With majestic mountains and lakes, Srinagar is a riverside city with a fairy-tale-like beauty. In the east, a boulevard of ancient gardens designed by Mughal emperors hug the shore of tranquil Dal Lake. You'll see British-colonial houseboats and languidly moving shikaras (gondola-style wooden boats) that ripple the reflections of mountainous peaks and ethereal clouds. In the old town there are buzzing bazaars, holy shrines and a fortress, as well as fragrant Kashmiri dishes to sample.
Most hostels in Srinagar are ornate houseboats located on the calm waters of Dal Lake, away from the city's bustling centre. You can stay in a British colonial-style mansion with Kashmiri interiors or a contemporary Srinagar hostel in the mountains. You'll find options with handy extras like free Wi-Fi, free breakfast and air con.
From the serene outskirts to the bustling centre, Srinagar's neighbourhoods are fascinating. The atmospheric old city, known as Shehr-e-Khaas, is a hub of historical monuments and mosques built by Kashmir rulers. Visit Dal Lake to see lotus flowers and ornate wooden houseboats against a backdrop of the Pir Panjal Range of mountains. You also can grab a bite to eat and test your bargaining skills at the colourful floating early-morning market. Lal Chowk is the city's busy centre and is filled with shops and local markets.
There's plenty to see in Srinagar. Wander manicured 17th-century gardens, including Shalimar Bagh, created by Mughal Emperor Jehangir for his wife, and Nishat Mughal Garden (Garden of Gladness) on the banks of the lake. Explore the sites of the old city, including the Roza Bal shrine and the largest mosque in the Kashmir Valley, Jama Masjid, built in 1402. Shah Hamdan Mosque by the Jhelum River is intricately ornate, with Kashmiri artwork and chandeliers. For panoramas of the city and lake, take the winding road (and 250 steps) to Shankaracharya Hill, where there's a 5th-century temple.
Srinagar International Airport (also known as Sheikh-ul-Alam Airport) is owned by the Indian Air Force and is surrounded by a security barrier 1.2km from the terminal. Prepaid taxis can be arranged from directly outside the airport, or you can jump on a shuttle to the security gate and catch an auto-rickshaw. To move around Srinagar travel on minibuses on the main routes, rickshaws in town and shikaras to cross the lake.