India is an amazingly diverse country that has so much to offer. To help you out, here are our favourite best things to do in India.
1. Explore The Delhi Rooftops
The rooftops in Delhi offer some amazing photo opportunities. As well as a greater understanding and insight into your surroundings and local culture. Which is why they make the bucket list of best things to do in India.
There are several rooftop options in Delhi, with one of the most popular being the terrace at the Red Fort.
Red Fort is one of the most historic forts in India. It served as the main residence of the Mughal Emperors for nearly 200 years and is a top tourist destination.
So why not enjoy some amazing rooftop views and explore the famous Red Fort at the same time! The Red Fort can be visited by tourists and locals from Tuesday to Sunday between 9.30am – 4.30pm.
Tickets for the Red Fort can also be combined with a 3-Hour Old Delhi Heritage Walking Tour With Rickshaw Ride.
2. Shop The Spice Markets
India is famous for being the world’s largest producer and exporter of spices. So, for an absolute sensual overload of aromas and colours, you have to visit at least one spice market in India.
You will find a vast array of different spices on offer including pepper, cardamom, chilli, ginger turmeric, coriander, cumin, fennel, nutmeg, curry powder and many many more.
Spice markets are dotted all across India, with the largest wholesale spice market in Asia located in Khari Baoli Street in Delhi.
In addition, Kerala is also famously known as’ the spice garden of India’ as it produces a vast variety of spices all cultivated in the districts of Idukki and Wayanad.
Whichever one you choose to visit this will be a big tick on your India bucket list!
3. Ride Tuk Tuks Everywhere
For the most authentic way of getting around India it has to be a Tuk Tuk.
Also known as auto-rickshaws and rickshaws, Tuk Tuks are the most popular, cheapest and readily available mode of transport in India and a great way to get around.
They are fast, easily transfer you from one place to another through the chaotic traffic and, although it can seem pretty reckless, there are very few accidents. Just be sure to negotiate your price before getting in.
Tuk Tuks are somewhat open to the elements. However, this helps to immerse you in all the sounds and smells as you travel the roads of India, including regular horn honking and loud catchy Bollywood music!
For some exciting and memorable journeys, riding the Tuk Tuks is definitely one for the bucket list of best things to do in India.
4. Visit The India–Pakistan Border
Every evening, at the India – Pakistan border, you can watch the lowering of the two nations flags during the famous Wagah Border Ceremony.
This fascinating ceremony attracts many visitors from both sides of the border. As well as tourists from all over the world.
Started in 1959, this daily ceremony is performed by the Indian Border Security Force and the Pakistan Rangers. It is characterised by elaborate dance like moves involving soldiers legs raised as high as possible.
As the sun sets, the iron gates at the border are opened and the two flags are lowered. The ceremony ends with a retreat involving a handshake between soldiers from either side, followed by the closing of the gates.
This colourful and impressive display is a symbol of the two countries rivalry as well as brotherhood and cooperation. The Wagah Border Ceremony is one of the top attractions for many people on their India bucket list.
5. Golden Temple Amritsar
Founded in 1577, The Golden Temple in Amritsar is also known as Harmandir Sahib. It’s a world famous place of worship for Sikhs (Gurdwara).
Although it’s a holy place for practising Sikhism, its doors are open to all religions, cultures and walks of life.
You can’t help but be impressed by the beauty and ethos of The Golden Temple. With the icing on the cake being the shining, gilded gold dome on top.
This amazing place is home to the largest free kitchen in the world (Langar). Feeding over 100,000 people in a single day with the help of volunteers.
We were lucky enough to experience what it’s like to be one of those volunteers for a day. If you have time, we certainly recommend volunteering for an hour or so.
From the chopping of the vegetables, to the cleaning of the plates and catching of the chapatis in-between. We witnessed just how much of a military operation it takes to keep this place running day in day out.
This was certainly one of our favourite things to do and would top our India bucket list.
6. Visit The Mountains Of Manali
For some amazing mountain views, we recommend heading to the Himalayan town of Manali in Northern India.
The beautiful snow capped mountains here, along with some awesome viewpoints, is what attracts lots of travellers. It also tops the India bucket list as a popular honeymoon destination.
