New Delhi Travel Guide
Visiting India is a bucket-list trip for plenty of seasoned travelers, and you can't do better than starting your Indian vacation in New Delhi. From the essential attractions—like the Red Fort and Baháʼí Lotus Temple—to the incomparable North Indian cuisine on display at both high-end restaurants and street stalls in Old Delhi, the capital of India will set the tone for your travels. And not only can you easily drive or train to nearby, must-visit destinations like Agra and Jaipur, but you can take short-haul flights from Delhi to southern staples like Goa or Kerala.
To guide your travels though New Delhi, we've outlined the best hotels in the city (and just wait until you experience Indian hospitality to the fullest extent at these five-star properties). We've also covered where to shop in Delhi, must-try restaurants, and notable points of interest. Follow this guide to neighborhoods like Lodhi Colony (the first public arts district in India), bazaars brimming with stalls selling antiques and embroidered silk, and restaurants serving hot-off-the-grill seekh kebabs.
India Standard Time (Greenwich Mean Time +5:30)
Best Time to Go
It's best to avoid May through September in India, when the heat is sweltering. The downpours are also fairly intense in July, August, and September, during what's known as monsoon season. From a weather perspective, November to March are the best time to visit New Delhi, when it's coolest and driest—with temperatures in the 70s and 80s.
As for special events, Diwali happens in December, which lights up the city. In March, the city celebrates spring with vibrantly colored Holi celebrations, which is exciting to experience as a visitor. If visiting for the festival of light (Diwali) or color (Holi) isn't possible, New Delhi also celebrates Republic Day on January 26 with an impressive parade.
Things to Know
Hindi is the national language in India. "Namaste" is the word for "hello." When greeting people, say namaste while bringing your hands together at your heart and bowing just slightly. It's also common to say "namaskaar" as a greeting.
It is not safe to drink tap water in India. Only drink bottled water—many tourists even choose to brush their teeth with bottled water. When you're sold a bottle of water, check the seal to make sure it's a brand-new bottle, rather than one that's been refilled.
Some of the most important holidays in India are Diwali (October or November), Holi (March), and Navrati (September or October). Dates vary for each of the holidays.
Calling Code: +91
Currency: Indian Rupee (Check the current exchange rate)
How to Get Around
Trains: The Delhi Metro has improved significantly in recent years. The rapid transport cars bring locals and tourists seamlessly around the city, and the Airport Metro Express Line provides transportation from Delhi Airport. You can buy a tourist metro day pass for 150 rupees or a three-day pass for 300 rupees.
Buses: The metropolis is serviced by DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) buses. The buses are not always air conditioned and get fairly crowded. Fares run from 5 to 25 rupees depending on the length of your trip.
Taxis and Rickshaws: For short trips around Delhi, it's easy to hop in a rickshaw on the street, which features a carriage and is pulled by a cyclist. For longer trips, you can also take an auto-rickshaw, which is essentially an open-air carriage with a typical car engine. Auto-rickshaws double as taxi cabs, though you can also call an on-demand taxi. Car service: Ola Cabs are very popular in Delhi, and the city is also serviced by Uber.
Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
Old Delhi: While you're unlikely to stay in Old Delhi, visiting the neighborhood and the market, or stopping in for dinner, is one of the most crucial experiences you can have—not just in Delhi, but in India. You'll find dining institutions, and motorcycles weaving through bustling crowds of locals and tourists.
Lodhi Colony: A newer neighborhood in Delhi, close to the Lodi Gardens, Lodhi Colony is the first public arts district in India. The hip enclave is covered in street art and is right off the Delhi metro.
Hauz Khas Village: A vibrantly colored, trendy village in New Delhi, Hauz Khas is known for great shopping, intriguing art galleries, and Instagrammable restaurants. Find a new outfit at OGAAN boutique, then head upstairs to their gourmet Coast Cafe—or go out on the town at Hauz Khas Social.
Nizamuddin: Close to Humayun's Tomb and India Gate, Nizamuddin is a tangle of busy, narrow streets, where street carts serving some of the most authentic Delhi eats stay open to all hours of the night. While popular among tourists for its proximity to must-see attractions, Nizamuddin is—at its core—a long-standing locals' neighborhood.Paharganj: A more rundown Delhi neighborhood, Paharganj is busy and tends to attract budget travelers because it's inexpensive. However, Paharganj is not the safest neighborhood (crime is a very real concern), so if you're heading to this area, remember to stay with a larger group that makes you feel comfortable
Winter: Winter is perhaps the best time to visit New Delhi (weather-wise). You'll find highs in the 70s and minimal rain from December to March.
Spring: Spring significantly warms up New Delhi—you'll find highs in the 80s and 90s in March and April. Nonetheless, it's still preferable to visit in the spring compared to the summer months, because traveling to New Delhi in April means you'll be there before monsoon season. By May, the intense heat and rain comes in full force.
Summer: Welcome to monsoon season. In June, July, and August, you'll find temperatures in the 100s and as much as five inches of rain per month. Summer is not an ideal time to visit India.
Fall: You'll still find hot temperatures and hefty rainfall in September and October (with highs in the 90s). By November, temperatures dip and the rain dissipates, which makes it a good time to visit New Delhi.
The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month. Average annual precipitation is 22.42 inches.
January: 46°F to 69°F
February: 52°F to77°F
March: 61°F to 88°F
April: 71°F to 99°F
May: 78°F to 104°F
June: 81°F to 103°F
July: 81°F to 97°F
August: 80°F to 95°F
September: 77°F to 94°F
October: 68°F to 92°F
November: 56°F to 83°F
December: 48 °F to 74°F