From the bustling streets of Mumbai to the quaint backwaters of Kerala, the stunning beaches of Goa, and the snow-capped Himalayas, India is a diverse and captivating country. Unsurprisingly, tourists flock here for adventure, relaxation, and one-of-a-kind travel experiences. Few (if any) return disappointed.
In this ultimate guide to the best places to visit in India, you will see firsthand some of the most impressive cities, monuments, and destinations you won’t want to miss on your trip to India. From the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra, to the majestic Hawa Mahal in Jaipur, and the architectural splendor of the Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, these destinations in India will take your breath away.
15 Best Places To Visit in India
Behold India’s stunning Pink City! Jaipur is the beautiful capital of Rajasthan and one of India’s most popular destinations with travelers. Here you will find majestic forts like Amer Fort and Jaigarh Fort that were built by the rulers of the Rajputana dynasty centuries ago.
Among the city’s unmissable attractions include City Palace, Nahargarh Fort, Jantar Mantar Observatory, Hawa Mahal, and Jal Mahal. These breathtaking and historical destinations are all among India’s most impressive attractions, making Jaipur easily one of the best places to visit in India.
The Jal Mahal is an 18th-century palace in the middle of Man Sagar Lake and is best viewed during sunset. It’s a stunning sight! You can also take a camel ride in the desert or shop at Johari Bazaar for traditional souvenirs.
Jaipur celebrates its annual Elephant Festival with decorated elephants and folk music performances. You can join in the celebrations and witness Rajasthan’s grandeur, which will surely leave you spellbound. Not in town in time for the festival? You’re sure to see elephants at Amer Fort, India’s number two most popular attraction.
Read More: Jaipur, India: Ultimate Traveler’s Guide
The allure of Goa, renowned as the party capital of India, is hard to ignore. Long, white-sand beaches in Goa and beyond, a laidback lifestyle, and some of the best seafood in the country make this India’s premier beach destination.
Goa is also known for its nightlife, with plenty of clubs and pubs to get your groove on. Great music, great food, and a great atmosphere – what more could you want? Festivals are also held in Goa all year round, and some of the most popular ones include the Goa Sunburn festival, Goa Carnival, and the Sao Joao Festival.
From exploring the colonial architecture in Old Goa or seeing dolphins up close in Murudeshwar, there are plenty of activities to do here, even if you’re not looking to party. Enjoy a leisurely cruise on the Mandovi River, explore the flea markets, or relax on a beach.
India’s city of dreams, the megacity of Mumbai is the commercial capital of India, home to India’s rich and famous, from business executives to the biggest stars of Bollywood. For travelers, Mumbai is a melting pot of different cultures and cuisines that reflect its cosmopolitan character.
While Mumbai might lack some of the charm of northern Indian cities, there’s so much to do here that you’d regret not adding it to your itinerary. From exploring the bustling streets of Colaba Causeway, and shopping at the world-famous Chor Bazaar, to visiting the iconic Gateway of India. No trip to Mumbai is complete without witnessing the sunset at Marine Drive and savoring a plate of delicious street food near Chowpatty Beach.
You can also explore splendid historical monuments, such as the Prince of Wales Museum and Mani Bhavan, or visit Essel World and enjoy thrilling rides.
Popularly known as “God’s Own Country,” Kerala is truly a paradise, a favorite destination among travelers. From the backwaters of Alleppey to the rolling hills in Munnar, this place will capture your heart and fill you with joy.
With its stunning landscapes, tropical climate, and abundance of wildlife, its no wonder that the southern Indian state of Kerala is one of the most beloved . Whether it’s an elephant safari at Periyar National Park or a leisurely cruise through the backwaters on a houseboat, Kerala offers several activities for tourists.
You can also explore the beautiful tea plantations in Munnar, stroll through Thekkady spice gardens, or relax on the beaches of Kovalam and Varkala.
If you’ve never heard of the northern Indian city of Agra, you’ve certainly heard of its most famous attraction: the Taj Mahal. No visit to India would be complete without visiting this new wonder of the world. And guess what? It’s even more beautiful than it is in pictures!
