The busiest airport in India and one of the busiest in all of Asia, Indira Gandhi International Airport is the gateway to India's capital city, New Delhi. New Delhi is actually a special district inside the larger city of Delhi, which only adds to the confusion for someone arriving in India for the first time. Travel in India can be hectic, but as long as you plan out your route before leaving, you'll be fine.
Public transportation options, including the modern metro and city buses, cost less than a dollar to use. Buses are what the locals most commonly use, but if you're not familiar with the city or using buses in India, it can be confusing. Using a taxi is the most popular method for foreign visitors and is the most hassle-free way to travel into Delhi, being a short trip of only 10 miles (16 kilometers) into the city center.
|Train||25 minutes||from 80 cents||Avoiding traffic|
|Bus||45 minutes||from 20 cents||Traveling like a local|
|Car||18 minutes||from $5||Door-to-door convenience|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From Delhi Airport to Delhi?
If you're comfortable navigating the Delhi bus system, it is an absurdly cheap way to reach the city center. Buses run frequently and 24 hours a day, so it's always an option. Prices vary based on the number of stops it makes and whether or not it has air conditioning, but a bus fare shouldn't exceed 50 cents. Stops include major sites in the city such as Connaught Place, New Delhi Railway Station, the Red Fort, and the Interstate Bus Terminus at Kashmere Gate.
Buses aren't likely to be well-marked with their destination, so ask the driver before boarding to make sure the bus is heading to where you need to go. Buses that make frequent stops are more likely to fill up and will take longer, but the biggest variable is Delhi traffic. Congestion is practically a given in a metropolitan area with nearly 30 million people, and it's impossible to predict when it's going to be especially bad. Give yourself a large cushion for your arrival time if you choose to use the bus.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From Delhi Airport to Delhi?
The fastest—and by far the simplest—method for getting from the airport into the city is by car. It's a short drive since the airport is less than 10 miles from the city center, taking anywhere from under 20 minutes to an hour depending on traffic.
Pre-paid taxis are the most popular option since they're regulated by the Delhi Traffic Police and you pay the fare upfront at a counter in the airport. These green and white cars are old and don't have air conditioning, so keep that in mind before purchasing your ticket. Private taxis are metered and usually a few dollars more expensive than the pre-paid taxis, but the vehicles are newer and almost always have air conditioning.
If you have access to a smartphone and Internet data, you can use a ride-sharing app such as Uber or Ola. These are often the least expensive car option, although surge pricing during high-demand times can make prices similar to standard taxis.
Hotels oftentimes offer shuttle services for guests if you request it, which is ideal for travelers who prefer to not worry about dealing with transportation on arrival. However, it's by far the most expensive way to travel, costing anywhere from $10 to $40 depending on the hotel—which is still a bargain compared to hotel shuttles in other cities.
How Long Is the Train Ride?
A Delhi Metro Airport Express train line, known as the Orange Line, runs from International Terminal 3 through the city until the New Delhi Metro Station, which is located adjacent to the main New Delhi Railway Station. The fare is only about 80 cents, so it's virtually the same price as the bus and much easier to navigate. Trains run from about 5 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. each day and depart every 10–15 minutes. It's a quick and comfortable ride on modern cars with seats, taking about 20–25 minutes. Best of all, you don't need to worry about traffic jams.
The train only runs to Terminal 3, which is where you'll arrive if you're flying internationally. If you're coming from another city in India, Terminal 2 is within walking distance of Terminal 3. Terminal 1, on the other hand, is much farther. You'll need to use the complimentary airport shuttle to catch the train at Terminal 3. A different metro line—the Magenta Line—passes through Terminal 1, but it doesn't go through the center of Delhi.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Delhi?
You'll want to avoid the hottest months of the year in Delhi, starting in April and lasting until July, when the average daily high hovers around 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). Not only do temperatures soar, but the added humidity makes it even more unbearable. It starts to cool off toward the end of July, but only because it's the beginning of the monsoon season.
The most comfortable time to visit Delhi is from October to March. Temperatures drop considerably and the torrential monsoon storms have subsided, so you can sightsee and walk around the city without sweating through all of your clothes.
What Is There to Do in Delhi?
India's capital city is a sprawling metropolis and much easier to digest when split into three zones: Old Delhi, New Delhi, and South Delhi. Historic Old Delhi is in the heart of the city and the Chandni Chowk neighborhood is a prototypical example of what many foreigners imagine when they think of India—bustling markets, crowded streets, and the aroma of street food cooking on every corner. New Delhi is literally adjacent to Old Delhi, but it feels like a different world and is known for housing all of the government buildings and iconic sites such as India Gate. Many of Delhi's most beautiful attractions are south of the city center, including Humayun’s Tomb, Qutab Minar, Lodhi Gardens, and the Lotus Temple, so don't forget to hop on the metro and explore outside of downtown as well.