India is a vibrant country full of variety, which is why it’s drawn travellers from across the globe for hundreds of years. From the excitement of the bustling cities to some of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the world. There are so many items to tick off your travel bucket list. This ultimate India bucket list will help you do just that – detailing all of the very best things you can do in India: from camel rides to tiger safaris to colourful festivals, it’s all here!
If you want more bucket list inspiration, make sure to check out these posts next:
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1. Visit the Taj Mahal
Surely no India Bucket list is complete without the behemoth that is the Taj Mahal. Often described as one of the wonders of the world, this breathtaking 17th Century white marble building is a must-see when traveling India. Built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, this beautiful structure in Agra will truly take your breath away.
Top Tips for Visiting the Taj Mahal
- Avoid the South Gate Entrance: it’s located near market with pushy touts. It also opens later than the other gates!
- Arrive Before the Gates Open: it gets crowded quickly. You’ll probably find people congregating before it even opens to get that sunrise shot! If you want to see it without the hoards, get there early.
When to Visit the Taj Mahal
- October – March: the most comfortable temperature but, as a result, the most crowds
- April – June: very hot
- July – September: monsoon season, so probably best avoided!
Book a Tour
If you want to visit the Taj Mahal from Delhi, consider booking this tour, which makes things easy with a hotel pickup.
2. Tour Jaipur City Palace
The City Palace is a must-see when visiting the pink city of Jaipur. The intricacy of the architecture is seriously impressive (so don’t forget your camera!). As with most major tourist attractions in India, make sure to get there early to avoid the crowds!
Price: 700INR ($10) per person
Plus: extra 3500 INR ($47.50) if you want to visit the famous blue and red rooms
3. Boat Ride Down The Ganges
The Ganges is the most sacred river to Hindus and is worshipped as the goddess Ganga. Millions of people rely on the river and its sacred waters. However, pollution has seriously damaged the health of the river, so maybe don’t go swimming in it anytime soon! Most tourists who visit the Ganges choose to stay in Varanasi.
4. Experience Holi
Holi is India’s Festival of Colours. Thousands of tourists flock to the country each year to experience this unique and fun festival. Coloured powders are thrown around the streets until everyone and everything is covered in rainbow hues. This amazing experience is a must for your India Bucket List. The biggest Holi celebrations tend to be in the North of India, in places such as: Jaipur, Delhi, and Mathura.
When is Holi?
The exact dates of Holi change slightly each year, but it takes place the day after the full moon in March. These are the Holi dates for the next few years:
- 2021: 29th March
- 2022: 18th March
- 2023: 6th March
Top Tips for Holi:
Buy cheap white clothes: they will be dyed for life, so don’t wear something you love!
Wear a scarf over your hair if you don’t want it to be stained with colour for weeks to come!
5. Try the Amazing Street Food in Delhi
India is well-known for it’s amazing food. You can’t visit without trying some of the most delicious cuisine in the world. One of the best places to get street food is in Old Delhi at the infamous Chandni Chowk. This market has everything from filling dishes to sweet desserts – and it would be rude not to try t a bit of everything! If you feel a little overwhelmed, don’t know where to start, or want to avoid ‘Delhi belly’, consider signing up for a guided food tour. They’ll take you to all of the best spots and take out all the worry of getting lost in the market!
Some Traditional Food to Lookout For:
6. Blue City of Jodhpur
The pink city of Jaipur is one of the most popular Instagram locations in the world. It’s warm, pink buildings can always be found on the pages of travel bloggers. But the blue city of Jodhpur gets a little less airtime online. Here you’ll find vibrant hues of blue and turquoise across the city. This colourful city is definitely one to tick off your India bucket list.
Best Things to Do in Jodhpur:
- Jaswant Thada: a royal cenotaph built in white marble
- Mehrangarh Fort: one of the largest forts in India
- Mandore Garden: beautiful garden with a ruined fort and palace
7. The Himalayas
Snow-capped mountains probably aren’t what first comes to mind when thinking of India. But that’s just what you’ll find in the Himalayas. It’s much cooler here than the rest of the country and you can even go skiing here! There are a few popular destinations including Manali, where you can see temples, waterfalls and even go paragliding. Other popular spots include Dharamsala, Ladakh, and Shimla.
8. Uncover the City Stepwells
When visiting India, you’ll likely stumble upon some stepwells. These were designed to fill and empty with water in the Western states and Northern regions where water shortages were common. Rather than simple designs however, you’ll find ornate architecture that’s lavishly decorated.
A lot of the time there’ll be a guard stopping you from entering the step-well but if you arrive early and tip them, they’ll usually let you go down for a picture!
Best Stepwells in India:
- Adalaj ni Vav, Gujarat
- Chand Baori, Rajasthan
- Rajon ki Baoli, Delhi
- Surya Kund Stepwell, Gujarat
- Agrasen Ki Baoli, Delhi
9. Take a Yoga Class
Where better to learn yoga than its home in India? If you want to learn more about the practice beyond a westernised class, this is the place to be. Unlike in Western cultures, yoga is not only seen as a physical form of exercise, it’s a holistic lifestyle. Yoga is a huge part of the history and culture of India, as one of the 6 schools of Hinduism.
