Depending on who you are and where you go, you may see Pune either as a pensioner’s paradise or a young, chirpy student town. The city wears both these identities with ease. If zen is what you’re out for, it has plenty of options, including the very famous Osho Ashram. If a night about town is more your scene, Pune is full of clubs, restaurants and breweries. If old-school classical music gives you peace, it has one of India’s most iconic music events, and in NH7 Weekender, it hosts one of the youngest and happiest indie music festivals. How then do you pick the best places to visit in Pune? Here’s our guide for you.
Best time to visit: November to February is the ideal to enjoy the best weather in Pune.
How to reach
By Air: Pune International Airport is the main airport, located 10km away from the city. IndiGo operates more than 150 weekly, non-stop flights to Pune to many key locations in the country.
By Train: Pune Railway Station connected the city with the rest of the country via several express trains like Pune - Patna Express, Howrah Duronto Express etc.
By Bus: Pune is well-connected to all major cities in Maharashtra and other cities and town of the country through a vast network of bus services run by Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation and private operators.
Getting around/Transport in Pune:
Pune has a robust local bus-network provided by Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML), Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation as well as privates operators. You can also opt for auto rickshaws, private cabs and taxis or the app-based cab services such as Ola and Uber.
Don’t get distracted by the south Indian selection, rolls and other items on the menu. Go straight for the excellent kheema pav, to be washed down with a fresh lime soda or cold coffee.
The two outlets of this chain serve authentic Italian food, courtesy chef Dario Dezio, who brought in his family recipes from Sicily. Dario places a high premium on quality ingredients, which invariably result in soul-satisfying meals. Whatever else you order, don’t skip the wood-fired pizzas.
For simple Malvani food that scores high on flavour, visit one of Fish Curry Rice’s two locations in the city. Get the sukka pomfret fry or prawn koliwada before ordering a fish curry with rice, or try one of the set thalis at lunch or dinner.
The menu may list five items, but the only reason to stop by is the iconic vada pav, which comes in a crusty yet pliant pav bun.
Serving only a daily thali, the Maharashtrian fare at Krishna Dining Hall is unmissable. Open for both lunch and dinner; the all-veg spread will leave you in awe for its variety and range of flavours.
Popular for its Thai curries and other Asian favourites, Malaka Spice is a hit with locals and tourists alike. With its primary coloured walls, authentic food and al fresco seating, you’ll be tempted to lounge a bit.
This place claims to have invented the sizzler. Whether or not that is true, their offering is easily the best in town.
With outdoor seating, a mean martini and some delicious thin crust pizzas, Terttulia has been a Pune favourite for years. It worked so well for them that they’ve replicated the formula in Mumbai too.
Pune has a range of options when it comes to partying in the city. From dive-like live music venues to clubs in luxury hotels, you have many ways to spend your evening (and your money) over the weekend.
Hotel Aurora Towers Popular with those who want to explore the area around Pune Camp, Aurora Towers is a comfortable, well-located property that is in walking distance of the famous Kayani Bakery. Relax on its pool deck, after a long day spent exploring the city.
JW Marriott A luxury hotel known for its eco-friendly credentials, its expansive banqueting space, large nightclub and a popular vegetarian restaurant mean there’s something for everyone.
Keys Prima Hotel Parc Estique Situated near the Phoenix MarketCity mall, this hotel is perfect for those that want to take a quick shopping trip. The property offers three restaurants and a rooftop pool in addition to large, well-appointed rooms.
Radisson Blu Hotel Located near the airport and close to EON IT Park and the World Trade Centre, this hotel is popular with business travellers. If you’re looking to explore the city, the hotel is also close enough to the major sights to get around as well.
Smart Inn A hotel that offers complimentary Wi-Fi and touchscreen check-in, Smart Inn is a located off Fergusson College Road. Start your day with a wholesome vegetarian breakfast before stepping out.
If you’re visiting Pune, a short stay at the Osho Ashram is an opportunity to centre yourself and explore an irreverent version of spirituality.
If you want to test your luck, hit the historic 19th-century racecourse, and punt on the horses. The season extends from July to October, and the Independence Cup and RWITC Gold Cup are the highlights of the calendar.
Animal lovers should visit the Katraj Snake Park, which plays host to a range of snake species, including the King Cobra, and where interactive sessions and educational talks let you learn more about the slithering reptiles.
Lastly, make sure to take a trip to ABC Farms, where you can eat at one of the five restaurants and stop by to pick up some local cheese. (If you’re visiting in November or December, you have the annual cheese festival to look forward too.)
For something off the beaten path, consider taking an Astronomy workshop at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics. Depending on your interests, you can learn about the night sky, how to make a telescope and lots more.
One cannot visit Pune and not attend Camp, the cantonment area, which still shows signs of its colonial past. Take time out to catch a movie at Victory Theatre, a single-screen that was popular with British officers. Opposite the theatre is Kayani Bakery, which you must pick up a packet of their freshly made Shrewsbury biscuits.
For those who want a bit of adventure, Pune offers some excellent treks nearby. Sinhagad Fort, the site of a bloody battle in 1670, is just a few minutes out of the city. During the monsoon, you can look out from the fort at a spectacular green ridge, though be careful; the ground can get slippery too. Lohgad is another option for those looking for an adventurous daylong trip.
These are the two other favourite getaways, best visited when the rains drape a fine mist that hangs over the area.
From Pune, Kamshet offers paragliding to those looking for some adrenaline rush. Moreover, luscious, lush greenery, calm lakes and beautiful hilly terrains make it a perfect weekend destination.
If you have more than a day to spare, escape to the Mahabaleshwar, which retains vestiges of its past as a British summer retreat. In winter, you can go strawberry picking in the fields, and have them with fresh cream, English style.
A picturesque hill station in the stunning Western Ghats, lies between Pune and Mumbai. Apart from its natural beauty, Lonavla is famous for its uniquely beautiful golf course and superb adventure activities, including hot air balloon rides; and in recent years has been drawing innumerable adventure enthusiasts from all over India and the world.
Pune is home to the Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Festival, which takes place every December. This is India’s largest classical music festival and has been running for over 60 years.
If contemporary music is your scene, mark your calendars for the NH7 Weekender, scheduled towards the latter half of the year.
But Pune’s most iconic cultural event is Ganeshotsav—the best of Marathi song, dance and food are on display during this 10-day extravaganza.