There are way more things to do in Delhi than you realise. While most people prefer to rush through India’s capital city, Delhi offers a lot more than most travellers give it credit for. From the imposing Mughal-era Red Fort in Old Delhi to the bustling maze-like market streets, the centre of Delhi is where the action is based.
However, many of the surrounding neighbourhoods are worth exploring too. With urban gardens hiding old tombs and temples, to cultural hubs like Little Tibet, I recommend spending at least a couple of days checking out the sights of Delhi.
After many visits to the city, I’m going to round up the best things to do in Delhi in this blog post, so you’ll find plenty to fill in your time in the city.
Why You Should Explore Delhi on Your Trip to India
I’ll be honest, Delhi doesn’t have the best reputation amongst travellers. Most people prefer to either skip it entirely or just stay one night after arriving at the airport and then moving on to explore Rajasthan, Agra or North India.
However, I recommend giving the city a chance. Delhi is the beating heart of India. It’s the cultural centre point of the whole country, and will really show you the best (and worst) parts of the country.
There are also many things to do in Delhi. From interesting historical sights and delicious restaurants showcasing food from all over India, to the biggest markets in Asia, and cultural hubs that represent many different people from across the country.
If you can embrace the chaos and the intensity, Delhi is the perfect introduction to India. I get more and more out of the city every time I visit.
Where to Stay in Delhi
Delhi is a huge city with many different neighbourhoods and districts. I can’t really recommend specific areas of the city to stay, because it all depends on what you want to see and do.
However, after many trips to Delhi, here are my recommendations for places to stay for all budgets:
Joeys Hostel | My go-to hostel in Delhi for meeting other travellers, Joeys is the best hostel for solo travellers. Located right near Laxmi Nagar metro station, it’s very convenient for exploring the city, plus they offer walking tours which are always fun. Dorms start from AU$12 per night. Check availability here.
Moustache Hostel | For a quieter hostel experience, Moustache is located in the nice and safe New Friends Colony neighbourhood. While it’s a bit of a walk from the nearest metro stop, it’s close to great restaurants and shops. Dorms start from AU$14 per night. Check availability here.
Casa Central | A great mid-range option on the main bazaar road in Paharganj, this guesthouse offers double and family rooms with A/C from around AU$30 per night. Check availability here.
Maidens Hotel | Housed in a colonial building from 1903, this luxury hotel is highly regarded. It boasts an outdoor pool, terrace, onsite cafe and bar serving cocktails. They offer a range of rooms from around AU$200 per night. Check availability here.
How Many Days to Spend in Delhi
Delhi can be extremely crowded, intimidating and overwhelming, meaning many travellers want to leave as soon as possible.
BUT, I highly recommend spending at least a couple of days to really appreciate the city and get introduced to the country. There’s way more to Delhi than you first think.
I recommend spending at least two days in Delhi. But you can really spend longer if you want to explore the different neighbourhoods and sights a bit more. Four days would give you enough time to really get to know the city and see most of its main sights.
How to Get Around Delhi
There’s no way you could cover even a large part of the city on foot. Delhi is a massive megacity, meaning you’ll have to rely on some modes of transport to get around between the sights and attractions. Here’s how I recommend you get around Delhi.
The Delhi Metro system is hands down the best way to get around the city. It consists of 10 lines with over 280 stations, meaning you can virtually get anywhere you want with the metro system (including to the airport). I highly recommend using it when you can. It’s safe, reliable, and convenient. Plus, tickets start from 10 INR per ride, which you can buy at each station as you like.
You’ll find a variety of rickshaws around Delhi, from auto rickshaws to cycle rickshaws. Prices vary widely, especially as bargaining is expected. As a tourist, the price will always be inflated so be ready to bargain pretty hard. However, they can be convenient for short distances when you’re tired of walking or even to get around Old Delhi market streets.
For longer distances in the city or when you want to get somewhere a little faster, opt for Uber. The ride sharing app is very affordable in Delhi and a safe and convenient option for getting to Kashmiri Gate Bus Station or the airport.
It’s also very handy to avoid any language barriers and bargaining with rickshaws or taxis.
I don’t normally recommend tours in cities, but for Delhi it’s actually a very nice idea to opt for a walking tour or food tour. I’ve done multiple walking tours of Old Delhi and around some of the sights and I highly recommend it as it gives you a nice introduction to the city without the overwhelming nature of wandering aimlessly alone. Check out some of these options:
Best Things to Do in Delhi
Despite not many tourists hanging around in Delhi too long, there’s actually plenty of things to do and see in the huge metropolis. You can get a real taste of India, by visiting the variety of worshipping places, culturally diverse neighbourhoods, historical sites, and urban gardens.
If you find yourself with a few days in the city, then here are the best things to do in Delhi.
1. Chandni Chowk
The beating heart of the city and one of the most chaotic, crowded, and beautiful places you’ll find in Delhi. Chandni Chowk is at the centre of Old Delhi; a densely populated neighbourhood that dates back centuries.
