Once popular with hippie backpackers, scenic Afghanistan has suffered badly from years of war and neglect. The untouched nature, the rocky Hindu Kush mountains with the clean mountain air and the gigantic Buddha statues of Bamiyan have always fascinated travelers. However, the statues and numerous other monuments fell victim to the ruthless rule of the Taliban, a group of militant Islamists. And the country’s infrastructure was largely destroyed by heavy bombing by the USA. With thousands of international peacekeeping forces still stationed in Kabul and fighting flaring up in the south, Afghanistan is far from regaining its former beauty. You are strongly warned against traveling to Afghanistan, as the risk of attacks across the country is very high. In Kabul in particular, there have been a number of serious attacks recently. Landmines are also serious risks.
Arriving by plane
According to top-medical-schools, there are no non-stop flights to Kabul from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Ariana Afghan Airlines (FG), the national airline, flies non-stop to Kabul from Istanbul and Ankara (Turkey). Turkish Airlines (TK) connects Frankfurt/M., Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Geneva and Zurich with Kabul via Istanbul. Lufthansa (LH) from Frankfurt/M., Austrian Airlines (OS) from Vienna and Swiss (LX) from Zurich fly to Kabul via Istanbul and in cooperation with Turkish Airlines (TK). Emirates (EK) offers flight connections from Munich, Vienna and Zurich via Dubai to Kabul.
Note on arrival by plane
The FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) points out safety deficiencies at Ariana Afghan Airlines (FG). The airline is no longer allowed to fly into European airspace.
Frankfurt/M. – Kabul: 9 hours 15 minutes; Munich – Kabul: 9 hours 50 minutes; Vienna – Kabul: 10 hrs 30 mins; Geneva – Kabul: 9 hrs 15 mins; Zurich – Kabul: 8 hours 30 minutes (shortest flight time, each with 1 stopover).
There is no airport fee.
Arrival by car
It is possible to travel by car from Pakistan via Peshawar and the Khyber Pass, but only with an armed escort. Entering Kandahar from Quetta (Pakistan) is extremely dangerous and should be avoided if possible. From Uzbekistan there are entry options to Mazar-e-Sharif and from Iran from Mashad to Herat. All entry options are very dangerous and should – if at all – only be planned with an escort and only during the day. Long-distance buses: Buses run regularly between Jalalabad and Peshawar (Pakistan) and between Herat and Mashad (Iran). Border controls in search of drugs or weapons are carried out constantly. Tolls: There are no toll roads in Afghanistan. Gas stations: The gas station network is not very developed. Gasoline is expensive.
Arrival by train
Currently there is no cross-border rail traffic.
The Federal Foreign Office generally warns against traveling to Afghanistan. There is always a risk of becoming a victim of violence or kidnapping, even on organized trips.
Traveling by plane
Ariana Afghan Airlines (FG) and Kam Air (RQ) operate domestic flights between Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e Sharif, among others.
Traveling by car/bus
A trunk road between Kabul and Kandahar has been completed and a new highway connects Kabul and Mazar-e Sharif.
Right-hand traffic/left-hand traffic
Condition of the roads
After decades of civil war, the Taliban regime and western bombing, around 80% of Afghanistan’s roads and bridges have been destroyed. It is unclear how long it will take to restore a well-functioning road network. Many areas are mined and driving on the roads is very dangerous.
Jeeps and Landcruisers are available for hire with drivers who speak some English. At Kabul Airport there are tour operators that rent cars with guides.
Taxis are available in the cities, but most are not metered. The taxis are yellow and easily recognizable. The fare should be negotiated before departure.
The public transport network is growing. Buses operate on some routes; Information is available on site.
Speed Limits: There are no set values for speed limits in Afghanistan.
In addition to the national driver’s license, the international driver’s license is required.
Traveling in the city
Kabul: The so-called Millie Bus runs on fixed routes in Kabul. Taxis are faster and more comfortable. Due to the distances, downtown Kabul can also be easily explored on foot; however, the country’s uncertain situation must be taken into account. Women should always wear a hat when outdoors.
Locally on the way by train
The railways in Afghanistan are currently limited to freight traffic only. Routes for passenger transport and connections to neighboring countries are planned, but due to the difficult situation in the country, the timing cannot be estimated.