If you want to learn more about yoga in India, the most popular places for travellers are Goa and Rishikesh.
10. Watch a Snake Boat Race, Kerala
What is a Snake Boat?
A snake boat is a long canoe boat (about 100 feet long). They’re the traditional war boat of Kerala and hold up to 100 rowers each. Each village has its own snake boat, which they race along the rivers.
Most Popular Boat Races:
- Nehru Trophy: held on Alleppey’s Punnamda Lake
- Champakkulam Moolam: the oldest race, held on the river at Champakkulam
- Aranmula Boat Race: held along the Pampa River
- Payippad Jalotsavam: held on Payippad Lake
When Are The Boat Races?
The snake boat races tend to take place between June and September, during the monsoon season. The exception to this is the Nehru Trophy Boat Race, which is held on the second Saturday of August.
11. Go on a Camel Safari in Rajasthan
A camel ride through the desert? Now, that’s a serious India bucket list item! There are several places in Rajasthan where you can take a camel safari, including Pushkar, Jaisalmer, Bikaner, and Jodhpur. Options range from just a few hours to multiple days, so it can be worked into any itinerary. Another great option is to book onto a sunrise/sunset safari. That way you can watch the colour of the sky change over the golden sands of the desert – a once in a lifetime experience!
When to Visit:
The best time to go for a camel safari is October-March, when the weather is cool. April – June is definitely best avoided!
12. Get a Picture at Patrika Gate
More than anything, this gate in Jaipur is just beautiful to look at. It doesn’t have as much history as some of the other spots on this list but it’s amazing architecture and beautiful colours definitely make it worth a visit. It’s open all day long as it sits in the middle of a roundabout! If you want to avoid the crowds for that perfect Instagram shot, make sure to get there early.
13. Go Surfing in Goa
If you’re already heading to Goa to get your hit of yoga, why not kill two birds with one stone and give surfing a go! The surf season runs between October and April. Don’t worry if you’re a beginner, there are plenty of surf schools in the area and conditions tend to be relatively mild. Some of the best beaches for surfing in the area are:
- Agonda beach
- Arambol Beach
- Ashvem Beach
14. Visit Humayun’s Tomb
Humayan’s Tomb is the tomb built by Empress Bega Begum for her husband Emperor Humayan. This truly beautiful building can be found in the heart of Delhi and is a must for your India bucket list. The architecture is incredible and features a striking mix of white and red stone. If you love beautiful buildings and are interested in India’s history, this is a must visit! As with all major tourist attractions in India, get there early to avoid the crowds.
Top Tips for Visiting Humayun’s Tomb
Dress appropriately: make sure to cover your knees and shoulders
Bring water: there’s nowhere at the tomb to purchase a drink, so make sure to bring one with you to avoid dehydration
Ticket Price: 500INR ($6.80)
15. Go on a Tiger Safari
India is one of the only places in the world where you’re able to see tigers in the world, making it an absolute must on this India bucket list. To give yourself the best chance of seeing one, try staying 3 or 4 days. Make sure to take a jeep safari, rather than a bus, as they’re quieter and can get onto smaller tracks. The less noise the better, as you don’t want to scare the tigers away!
The most popular place to go on a tiger safari is Ranthambore National Park as this is easily accessible from the main tourist trail but other options include:
Hemis National Park
Jim Corbett National Park
Bandhavgarh National Park
16. Visit the Tiger Fort in Jaipur
Tiger Fort, or Nahargarh Fort as it’s also known, lies about 50 minutes outside of the city of Jaipur. This is one of the most beautiful spots in Jaipur to watch the sunset, where you can watch a pink sky over the pink city. The easiest way to get here is to simply grab a taxi!
Entry Price: 400INR ($5.40)
17. Take a Train Ride
India is famous for its train rides, so why not travel the country by train. Their train network is one of the biggest in the world with around 67,000kms of track! Not only is it a fun and unique experience, it’s a great people watching opportunity. You’ll find all sorts of people using the trains and there’s much more conversation between strangers than on your average Great Western rail journey!
A Guide to Train Classes in India:
1AC: air conditioned first class with a private room
2AC: air conditioned, two-tiered beds
3AC: Air conditioned with three-tiered beds
CC: Air conditioned with padded seating
SL: Sleeper Class, non air conditioned
2nd Class: unreserved seating
18. Go Camping in the Thar Desert
The Thar Desert is the largest desert in India and spreads across 5 states. The majority is located in Rajasthan, in Jaisalmer. There are a number of tour operators that offer rides into the desert, where you can enjoy a warm cup of chai whilst watching the sun set over the sand dunes. Sleeping under the stars is a magical experience that everyone needs to tick off their India bucket list!
When is the Best Time to Visit?
