20 of the best places to visit in India


Serene temple cities and buzzy fashionable cities, thrilling wildlife safaris and lazy backwater cruises, crumbling historical ruins and refurbished heritage mansions — the contrasts in India are myriad and mind-boggling. Given its multi-faith make-up, spirituality is ubiquitous, from sacred websites devoted to a mess of deities to a chock-a-block calendar of vibrant festivals. And then there’s the meals — flavours, textures and spices that appear to change each hundred miles you journey. Whether you’re indulging in elaborate thalis or scarfing road meals rustled up on the spot, your style buds are in for a deal with.

The crush of humanity, the noise and the chaos could confound first-time guests (and even veteran travellers) however you’ll get the best out of India when you go along with the circulate and embrace the unpredictability of this unimaginable nation.

Main picture: dawn on the Ganges at Varanasi (Alamy)

*This article comprises affiliate hyperlinks.

Our journey journalism is written and edited by unbiased consultants to inform, encourage and advise our readers about the best selections on your holidays. We additionally function properties and itineraries from a specifically chosen checklist of trusted operators. These buttons and adverts are clearly signposted, and supply direct hyperlinks via to exterior websites. If you click on and purchase a product, we could earn income.

Show more

Show less

Visitors at the Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, one of the best places to visit in India
Visitors at the Taj Mahal (Alamy)

1. Agra, Uttar Pradesh

The magical lure of the Taj Mahal makes Agra a necessary cease on India’s Golden Triangle vacationer circuit. But it’s on no account the solely attraction — the large pink sandstone Agra Fort and the stirring Akbar’s Mausoleum are each value a visit, as is Kinari Bazaar for all the things from garments and sneakers to spices and marble curios. Don’t miss the metropolis’s signature candy petha (candied ash gourd).

Where to keep Just 600m from the Taj Mahal, the Oberoi Amarvilas has arguably the best view in the metropolis.

 Sikh devotees at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, one of the best places to visit in India
Sikh devotees at the Golden Temple in Amritsar (Alamy)

2. Amritsar, Punjab

Pay your respects at the serene Golden Temple, Sikhism’s most revered shrine, after which visit Jallianwala Bagh, a poignant reminder of India’s freedom wrestle, half of which can also be evocatively captured at the close by Partition Museum. Later, head to Amritsar’s old-city bazaars to gorge on parathas and kulchas (assorted flatbreads) at one of the many dhabas and prime it off with a tall glass of creamy lassi (sweetened yoghurt drink).

Where to keep Built round a colonnaded mansion, Welcomhotel Amritsar blends old-world allure with subtle amenities.

The State Central Library in Cubbon Park in Bangalore, one of the best places to visit in India
The State Central Library in Cubbon Park (Getty Images)

3. Bangalore, Karnataka

One of the main cities in South India, what Bangalore lacks in big-ticket sights it makes up for with an eclectic consuming, consuming and buying scene. Malls abound, as do craft breweries, eating places and cafés, particularly in cool districts reminiscent of Indiranagar and Koramangala. The “Garden City” additionally has lots of inexperienced respite, be it Cubbon Park, Lalbagh Botanical Garden, Lumbini Gardens and extra.

Where to keep With 281 luxurious rooms and suites, the Leela Bhartiya City Bengaluru is a sprawling new addition to the metropolis’s skyline.

Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Chennai, one of the best places to visit in India
Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Chennai (Alamy)

4. Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Despite its cosmopolitan garb, Chennai stays a conventional metropolis, dotted with a number of rainbow-coloured temples — Kapaleeshwarar Temple, devoted to Lord Shiva, is one of the hottest. Swing by the Government Museum to see an excellent assortment of South Indian bronzes after which take a sundown promenade alongside Marina seashore, the world’s second longest city seashore; don’t miss sampling bajji (vegetable fritters) from one of the shacks.

Where to keep The palatial ITC Grand Chola is house to Avartana, one of the best southern Indian eating places in the nation.

Traditional clothes on sale in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, one of the best places to visit in India
Traditional garments on sale in Jodhpur (Getty Images)

5. Jodhpur, Rajasthan

With its tangle of medieval streets lined with indigo homes, the “Blue City” of Jodhpur paints a fairly image. Add the mighty Mehrangarh Fort presiding over it from a rocky hilltop and also you get an thought of the previous glory of the Rajputs. Don’t miss Umaid Bhawan Palace, half luxurious lodge and half museum, nonetheless occupied by descendants of the former royal household.

Where to keep A stately non-public house turned boutique lodge, the Rohet House is thought for its bespoke experiences.

Chinese fishing nets in Kochi, one of the best places to visit in India
Chinese fishing nets in Kochi (Getty Images)

6. Kochi, Kerala

Sitting fairly on the Malabar Coast, Kochi (particularly its previous city Fort Kochi) is a pleasant mishmash of Portuguese, Dutch, British Raj and indigenous influences. Stroll round and see the 450-year-old Pardesi Synagogue, Mattancherry Palace and the Instagram-worthy Chinese fishing nets. Time your visit to coincide with the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (normally December-March) to get a style of up to date Asian artwork.

