So, what are the best things to do in Delhi for first time travelers to India? As a traveler, you are spoilt for choice in Delhi. You can either go out and explore the ancient places in Delhi or simply sit and relax. Some of you might even like to visit trendy places in the city. So, what are the awesome things to do while you are in Delhi?
Best Things To Do in Delhi and Around New Delhi
Best Things To Do in Delhi and Around New Delhi For first time Travelers in India:
1. The Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum
Until a few years ago, nobody could enter the Rashtrapati Bhavan or the President’s House Then things changed in 2012 and since then, visitors can check out the museum located inside the President’s House.
When Was Rashtrapati Bhavan Built?
It was built in the early part of the 20th-century as the official residence of the British viceroy. It became the property of independent India after the British left the country in 1947. The Rashtrapati Bhavan is sprawled over several acres and has hundreds of rooms within it.
Entry isn’t free. Your ticket prices depend upon your nationality. You can book a tour of the Rashtrapati Bhavan museum online or go there and buy a ticket. Carry your passport or some proof of identity.
2. Change of Guards at The Rashtrapati Bhavan
One of the best things to do in Delhi is to watch the awesome Change of Guards ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Have you seen the Guards of the Indian President? No? Well, they are over 6 -feet tall, exceedingly handsome, and all of them are from the army. Plus, all the Guards ride horses on duty.
Watch the Change of Guards ceremony every Saturday and look at the dancing horses. You can book this event online but you must carry your identity card to get entry to the President’s House.
To reach the venue, you will have to drive to the main entrance of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. And yes, there is ample parking space within the Bhavan.
3. Mughal Garden, Rashtrapati Bhavan
The Mughal Gardens are the soul of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. These lawns are spread over 15 acres and attract many Indian and foreign tourists around during February- March.
The Mughal Gardens were laid down in the 1920s and their design is heavily inspired by the more older Royal Mughal Gardens of the Kashmir valley.
Step into these magical lawns with your friends and family. To book your tour, click this link. One of the best things to do in Delhi for first time travelers in India
4. National Gallery of Modern Art
If you are crazy about art, then may I suggest you visit the NGMA near the India Gate?
I haven’t been to this pretty building but you should. This 20th-century palace -turned museum contains several pieces of modern art. It was constructed by a Raja of Jaipur and even after more than 100 years of its construction, retains its charm and beauty.
The name of this Raja was Sawai Madho Singh and he fathered 65 kids in his lifetime!
To plan your visit to this museum, click here.
Please note that the entry to the NGMA is not free.
5. India Gate and The National War Memorial
One of the best things to do in Delhi is a visit to the iconic National War Memorial and the India Gate.
India Gate has been a part of Delhi’s history and legacy for more than 100 years but the War Memorial is the latest addition to the city’s travel landscape.
Both the two buildings are dedicated to the fallen soldiers but the National War Memorial is meant only for the armed forces of independent India. The India Gate, on the other hand, was made in honor of the soldiers of the British Indian Army who died in the First World War. You can read more about the Gate here.
6. National Museum, Janpath
Your trip to Delhi would be incomplete without a visit to the National Museum. It is located on the Janpath and you can reach here by taking the Delhi Metro or a cab.
Do you know that this magnificent building contains more than 200, 000 pieces of pottery, idols, art, craft, etc? If you want to understand India’s history in just 2 hours, then this is the place to go to. You need to buy a ticket and can carry your camera. while visiting this iconic building.
Quick tip– there is a small canteen on the premises.
Another quick tip– If you are in Delhi right now, then you may like to see the jewels of one of the richest people in the world. This exhibition is on till May 5, 2019. Click here to know more.
7. Indira Gandhi National Center of Arts, Janpath
Let me admit this: my second home is the sprawling campus of the IGNCA.
This place comes alive with numerous cultural events and festivals during the autumn and winter seasons. If you are backpacking in Delhi around that time, then plan your visit here. Entry is free and you can arrive here by taking the Delhi Metro. The Indira Gandhi Center of Arts is on Janpath and is adjacent to the National Museum. The entry is free.
One of the best things to do in Delhi for the first time India travelers.
Tip– There is no canteen here.
8. National Archives, Janpath
I have been only once to this fantastic library and you know what, I instantaneously fell in love with it.
Indian travelers who like reading manuscripts and ancient historical records will like the National Archives. A treasure is awaiting you, hey travelers, at the National Archives.
Be sure to carry your identity card while traveling to this place.
9. Railway Museum, Chanakyapuri
There is a kid in each one of us and the Railway museum sets that kid-free.
I, as a grown-up person, have found this museum a delightful place. There are so many engines- coal-fired, diesel, and electric- to delight you. This lovely collection of coaches and locomotives takes you through the wonderful history of the Indian Railways.
There is a toy train too, here that chugs all over the place. Buy a ticket, hop into this small train, and have a lot of fun. Your kids will like it.
The pride of the Railway museum is the Fairy Queen, a locomotive that was made in 1885. This ‘grandfather’ of India Railways is still in a workable condition after all those 133 years!
You can also lookup in wonder at the railway’s saloons that were used by the Indian Maharajahs, several decades ago.
By the way, you need to buy your entry ticket to the National Railway Museum. Click this link to know more.
Check out this destination while planning your best things to do for first time travelers in India.
10. Nehru Memorial Museum & Library
Delhi has several museums and one of them is the Nehru Memorial Museum at Teen Murti.
This building was the official residence of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. After his death, his residence was converted into a museum. You can view several objects and articles associated with Nehru, in this building.
For science and technology buffs, there is a planetarium in the Nehru Museum premises. There are several interesting objects on display like the spacesuit worn by India’s first astronaut, Rakesh Sharma.
