"I think to many, many people and in other countries, in Muslim countries, she is a hero, you know, and all that she is doing to bring up, to bring children's, girls' education, that is wonderful", Saeed Khalid, a customer in an Islamabad market, told AFP Thursday.
On December 10, 2014, Yousafzai received Nobel Peace Prize with Indian children's rights and education advocate Kailash Satyarthi. He said he was happy to welcome her home, where he said terrorism has been eliminated.
It was not clear whether Malala and her family would visit Swat during their visit, something that would require extraordinary security clearance measures, officials said.
Cricketer turned opposition leader Imran Khan's party said her return was a sign of the defeat of extremism in the country.
Her first meeting in Pakistan was with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
Under tight security, Ms Yousafzai, now 20, landed in Islamabad overnight, accompanied by her parents. Local television showed her with her parents in the lounge at the airport before leaving in a convoy of almost 15 vehicles, many of them occupied by heavily armed police.
It is not yet clear whether she will visit her home village in the Swat Valley. Pakistanis awakening to the news she was back in the country flooded social media with messages of welcome, with many hailing her bravery - but others accusing her of a conspiracy to foment dissent. "Happy Pakistan Day!" as quoted by Los Angeles Times. Yousafzai's exact schedule is being closely guarded for security reasons and fear of another attack by the Taliban. She took a deep breath, wiped the tears and resumed speaking.
Ahmad Shah, who said he was a friend of Malala's father, said she "should have returned home much earlier".
"So glad she's back home where she belongs".
Malala was attacked after campaigning for girls to get a school education - going on to became a global symbol for human rights - and is widely respected internationally for her bravery and activism.
Malala, now 20, was shot by a gunman for campaigning for female education in 2012 in Pakistans Swat Valley.
"It is just so hard if you haven't seen your home, your relatives, your friends", she said, adding she wanted her feet to "touch that land".
The youngest ever victor of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, she has continued to be a vocal advocate for girls' education while pursuing her studies at Oxford University. She was flown in critical condition to the garrison city of Rawalpindi before being airlifted to Birmingham, England.
After receiving emergency treatment at a military hospital in Pakistan, she was transported to the United Kingdom for further treatment and to recover in Birmingham, where her family continue to live.
As an 11-year-old, Yousufzai started an anonymous diary describing a girl's thirst for education.
"On this day, I cherish fond memories of home, of playing cricket on rooftops and singing the national anthem in school".
But opinion is divided in Pakistan, where some conservatives view her as a Western agent on a mission to shame her country.