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A section of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

Kabul has been the capital of Afghanistan since about 1776. The city was badly damaged during the various wars since 1979, particularly its western parts. For a few years, Kabul has been going through a period of reconstruction and development, with some modern style tower blocks and a handful of glitzy shopping malls appearing. Many roads, particularly the main feeder routes, have been reconstructed and upgraded. However, in outlying areas roads and other infrastructure remain in poor condition. Electricity supplies in Kabul are now quite reliable.





Kabul is believed to have been founded between 2000 and 1500 BCE, possibly making it the one of the oldest living cities in central- south Asia. It is mentioned in Hinduism's sacred Rigveda text (c1700-1100 BCE) as a vision of paradise set in the mountains. It was an important center of Zoroastrianism and later Buddhism. The city remained of little importance for much of the first three millennia of its existence. It was controlled variously by: the Persians, Alexander the Great, the Seleucid Empire, the Mauryan Empire, the Bactrians, various Hellenistic kingdoms, the Sassanid Empire, and by the 5th century CE was its own kingdom known as Kabul-Shahan. This last kingdom before the Islamic conquest built a large wall to protect the city from invasion when the Arabs arrived at the edge of the kingdom; parts of the wall have survived to this day and are visible above ground within the city.

In 871 Kabul fell to the Islamic invasion (nearly 200 years after invading Muslims reached modern-day Afghanistan). The Kabulistan empire was formed covering much of Afghanistan and parts of western modern-day Pakistan. The city once again passed uneventfully through the hands of several empires, including the Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Timurids, Mughols, Durranis, and the Barakzais, before conquest by the Mongols in the 13th century. The famous Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta visited the city in 1344, noting, "We travelled on to Kabul, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans."

Under the rule of Tamerlane in the 14th century, the city developed into a regional center of trade. In 1504, the city was captured by the Mughal emperor Babur.

In 1747, Kabul came under control of the Durrani (or Afghan) Empire. In 1776, Kabul would become the empire's capital, although the empire soon fell into tribal civil war. In 1839, the region was claimed by the British and Kabul was established as the location of British government and the British Indian Forces. They were very unpopular amongst local tribes who revolted in 1841. Within a few days, a series of events led to the massacre of all but one of the 16,000 occupying British and Indian civilians and soldiers within miles of Kabul as they attempted to flee to Jalalabad, a famous blunder known as the Massacre of Elphinstone's Army. The British returned in 1878 and 1879, but both times thousands of them were killed and they were forced to retreat.

Map of Kabul, from early 1980s.

In the early 20th century, electricity was introduced to the city and the Darul Aman palace was constructed for the royal family. The 1930s to 1960s were good times in Kabul. Kabul University was opened; the roads were paved; modern shops, offices, & schools were opened; shopping centers and a cinema were opened; and the Kabul Zoo opened. The city also saw a vibrant tourism industry appear, largely due to the Istanbul–New Delhi "Hippie Trail" which passed through Kabul in the 1960s and 1970s.

The 1970s and 1980s brought a turn for the worse. The city saw two coups, in 1973 and 1978. The second coup was carried out by the Marxist PDPA, which a year later invited the Soviet military to maintain their power over the country. From 1979–1989, the Soviet Union maintained military and governmental headquarters in Kabul. After the Soviets left, the government collapsed in 1992 and left local warlords to fight over the city, leaving tens of thousands dead and (according to the UN) 90% of the city's buildings destroyed. By 1994, the city was without electricity or water. In 1996, the political movement known as the Taliban captured the city, publicly hanging the former (pre-1992) president and imposing notoriously strict Islamic rule over the country.

A US-led military force invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, bombing strategic installations throughout the city to rout out the governing Taliban, who quickly fled the city. The city was named the capital of the Afghan Transitional Authority and subsequently the capital of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. The city saw many suicide bombings between 2002–2007, but they become rare after 2008. In late 2008, control of the city's security was passed from the NATO ISAF force to Afghan National Police and the Afghan National Army. After 2001, billions of dollars in aid and foreign investment were used to improve the city. Most of the major roads were paved and improved, government buildings were extensively renovated, new hotels and shopping malls opened, the zoo and many museums reopened, and utilities were extensively reconstructed.

On 15 August 2021, the Taliban recaptured the city after a 5-month-long campaign, and overthrew the government.