Emperor Shah Jahan built this beautiful marble monument as a tribute to his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Taj Mahal is a symbol of love, and its intricate design and craftsmanship make it one of the most beautiful monuments in the world.
In addition to the Taj Mahal, Agra has several other attractions, including the Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, and Itimad-ud-Daulah. If you can, spend at least three days exploring Agra and the surrounds; this will give you plenty of time to see the very best of the city, and take in at least one sunrise at the Taj Mahal.
Get ready for the travel experience of a lifetime in Agra – it’s one you’ll never forget.
Read More: The Taj Mahal: A Visitor’s Guide
6. New Delhi
The capital city of India, New Delhi, is a bustling metropolis that never fails to amaze its visitors. This city has everything from ancient monuments such as the Qutub Minar, Red Fort, and India Gate to modern attractions like Dilli Haat, Akshardham Temple, and Select City Walk.
You can also explore the famous Mughal Gardens, take a rickshaw ride through Chandni Chowk (one of the busiest markets in Old Delhi), or go shopping in Connaught Place. Other attractions include Humayun’s Tomb, Lotus Temple, and Safdarjung Tomb.
New Delhi is also home to some of the best restaurants in India, offering a wide range of cuisines from around the world. This city will satisfy your cravings, whether you’re all in for street food or high-end dining.
Jodhpur is the second-largest city in India’s Rajasthan state and is home to a magnificent blue city. Other than exploring the blue city and wandering among its many narrow streets, the main attraction here is the Mehrangarh Fort, perched on a hilltop overlooking the city. The views are even more incredible than you can imagine.
Inside this grand fort, you will find palaces and courtyards with intricate artwork, stone carvings, and murals. You can also visit the nearby Jaswant Thada Royal Cenotaphs and enjoy stunning city views from Umaid Bhawan Palace. Jodhpur is also known for its vibrant culture, with the Marwar Festival and Gangaur Festival celebrated with great zeal.
When here, try the delicious Rajasthani cuisine and savor some local delicacies. We loved enjoying dinner on the rooftop at Om Cafe and Restaurant; the sweeping views of the fort were impressive.
Varanasi is one of India’s oldest cities and a bustling cultural, religious, and history hub. This city is known for its ghats lining the banks of the Ganges, where devotees come to take dips to cleanse their sins. Varanasi also has several other attractions, namely, the Sarnath Archaeological Museum, Bharat Mata Mandir, and ancient temples like the Vishwanath Temple and Tulsi Manas Temple.
Known as India’s holiest city for the special place it holds with Hindus, Varanasi guarantees visitors an unmatched opportunity to learn about Hinduism and see some of its most important traditions firsthand. It’s an experience you won’t forget. The city also has bustling markets and street-side restaurants offering a variety of delicacies. It’s no wonder Varanasi is one of the best places to visit in India.
Read More: Varanasi, India: Ultimate Traveler’s Guide
Udaipur is renowned for its stunning lakes, grand palaces, and medieval architecture. Truly one of India’s most beautiful cities, known as India’s “White City,” it’s a treat to behold. The City Palace Complex at the center of Udaipur is a must-visit destination, with several intricately carved doors and balconies.
The city also has several other attractions, including the Jag Mandir Palace, Fateh Sagar Lake, Karni Mata Temple, and the Monsoon Palace. You can take a boat ride – a perfect sunset activity! – on Lake Pichola or visit the Jagdish Temple for a beautiful view of Udaipur’s skyline.
Udaipur is also known for its vibrant culture and art, with numerous festivals celebrated annually. This city is truly one of the most beautiful places to visit in India, and you’re welcome to explore its beauty.
Darjeeling is a picturesque hill station in the Eastern Himalayas, featuring stunning views of the Kanchenjunga mountain range. This charming town is known for its tea plantations, scenic train route The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway – also known as the Toy Train, and winding roads that take you through lush green landscapes.
Stop at Tiger Hill to get spectacular sunrise views over the Kanchenjunga peaks when visiting. You can also see the Ghoom Monastery and Batasia Loop or go for a ropeway ride at Rock Garden.
