With its crumbling old forts, stately Mughal-era tombs, and vibrant markets, India’s sprawling capital city offers nearly an unlimited amount of experiences, exploration, and enjoyment. You could spend months here, but if you only one day in the city, here’s how to make the most of your time.
Morning: Experience Old Delhi
Start your day off with a visit to Old Delhi, known for its traditional markets and beautiful historical sites. Don’t miss the imposing Jama Masjid—one of India’s largest mosques—and the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Red Fort (Lal Qila), a gargantuan red sandstone complex that once served as the seat of the Mughal Empire. Don’t leave the area before hitting up Chandni Chowk, a charmingly hectic old market with everything from traditional wedding garb to fragrant spices on display. The area is best explored on foot or from the comfort of a traditional bicycle-pulled rickshaw.
Afternoon: Discover the Best of New Delhi
After exploring Old Delhi, head south to the area known as New Delhi, home to a mixture of wide, tree-lined avenues, vibrant markets, and myriad temples, plus a couple of top-notch UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Start with a trip to Humayun’s Tomb, one of the earliest examples of Mughal architecture, before making your way down to the Lotus Temple, aka the Baha’i House of Worship. From here, head to the nearby ISKCON (Hare Krishna) Temple, stopping for a buffet lunch at the on-site Govinda’s restaurant. Then head over to the UNESCO-listed Qutub Minar, with its 12th-century tower and gorgeously preserved ruins, or to Dilli Haat, an open-air handicrafts market featuring souvenirs from across India.
Night: Explore Central Delhi or See a Sound and Light Show
Spend your evening exploring Connaught Place, the de facto “downtown” of Delhi and its surrounding area. Don’t miss a visit to Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the city’s biggest Sikh house of worship, which is beautifully illuminated in the evenings, or shop for handicrafts in the Janpath market. Stop for dinner or drinks at one of the numerous restaurants and bars in Connaught Place. Alternatively, head back to the Red Fort in Old Delhi or to the expansive ruins of the nearby Old Fort (Purana Qila), both of which offer regular sound-and-light shows in Hindi and English.