Kabul's climate is greatly influenced by its location in a valley at 1,800 m (5,900 ft). Summers (Jun-Sep) are hot and dry, averaging from the high 20s to the mid-30s °C (80-95 °F) with next to no precipitation. Autumn (Oct-Nov) is temperate and sees very little precipitation. Winters (Dec-Mar) are cold and the time of year which sees the most precipitation (mostly snow, but also ice, freezing rain, and sleet on warmer days). January is the coldest month, averaging 4/-7 °C (39/19 °F). Spring (late Mar-early June) is temperate with rain tapering off by early May.

The city lies in a valley and some villages on the edge of the city are a few hundred meters higher and thus cooler in the summer and colder and snowier in the winters. Many roads leading to/from the city are regularly blocked by high snowfall in winter, the most notorious is the highway north, through the Salang Pass. The main highways are cleared reasonably quickly.



The city of Kabul is divided into 18 sectors, with each sector consisting of a handful of adjacent neighborhoods. There is also the 'Enhanced Security Zone' in the centre of Kabul which includes Wazir Akbar Khan and the embassy areas around the Radio Afghanistan compound/ISAF Headquarters. None of the main hotels are in this zone.

Get in

Afghan customs officials at the Kabul International Airport in 2010.

By plane

  • 1 Kabul International Airport (KBL  IATA) (5 km east of the city centre), +93 9251-61001. Has two separate terminals, one for international flights and the other for domestic flights. The airport is a hub for Ariana Afghan Airlines, and Kam Air. Airport facilities include restaurants, post office and car parking (all very basic). Kabul International Airport (Q744802) on Wikidata Kabul International Airport on Wikipedia



Upon arrival taxis are always available to take you anywhere in the city. The prices are reasonable.



A foreigner registration card is sometimes required and taken from you upon your exit from Afghanistan. The registration card is free.

When flying out you will probably end up in Car Park C, and will have to get the shuttle bus to the terminal building. When flying out expect long queues and multiple ticket, passport and baggage checks, although things are now much better with the new terminal, principally because there is much more space.

International destinations


International destinations include:

  • Ariana Afghan Airlines – from Ankara, Delhi, Dubai, Istanbul-Atatürk, Jeddah, and Moscow-Sheremetyevo.
  • Kam Air – from Ankara, Delhi, Dubai, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jeddah, and Tashkent.
  • Fly Dubai – from Dubai
  • Air Arabia – from Sharjah

Domestic destinations


While the airport is not bad for a third world country, expect very basic conditions at other Afghan airports. As of April 2019:

  • Ariana Afghan Airlines from Herat, Kandahar, & Mazar-e-Sharif.
  • Kam Air from Bamyan; Bost; Chaghcharan; Faizabad; Farah; Herat; Kandahar; Maimana; Mazar-e-Sharif; Tirinkot and Zaranj..

By car

  • The highway from Kandahar has been rebuilt, but travelling on it is very dangerous.
  • The highway from Mazar-e Sharif and the North via the Salang Pass is open, although one has to be careful travelling on it during the winter months.
  • The rebuilt highway from Jalalabad is open which has reduced the journey time to 2–3 hours, however the security on this road is very poor.
  • From Bamiyan it is advisable to take the longer northern route, as the southern route (through Wardak province) is of questionable safety.

By bus


Private operators serve most destinations in fairly comfortable Mercedes buses. Safety can be a problem, with frequent accidents. Most drivers smoke hashish before driving, so bus trips are very dangerous.

Get around

Map of Kabul

Maps of Kabul are available from Afghanistan Information Management Services [dead link] who can print out custom wall maps of the city.

By bus


There is the Millie Bus which operates many routes around Kabul, but it is faster and more comfortable to use taxis. Some buses are relatively new, but many are old as one might expect in a 3rd world country.

By taxi


Taxis are plentiful and to hire the whole car should cost around AFN30-50 depending on destination and bargaining skills. Some drivers have learned basic English, but such drivers may try to charge a slightly higher price and are most likely to be found loitering near Westerner-friendly locations (airport, major hotels). While the city is fairly safe, it isn't a bad idea to be proactive and avoid catching a taxi near any sensitive location (embassy, military facilities, 5-star hotels). It is customary for women to always sit in the back seat. After dark local yellow taxis become a rarity, so keep a few taxi numbers in your phone as a backup.

By private taxi

  • Afghan Logistics & Tours[dead link] 700 277 408, 700 288 668, 700 479 435, 799 391 462. Catering mostly to expats they are probably the safest way to get around town. 24 hour minicabs are available as are airport pickups and dropoffs. US$5-7 around town, US$15 to airport, US$20 from airport.

