As India sets the ball rolling to reopen its international borders for tourists starting October 15, we’ve curated a travel guide for you of its national capital. So, bookmark this, plan your holiday, and let the adventures begin! By Maya Kachroo-Levine
Visiting India is a bucket-list trip for plenty of seasoned travellers, and you can’t do better than starting your Indian vacation in New Delhi. From the essential attractions — like the Red Fort and Baháʼí Lotus Temple — to the incomparable North Indian cuisine on display at both high-end restaurants and street stalls in Old Delhi, the capital city of India will set the tone for your travels. And not only can you easily drive or train to nearby, must-visit destinations like Agra and Jaipur, but you can take short-haul flights from Delhi to staples like Goa or Kerala.
To guide your travels through New Delhi, we’ve outlined the best hotels in the city (and just wait until you experience Indian hospitality to the fullest extent at these five-star properties). We’ve also covered where to shop in Delhi, must-try restaurants, and notable points of interest. Follow this guide to neighbourhoods like Lodhi Colony (the first public art district in India), bazaars brimming with stalls selling antiques and embroidered silk, and restaurants serving hot-off-the-grill seekh kebabs.
India Standard Time (Greenwich Mean Time +5:30)
Best Time to Go
It’s best to avoid May through September in India when the heat is sweltering. The downpours are also fairly intense in July, August, and September, during what’s known as monsoon season. From a weather perspective, November to March is the best time to visit, when it’s coolest and driest — with temperatures in the 20s.
As for special events, Diwali happens in December, which lights up the city. In March, the city celebrates spring with vibrantly coloured Holi celebrations, which is exciting to experience as a visitor. If visiting for the festival of light (Diwali) or colour (Holi) isn’t possible, New Delhi also celebrates Republic Day on January 26 with an impressive parade.
Things to Know
Hindi is the national language in India. “Namaste” is the word for “hello.” When greeting people, say namaste while bringing your hands together at your heart and bowing just slightly. It’s also common to say “namaskaar” as a greeting.
It is not safe to drink tap water in India. Only drink bottled water — many tourists even choose to brush their teeth with bottled water. When you’re sold a bottle of water, check the seal to make sure it’s a brand-new bottle, rather than one that’s been refilled.
Some of the most important holidays in India are Diwali (October or November), Holi (March), and Navrati (September or October). Dates vary for each of the holidays.
Calling Code: +91
Currency: Indian Rupee (Check the current exchange rate)
How to Get Around
Trains: The Delhi Metro has improved significantly in recent years. The rapid transport cars bring locals and tourists seamlessly around the city, and the Airport Metro Express Line provides transportation from Delhi Airport. You can buy a tourist metro day pass for 150 rupees or a three-day pass for 300 rupees.
Buses: The metropolis is serviced by DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) buses. The buses are not always air-conditioned and get fairly crowded. Fares run from 5 to 25 rupees depending on the length of your trip.
Taxis and Rickshaws: For short trips around Delhi, it’s easy to hop in a rickshaw on the street, which features a carriage and is pulled by a cyclist. For longer trips, you can also take an auto-rickshaw, which is essentially an open-air carriage with a typical car engine. Auto-rickshaws double as taxi cabs, though you can also call an on-demand taxi. Car service: Ola Cabs are very popular in Delhi, and the city is also serviced by Uber.
Address: Dr Zakir Hussain Marg, Delhi Golf Club, Golf Links, New Delhi, Delhi 110003, India
Phone: +91 11 2436 3030
The Oberoi properties are known for their opulence, and when you combine that with Indian warmth and hospitality, the resulting experience is exceptional. The Oberoi, New Delhi looks out at Humayun’s Tomb and is set next to a luxurious golf course. The 220-room hotel is also home to four acclaimed restaurants as well as a patisserie and a cigar bar.
The Leela Palace New Delhi
Address: Africa Ave, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, Delhi 110023, India
Phone: +91 11 3933 1234
The Leela is an Indian luxury brand through and through, with other properties in Chennai, Jaipur, Goa, and Udaipur, among other locales. For a truly over-the-top hotel stay in New Delhi, look into one of The Leela Palace’s 18 suites, which come with butler service and access to the Royal Club Lounge on property.
Address: Taj Palace, 2, Sardar Patel Marg, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, Delhi 110021, India
Phone: +91 11 2611 0202
The rooms at the Taj fuse Indian style with modern design. The hotel is set on six acres of gardens and a nine-hole mini-golf course. Guests will also love the hotel’s Jiva Spa and four on-site restaurants.
ITC Maurya, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Address: Sardar Patel Marg, Akhaura Block, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, Delhi 110021, India
Phone: +91 11 2611 2233
A Luxury Collection property in the heart of New Delhi, ITC Maurya is home to one of the city’s finest restaurants: Bukhara. While Bukhara serves upscale Indian fare, ITC Maurya also has a rooftop Italian restaurant overlooking the city. Beyond the hotel’s dining options, the building that houses ITC Maurya is also significant — it makes the property a first-in-its-class LEED EB Platinum-rated hotel.