Between October and March
Book a Tour:
19. Go White Water Rafting
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you have to go white water rafting in India. Here are the best places to do it:
- Indus River
- Yamuna River
- Tons River
- River Ganga
20. Visit the Amber Fort in Jaipur
The Amber (or Amer) Fort is another must-see piece of Indian architecture. This beautiful building is really more of a palace than a fort, with its white marble, rose stone, and touches of gold. No wonder its a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t miss the Sheesh Mahal or ‘Mirror Palace’, room built by one of the generals for his queen that’s meant imitate the night sky. The sheer beauty of this fort earns it a spot on this India bucket list.
Entry Cost: 500INR ($7)
Important Note: elephants are used to carry tourists up the hill to the fort. Please don’t support the mistreatment of these animals by paying for an elephant ride! If you’re unable to walk, you can take a jeep to the top!
21. Stay in an Ashram
If you’re ever watched Eat, Pray, Love, then maybe this one’s already on your list: Staying in an Ashram. Ashrams are a place to practice yoga and meditation under the guide of a spiritual leader. Some people stay for just a few days, others for 3 years! The idea is to strip your life back to the basics and focus on a few simple every day activities.
If you want to know more about exactly what it’s like to stay in an Ashram, including what a day in the life looks like, I’d recommend checking out this blogpost by GrrrlTraveler!
22. Scuba Diving in Andaman
India truly has a bit of everything, including scuba diving! In Andaman you can escape the hustle and bustle of the cities to see beautiful coral and colourful fish. One of the best places to scuba dive is at Mac Point, where you might catch a glimpse of a Dugong (a cute manatee/dolphin looking animal!). Barracuda City is another great diving spot, where you can find turtles and blue spotted stingrays!
23. Stroll on Marine Drive in Mumbai
One of Mumbai’s most famous spots is Marine Drive. This beachfront promenade is 3.6km long and provides great views of the beach. This is a great spot to go for a run, or, alternatively, watch the sunset over the sea.
24. Try the Chadar Trek
The Chadar Trek involves walking along the frozen Zanskar River in temperatures that can drop as low as -35C! Not for the faint-hearted, this trek is serious business and definitely requires a local guide. However, those who do it will be rewarded with some of the most breathtaking views in the world. This is definitely one to add to your India bucket list.
Top Tips for the Chadar Trek
Prepare to be Cold: thermal layers and down jackets are a must!
Get Acclimatised: altitude sickness is common, so it’s worth spending a day or two in Leh before you start to become acclimatised to the height!
25. See the Golden Temple
The Golden Temple in Amritsar is one of the most sacred pilgrim spots for Sikhs. It’s built on 67 square feet of marble and made with approximately 400kg of gold leaf, making it quite the sight to behold!
The Sikh religion values equality and community service. As a result, each gurudware offers a free communal kitchen. The Golden Temple’s kitchen is particularly large, as it serves upwards of 50,000 free meals each day. Visitors are encouraged to volunteer their time by helping to prepare food.
Remember, you have to cover your head and remover your shoes before entering the temple!
26. Take a Stroll through Lodhi Garden
Lodhi Garden is the perfect place to go if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Delhi. It’s a huge green space in the middle of the city made up of 90 acres of land. Peppered throughout are various tombs, bridges, and watchtowers. It’s free to enter and is open between 6:00am and 7:30pm. The garden is also a favourite amongst Delhi’s high society – high profile politicians and celebrities can often be seen here.
27. Visit Hampi
Hampi (also known as Hampe) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Karnataka. It’s a group of monuments and an important pilgrimage spot in the Hindu religion. Once the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi was a wealthy city that is now only ruins.
There’s so much to see in Hampi, including many temples, the old bazaar, and the impressive boulders of Hampi. You could spend so much time here, so make sure to prioritise what’s more important to you.
28. Visit Jama Masjid in Old Delhi
Jama Masjid is one of the most famous mosques in India. Located in the heart of Old Delhi, this beautiful piece of 17th century architecture has been an landmark of the city for many years and can hold 25,000 people at people capacity!
As aways, make sure to wear appropriate clothing that covers your ankles and arms. You’ll be asked to leave your shoes outside before entering. If you’d prefer not to leave them unattended, you can take a bag with you to carry them.
Entry is free but there’s a 200INR ($2.70) charge for cameras.
29. Visit India’s Grand Canyon
Gandikota is a village and historical fort located on the bank of the Penna River. The wide river gorge has earned Gandikota the title of ‘India’s Grand Canyon’. The views are absolutely spectacular but make sure to avoid visiting in the summer months, when the heat is too much to handle!
30. Stay on a Houseboat in Kerala
Kerala is famous for its houseboats. There’s no better way to explore the areas beautiful waters than in one of these traditional boats. It’s the perfect way to escape the intense hustle and bustle that India is known for!
Houseboats were originally used for the transportation of rice and spices but were eventually replaced by trains as technology advanced. Nowadays they’re a massive tourist attraction for the area. Here are a few options for cruising on a houseboat in Kerala: