Rush hour, busy streets, and a chaotic crowd; Delhi is not meant for the naive. It comes with a distinct arrogance that tests the wits of every traveler. It puts your grey cells to the test and adrenaline on a high. But when you prove you are a smart and seasoned traveler, you will enjoy every moment here. I have stayed in Delhi for more than a year, and Delhi reveals itself slowly, and only to those who explore with the traveler’s eye. You will both love it and hate it equally, but as a traveler, you will meet with experiences that will definitely last a lifetime. Here’s how you can make the most out of your experience when you travel to Delhi.
Best Time To Visit Delhi
The best weather in Delhi is in winter, between October and March. The skies are clear, there’s a chill in the air, that feels great with the early morning sunshine and the sunsets often comes with a comforting glow. The temperatures dip to near zero and usually fluctuates between 0°- 10°C . You will need warm clothing, especially between December and February. Shopaholics ahoy! You will love Delhi in winters as you will get a lot of options in woolens for your winter shopping.
Avoid Delhi in summers, especially travelers from cold countries, the dry heat gets unbearable, as the temperature strikes near 50° C. Rainy Seasons can put you moving through water-clogged streets.
Top Things To Do In Delhi
Delhi walks you through a collage of traditional and modern culture that you may not end up experiencing a single trip. In fact, I do not suggest you do that as I want you to return for more and more adventures. As you venture around Delhi, you will find the city that has acquired an accommodative equilibrium to allow different cultures to co-exist in harmony. Exploring Delhi in one go can be intriguing, so a little planning would be great before you start off. Here’s a map guide to quickly get you started.
I always advocate exploring Delhi on the metro, as all the tourist attractions are placed along the metro lines for an easy tourist access. Another great way to explore Delhi is by HOHO (hop-On-hop-Off) Bus Services, which run in circuits connecting the major tourist attractions of Delhi. It is a great way of avoiding the nuisance due to autorickshaw drivers, although this is not always the case.
Source: Delhi Metro Rail
North Delhi: North Delhi will take you on a historic journey of Red Fort, the political capital and the residence of the Mughal Kings for more than two centuries.
The Delhi Red Fort is essentially a replica of the Agra Red Fort and was built in the late 17th Century when the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan decided to move his capital from Agra to Delhi.The Jama Masjid or mosque is one of the largest mosques in India and was built in the mid 17th Century under the rule of Emperor Shah Jahan.
South Delhi: Head for the majestic Qutb Minar, the tallest brick minaret in the world near Mehrauli Road. Explore other attractions of South Delhi such as the Bahai House of Worship and the ISCKON Temple.
The Nehru place in the neighborhood is the largest Electronics Market of Delhi. You will find almost every kind of electronic gadget you have been looking for – cameras and accessories, laptops, tablets, mobile phones, stationeries. The International Trade Tower is right next to the Nehru Place Metro Station which processes Visa applications for more than 18 countries.
West Delhi: The Western Part of Delhi introduces you to the monumental Government Buildings, Secretariats, Ministries, and Embassies. Get well aware of this area as you are most likely to find your country’s embassy here. Take your time to note down the addresses and locations of the embassy and high commission offices as they will come handy for your emergency situations.
The North Block, South Block, Central Secretariat and the President House are the important landmarks of West Delhi. Here’s where the political think tanks work towards implementing and shaping India’s future.The President House Tour is a journey through the royalty- art gallery, books, antiques, museum, dining and guest reception areas, and an exhaustive information on the design and intricate architecture of the Presidential Building. Every turn you take here is a novel experience.
East Delhi: The East Delhi comprises of the Akshardham Temple, Humayun’s Tomb and the National Zoological Park.
The Akshardham Temple has a very strict security check and you need to deposit all your belongings at their deposit counter. This means you should start for the temple early if you do not want to miss out on things. Photography is strictly banned and only allowed from outside the premises.
Central Delhi: Explore the Imperial memoirs of Delhi at the heart of the city. The Connaught Place, centered at the Barakhamba (Bara -12, Khamba – Pillars) Road, gives you a glimpse of the Lutyen’s Delhi.
