One of the great things about Delhi is that it's relatively close to the mountains and a number of other diverse tourist places. There's something for everyone, including spirituality, nature, history and entertainment. If you're thinking of getting out of the city and exploring the surrounding area, read on to discover the best day trips to take from Delhi.
In addition, if you're in Delhi during the first two weeks of February, definitely don't miss a day trip to Surajkund in Haryana for the annual International Crafts Mela (fair). As well as handicrafts from all over India, there are also performances from folk artists.
01 of 10
Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri
Want to see the Taj Mahal but don't have much time to spare? It can be visited on a day trip from Delhi. It's also possible to add in the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikhri for an extra dose of heritage. Taking the train is an inexpensive way of getting from Delhi to Agra, and the journey can be completed in less than 2 hours if you catch an express train in the morning. Here are the best train options, including for the return journey in the evening. However, if you plan on seeing multiple attractions there, it's more convenient to hire a car and driver. Check out these top places to visit in and around Agra for options. Private day tours by car from Delhi are also popular. There's more information in this essential Taj Mahal travel guide.
02 of 10
Rambling 15th century Neemrana Fort Palace overlooks the historic village of Neemrana, in Rajasthan's Aravalli Hills, about 2.5 hours southwest of Delhi on the Delhi-Jaipur Highway. It was the third capital of the descendants of Prithviraj Chauhan III, king of the Rajput Chauhan dynasty. The fort palace was restored in the 1980s and turned into a luxury heritage hotel, popularly visited on a day trip from Delhi for lunch. The cost is 1,600 rupees per person on weekdays (from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.) and 1,900 rupees per person on weekends (from 12:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m.) including entry and buffet. After lunch and a look around the fort palace, if you're feeling adventurous it's possible to go zip-lining over it and the village. Don't want to have lunch at the fort palace? You can get free entry by going zip-lining and booking in advance.
03 of 10
Although nowhere near as old or as atmospheric as Neemrana Fort Palace, Kuchesar Mud Fort is still a worthwhile day trip, especially for families with young children. This 18th century fort was built by Jat rulers and is situated about 2.5 hours east of Delhi, in the village of Kuchesar in Uttar Pradesh. Now a well-preserved heritage hotel that retains elements of the Colonial era, it's the village's main attraction. Day packages are offered. The cost is 1,500 rupees plus tax for adults and 1,100 rupees plus tax for children. This includes lunch, snacks, and in-house activities such as pottery and games. Other activities are available in the village, including bullock cart rides, farm visits, tractor rides, walks and picnics in the mango orchards. It's a fun day out!
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Holy Vrindavan, on the banks of the Yamuna River in Uttar Pradesh, is where Lord Krishna is said to have spent his childhood and youth. While there, he slayed demons and embarked on his famous love affair with Radha. The journey to Vrindavan can be done in under 3 hours from Delhi, along the Yamuna Expressway. Compared to nearby Mathura, where Krishna was born, Vrindavan is relaxed and peaceful. The town has a distinct divinity that will leave you feeling spiritually refreshed. Spend the day meandering through the narrow streets and visiting the thousands of temples, of all different sizes. Later in the afternoon, head to Kesi Ghat for the sunset aarti (worship with fire) ceremony. Hire a boat and go across the river for a magical view of it.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Kurukshetra is another place of great historical and religious importance that can be visited on a day trip from Delhi. Located about 2.5 hours north of the city in Haryana, Kurukshetra features in the holy Hindu text The Mahabharata. The great battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, for the throne of Hastinapura, was fought there. In addition, the advice that Lord Krisha gave to Arjun, as his charioteer during the war, formed the Bhagavad Gita.
Not only is the town an important pilgrimage destination, it has some interesting temples and an extensive museum devoted to Lord Krishna. Evocative Sheikh Chilli's Tomb, in a garden setting about 15 minutes west of Kurukshetra, is worth visiting too for its magnificent Mughal architecture. It contains the mortal remains of the 16th century Iranian Sufi saint, who was the spiritual teacher of Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, son of Emperor Shahjahan. The Emperor built the tomb as a tribute to the saint. The splendor of its architecture is... ranked up there with the Taj Mahal, iconic the mausoleum that the Emperor built for his beloved wife.
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Experience a ride on India's Fairy Queen Steam Express Train to Alwar in Rajasthan. This special tourist train usually runs every second and fourth Saturday, from October to March. The full package includes an overnight stay and visit to Sariska National Park. However, it's possible to just travel one way to Alwar. There, you can see the City Palace complex and government museum (closed Fridays) inside it, devoted to showcasing the extravagant lifestyle of the kings. Tucked away behind the City Palace, it's Lake Sagar and the many chhatris (dome-shaped pavilions) that are most visually impressive though.
Above the City Palace sits Bala Quila, one of the few forts in Rajasthan to be built before the rise of the Mughals. Unfortunately, it's poorly maintained and most parts are inaccessible. If you have time, the Forest Department runs popular three-hour jeep safaris to the fort and surrounding leopard trails. To return to Delhi, catch the 7:52 p.m. Indian Railways 12016... Ajmer New Delhi Shatabdi Express train, and you'll be back by 11 p.m. There are earlier trains as well. Alternatively, you can hire a car and driver for the day to go to Alwar. It's a 3-hour drive from Delhi.
07 of 10
Sultanpur National Park
Sultanpur National Park is one of the best sanctuaries in India for bird watching. Although it's not very big in size, it's situated conveniently close to Delhi in the Gurgaon district of Haryana. The drive there only takes about 1.5 hours. Hence, if you can't visit Keoladeo Ghana National Park (formerly Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary) in Rajasthan and want to spend some time in nature, Sultanpur is a decent option for a day trip. The park attracts both local and migratory birds, including some all the way from Siberia. It has a tourist center, circular walking trail and four watchtowers. Do note it's closed on Tuesdays, and usually during breeding season from June to August or September.
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If you like pottery, don't miss taking a day trip to Khurja, about 2.5 hours southeast of Delhi in Uttar Pradesh. This small city is renowned for its large-scale ceramic pottery industry with nearly 400 factories, going back more than 600 years. Its original Afghan artisans are believed to have migrated there from Delhi during the reign of Mohamed bin Tughlaq, who was the Sultan of Delhi from 1324 to 1351. You'll find all kinds of tableware for sale in Khurja, as well as soap dispensers, trays, vases, and planters. Most are hand-painted in bright colors, and unlike the Jaipur blue pottery, they're practical items rather than showpieces. While you can go to Khurja by yourself, to get the most from the trip, it's a good idea to take a private tour such as this one (see #4) offered by Gallery Twentyfive in Delhi.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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One of the top theme parks in India, Kingdom of Dreams is an outstanding live entertainment destination in Gurgaon, about an hour south of Delhi. It encompasses both Indian culture and the performing arts. Wander through the elaborate arts, crafts, and culinary boulevard that is Culture Gully. Sample food from different states in India. Then, catch a live Bollywood musical. It's open Tuesday to Sunday, from 1 p.m. until 1 a.m.
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The vibrant Heritage Transport Museums presents the evolution of transport in India, and is one of the top museums that showcase India's heritage. It's a private museum conceived by vintage car collector Tarun Thakral, so a lot of passion has gone into creating it. This is reflected in the exhibits, which even include his own personal collection. The museum is spread over four floors and has all kinds of transport from aircraft to bullock carts — plus some unusual contraptions you've probably never seen before! It's situated in Tauru, near Manesar in Haryana, about 2 hours south of Delhi.