Where to keep Step again in time at Forte Kochi, a Portuguese-era mansion turned boutique lodge with 27 colonial-style rooms.

Mullick Ghat Flower Market in Kolkata, one of the best places to visit in India
Mullick Ghat Flower Market in Calcutta (Getty Images)

7. Calcutta, West Bengal

Calcutta could also be one of the main metropolises in India, nevertheless it appears to transfer at a slower tempo. As the former capital of British India, it retains lots of colonial-era structure together with the Victoria Memorial and St Paul’s Cathedral. The putting Howrah Bridge is a metropolis icon and its busy markets like New Market and Mullick Ghat Flower Market are unmissable.

Where to keep The Corner Courtyard is housed in the mansion of a former zamindar (landowner) and has seven uniquely designed rooms with vintage furnishing.

8. Leh, Ladakh

With jagged snow-capped peaks, azure lakes and vibrant monasteries, Ladakh is one of the most spectacular areas in northern India. Its charming capital, Leh, is dotted with whitewashed homes and stupas and dominated by the Seventeenth-century Leh Palace. Visiting a Buddhist monastery is a must-do — Shey, Thiksey, and Hemis are closest to Leh, and the latter hosts the vibrant Hemis competition (normally in July).

Where to keep Wake up to views of the Stok Range at Ladakh Sarai, a luxurious resort constructed in the conventional Ladakhi type and structure.

Statues in Nyinmapa Buddhist Monastery in Manali, Himachal Pradesh, one of the best places to visit in India
Statues in the Nyinmapa Buddhist monastery in Manali

9. Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Manali is a picturesque hill station in North India surrounded by forests and majestic mountains with the River Beas flowing via it. Visit the Sixteenth-century Hidimba Devi Temple after which saunter down Mall Road to store for native handicrafts and curios. Manali can also be base for a lot of journey actions reminiscent of trekking, rafting, paragliding and snowboarding.

Where to keep Book a comfortable keep at Urvashi’s Retreat, which gives chalet-style rooms and conventional Himachali meals.

The harbour in Mumbai, one of the best places to visit in India
Mumbai Harbour (Alamy)

10. Mumbai, Maharashtra

The most cosmopolitan metropolis in India, Mumbai is house to heritage structure reminiscent of the Gateway of India, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Banganga, Khotachiwadi and extra. Most of the motion revolves round the cultural and artwork precinct of Kala Ghoda and the cool neighbourhood of Bandra, with its fashionable bars and eating places. Don’t miss a promenade alongside the iconic Marine Drive as you gaze upon the Arabian Sea.

Where to keep Book a room in the heritage wing of the Taj Mahal Palace.

The Jama Masjid mosque in Delhi, one of the best places to visit in India
The Jama Masjid mosque in Delhi (Alamy)

11. Delhi

India’s capital metropolis is steeped in historical past. Mughal-era structure — together with the Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, Jama Masjid and Qutb Minar — rub shoulders with colonial-era parliament buildings. From the chaos of Chandni Chowk and Connaught Place to the serenity of Lodhi Garden and Sunder Nursery, the a number of worlds of Delhi collide and coexist, held collectively by some of the best meals you’ll discover in India.

Where to keep An opulent city oasis with an excellent spa, the Lodhi brings much-needed respite in the coronary heart of Delhi.

Colourful houses in Fontainhas, Panaji's Latin Quarter, Goa, one of the best places to visit in India
Fontainhas, Panaji’s Latin Quarter (Alamy)

12. Panaji, Goa

Possibly the hottest vacation spot in India, Goa is all about solar, sea, and sand. Panaji’s Latin quarter of Fontainhas, with its Portuguese structure, eclectic cafés and boutiques and grungy bars, is a must-visit. Don’t miss the wonderful Seventeenth-century Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and the quirky Mario Gallery devoted to one of India’s most beloved cartoonists, Mario de Miranda.

Where to keep The beachfront Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa has 142 terracotta-roofed suites and villas unfold over 28 acres of landscaped gardens.

The evening Ganga aarti ceremony on the Ganges in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, one of the best places to visit in India
The night Ganga aarti ceremony on the Ganges in Rishikesh (Alamy)

13. Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

The religious metropolis of Rishikesh set on the River Ganges is dotted with quite a few ashrams with yoga and meditation retreats. The nightly Ganga aarti (river worship), accompanied by beating drums, melodic chants, and lots of of diyas (earthen lamps) floating down the river, is a sight to behold. For the extra adventurous, there’s white-water rafting and trekking in the Garhwal Himalayas.

Where to keep The Glasshouse on the Ganges comes with a temperature-controlled infinity pool, an open-air yoga pavilion and the flagship Spa by Forest Essentials.

