21 Incredible Things to Do in Delhi, India (For First Time Visitors!)

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The capital of India, and its largest city area-wise, New Delhi is chaotic, colorful, historical and bursting with tons of experiences that are sure to keep any traveler busy for days on end. There is no shortage of things to do in Delhi.

Centuries’ old buildings and markets beg to be explored, delectable street dishes wish to be tasted and lush gardens serve as oases from the metropolitan madness.

While Delhi is certainly no Goa, if done right, it will surely have you yearning for more of Incredible India.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet India (Travel Guide)


21 Best Things to Do in Delhi, India


1. Chandni Chowk

Chandni Chowk Market - things to do in Delhi, India

Located in the heart of Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk is a bustling old market built by former Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan back to the 17th century. And it’s truly stood the test of time- today- it still remains one of the largest wholesale markets in Asia.

Absolutely anything is possible in Chandni Chowk, and you’ll have to make do with a bit of squishing and squeezing on the narrow, windy old streets.

But as you venture through what seems a bit like a maze, you’ll be undoubtedly rewarded with some of the best food in New Delhi.

Paranthe Wale Gali is a must stop for some of India’s best bread, along with the Old Famous Jalebi Wala for something sweet- both are well worth the hype!

Chandni Chowk can be overwhelming, but if you go with the flow, it’s a perfect place to get lost as every twist and turn through its walls is a brand-new burst of sensory overload.

How to get there: Chandni Chowk can be easily reached from the Chandni Chowk metro station- it’s open daily from early morning until late at night.

Our top recommended tours of Old Delhi:

2. India Gate

India Gate in Delhi

Perhaps Delhi’s most well-known sight, the India Gate attracts thousands and might as well be synonymous with the city itself.

Constructed as a war memorial to soldiers of the British Indian Army, the arc-shaped monument is free for tourists.

Lush, green lawns surround the gate and make a great picnic spot- and you can easily buy food and chai from one of the various vendors all around.

While the gate is lovely to visit during the day, it becomes beautifully lit up at night too!

How to get there: Get off at the Pragati Maidan metro station.

Our top recommended tours that includes the India Gate:

3. Lotus Temple

Lotus Temple in Delhi, India

Perhaps one of the most magnificent temples in all of India, (if not the world) the Lotus Temple is shaped as- you guessed it- a lotus flower!

The temple belongs to the Bahai’i faith, which proclaims that all people and religions are divinely united.

This beautiful mandir is made out of white marble and is surrounded by nine pools of water which tend to light up at dusk.

Any and all visitors are welcome during opening hours, which are Tuesday-Sunday from 9:00 AM-5:30 PM. Note that the temple is closed every Monday.

How to get there: If you’re taking the metro, the closest stop is Kalkaji Mandir.

Our top recommended tours that includes the Lotus Temple:

4. Lodhi Gardens

Lodhi Gardens - things to do in delhi

Serene, green and remarkably calm- could it still be New Delhi? The Lodhi Gardens are a massive 90 acres, and is easily the most peaceful place in all of Delhi.

The gardens came into being sometime between the 15th and 16th centuries, and a bit of historical magic can still be felt in the air.

Aside from being a respite from chaos, the massive park also contains several tombs and showcases architecture that dates back to the 15th century.

A place to run, sprawl out, walk, picnic, or simply just be, it’s no surprise that the Lodhi Gardens attract tens of thousands of tourists.

So if you’re looking for a quieter experience, avoid Saturdays and Sundays as these are the most popular days to visit.

Visiting hours start at 6:00 AM and finish up at 7:30 PM, and entrance is free.

How to get there: Get off at JLN Stadium metro station

Our top recommended tours that includes the Lodhi Gardens:

5. Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi

A UNESCO World Heritage Site only 3km away from the Lodhi Gardens, Humayun’s Tomb is another beautiful work of art nestled away in a bit of greenery.

The tomb belongs to former Mughal Emperor Humayun and was created by his first wife, Bega Begum. Another ancient sight- the tomb was built in the 1500’s and sees tons of both foreign and domestic tourists.

Humayun’s Tomb is best combined with a stop in Lodhi since they’re so close by. The tomb is open daily from 5:30 AM to 6:30 PM, and entrance fees cost 30 rupees for Indians and 500 rupees for foreigners.

How to get there: Get off at Jor Bagh metro station if riding on the Yellow Line, or JLN Stadium if you’re coming on Purple

Our top recommended tours that includes Humayun’s Tomb:

6. Red Fort

Red Fort - Delhi, India

Smack in the center of the city, the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty called the massive Red Fort their home for centuries.

The fort gets its name from the red sandstone it was made out of and is quite an architectural delight.

