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What to Do on a Layover in Delhi, India

Humayun's Tomb | © Rod Waddington / Flickr
Picture of Mridu Rai
Updated: 1 January 2018
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Delhi is such a huge city with an endless number of things to do. But if you only have a few hours to spare and still want to see what the capital has to offer, then this is the definitive guide for you. Whether it’s a short stop at the poshest new neighbourhood Aerocity or a quick tour of iconic monuments, here are some great options to make your brief visit to Delhi a memorable one.

If you have three hours…

Aerocity is just a couple of stops away from the Indira Gandhi International Airport metro station. This destination is the newest and fanciest neighbourhood in Delhi, with luxury hotels, swanky bars and restaurants everywhere you look. Enjoy some authentic Indian cuisine at Kheer, Roseate House or try Pluck at Pullman Hotel, which offers a modern twist on traditional Indian dishes. While Pluck is open from 6.30 am to 11.30 pm, Kheer, unfortunately, opens only in the evening from 7 pm to 11.30 pm. For drinks, head to Juniper Bar at Andaz, which is open from noon until midnight. All of these places are located less than one kilometre away from each other; therefore, you won’t be wasting time getting from one place to the other when you’re on a short layover.

Kheer at Roseate House, Aerocity
Courtesy of Roseate House, Aerocity

If you have five hours…

Five hours isn’t much time, but you can still manage to squeeze in a short visit to the famous Connaught Place. Taking the Delhi Metro will save you time rather than travelling around in a taxi. Rajiv Chowk, which is the metro station for Connaught Place, is six stops away from the airport, which includes one interchange at New Delhi station. You can just walk around the shopping district or pop into any one of the great bars and restaurants in the neighbourhood. If you have some more time to spare, Janpath Market, which is a good place to buy souvenirs, is just a five-minute walk away.

If you have seven hours…

Seven hours should give you enough time to take a brief tour of Old Delhi. Again, take the Delhi Metro, which is both cost- and time-effective. From the airport, you will have to take the Orange Line up to New Delhi (five stops) and then switch over to the Blue Line up to Chandni Chowk station (two stops). This journey shouldn’t take you more than 15 to 20 minutes. From the Chandni Chowk station, you can take a rickshaw (auto or cycle) to Red Fort. After that, you can head to Jama Masjid, which is a 10-minute drive. If you have time, you can walk around Chandni Chowk Market, which is just next to the Jama Masjid mosque.

If you have 12 hours…

If you have 12 hours, that should give you ample time to explore some of the historic monuments of Delhi. Since most of these structures are spread out across the city, the best thing to do would be to take a tour of the Nizamuddin neighbourhood where you will find quite a few sites all close to each other. Start with Humayun’s Tomb, a remnant of the Mughal era and one of Delhi’s most renowned monuments. Isa Khan’s Tomb also lies within the same complex. After that, head across the road to Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, which is the resting place of the most famous Indian Sufi saint, Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya.

You can then take a taxi or an auto-rickshaw to Purana Qila, which is one of the oldest forts in Delhi. Otherwise, you can choose to see Delhi’s First World War Memorial, India Gate, instead. If time permits, tour both of these sites; it will be a rewarding experience.

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