There are many incredible cities in India. The country is so big that it’s impossible to get to know it all – unless spending months of constantly traveling there, or going multiple times (each to a different area). A selection of the best cities in India will inevitably reflect personal taste and experiences – so forgive me if I am not mentioning your favorite place and rest assured that I will make sure to visit again soon, to explore more.
Visiting The Best Cities In India – My Impressions
To be honest, most Indian cities can feel overwhelming. This may well have to do with my background: I grew up in Cagliari, the small capital of Sardinia (Italy). Traffic is hardly an issue here, and the island isn’t crowded at all. Imagine then how I felt when I woke up in one of the most crowded countries in the world!
The minute I got out of the airport in Varanasi (which, by the way, is one of my favorite places to visit in India, not to mention one of the best cities to visit in India) I was shocked with the traffic, the dust and the never ending honking of cars, to the point that I told myself that the minute I’d arrive at my hotel, I’d get myself another plane ticket to fly home as soon as possible.
The funny bit is that it didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t really bothered by the traffic and the chaos. I just didn’t like the pollution, which made my throat sting. But other than that, I slept like a baby despite the chaos of Diwali – the Indian equivalent of New Year’s celebrations, which however goes on for a week or so, with fireworks and crackers being popped 24/7 even in the smallest alleys!
I ended up truly enjoying navigating the tiny alleys of Indian cities, getting lost in the many markets, browsing around the shops for textiles or looking at the colorful fruit stalls, admiring all the vibrant colors of the saris and appreciating the grace with which women wear them. I was thrilled any time I ended up in a corner that seemed more hidden, where I could observe a bit more of the local life, get in touch with the people and the traditions.
Of all the cities in India that I traveled to, I fell in love with 7. I got to really appreciate their unique atmosphere, the fantastic attractions, the colors, the light (there is a special light in Indian cities, one I can hardly explain with words!), the welcoming, chatty people. These cities had that special factor that attracted me to them.
One thing for sure, I look forward to visiting India again, and get to know even more cities. Meantime, here is a selection of what I think are the 7 best cities in India.
Here is a post I wrote on the best places to visit in India.
Delhi is one of the best cities in India
The 7 Best Cities In India
Talking about the best cities in India, Delhi does deserve a mention. For as chaotic and polluted as it is, this is a quintessentially Indian city that it would be a pity to miss – even if only for a couple of days.
Delhi is one of the most interesting cities of India, not to mention one of the quirkiest cities a traveler could hope for; a fantastic mix of history, traditions and modernity; of peace within chaos. It is the kind of city where next to a beautifully restored and kept historical landmark, there is a market with all its mayhem, vivacity and colors. It’s the kind of place where luxury cars drive past old tuc tucs and rickshaws; where women wearing designer clothes parade around with their glamorous dogs next to beggars and strays.
In Delhi, young people meet in the trendy bars, pubs, clubs and posh restaurants of Connaught Place. They drink coffee as easily as they go for a spiced chai. They enjoy Mexican food as well as the most traditional of dahl.
The modern metro of Delhi is a perfect representation of the multiple layers and souls of what really is one of the best Indian cities. Here, women wearing colorful saris stand next to those wearing the latest fashion – and all of them are happily holding a smartphone.
Delhi is a city of contrasts, one you are bound to enjoy.
TIP: Delhi is chaotic and it can be hard to navigate, as many cities in India. To make the most of Delhi, make sure not to miss the Red Fort, a massive fort in the heart of the city; Jama Masjid, a fantastic mosque that can host up to 25000 people; Hymaynun’s Tomb, a beautiful mausoleum. Delhi is also home to some of the top temples in India. These few attractions are enough to keep you entertained for a couple of days, especially if you add a trip to one of the many markets.
Jaipur is one of the most interesting cities in India
I expected Delhi to be the most chaotic of the cities in India, but when I arrived in Jaipur, one of the nicest cities in Rajasthan, I realized that there is no way one can escape chaos in India. Yet, I loved it. An evening stroll looking for some street food means having to cross the busiest streets, where cars, tuc tucs, bikes, rickshaws, buses, trucks, pedestrians and cows all try to get through. The best part of it is that there is a nicely functioning, very modern metro that locals haven’t seemed to notice, for it was so empty!
TIP: make sure to explore the local market, even at night. You may not find anything interesting to buy, but it’s so full of life and colors that it’s a lot of fun. Among the must sees in Jaipur there is the gorgeous Amber Fort. It’s actually a bit off the city, but it’s worth every effort to get there.
RESPONSIBLE TIP: elephant rides are still offered to get from the bottom of the hill to the fort. Opt to either walk or take a jeep ride instead, and avoid getting involved in the exploitation and torture of these beautiful animals.
Read more about the use of animals in tourist attractions in this post.
One of the best cities in India is definitely Agra, in Uttar Pradesh, not so much for the city in and of itself (which is interesting, by the way) but because it offers access to one of the most beautiful sites in the country (well, actually, in the world!). The Taj Mahal is within very easy reach from the center of Agra.