A visit here is one of the best things to do in New Delhi for architecture connoisseurs- it was even designed by the same man who constructed the Taj Mahal!

The fort is the largest and most famous monument in Delhi, and receives thousands of visitors daily in peak tourist season. The 256 acre complex is known for its two famous gates, named after the city they each face: Delhi & Lahore.

Visiting in the morning is best- unless your keen to see the daily Mughal history lightshow that’s put on at night.

The fort is open every day except Mondays from 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM for regular visits, and the light show can be seen in:

Hindi:

7:30 PM (May-Aug)

7:00 PM (Sept -Oct)

6:00 PM (Nov-Jan)

7:00 PM (Feb-Apr)

English:

9:00 PM (May-Aug)

8:30 PM (Sept -Oct)

7:30 PM (Nov-Jan)

8:30 PM (Feb- Apr)

Entrance fees are priced at 35 rupees for Indians and 500 rupees for foreigners. Try to come on a week day to escape the masses!

How to get there: Get off at the Chandni Chowk metro station

Our top recommended tours that includes the Red Fort:

7. Qutub Minar

Qutub Minar - things to do in Delhi

This massively tall (73 meters!) minaret forms part of the Qutb complex, a UNESCO world heritage site and a must visit attraction in New Delhi.

The design is thought to be influenced by that of a minaret standing in western Afghanistan and is a nice display of Persian architecture in India.

The minar was constructed back in 1192 by Qutb-ud-din Aibak- it’s a miracle it has been able to survive relatively unscathed for so long, despite enduring several natural disasters throughout the centuries.

The Minar is open for visitors daily from 7am-5pm, and like many of the other UNESCO sites, is very popular with New Delhi tourists.

How to get there: Get off at Qutub Minar Metro Station

Our top recommended tours that includes the Qutb complex:

8. Akshardham Temple

Akshardham Temple in Delhi, India

The Akshardham temple is a must-see sight when visiting Delhi, as it’s one of the largest (and possibly most beautiful) Hindu temples in the world.

Marvel at the temple’s stunning pink stone and white marble and don’t forget to check out some of the exhibits- which range from a water show to lively cultural dance activities.

As great as the temple is up close, it’s also known for its beloved view from afar. If you do make your way to its doors, keep in mind that the mandir is closed on Mondays, and opens every other day from 9:30AM- 6:30PM.

(The water show takes place every day after sunset. Times change seasonally, so make sure to check on their website before heading out!)

Keep in mind that photography is strictly prohibited inside the temple, so put your camera away before entering.

How to get there: Get off at the Akshardham Metro Station, and walk for about 350 meters

Our top recommended tours that includes the Akshardham temple:

9. Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid - things to do in Delhi, India
Photo source: Lina Stock

Famed as the largest mosque in India, the Jama Masjid is a popular tourist attraction known for being able to can hold up to 25,000 devotees at once!

Visiting the mosque is one of the best things to do in New Delhi, and also happens to be Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s first architectural successes.

Jama Masjid has four towers, with the southern-most of the four providing a magnificent view of the entire city.

Interestingly enough, the Jama Masjid is twins with another famous mosque located in Lahore, Pakistan– the latter known as the Badshahi Masjid, respectfully.

It’s definitely interesting to visit both if you find yourself on the other side of the border!

Jama Masjid is officially free to enter, but touts may try to convince you an entrance fee is required. Ignore them and continue on.

The mosque is open daily from 7 AM-12 PM, and then again from 1:30 PM-6:30 PM. Note that an appropriate dress is required for entry, including headscarves for women. Bringing in a camera will set you back 200 rupees.

How to get there: If you’re traveling on the violet line, get off at the Jama Masjid metro station. If coming on Yellow, Chawri Bazar is closest.

Our top recommended tours that includes Jama Masjid:

10. Hauz Khas Fort

Hauz Khas Fort in Delhi

Beautiful, relaxing and historical all in one, the Hauz Kauz Fort Complex is a must-visit New Delhi Attraction and may only fall behind Lodi Gardens as the most peaceful place in the city.

The complex, located in South Delhi, is seated on a lake that’s absolutely magnificent around sunset.

The sprawling park, which surrounds the fort, is a perfect place to catch up with friends, play some music, or simply marvel at the architectural ruins of this 13th-century delight.

Entrance is completely free, and popular with students and families. Hauz Khas is open daily from 10:30AM-7:00 PM.

How to get there: Get off at the Hauz Khas metro station.

Our top recommended tours that includes Hauz Khas Fort:

11. Dilli Haat

Dilli Haat in Delhi

This open air craft bazaar, run by the Delhi Tourism Authority, features unique work made by artisans from all over the country.

