What To Do In Delhi: Top Tips & Best Tours

What To Do In Delhi: Top Tips & Best Tours

I didn’t know where to start when it came to planning my Delhi sightseeing. I was under the impression that lots of tourists skip Delhi and head straight to the Taj Mahal but when I dug a little deeper I felt like I’d be missing too much if I did the same. Instead I carved out a couple of days to dedicate to Delhi and set about working out what tourist attractions sounded the most appealing to this solo female traveller. There were a lot!

To help anyone else trying to work out what to do in Delhi I’ve rounded up the best day tours (some of which I fit in and some I’ve bookmarked for my next trip) as well as some pointers on sightseeing in Delhi.

From the bazaars of Chandni Chowk to massive mosques, Hindu temples and ancient tombs – here are the best things to do in Delhi packaged up in a selection of great day tours.

  1. Old Delhi Heritage Walk
  2. Delhi City Walk With Former Street Kids
  3. New Delhi Half Day Tour
  4. Akshardham Temple Visit With Evening Water Show
  5. Gandhi’s Journey Day Tour

(Scroll down for more details Note: this post contains some affiliate links.)

What to do in Delhi: best day tours & sightseeing tips

Tips for Sightseeing in Delhi

On crowds

Yes, there were parts of Delhi that I found as overwhelming as I expected, particularly in Old Delhi. In Chandni Chowk – Asia’s largest wholesale market – I saw more humans in one lane than I thought was physically possible. This area is not representative of Delhi as a whole though and if you’re concerned about feeling claustrophobic you can simply tailor a tour to Delhi tourist attractions that have lesser crowds and base yourself somewhere like the hipster Hauz Khas area in South Delhi.

Search for accommodation deals in South Delhi

Travelling solo

As I was travelling solo I shopped around for private Delhi tours, with a particular focus on those that had hotel pick up and drop off as I wasn’t sure about navigating public transport on my own – not immediately anyway. I also wanted to make sure I wasn’t enclosed in a car or coach the whole time so I looked for itineraries that included some walking or a ride on a rickshaw. (Why not embrace the local transport!)

Read also: My experience as a female traveller in India

Enjoying a rickshaw ride in Old Delhi

Traffic

In my experience, traffic is bad in almost all parts of central Delhi (except for on a Sunday) so if you’re catching a taxi/Uber to a tour starting point give yourself some extra leeway.

Tips

Tips are not included in the below prices. I read that as a general rule you should tip the tour guide between INR 200 to INR 300 per day depending on happy you were with the experience. If you have a private driver you should tip them separately, between 200 to 250 INR per day depending on whether they gave local recommendations, didn’t crash etc :p

What to do in Delhi: best day tours & sightseeing tips

I could not believe my eyes! Some parts of Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi get very busy on the weekend.

5 Best Delhi Day Tours

Bearing in mind all that I’ve mentioned above, these are the 5 best day tours I found in Delhi that cover a mixture of top tourist attractions as well as more immersive cultural experiences. Some even have food included!

1. Old Delhi Heritage Walk
What to do in Delhi: best day tours & sightseeing tips

Exploring Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India.

I booked this tour for my first afternoon in Delhi as I wanted to dive straight into Old Delhi’s famous bazaars and check out the giant mosque, Jama Masjid, but felt I needed a little hand-holding. Deepak was my guide and he came to my hotel to meet me and together we took public transport to Chandi Chowk. He had a travel card loaded up with funds and pointed me in the right direction for the female security line (you get scanned before entering the metro station) – 2 things that may have stumped me fresh off the plane!

What to do in Delhi: best day tours & sightseeing tips

Shopping at the Spice Market in Old Delhi

For about 4 hours we walked through the chaotic streets of Chandni Chowk, heading first to fill up on samosas and lassi at his favourite (western-belly friendly) street vendor before exploring the Spice Market, heritage havelis and a Sikh Temple. We walked down lanes dedicated to various merchandise – from brass and steel to wedding invitations – and every alley was filled to bursting point. I definitely wouldn’t have had the confidence to explore these areas on my own so am glad I found Deepak for the metaphorical hand-holding.

