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Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 14 December, 2022
Expert travel writer: Amar Grover

Delhi, Agra and Jaipur – the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’ – lie at the heart of many Indian cultural tours and form the backbone of most first-time visits to India. These three destinations pack in most of India’s most bucket list experiences and all of its unique cultural essence.

Delhi, the capital, presents two distinct faces: Raj-era New Delhi boasts neat tree-lined boulevards and most of the best hotels, while Old Delhi distils a frantic, earthier atmosphere and is dotted with medieval monuments.

Agra is synonymous with the iconic Taj Mahal while Jaipur is the vibrant capital of Rajasthan, an exotic desert state hosting massive forts and exquisite palaces. A few hours from Jaipur is the Ranthambore National Park, one of the best places in India to see wild tigers.

There are good transport links between the three destinations, but for a real treat, take the luxury Mahajaras Express train which shuttles you between the main stops in blissful comfort, as you stare out at India’s uniquely exotic and evocative scenery.

Orientation

The capital, Delhi, lies in the north of the country. Despite differing characters, New Delhi and Old Delhi have merged into one great city, with Connaught Place (now officially renamed Rajiv Chowk) at its heart.

Agra – home of the Taj Mahal – stands 170km south with the Yamuna River linking both cities.

To the west stretches the huge desert state of Rajasthan whose capital, Jaipur, and nearby Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, remain easily accessible.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

Taj Mahal

Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

India’s iconic landmark and one of the world’s most beautiful buildings readily matches, if not exceeds, the hype. Built in 1653 by the great Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to entomb his wife, Mumtaz.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

Amber Fort

Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

One of Rajasthan’s great maharaja fortress-palace complexes, dating back to the 16th century, set amidst a spectacular backdrop of stark hills.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

Bhangarh Fort
Experience

Bhangarh Fort

Bhangarh, Rajasthan, India

A small, part-ruined medieval ‘ghost-town’ – reputedly one of India’s most haunted places – in picturesque countryside near Sariska Tiger Reserve.

Best for ages: 13+ | £1

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Deeg Palace
Experience

Deeg Palace

Deeg, Uttar Pradesh, India

A little-visited lakeside summer resort and palace complex that was built in 1772 for the Jat kings of Bharatpur, as a luxurious retreat. Its architecture fuses Mughal and Rajput styles.

Best for ages: 18+ | £1

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Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum
Experience

Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum

Delhi, India

The former bungalow residence of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is now a slightly macabre museum. Assassinated here in 1984 by her bodyguards, even that very spot remains spotted with blood.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

11 Days Golden Triangle & Varanasi With Luxury Accommodation,internal Flights

11 Days Golden Triangle & Varanasi With Luxury Accommodation,internal Flights

New Delhi

• Experience the Wonders of India with a Magical 11 Day Tour Including Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Varanasi.  • Sunrise Taj Mahal, Early Mornin...

$847 | Rating 4.76 / 5 [13 ratings]

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Tour supplied by:

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2 Day Private Luxury Golden Triangle Tour to Agra and Jaipur From New Delhi

2 Day Private Luxury Golden Triangle Tour to Agra and Jaipur From New Delhi

New Delhi

The Golden Triangle tour is a tourist circuit which includes tourist places Agra, and Jaipur. This tour is known as the Golden Triangle beca...

₹17,600 | Rating 4.96 / 5 [27 ratings]

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2-Day Golden Triangle Tour to The Taj Mahal, Agra and Jaipur from Delhi by Car

2-Day Golden Triangle Tour to The Taj Mahal, Agra and Jaipur from Delhi by Car

New Delhi

7am Pickup from Hotel / Airport / Railway Station or any other desired pickup location in Delhi, Noida, or Gurugram and three hours drive to...

$224 | Rating 4.85 / 5 [69 ratings]

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3-Day Private Luxury Golden Triangle Tour to Agra and Jaipur From New Delhi

3-Day Private Luxury Golden Triangle Tour to Agra and Jaipur From New Delhi

New Delhi

Explore India’s Golden Triangle, including Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, on this private 3-day tour from New Delhi. Visit the 11th-century UNESCO ...

₹18,300 | Rating 4.88 / 5 [115 ratings]

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Thikana Delhi

Delhi, India

A small but comfortable B&B with the ambience of a homestay, featuring recently-renovated rooms and super-friendly hosts.

Official star rating:

Diggi Palace Hotel

Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Characterful and charming heritage hotel in central Jaipur – a haveli, or mansion, originally built for a wealthy noble family. Excellent value for money.

Official star rating:

Khem Villas

Sherpur, Rajasthan, India

Superb understated ‘jungle camp’ and eco-lodge close to the rugged hills of Ranthambore, with an excellent conservation ethos.

Official star rating:

Kipling Lodge

Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan, India

A good value lodge with comfortable ‘cottages’ in a quiet garden surrounded by tranquil farmland, ideally situated for tiger-spotting safaris in nearby Ranthambore National Park.

Official star rating:

When to go

The main tourist season runs from October to March, though September and April are also fine – clear skies with warm to hot days.

May and June bring extreme heat and are worth avoiding while the July and August monsoon cools things slightly but brings more humidity.

Peak season is Christmas and New Year as well as the Indian festival of Diwali in late autumn. Mid-December to early February can deliver surprisingly cool nights and Delhi is prone to fog.

Getting there and away

Although technically you could start in any of the three cities, Delhi is the main international gateway, and the departure point for most tours including the Maharajas Express. It’s easiest to start there.

See our separate guides to Delhi, Jaipur and Agra for destination-specific travel advice.

Getting around

Delhi’s new metro has revolutionised public transport there, though buses, autorickshaws and taxis remain popular in Delhi, and are essential in Agra and Jaipur. Unless using pre-paid booths at the railway station you’ll need to be firm about getting a metered fare for taxis and autorickshaws.

A private car with a driver – usually arranged through a travel agency – is the most relaxed, convenient and flexible way of touring the Golden Triangle. Trains are another characterful means of transport, with fairly reliable services to/from Agra and Jaipur.

Health & Safety

India generally remains an extremely safe and crime-free country for tourists. At worst lone female travellers may receive unwanted and unwarranted attention from younger men. Road accidents are common though rarely involve tourist vehicles.

Always drink bottled water or soft drinks (and drink plenty in the heat) and, except in good restaurants, treat salads, ice cubes and ice cream with caution. Follow medical advice on vaccinations and malarial prophylactics.

Our writer’s recommended itineraries for this destination

Other guides relevant to this destination

Agra destination guide

Uttar Pradesh, India

Home to the iconic Taj Mahal, the relentlessly congested and clamourous city of Agra and its hinterland host an array of superb Mughal architecture, along with vigorous bazaars.

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Delhi destination guide

India

India’s intense sight- and monument-filled capital is a compelling blend of the modern Raj-influenced New Delhi, and the sights, sounds and smells of Old Delhi’s heaving and exotic lanes and bazaars.

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Overview >