By car


There are only a couple places to rent a car in Kabul, one of which is:

  • Afghan Logistics & Tours[dead link] 700 277 408, 700 288 668, 700 479 435, 799 391 462. Rents new-ish Toyota cars, SUVs, trucks & minivans along with a driver who doubles as a mechanic (very important on Afghanistan's harsh roads).

Afghanistan drives on the righthand side of the road.

By foot


Central Kabul is relatively compact, so walking is a good option in the spring and fall. Summers bring intolerable heat and dust, whilst winters bring snow and mud. Pavements are few, and you need to keep your wits about you when crossing roads.

If you are nervous about your safety walking around areas such as Wazar Akbar Khan and Taimani (to a restaurant, etc.), it is fine day or night. Central Kabul at night is walkable but be sure you know where you are going, and how to get back to your guesthouse. Given the volatile security situation always be aware of any demonstrations, gathering crowds, etc., which could spiral out of control quickly. Keep a low profile, wearing simple clothes and (for women) covering your hair with a scarf or shawl. It is also wise to vary your routes frequently to reduce the threat of kidnapping. People are generally helpful and polite if you ask for directions.

Be wary walking around traditional residential areas (e.g., near the city wall). Conservative Afghans are suspicious of anyone snooping around their house, and children may throw stones or set their dog on you.


Inside the Gardens of Babur.
  • 1 Bagh-e Babur (Gardens of Babur). The gardens surround the tomb of the first Mughal Emperor Babur. Though he had wished to be buried here, he was originally buried in Agra, and later moved to this spot. Historically, the gardens have been visited by Afghans for picnics and lazy afternoons. There is a swimming pool, a small mosque for prayers and a small museum among other things. AFN10 for locals, AFN250 for foreigners. Gardens of Babur (Q1900234) on Wikidata Gardens of Babur on Wikipedia
  • 2 Bagh-e Bala. Built in the late 19th century, it served as a summer palace for Amir Abdur Rahman. Today, much of the original interior has been preserved, and the area around the palace has become a large park. Bagh-e Bala Palace (Q48981650) on Wikidata Bagh-e Bala Palace on Wikipedia
  • 3 Bagh-e Zanana (Family Park). A park and market for women only but includes male and female children. It was designed as a place where women could sell their own products and merchandise directly, which cannot be done in areas where men do business, because women in Afghanistan are not supposed to deal directly with men who are not relatives. This park was created as an outlet for these women to sell their goods with respect to their culture. There is also a female run restaurant. The park is also a nice place for women to enjoy the outdoors. Entrance fee AFN50. Bāgh-e Zanānah (Q21822809) on Wikidata
  • 4 British Cemetery. Where foreigners are buried in Kabul. There are also memorial plaques commemorating those ISAF forces killed.
  • 5 Darul Aman Palace (at the end of Daral Aman Rd, south of the city, next to the Kabul Museum). Built as King Amanullah's Palace in the 1920s, it has been destroyed and rebuilt a few times over. By 2019, restoration works had been largely completed on the palace, which suffered massive damage during the 1990s civil war. Darul Aman Palace (Q902222) on Wikidata Darul Aman Palace on Wikipedia
  • 6 Tajbeg Palace (د تاج بېګ ماڼۍ). Not to be confused with Darul Aman, this palace was also built in the 1920 built to house the Royal family. Tajbeg Palace (Q937209) on Wikidata Tajbeg Palace on Wikipedia
  • Daoud Khan Memorial, Up the hill behind Darul Aman Palace. On 28 Jun 2008, the body of President Daoud and those of his family were found in two separate mass graves in the Pul-e-Charkhi area, District 12 of Kabul city. There is now a small memorial to the deceased on a small hill, offering nice views over southern Kabul.
  • 7 Kabul Zoo. Daily 06:00-18:00. The zoo is very popular with Afghans, and houses over 100 animals, albeit in relatively poor condition. China was once one of the main donors of animals in the zoo, but after the death of a few animals to disease and malnutrition, China has announced that there will be no donations until living conditions improve. AFN10 for locals, AFN100 for foreigners. Kabul Zoo (Q833625) on Wikidata Kabul Zoo on Wikipedia
  • 8 Lake Qargha. Described as Kabul's lake district, it is 9 km from the city. Spojmai restaurant provides international cuisine. Swimming and boating are popular on the lake with plans for water skiing and jet-skis in the future. Band-e Qarghah (Q21748665) on Wikidata Qargha Reservoir on Wikipedia
  • Mausoleum of Nadir Shah and Zahir Shah (Teppe Maranjan). This is the site where King Nadir Shah and his son, Zahir Shah, are buried. It has been going through renovation since about 2005 and is still not completed.
  • 9 Bala Hissar. Ancient fortress first constructed in the 5th century AD. Bala Hissar (Q804581) on Wikidata Bala Hissar, Kabul on Wikipedia


