, IIAS, State Library, etc.

Shimla is also blessed with natural beauty, but over the years, the city has seen a lot of commercialization. Construction all over the city has reduced the charm of the clean and green hill station.

Best Places to Visit in Manali

Manali is one of the most beautiful places in Himachal. The whole setting of the town is ravishing. The tall mountains, the Parvati river, and pine trees make this an apt destination to get lost in the beauty of nature. Although Manali is also slowly getting crowded, you can still find a quiet spot to contemplate and admire nature’s bounty.

When you talk about sightseeing options, there are monasteries, ancient temples and waterfalls, trekking trails, etc that you many explore.

So, Is Shimla better or Manali, for sightseeing? Well, If you are interested in Colonial Architecture, Shimla is the place to visit, if you want to explore old Himachal routes and scenic beauty, Manali is a much better choice.

3. Where Should Adventure Lovers Go: Shimla or Manali?

When it comes to choosing a destination for adventure, I would say you pick Manali. Although some places near Shimla do offer some adventure Sports including rock climbing, campingGolfing, Skiing, etc, Manali has many more options and better ones.

In Manali, you can go for white water rafting, paragliding, rock climbing, rappelling, camping, trekking, etc. However, whether you are in Shimla or in Manali, make sure that you choose a certified professional for your activity.

So, Is Shimla better or Manali, for adventurers, Manali definitely wins hands down. There plenty of adventure activities you can indulge in and near Manali. 

4. Talking About Safety, Which One’s Safer – Shimla or Manali?

Himachal is a preferred destination among solo travellers and backpackers, because of its safety. I would say both these Himachali towns fare equally well when it comes to safety.

Having said that, I would warn against taking any misadventures or roaming alone at nights, especially in Manali because of the dangers of wild animals. So, if you just take the basic precautions, you will be fine.

So, Is Shimla better or Manali, both these Himachal towns are equally safe. 

5. Is Shimla Better or Manali for Budget Travellers

That is a difficult question to answer as a lot would depend on your personal choices as a traveller. I am a backpacker and from my experience, I can say that Manali is comparatively cheaper than Shimla for backpackers.

If we talk about accommodation, in Manali you will find many backpacker hostels and guest houses when compared to Shimla. In Shimla, the budget accommodations are located far off from the main city, while in Manali, you will find the hostels right near the central location.

Another major factor that contributes to cost is internal transport. In Shimla, local buses are the cheapest way of travelling between attractions. In Manali, you have to hire a cab or a self-driven bike to move around places, which is more expensive than local buses.

So, Is Shimla better or Manali, for budget travellers, I would say Manali is a slightly cheaper option for backpackers. 

6. Shimla or Manali: What’s the Better Destination For Foodies?

Food is an important part of the whole travel experience. Both Shimla and Manali have a great food culture. You will find several cafes, local eateries, restaurants, street food, etc. in both these places.

In both these places, you can not only try a number of cuisines including the local Himachali food and national and international cuisines. If you are a non-vegetarian do try the trout fish in Manali, I hear it is something not to be missed!

So, Is Shimla better or Manali for foodies, I would say both are equally good when it comes to their food culture. 

7. Which has better Connectivity: Shimla or Manali?

Another major issue while travelling is connectivity or internal transport. In both places, Shimla and Manali, internal transport if fairly decent.

In Shimla, local buses are the cheapest means of travelling within the city and are easily available. You can also find taxis easily. In Manali, you cannot depend on local buses, you will have to either hike to most attractions or hire a cab or a bike to move between different places. You can also sometimes get shared cabs from one place to another.

So, Is Shimla better or Manali in terms of better internal connectivity, I would say both are fairly well connected.

8. Shimla or Manali, Based on the Duration of Stay

Both Shimla and Manali are great options if you are looking to spend some time in the mountains. However, if you have less time (2-3 days), I would suggest you choose Shimla.

If you are looking to spend a longer vacation, I would recommend Manali as the better pick. You can just relax amidst nature, go on hikes, treks or visit nearby attractions. There are many things that will keep you occupied in and near Manali.

So, Is Shimla better or Manali, if you are going for a long vacation? I would say choose Manali if you are going for a longer vacation. 

9. Shimla Or Manali: Which has Better Attractions Around It?

If you wish to explore more than just one place, both these towns offer many wonderful getaways.

From Shimla, you can easily travel to places such as Chail, Kufri, Fagu, Mashobra and Naldera. All these places are good for a day trip from Shimla.

There are many places that can be explored near Manali, especially some amazing treks. These include Naggar, Jagatsukh, Bear Kund, Kothi, etc.

So, Is Shimla better or Manali when it comes to having more attractions nearby, in my opinion, both have some fantastic attractions to explore. 

So, I hope my blog helped you choose between the two destinations- Shimla & Manali. However, if you have more time on your hands, I would suggest that you visit both these destinations.