Address: Lodhi Rd, CGO Complex, Pragati Vihar, New Delhi, Delhi 110003, India
Phone: +91 11 4363 3333
Near the Lodi Gardens, on seven acres of pristine land, The Lodhi is a favourite among locals and travellers alike. The contemporary design of the hotel will wow visitors as soon as they walk in.
Address: Shop No. 1, 2/5, Vikas Marg, Sagar Complex, New Rajdhani Enclave, Preet Vihar, New Delhi, Delhi 110092, India
Phone: +91 11 2250 6311
Head to Old Delhi, meander down alleyways, around corners, and through the crowds — and just when you think you’re completely lost, you’ll find you’ve arrived at Karim’s. Home to some of the best seekh kebabs in India, this hole-in-the-wall is a Delhi institution and ideal for takeaway, because there are very few tables inside.
Address: ITC Maurya, Sardar Patel Marg, Akhaura Block, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, Delhi 110021, India
Within the Luxury Collection hotel, ITC Maurya, Bukhara is known for its tandoori oven-baked delicacies. Drawing inspiration from northwest India, Bukhara regularly hosts celebrities and is known for World’s 50 Best Restaurants-level acclaim.
Address: Barahindu Roa Road, Gali Umrao, Pahari Dhiraj, Sadar Bazaar, New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India
Phone: +91 99535 22481
In a historic neighbourhood, Noora Nihari is known for exceptional Indian takeout. It’s not a sit-down, reservations-in-advance kind of restaurant. They serve nihari, a North Indian stew with lamb or goat, alongside freshly made Indian breads called roti.
Bade Mian ki Kheer
Address: 2867, Bazar Sirkiwalan, Chawri Bazar, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India
Phone: +91 98116 21763
Kheer is a must-try Indian dessert—it’s lightly spiced (read: cardamom-infused), creamy, fragrant rice pudding. Bade Mian ki Kheer makes some of the best rice pudding in the city. Rather than stopping in at a sweet shop and taking your kheer to go, Bade Mian ki Kheer offers a welcoming, sit-down dessert experience.
Al Jawahar Restaurant
Address: 8, Near, Matia Mahal Rd, Bazar Matia Mahal, Jama Masjid, Old Delhi New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India
Another hole-in-the-wall in Old Delhi that’s stood the test of time thanks to exceptional flavours, Al Jawahar is also known for their seekh kebabs. You’ll also want to sample this Chandni Chowk restaurant’s thick curries — and save room for kheer.
Farmer’s Basket at Pluck
Address: Asset No 02 GMR Hospitality District IGI Airport New Delhi, Aerocity, Delhi 110037- Pullman Lobby level, New Delhi, Delhi 110037, India
Phone: +91 11 4608 0840
Located within Accor’s Pullman New Delhi Aerocity, Farmer’s Basket at Pluck is perhaps the best meal you’ll find at an airport hotel. Serving a seasonal menu with locally grown produce, their plates are artistic, well-curated, and vegetable-forward.
Things to Do
Address: Netaji Subhash Marg, Lal Qila, Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India
Phone: +91 11 2327 7705
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the famous Red Fort is a celebration of Mughal architecture. The fort was completed in the mid-1600s when a Mughal emperor moved the capital from Agra to Delhi. Visit the Red Fort from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm any day except Monday.
Address: Mathura Road Opposite, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah, Mathura Rd, Nizamuddin, Nizamuddin East, New Delhi, Delhi 110013, India
Phone: +91 11 2435 5275
Also a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Humayun’s Tomb is a stunning, clay-coloured mausoleum erected in 1570. The must-see point of interest is open daily from 6 am to 6 pm.
Address: Lotus Temple Rd, Bahapur, Shambhu Dayal Bagh, Kalkaji, New Delhi, Delhi 110019, India
Phone: +91 11 2644 4029
The Baháʼí are known for curating picturesque gardens and erecting beautiful places of worship. On 26 acres of land, the Lotus Temple welcomes visitors of any and all religions. The temple design fascinates whether you’re photographing the lotus structure from the outside or experiencing the concrete, ribbed-dome interiors.
Address: Lodhi Rd, Lodhi Gardens, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi, Delhi 110003, India
Phone: +91 11 2464 0079
Covering 90 acres, the Lodhi Gardens are akin to New York’s Central Park and London’s Hyde Park. You’ll find two mausoleums and more than 100 species of trees within these gardens.
Address: Janpath Rd, Rajpath Area, Central Secretariat, New Delhi, Delhi 110011, India
Phone: +91 11 2379 2775
The National Museum is home to more than 2 million ancient artefacts. From archaeological discovery to never-before-seen photography from past decades, the National Museum is a perfect way to experience Indian culture over the last century. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday.