Outside the National Museum of Afghanistan.
  • 10 National Museum of Afghanistan (several miles from downtown, across from Darulaman Palace). 10:00-16:00 weekdays, 09:00-noon Fridays. The National Museum of Afghanistan once housed one of the greatest collections of Central Asian artifacts in the world. A large percentage of the previous collection was looted in the 1990s during Taliban rule after the upper floors of the museum were bombed. Many of the early Buddhist treasures were destroyed by the Taliban at the same time as the Bamiyan Buddhas. Looted items still turn up around the world at auctions. The museum is open once again, with far more modest, but still impressive, displays of early Buddhist and Islamic artifacts. Entrance AFN 100, with camera AFN 200. National Museum of Afghanistan (Q715467) on Wikidata National Museum of Afghanistan on Wikipedia
  • 11 National Gallery of Afghanistan, Asamayi Watt. 08:00-ish to 16:00-ish, closed Fridays, and you may struggle to be allowed in on Thursday afternoons. A beautiful gallery in a charming old Kabul house that has been carefully restored. The collection used to have 820 paintings and portraits but 50% have been looted or destroyed; the director said the Taliban destroyed 210 portraits. Most of the collection is of European and Afghan landscapes and portraits of famous Afghan writers and kings and a portrait of the French writer Victor Hugo. Well worth making the effort to see. The Sultani Gallery is attached, but the opening hours are a mystery. Entrance AFN250. National Gallery of Afghanistan (Q65737477) on Wikidata
  • 12 National Archives of Afghanistan, Salang Wat Rd. The National Archive contains numerous historic documents, with some on display in a small museum. National Archives of Afghanistan (Q2860544) on Wikidata National Archives of Afghanistan on Wikipedia

Mosques and religious sites

  • 13 Mosque of the King of Two Swords (شاه دوشمشېره جومات). Historic mosque built during the reign of Amanullah Khan in the 1920s. Its Italian decorative stucco makes it quite unique compared to other mosques in the region. Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque (Q7461208) on Wikidata Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque on Wikipedia
  • 14 Id Gah Mosque. Second largest mosque in Kabul but considered the cardinal mosque in Afghanistan. Up to a million people gathers here during Eid prayers. The mosque has been the scene of festivals and ceremonies and was the site where Amanullah Khan announced Afghanistan's independence on August 19th, 1919. Id Gah Mosque (Q3407426) on Wikidata Eidgah Mosque on Wikipedia


Bowling in Kabul.
  • Kabul Wall. A pleasant hike with rewarding views over the city. The Kabul City Wall is still is pretty good condition, running west-east from Babar Gardens over to Bala Hissar (about 3 km in distance).
  • 1 Kabul Golf Club, Qargha Rd, +93 79 22 63 27. Closed down in 1978 by the Soviet Union, it reopened in 2004 after a 25-year hiatus. This 9-hole course bills itself as "extreme golf with an attitude". AFN750/US$15 greens fee for 9 or 18 holes, or AFN15,000/US$300 yearly. Kabul Golf Club (Q6344435) on Wikidata Kabul Golf Club on Wikipedia
  • Ariana Cinema, Pashtunistan Square. Primarily shows Bollywood or trashy action flicks, and the occasional American blockbuster.
  • Amani High School sports field. Open to the public on Tuesday afternoons and Fridays: football (soccer) with local Afghan guys, frisbee (with a collection of expats) and a 400-metre running track in comparatively green and pleasant surroundings. Free.
  • 2 Ghazi Stadium (National Stadium). Home of the Afghan football team. Just past the stadium is the mine museum as well as a road up the hill where you will find hundreds of Afghan men and boys flying kites on holidays. Ghazi Stadium (Q1521498) on Wikidata Ghazi Stadium on Wikipedia
  • 3 Kabul National Cricket Stadium. Home of the Afghan cricket team. Kabul National Cricket Stadium (Q6344444) on Wikidata Alokozay Kabul International Cricket Ground on Wikipedia
  • Swim. There are a few swimming pools in the city. The nicest is probably at the Serena, but is a steep US$30 to use. UNICA club's swimming pool (US$5) is very popular, esp. on Fridays, when there is probably as much catwalking as swimming going on. Internationals (aka Maple Leaf) has a large and often empty pool (US$7) but it is in a plastic shed rather than outdoors. Le Divan also has a pool, again popular on Fridays. Except in private or foreigner-only places, women should not wear anything skimpy (especially bikinis).