Visitors paying homage to Gandhi at his birthplace in Porbandar, Gujarat, one of the best places to visit in India
Paying homage to Gandhi at his birthplace in Porbandar (Alamy)

14. Porbandar, Gujarat

There’s no doubting the headline attraction at this northwestern port. In 1869, father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi was born right here in a three-storey home, one which vacationers and devotees can now visit. A swastika (image of “wellbeing” in the historical language of Sanskrit) supposedly marks the exact spot of conception, whereas different rooms include pictures documenting Gandhi’s life. About 60 miles up-coast stands the historical Hindu pilgrimage hub of Dwarka, the place an elaborately carved temple comprises a black marble idol of Lord Krishna. Closer nonetheless is Barda Wildlife Sanctuary, the place lions and blackbucks patrol hilly forests.

Where to keep Affordable and up to date in type, the beachside Lords Inn is a reliable guess for a snug keep.

The Rumi Darwaza gate in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, one of the best places to visit in India
The Rumi Darwaza gate in Lucknow (Alamy)

15. Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Lucknow was the scene of a famend siege throughout the Indian Rebellion of 1857, in which the British defied rebels throughout two sustained offensives, earlier than finally abandoning the metropolis; the British Residency stays properly preserved. Nowadays it’s a genteel, engaging metropolis famed for its smoky Awadhi delicacies: kebabs, paya (lamb-trotter stew) and revadi (sesame brittle with ghee and sugar).

Where to keep The white-walled Iebua Lucknow lodge has 41 bungalow rooms accessed by way of artwork deco courtyards, plus a pool and three eating places.  

An ice-cream vendor on the beach at Puducherry, one of the best places to visit in India
An ice-cream vendor on the seashore at Puducherry (Alamy)

16. Puducherry

A definite French flavour persists in this former settlement, which was occupied till the Sixties, and union territory. Also characterised by luxurious seashores, “Pondy” (the previous title is Pondicherry) features a bevy of wonderful Gallic-style villas and café-lined cobblestone streets; all of it provides up to a quaint, daydreamy ambiance. Try and go away time for a scuba-diving journey out into the surrounding Bay of Bengal throughout your keep.

Where to keep Check into the seafront Palais de Mahe, with its banana-yellow partitions and Indian-European fusion delicacies.

Bathers in the Ganges at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, one of the best places to visit in India
Bathers in the Ganges at Varanasi (Alamy)

17. Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 

There’s nowhere like Varanasi. This is the place deceased Hindus are cremated beside the sacred Ganges; following incense-heavy dedications, the useless are despatched off on a ultimate voyage upriver. Around Dashashwamedh Ghat, magical night aarti rituals additionally honour Lord Shiva and the universe. Sunrise boat cruises are choice to escape the hurly-burly, as is peeking inside some of the 2,000 or so temples. With madcap visitors, full-on smells and touts aplenty, Varanasi isn’t at all times a pleasant expertise — however you’ll at all times keep in mind it.

Where to keep A restored riverside palace, the BrijRama Palace lodge lies nearer to the headline Dashashwamedh and Manikarnika ghats than its high-end rivals.

Cameleers in the Jaisalmer desert, one of the best places to visit in India
Cameleers in the Jaisalmer desert (Alamy)

18. Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

The honey-gold sandstone Jaisalmer Fort rises like a mirage from the desert sands, a Twelfth-century citadel with 99 bastions. Some 3,000 individuals reside inside its partitions and its slim winding lanes are lined with elaborate Jain temples and havelis. The Sam Sand Dunes (25 miles exterior the metropolis), although picturesque, are normally thronged with vacationers on camel safaris.

Where to keep The majestic Suryagarh, in the coronary heart of the Thar Desert, gives a really royal expertise inside a sprawling fortress.

Boats on the Kerala backwaters at Alleppey, one of the best places to visit in India
Boats on the Kerala backwaters at Alappuzha (Alamy)

19. The backwaters, Kerala 

An hour alongside the Malabar Coast from Kochi by prepare, Alappuzha (which everybody nonetheless calls Alleppey, its previous British title) is the place from which most cruises set off onto Kerala’s backwaters: a maze of more and more slim rural canals bursting with birdlife and native color. The best manner to discover is by floating alongside and staying in a single day in houseboats, stopping for refreshment at toddy retailers or to {photograph} the prettiest paddy fields. Best of all, constitution a smaller craft for a number of days so you possibly can escape the principal hordes.

Where to keep Ayana Houseboats’ two-person vessel makes stops upon request and serves zesty Keralan delicacies.


 The Hawa Mahal, or "Palace of the Wind", in Jaipur, one of the best places to visit in India
The Hawa Mahal, or “Palace of the Wind”, in Jaipur (Alamy)

20. Jaipur, Rajasthan

Jaipur is replete with royal palaces and historic forts, many of them in terracotta hues which have given it the moniker the “Pink City”. The City Palace and Hawa Mahal are must-sees, as is Amber Fort on the outskirts of the metropolis. Just 120 miles away from Jaipur is Ranthambore National Park, one of the best places for a tiger safari in India.

Where to keep In the bustling jewellers’ bazaar, the Johri is a Nineteenth-century service provider’s haveli (mansion) restored right into a putting boutique lodge.


Additional reporting by Richard Mellor

Take me there

Inspired to visit India however but to e-book your journey? Here are the best packages from Virgin Holidays and Expedia, in addition to the best (*20*).



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here