TIP: there is hardly anything you can do to avoid the crowds of visitors at the Taj Mahal. It’s such a famous site that there will be people at any time, any day. Having said this, I’d say that it’s probably better to go either in the very early morning, or right before sunset. There will be lots of people, though less than in the middle of the day, and the light will be stunning. Also consider getting tickets in advance to avoid the line!
Known as the blue city, Jaipur, in Rajasthan, has to be mentioned among the best cities in India. What makes it worth visiting is the beautiful Mehrangarh Fort. This can be seen from a distance, rising on a lonely hill. The view of the city from the fort is magnificent. The blue houses of the Brahmins can be seen in the distance, and the city is so beautiful and colorful.
TIP: make sure to make your way out of the Fort right before sunset, to get the best view of the city. The light is simply stunning.
Hidden corners like this make Udaipur one of the best cities in India
Udaipur, in Rajasthan, is one of the best cities in India thanks to its range of attractions. A boat ride around Lake Pichola affords incredible views of the City Palace. This is one of the best places to visit in the city. Yet, it’s the lovely atmosphere that makes Udaipur particularly pleasant.
While most tourists head to the Palace, a visit to the local market proves to be an incredibly private experience, and a show of what the real India looks like: goats, dogs and cows roaming the streets; a barber giving an impromptu hair cut to a child; fruit vendors showing their best merchandise; and virtually no tourists around.
TIP: Udaipur is a favorite tourist destination for people traveling from Gujarat, who crowd it during any Indian celebrations. In other words, try to avoid visiting during festivals such as Holi or Diwali, unless you don’t mind literally being squashed by the crowds. If you can’t avoid visiting at the same time, just don’t go to the Palace in the afternoon, but make it your first stop in the early morning.
Jaisalmer is one of the best Indian cities
Jaisalmer is one of the most beautiful cities I have visited in India. Located in Rajasthan, I enjoyed my time there so much that I have to mention it among the 7 best cities in India. I spent only a few days there, but I would have liked to stay longer.
Much smaller than other cities in India, Jaisalmer is packed with beautiful sights and is full of life, and to top this off it is close to the Thar desert, thought to be one of the most beautiful Indian getaways and where it is possible to go on safaris on the dunes.
What makes it one of the best cities to visit in India is the gorgeous fort, which in this case isn’t just a palace but rather a citadel, where around 3000 people still live, and which is packed with temples, shops, restaurants and boutique hotels. It’s a wonderful place to explore and to go shopping.
RESPONSIBLE TIP: Please follow the advice of the local authorities and pick a hotel which is outside the fort, and this is actually collapsing onto itself due to water getting onto the fundaments.
For a more detailed post on Jaisalmer, read “15 Beautiful Places To Visit In Jaisalmer.”
It’s hard to describe Varanasi, one of the most important cities in Uttar Pradesh and in India altogether. It’s such a unique city, so interesting yet so infuriating; so rich yet so poor. Varanasi is peace and chaos at the same time; it is silence and quiet as well as noise. It’s where everything seems to begin and then to end. What is not hard to establish, is that this is one of the best cities in India, one that ought to be explored.
Varanasi is a holy city for the Hindus. The Old City is a series of tiny, very narrow alleys where no cars can circulate, making it oh so quiet compared to what lies outside. The Gange that flows right by is the site of sacred rituals: it’s where cremations take place; where people bathe to wash away their sins. It’s also where the Ganga Aarti, the ceremony during which fire is given to Mother Ganges, takes place every day.
Varanasi is the quintessential Indian city, one that fascinates travelers, and as such one of the best Indian cities.
TIP: enjoy a sunrise boat ride to admire all the funeral ceremonies, but do so from a respectful distance and remember that taking photos of funerals is not allowed. Make sure to walk along the river to see all the different Ghats: each one of them has a different feel, and offers a different scene.
Are you traveling to India soon? Make sure to read my post “A Step By Step Guide To Getting The Indian Visa On Arrival.”
Have you ever been to India? What do you think are the best cities in India?
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The Taj Mahal is one of the best places to visit in India – this is the view from the top, at sunset
Writing a post on the best places to visit in India is not an easy task. If I include some, but don’t mention others, some may be disappointed – and rightly so. The truth is that India is a huge country, it would take anybody a lifetime to visit all of it, and I can only write based on my own, very limited experience.
My decision to visit India was pretty much a last minute one. India had been in my thoughts for years, though to be fair I didn’t even know what the best places to visit in India would be aside from the Taj Mahal. But for as much as I wanted to go, I never felt ready for it, and kept postponing the trip. All in all, I am glad I went after having traveled extensively in other countries where the lifestyle, customs and the standards or living are significantly different from those of the Western world that I am used to, or I would have been shocked!
Udaipur is one of the most crowded tourist places in India
Tourist places in India are gorgeous… and crowded!
After I finally booked my flights, I hardly thought of the many tourist places in India that I’d have a chance to visit. I used to wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night, wondering why I was doing this to myself – after all, nobody was forcing me to go to India, nobody was expecting me to go, and nobody would be disappointed if I ended up not going.
