India is a land of contradictions – here you’ll find everything from busy marketplaces to quiet temples, lush forests to snow‑topped mountains.

Its cities are a whirlwind of colour and exuberance, and are home to fascinating cultures and traditions. But this can also feel like the land that time forgot, with sleepy villages, overgrown fortresses and ancient hillside monasteries.

If you’re planning a trip to India, check out this handy travel guide for tips on the best things to see and do.

 Explore the Taj Mahal - one of the most beautiful buildings on earth.

 

Places to visit in India

On their first holiday to India, many people choose to travel around the so‑called ‘Golden Triangle’ circuit. This three‑stop journey takes in the cities of Delhi and Jaipur, as well as the world‑famous Taj Mahal building in Agra.

At Delhi, be sure to visit the city’s stunning red sandstone monuments, such as the Qutab Minar Complex with its magnificent Islamic calligraphy. Or, invigorate your senses with a tour of the city’s spice market – the largest of its kind in the whole of Asia.

Next, on to the Taj Mahal, described by some guides as the most beautiful building in the world. This soaring white edifice can be seen as the ultimate romantic gesture: it was designed by the Emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

Finish up in Jaipur, known as the ‘Pink City’ because of the distinctive rose‑coloured stones used in many of its most famous buildings. Take in an eagle’s‑eye view of the city at the majestic Nahargarh Fort, or dive in to the city’s many bustling bazaars and try to grab a bargain.

If you’re after a more mystical experience, India has a multitude of sacred sites to offer. We’d recommend heading to Varanasi, Hinduism’s holiest city. Here, on a series of wide steps (or ‘ghats’) leading down to the Ganges River, Hindus gather to wash away their sins or to cremate their relatives.

At night, Varanasi’s ghats are the site of joyful celebrations. Worshippers light flickering candles and send them out onto the water, and the sound of bells echoes against the ancient riverside buildings.

Searching for things to do in India? Check out the experiences we offer near you.

 

Food and drink in India

Indian flavours are truly mouth‑watering, and there are a dazzling variety of different dishes and cooking styles to sample across the sub‑continent.

As a rough guide, food in India can be divided into the cuisine of Northern India and the cuisine of Southern India. In the north, they favour rich meat and vegetable dishes with onion, tomato and yoghurt‑based sauces.

Southern Indians tend to prefer wholly vegetarian dishes, flavoured with a different range of ingredients including chilli and coconut. They also make greater use of rice – either as a side‑dish, or as the base for making savoury pancakes and flatbreads.

If this talk of food has left you feeling thirsty, how about a cup of tea? India is the second‑largest producer of the tea leaves in the world, after China, and the drink has been enjoyed here for thousands of years.

For an authentic experience, be sure to purchase a steaming hot cup of chai tea from a street vendor in one of India’s busy alleyways.

Want to experience traditional Indian cooking? Search for activities offered by our local guides.

 

Nature tourism in India

If you’re visiting India as a tourist, you should definitely budget for some time in the tropical paradise of Kerala.

One of India’s southern‑most states, Kerala is an emerald jewel in the sub‑continent’s crown. This is a land of tea plantations, winding backwaters, and lush forests.

The best way to see more of Kerala is to hop on one of the many houseboats that cruise along its palm‑fringed canals. As you glide past paddy fields and rural villages, you’ll experience the true nature of relaxation.  

Come face-to-face with a tiger at one of India's wildlife reserves.

Or, why not travel to India’s Western Ghats area, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, for an ecotourism holiday? Head to one of the country's wildlife sanctuaries to come face‑to‑face with a tiger – or spend a night camping in the jungle, if you’re brave enough!

Ecotourism is a great way to experience the country’s enchanting wildlife, as some of the proceeds from your trip are usually re‑invested into vital conservation work.

Lastly, journey to new heights with a visit to India’s incredible Himalaya mountain range. This is a magical place, where you’ll discover craggy peaks, ancient monasteries and brightly‑coloured prayer flags fluttering in the breeze.

Want to experience India’s natural beauty? Discover more with one of our outdoor activities.