Khair Khana or District 3 of Kabul City.

The Share-e Naw area has some shops.

  • 1 Kabul City Center (کابل سیتی سینتر). Next to the park, has some very smart shops. Kabul City Center (Q6344426) on Wikidata Kabul City Center on Wikipedia
  • Majid Mall. In Supreme Tower. It is the largest shopping mall in Afghanistan.
  • Roshan Plaza has some quite respectable clothes shops.
  • Chicken Street is famed for souvenirs (carpets, carvings, knives, etc.), and pirated CD/DVDs.
  • Chelsea Supermarket sells many types of Western foods and products.
  • Supreme Supermarket on the Jalalabad Road (near the British military base) has Western products, but no alcohol is available. It is not open to Afghans. A little further down the road is Ciano, an Italian commissary. There is frequently a security alert on the Jalalabad Road.
  • Spinneys Seems to cater to NGOs. Can buy most Western products and food.
  • Shah M Book Co (across from Mustafa Hotel). The best bookshop in the city, it has a good selection of coffee table books and books about Afghanistan. The owner was the subject for the book The Bookseller of Kabul. Prices are high, but you'll appreciate his selection.
  • Finest Super Markets (Share-e-now, opposite Kabul Business Centre). Finest Super Market has four branches in Kabul, 1-Wazir Akbar khan 13th St (but this store was blown up on 28 Jan 2011), 2- Opposite Kabul Business Centre, 3- Kart-e-sai and 4- Kart-e-Parwan. Normally you can find most of your daily needs and has high quality goods.



A few ATMs that accept international cards are scattered around the city, and most dispense both Afghanis and US dollars. However, credit cards are unlikely to work or be accepted anywhere in the city, except a couple of the top-end hotels.

  • Afghanistan International Bank (AIB). Has a few machines around Kabul, including one inside the Kabul City Centre shopping mall. They dispense in afghanis and US dollars, however they are often reluctant to part with any cash and sometimes dispense old, ripped notes.
  • Azizi Bank. Has many branches in the city.
  • Kabul Bank. Has many branches in the city.
  • Western Union. Has many branches across the city.
  • Money changers – some people prefer to exchange their money for Afghanis through the local money changers that stand on the road. There is no fee, but make sure you know the exchange rate before attempting.



The thousands of foreigners in the city since the fall of the Taliban has gradually turned Kabul into something of a foodie haven. Restaurants can crudely be split into "places for locals" and "places for expats", with the latter having higher security, higher prices, but not necessarily higher quality. Restaurants that are UN-approved are particularly expensive. If you are looking for a place with a good mix of Afghans and expat diners the (dry) Lebanese, Turkish and Iranian restaurants are the ones to head towards.

Restaurants open and close with surprising frequency, so it is a good idea to check whether a place is still operating before heading out.


The Cafe inside Kabul City Center.
  • Afghan Fried Chicken, clean Western-style fast food restaurant.
  • Cafe, in the basement of Kabul City Center, Share-e Naw. Burger and banana drink for less than US$3.
  • Everest Pizza, 13 St Wazir Akbar Khan, +93 799-317979, +93 70-263636. 09:00-21:00. Fast food, English menu. Phone orders and home delivery available.
  • Kabul Fried Chicken, clean Western-style fast food restaurant.
  • 1 Peshawar Kebab Shop (Shash Darak). 11:00-18:00. A great local place for a tasty lunch. They only serve one type of food; Pakistani style flat chapli kebabs, but they do it well and cost only AFN100 or so.
  • Shar-e-now Burgers (Shar-e-now, opposite the Shar-e-now park), +93 799-300797, +93 70-255788. 10:00-22:00. Fast food, English menu. Phone orders available.
  • Street stalls, abound, and good ones can be found around Shahr-e Naw Park and near the Pul-e Khisti bridge in the old town. However, the hygiene is questionable particularly in the summer.



The vast numbers of foreigners in Kabul has led to the city being perhaps the best place to eat in the region, and in the mid-range bracket there are dozens of good places to eat for US$15-25 per person for an evening meal.

