15 Best Things To Do in India

Created by Harsh Sonawala,

Last Updated on March 29, 2024

From staying in small towns to visiting majestic royal palaces, enjoying a desert camel safari to looking at panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, here is our list of the 14 best things to do in India.

We believe India should be on everyone’s travel bucket list, right at the top. With our exotic culture and extremely diverse landscapes, there are so many things to do in India that you cannot do elsewhere in the world. There is beauty in every corner of India, which makes it a popular place for a vacation. Be it treks in Himachal Pradesh, or exploring Mumbai, the heart of bollywood films, marveling at the Thar desert, or just boating in Lake Pichola – there is so much to experience in this multi-faceted country.

 

Photo by Harsh Sonawala at radhanagar beach Andamansnm  Photo by Harsh Sonawala at radhanagar beach Andamans

1. The Taj Mahal in Agra

Yes a little cliched, but there is just something about the Taj Mahal! The Taj Mahal might be the first thing that comes to your  mind when you think of India, and rightfully so. While some may say it is overrated, the Taj Mahal is one of the most fascinating monuments in the world. Not for nothing is it one of the wonders of the world! It was built entirely of white marble by Emperor Shah Jahan for his beloved wife Mumtaz, and is said to be her final resting place.

Check out our practical guide on getting around Agra for more information on the fascination that is the Taj Mahal.

UNESCO World Heritage Site in India One of the great wonders of the world and the monument of love: The Taj Mahal

2.National Parks

India is home to some magnificent national parks with great flora and fauna.

Many wildlife enthusiasts and travellers visit national parks to catch a glimpse of the majestic Bengal Tiger. With its population slowly on the rise in the subcontinent’s protected areas, a wildlife safari to see the elusive tigers is one of the best experiences you can get in India.

Some popular parks to spot the royal cat are the Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan, Kanha Tiger Reserve, Pench National Park, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, Tadoba National Park, and Jim Corbett National Park. 

Do note that accommodations in the protected areas are expensive. To get there you will mostly have to book private transport as public transport options will not exist. Jeep Safaris are often fully booked three months in advance so make sure that you are prepared.

Keoladeo National Park, nestled in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur, is a paradise for nature lovers. With diverse wetlands and lush greenery, it’s a haven for migratory birds, especially during winter. Over 370 species of birds live in this natural habitat, making it a haven for birdwatchers. You can stroll or cycle through its lush greenery, spotting vibrant avian life. The park’s diverse ecosystems also support animals like deer and boars. Make sure you bring your binoculars and camera for a memorable experience.

Some other national parks worth visiting are the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Kaziranga National Park, Gir National Park, and Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

Tiger Safari, Amongst the best things to do in India: a tiger safari at a National Park

3. Adventurous Activities

India has no dearth of outdoor activities for the adventure-seekers.

The Himalayas, home to the highest peaks, are one of the largest mountain ranges in the world. With views so extraordinary, a trip amidst these towering mountains can be a surreal experience, especially if you love adventure.

There are so many things to do: day and multi-day hikes, paragliding, bungee jumping, zip-lining, rafting, skiing and so on. Check out Coralie’s trip to Leh and Ladakh in the Himalayas and Joanna’s and Alejandro’s trip to the north-eastern mountains for first-hand accounts on visiting these areas.

During winters, you can plan a trip along the Western Ghats along the western coast of India from Maharashtra to Kerala. Here you can hike in between tea and coffee plantations, explore hidden waterfalls and enjoy the subtropical rainforests older than any other monument you can find in India. The climate is quite pleasant during this season.

India’s yoga capital Rishikesh is a haven for thrill-seekers. The Ganges River offers exciting white-water river rafting adventures. The rush of the rapids combined with the stunning Himalayan scenery creates an unforgettable experience. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned rafter, Rishikesh’s waters won’t disappoint.

Other than this, you can go scuba diving at Andaman Islands, caving in Meghalaya, kayaking in Goa, or rock climbing in Satpura.

Check out what Daphne did on her 14-days-trip across South India. Alternatively, for more information about skiing in Kashmir, take a look at our blog. If you thought India is just ruins and urban chaos, think again!

 

Mountains and clear skies Escape to the mountains, like the Lahaul Spiti, and enjoy the paradisiacal landscape

4. the Backwaters of Kerala

The Backwaters of Kerala in Southwest India are a labyrinth of waterways parallel to the coast of the Arabian Sea. With waterlily-covered lakes, small winding canals with palm and fruit trees, and surrounding little villages far away from the urban chaos, this place offers serenity and peace for the nature-loving traveller.

If we had to suggest one of the top things to do in India in Kerala, we’d tell you that there is no better way to explore this piece of natural wonder than by renting a private houseboat for one night. It can get expensive, though, so go for it if you don’t mind splurging. Otherwise, you can stay at a lovely homestay and opt for kayaking and day cruise.

Cruise through the river while eating fresh fish, fruits and other delicacies cooked by your very own chef. Then relax in your own private lounge, which makes for the best treat of your India trip!

