India is the seventh-largest country in the world, making it difficult to map out a visit from the many diverse cities ready to be explored.
Fall in love with the rich culture, vibrant architecture, intriguing history, natural beauty, and mouth-watering food in India. Although you could probably spend years trying to see it all, these 10 iconic cities are a great place to start.
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Located on the southernmost tip of India, this city is known for having the only beach in the country where you can watch the sun both rise and set over the water.
Aside from the wonderful views of the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, there are many places to learn about the city’s rich history.
- Visit the Vivekananda Rock Memorial which stands on a massive rock in the same spot Goddess Kanya Kumari is said to have done penance, earning Lord Shiva’s hand in marriage.
- Wash away any bad vibes at Triveni Sangam where two oceans meet to create a sacred bath.
- Vendors line the waterfront walkway and street of Sannathi selling adorable trinkets to take home.
- Pick a spot on the beach that provides a view of the Thiruvalluvar statue and spend the day relaxing from sunrise to sunset.
- Visit the memorial commemorating Gandhi’s ashes that were spread across the sea.
- For the best of the best, reserve dinner at Hotel Seaview and try some of India’s finest cuisine.
- No time for a sit-down? Archana Restaurant has quick service and lets you try some of the city’s favorite dishes.
If the mountains are calling you, go to Manali – where snowy peaks rise high above valley floors. The Mountains of Rohtang are not only a stunning backdrop to the city, but they are a popular place for hiking, camping, and off-roading.
Enjoy a moment of tranquility at Hidimba Devi Temple, a four-story temple devoted to Goddess Hadimba.
Hit the slopes or run across the snowy hillside in a giant hamster ball during winter months.
To guarantee a sight of the country’s wildlife, head over to The Manali Wildlife Sanctuary and hang with Himalayan birds and exotic mammals including the flying fox and striped hyena.
Give your feet a rest and take a yak ride through the Solang Valley.
Glide across the mountain range and the roaring Beas River in a paraglider or take to the river via raft on a white water rafting journey you’ll never forget.
Relax your muscles after a day of adventure in the hot, sulfuric waters of Manikaran.
Stop at a restaurant or café to try some of the city’s tastiest street food options – including Bombay Bhelpuri, a variation of fried rice, or Patande, the country’s version of crepes.
This hidden gem is the perfect place to appreciate India’s cultural history while leaving the tourist crowds behind.
Venture off to Garh palace where you can explore an ancient ruin without a single soul in sight. You’ll be welcomed by elephant statues at the front gate, and walk through vibrant rooms with historic murals. Many stepwells are spread out around the city, and what once served as protection from droughts are now places of worship.
Drive out to the rural village of Theekarda to experience another way of life. Take a tour to learn and experience some of the day-to-day routines.
Prepare to have the best chai of your life at Sawariya Chai House. Ingredients are broken down in front of you for the best, freshest taste possible.
Before you rest your head, swing by the 84 pillared cenotaphs, which are lit up at night to compliment the 84 pillars that make up this wondrous structure.
This quaint little town manages to look even smaller with the boundless Himalayas that surround it. Built in 2006, the 130-foot statue of Buddha is centered in the vast grasslands that make up Buddha Park.
Walk through the colorful walls and see to the exquisite detail of Buddhist style at the Ralang Monastery.
Located near the sacred cave of Sikkim, the Ralong Hot Springs are said to rejuvenate your body and spirit. Plus, the mountainous view from the pools is out of this world.
Drink some of the finest tea at Temi Tea Garden. Here you can learn about the tea process, enjoy a hot cup, and take some freshly made tea bags home for later.
If the name doesn’t make it clear enough, you should definitely watch the sunrise at the Rayong Sunrise View Point.
Known for its extensive collection of Havelis, India’s version of mansions that usually hold historic and architectural value, the entire city is considered to be one massive art museum.
The Hanuman Prasad Goenka Haveli is a popular destination because of its diverse collection of drawings and immensely detailed carvings.
To see how the original Havelis looked before many artistic advances, stop by Gulab Rai Ladia Haveli. It may seem plain compared to others, but holds historic significance.
The Chokhani Double Haveli is separated into two parts, for two brothers. Highlights include the tall archways and murals of leaders doing day-to-day activities.
You can also find murals of ancient leaders carefully drawn along every inch of the walls at the Murmuria Haveli. A few steps away is the Harlalka Well, which is often overlooked – so you can usually enjoy the silence and appreciate the well without any distractions.
Enjoy breakfast and yoga at The Bungli Restaurant or sit atop a remodeled haveli at Monica Rooftop Restaurant.
If you’re lucky, you might see some famous celebrities filming their latest movie within the city.
Sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation – and that’s where Goa comes in. Goa is lined with adorable sandy beaches, diverse wildlife, and a rotating calendar of events to keep you busy all year round.
If you don’t mind a crowd, Palolem Beach is the perfect place to lay out in the sand, go for a swim, or join a dolphin-watching tour.