Friends who had already been there gave me a very vivid picture of the country. They described the nicest tourist places in India as gorgeous, but crowded beyond belief. And they shared some anecdotes to prepare me for the worst. Others who had not even been there started remarking how dangerous India would be, basing their allegations on things they had “heard around.”
The point is that there is hardly any better way to convince me to do something other than telling me that I should not. So, for as scared as I was, I decided I’d go to India and see for myself. It was the best decision I have taken in a long time and I am glad to have visited some of the most wonderful tourist places in India.
Jaisalmer, chaotic yet peaceful, is one of the best places to visit in India
My first impressions on the places to visit in India
I understood that I’d enjoy India the minute I landed in Mumbai. I giggled my way through immigration, saying to myself “I can’t believe I am finally here!” My connection with the country was pretty much instant, and whatever terrifying thoughts I may have had before immersing myself in the best known tourist places in India was gone the moment the girl at the check in counter gave me the typical Indian headshake and said “accha” to answer my questions.
I spent about a month traveling in India, and hit some of the best places to visit in India. What I have learned in that time is that India is way more amazing than anybody could ever describe, and I fell hopelessly in love with it. I saw the good, the bad and the ugly – yet I was charmed by it.
There’s little doubt that one of the biggest attractions of tourism in India is its colorful people
No words can describe what India is: all the spectacular tourist places in India, the incredible mixture of colors; the smiles and the penetrating stares of people – men and women, children and elderlies; the smell of spices, garbage and smoke; the noise – of music being played, of traffic, of people chatting. It’s hard to grasp, even for those who visit. It is simply impossible to explain the mystery that India is.
In my time in the country, I realized that tourism in India can thrive, and that there are way more places to visit in India than I could have ever imagined, and sure enough more than those I can mention on this post. The conclusion is that I have to go back, as soon as possible. In fact, I look forward to.
A small selection of the best places to visit in India
I went to India for the first time last October and spent about a month hitting some of the most famous tourist places in India. I had a vague idea about some of the best places to visit in India – who doesn’t know about the Taj Mahal? But to be fair, I had not realized that there are so many places to visit in India, spread around the country.
Most of the tourist places in India that I visited were cities and attractions within cities, but I had the chance to also immerse myself in the nature, to visit some of the national parks of Madhya Pradesh and to see the amazing Thar desert. Here’s a very personal selection of the best places to visit in India.
Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh)
Hardly considered one of the best places to visit in India, Bhopal – one of the main cities of Madhya Pradesh – was my first stop in the country and proved to be a good place to start exploring and, more than anything else, to get to know India without any of the strong cultural shock other tourist places in India may provide, as it is significantly less crowded.
Bhopal is sadly famous for the Bhopal Disaster, an incident which occurred in 1984 and caused the death of thousands of people as a consequence of the gas leakage from the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant. It is possible to actually go on an observation tour of the Gas Tragedy. To me, this is an interesting way to learn more about the city, although this certainly isn’t one of the classic tourist places in India.
Bhopal is hardly one the most famous tourist places in India, yet worth a visit – photo courtesy of Patrick M. Loeff (flickr)
What makes Bhopal one of the nicest tourist places in India is the striking difference with the rest of the country, mostly due to the fact that a good 40% of its population is Muslim. This means that the city is packed with mosques (mostly concentrated in the northern side of the city), the most important being the Taj-ul-Masjid, started in 1877 with the intention of building the largest mosque in the world.
Other attractions that make Bhopal one of the best places to visit in India are the Tribal Museum, dedicated to the seven tribes of Madhya Pradesh; the State Museum, which is an archeological museum; and the two lakes which provide a pleasant place for a walk.
Here are some tour options for Bhopal:
Where to sleep and eat in Bhopal
Although it hardly is one of the most famous tourist places in India, Bhopal has some impressive hotels and restaurants that make a visit to the city a special occasion. I visited the following, and loved them all.
The Jehan Numa Palace Hotel is the proof that tourism in India is reaching high standards. The hotel has beautiful, spacious, cozy rooms all set around a gorgeous garden with a lovely swimming pool and palm trees all around. Some of the best perks of the hotel are the pub and the great breakfast buffet, and Under the Mango Tree – arguably the best restaurant in the city. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
Even if Bhopal may not be listed among the best places to visit in India, the Jehan Numa Retreat, which is located a bit outside the city, may be worth the trip. Think of a resort completely immersed in nature, at a stone’s throw from the city, with gorgeous, stylish room, a spa, a beautiful pool, a lush garden and a restaurant whose chef prepares some of the best food in India. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
The WelcomHeritage Noor-us-Sabah Palace is another of those hotels that are proof of how well India tourism is developing. Most rooms offer a spectacular view to the city and its lakes, and to the gorgeous garden and lovely pool. There is a spa, a gym and even a hair stylist on site, and obviously a delicious restaurant where every dish is freshly prepared to order. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
I didn’t get to see tigers, but a sunrise like this is proof that the Satpura National Park is one of the best tourist places in India
Satpura National Park and Pachmarhi (Madhya Pradesh)
What makes the Satpura National Park and the Satpura Tiger Reserve some of the best places to visit in India and a good reason to visit Madhya Pradesh is the incredible wildlife that lives there. They are home to spotted dears, sloth bears, various species of monkeys, buffalos, birds and snakes, and more importantly they are among the top places to visit in India to spot leopards and tigers.
