The Best Time to Visit Delhi

India Gate, Delhi.

Mohan Singh/Getty Images

 

Capital city Delhi is the main entry point for tourists traveling to North India. You're likely to land there when flying into the country. The best time to visit Delhi is during the cooler, dry months from October to March. However, it's essential to be aware that severe air pollution is a concerning factor at this time. You may also wish to plan your trip to Delhi in accordance with one of the many festivals and events that take place in the city throughout the year.

The Weather in Delhi

Delhi has five distinct seasons, with extreme fluctuations between summer and winter temperatures.

  • Winter: produces a short spell of cold nights but mild days in December and January. The overnight temperature drops to freezing on occasion. Although the daytime temperature remains around 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), it does reach as low as 61 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) during early January.
  • Spring: brings glorious weather from mid-February until the end of March. Days are generally warm and sunny, and nighttime temperatures remain above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius).
  • Summer: intense heat is relentless and energy-sapping from April through June, with increasing humidity. Daytime temperatures consistently cross 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius).
  • Monsoon: the southwest monsoon transforms the weather in Delhi from scorching to sticky by the first week of July. Expect patches of rain lasting up to a week, followed by a break for a day or two. The rain eases off in early September, but the weather remains uncomfortably hot and humid until the end of the month when the monsoon withdraws.
  • Post-Monsoon (Fall/Autumn): temperatures are pleasant, but there's a marked decline in air quality in the couple of months after the monsoon, in the lead up to winter in December.

Hazardous smog blankets the city from October to March. Nowadays, it even extends into summer, with "very unhealthy" air quality index scores occurring in April and May. The problem is caused by a change in atmospheric conditions (a drop in temperature and wind), which traps pollutants in the lower layers of the atmosphere. It's recommended that you wear a suitable anti-pollution mask (not a surgical mask) on the days that air quality is deemed unsafe, or if you have respiratory issues such as asthma or bronchitis.

Crowds in Delhi

Delhi is one of the most populated cities on earth, so it's crowded at any time of year! However, when sightseeing in Delhi, it's wise to avoid top monuments and attractions on weekends, particularly Sundays. Crowds swell and can be a nuisance, as locals spend time out and about with their families. Crowds also peak during Indian holidays around Dussehra in October, Diwali in November, and Holi in March. Visit monuments early in the morning for the most peaceful experience.

Tourist Attractions in Delhi

Central shopping areas, including Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazaar, Connaught Place, Janpath, Sundar Nagar, and Khan Market, are closed on Sundays (larger shops in Khan Market have started staying open though). Other markets such as Sarojini Nagar and Lajpat Nagar are closed on Mondays. Many tourist attractions, including museums and monuments, are also closed on Mondays. Hauz Khas market is closed on Tuesdays.

The Cheapest Time to Visit Delhi

If you're looking to save money, you'll find plenty of enticingly cheap deals available for travel during the low season from April to June. This includes discounted e-tourist visas. However, the trade-off is sweltering weather. These top things to do indoors in Delhi will provide some respite from the heat.

Key Festivals and Events in Delhi

As mentioned above, Dussehra, Diwali and Holi are the main festivals in Delhi.

January

Dense fog causes flight and train delays, and cancellations, in Delhi in early January. Most people find nights in Delhi to be uncomfortably cold in the first two weeks of January because buildings aren't adequately heated. Hence, unlike warmer places in India, there are fewer tourists in the city at this time of year. If you feel the cold, it's a good idea to delay your trip until the second half of January or bring heavy woolens and clothes you can layer.

Events to check out:

  • India's Republic Day Parade, on Jan. 26, features the three divisions of the armed forces.
  • The India Art Fair showcases modern and contemporary South Asian art across four days at the end of January and start of February.

February

February is a pleasant time to be in Delhi, as the winter chill and fog have gone. Daytime temperatures average 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). Mornings and evenings are still a bit nippy, though. This is the peak tourist season, so expect to pay full price on flights and hotels.

