The Best Places to Visit in North India

No trip to North India is complete without visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra
No trip to North India is complete without visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra | © Instants / Getty

From spiritual relaxation to adrenaline-racing adventures, North India is a region that’s as diverse as it is beautiful. But it’s so large and picturesque that it can be hard to know where to begin. Many will stop at the capital city, Delhi, and Agra to see the Taj Mahal but there are plenty of other stop-worthy destinations here. To help, here are the best places to visit in North India.

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Delhi

Delhi is a uniquely historic and cosmopolitan city that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. The historic monuments, landscaped gardens, amazing food, bustling markets, vibrant art and nightlife scene, diverse cultures and youthful liveliness all make it wonderfully dynamic. Notable attractions include the iconic India Gate, Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Humayun’s Tomb, Qutub Minar, Chandi Chowk, Lotus Temple and Lodhi Gardens.

Agra

Agra is famed for the historic sights, which are reminiscent of the Mughal era. From the iconic Taj Mahal and 16th-century Agra Fort to the ancient city of Fatehpur Sikri, it’s a dream for architecture aficionados and history buffs alike.

Varanasi

Dating to the 7th century BCE, Varanasi has been an important site for Hindu pilgrims and spiritual seekers for millennia. People come here to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva and attain inner peace, as well as bathe in the sacred waters of the Ganges – part of an ancient ritual to purify soul, body and mind. You’ll see 87 ghats (flights of steps leading to the river) and more than 2,000 temples, mostly dedicated to Hindu god Shiva. Do not leave without attending the Ganga aarti (prayer ritual held every evening) and enjoying a boat ride along the Ganges.

Amritsar

Amritsar is a treasure in terms of history, culture and gastronomy. The city impresses thoroughly with the breathtakingly beautiful Golden Temple, which is the sacred seat of Sikhism; the Wagah border, a crossing lying on the grand trunk road between India and Pakistan; and the Jallianwala Bagh, a massacre memorial and garden.

Gulmarg, Sonmarg and Srinagar, Kashmir

It’s more than just a Led Zeppelin song. Kashmir is a place so spectacular it’ll leave you mesmerised. Get a true taste of the area by riding a shikara (a flat-bottomed boat signature to the area) on the Dal lake. Then, kayak on the glistening waters of the Lidder river, trek the rolling hills or just enjoy a pony ride. Either way, there’s plenty to fall in love with in Gulmarg, Sonmarg and Srinagar.

Haridwar and Rishikesh

In the foothills of the mighty Himalayas lie the twin cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh. Haridwar is a spiritual destination with a plethora of temples and religious celebrations. Just 19km (12mi) upslope from Haridwar is Rishikesh: a go-to destination for yoga and meditation. It also provides plenty of adventure sports, such as bungee-jumping and river rafting.

Parvati Valley

Ideal for those seeking respite from bustling city life, Parvati Valley beckons nature-lovers and keen adventurers. Here, you can discover the picture-perfect villages of Kasol, Malana and Tosh – complete with unspoilt natural beauty, hippie vibes, and outdoor activities such as trekking and riverside camping.

Manali

At an altitude of 2,050m (6,725ft) in the Himalayas is Manali. It’s a top ski retreat in winter and, come summer, becomes one of the best spots for adventure enthusiasts. Indulge in paragliding, zorbing and yak riding in Solang Valley. Adventurous outings not your thing? Manali also has ancient temples, Tibetan monasteries, wildlife sanctuaries, and art and cultural centres.

Leh, Ladakh

With the Himalayas to the south and the Karakoram mountains to the north, Leh is a favourite retreat for trekkers and biking enthusiasts, overlooking a panoramic vista of snow-clad mountains and icy glaciers. Those seeking peace can stay at the monasteries and partake in the spiritual retreats.

Rajasthan

Dubbed the Land of Kings, Rajasthan has been captivating the hearts of locals and tourists alike for years. It’s home to ancient forts, glamorous palaces, exquisite havelis (mansions), diverse landscape, vibrant art and culture, and traditional cuisine. Though there are many worthwhile places to explore, the best ones include the imperial cities of Jodhpur, Bikaner and Udaipur; the pink city of Jaipur; the golden city of Jaisalmer; and the holy city of Ajmer.

Looking for somewhere special to stay? Here are the most beautiful palaces in India you can actually stay in, bookable on Culture Trip.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

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