The atmosphere in Manali is friendly and relaxed. However, if you are looking for some adventurous activities you have mountain trekking, rafting and paragliding all on offer here.
Also, for something sweet, you HAVE to check out Dylan’s Toasted & Roasted Coffee House for the best cookies in Manali!
Manali is undoubtedly a place I fell in love with.
7. Shop The Street Markets
For a really authentic Indian experience, we recommend visiting some of the many vibrant street markets in India.
Selling anything you could possibly want, traditional street markets are a massive part of Indian’s rich culture and heritage.
Just remember, don’t be shy and forget to negotiate the prices with the stall holders. This is an expected and fun part of market shopping, the stall holders will have elevated their prices in preparation!
Wander through the colourful and bustling labyrinth of a street market, looking for a bargain or just soak in the atmosphere. Whatever you do, this really is a ‘must’ of things to do in India.
8. Yoga In Rishikesh
Rishikesh, also known as ‘the birthplace of yoga’, has become hugely popular with westerners in recent years.
Located along the banks of the River Ganges, at the foot of the Himalayas it has long been a religious and spiritual destination.
It’s said that, historically, the beautiful hills and river banks surrounding Rishikesh were used by saints for meditation and yoga.
Many people also head to Rishikesh looking for some spiritual enlightenment. Probably the most famous being, in 1968, the British band The Beatles. (Hence the Beatles memorabilia dotted around the city!)
With yoga becoming a global phenomenon, Rishikesh remains one of the best destinations in India to take yoga classes. It’s definitely top of the India bucket list for all keen yogis!
9. Swim In The Waterfalls
India has a wide variety of waterfalls across the country and we are big waterfall fans. So, whilst we were in Rishikesh we couldn’t resist visiting the nearby Neergarh Waterfalls.
Neergarh Waterfall is a great option for those looking to explore nature. This two tier waterfall, with two pools is only accessible by a moderate trek.
The first of the two falls you’ll reach is a small waterfall, just 1km from the road. This is where visitors can dip their toes in the pool and cool off.
The second of the falls is the main Neergarh Waterfall, and is a further 2km trek. This has a large pool with a bridge running over it where people can hang out and freshen up.
The waterfall itself is quite small. However, any waterfall in India is an absolute delight and visiting is definitely one for the bucket list of best things to do in India.
10. Varanasi & The River Ganges
Famous for its access to the River Ganges and its sacred ghats, we highly recommend a visit to Varansi. Another popular destination on everyones India bucket list.
A ‘Ghat’, is a flight of steps leading down to the bank of a river in India. Varanasi has 88 ghats. Most of which are bathing and puja ceremony ghats, while two ghats are used exclusively as cremation sites.
We opted for the sunset tour, and were taken up to the Shamshan Ghat. Here we witnessed an old man being cremated from a distance, which was an eye-opening experience.
However, we were encouraged not to feel sad. This was a happy time for all of those surrounding the man and celebrating his life.
The River Ganges is a truly unique place and one of the top things people associate with India.
11. Taj Mahal
If not the River Ganges, then the Taj Mahal is probably the top thing people associate with India.
A remarkable piece of architecture and our first Wonder of the World – it’s a no brainer that every tourist will want have this at the top of their India bucket list.
This stunning white marble mausoleum was built by the fifth Mughal emperor in 1631 in memory of his third and favourite wife.
Most people choose to book onto a Private Taj Mahal & Agra Tour. This includes trains to and from Delhi, with a private guided tour of The Taj Mahal, Agra Fort & Baby Taj including all tickets.
However, if you plan on visiting the Taj Mahal yourself, be sure to book your Skip-the-Line Taj Mahal Admission Ticket.
Visiting the famous Taj Mahal has to be top of the bucket list of things to do in India.
12. Visit The Forts Of Jaipur
Jaipur is famous for the Old City or ‘Pink City’, but one of the most popular things to do in the city is visit the amazing, historical forts.
Standing majestically on the edge of the Aravalli Hills overlooking Jaipur, Nahargarh Fort, along with Amer Fort and Jaigarh Fort, once formed a strong defence ring around the city.
As well as getting to explore the fascinating forts, it’s also worth visiting for the amazing views over Jaipur. With Nahargarh Fort being the best place to view the beauty of the Pink City.