  • Afghan International Pizza Express, Darulaman Rd (near Ministry of Commerce and Ariana TV), +93 700 383 918. Good pizza.
  • Anaar Restaurant & Bar, Crossing of St 14, Lane 3, Wazir Akbar Khan (Between Wazir Akbar Khan circle and Heetal Plaza Hotel, towards end of St 14), +93 700 284 315, . 10:00-22:00. UN security clearance. Great Indian and Asian cuisine. English menu, English speaking staff. Phone orders - take-away and delivery available.
  • Le Divan Restaurant (frm L'Atmosphere), Str.4, Qala-e- fatullah, +93 799-300264, +93 700 224982. 10:00-22:00. French cuisine, French and English menu. Phone orders available. Garden dining and swimming pool. Closed on Sundays.
  • Barg Continental Restaurant, Sulh Road and Park-e Shahr-e Naw Street (At the northeast corner of Shahr-e Naw Park), +93 (79) 217 1000. 24 hours.
  • B’s Place Restaurant (Guest House), Str.2, Qala-e- fatullah House No.3, +93 70-276416, +93 70-276711. 11:00–23:00. Italian and Mexican cuisine, English menu. Phone orders available.
  • Bella Italia (Guest House), Street 14, near the Pakistani Consulate, +93 799 600 666. open until 22:00. Italian food. Good pizzas and pastas. Expensive mains. Good appetisers. English menu.
  • Carlito's Restaurant & Bar, Str 15 Wazir Ak Khan, +93 799 159697, +93 799 167824. 10:00-22:00. Mexican cuisine, English Menu. No phone orders/home delivery
  • Cafe du Pelican, Daraluman Rd (on the west side of the road, look for an orange guard box and Landcruisers parked outside). closes at 17:00. Run by a French couple, good French cafe food with a bakery.
  • Chief Burger, Shahre Naw (In front of Park Cinema). 20:00-midnight. This restaurant provides fast food; burger and pizzas.
  • [dead link] Delhi Darbar, Cinema Zainab Rd, Share-e Naw (between the park and Flower St), +93 799 324 899. Great Indian food including a USD6 thali. Indoor seating is intimate and spread through 3 rooms, or sit outside in the spacious garden.
  • Escalades Restaurant, Macroian2, Matba block 104, +93 799 473763. 10:00–22:00. European cuisine, English menu. No phone orders or home delivery.
  • The Grill Restaurant, Street 15, Wazir Akbar Khan (on junction near British embassy). Lebanese food in pleasant garden surroundings, mixed clientèle.
  • Hong Kong Restaurant, Wazir Akbar Khan (near Pakistani embassy). Good Chinese food.
  • Istanbul Restaurant, Macroian2, Matba block 104, +93 70 200116, +93 799 356282. 08:00–21:00. Excellent Turkish cuisine, English menu. Clean, pleasant and frequented by middle class Afghans - a great place to sample good food and a slice of local Kabul life. Phone orders available.
  • Kulba Afghan, Shar-e-now, Esmat Moslim Str. 3rd floor, +93 799 452151, +93 70 034979. 10:00–21:00. Afghan and Italian cuisine, English menu. No phone orders or home delivery.
  • Mai Thai Restaurant, Str15 Wazir Ak Khan House No.124, +93 70 297557, +93 70-278640. 11:00–21:00. Thai cuisine, English menu and English speaking staff. The reincarnation of Lai Thai. Inside is very nice or you can sit outside. Park outside on the dirt road. Good prices.
  • Mr Cod, Kabul Tower, Shaheed Abdul Haq Square, Makroyan 3, +93 78 505 0501. British-style fish and chips.
  • New World Korean Restaurant, Charyi Ansari (Shar-e Now), +93 799 199509. until 21:00. The food is excellent quality. Good selection of Korean dishes, including excellent kimbab (Korean sushi).
  • Zadar Croatian Restaurant, Wazir Akbar Khan 13th St, +93 70 0220884, . Romantic restaurant and Divan lounge bar. Catering, take away, provides for parties and ceremonial events.
  • Pamir Restaurant, Bagh-e Bala Rd (at the Intercontinental Hotel), +93 20 2201321. Offers an excellent and cheap buffet.
  • Popolano Italian Restaurant, Charahi Ansari, Share-e Naw, +93 70 288116. 09:00-22:00. English menu, good pizza and pastas. Phone orders available.
  • The Springfield Restaurant &amp Bar, Wazir Akbar Khan. Pizza and assorted Italian/Western fare, and has a weekly quiz night on Mondays.
  • Raven Rae Restaurant, Shar-E-Naw (off Koche Qasabi, first left lane, in the Raven Rae Villa compound, 6th building on the right side), +93 779 057640, . 18:30-22:30. Grilled meat, seafood, steak and pizza. Vietnamese spring rolls and coffee served in the rose garden around back on F Sa, 10:00-15:00. Restaurant is closed on Monday. US$5-25.
  • Sufi Restaurant, Street 1, Taimani Qalayee Fatullah Khan (near the Intercontinental Hotel), +93 70 283 7162, . Serves traditional Afghan food.
  • Boccaccio Restaurant & Bar, Str 10 Wazir Ak khan (same street as Everest Pizza), +93 799 160368. 10:00–22:00. European and Italian cuisine, English menu. No phone orders or home delivery. Expensive, but the food is some of the best in Kabul.