Gems, fabric, paintings and any other ware you can imagine can be found here making it the perfect thing to do in New Delhi for arts and crafts lovers.

Known for being the largest market in New Delhi, Dilli Haat is a must if you’ve even just thought about getting some type of souvenir!

There are three “Dilli Haats” in New Delhi, but the best one to visit is the 6 acre original located near the INA Metro Station. It boasts the most variety- and the best food.

You can get your shop on every day from 10:30am-10:00pm, after paying a small entrance fee (30 rupees for Indians, 100 rupees for foreigners).

How to get there: Take the Yellow Metro line to INA Station. Dilli Haat will be opposite of it.

Our top recommended tours that includes the best markets in Delhi:

12. Connaught Place

Street food outside Connaught Palace India

Though this sector of New Delhi is most well-known for its high-end stores and classy restaurants, you’ll want to visit for another reason: the magical, delectable street food that makes Connaught Place the best spot in the city for foodies.

Street stalls can be found on nearly every corner, serving up everything from aloo burgers, to pani puri and jalebis- all at an extremely tasty quality for very affordable prices.

How to get there: Take the metro to Rajeev Chowk Metro Station and explore from there

Our top recommended tours in Delhi for that foodie:

13. Gandhi Smriti & Raj Ghat

Gandhi memorial steps and stone

Gandhi Smriti was the home of Mahatma Gandhi, also known as the father of India, and also happens to be exact spot of Gandhi’s assassination on January 30, 1948.

The room Gandhi lived in has been kept exactly as he left it, and is open to the public, along with the prayer ground he used to hold services at. You can also visit Gandhi’s memorial at Raj Ghat nearby, where an eternal flame burns in his memory.

Entrance to both are free, and the home is open every day except for Mondays from 10AM-5PM.

How to get there: For Gandhi Smriti, Take a metro to Rajeev Chowk. To see the memorial, you’ll need to get off at New Delhi Metro Station.

Our top recommended tours that includes Gandhi Smriti:

14. Sankat Mochan Dham

Hanuman temple near Karol Bagh Delhi with giant 108 feet statute of Lord Hanuman with view of Delhi Metro Rail service.

This Hanuman temple boasts a massive 108-foot tall statue of the monkey god Lord Hanuman, and is well worth a visit. The statue is a quite an unexpected sight to see in what’s otherwise a traffic-filled area of the city.

You can see the inside of the temple, which is really just the bottom of the structure, by climbing inside a carved mouth of a demon that is said to have been slayed by Hanuman himself.

On Tuesdays and Saturdays, an evening prayer ceremony is held that involves the statue moving its arms back to display images inside his chest- definitely a sight to see!

How to get there: Get off at the Jhandewalan Metro Station located on the Blue Line- you’ll be sure to spot the statue.

Our top recommended tours that includes the Hanuman Temple:

15. Jantar Mantar

The Jantar Mantar is located in the modern city of New Delhi, India

Built in 1724 by Maharaja Jai Singh of Jaipur, this impressive attraction is an astronomical observatory. While the instruments in the observatory can no longer be used thanks to the hundreds of tall buildings in its vicinity, a visit here is the perfect thing to do in New Delhi for astronomy lovers.

The observatory is open daily from 6:00 AM-6:00 PM, and costs 15 rupees for Indians and 200 rupees for foreigners.

How to get there: Get off at Rajiv Chowk (Blue Line) or Patel Chowk (Yellow Line)

Our top recommended tours that includes the Jantar Mantar:

16. Nizamuddin Dargah

Prayer Fragrance Sticks, Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin, Delhi, India

This popular tourist destination, located in one of New Delhi’s oldest settlements, is actually a mausoleum of the famous Sufi saint, Hazrat Khwaja Syed Nizamuddin Auliya.

The Dargah is also home to the tombs of several other Sufi poets, and sees thousands of Muslim worshippers (along with tourists) each week.

If you really want to see something special, try to visit the tomb on Thursday night from 5:00-9:30 PM to catch one of the Qawwali (devotional music) performances.

What’s more is the neighborhood in which the tomb is located, Nizzamuddin West, is a lively hamlet stuffed with delicious Mughal cuisine and thriving marketplaces. Got time? Give it all a look!

Aside from the qawwali, visiting in the morning is best if you want to beat the crowds, as the Dargah is known as a pilgrimage site.

Also, keep in mind that women must cover their heads to enter, so bring a scarf if you plan to go beyond the courtyard.

How to get there: Get off at JLN Metro station

Our top recommended tours that includes Nizamuddin:

17. Go on a Slum Tour with PETE India

Slum house near the river in India

When you first hear the words Slum Tour, you’re likely thinking of some depressing or otherwise exploitative activity. But not this one!