Best for: Solo travellers who want an immersive Old Delhi experience
Price: From $16 USD per person – currently reduced by 30% to $11.20
Duration: 3 hours

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2. Delhi City Walk With Former Street Kids
G Adventures Delhi City Walk

Salaam Baalak and G Adventures run City Walk, a tour of Delhi led by former street kids like Junaid

I dedicated a whole post to this incredible walking tour because I think it’s one of the best things you can do in Delhi. Conducted by former street kids, City Walk is a candid look at life in Delhi for the thousands of homeless children who are left to fend for themselves. It covers the area around Delhi Station where most street kids end up living – including Junaid who was my tour guide – and also offers a peek into the contact centres run by Salaam Baalak, an NGO dedicated to helping kids on the street. This tour was included as part of my Agra Adventure with G Adventures but can also be booked directly.

Best for: A raw & moving perspective on Delhi
Price: Donations up to the individual
Duration: 2 hours

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3. New Delhi Half Day Tour

Humayun's Tomb DelhiHumayun’s Tomb by Jiri Moonen on Unsplash

If you’re looking to tick off all the top New Delhi tourist attractions in one day then this half day tour fits the bill. It’s a private tour, with hotel pick up and drop off, which covers Humayun’s Tomb (considered by many to be the number thing to see in Delhi) as well as India Gate, Rashtrapati Bhavan (the President’s House), Parliament Building and Qutub Minar.

What to do in Delhi: best day tours & sightseeing tips

Exploring the Mughal Gardens of the President’s House, which are open to the public in February and March.

The only place it doesn’t cover is the Lotus Temple but you can negotiate with the driver to add that in as an extra. (Alternatively this Old Delhi Temples and Spiritual Sites Tour is highly rated.)

Best for: Big ticket New Delhi attractions
Price: $47 USD
Duration: 4 hours

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4. Akshardham Temple Visit With Evening Water Show
Water show at Akshardham Temple

Akshardham evening show, photo thanks to akshardham.com

I didn’t have a spare evening in Delhi but I had bookmarked this tour just in case. Akshardham is an incredible Hindu temple and exhibition complex on the outskirts of Delhi that was built by 8,000 volunteers in 2005. The term Water Show doesn’t do what happens here of an evening justice – the event is a 24-minute multi-media production with light, water, sound and actors who explore the story of the Kena Upanishad, an ancient Vedic Sanskrit text.

The tour includes a private ride to the temple, entry to the exhibitions including a cultural boat ride exploring Indian Hindu history, the Water Show and dinner.

Best for: Unique evening entertainment & religious history
Price:  $50 USD
Duration: 4 hours

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5. Gandhi’s Journey Day Tour
What to do in Delhi: best day tours & sightseeing tips

Street scenes in Delhi

This is another of Deepak’s tours I’m gutted I ran out of time to experience but am saving for my next visit. Focusing on the impact Gandhi had on Indian history as well as his life story, the tour visits Birla House where Gandhi spent his last days, the National Gandhi Museum, which contains a collection of memorabilia closely connected with Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian Freedom Struggle, and the Raj Ghat where Gandhi was cremated.

Best for: Leaning about Gandhi’s legacy and Indian political history
Price:  $20 USD
Duration: 4 hours

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A note about Get Your Guide

Most of the tours mentioned here are available on Get Your Guide which is a tour booking company I’ve recently discovered and am most impressed with. The review system makes it easy to see just what you get for your money and their app is super handy for having all the tour details in one place – including where you need to be and what is and isn’t included.

This isn’t a sponsored post – they didn’t pay me to say nice things – but I have joined the affiliate programme so I get a small return if you book via my links. I paid for my own tour in Delhi.

Read next: 

Private tour of the Taj Mahal – Agra With G Adventures Part 1

Tips for visiting and photographing the Taj Mahal

Best places to visit in Agra after the Taj Mahal 

This article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on the link, I may receive a small commission. Read disclaimer for details.

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2 Comments

  1. March 17, 2018 / 11:05 pm

    I get heart palpitations just looking at that photo of the crowded street! India is on my itinerary for my 2019/2020 sabbatical and I’m going to need to get used to those crowds, I guess!

    • Jayne Gorman
      Author
      March 18, 2018 / 10:37 pm

      I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that street. We went past on a bus but didn’t attempt to walk down there – for obvious reasons. You can definitely avoid congested areas like this – I’d recommend you don’t go to Old Delhi on the weekend for example. With a little research I’m sure you’ll be fine 😀

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