Address: Rashtrapati Bhawan, President’s Estate, New Delhi, Delhi 110004, India
Phone: +91 11 2301 5321
Called the President’s Palace, Rashtrapati Bhavan is indeed the official residence of the Indian president. Originally completed in 1929, you can tour the main building, the on-site museum, and the scenic gardens on the 330-acre estate.
Address: 2573, Nai Sarak, Raghu Ganj, Roshanpura, Old Delhi New Delhi, Delhi 110006, India
A staple of Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk (which means Moonlight Square) is right by the Old Delhi Railway Station and not far from the Red Fort. It’s one of the oldest bazaars in Delhi, and you’ll find a little bit of everything here — from antiques to copper to jewellery to handmade clothing.
Address: 61A, Khan Market, Rabindra Nagar New Delhi, Delhi 110003, India
In an upscale Delhi neighbourhood, Khan Market has extensive shopping and great restaurants. Grab a kebab at Mughali restaurant Khan Chacha or macarons at L’Opera. Find Ayurvedic remedies at Kama Ayurveda and browse jewellery shops where you might find some well-priced gems.
Address: INA Market, Dilli Haat, Kidwai Nagar West, Kidwai Nagar, Delhi, 110023, India
Phone: +91 11 2611 9055
A confluence of art, fashion, and Indian culture, Dilli Haat is a lively market with beautiful textiles and local crafts. Make sure to take a lunch break while shopping here, at stalls like Bijoli Grill or Rajasthan.
Sarojini Nagar Market
Address: Sarojini Nagar, New Delhi, Delhi 110023, India
Sarojini Nagar Market is a great place for clothes shopping. Indian markets like this sell handwoven fabrics that you can then have made into one-of-a-kind clothing — and Sarojini Nagar Market is a perfect place to try this tradition.
Connaught Place Market
Address: Hanuman Road Area, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Delhi 110001, India
Commonly referred to as “CP,” Connaught Place Market is one of the most upscale shopping areas. The structure that houses Connaught Place Market is divided into three circles: the inner circle, middle circle, and outer circle. The inner-circle has global luxury brands in addition to well-known Indian shops.
Neighbourhoods to Know
Old Delhi: While you’re unlikely to stay in Old Delhi, visiting the neighbourhood and the market, or stopping in for dinner, is one of the most crucial experiences you can have — not just in Delhi, but in India. You’ll find dining institutions, and motorcycles weaving through bustling crowds of locals and tourists.
Lodhi Colony: A newer neighbourhood in Delhi, close to the Lodi Gardens, Lodhi Colony is the first public arts district in India. The hip enclave is covered in street art and is right off the Delhi metro.
Hauz Khas Village: A vibrantly coloured, trendy village in New Delhi, Hauz Khas is known for great shopping, intriguing art galleries, and Instagrammable restaurants. Find a new outfit at OGAAN boutique, then head upstairs to their gourmet Coast Cafe — or go out on the town at Hauz Khas Social.
Nizamuddin: Close to Humayun’s Tomb and India Gate, Nizamuddin is a tangle of busy, narrow streets, where street carts serving some of the most authentic Delhi eats stay open to all hours of the night. While popular among tourists for its proximity to must-see attractions, Nizamuddin is — at its core — a long-standing locals’ neighbourhood.
Paharganj: A more rundown Delhi neighbourhood, Paharganj is busy and tends to attract budget travellers because it’s inexpensive. However, Paharganj is not the safest neighbourhood (crime is a very real concern), so if you’re heading to this area, remember to stay with a larger group that makes you feel comfortable
Winter: Winter is perhaps the best time to visit (weather-wise). You’ll find the temperature to be around 22 degrees Celsius and minimal rain from December to March.
Spring: Spring significantly warms up New Delhi — you’ll find the temperature around 30 degrees Celsius in March and April. Nonetheless, it’s still preferable to visit in the spring compared to the summer months, because travelling to New Delhi in April means you’ll be there before monsoon season. By May, the intense heat and rain comes in full force.
Summer: Welcome to monsoon season. In June, July, and August, you’ll find temperatures to be over 35 degrees Celsius and as much as five inches of rain per month. Summer is not an ideal time to visit India.
Fall: You’ll still find hot temperatures and hefty rainfall in September and October. By November, temperatures dip and the rain dissipates, which makes it a good time to visit.
The following are average Celsius lows and highs by month. Average annual precipitation is 22.42 inches.
January: 7°C to 20°C
February: 11°C to 25°C
March: 16°C to 31°C
April: 21°C to 37°C
May: 25°C to 40°C
June: 27°C to 39°C
July: 27°C to 36°C
August: 26°C to 35°C
September: 25°C to 34°C
October: 20°C to 33°C
November: 13°C to 28°C
December: 8 °C to 23°C