Take it up a notch by hiking in Sandakphu or mountain biking on the Singalila Ridge. With its unique mix of natural attractions and historic spots, Darjeeling is truly one of the best places to see in India.
Jaisalmer is a desert city in Rajasthan with stunning golden sandstone architecture. Among Rajasthan’s colorful cities – Jaipur is the Pink City, Udaipur is the White City, and Jodhpur is the Blue City – Jaisalmer is known as the Yellow City for the stunning golden architecture seen throughout.
One of the most popular attractions here is Jaisalmer Fort, also known as Sonar Quila, due to its yellowish hue. Inside the fort, you will find several havelis built by merchants and nobles centuries ago. Other attractions include the Salim Singh ki Haveli, Nathmal Ji ki Haveli, and Patwon-ki-Haveli.
Join in the fun at the Desert Festival, Camel Festival, and Holi celebrations here. You can also go on desert safaris or take a jeep ride through the Thar Desert for a unique experience.
Mysore is a beautiful city in Karnataka state, known for its incredible grandeur, palaces, and historical monuments. Visit Mysore Palace to witness some of the finest architecture in India and take a walk around the Brindavan Gardens for a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Other attractions are the Srirangapatnam Fort, St. Philomena’s Cathedral, Lalitha Mahal Palace, and Jayalakshmi Vilas Mansion Museum. You can also visit Chamundi Hills or go shopping at Devaraja Market or Cauvery Emporium.
If you’re visiting during the Dussehra Festival, make sure to attend this incredible event! Mysore celebrates the grand Dussehra Festival annually with colorful processions and spectacular firework displays that light up the sky. Adam McKay says, “Don’t Look Up,” but not in Mysore; you will miss out!
Amritsar is a city in Punjab with numerous spiritual and historical attractions, though it’s best known for its stunning Golden Temple. The most important site in the Sikh religion, the Golden Temple is extremely impressive; make sure to visit with the utmost reverence and respect for this holy destination.
Stick around for the communal meals, provided free of charge to all visitors. This is the world’s largest communal kitchen, serving up to 100,000 people for free daily. It’s among the best things to do in India!
Other places of interest include Jallianwala Bagh, Durgiana Temple, Ram Tirath Mandir, and Wagah Border. Make sure to take a boat ride on the artificial lake of Amrit Sarovar or visit the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Museum to learn about Sikh history. And when you’re hungry, enjoy local delicacies like Amritsari Kulcha and Chole Bhature.
Last but not least, watch the flag-lowering ceremony at Wagah Border. It’s a fascinating display of Indian and Pakistani nationalism, with “supporters” on each side of the border providing an atmosphere of a sporting match rather than an international border.
Kolkata is the city of joy, where you will find a perfect blend of culture, art, and food. From visiting Victoria Memorial to experiencing street-side snacks like Phuchkas and Jhalmuri, you will be thrilled by your visit.
Take a boat ride on the Hooghly River or visit Marble Palace to see ancient artifacts. The palace is one of the best-maintained architectural pieces from 19th-century Calcutta. Almost everything here is made of marble – the floors, walls, and sculptures. After seeing the palace, stroll along Park Street or go shopping at New Market.
During Durga Puja celebrations, Kolkata transforms into a paradise with magnificent pandals spread across the city. It’s one of those places that will remain in your heart forever.
Rishikesh is a popular destination among adventure seekers and spiritual enthusiasts. It’s located in the Himalayas’ foothills, on the Ganges River banks. Known as the birthplace of yoga, you’ll find countless opportunities for yoga retreats and classes for everyone, from beginners to devoted practicants.
Turn up the adrenaline after a retreat with river rafting, bungee jumping, and giant swinging at Mohan Chatti, a campsite for adventurers and nature lovers. You can camp along the river banks and birdwatch or spot wildlife. And in the evening, you can visit nearby villages and meet the locals.
Rishikesh is also an important pilgrimage center with numerous temples, including Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Shatrughna Mandir, and Hanuman Mandir. This city is truly a must-visit for spiritual seekers.
Unmissable Destinations in India
With so many places to visit and explore, India is a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Each place has unique charm and beauty that will stay in your heart forever. Start planning your Indian adventure today and enjoy the experience.
Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.