For an authentic Delhi experience, it’s worth getting assistance from locals who are well-versed in the language and can help you expertly navigate the labyrinthine city. These hand-picked tour recommendations will help you delve into the city’s rich culture and make sense of its complex, tumultuous history.
On touchdown in Delhi, you’re immediately drawn in by its sights and smells. India’s capital deserves a spot in your itinerary for its punchy street food, cacophonous markets and beautiful temples, dotted amongst a fascinating urban landscape of colonial architecture, impressive Mughal monuments and modern buildings. The combination can feel overwhelming, especially in a city with an estimated population of 29 million, but when you’ve got the right guide, the beauty in the chaos is easy to find.
How many times have you visited a new country and wondered about the lives of the locals? The Home Cooked Delhi tour gets you insider access to a typical Delhi home. The curator of the tour will host you and explain how to cook a basic Indian meal, plus teach you how to make an authentic, aromatic cup of chai which you can sip while learning about the daily lives of Indian families in the city. This one is the truly local experience that deserves a spot in your schedule.
Connaught Place, lovingly known as CP, is in the heart of the city and is sprinkled with shops, restaurants, movie theatres and offices. It’s a cluttered space where global brands sit beside local thrift stores, and the city’s best restaurants are neighbours with street food vendors. This tour will help you sift through the multitude of options, guiding you straight to the shops that sell homegrown brands. Remember that if a store doesn’t have fixed pricing, you should bargain. Prices are often hyped to swindle tourists, so ask your guide to step in and help you get a better deal. Either way, if you’re opting for this one, get ready to loosen your purse strings.
Cycle back into the year 1639, when the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan ruled Delhi. Quicker than a walking tour, in half a day you’ll pedal past Fatehpuri Puri Mosque, Jama Masjid (one of India’s largest mosques) and the Red Fort. Don’t be put off by India’s famously frenetic streets, the guides at Delhi by Cycle will instantly put you at ease and help you navigate the city’s busy streets. If you’re a fan of Indian flavours, the highlight of the tour will be the sumptuous breakfast at Karim’s, one of Delhi’s most well-loved restaurants.
Delhi is revered for its street food, so at least one food tour is a must. Spend an evening wandering through the intricate streets of Old Delhi, sampling the best dishes that the city has to offer. Over three hours, you’ll taste more than 15 different dishes, everything from mutton qorma and parathas to chaat and sweet treats like shahi tukda, a decadent Indian bread pudding.
If you want to get a feel for the city without being restricted to a particular theme, then this is the tour for you. It wraps several prominent neighbourhoods and historic sites into one easily accessible itinerary that takes you through Asia’s largest spice market, buildings constructed during the Mughal reign, the city’s “Little Tibet” and more. It’s a great way to experience all the different cultural societies that coexist within the city.
Every tour guide would recommend Chandni Chowk and Connaught Place to anyone on the hunt for delicious street food. Both are excellent choices, but famous among locals (and still largely unknown to tourists) is Kamla Nagar market, which is packed with food vendors and local Delhi stores. Your tour guide will lead you to the stalls worth trying, but drop by Dolma Aunty Momos, too, if you can, to try the moreish Tibetan dumplings.
Skip your usual coffee and start the day with a steaming cup of spiced chai before spending the next few hours touring the city like a local by exploring busy markets and learning about Hinduism at a temple. As an added bonus, the guides for this tour are knowledgeable about Mahatma Gandhi’s life, and throughout the day you’ll gain insight into his significance and his role in altering the course of India’s history.
Mahatma Gandhi might have spent most of his life in the state of Gujarat, but he left a prominent mark in Delhi. With this tour, you get an interactive history lesson that introduces you to Gandhi’s life and philosophy. Trace Gandhi’s footsteps through the city while your guide regales with tales of his fascinating life. You’ll also stop at the National Gandhi Museum, which houses a brilliant collection of books and photos that document Ghandi’s life – it’s a stop best visited with a guide who can add context and colour to the items on display.
Take the road less travelled on a thoughtfully curated tour that skips over obvious sights and tourist traps in favour of easy-to-overlook coffee shops, the city’s first public arts district and an archaeological park that dates back to the 12th century. The tour gives back to the local community, too, by including a stop at Jugaad – a charitable organisation that works to arm vulnerable teenagers and young adults with important life skills. The teenagers work together to create unique bags, wallets and stationery using waste materials, which are all available for purchase.
This tour combines all the elements that make up the heart and soul of Delhi, starting with a ride on the city’s Metro – used by 4.7 million commuters daily. The rest of the tour will take you on a rickshaw ride through Old Delhi, to the top of the minaret at Jama Masjid for unparalleled city views and to traditional high tea with a local twist in a beautifully restored Mughal mansion, Haveli Dharampura. From chatting with locals and snacking on creamy kulfito a lesson in spices – used in India for cooking, medicine and beauty – at Khari Baoli Market, this tour will show you how multifaceted this city is.
If you’re running on a tight schedule, this is an easy tour to squeeze in – it’s possible to pick a date, time and location that’s most convenient for you. Choose to explore Old Delhi, the Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Hauz Khas, Chandni Chowk or Lodi Gardens where you can wander through 90 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and Lodhi-era buildings, including the intricate tomb of Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah. Don’t forget to wear comfortable walking shoes for this one.
India prides itself on being a secular nation where several religions peacefully coexist. Discover each of them for yourself with a day spent exploring the city’s most famous spiritual sites. The itinerary includes the Jama Masjid mosque; the Lotus Temple, which is a Bahá’í House of Worship; Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, a Sikh temple, and finally, the stunning Hindu temple, Swaminarayan Akshardham. While each of these is a sight to see in itself, you’ll end the day feeling more informed about India’s spiritual way of life.