Where there’s monkey, it is worth going to me – that’s why Satpura National Park is one of the best places to visit in India
It is said that over 40 tigers live in the reserve, but they are not easy to see and sure enough seeing one requires several tries, at various times of day: the best season to see them is apparently during the monsoon, when they hang out in the water. To me, this is enough to rank the Satpura National Park among the top tourist places in India.
Find out more about Madhya Pradesh on my post “Five reasons to visit Madhya Pradesh.”
One of the few hill stations in India, I found Pachmarhi incredibly pleasant thanks to the mild weather and peaceful atmosphere: to me it ranks among the best places to visit in India.
Yet, it is the great number of natural attractions that make Pachmarhi one of the nicest tourist places in India. Aside from the Satpura National Park and Tiger Reserve, other places of interest are the Rajat Prapat Waterfall and the viewpoint of Chauragarh, where the Mahadeo Cave is the starting point to a great hiking trail.
Here are some tour options for Satpura and Pachmarhi:
Where to sleep and eat in Pachmarhi
Pachmarhi is the main point of access to the Satpura National Park, one of the best places to visit in India. As a result, there is a good selection of places to stay, usually colonial era mansions that have been converted to hotels, though most of them are run by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board. All hotels have good restaurants, which are arguably the best places to eat in town.
Pachmari is one of the best places to visit in India
I stayed at the Hotel Golf View and it was a good pick – it gave me easy access to the best places to visit in India that were around, the rooms are spacious and comfortable, the staff friendly and the location spectacular. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
The Denwa Back Water Escape Resort is closer to the Satpura Tiger Reserve, one of the best places to visit in India. It is immersed in nature, for a truly peaceful stay, and the rooms are incredibly cozy. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
Varanasi is the ultimate among the tourist places in India
Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)
Nobody should go to India and then skip Varanasi. Yes, it is intense, it is somewhat shocking, but this is the ultimate of the tourist places in India, and for all the good reasons. It’s the cradle of the Hindu religion, the holy city. Chaotic yet peaceful, noisy yet quiet, Varanasi has everything one may possibly love and at the same time hate about India.
I must admit that the minute I arrived, after having spent a week immersed in the nature of Madhya Pradesh, I had such a cultural shock that I was ready to call it quits and get the first plane to go back home. But then I go into the Old City, rested for a few hours, and set to explore the beautifully intricate narrow alleys, walked along the Ghats that are among the best places to visit in India and ended up falling in love with it.
Read more about Varanasi on my post “The addictive sweetness of Varanasi.”Find out what the best cities in India are in my post “The 7 Best Cities In India.”
Daily life in Varanasi, one of the best places to visit in India
Varanasi is packed with interesting things to see and do – making it one of the most beautiful places in India. This is where I was able to seem some incredible rituals, such as the Ganga Aarti, the ceremony during which fire is donated to the Mother Ganges. It takes place every day, right after sunset, at Dashashwamedh Ghat, and it attracts a multitude of people – international tourists, Indian tourists and locals who all gather there to enjoy one of the most important attractions in India tourism.
A sunrise like this is proof that Varanasi is one of the best places to visit in India
Yet, what I think makes Varanasi one of the most important destinations for tourism in India is the incredible atmosphere at sunrise. One of the best things to do there is taking a sunrise boat tour, to observe all the rituals as well as the daily life that take place along the river: people cleansing their sins in the Ganges; the cremations (which, by the way, can’t be photographed); people doing laundry; the buffaloes being washed; barbers shaving their customers; children playing; dogs enjoying a bit of shade; and cows chewing everything in sight.
Here are some great tour options for Varanasi:
Where to sleep and eat in Varanasi
As one of the top tourist places in India, Varanasi has a great selection of places to stay, for any budget. I stayed at Marigold P Guesthouse, a budget option, and loved my stay there. Rooms are simple, yet comfortable; the view from the rooftop is incredible; the area is very quiet (no noise whatsoever) and the owner Sonu is an incredibly kind and helpful person. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
Other places to stay in Varanasi reflect its status as one of the best places to visit in India:
A man pulls his bike in the Old City of Varanasi, one of the best places to visit in India
It goes without saying that, since it is one of the top places to visit in India, Varanasi has a good selection of restaurants and street food eats. Spicy Bites is a nice, plain place that serves decent food at more than reasonable prices, and is a favorite of backpackers. Bona Café is a bit more cozy, and also a good place to meet other travelers. The French Bakers is a good place to have a freshly baked croissant; and Bana Lassi, which is close by, is the place to try Lassi, a yogurt drink which is one of India’s specialties.