We opted to take an audio tour of Mehrangarh Fort. It was extremely educational and there are many more hidden gems in Jodphur like this.
We ventured up to Nahargarh Fort where we found wild bulls wondering around at the top! Our friend actually got butted by one, and we ended up at a local family’s house, but that’s another story.
The forts of Jaipur are certainly a worthy addition to the bucket list of best things to do in India.
13. The Blue City Of Jodphur
From the ‘Pink City’ to the ‘Blue City’. If you’ve seen and like the look of the popular, photographed blue walls of India, then this is your place.
Obviously you are welcome to explore the city at your own will. However, the sea of boxy indigo houses stretch for more than 10 kilometres and it’s difficult to find the best spots.
So we took a Blue City Walking Tour, and the local guide showed us the ins-and-outs of all the alleyways. As well as broke down some of the interesting history behind the blue walls!
14. Jump In The Step Wells
After our tour of Jodhpur, we cooled off by jumping (quite literally) into one of the many step wells scattered around Jodhpur.
These ancient and intricate brick wells are used to collect and store water. Helping the city withstand the seasonal fluctuations, they also help prevent flooding during the rainy season.
Not only do they make for an awesome place to cool off, they can also be quite an adrenaline rush. We took the plunge and jumped in from the third tier of the steps.
Those that are feeling really brave can even join some of the locals and jump from the roof! Just make sure you have your travel insurance in place!
These unique and aesthetically pleasing wells are a ‘must-see’ of things to do in India.
15. Camp In The Jaisalmer Dessert
Far out west of the country, the one and only thing people head to Jaisalmer for is the desert!
Popular for its jeep or camel rides into the open sand dunes, there’s really no need to explain this one.
With agents all around the city tempting you in to book onto the city’s largest tourist attraction, you can book your Jaisalmer: Overnight Stay in Swiss Tent with Camel Safari in advance.
We spent the night tucked up around a flickering fire, while our local tour guide cooked up some home made curries.
Even better, we ate with our hands and stayed up late into the night sharing travel stories. This was a big India bucket list tick for us.
It’s an awesome chance to sleep under the stars and was definitely one of our favourite things in India.
16. Explore The Royal City Of Udaipur
Udaipur is set around a series of spectacular, artificial lakes and is known for its lavish royal residences.
City Palace, overlooking Lake Pichola, is a monumental complex of 11 palaces, courtyards and gardens. It’s also famed for its intricate peacock mosaics.
If you’re looking for an easy way to discover all that Udaipur has to offer, the Highlights of Udaipur, Guided Half-Day Car Tour is a great option.
This covers all the beautiful and famous sites of Udaipur, including Fateh Sagar Lake, Jagdish Temple and Saheliyon ki Bari.
There are some beautiful buildings to be seen, many scenic lakes as well as interesting historic temples in Udaipur.
Not only a beautiful city for sightseeing, Udaipur is also a popular trekking destination. So, if like us you enjoy a hike, don’t miss this city off your bucket list of things to do in India.
17. Hike Badi Lake
The hike from Badi Lake (12 km outside Udaipur) to the top of Bahubali Hill begins at Sunset Point. It takes roughly 30 minutes to reach the summit.
It’s not too strenuous, and once you reach the top, you can enjoy the fantastic, 180 degree view of Badi Lake and its surroundings.
After exploring through the cacti all the way up, our jaws literally dropped and cameras came straight out at the beautiful viewpoint.
On a clear day you can see for miles and the jagged islands that protrude Badi Lake give some of the mountains in Europe a run for their money.
Badi Lake in Udaipur really is a hidden gem for nature lovers. With a pleasant, quiet environment and almost no people in sight, we recommend taking a picnic and spending a few hours exploring.
18. Take A Sleeper Train
Taking a sleeper train is something you have to have on your India bucket list. Trains in India are actually quite organised (although it may feel like organised chaos) and you may need to book in advance.
There are various ticket classes you can buy, with the straightforward ‘sleeper’ being the cheapest. This has three tiers of bunks and open windows rather than air-con!
These carriages are usually pretty crowded and can be quite noisy with the beds not being the largest spaces.