Filled with a maze-like labyrinth of market streets, you’ll find everything like jewellery, clothing, footwear, spices, electrical goods, electronics, and homewares. It’s one of the oldest and busiest markets in Asia, making it a must see, but be prepared for the intensity of the place.
Wander around the streets, and stop in at some of the nearby sights, like Red Fort and Jama Masjid.
Closest metro station | Chandni Chowk
2. Red Fort
An old Mughal Fort built by Shah Jahan in the mid-17th century, the Red Fort sits right amongst the action in Old Delhi. Constructed in red sandstone, it’s one of the city’s most impressive monuments.
Take your time to explore the complex, but be prepared for plenty of locals asking for selfies and wanting to chat with you. Go early if you want to avoid the crowds.
Closest metro station | Lal Quila
Entry fee | 500 INR (for foreigners)
3. Connaught Place
The go-to place for shopping in Delhi, Connaught Place is home to all the international brands and stores that you can imagine. It’s also home to some very nice restaurants; both local and international favourites.
Housed inside old colonial buildings constructed in a circular formation, you’ll find layers of streets to explore. For some cheaper shopping, head south to Janpath Market, where you’ll find plenty of great souvenir and fashion stalls.
Closest metro station | Connaught Place
4. India Gate
A look-alike of the Arc-de-Triomphe, India Gate is a war memorial arc that stands over 40m high in the middle of Delhi. It was built to commemorate the fallen Indian soldiers from World War 1, and has become one of the most iconic landmarks in the city.
It’s surrounded by some beautiful manicured gardens, where many locals go to have a picnic, meet up with friends, and take some photos. It can be one of the most overwhelming places to go as a tourist, because you’ll soon have a queue of people waiting to have a selfie with you.
It’s a decent 20 minute walk from the nearest metro station, so grab a rickshaw instead.
Closest metro station | Janpath or Khan Market
5. National Museum, Delhi
A short walk from India Gate, the National Museum of India was established in 1949. The huge complex is home to a variety of exhibitions ranging from the pre-historic era to modern works of art.
If you’re interested in art and history then it’s a must visit, especially when combined with other nearby sights. Allow at least a couple of hours to see it.
Closest metro station | Janpath
Entry fee | 350 INR (for foreigners)
6. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib
As one of the most prominent Sikh temples in the country, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is located close to Connaught Place. It’s characterised by a beautiful golden dome and stark white pearl temple on the edge of a holy pond, known as sarovar.
It operates all 24 hours a day, welcoming every single person regardless of religion or nationality. But, you’ll have to be respectful and cover your head when entering the complex, with scarves available for foreigners to use.
Closest metro station | Shivaji Stadium
A relatively central neighbourhood in Delhi, Paharganj has always been considered the backpacker hub of Delhi. While that has slowly dissipated as travellers now stay in different neighbourhoods around the city, it still has a very tourist oriented vibe that makes it popular to visit.
Filled with budget hostels and guest houses along with tiny shops selling everything from hippie clothes to incense and casual eateries serving cheap local food, its main bazaar thoroughfare can get incredibly busy.
Some backpackers prefer to stay there, as its close to New Delhi Railway Station with connections around the country. Otherwise, it can be a bit of an overwhelming place, especially with lots of touts hanging around, so I prefer just to visit when I want to do some shopping.
Closest metro station | RK Ashram Marg
8. Jama Masjid
The main mosque in Delhi and the largest in the country, the Jama Masjid is the centre point for the city’s Muslim community. The 17th century construction made from red sandstone and white marble is a grand example of Mughal-era architecture.
Close to Old Delhi, I highly recommend checking out the mosque, especially in the evening prayer time when worshippers stream out onto the streets in search of food and snacks. The streets surrounding the mosque are some of the most chaotic in the entire city, but you’ll also find some of the most delicious food amongst the stalls there.
Closest metro station | Jama Masjid
Entry fee | 300 INR (for foreigners)
9. Humayun’s Tomb
One of the best things to do in Delhi, I highly recommend a visit to Humayun’s Tomb. Hands down one of the most impressive and beautiful Mughal-era constructions in the city, it was built in the mid-16th century after the death of Mughal Emperor Humayun.
The aesthetically pleasing symmetrical design and surrounding manicured gardens, making it a photographer’s dream. Arrive early though if you want to see it without the crowds, it gets busy after about 10am.
Closest metro station | Hazrat Nizamuddin
Entry fee | 600 INR (for foreigners)
10. Lodhi Garden
A short rickshaw ride away from Humayun’s Tomb, I highly recommend going to Lodhi Garden. A sprawling urban park spread across 90 acres, the garden hides various Mughal tombs from 15th and 16th century.
It’s definitely one of my favourite things to do in Delhi; just wander around the complex, finding interesting angles to capture the architecture and nature. It’s also one of the few places left in Delhi that is free for foreigners, so it’s perfect if you’re on a tight budget.
Closest metro station | Jorbagh
Entry fee | Free
11. Ugrasen ki Baoli (ancient step-well)
Somewhat of a hidden gem until Instagram exposed this beautiful spot, this ancient step well is a random find in the middle of the city centre. Located within walking distance from Connaught Place, look it up on Google Maps to find it amongst the residential streets.