Finally, Blue Lassi is in an of itself one of the best places to visit in India. Aside from all the traditional lassi one can have there, this small “hole in the wall” (which however has a few seatings at the rear) is the place to go to try the Bhang Lassi. Bhang is an extract which is made of the flower heads and leaves of cannabis and which is added to the lassi, with the obvious effect of making those who taste it high (and it is completely legal!).
If you want a more guided food experience, try this evening street food tour.
Could anybody ever say that the Taj Mahal is not one of the best places to visit in India?
Agra and the Taj Mahal (Uttar Pradesh)
The Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was pretty much the only one of the tourist places in India I knew about and I was truly curious to see before ever considering a trip to the country. Accessed from Agra, it is even more impressive than I thought it would be – no wonder it is one of the best places to visit in India and one of the top temples in India. My main fear was that it would be so crowded that I would not be able to enjoy it. But I have to say it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be.
A bit of renovation work doesn’t take away from its beauty: the Taj Mahal is one of the best places to visit in India
I arrived at the site at around 3:30 pm, in time to walk around, take a lot of amazing pictures – the iconic one of the Taj Mahal reflection in the fountains is one of them; explore the inside (where there actually was a bit of a crowd and lots of locals pushing their way through and being quite loud); enjoy the view from the top and take in a gorgeous sunset. There was no wondering why the Taj Mahal is symbol of India tourism and one of the most beautiful places in India.
One last picture from one of the most famous tourist places in India
As the Taj Mahal is one of most crowded places to visit in India, it may be a good idea to pre-book a tour or to buy the entrance tickets in advance. This will definitely save some time and help make the time there more enjoyable.
Agra is also home to the Agra Fort, another of the most beautiful places in India. This is a massive red sandstone fort built on the bank of the Yamuna River that is fantastic to explore and that has stunning views around the city. It is possible to visit Agra Fort and theTaj Mahal on a day trip from Delhi, if properly organized.
Agra fort is one of the best places to visit in India
Not far from Agra, there’s the Fatehpur Sikri, a fortified ancient city founded in 1569 by the Mughal Emperor Akbar and that is one of the most interesting tourist places in India. The imperial complex was abandoned around 1585, allegedly because the water reserve in the area was terminated. Various 2 days tours leave from Delhi to visit the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
Here are some more great tour options for Agra:
Where to sleep and eat in Agra
Agra is one of the best places to visit in India, and it caters to any kind of traveler and any budget. I opted for the Utkarsh Vilas, and it was an alright place – if only a bit outdated in the furnishing and style, but it was ok for one night. The location was good, and the on-site restaurants proved to be a decent choice. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
Jami Masjid, in Delhi, is one of the top tourist places in India
Forget about what people say about Delhi not being one of the best places to visit in India. Yes, it is a huge city, it is crowded, and it is polluted beyond belief: I coughed my way around, my delicate throat not too pleased with the dust in the air. Yet, it is incredibly interesting and packed with great places to visit, making it one of the most vibrant tourist places in India.
Family time in front of Humayun Tomb, one of the best places to visit in India
Among the most beautiful tourist places in India that are located in Delhi, and that can be seen during a day tour of the city, there are the beautiful Red Fort, which the British converted into barracks; the Jama Masjid, which is India’s largest mosque; Humauyun’s Tomb, also known as the little Taj Mahal, which is surrounded by a gorgeous park where locals enjoy hanging out at weekends.
Here are some great tour options for Delhi:
Where to sleep and eat in Delhi
There are many good places to stay in Delhi, as it caters to India tourism. I stayed at The Piccadily, which is well connected to other areas of interest via the metro – the Janakpuri station is right outside the hotel. Rooms are large and comfortable, there is a beautiful swimming pool, two good restaurants and an excellent breakfast buffet. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
A lot of restaurants are located in the Connaught Place area – a favorite of the locals. There are choices for pretty much any kind of cuisine around, but restaurants tend to be packed at weekends.
For a real taste of India, opt for a food tour. These are some great food tour options in Delhi:
How to get to Delhi from the airport
Delhi is notoriously busy and a hassle to get around. And I know from personal experience that, as with all the best places to visit in India, scams are rife at Indira Gandhi airport. The good news is that there are some valid alternatives for safe airport transfer in Delhi. The comfort of it is a driver that waits around the gave with a sign, ready to help with luggage. This is particularly comforting especially after long haul flights! For transfers from Delhi airport, book here.
Also known as the Pink City, Jaipur is the capital of Rajasthan and one of its most interesting cities, let alone one of the best places to visit in India. The main attraction in the area is Amber Fort: this is an amazingly intricate fort of pale yellow and pink sandstone that can be seen from a distance, packed with beautiful courtyards and that offers spectacular views of the surroundings and which surely is one of the top tourist places in India.
I can’t believe that elephants are still used in India tourism – this cruel practice should stop!