However, this can be a great opportunity to mix with the locals and have a truly authentic Indian experience. It’s also a good option for covering a long distance in some comfort.
Whole families will often be travelling together, chatting and eating home made curries. Moreover, they are usually friendly and keen to engage with tourists. (Food and drinks are available to purchase on the train if needed.)
Although we can’t guarantee you the best nights sleep you’ve ever had, we would recommend this as one of the best things to do in India.
19. Visit The Slums Of Mumbai
Dharavi Slum in Mumbai is considered to be one of the largest slums in the world. Covering an area of just over 2sq km, it has a population of approximately 1,000,00.
We had been warned by many not to visit the slums alone. However, it was one of the most wholesome and warming experiences and definitely one of our favourite things to do in India.
The locals couldn’t have been friendlier, offering us into their homes, giving us food, and telling us all about the lifestyle within the slums.
Wandering through the lanes you will find a hive of industry with small shops, cafes, handicraft workshops as well as people collecting paper, plastic, cardboard and metal to take to recycling plants.
Dharavi Slums is definitely worth visiting if you are in Mumbai to see for yourself the impressive entrepreneurialism and spirit of the people that live there.
If you would prefer to visit with a guide, the Ethical Dharavi Walking Tour with Options will let you engage with locals and learn about its economic and social realities.
20. Gateway Of India
One the most popular and recognised landmarks when visiting Mumbai is the Gateway Of India. Built in December 1911, it was a grand gesture to welcome the King and Queen of England.
King George V and Queen Mary were the first British monarchs to visit Mumbai and this impressive monument has stood proudly ever since.
The Gateway of India comprises of a huge stone arch covered in beautiful latticework, with four turrets sitting majestically on top.
It has often been referred to as the Taj Mahal of Mumbai, as it is the city’s top tourist attraction and top of most travellers India bucket list.
If you’re looking for a guided tour of the city, with some local knowledge thrown in, we highly recommend the Mumbai: Private Full-Day Sightseeing Tour of the City.
21. Explore The Ruins Of Hampi
A lot of people don’t realise Hampi even exists until they arrive in India, and begin talking to other travellers.
A town straight out of The Flintstones, its huge boulder formations and laid back vibes put it right up there with our favourite places in the country.
This ancient village is great to explore by bicycle, and not too popular with tourists, so can be a quiet escape from the madness.
If you’re looking to visit Hampi straight from Goa, you can even arrange a Hampi 2-Day Sightseeing Tour from Goa.
We certainly recommend exploring all the ruins of Hampi and this little gem easily makes it onto the bucket list of best things to do in India.
22. Take A Kerala Backwaters Tour
If you visit Kerala, to really see the area, we recommend you take one of the beautiful Kerala Backwaters tours.
There are two types of Kerala Backwaters Tours to choose from and the easiest way to book is online in advance:
Both tours include lunch and pick-up from a meeting point in Fort Cochin, Kerala.
We cruised down the river on a full-day, house boat tour for 7 hours of pure relaxation. This is the perfect way to unwind if you have been travelling flat-out and want a break from the hustle and bustle.
For us, this was another of our favourite things to do in India.
23. Eat All Of The Street Food And Thali
We love trying local street food when travelling and you are absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to delicious street food in India.
Every region has its own specialities and you will be amazed at the hundreds of different options you will come across.
Chaat (savoury Indian snacks) is the most popular type of Indian street food. With some of the favourites being samosas, kachori, pad bhaji, and dahi vadas.
Other popular Indian street foods include kebabs, korma, biryani, Kulfi and many more that you will probably never have seen before.
One of our favourites was a Thali. This refers to many different dishes served in small bowls and arranged on a Thali (platter). All served with rice, pickle, salad, flatbread and dessert.
There are many street food tours of offer throughout India. For example, if you are in Delhi, the Old Delhi Street Food Tasting Tour showcases the street food scene with a tasting tour of local on-the-go snacks.
Eating street food has to be one of THE best things to do in India!
Where To Stay In India
For pre-booking accommodation when travelling, we always recommend Booking.com.
From 5 star hotels, to budget backpacker hostels, it’s got everything and the site is super easy to use.
So to compare deals, and pre-book all of your India accommodation, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.