Originally built as a water reservoir and community meeting place, it’s now not used for anything other than photoshoots for social media posts. You’ll always find people there, but if you arrive at around sunrise, you’ll likely have it all to yourself
Closest metro station | Janpath
Entry fee | Free
12. Lotus Temple
A relatively new addition to the cityscape, the Lotus Temple was opened in 1986. It’s one of seven temples of the Baha’i faith in the world, making it a pretty unique place to visit. However, the real reason most people visit the Lotus Temple is because of it’s flower-like modern architecture and design.
Designed literally in a lotus shape, it’s a circular 9-sided flower temple that attracts many people every day. At the centre of 26 acres of land, you’ll find some nice gardens surrounding the temple as well. It’s another free attraction to take advantage of in Delhi.
Closest metro station | Okhla NSIC
Entry fee | Free
Akshardham is an extravagantly impressive Hindu temple in Delhi. It’s often referred to as the largest Hindu temple in the world. Completed only recently in 2005, it’s dedicated to Swaminarayan, an Indian yogi and spiritual soul who existed during the 18th century.
While you can visit at any time of the day that it’s open from 10am until 8pm, you could also time your visit for the arti ceremony at 10.30am and 6pm or the water fountain show at 7pm. It’s a huge complex though, so be prepared to spend a couple of hours there.
Closest metro station | Akshardham
Entry fee | Free (except the exhibition costs 170 INR for those who want to see it)
14. Purana Qila (Old Fort)
Purana Qila is one of the oldest forts in Delhi. Built in 1538 by the second Mughal Emperor Humayun and Surid Sultan Sher Shah Suri, it is thought by many to be located on the site of the ancient city of Indraprastha.
While still undergoing excavations, the fort is a beautiful reminder of the long history of Delhi. While it’s not often on top of most people’s places to visit in Delhi, I recommend it if you have the extra time.
Closest metro staton | Khan Market
Entry fee | 500 INR
15. Majnu ka Tila (Little Tibet)
A beautiful little surprise can be found in Majnu ka Tila neighbourhood in the north of Delhi. Known as Little Tibet of Delhi, it’s a Tibetan colony that was set up in the 1960s for refugees fleeing the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
Today, it’s become a little insight into Tibetan culture, people and food. While not an attraction in itself, I recommend just wandering the skinny alleyways and sampling some of the delicious momos and thukpa soup.
Closest metro station | Vishwavidyalaya
16. Lajpat Nagar (Little Kabul)
For another cultural neighbourhood of interest, head to Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi for an insight into Afghani culture. This is a little offbeat recommendation, but the neighbourhood has become a home for many Afghanis with restaurants, and shops that are reminiscent of what you’d find in Kabul.
It’s also a bustling local market area, so it’s a colourful place to just wander around. But I also highly recommend sampling some of the delicious Afghan food on offer. I ate at Mazaar Restaurant, a highly regarded spot for good Middle Eastern food.
Closest metro station | Lajpat Nagar
17. Hauz Khaus Village
One more neighbourhood I recommend checking out is Hauz Khaus. Offering a bit of a juxtaposition, this plush, upmarket area of Delhi is built around an old medieval fort and park area. It’s become the trendiest place to be in Delhi, with hangout cafes, fancy restaurants, and artsy boutique shops.
Often considered the New York East Village of Delhi, it’s a nice place to check out for something a little different to other parts of the city.
Closest metro station | Hauz Khaus
18. Qutab Minar
Amongst the far southern suburbs of Delhi, is Qutab Minar. While many people don’t get time to check it out, for history buffs I would say it’s one of the best things to do in Delhi. I really enjoyed my time walking around the ancient ruins that are also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The main highlight is the 72m high minaret, constructed in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak immediately after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom as a victory tower. But it’s just one part of the broader Lal Kot ruins complex, which is the oldest fortified city in Delhi.
Closest metro station | Qutab Minar
Entry fee | 550 INR (for foreginers)
19. Dilli Haat
A government-run open-air market, food plaza, and craft bazaar in South Delhi. Dilli Haat is the best place to go for souvenir shopping. It brings together rural art and folk culture from every state in India, so it also acts as a sort-of museum offering an insight into all the different arts and crafts from different parts oft he country.
You’ll find brassware, metal crafts, gems, beads, silk and wool fabrics, footwear, sandalwood and rosewood carvings, jewellery, clothing and more. There is a an entry fee, but it’s minimal for what you can get out of it.
Closest metro station | Dilli Haat INA
Entry fee | 100 INR (for foreigners)
20. Street Food Tour
My final recommendation for the best things to do in Delhi is to take a street food tour. India is home to one of the most delectable cuisines int he world, and there’s no better way to get an introduction to it that in Delhi. But it can be overwhelming with so many unknown and foreign food items on the street for sale.
Join a walking tour, especially of Old Delhi, and you’ll get to see, smell, and taste some of the best food in the country with a local guide.
Essential Reading for Travelling to India
- Everything You Need to Know About Travelling to India
- 12 Best Places to Visit in India for Solo Travellers