A Nomad's Diary - travel tales

6 Essential Travel Ideas for Your First Time in India

If you’re visiting India for the first time, get ready to discover a wondrous country packed with things to do, see and experience. From the bustle of cities such as Delhi to the safari opportunities in the country’s many national parks, there’s something for everyone here in the Land of Diversity.

Here are just six essential travel ideas to consider for your first time in India.

  • Visit the Iconic Landmarks

No visit to India is complete without visiting at least one of its most iconic landmarks. From the grandeur of the Taj Mahal to the lesser-known sights such as the recently discovered Great Wall of India, there’s plenty to discover in this sprawling, beautiful country.

The aforementioned Taj Mahal is usually the go-to for tourists who want to try a spot of sightseeing; sights such as the Red Fort just outside of Delhi and Jaipur’s City Palace are also commonly visited, and for good reason. Whatever route you’re taking, be sure to consider a diversion or two should it lead to one of India’s cherished landmarks. It will be worth it.

  • Discover the Indian Culture

There’s no denying how prevalent the culture is in India – from the customs of the locals to the food they cook, from the architecture to the ceremonies, there’s plenty of ways to understand and appreciate the culture on offer.

Perhaps the most effective way of discovering culture is by visiting some of India’s most highly-regarded places of importance. From temples such as Delhi’s Baha’i House of Worship to the rather unique Ganges in Varanasi, where you’ll find people bathing and worshipping upon the ghats as you sail down the river, India is full of culturally important places where you’ll be able to understand the country that little bit better.

  • Explore a National Park or Two

You may not realise it, but India’s safari opportunities are quite literally unparalleled by any other. Choose to explore Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore or any other national park in the country and you’ll be inundated with animals roaming in the wild – India is actually the only country in the world where you’ll witness lions and tigers coexisting in the wild.

Choose to take a safari tour and you’ll discover some wondrous natural sights alongside some exciting animals – as previously mentioned you’ll see lions and tigers existing with rhinos, elephants and even deer and wild boar. This combined with the opportunity to see ancient ruins of old temples and monasteries make for some of the most otherworldly and exciting experiences in the world.

  • Stay With a Local Family

Did you know it’s possible to stay with a family when travelling in India? Head to Kerala for perhaps the best homestays in the country – not only for the homes themselves, but for the surrounding town and scenery that is guaranteed to take your breath away.

Depending on your desires (and your budget), there are plenty of different types of homestay here in Kerala for you to discover. Whether it’s a dwelling by the backwaters or a sprawling, luxurious farm offering heaps of hospitality, as echoed by Audley, rest assured you’ll be gaining an authentic insight into the locals’ daily lives regardless. Share stories, cook and celebrate with the family you stay with to truly understand Indian culture.

  • Get Lost in India’s Big Cities

Whether it’s the bustle of a city like Delhi or the striking calmness of Kolkata, India has plenty of cities for you to lose yourself in. Opt to visit Delhi  in the midst of a celebration or festival in order to truly experience its energy and vibrancy – the Holi Festival is a safe bet, where locals exchange gifts and sweets under showers of powdered colours for two days.

Read about visiting Safdarjung Tomb, Delhi

Kolkata on the other hand is much more subdued and sensible, with a focus on art and architecture that you’ll notice immediately. Whether it’s in the sights you’ll see, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral and the gorgeous Marble Palace, or the book and film festivals visited by revelers from all over the world, you’ll discover a striking diversity when exploring each of India’s cities.

  • Head to the Outskirts

If a city doesn’t take your fancy, you might want to escape to India’s outskirts. It’s here, after all, that you’ll discover wonders like the Himalaya mountain range; concealing hill stations and tiny villages in its huge peaks, you’ve got a very large natural playground to explore.

Read about visiting Ladakh in Himalaya

Darjeeling is here in the midst of the mountains – ride the toy train up to the hill station to discover the town renowned for its tea. Whilst you’re here, soak in the incredible scenery around you. The panoramas of the surrounding Himalayas are begging for an Instagram snap or two.

Do you have any travel ideas of your own for a visit to India? Let us know in the comments below!

37 thoughts on “6 Essential Travel Ideas for Your First Time in India

  1. At first, I hated India but then the country grew on me. I enjoyed the iconic landmarks and the food. I also liked soaking up the unique atmosphere of each location. I wouldn’t call Kolkata calm though! It was our point of entry and it was a shocker!

  2. Thanks for this detailed post about India. This country seems to have some bit for each age group. Staying with a local family is a good way to meet locals.

  3. I love these travel ideas! Of course, I would put the iconic landmarks on top of my itinerary as well. I have been wanting to see Taj mahal for so long – hope I get the chance to do that someday!

  4. It was a nice post about traveling in India. And beside Darjeeling once visit Gangtok, in Sikkim. I am sure you will love the serenity there.

  5. India is incredible. It has lots of wonderful places that we hould visit in our lifetime. Your post gave me my next travel destination 😍

  6. Wow.. I just realised that if given a chance to make such a list I would also include almost all of the attractions that you have included. Being an Indian, I have experienced all of these first hand and I am sure people coming to visit from far off places will not be disappointed with these. I so long to go back doing all these all over again. Brings a lot of old memories. Thanks for sharing

  7. Lovely post for the ones who are travelling for the first time. India is a land of diverse culture and traditions and the ones travelling for the first time would definitely benefit from this post.

  8. i am glad that you mentioned the local culture and festivals for there is nothing like those to get the essence of the place. I would also, encourage visiting different parts of India as opposed to only the North. The South , West and North East are so unexplored, especially the North East. One must try and add at least one of these to their lists. Thanks for sharing this

  9. Hi there! I just got back from India myself a week ago. I absolutely loved my experience! I went to Agra, Delhi, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaipur. Great read (and advice) for first time visitors to know. to be completely honest, I was very lost at first when I started to plan my travel itinerary. Your post would’ve come on handy 🙂 – Mariella

  10. Wow there’re so many things to do in India that I didn’t know. I will definitely visit Taj Mahal and the National park. Getting lost in a big city must be an interesting experience also.

  11. Couldn’t have presented India in a much better way. You have listed down all the major highlights of the country and done it perfectly. The iconic landmarks like Taj Mahal and the beautiful hills in the Himalayas are definitely a must do while visiting India.

Leave a Reply