This tour, which starts and ends at Shadipur Depot metro station, will take you to a school, a family residence and the Kathpulti Colony slum community that is home to the school’s students.

This tour really shows the positives that education and community support can do for the lives of children, and at no point will you feel forced to buy anything or donate anything while visiting.

If you have the time, it’s well worth it to see this side of New Delhi, and how a great organization is working to combat a devastating issue. You can sign up for the tour at peteindia.org

How to get there: The meeting point is Shadipur Depot Metro Station (Blue Line).

Our top recommended tours that Delhi’s slums:

18. Purana Qila

Purana Qila is the oldest fort among all forts in Delhi

Purana Qila is New Delhi’s oldest fort and is known as the 6th of the “seven Delhis” that have existed throughout history.

While the fort is considered to be of the 16th century, excavations have shown that the area has been inhabited since at least 300 BC.

And there’s more: many even believe Qila is sitting on top of the ruins of Indraprastha, an ancient city mentioned in the holy Hindu text Mahabharata, making a visit here the absolute best thing to do in New Delhi for history buffs.

The fort can be found in a sprawling, 5-mile area and has a moat that’s fed by the Yamuna River. You can visit any day of the week from 5:30 AM-7:00 PM, and entrance fees are 5 rupees for Indians and 100 rupees for foreigners.

How to get there: Get off at the Pragati Maidan metro station.

Our top recommended tours that includes Purana Qila:

19. ISKCON Temple

ISKCON Temple - things to do in Delhi

ISKCON, also known as the “Hare Krishna” movement, is a spiritual institution that was founded in 1966 by Srila Prabhupada.

The temple, and the organization itself, is dedicated to Lord Krishna but is also home to different activities and displays for tourists.

Celebrated as one of the largest temple complexes in India, this mandir is home to a Vedic Culture center, where visitors can learn more about major Hindu texts.

ISKCON is also known for its grand celebrations of many festivals, especially Janmashtami which usually falls in either August or September. If you happen to be in Delhi that day- don’t miss it!

The temple is free to all visitors, and doors are open daily from 4:30 AM-1:00 PM, and again from 4:00 PM-9:00 PM.

How to get there: Get off at the Nehru Place Metro Station

Our top recommended tours that includes ISKCON:

20. Chhattarpur Temple (Chhatarpur Shri Adhya Katyani Shakti Peeth Mandir)

Chhattarpur Temple (Chhatarpur Shri Adhya Katyani Shakti Peeth Mandir)

This magnificent structure is another one of New Delhi’s stunning architectural triumphs. A blend of Southern and Northern designs, the temple was founded back in the 1970s by Shree Nagpal Baba.

The 70-acre complex, located in South Delhi, houses several smaller mandirs that are each dedicated to one prominent Hindu god.

What’s even better? Entrance is free of charge and the temple is open every day from 4:00 AM-11:00 PM.

How to get there: Get off at the Chattarpur Metro Station

Our top recommended tours that includes Chhattarpur Temple:

21. Paharganj

Paharganj

If you’re looking to do a bit of cheap shopping, or try some tasty street food, all whilst being immersed in quintessential New Delhi, look no further than Paharganj.

Long known to backpackers and budget travelers, this maze of a neighborhood is located right near the New Delhi Railway Station and has anything you could ever want to buy.

Paharganj was one of the five original markets of New Delhi and has been around since the Mughal era. While a bit chaotic to say the least, Paharganj is the best place to visit in New Delhi for those looking to shop on the cheap!

How to get there: The New Delhi Metro Station is the closest metro to the area (1.4 km), but watch out for scammers if you choose to take a rickshaw, as they prey in this area.

Our top recommended tours in Delhi for that foodie:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samantha is a 20-something Polish-American currently on an indefinite backpacking adventure through India and its neighbors. A post-graduate intentional “detour” if you will! She shares guides and stories about some of the lesser-visited places on our planet and tries to show others how they can do the same on a low budget at Intentional Detours.


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Incredible Things to Do in Delhi, India (For First Time Visitors!)


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2 thoughts on “21 Incredible Things to Do in Delhi, India (For First Time Visitors!)”

  1. Delhi , love hate relationship we just walked around, did a cooking class. Real shock to our system with the poor but real love with the smiles of the people. Red fort incredible. Food incredible. Spice Rum ouch!!! LOL. We needed more time there, but the pollution was bad when went there the second time. You have to go see the people, the colours, the history and the history.. Don’t be a hero and eat everything as you might regret it. Do a rick Shaw ride through the markets incredible!. Just walk.

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