As Amber Fort is located on top of a hill, getting there is a bit of a hike. I went by jeep, but when I was there I could see that a large number of tourists opted to go on elephants’ back. Riding elephants is still on offer in India tourism, despite the fact that this is a cruel and unnecessary practice. I encourage anybody visiting Amber Fort to avoid this activity, and if traveling with a tour operator that offers that, to firmly protest against it and to opt out.
Read more about the treatment of animals in tourist attractions on my post “Don’t ride that elephant.”
Jaipur market is one of the most interesting places to visit in India
Other places to visit in India that are located in Jaipur are the City Palace, which is located right in the centre of the city, and the Ancient Astronomy Observatory. I also really enjoyed walking around the local market – it was a burst of life, noise, smells with people going around their business and it was incredibly interesting to observe that.
Finally, as one of the most important tourist places in India, one of the coolest things to do in Jaipur is a sunrise hot air balloon ride. Unfortunately, it was windy the day I was supposed to do it and we had to cancel it. It only means one thing: I will have to go back for that.
Here are some more great tour options in Jaipur:
Where to sleep and eat in Jaipur
Another of the best places to visit in India, there is a great selection of places to stay in Jaipur. I stayed at Mandawa Haveli and it was a real oasis in the midst of chaos – beautiful, plush rooms located around a lush garden, and no noise coming in from the busy street. It was bliss. There even is a good on-site restaurant. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
One of highlights of India tourism is its flavorful, spicy cuisine. One of the greatest ways to enjoy Jaipur and to eat a fabulous meal is by taking a food tour to have dinner with a local family.
Hardly considered one of the top tourist places in India, I still enjoyed Alsisar
Not even mentioned on the most thorough travel guides, Alsisar is definitely not considered one of the best places to visit in India – yet it should be. In fact, it is more off the beaten path than one may think. I am hardly the kind of person that puts an effort to go off the beaten path, in fact I call myself an unsuccessful backpacker – but I am glad I visited Alsisar.
Find out why I think I am an unsuccessful backpacker.
A desert outpost along the Silk Route, this small city counts no more than 7000 souls but it provides a great break from the noise, the chaos and the crowds of Indian metropolis. Besides, there are some interesting tourist places in India that are located in Alsisar.
Admiring the view from a haveli in Alsisar, one of the best places to visit in India
I enjoyed my time in Alsisar exploring several havelis – a generic word that indicates traditional Indian homes, usually featuring a courtyard, several rooms set around it, and screened windows from where women could observe what went on outside. Havelis are definitely among the places to visit in India – in Alsisar they were mostly used as business places, where merchants would go to trade but also to rest.
A market scene in Alsisar, one of the best places to visit in India
Other interesting tourist places in India that can be found in Alsisar are some beautiful temples, and a small yet busy local market.
Where to sleep and eat in Alsisar
For as small as it is, and despite being a bit outside the India tourism circuit, there are some good places to stay in Alsisar. I stayed at Indra Vilas, which counts with incredibly large and comfortable rooms all set around a nicely kept garden with a large swimming pool. It also has a really good restaurant. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
What makes Bikaner one of the best places to visit in India is the amazing fort. It is also significantly less crowded with tourists than other tourist places in India, thus being a pleasant place to spend a few days.
The fort of Bikaner has some beautifully carved doors – no wonder it’s one of the top tourist places in India
Junagarh Fort is the main attraction of Bikaner, and it dominates the city. The impressive fort is one of the most beautiful places India. It was built between 1589 and 1593 and is characterized by lovely courtyards, intricately decorated rooms, and doors that are a real work of art. And the view of the city from there is breathtaking.
Here are some great tour options for Bikaner:
Where to sleep and eat in Bikaner
Although less busy that the majority of the places to visit in India, Bikaner has a good selection of hotels and restaurants. I stayed at Maharaja Ganga, and it was a very good choice. This is a heritage hotel, with an impressive hall, an incredibly beautiful garden with a nice swimming pool, very large and comfortable rooms and great view of the city. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
As an up and coming India tourism destination, Bikaner has some really good restaurants. I ate at Gallops and I was impressed by it: it is set in a beautiful park, it has amazing views of the illuminated fort at night, and needless to say the food and the service are superb.
A narrow alley in Jaisalmer, one of the best places to visit in India
Jaisalmer and the Thar Desert (Rajasthan)
Of all the tourist places in India, Jaisalmer is one of my favorite. The city is much smaller than other ones in Rajasthan, yet incredibly lively and packed with attractions. It is a pleasant place to walk around, to explore the narrow alleys, to shop for souvenirs and textiles, and to begin exploration of the gorgeous surroundings.
If you need more information about Jaisalmer, head over to my post “15 Beautiful Places To Visit In Jaisalmer.”
The highlight of Jaisalmer, and one of the best places to visit in India, is Jaisalmer Fort. What makes this fort different from all others in India is that people still live there. In fact, there even are boutique hotels and fabulous restaurants in the fort. However, the local authorities are now encouraging tourists to stay outside, because the massive use of water by the increasing number of visitors is having an impact on the fort, which is slowly collapsing onto itself.
