India is a vast country, full of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, beautiful cities, temples, and one-of-a-kind cultural experiences. On this list, I’ve included all the cities in the “Golden Triangle,” the main tourism route between Agra, Jaipur, and Delhi.
But I’ve also included less popular destinations in Northern India where you’ll encounter fewer tourists. And if you really want an off-the-beaten-path adventure, then check out Where To Go in Southern India.
So here are the best places to visit in Northern India!
Agra tops this list because it’s home to the Taj Mahal, one of the Wonders of the World.
When visiting the Taj Mahal, I highly recommend doing a guided tour to immerse yourself in this site’s history, architecture, and cultural significance. Guided tours also provide you with secure storage for your shoes. Shoes aren’t allowed in the Taj Mahal, and shoe theft is common.
I think the best views of the Taj Mahal are from the Yamuna river at sunset or sunrise, so I highly recommend booking a boat tour.
Other sites in Agra you should visit are the sandstone Red Fort and the small city of Fatehpur Siri. You should also visit the Mehtab Bagh gardens for stellar and unique views of the Taj Mahal.
Known as the “Pink City,” Jaipur is famous for its pink buildings in the Old City. Jaipur is part of the “Golden Triangle,” the main tourist route in the country.
Must-visit places in Jaipur are the Patrika Gate, the City Palace, the palace of Jal Mahal in the middle of Man Sagar Lake, and the Haha Mahal.
Nahargarh Fort has the city’s best views, and I highly recommend taking a day trip to Chand Baori, the famous Step Well.
Varanasi is my favorite city in Northern India. This is India’s spiritual capital, where Hindu pilgrims bathe in the Ganges River’s sacred waters and perform funeral rites. The city has more than 2000 temples, and the temple that should be at the top of your to-visit list is Kashi Vishwanath, the “Golden Temple,” dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
The best activity you can do when you’re here is taking a cruise on the Ganges River at sunset to see the city at Golden Hour. Then you can watch the pooja light ceremony from the water, which takes place every night at 6 pm.
You’ll want to sample a lot of street food here because it’s delicious. For some of the best food and views in the city, head to the rooftop Ganpati Restaurant.
Delhi and New Delhi are often used interchangeably, but New Delhi is a specific small area within the city of Delhi.
Sites you’ll want to visit here are the Red Fort, Lotus Temple, Humayun’s Tomb, Connaught Place, Akshardham temple, India Gate, and the Qutab Minar. I’d also recommend spending some time in the Sunder Nursery or Lodi Garden.
For the best views of the city, climb the minaret of the Jama Masjid mosque. You should also visit the Chandni Chowk bazaar.
Mumbai (formerly called Bombay) is India’s largest city and the heart of the Bollywood film industry.
You’ll want to visit the Mumbai Harbour waterfront, home to the iconic Gateway of India stone arch and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. I also recommend visiting the Haji Ali Dargah mosque, the Shree Mahalakshmi Temple, and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus.
Another top activity to do in Mumbai is sail to the nearby island of Elephanta, where you can explore ancient cave temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
Jodhpur is known as India’s “Blue City” because most of the buildings in Jodhpur’s old town area are painted in blue hues. The old city is best explored by a guided or self-guided walking tour.
Mehrangarh Fort (a former palace that’s now a museum) gives you the city’s best views. You’ll also want to visit the Jaswant Thada Monument, the Toorji Ka Jhalra Step Well, the Sardar Market, and eat at The Currys Restaurant, one of the best rooftop bars in the city.
The final destination on this list is Jaisalmer, known as the “Golden City” because of its yellow sandstone architecture and location in the Thar Desert.
The first thing you’ll want to do when you’re here is to visit the Jaisalmer Fort, which has no entry fee. I think this city is best explored with a guide, so I recommend this City Tour of Jaisalmer, which includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, the Raj Mahal Palace, Jain Temples, the Laxminath Temple, Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli, and other famous sites around the city.
I also recommend visiting Bada Bagh and Gadi Sagar Lake. Rooftop cafes are everywhere in the city, but two of the best views can be found at Cafe the Kaku and the restaurant at the Hotel Pleasant Haveli.
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