  • Bukhara Restaurant, Ahmad Zahir Road (Few blocks southwest from Shahr-Naw Park), +93 (78) 944 4222. 24 hours.
  • Café Zarnegar, Froshgah St (In the Kabul Serena Hotel), +93 79 9654 000. 06:30-22:00 daily, brunch 11:00-16:00. Tasty high-end international food and nice atmosphere, one of the nicest restaurants in the city. Their large buffet is probably the best in the country. Mains US$15-20.
  • Gandamack Lodge (Sherpur Square, next to the UNHCR). One of Kabul's classiest establishments serving a varied menu in a nice atmosphere. Alcohol is very expensive, even by Afghan standards, but that can be forgiven given the fairly reasonable food prices.
  • Istanbul Family Restaurant, Kolula Pushta Road (Short drive northwest of Shahr-e Naw Park on Kolula Pushta Road, 9th & 10th Floors inside the Kabul Crown building.), +93 (77) 688 8111, . Turkish Restaurant
  • Silk Route Restaurant, Froshgah St (In the Kabul Serena Hotel), +93 79 9654 000. 18:00-22:00 daily. Specializes in Southeast Asian food in a luxurious atmosphere. US$15-20.
  • Ziyafat Restaurant, Sulh Road, Shahr-e Naw (Near Shahr-e Naw Park in City Mall), +93 (77) 020 0200. 24 hours.



Despite being illegal, alcohol is pretty easy to find in Kabul's expat restaurants - buying your own supply involves befriending someone working at an embassy or military base, or dipping into the murky world of expat black-marketeering. Beer and spirits are available at UNICA, but the selection is slim.



Kabul is not a cheap place to stay, principally due to the costs of running a generator and providing security. The hotels are good if you are just passing through, however for long term stays opting for a guest house is more popular. There are several in Wazir Akbar Khan and Shar-i-Naw, often in huge Pakistani style mansions.

It is wise to look closely at the security arrangements for any of these hotels. Many, especially those in the Splurge section, have been attacked by Taliban or other insurgent groups. Always think about escape routes and safe places to shelter.


  • Salsal Guesthouse, Zarghona Maidan, Shar-e Naw Park (Between the park and the Chelsea Supermarket, is signed in English), +93 7 9973 4202. Reasonably clean, shared bathrooms, friendly manager (Bashir) speaks English. Most rooms have cable TV and a fan. Singles from US$10, doubles from US$20 per night.


  • Ajmal Wali International (Guest House), St 13 Wazer Akbar Khan House #367 (Near Bebe Mahro Park), +93 7 0028 5843. Nice, quiet, relaxing place. US$45.
  • Khyber Hotel, Ahmad Zahir Road, Shahr-e Naw (Around the corner from Shahr-e Naw Park, on the southwest side.), +93 79 888 8141. Check-in: 12:00, check-out: 12:00. US$40.
  • Le Monde Guest House Kabul, 7 Herati Mosque St (Close to Shar-e Naw Park and Flower St).
  • 1 Park Star Hotel, Yaftali St, Shar-i-Naw (on a back street, behind the Kabul City Centre/Safi Landmark Hotel), +93 706 220 221. Very good and very secure hotel in Shar-i-Naw. There is a pool in the basement. Internet is intermittent. Buffet dinner costs US$20.
  • UNICA Guest House, Shar-i-Naw, Ansari Wat. Nice by Kabul standards and includes nice common gardens, swimming pool and bar, dinner buffet is US$6. Few rooms from US$25, most cost US$45-50 per night.
  • Petra Guest House, House 1036, Lane 4 left, St 15, Wazir Akbar Khan, +93 7 8841 1482. Better than average guesthouse popular with UN staff. Little garden with water feature and peacocks.
  • Raven Rae Villa (off Koche Qasabi (Butcher Street), first left lane, 6th house on the right), +93 7 7905 7640, . Low-profiled with furnished rooms. Meals, Wi-Fi, laundry and daily room cleaning are provided. Restaurant on premises, the Raven Rose Garden. US$95/night.
  • 2 Q Kabul Hotel, 40M Road, Kabul. Very secure hotel popular with expats.