Events to check out:

  • More than 1,000 artisans exhibit their works and skills at the Surajkund International Handicrafts Mela, held during the first two weeks of February every year. It's an excellent place to shop.
  • Arth, India's first multi-regional culture festival, takes place at the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts in early February.
  • The splendid Mughal gardens at the President of India's residence are on display during Udyanotsav from early February to mid-March.

March

The weather starts getting hotter in March. By the end of the month, daytime temperatures have soared to 91 degrees Fahrenheit (35 degrees Celsius) or more, heralding the arrival of the Indian summer. Some hotels offer reduced rates at this time.

Events to check out:

  • The Holi Moo music festival is one of the best ways to enjoy Holi in Delhi.
  • Participate in meditations, tantric rituals, live music, dance performances, and parties at the Shiva Moon Tantra Festival over four days in early March at Zorba the Buddha Center.
  • The Emerge Light Festival celebrates spring with art workshops, live music, and street food at the Garden of Five Senses on March 20, 2020.

April

The temperature is further turned up in April, with heatwaves of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). It's a dry heat, as opposed to the humid weather experienced in South India. This month is the start of the low season, and hotels and airlines drop their rates accordingly.

Events to check out:

  • The harvest festival of Baisakhi, on April 13 or 14, is celebrated with fairs dedicated to Punjabi culture. A Baisakhi Mela usually takes place in the lead-up to the festival at Dilii Haat.
  • The Tattva Festival at Zorba the Buddha Center has music, dance, art, and crafts, drumming, and fire ceremonies to awaken your senses.

May

The daytime temperature in Delhi consistently remains above 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius) in May. You'll want to plan your sightseeing so that you're not outdoors from late morning until late afternoon.

Events to check out:

June

The temperature remains very hot and on occasion may reach as high as 118 Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius) in early June, before the approaching southwest monsoon brings thunderstorms and downpours later in the month. However, this adds humidity to the heat, increasing the level of discomfort. Nighttime temperatures hover around 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius).

July

The monsoon usually arrives by the first week of July and intensifies to produce stretches of heavy rainfall by the end of the month. It's another month with high humidity, and average daytime temperatures of 96 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius). Nighttime temperatures remain high too.

Events to check out:

August

Heavy rain and high humidity continue throughout August. On the days it does remain dry, you'll really sweat.

Events to check out:

  • Kite flying to celebrate India's Independence on Aug. 15 every year.
  • Special programs at temples dedicated to Lord Krishna (such as ISKCON) for his birthday on Krishna Janmashtami.

September

There's some improvement in the weather in September, with less rain and humidity towards the end of the month as the monsoon withdraws. The September shoulder season can be an excellent time to visit Delhi if you don't mind erratic temperatures, as discounts are still available.

October

Hotels put their rates back up at the start of October, as the tourist season gets underway. It's not impossible to find a bargain, though. Although maximum daytime temperatures remain above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), the humidity disappears. Overnight temperatures are a minimum balmy 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). If it weren't for air quality issues, October would be a great month to visit Delhi.

Events to check out:

November

The temperature continues to decrease in November, but air pollution peaks around Diwali as firecrackers are let off. Expect top temperatures of about 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) and minimum temperatures of about 57 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Celsius).

Events to check out:

  • India's festival of lights, Diwali, lights up the city in November.
  • The Blind Relief Association's Blind School Diwali Mela on Lodhi Road is the place to shop for unique Diwali gifts. It takes place the week before Diwali.
  • The India Art Festival is a famous modern and contemporary art fair, held at Thyagaraj Stadium in late November.

December

Winter begins to set in by the second week of December, and the temperature drops significantly. The weather in the last two weeks of December is similar to that in early January, so many people avoid visiting the city during this time.

Events to check out:

  • India Craft Week brings together artisans, designers, and brands through installations, workshops, live demonstrations, and discussions.
  • Shop for unique handicrafts at the Dastkar Winter Mela, which is a highlight of the Christmas season.
  • Sample street foods from across India in a hygienic environment at the National Street Food Festival, held at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Was this page helpful?