Read about the best time to travel to Kerala and see Tom and Amy’s trip to South India for some inspiration.

Explore Further: Navigating the Best Times for Kerala

best things to do in India Venture into the mysterious backwaters of Kerala

5. Beaches of Goa

If you are looking for a relaxing beach vacation for your trip, then Goa has to be one of the top destinations for that. Wide sand beaches with palm groves lead to small shacks ready to serve you delicious fish and other culinary treats. Most resorts have beach huts where you can hear the waves break and watch the sunset over the Arabic Sea.

There is something for everyone: a crazy nightlife for party animals and, in contrast, quiet beaches for a relaxed day. Goa has fun, small budget hostels for long-term travellers but also luxury resorts for guests who prefer more comfort. There are many restaurants and cafes with international cuisines to try. Be aware that most resorts are booked out for December and January months as this is the prime season!

If you are interested in more than sunbathing at the beach, read this article by one of our travellers about things to do in Goa.

things to do in India Colourful huts fringe the beaches in Goa

 6. Homestays with Local Families

What are travellers hoping to experience when they decide to come to India? A culture that is substantially different from their own. How can they achieve this? By meeting locals and getting to know their mentality, traditions, spiritual beliefs and daily routines. There is no better way to make this experience a part of your trip to India than by staying at a homestay. This is one of those unmissable things to do in India.

These are basically homes of local families who rent out rooms in their own houses. They cook for you, chat with you, tell you stories and show you how they live their life. The owners can give you a great perspective of the city from the eyes of a local rather than a chain hotel. They suggest the best things to do in the city that you may have otherwise not known about.

Read about Henning from Germany who decided to stay entirely in Homestays during his trip through Rajasthan.

Heritage homestays Reside in homestays to get a genuine experience of this great country

7. majestic forts and palaces

All over Rajasthan, Central, and North India, you will find traces of history from the days of the Moguls and Maharajas. A lot of the bigger cities and rural villages of today were once homes of different ruling families. The kingdoms were protected from the enemies by building large forts and massive royal palaces with stunning architecture.

Situated in the Pink City Jaipur, the City Palace is a majestic blend of Mughal and Rajput architecture. Its ornate courtyards, gardens, and stunning palaces tell the tale of Rajasthan’s royal history. The museum displays royal artifacts, textiles, and art. The palace’s vibrant colors and intricate designs are a visual treat, offering a beautiful front to the Pink City.

The Agra Fort in Agra, the Amber Fort in Jaipur, the magnificent forts of Maharashtra, Rajputana Museum, Gwalior Fort, are just some examples of the seeped history of India.

Many of these strongholds were transformed into luxury hotels when India became a democracy and the royal families had lost their powers. So you can stay in hotel rooms with very detailed traditional wall murals and antique furniture, looking over royal land just like the kings and queens used to many centuries ago. This is not always as expensive as you might think! Plan with us and we can tell you where you can stay like a royal guest but on a smaller budget.

Looking for an Opulent Stay in India? Checkout some Unparalleled Luxury Hotels in India

Deogarh Deogarh Mahal is a former royal palace transformed into a hotel

8. traditional Festivals

India has some of the most incredible spiritual festivals. There is Holi, the festival of colors, or Diwali, the festival of lights, both celebrated with splendour throughout the country. Ramadan is the Muslim festival where they fast for a month and end it with a delicious feast when the moon rises on the thirtieth day on Eid. In Mumbai, people extensively celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi, a holiday that marks the birthday of the beloved elephant-headed God.

There are so many festivals and they are all so different to what is celebrated at home. Partaking in local festive celebrations is definitely one of the best things to do in India.

Learn more about the most important festivals here.

colourful smiles and tradtion Celebrating the festival of colours: Holi

9. Spiritual and Rejuvenating Experience

Yoga and Ayurveda, originated in India, is practiced all over the country. Traditional Indian medicine and treatments are all about using the healing powers of nature and focus on the relationship between body and mind. For those who can stay for a longer time in India, there are many ashrams and Ayurveda institutes that offer spiritual and physical healing. Certain hotels and resorts offer yoga classes as a one-time activity as well. In most cities, private teachers also offer yoga classes on a regular basis.

things to do in india Experience Ayurveda as a way to rejuvenate yourself in India

10. Religious Tourism

India is one of the most religious destinations in the world, with people of all religions and faiths finding solace here. Religion is truly celebrated in this country. Be it the Ganga aarti in Varanasi, Vaishno Devi in Jammu, Mathura and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, or Tirupati Balaji in Chennai – India has temples even in the remotest villages. A journey to India would be incomplete without visiting at least one place of worship.

The Golden Temple, Amritsar’s spiritual heart, is a serene place of worship for Sikhs and a symbol of unity and equality. Its golden facade reflects in a shimmering pool, creating a breathtaking sight. The langar (community kitchen) serves free meals to all, emphasizing humanity’s shared values and giving the weary traveler a warm welcome to Indian food.