Lined with more than a thousand shops, this is the largest business and commercial center in Delhi. You will find everything here- from books, music, ethnic clothing, jewelry, street shops, street food, fine dine, bars, lounges, art galleries and cinema theaters. You will need a day here to get a hang of what goes on at Connaught Place.
Find yourself surrounded within the Persian Style Architecture at the Safdarjung Tomb. The Lodi Tomb and Gardens is a quaint and picturesque garden amid the chaos of the city. It is a great place to spend your evening, sit down and relax for some time.
Where To Stay In Delhi
Near Indira Gandhi International Airport: Staying near the Indira Gandhi International Airport has many advantages. For one, it allows you to have an easy access to the Aerocity Metro, which has a direct connection with the major Metro Lines of Delhi. The closest area to check out for a budget as well as luxury hotels is the Mahipalpur extension and beyond. The nearest 5-star hotel is Radisson Blu Hotel which is just 5 minutes drive from the Airport exit by taxi. You can also try out other options such as Hotel Ibis Delhi Airport or the Hotel Novotel near the Aerocity.
Near New Delhi Railway Station: The area near the New Delhi Railway Station is Paharganj and provides travelers with a range of budget hotels and inns to stay. The Paharganj area is usually a great option for backpackers and budget travelers.
Paharganj has a huge market where you can shop for a wide range of products from cheap to expensive – perfumes, antiques, jewelry, traditional and modern clothing, fabrics, eating joints and cafes. Everything that a traveler need is usually available here- foreign exchange, maps, and cheap transportation. A word of caution though is that you need to be a tough nut to bargain while you plan to stay here.
Near Connaught Place: The best way to instantly connect with any part of Delhi is to place yourself near Connaught Place. The most important metro station- Rajiv Chowk Metro runs from here, where you can find the metro in almost any direction. The Shivaji Metro Station is one of the stations in the Aerocity Metro Route (Orange Line) that helps you with faster connectivity.
The HOHO (Hop-On-Hop-Off) Bus Services also starts from here. The Connaught Place also has several local travel agents that provide Delhi Darshan(Tour of Delhi) Volvo Bus services. There are reliable if you are traveling in a group. Some of the great places to try out for a stay are the Imperial Hotel , Lutyen’s Bungalow, and Radisson Blu Marina Hotel near Rajiv Chowk.
Find and book these hotels on our favourite accommodation search website: Booking.com
Another great alternative for accommodation in Delhi is Airbnb, where private rooms start at $10 and offer a unique way to experience the city from a more local perspective.
Don’t have an Airbnb account yet? Sign up now and receive a discount to put towards your first Airbnb stay!
Where To Eat & Drink In Delhi
The localities of Delhi city are usually divided into complexes that allow the convenient placement of markets, shopping areas, and restaurants well placed within them. Here are some places in Delhi where you can shop, dine, eat, entertain while you explore Delhi at its best.
Old Delhi – Paranthe Wali Gali: After you finish with exploring the Red Fort and Jama Masjid, escape into the narrow lanes of Parathe Wali Gali, where you can find varieties of stuffed bread ( Parathas stuffed with cottage cheese, vegetables) garnished with lots of spices and butter.
I am sure those who are not used to oily stuff might put your stomach in trouble but do not worry. Grab yourself a Kulfi(Indian version of ice cream) made with milk cream and loaded with dry fruits. (Address: Maliwara, Old Delhi, Delhi-110006)
Select City Walk and DLF Saket: The Select City Walk Mall is the largest mall in Delhi. In fact, you can see the entire complex from your flight window as you take off in the evening. The mall is spread over three floors and has a huge collection of fashion brands in clothes, watches, home decor, furniture, leather shoes and bags, gold and diamond jewelry, and a wide range of eateries – Chinese, Lebanese, Italian, Vietnamese and Thai.
The top floor has a food court with various Indian fast food options. In short, you can shop, eat and enjoy to your hearts content.
PVR Saket: The PVR Cinemas in Saket is a part of the Community Center Saket and is surrounded by a variety of eating joints from fast food to fine cuisine.
