Delhi is much more than a stopover on the way to the Taj Mahal. A local shares 33 things to see and do in the sprawling Indian metropolis.
India’s capital city, Delhi, is bursting with magnificent monuments, temples, markets, and gardens, not to mention some of the most delicious food in the country. Don’t just do a stopover in Delhi on your way to the Taj Mahal. The city deserves a proper stay to discover its many delights. Here are 33 things to see and do in the pulsating, history-steeped metropolis.
1. No vacation in Delhi is complete without a visit to the Qutub Minar, a soaring 240-foot tower built in 1193 AD. Admire intricate stone carvings at this enduring symbol of Delhi.
2. Crammed with boutiques selling everything from contemporary ceramics to designer clothing, the edgy Hauz Khas Village is a must for culture vultures.
3. Escape the city in the forested Deer Park where real-life Bambi’s and peacocks roam in rose gardens surrounding a picturesque lake and several 13th and 14th-century ruins.
4. Delhi Haat is a showcase of India’s cultural diversity. Pick up souvenirs at this handicraft market and sample lip-smacking cuisine from different states.
5. A hidden gem in Delhi’s Saket area is the wonderfully quirky Champa Gali, a charming cultural hub with chic cafes, boutiques and design studios. Check local listings for music gigs, poetry readings, and book launches.
6. Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area is worth hitting up. This red sandstone structure has sublime proportions and is said to have inspired the Taj Mahal.
7. They say music is food for the soul. Head to the Nizamuddin Dargah at dusk to listen to soul-stirring Sufi music (closed Thursdays).
8. The tree-shaded Lodi Gardens are one of Delhi’s loveliest escapes. Join energetic joggers and shy courting couples for a picnic lunch among 15th-century monuments.
9. Don’t miss India’s first open-air public art display. The colorful murals in the Lodhi Art District are the hottest photo stop in town.
10. Get your fix of retail therapy and mingle with the city’s elite at the upmarket shopping enclave of Khan Market, home to several incredible places to eat and drink.
11. A great place to meditate is the Bahai House of Worship or Lotus Temple, a striking white marble structure that welcomes people of all faiths.
12. The magnificent architecture of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, home to India’s President, can be viewed from outside—unless you time your visit to February when the spectacular Mughal Gardens are open to the public.
13. A mandatory photo stop in the heart of Delhi, India Gate is an imposing war memorial where an eternal flame burns day and night.
14. Make a date with India’s rich history at the National Museum with its brilliant collection of bronzes, sculptures, paintings, jewelry and artifacts (Mondays closed).
15. If you have even a passing interest in astronomy, don’t miss Jantar Mantar, a fascinating observatory built in 1724.
16. Sansad Bhavan (Parliament House) is a commanding circular colonnaded building where the world’s largest democracy is run.
17. Practice your bargaining skills at the Janpath street market for clothes, jewelry, and accessories. Expect to pay no more than half the quoted price.
18. For a dash of mystery, head to Agrasen ki Baoli on Hailey Road, an ancient stepwell and magnificent example of engineering from a bygone era.
19. Located in central Delhi, Connaught Place is a grand shopping district built in the Georgian-style. Stop by for branded goods and some of the city’s best eating joints.
20. Thousands of years of Indian art, culture and history are showcased at the magnificent Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple. Time your visit for the musical fountain show at sunset.
21. A walk through Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, one of the city’s oldest markets, is the best way to experience India’s chaotic energy.
23. Khari Baoli in Old Delhi is an explosion of colors and aromas. This wonderfully atmospheric spice market has eye-catching displays of exotic foods that will have you reaching for your camera.
24. Immerse yourself in Delhi’s history at the beautifully restored Haveli Dharampura in Chandni Chowk. Enjoy mouth-watering Indian food paired with classical music and dance performance.
25. A visit to Delhi is incomplete without seeing the Jama Masjid, India’s largest mosque and a stunning example of Mughal architecture.
26. The Sunday Book Market on Asaf Ali Road is a paradise for bibliophiles. Pick up unbelievable bargains on books from every genre.
27. Visit the Lal Qila (Red Fort), an awe-inspiring structure that commemorates the pomp and power of the Mughal Dynasties that ruled Delhi for three centuries.
28. Whether you’ve got the kids in tote or you feel like a kid yourself, the Nehru Planetarium on Teen Murti Marg is a fascinating place for amateur astronauts. (closed Mondays).
29. One of the most unusual things to do in Delhi is to volunteer at the kitchens of the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, a Sikh place of worship that serves 10,000 free meals every day.
30. Don’t fancy bargaining for unique Indian souvenirs? The Central Cottage Industries Emporium on Janpath is a treasure-trove of arts and handicrafts at fixed prices.
31. See Delhi’s legendary architecture at a leisurely pace on two wheels. Book a cycling tour of the city to explore its nooks and corners.
32. Experience Delhi’s vibrant nightlife at one of its many pubs, bars, discos, and nightclubs. You’ll be spoilt for choice on where to shake a leg.
33. Catch an entertaining Bollywood film at a swanky multiplex cinema in Delhi. Many theaters have a special showing of Indian films with English subtitles for ex-pats.