Jaisalmer is one of the top tourist places in India – this is a view of the fort
One of the nicest places to visit in India is the Thar Desert. Lots of people who visit the country will say that the one of the highlights of India tourism is a safari in the desert. I didn’t go on a proper safari, as I didn’t have enough time to invest on that – but I spent a good half day in the desert, walking on the sand dunes, looking at the camels, admiring a gorgeous sunset and, after dark, staring at the incredibly starry sky.
Here are some great tour options Jaisalmer:
Sunset in the Thar Desert, one of the best places to visit in India
Where to sleep and eat in Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer is packed with good hotels and restaurants, as the rest of tourist places in India. As I didn’t want to have an impact on the well-being of the fort, I stayed outside, at Narayan Niwas, a lovely hotel with an incredibly beautiful courtyard and reception area and an indoor swimming pool. I ate at Gaji restaurant and it was a good pick. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
The view from the fort in Jodhpur, one of the top tourist places in India
Known as the Blue City for the multitude of blue houses where traditionally the Brahmins live, Jodphur is one of the best places to visit in India. The main attraction, which is unmissable in a tour of Jodhpur, is the stunning Mehrangarh Fort, located on top of a hill that dominates the city, thus offering a breathtaking view at sunset, and which is a stunning view itself from a distance.
A view of the Mehrangarh Fort, one of the top tourist places in India
So beautiful it is that it can he rightly regarded one of the best tourist places in India. The best shots of the fort can be taken nearby the lake where its image gets reflected. Pity I only realized once I had left!
Here are some great tour options for Jodhpur:
Where to sleep and eat in Jodhpur
Jodhpur is one of the nicest places to visit in India and there are some good accommodation and eating options. I opted to stay at the lovely Karni Bhawan Hotel, which has cozy and comfortable rooms and a beautiful garden where tables are set and meals are served in the evening. The food was actually incredibly fresh and tasty. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
A small yet busy market on the way to Ranakpur, one of the best places to visit in India
What makes Ranakpur one of the top tourist places in India is the stunning Jain Temple, one of the biggest and most important of India. The temple is an intricate work of halls, domes and pillars, all beautifully decorated. Each and every visitor is checked before entering the temple: cigarettes, food, shoes, any leather item can’t be carried inside so go prepared.
Here are some tours for Ranakpur:
Local tourist in Ranakpur, one of the nicest tourist places in India
Where to sleep and eat in Ranakpur
There’s no village proper in Ranakpur, but as the temple is one of the most beautiful places in India, several good hotels are located nearby. I stayed at King’s Abode, which has large, modern and comfortable rooms, a beautiful garden with a large pool, and a very good restaurant. They even have traditional music and dance shows for guests every night. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
Udaipur is one of the most famous tourist places in India, though a bit too crowded for my taste
There is no doubt that Udaipur is one of the best places to visit in India. Yet, I hardly enjoyed it. I went there right after Diwali, when Indians take their holidays, so it was packed from tourists coming from Gujarat, as it is the closest of the tourists places to visit in India for them. This meant that the various tourist attractions around town were unbearably crowded, to the point that I ended up just wandering around the market – the only place which was not crowded with tourists (in fact, it was blissfully quiet).
Around the corner from the market, in Udaipur – one of the best places to visit in India
Having said so, visiting Udaipur at the right time may ensure hitting some of the highlights of India tourism. Udaipur Palace is certainly one of the most beautiful places in India, always included in a guided tour of the city, though I admit that it was so crowded when I went that, after a line of well over one hour to get in, all I got to see where the heads of people moving, and all I heard were the ongoing whistles of the guards – that’s before I called it quits and made my way out.
Another of the nicest places to visit in India that is in Udaipur is Lake Pichola – an attraction which I actually enjoyed. I took a boat tour of the lake, which provided some stunning views of the palace, and also visited Jagmandir Island.
Here are some great tour options in Udaipur:
Lake Pichola is one of the best places to visit in India
Where to sleep and eat in Udaipur
India tourism has developed a lot in the past few years, so that Udaipur has a great choice of hotels. In town, the Leela Palace is simply stunning, with a great view of the lake and a gorgeous garden and pool. Savage Garden is one of the best restaurants in town. Click here to book now or here to read more reviews
Useful information about tourism in India
When to visit India
I went to India in October, and I found the weather to be pretty much perfect across all the best places to visit in India. It was hot, but never unbearably so, and it cooled down a bit at night. In any case, the weather varies dramatically from region to region, where the South is pretty much hot year round, while the North does get cold winters, and the Himalayas inevitably really cold.
The weather starts becoming really hot in April, and turns into unbearably hot in May and June – not to mention that from June to the end of September it is the monsoon season and it rains a lot – this may be a deterrent to visit even the most beautiful places in India.
