Delhi, the capital of India, is for most visitors their first view of what this fascinating country has to offer. Filled with breathtaking forts, mosques and monuments from the days of Mughal rulers alongside markers of a new, modern country that is taking hold. The contrasts between the congested, narrow roads in Old Delhi and the well-planned green New Delhi is quite striking. The city can either be overwhelming or totally engrossing, depending on how you approach it.
Having visited a handful of times, usually spending most of my time in Old Delhi being hassled by touts, I wanted to discover something new and find a way to get the real pulse of the city. On my most recent visit, I set off on a adventure looking for the best places to visit in Delhi to get a real feel of what’s happening today.
I definitely recommend spending at least some time in Old Delhi at Chandni Chowk, Jama Masjid and the Red Fort, but when you are ready to get out of the craziness head to New Delhi for some of the best places to eat, shop and experience the city. While much of this is applicable to families as well, if you have kids, check out what else is on our top picks of what to do in Delhi with kids. Otherwise, keep reading for our top picks for things to do in Delhi.
Best Place to Visit in Delhi for Sunset – Humayun’s Tomb
I had asked a local friend where the best place to watch the sunset in Delhi was, but she had no idea. Being a relatively flat city, it’s not that easy to find a place, so I am thankful that I randomly happened upon Humayun’s Tomb just in time to see the sky turn a variety of colors.
Humayun’s Tomb is a delightful place to explore even apart from the sunset, but I highly recommend you go towards the end of the day to see the beautiful reflections in the water and look out over the city as the day comes to a close. Arrive early enough to explore the vast gardens and various buildings scattered about.
Does Humayun’s Tomb feel familiar to you? Probably because it was the inspiration for the much more famous Taj Mahal. Built in 1570, it was the first type of Mughal architecture to be built in India.
Best Place to Visit in Delhi for Instagram Photos – Agrasen ki Baoli
Truth be told, I did not find this amazing gem on my own. A fellow travel blogger visited Agrasen ki Baoli on a tour of the city and shared their amazing photo. As soon as I saw their photo I knew I had to go. It is definitely the spot for awesome Instagram photos in Delhi.
What exactly is a Baoli? Basically, in its most basic form, it is a well with steps leading down to water. However, quite often it is an elaborate structure with intricate designs with rooms for it’s users. In days gone past, it was the main place for villagers to access water and served as community gathering spot and a great escape from the summer heat for the women of the village.
In 2015, Agrasen ki Baoli was made famous with the Aamir Khan film PK. These days, you will hardly find a time where there aren’t gangs of students and couples here snapping photos among the gorgeous architecture.
For many tourists who don’t leave Old Delhi, this is quite off the beaten path, but is easily accessed and well worth the visit. Check out the bats, look for stray cats and enjoy angling for that perfect photo for the ‘gram.
Best Place to Visit in Delhi for a Nature Escape – Lodhi Gardens
Lodhi Gardens is one of our top choices for families, but even if you aren’t with kids, this is a fantastic place to retreat into nature, see some animals and feel the air around you. The vast gardens are dotted with Mughal tombs, a pond and lots of space to explore. A perfect refuge for a picnic, a job and families.
This is a great place to visit before you head over the Humayun’s Tomb for sunset.
Best Places to Visit for Street Art – Lodhi Colony
Living in Los Angeles, we are well accustomed to street art adorning our buildings. However, this has not been a common site in India until recent years. When I heard that Delhi had a burgeoning scene of street art I knew I had to check it out. In the Lodhi Colony area, there are a dozen or so buildings covered in spectacular street art. The artists are all different, the styles are different but the beauty is the same. This is best explored by car (with a driver) so you can meander the different streets throughout this neighborhood taking stock of all the different types of street art on display.
If you you want even more, head to the Police Headquarters building for a massive portrait of the iconic Mahatma Gandhi. He is an icon in this country and around the world, so it’s amazing to see his street art styled portrait on a government building. For the best view, ask politely if you can enter the mosque next door.
Best Place to Visit in Delhi for a History Mystery – Qutab Minar
Qutab Minar is another fantastic Delhi landmark not to be missed. This monument is the tallest minaret in the world and a great example of Indo-Islamic architecture. But, no one quite knows why this was built. It’s a history mystery! Even so, it serves as a great place to explore, spot airplanes from the nearby airport and take photos. Venture around to discover the intricate carvings and verses from the Quran.
If you head over in the morning, you can go to one of our favorite lunch spots, Olive Restaurant for delicious Mediterranean food. This is on the main tourist circuit, but you will see more locals here than tourists almost all the time.
Best Place to Visit in Delhi for Delicious Food – Garam Dharam
If you are looking for a local place to grab an authentic bite to eat, head to Garam Dharam in central Delhi. I am a super fan of delicious black dal and seek it out everywhere I go. I have my favorite in London and in Mumbai, and now a favorite in Delhi too!
Located near Janpath Market, this ia great place to head after you do some evening shopping. You will not see other tourists here most likely as it is a locals hang out. The food is spicy, delicious and hygenic. Don’t miss the black dal, paneer tikka and garlic naan. Top it off with a mango lassi if you need to cool your mouth down. Yum!!
Best Places to Visit in Delhi for Shopping
For shopping there is no shortage of places to visit in Delhi, but that is exactly why it can be overwhelming. Our top picks are Khan Market for a well organized, outdoor shopping area with brand favorites like Anokhi, FabIndia and GoodEarth mixed with other local shops that will supply you with everything you need while in India.
To pick up some travel trinkets, head to Janpath Market. Here you will find roadside stalls as well as actual shops selling most everything you need for decent prices. I was able to load up on all my last minute requests here for decent prices.
If you want to make a day of shopping, head to Dilli Haat where you can choose from a large variety of artisan crafts coming from all over India. This is a great last stop before the airport if you need to stock up on goodies you might have missed during your travels.
There you go – my top 7 picks for things to do in Delhi. Do you have some favorites that I missed? Let me know below in the comments! If you need more help in planning your trip to India, check out our other posts on avoiding culture shock in India, arriving to Delhi, and more in the India archives.
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