Ram Mandir in Ayodhya is another religious marvel with a lot of history behind its construction.

oone of the things to do in india visiting Varanasi for religious tourism The Subah E benaras in Varanasi – Photo credit Harsh Sonawala

 

11. Responsible Tourism Activities

India has many Responsible Tourism activities that make you understand the culture in a sensible way. Reality Tours & Travel run slum tours in Mumbai and Delhi that aim to break down the negative stereotypes people might have of these communities. They invest 80% of their profits into social activities in the slums.

While you are in Agra check out the wonderful Sheroes Hangout Café run by survivors of acid attacks. The proceeds fully go to their medical and legal aid.

Kabani Tours run responsible tours in Kerala which educate the visitors about the traditions of local ethnic groups. You can combine those tours with an individual trip across South India.

NGO organised slum tours Interact with the locals during Slum tours

12. Architecture

India boasts 38 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, each a treasure trove of history and culture. From the iconic Taj Mahal to ancient cave complexes, these sites reflect India’s rich past. Start your tour early morning and explore grand forts, study intricately carved temples and soak in breathtaking natural landscapes. There are plenty of tour guides available who can share the stories behind these architectural marvels. A journey through these iconic tourism spots is a journey through India’s heritage.

If you are a history buff, visiting India for the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Agra Fort, Fatehpur Sikri, and Qutub Minar – is worth the trip. These monumental artistic wonders are windows into India’s history. While Mughal emperor Shah Jahan etched his love for his beloved wife in the marble magnificence that is the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, a red sandstone marvel, once housed emperors and echoes with tales of the past. Fatehpur Sikri, a splendid ghost city, captivates with its grandeur. Qutub Minar, an ancient tower, stands as a testament to New Delhi’s historical significance. Each site has a unique story to tell.

one of the things to do in India is see its stunning architecture spanning multiple dynasties The taj in the morning – photo credit indiasomeday client

 

13. City Tours

While India is usually visited for its heritage and cultural sites, daily life in the cities of India also leave a lot to be explored.

The financial capital of India, Mumbai, shows stark contrast with skyscrapers co-existing with the British architecture, but also with the slums of Dharavi.

West Bengal, with its old world charm, trams, kathi rolls, and Howrah Bridge will make you just stop and stare for a while.

Step back in time with a tour of Old Delhi. Explore bustling markets of the old city, like Chandni Chowk market, where you can sample delicious street food and shop for traditional goods. Visit historic sites like Jama Masjid, one of India’s largest mosques, and immerse yourself in the vibrant chaos of this timeless city.

Every city in India has its own charm and will give you a very different experience.

See also: When is the best time to visit India?

 

14. Indian Food

If you are a foodie, you need to try the local food in India. While it is not something we would recommend for a sensitive stomach, Indian food has a fanbase of its own.

Every state has its own cuisine, and every household has a different taste. With recipes passed down over generations, food in India is delectable, nutritious, and you do not need to spend a lot of money.

Butter chicken, vada pav, dosa, lassi, biryani, chicken tikka, chaat – India is a paradise for food lovers.

You can either go on food tours, explore on your on own or even take a cooking class in most cities.

15. People Watching

The density of population in India can sometimes be quite overwhelming as you navigate your way through crowds. But it also makes India a great place for people-watching. So you can just sit back and relax in a shack in Goa, or a cafe in Varanasi overlooking the ghats, or the Tattoo Cafe across Hawa Mahal, or a small restaurant in the ever-busy Mumbai, and just watch the world go by. Believe us, it is one of the most relaxing and fun activities to do!

Of course, there is a lot more that you can do in India and they are all so different from one another. We can suggest additional activities that will fit your expectations for a perfect trip to India. Plan your India trip with us now and we can find together the best route and itinerary for you.

Plan Your Escape: Best Places to Visit in North India

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Which are the best things to experience in India?

Some of the best things about India include its many different terrains, cuisines, languages, religions, sports, art forms, and famous monuments. India is steeped in history, with so many regal empires to take inspiration from. Whether you are a photographer, tea enthusiast, swimmer, or luxury traveler, you will find more than one corner of this country to your liking. From mountains to deserts, rivers to grasslands, India houses almost every kind of geographical terrain. The people of India are hospitable, warm, and eager to host and share stories with travelers. The majority of people in major cities understand and speak English as well, which makes it easy to communicate. 

What is the most famous thing in India?

While there are several monuments and sights in India, the most popular or world-famous ones include the Taj Mahal, Qutab  Minar and Hawa Mahal. There are also annual festivals that attract visitors from all over the world, such as Diwali and Holi. 

What are 5 interesting facts about India?

Five interesting facts about India:

  • The production and consumption of beef is prohibited in most states in india 
  • The Taj Mahal is actually a mausoleum
  • The number ‘0’ was invented in India
  • There is a Temple of Rats in Rajasthan
  • India has the world’s highest motorable road

See Also: Rajasthan’s Tourist Hotspots

 

 

helping you travel your way

Everything you need to know about India is here We have tried writing about everything you may need help with for your trip to India, If you need help in planning a trip to India Get in touch with us to to plan your trip of a life time.

find out how