India tourism thrives in the dry season
Getting a visa for India
The Visa on Arrival scheme for India is a bit complicated – and it requires an online application to be made between 30 and 4 days before travel. The visa lasts 30 days and it is valid from the date of arrival. I wasn’t sure on how to get a tourist visa for India, so I opted for the more traditional way of sending all my paperwork to the embassy and got a multiple entry, 6 months visa. Otherwise, there are other, easier ways of getting a visa. A specialized agency is iVisa. Another one, E-visums, guarantees an incredibly easy application process, and the visa is typically approved within 24 hours and delivered in 72, including during the weekend.
The India eVisa is granted for 365 days, with multiple entry and, depending on your nationality, a maximum of 90 or 180 days to stay in the country. You can process the eVisa at the official website or with a specialized agency such as iVisa.com.
Make sure to read my post “A Step By Step Guide To Getting The Indian Visa On Arrival.”
Currency in India
The Indian Rupee is the only accepted currency in the country – even in the most famous tourist places in India. ATM are scattered throughout cities but cards often do not work, so having a few different ones may be a good idea to avoid being stuck without cash. Only the best hotels and restaurants accept credit cards. At the moment, the exchange rate is about 78 Indian Rupee to a Euro and 70 Indian Rupee to a US Dollar. Officially, it is illegal to take Indian Rupees out of the country so change any leftover currency before leaving.
Tourist places in India are safe
Safety in India
Rumor has it that India is a dangerous place to visit, especially for solo female travelers. I have traveled across some of the most famous tourist places in India, used the public transportation, walked around alone and hardly felt any danger. Sure enough, I made sure to always dress very modestly: large pants or long skirts, t-shirts or shirts that covered my shoulders and chest, and a scarf that I could put around my hair if needed. Yes, men stared at me a lot, and I got regularly asked for pictures – but that came from men, women and children. I just said no when I didn’t feel comfortable and that was the end of it.
Scams in India
As it is normal, in all the best tourist places in India scams are quite common. The typical ones involve transportation – where tuk tuk or taxi drivers (unless booked via the official government-approved booths) generally raise the prices for tourists. Touts are very persistent – I was regularly followed around and asked to enter shops. Ignoring is normally a good policy.
All tourist places in India have good shopping opportunities
Shopping in India
The best places to visit in India have some good shopping, mostly for things such as textiles, rugs and carpets, and traditional clothes, but also gems. Haggling is the rule in markets, but somewhat accepted in shops – though the best ones usually have fixed prices.
Tourist places in India are well connected by plane
Taking guided tours of India
I am not really the kind of person who enjoys organized group tours, but I must say that with my limited time in the country I felt that if I wanted to make the most of it and see as many of the top tourist places in India as possible, going on a pre-arranged tour would be my only option.
Find out why I think guided tours may be a good travel option on my post “Ten reasons to take a guided tour at least once in life.”
If you aren’t a master or organizing, if you don’t have time to properly research your trip, or if you think you’r rather just have to pack and leave the tedious organization job to the experts, I recommend taking a guided tour of India.
G Adventures has several good options you can check out:
Delicious food is one of the highlights of tourism in India
Eating and Drinking in India
If there is one thing that is a highlight of India tourism, that is the amazing food and drinks to be had. One thing to be aware of is that although the choice of vegetarian dishes is incredibly wide, the same doesn’t quite apply vegan food. Forget about any soya milk or other milk substitutes – they are simply not found.
I am lactose intolerant, and even in the best tourist places in India I had a hard time finding food that I could eat comfortably other than tadka dahl (lentils), plain rice, plain naan, chapati or roti, aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower) and a few other vegetable dishes. I never even tried the lassi – though everyone claims it is delicious; the paneer (curd cheese) dishes; or the chai – but had to opt for plain tea.
A gorgeous display of fruit in Udaipur, one of the top tourist places in India
Street food is definitely one of the must tries in the top places to visit in India, but watch out for poor hygienic conditions. I had no issues whatsoever, but it is quite common that those who visit India get travelers’ diarrhea.
Good coffee is hard to find even in the best places to visit in India: hotels usually rely on instant coffee. On the other hand, teas and infusions (such as ginger tea) are delicious. Water is never potable – bottled water or a water filter are the way to go.
Hygienic conditions and pollution in India
I think that India tourism would do much better if the country cleaned up a bit, but that is easier said than done when the place is so crowded and there is a huge disparity between the (few) rich and the masses of people that live below the poverty line.
Even in the top tourist places in India, garbage, cows and dogs excrements, exhaust smoke, the smoke of burning trash, dust and the recurrent strong smell of urine that comes from public urinators (hardly more than walls in the middle of the street) can make even the strongest of stomach churns. I advise anybody who is planning to visit India to purchase travel insurance before traveling. You can get yours here.
Having said so, I wasn’t particularly bothered by the sight of dirt and garbage and that didn’t change my experience in the country, which was nothing short of amazing.
I can’t wait to go back and discover more places to visit in India
All in all, I really fell in love with India and can’t wait to explore more of the best places to visit in India.
Have you ever been to India? What where your favorite places to visit in India?
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