Best places to visit in India
One of the first questions you ask yourself when planning a trip to India is simply: where to go and what are the best places to visit in India? It’s hard to answer that question due to the sheer magnitude of the country. In the following article we want to give you a good understanding of your options. It will hopefully help you understand which regions are popular, which are not as touristy and all the many delights and challenges of the said regions. With all this in mind you can make a decision on your preferred travel destination. If you’d rather discuss this with our travel magicians and gurus, plan your trip with us and we can help you find the perfect places for you to visit.
What can you expect from India?
India is the seventh largest country in the world. We are blessed with some stunningly diverse geographical terrain. A desert landscape, a beach holiday, an idyllic island vacation, a mountain journey, a wildlife exploration, a lush green plains and backwaters adventure or even a combination of them is possible when you visit India.
Add a rich and ancient history under different reigns and their architectural influences paired with India’s deeply religious and spiritual culture, and if you got yourself a complete holiday, delving much deeper into India’s identity.
Most of the trips we plan include one, two or even sometimes three geographical elements. You can rarely escape history/culture and places of worship in India. Indeed, almost all our trips include regular forays into these categories.
Even if your trip is short and you don’t visit multiple regions you will still have vastly different experiences within the same holiday.
Which regions are the most popular?
Popular (but, rightly so) regions are the following:
Rajasthan contains stunning forts and palaces, national parks offering tiger safaris, and the endless beautiful desert. You’ll also find charming (but often very affordable) heritage hotels across the region.
India Someday recommends a minimum of 7 nights for this region and up to 14 nights at most. Visiting Agra and/or Varanasi would be something additional to plan in a Rajasthan trip.
Kerala is another popular region. Rolling hills blanketed in spice and tea plantations, lazy backwaters, thriving rainforests, balmy beaches and fabulous food all in one small state. Lovely traditional hotels, houseboats and innumerable homestays make holidays there incredibly intimate.
India Someday recommends a minimum of 5 nights for this region and up to 10 nights at most. You can combine Kerala with Karnataka (Hampi, Mysore), Tamil Nadu (Madurai, Tanjore, Pondicherry) or Goa.
The ruins of Hampi are a must-see in Karnataka, a great addition to any South India visit
Goa is lined with bustling beaches that stay warm all winter long. The Portuguese influence means great international and Indian food (especially seafood), architecture and a lush green countryside that provides a ton of alternatives to the beaches. Also known for its vibrant nightlife, Goa is one of the most tourist-saturated regions in India, but India Someday can dig out places to stay that are miles away from the boisterous crowds. Lovely beachfront properties, beach huts, boutique hotels and luxurious resorts are all available in Goa.
India Someday recommends a minimum of 3 nights and up to 7 nights stay. Visiting Hampi for 2-3 nights is a nice addition to a Goa trip.
Where can you go if the mountains are more your thing?
Some of the sublime views in Himachal Pradesh
India’s borders hold in thousands of kilometers of the Himalayan mountain range. We love the mountains; and have successfully arranged several weeklong trekking trips in different parts of the great Himalayas. You can either plan a serious trekking holiday or just enjoy a few days in the Himalayas.
Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are easily reachable from Delhi. Both states have innumerable multiple day trekking routes. You can also look at relaxed mountain stays, soaking the surroundings and going on daily hikes. India Someday recommends a minimum of 4 nights, and up to 10 nights for the Himalayas. Look at between 6 to 10 days if you wish to do a multiple day trek, crisscrossing picturesque Himalayan villages. (India Someday helps you organise the logistics for multiple-day treks)
Leh and Ladakh, accessible only from June until mid-October, is a part of the high Tibetan Plateau. One can do a trekking trip or just a sightseeing holiday. We recommend a week to 10 days to include a visit to this region. One can take up to three days to reach Leh and Ladakh from Delhi.