Kabul Serena Hotel, one of the best in town.
The Inter-Continental Hotel of Kabul.
  • 3 Kabul Serena Hotel, Froshgah St, +93 7 9965 4000. Undoubtedly the best hotel in the city, clean and modern 5-star hotel with three great restaurants. Was target for an attack by the Taliban in 2008 and 2014. The hotel has since increased its security. Kabul Serena Hotel (Q6344450) on Wikidata Kabul Serena Hotel on Wikipedia
  • 4 Kabul Intercontinental Hotel, Bagh-e Bala Rd, +93-202201321. 5-star hotel with nice restaurants and a swimming pool. Was attacked by Taliban gunmen in 2011 and in 2018. Hotel Inter-Continental Kabul (Q5911615) on Wikidata Hotel Inter-Continental Kabul on Wikipedia
  • Canpro Villa, House 23, Koche Qasabi St (off Koche Qasabi (Butcher St), first left lane, 5th building on right), +93 7 7340-2979, . Offers comfortable andmodern living accommodation suitable for long-termed expatriate residents. Amenities include fitness centre, meals at next door Raven Restaurant and Wi-Fi. Also have spaces for meetings and conferences. US$145.
  • 5 [dead link] Golden Star Hotel, Sulh Rd. Clean and modern 4-star hotel, with restaurant, conference hall, a small gym, and high speed Internet in each room. Damaged during insurgent attacks in 2012. From US$80.
  • Heetal Plaza Hotel, St 14, Wazir Akbar Khan, +93-799167824. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Nice, quiet, relaxing and cozy place. However, avoid the restaurant. From AFN5,000.
  • 6 Moon Hotel Kabul, Malalai Hospital Square, Shahre Naw, +93 7 9888-8833, . Mostly targeted towards businessman and organization workers. Amenities include fitness centre, Wi-Fi, cafe, hookah, and buffet. Good service and security. US$80.
  • 7 Safi Landmark Hotel & Suites, Ahmad Zaher Rd (top six floors of Kabul City Center shopping mall), +93 2 0220 3131, . Large conference hall, restaurant, sauna, jacuzzi and gym area, apartments also available. Damaged by bombing in Feb 2010. From US$80.




  • There are numerous Internet cafes around the city, so getting access should not be too hard.
  • Assa II Net Cafe, Muslim St. On the ground floor of Assa II Guesthouse, they have several computers with semi-reliable connections. AFN25 or US$1 per hour.

Kabul Coffee House and Flower Street Cafe both have wireless Internet for customers.


  • The cellular telephone system in Kabul is excellent. American and European phones do work on the local system. 3G services are widely available.
  • Roshan Shop, St 13, Wazir Akbar Khan (off Main St), +93 79 997 1333.

Stay safe


See the warning on the Afghanistan article for information about the security situation.

Kabul is generally considered one of the safer parts of the country, and while bombings and kidnappings have waned considerably, they do remain a threat. That said, there are tens of thousands of expats and visitors to the city and considering that only a small handful have been victims of such attacks, you should be vigilant but not afraid. Avoid walking after dark, don't loiter in hotel lobbies, and (for long stays and expats), vary your routes and timings daily. Riots happen occasionally and are often accompanied by looting: stay well away from them as authorities will respond with lethal force.

Female visitors: Make sure you wear a headscarf before landing in Kabul Airport until you fly out.

While visiting Kabul or any other part of the country, having any kind of social interaction with local people should not be a problem, Afghan people are traditionally very kind and hospitable toward guests.



Read the Scene[dead link] magazine for restaurant reviews and all sorts of useful info. It is free, although street sellers may charge for it. There are many FM radio stations. However, the only widely available English language broadcast is from the BBC World Service on 101.6 MHz. Tolo TV is perhaps the most popular TV station.


Caution Note: Most embassies closed when the Taliban took power in August 2021. Check current situation.
(Information last updated 21 Aug 2021)

Go next


Most expats take any opportunity they can to leave Kabul. Istalif in a side valley of the Shamali Plain makes for an excellent overnight or day trip destination. A day trip to the north (Shamali Plain, Salang Pass, Panjshir Valley and Jabal os Saraj), Qargha Reservoir to the west of Kabul.

You can fly to Dubai, Dushanbe or Delhi for the weekend also.

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