You will find almost all choices of dining here, from burgers to Gelato. The Community Center has a Cafe Coffee Day, McDonald’s, Lebanese Point, Pind Baluchi Outlet, The Kathi’s- Kathi Roll outlet. Try Tzer’s for some really mouth-watering veg and non-vegetarian snack.
Greater Kailash-I and II: The M-Block Market in Greater Kailash is a smaller yet a convenient market for a relaxing and laid back evening. Hop in here to revive yourself at the Velocity Lounge with some soulful DJ Music over awesome cocktails and punches. Here’s more that you can do when you are in and around Greater Kailash (Address: Block M, Greater Kailash II, Greater Kailash, New Delhi, Delhi 110048)
Sarojini Nagar Market: Sarojini Nagar Market is where you come for a budget shopping and dining experience.
This market has the largest, cheapest and finest collection of woolens after Paharganj Market from where you can shop for hand-weaved as well as stitched woolens, blazers,and overcoats.
Nehru Place: The Nehru Place Market is famous for electronics, mobile and camera accessories, gold jewelry shopping, foreign exchange and wholesale fabric for boutique collection.
While you get tired of exploring the attractions of Nehru Place, drop into the nearest Sona Sweets Corner to try Chaat (Indian Fast Food). I bet you will eat up your fingers. There’s a branch of Pind Baluchi here as well if you are looking for a sumptuous meal. If you are looking for a fine cuisine, a must place to eat out is Oh! Calcutta, located in the International Trade Tower Complex adjacent to the Nehru Place Metro Station. (Nehru Place, New Delhi, Delhi 110019)
Connaught Place Market: The Connaught Place Market is one area that you cannot get over with in one go. Be it food, drink, shopping or entertainment, you need to enjoy it one at a time. Try out the corner Pind Baluchi Restaurant.
The Shake Square is a corner milkshake outlet which serves a wide variety of freshly prepared milkshakes. You will always find this place bustling with customers and it is a must try when you are in Connaught Place. The Connaught Place market also has numerous resto bars offering Happy Hours on beer and drinks. Here’s a list of Top 10 Restaurants in Connaught Place to choose from for an awesome dining experience (Address: Connaught Place, New Delhi, Delhi 110001)
How Much Time Do You Need In Delhi
You need at least 4 to 5 days to explore the best parts of Delhi at convenience. that too, if you orient yourself well with the Metro Network. I have read about really horrible experiences from travelers about Delhi, but believe me, that’s quite possible in any part of the world, and I believe, we cannot have excuses for ignorance. As a traveler, especially as a travel blogger, we are bound to plan things minutely and that helps us become at least half aware of the place we plan to go to.
Most of Delhi is easily and safely accessible if we put our time and effort together to understand the Delhi Metro Network. It also saves time and money as you do not waste your time arguing with the non-sensical rickshaw drivers who are waiting to dupe your money. Delhi Metro Network gets active as early as 06:00 am in the morning and runs as late as 11:00 pm. The prices are pretty cheap, and there are periods when there is less crowd , especially between 11:00 am and 05:00 pm when the entire Delhi crowd settles into their offices.
Sometimes, when you are traveling solo, especially women travelers, using the metro is safe as the crowd complements your movement. The auto-rickshaws next to the metro stations are usually registered and though they charge you for a short distance, you are sure to reach back home safely.
You can check out the following itineraries for more information:
About the Author:I am Rajat Chakraborty, a freelance travel blogger from Nagpur, Central India.I proudly served my country in uniform for 7 years and my profession kept me on the move to some of the remotest and interesting places of India. My journey since 2000 has taken me to more than 200 small town and cities in India, the names of some I had never heard before.
In 2012, it was an inspiration from my family members to record my stories somewhere before I started forgetting everything. Initially just writing these stories in my diary, I came across travel blogging and the journey began ever since. I have been writing since then and the journey so far has been a fascinating experience taking me across Indian borders to explore the globe. So I hope you enjoy my blog as much as I will enjoy writing about what I love, traveling.
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Have you ever been to Delhi? What tips and advice would you give to first-time visitors to the capital of India?