Another tiny but beautiful Himalayan state is Sikkim, in the Northeastern part of India. It boasts of strong Buddhist influences that are evident by the remarkable monasteries you’ll find there. We recommend allocating a week to nine days to include a visit to Sikkim.
What are some less touristy and interesting regions to visit?
Tamil Nadu, which borders the South Indian state Kerala, receives a lot less tourists than its neighbour. Home to stunning ancient temple complexes, it also has lovely hill stations and national parks. Pondicherry (a former French coastal city) is a convenient stopover while traversing the region. India Someday recommends a minimum of 6 days and up to 12 days for Tamil Nadu
Karnataka is the state above Kerala. It is home to the Unesco World Heritage town Hampi, endless coffee plantations and remarkable forestry. Mysore, the city of palaces, is a nice and short drive from Bengaluru. India Someday recommends a minimum of 6 days and up to 10 days for Karnataka. See a trip across South India through Hampi here.
Gujarat is just south of Rajasthan and receives a fraction of the number of tourists that Rajasthan receives. Once can easily tack on a few days in Gujarat while visiting Rajasthan. It is dotted with temples, has a vibrant handicraft industry, pretty coastal stops and is home to the only national park in India that features the Asiatic Lion. India Someday recommends 3 days to up to a week for Gujarat.
Madhya Pradesh in the very centre of India is a large state with a lot of interesting architecture and home to some of the finest national parks in India. If you are willing to endure longer travel times, Madhya Pradesh is the ideal destination to plan a wildlife holiday. Khajuraho (home to the famous erotic temples) and Orchha (a quaint temple town) can be conveniently included when planning a North India trip (Delhi – Agra – Varanasi – Rajasthan trip would be a great one). India Someday recommends allocating a minimum of 4 days and up to 10 days for Madhya Pradesh.
Where to go to be even more off-the-beaten-path?
Yes there are states like Orissa and Chhattisgarh, unfortunately we don’t know these states well and do not plan trips there. The Himalayan state Jammu & Kashmir, where Leh and Ladakh are, is breathtakingly beautiful and we are happy to plan trips for our guests interested. However, tourists due to security concerns often avoid the region, so we can’t take responsibility for their safety.
The far Northeast (seven states called the seven sisters like Meghalaya, Assam or Nagaland) is a gorgeous natural remote region of India. We plan trips to this region with the help of a like-minded travel agency.
Assam’s geographical remoteness makes it and the rest of the Northeastern states the best low-key place to visit
Where should you go if you only have two weeks in India?
We usually recommend either just a North India trip, or just a South India trip. For a North India trip, a short visit to the Himalayas is a possible addition. Here are some ideas for a two week trip visiting the north.
If you love beaches, you can add a few days in Goa to either trip.
If hiking is something you intend on doing, or you just want to be completely away from other tourists, then look for an exclusively trekking holiday or an entire two weeks in one of the less popular states.
A trip across the highlights of both North India and South India is possible. We usually ask our guest to aim for at least a two and half-week holiday to include both regions but that would be pretty fast-paced.
Where should you go for three weeks or more in India?
Your options would now be an extensive trip into either north or south, or a combination of both. You can also consider seeing the spiritual cities or trek in the Himalayas plus a visit around Rajasthan.
You can almost always allocate some beach time, or look at two weeks in the popular regions and a week in the less frequented regions. Or check out our blog for some four weeks trip ideas.
All in all, it really depends on how long you want be travelling for and the preferences you have. If you’re a history and culture buff, the trip will be different to a nature fanatic. The amount of time and the pace is also up to you, as is the amount of distance you prefer travelling in one sitting.
We hope this information serves as a good starting point to explore the options for an Indian holiday. As we plan a guests route, we usually exchange various e-mails, so the route is always malleable to your specific needs and desires. If only one, all, or none of these regions appeal to you, plan your trip with us and let us know where you want to and we’ll make it happen. Here are all of our tour ideas that you can get some inspiration from.