If some of you are history buffs, then you can step into a 14th-century hunting lodge that is just next to the planetarium. This lodge was built by Feroze Shah, a Sultan of Delhi.
Best Things To Do in Delhi- Heritage Walks and Tours
Now that we are done with our New Delhi tours, let’s take a look at some of the city’s historical places.
1. Guided Tour of The Haunted Palace of Feroze Shah
It is a pity that many foreign travelers do not know about the abandoned palace of Feroz. It is located just a few kilometers north of India Gate and is nearly 550 years old. There are lots of ruined structures and halls on the palace premises. If you are a history buff and like visiting haunted places, then you’d like this medieval castle.
There is also a 2,500 year old pillar of King Ashoka that carries his message of non-violence and peace. Ashoka was a follower of Gautam Buddha, the apostle of ahimsa.
2. Mehrauli Archaeological Park
One of the best things to do in Delhi for backpackers is to explore the vast Mehrauli Archaeological Park.
Not many Delhi travelers know about this mysterious, but charming place that contains several palaces -some dating back to the 13th-century.
I think that if you are serious about Delhi and its history, you should visit this archaeological park., you won’t be disappointed!
You can book your tour by clicking this link.
3. Azim Khan’s Tomb
Not, all people know about Azim Khan’s Tomb. It is located opposite the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, on the other side of the Mehrauli- Gurgaon Road. There is a big tomb on a hillock and on rainy days, it is fun sitting there and watch the city go by. To reach the tomb, you need to take a winding lane that starts from the main road. Be sure that you have some company while going there as the trail is quite deserted. There are rocks all around and the place is quite green.
4. Dada Bari Jain Mandir
This is one of the hidden gems in the Mehrauli area. This Jain temple is made of marble and was made only in the last century.
This white-colored beautiful building was made in the memory of a Jain saint who died in this area nearly 1,000 years ago. It is said that this monk was expelled from Delhi by the then Tomar king. When the monk died, his followers brought his body to Dadabari and cremated it at the present spot.
If you would like some peace and tranquillity, head over to this place. To reach Dadabari, you need to take an auto from the Qutab Minar Metro station. Or, if you are already at the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, then you can simply walk down to this cute temple.
Visiting Dadabari is indeed one of the best things to do in Delhi for first time travelers in India.
5. Madhi Masjid
Just opposite the Jain Mandir in Dadabari is the Madhi Masjid. We don’t know who made it but many historians guess that this mysterious looking mosque was built during the Lodhi rule. The Lodhi dynasty ruled Delhi during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. This mosque is surrounded by sturdy walls but we don’t know the reason why they were put up.
6. The Bagh of Nazir in Mehrauli
The word ‘Bagh’ means garden and ‘Nazir’ means the superintendent. So this garden was made by a Mughal superintendent in the early 18th-century. The name of this officer was Jawed Khan and he was a very important official in the Mughal court. He was a lover of a Mughal queen, Qudasiya Begum who was the wife of the Mohammad Shah Rangila.
This garden is enclosed by high walls which are now ruined. The gates are closed but you can still peep inside. This enchanting garden is now the property of Ashoka Mission, a collective of Tibetan Buddhists.
7. Yogmaya Mandir, Mehrauli
Delhi has very few temples which are more than 200 years old. But here, we have one which is thousands of years old! The Yogmaya Mandir is located in the Mehrauli village and is just right behind the Qutab Minar. Most travelers give it a miss because it doesn’t look ancient and is not featured in the Delhi guide books.
This temple is dedicated to the sister of Lord Krishna. Her name is Yogmaya and she is responsible for all the illusion pervading the universe. Visit this temple if you like to know more about India’s ancient history and the story of Mahabharata.
8. Adham Khan’s Tomb
This 16th-century tomb is located a few meters west of the Yogmaya Mandir. Adham Khan was an important courtier of Akbar and is buried here. He was quite an ambitious guy and wanted to kill his master to get the throne of Delhi. However, the tables were turned against Khan when Akbar beat him to pulp and threw him down from his palace in Agra.
During the British times, this tomb was converted into a post office and remained a public building more nearly 100 years. Spend a few quiet moments here while exploring the ancient village of Mehrauli.
9. Lal Kot- the 1000-year Old Wall
Like the Yogmaya Mandir, many travelers are unaware of this ancient piece of history in Delhi.
Lal Kot is located just right behind Adham Khan’s Tomb and is a treat for the adventure-loving travelers. This wall defended the city of Delhi several hundred years ago and is now hidden by dense bushes and shrubs. Just a stretch of this ancient wall has survived; many stones of this structure were stolen by the locals to build their own houses. Many people also dismantled this wall hoping to find gold and silver treasures underneath.
To reach this wall, you have to cross the Sanjay van in the Mehrauli area.
This list of ‘best things to do in Delhi for first time travelers ‘ is still incomplete.
10. Coffee/ Tea Shops in Central and South Delhi
Okay, so the Rashtrapati Bhavan has a small tea shop, but there is no place to sit and enjoy it.
If you are traveling in South Delhi and exploring the various historical places, then the best place to enjoy your coffee is the Cafe Coffee Day outlet near Qutub Minar.
Some Important Faq’s
Is Delhi safe for women travelers?
Delhi is one of the safest cities to travel for women travelers. However, please hire a local guide to avoid small problems. You can contact me for this purpose.
How much does a monument ticket cost for a foreign traveler?
You need to pay around INR 500 for a ticket to any monument like the Qutab Minar. The ticket price goes down if you pay by card.
How can I buy the Delhi Metro ticket?
To buy the Metro ticket, simply go to the station cabin and buy a token. You can also buy your ticket at the Ticket Vending Machine.