Bathe with the cows at Colva Beach, where it is common to see a herd just minding their own business and taking in the sun.
A forest hike to Butterfly Beach is worth the effort for those hoping to have a beach all to themselves and avoid the crowds. Utorda Beach is another hidden gem that doesn’t require any of the work, but also means you probably won’t be alone.
Pay your respects at Basilica de Bom Jesus, where the ashes of the Apostle of the Indies still remain.
Inia is a country known for its spices, and Tanshikar’s Working Spice Farm is ready to show you what it’s all about.
Just when you think there is nothing else to see, the 4-tiered Dudhsagar Falls will have you awestruck all over again.
Eat dinner at one of the beachfront restaurants and enjoy Portuguese blended food like the fan-favorite, vindaloo.
Nicknamed “ The Pink City”, Jaipur is an ancient town that houses many historic structures and monuments – all of which are the same shade of pink.
The City Palace will have you completely engulfed in fabulous pink architecture as you walk along and on top of the many buildings. Within Palace is Jantar Mantar, an ancient observatory that was once used by scientists to map out the stars. Today you can appreciate its scientific significance as you observe one of the world’s largest sundials.
Plan for a guided tour of the Amber Fort, also known as the Ivory Fort, and feel enriched as you walk through the many buildings, small museums, and waterfront gardens – all while taking in the splendid view of the vast countryside. Join in on the fun and take a ride to the fort on an elephant.
Jaigarh Fort is considered the protector of the city; the fort has a reputation of never being invaded by any rival armies. Walk through the pink dusted rooms and feel the power that the fort gives off. You can even find the world’s largest wheeled cannon still well intact after centuries of wear.
If pink isn’t your color, all is not lost. Spend the day at Elefantastic, an elephant farm, where you can learn, play and even draw on the elephants before enjoying a home-cooked meal at the main residence.
Known as the largest and most populated city in Madhya Pradesh, there are enough activities for all travelers to enjoy – from its historical landmarks to outdoor adventures.
Annapurna Temple is a popular location, thanks to the life-size sculptures of elephants and the four shrines dedicated to the Gods.
Pack a picnic and venture off to Patalpani Waterfalls. To see the falls at their very best, we recommend visiting right after a monsoon – which also means keeping a safe distance to avoid being caught in a flash flood.
If adventure is calling, pack a bag and dedicate a few days to trek up the Janapav Kuti Mountain.
Mahatma Gandhi Town Hall is an absolute must, whether you are admiring the architecture surrounding the clock tower or attending one of the cultural festivities.
For a twist on the architecture normally seen across the country, visit Lal Bagh Palace. Inspired by European styles, its gates reflect that of Buckingham Palace. Be sure to check out the extensive coin collection dating back to the 16th century, and check out the palace ballroom. The ballroom floors are made with springs to reduce impact and make for a smoother dancing experience.
For a sensory overload of exquisite culture, mouth-watering food, and historic landmarks galore, Mumbai is the place to be.
Navigate through the city like the locals do on a rickshaw, a two-wheeled cart – but be prepared to kick up some dust.
Catch a show at the Royal Opera House and appreciate the fact that it is the last of its kind in India.
Dive into Mumbai’s bountiful history at the Prince Of Wales Museum. With over 50,000 items, it may be hard to see it all in one day, but it is worth the challenge.
Haggle for the best deals at the Crawford Market, where there are hundreds of stands of locally sourced produce and freshly cooked meals.
Make sure to save room for dinner at Peshawri. The restaurant is a favorite amongst locals and tourists alike, and the atmosphere is as authentic as it gets.
For the full experience, plan to stay the night at the magnificent Mumbai Taj. However, if this esteemed hotel is out of your budget, you could still stop by to admire the stunning blend of European and Arabesque architecture, and splurge a little on a modern dish at Masala Kraft.
Take an elevator up 37 stories to the Four Season’s Rooftop Bar for a cocktail and dazzling views of the bustling city.
Watch the sunset over the water at the Gateway of India, or get out on a boat for a more personalized experience away from gathering crowds.
Founded in 1577 by Sikh Guru Ram Das, Amritsar is a spiritual hub and a great place to learn about the religion of Sikhism.
Many colorful religious temples are scattered through the city. But, if you don’t have time to explore them all, the Mata Lal Devi Temple is the most extravagant. The temple is lined with shrines, grottos, mosaic walls, statues of the divine, and walkways made to look like the mouth of a lion and a snake.
Since the city lies right along the perimeter of Pakistan, the Wagah Border Crossing ceremony is within arm’s reach. Arrive 30 minutes before sunset and gather around with the locals to watch the lowering of the flags as women and children dance to native music.
Dine at Bharawan da Dhaba for a delicious vegetarian meal that coincides with the values of Sikhism. Established in 1912, this mom-and-pop restaurant has been carried down to next generations for over 100 years.