8 Best Things to Do in Hyderabad, India

Mecca Masjid mosque (Charminar), Hyderabad

Marco Cristofori / RobertHarding / Getty Images

As a tourist destination, Hyderabad stands out for its glorious Islamic heritage, a result of several centuries of prosperous rule that ended with the Nizam dynasty—at this point in history, Hyderabad was merged with the rest of India after the country's independence in 1947. That legacy pervades the city with its architectural treasures, especially in the neighborhood located around the Charminar. These top things to do in Hyderabad will help you uncover it.

01 of 08

Go On a Guided Tour

The Charminar

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CFF5+F9J, Sangeet Nagar, Somajiguda, Hyderabad, Telangana 500482, India
Phone +91 90008 50505

If you're looking to learn more about the places you're visiting in this part of India, Telangana Tourism runs inexpensive full day group tours of Hyderabad's main attractions, including Nizam palaces, Hyderabad City, and a number of nearby temples. A guided tour of Falaknuma Palace, with optional high tea, is included in the half-day Nizam Palaces Tour, while Chowmahallah Palace and the Golconda Fort Sound and Light Show are among the other attractions on the itinerary.

Another company, Detours offers immersive theme tours that go beyond the usual sightseeing, such as three-hour long walks through the Charminar district and a foodie-themed food walk through the Old City. The Charminar Precinct Walking Tour, offered by Hyderabad Magic, is another great option, especially for photographers and those interested in learning more about the history of the Charminar.

02 of 08

See the Charminar and Old City

The Charminar, Hyderabad.

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101 - Shanmugam Road, Near: Tamilnadu Medicals, Opp: Park, West Tambaram, Tambaram West, Tambaram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600045, India
Phone +91 44 4315 9291

The Charminar—a historic 16th-century mosque with grand Islamic architecture that stands at the center of the atmospheric Old City—is undoubtedly Hyderabad's most iconic landmark. It was built by ruler Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of Hyderabad, after he moved his capital here from Golconda Fort due to severe water shortages and sanitation problems.

The fact that the Charminar was Hyderabad's first structure gives it special significance. It's also possible to pay a small fee and climb to the first level for impressive views of the city. While the Chaminar is surrounded by a noisy, crowded, traffic-infested market area, it's brimming with heritage and is definitely worth investigating.

03 of 08

Feel Regal at Falaknuma Palace

Falaknuma Palace Jade Room

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8FJ8+JXQ, Fatima Nagar, Falaknuma, Hyderabad, Telangana 500053, India

If you don't have the money to stay there—one night will set you back more than 30,000 rupees, or about $385—at least have high tea or dinner at the opulent Falaknuma Palace.

The palace opened as a luxury hotel belonging to the Taj Group in 2010, but was originally built as the residence of the Prime Minister of Hyderabad, Nawab Vikar-ul-Umra, who was married to the Nizam's elder sister. The Nizam liked the palace so much that he ended up buying it and using it as a royal guesthouse. The palace's name means "Mirror of the Sky" and it sits atop a hill overlooking the city. The interior is jaw-dropping, to say the least.

04 of 08

Marvel Over the Museums

Chowmahalla Palace, Hyderabad

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20-4-236, Motigalli, Khilwat, Hyderabad, Telangana 500002, India
Phone +91 40 2452 2032

Hyderabad's museums not only contain rare treasures from the city's past rulers, they're also housed in spectacular premises. The 200-year-old Chowmahallah Palace, which once served as the official residence of the Nizams, is now a museum with a collection including antique cars, photos, furniture, and clothing.

The stately home of the sixth Nizam, Purani Haveli, contains the Nizam's Museum dedicated to the seventh and last Nizam of Hyderabad. Many of his personal effects are on display. Nearby, the Salar Jung Museum is an outstanding art and antiques museum, located in the resident palace of Salar Jung III, the seventh Nizam’s Prime Minister, who established the museum. Note that the museums are closed on Friday.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Explore Golkonda Fort

Golkonda Fort

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Khair Complex, Ibrahim Bagh, Hyderabad, Telangana 500008, India
Phone +91 40 2351 2401

The extensive ruins of Golkonda Fort, located to the west of Hyderabad, is also full of interesting history and architecture. Dating back to the 13th century as a mud fort, it rose to prominence as the capital of the Qutb Shahi dynasty in the 16th century before Hyderabad was founded. The Mughals took the fort in the 17th century after a long and intense battle–with it, they claimed some of the best diamonds in the world, which had been mined in the area.

There are many structures to see inside the fort so make sure you allow plenty of time to wander. A sound and light show that narrates the fort's story is held every evening.

06 of 08

Wander Through the Grand Tombs

Girl on swing at tombs of Qutab Shahi kings.

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Qutub Shahi Tombs, Hyderabad, Telangana 500008, India

The grand tombs of the seven Qutb Shahi kings, who ruled the region for almost 170 years, are situated just north of Golconda Fort. The oldest one dates back to 1543 and the Indo-Persian architecture you'll see is exquisite. The tombs were once decorated with chandeliers, carpets, and velvet canopies, but fell into disrepair after the Qutb Shahi dynasty came to an end in 1687 once the Mughals, and subsequently the Nizams, took over. Fortunately, Salar Jung III had them restored during the early 19th century.

Nearby, the intricate Paigah tombs, which date back to the late 18th century and belong to the noble Paigah family, who loyally served the Nizams in important roles for generations, are also worth visiting.

07 of 08

Admire the Colorful Mosaics

Badshahi Ashurkhana

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Madina Ln, Rikab Gunj, Ghansi Bazaar, Hyderabad, Telangana 500002, India
Phone +91 98490 42410

Badshahi Ashurkhana, a royal house of mourning for Shia Muslims during Muharram, is remarkable for its colorful enamel-tiled mosaics. It was built by Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah in 1594 to memorialize the martyrdom of Imam Hussain.

The grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, Hussain was a revolutionary 7th-century leader who was killed during the Battle of Karbala on Muharram, in a fight against corruption and tyranny. Badshahi Ashurkhana was Hyderabad's second structure and is the only type of its kind in India. It's tucked away to the north of the Charminar in the Old City, not far from the High Court.

08 of 08

Embrace Local Food and Culture

Hyderabadi biryani.

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Hyderabad, Telangana, India

If you're a foodie, you can't visit Hyderabad without sampling some authentic Hyderabadi biryani. This famous rice dish, aromatically cooked with meat and spices, originated from the kitchen of the Nizams. A blend of Iranian and Mughlai cuisine, it was brought to the city by the invading Mughals. Arguably, you'll find the best biryani at Hotel Shadab near Badshahi Ashurkhana. The biryani served at the Paradise restaurant chain is also well known.

Ladies who love to shop shouldn't pass up checking out the bustling bazaars west of the Charminar. Laad Bazaar, home of the city's popular bangle market, is located there—you'll also find a variety of textiles, fashion accessories, and trinkets. Between Laad Bazaar and Moti Chowk is a perfume market featuring locally-produced fragrances in glass vials. An extensive range of antiques is also available from shops near Murgi Chowk, close to the Charminar.

For those looking to learn more about traditional handicrafts, this insightful Hyderabad City Crafts Tour will take you to a handloom unit, embroidery unit, and the home of a family who specialize in ikat, block printing, and screen printing. A trip to a metal handicraft workshop and a basket makers' colony can also be included on the tour.

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8 Best Things to Do in Hyderabad, India