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Trips to Delhi: A Complete Guide

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Delhi, the capital city of India, strikingly evokes the ancient past while at the same time showcasing India's modern future. It's divided into two parts—the crumbling buildings of Old Delhi, and the orderly, well-planned streets of New Delhi—which exist side by side, but feel like they're worlds apart. Delhi's estimated population is more than 16 million, and it is rapidly growing. It recently overtook Mumbai as the largest city in India.

Delhi hasn't always been the capital of India, nor has it always been called Delhi. The city's long history has seen many empires and rulers come and go, including the Mughals who ruled northern India for over three centuries. New Delhi began construction in 1911 during the British colonial period and replaced Kolkata as the capital of India.

This Delhi guide will help you plan your trip to this historic city, including when to go and what to do.

Planning Your Trip to Delhi

  • Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Delhi is during the cooler, dry months from October to March (however, it's important to be aware that severe air pollution is a concerning factor at this time). Delhi has an extreme climate with unbearably hot summers between April and June. The monsoon season cools things down somewhat between June and October, but it's still uncomfortably hot.
  • Language: Hindi and English.
  • Currency: Indian rupee.
  • Getting Around in Delhi: Transportation in Delhi is some of the best in India. Visitors can look forward to air-conditioned trains and buses, computerized ticket booths, and app-based cab services such as Uber and Ola. The usual taxis and auto-rickshaws are available as well. However, auto-rickshaw drivers will rarely put their meters on, so it's good to have an idea of the correct fare for your destination and agree on it with the driver beforehand. For sightseeing, the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus service is convenient.
  • Travel Tip: Various markets, monuments, and museums are closed on different days. This is usually Sundays (for shops around Chandni Chowk) and Mondays (for government museums, select monuments such as the Red Fort and Lotus Temple, and other markets). Ideally, to avoid the large crowds at monuments, get an early start and don't go on Sundays.

Things to Do in Delhi

Delhi's top attractions are its mosques, forts, and monuments left over from the Mughal rulers that once occupied the city. Many of these are set in beautifully landscaped gardens that are perfect for relaxing. The contrast between rambling Old Delhi and well-planned New Delhi is immense, and it's interesting to spend time visiting both. Delhi also has some of the best markets in India, making the city a sought-after shopping destination. To explore Delhi on foot, try a walking tour. Once you've seen enough monuments, check out some unusual things to do in Delhi.

Sightseeing in Delhi can be split between the following three main areas:

Explore more Delhi highlights with our guides to the best things to do in Delhi, the best markets, and fun things to do with kids.

What to Eat and Drink

Delhi is renowned for both its street food and fine dining restaurants. Rich, meat-dominated Mughlai and Punjabi cuisines are most prevalent. They were established in the city when Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan set up his capital in the 17th century, and when people migrated from the Punjab region following The Partition of India in 1947. The popularity of modern Indian cuisine has grown in Delhi in recent years, with new restaurants using innovative cooking techniques and global ingredients.

Fancy cocktail bars are also popping up across the city in trendy locations such as Connaught Place, Khan Market, and the new Aerocity hospitality precinct adjacent to Delhi airport.

Find out more about the best restaurants in Delhi, where to find the best street food, and foods to try in the city.

Where to Stay in Delhi

Delhi has a wide range of accommodations to suit all budgets. Backpackers usually head to the grotty Paharganj district near New Delhi Railway Station. However, groovy backpacker hostels and budget hotels can be found in other areas of the city. Connaught Place and Karol Bagh are convenient central city locations, while South Delhi is an upper-class residential area that's more sophisticated and peaceful. Many of Delhi's bed & breakfasts (often called homestays) are located in South Delhi. The luxury hotels are generally clustered around the affluent Chanakyapuri diplomatic enclave and Connaught Place.

Read more about the neighborhoods in Delhi and the best hotels.

Getting There

Delhi is the main entry point into North India. The city's Indira Gandhi International Airport is located in Palam, six miles south of the city. The airport has had a major upgrade, with the opening of Terminal 3 in 2010 vastly improving its functionality. Upgrade works are still continuing until 2022. There are a number of airport transfer options, including a Delhi Metro Airport Express Train Service. Most people choose to take a pre-paid taxi. Do note that fog often causes flight delays at the airport in winter, especially in December and January.

Culture and Customs of Delhi

Unfortunately, Delhi has a reputation for being the most unsafe city in India for women. If you're sensible and take precautions, such as not going out alone after dark if you're a woman, it's unlikely that anything untoward will happen to you. However, it is common for women to receive unwanted attention in tourist areas. This includes being photographed, stared at, and other types of sexual harassment. Women will, therefore, feel most comfortable wearing loose clothing that covers their shoulders and legs. A shawl that covers the breasts is also beneficial.

Do note that tourist scams are widespread in Delhi, particularly overcharging and commission rackets. Read up beforehand to be aware and prepare yourself. Pick-pocketing is another big problem, so make sure you take extra care of your valuables.

Some restaurants automatically include a service charge of 10-15 percent in their bill. Tipping isn't compulsory, though. If you do want to leave a tip, 10-15 percent is sufficient, or simply round the bill up on smaller amounts.

Haggling is expected at markets, except where there are signs stating "fixed price."

Money Saving Tips

  • Take the Metro train to go sightseeing. The Yellow Line, which runs north-south, covers many of Delhi's top attractions. The special Heritage Line, which is an extension of the Violet Line, provides direct access to Delhi Gate, Jama Masjid, and the Red Fort in Old Delhi.
  • Several popular attractions do not require tickets. These include India Gate, Lodhi Gardens, Lotus Temple, and Mehrauli Archaeological Park.
  • Some museums have free entry. These include Gandhi Smriti, National Police Museum, the Philatelic Museum, and Airforce Museum.
  • Take a stroll through the Lodhi Art District. It's free and you'll get to enjoy colorful street art murals on buildings.
  • Meet like-minded people, and browse through books and magazines, at the Kunzum Travel Cafe in hip Hauz Khas Village. Coffee is available and you only have to pay as much as you want to for it.
  • Eat the langar (free meal) at the Sikh Bangla Sahib Gurudwara at Connaught Place.
Article Sources
TripSavvy uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Census Organization of India. "Population Census 2011."

  2. Airport Technology. "Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL/VIDP) Terminal 3."

  3. Business Standard. "Delhi remains most unsafe for women irrespective of drop in crime rate." Sept. 16, 2021.