Last Updated on December 19, 2023 by Christine Kaaloa
Delhi, India, (नई दिल्ली) is the national capital of India, with both urban, political and historical sensibilities. Trains, scams, street food and sightseeing … what’s the best things to do in Delhi with 48 hours and how much can you do?
Table of Contents: 22 Best Things to Do in Delhi in 2 days
- 1 Getting from Delhi Cannt station to Delhi airport
- 2 22 Best Things to Do in Delhi in 48 Hours
- 2.1 1. HOHO Delhi bus- UPDATE: I heard this bus program has closed
- 2.2 2. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib
- 2.3 3. Experience Langar (communcal meal) at a Temple
- 2.4 4. Chandni Chowk
- 2.6 5. Street food Tour in Old Delhi
- 2.7 6. Visit a Spice Market
- 2.8 7. Red Fort
- 2.9 8.Jama masjid
- 2.10 9. Haldirams
- 2.11 10. India Gate
- 2.12 11. Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum
- 2.13 12. Quatab Minar (a UNESCO site)
- 2.14 13. Colorful Murals at Lodhi Art District
- 2.15 14. Meditate at the Baha’ai Temple (aka Lotus Temple)
- 2.16 15. Hamayun tomb
- 2.17 16. Delhi Shopping
- 2.18 19. Raj Ghat
- 2.19 20. Visit a local suburb home
- 2.20 Day Trip
- 2.21 22. Day trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra
- 4 Is Delhi Safe?
- 5 Safety Tips for Solo Travelers in Delhi
- 6 Beware of Tourist Scams in Delhi
- 7 Getting Around in Delhi
- 8 Where to Stay in Delhi
Getting from Delhi Cannt station to Delhi airport
Arriving into Delhi Cannt Station – there are twelve train stations in Delhi- at 5:00 am,
Forget airport lounges ! My 10-hour layover in Delhi wasn’t going to be confined to sterile terminals.
First hurdle: luggage. Left luggage for a mere 500 rupees, and problem solved! Except… oh yeah, my Delhi travel guide book was also in that bag. Back to square one?
FYI : check out my Complete India Transportation guide if you’re planning to stay longer!
Traveling India, things don’t always go as planned
There’s one lesson I’ve learned in traveling India…. things don’t always go as you’ve planned. Whether it’s lack of thorough research on my part or something breaks down or whatever, Indian culture reminds me to accept the unexpected and to go with the flow.
Indians don’t fight the inevitable. Instead, they deal with it by casually going along with it, waiting and taking the next best option.
Having traveled Northeastern India (Kolkata, Darjeeling, Sikkim, Varanasi) for a month, when things haven’t worked out, it’s often led to me finding better resources and seeking options in directions, I never knew existed.
22 Best Things to Do in Delhi in 48 Hours
Thanks to the helpful folks at the Make My Trip airport counter, I was pointed to a perfectly inexpensive layover solution with HOHO Delhi.While the video will show you what I did in a day, I’ll list other options for sights which I’ve seen in my past trips and which should not be overlooked.
Interested in joining my India group adventure to Rajasthan?
Watch my full Delhi Trip Guide to see what I did in 24 hours.Things to Do in Delhi 48 hours | Delhi Travel Guide
1. HOHO Delhi bus- UPDATE: I heard this bus program has closed
HOHO Delhi is Delhi Tourism’s Hop On Hop Off Tourist Bus and is Delhi’s best kept tourist secret for skirting you around the city highlights with speed, value and ease. It’s for both, foreign and Indian travelers. It stops at most main sights around Delhi, with a 40 minute period (70 minutes closer to lunchtime) between bus pickups. It allows you to choose the amount of time you want to spend at a stop and which sights you want to see. There are attendants onboard to answer your questions. The only thing that might be able to get you around as well as this, is hiring a driver. Getting there: Finding the office at Connaught Place can be tricky. Make sure you don’t go to the wrong tourism office or are led by fake guides. HOHO is a branch service of the Official Delhi Tourism. Admission: 1,000 Rs ( 500 Indian) (I paid only 800Rs due to it being a holiday) Ticket has 1 and 2 day validity. Website: www.hohodelhi.com.
2. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is quite possibly the most epic gurudwara I’ve seen in Delhi. Step inside and you’ll hear qwali music and see Sikh prayer rituals that will make you want to drop to your knees. Interestingly, the ghat pool outside holds carp. Free temple food is also offered. Admission: Free . Nearest Metro:Rajiv Chowk
In Sikhism, before you enter the temple, you’d wash your hands and feet to purify and prepare yourself for worship.
3. Experience Langar (communcal meal) at a Temple
The Sikh community is known for being a kind and compassionate community. Their temple kitchen is open to all, despite caste, class or religion. You can experience langar by either volunteering to work at their kitchen and eating amongst the many devotees that take a meal there. I volunteered and had a meal at Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib but you can also do this at Gurudwara Bangla Sahib (above). It’s a cool experience.
4. Chandni Chowk
Chandi Chowk (chandeenee chowk) is the bustling heart of a 17th century Old Delhi. It’s a labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with shops selling everything from spices and textiles to jewelry and souvenirs. Be prepared for crowds and chaos, but it’s a truly immersive experience of Old Delhi’s culture. You can still see aging havelis stand strong as tradesmen and craftsmen sell their wares, while rickshaws roam the streets and workers transport mountainous goods from one end of the chowk to another. By far, one of my favorite spots in Delhi!
Tip: Do a 3 hour heritage walk of Old Delhi
Nearest Metro: Chandni Chowk
5. Street food Tour in Old Delhi
There’s also a lot of street food haunts. The area is known to house food vendors that have had their establishments as far back as a 100 years old. Jalebi, kulfi, samosa, chaat, pani puri, the list goes on. Take your hunger with you and explore! Take a street food tour of Old Delhi
6. Visit a Spice Market
Khaor Baoli is Asia’s largest spice market. Delhi has a handful of spice markets but hte Khaor Baoli is the most reknown. It’s name means salty stepwell and it dates back to the 17th century Mughal era. You’ll find hundreds of vendors selling dry fruits, dry plums, rice, grains and spices under shops that date back generations. One shop I saw was actually from a Pakistani family before there was the partition. Nearest Metro : Chandni Chowk, near Red fort
7. Red Fort
Constructed in 1648 and located a stone’s throw from Chandni Chowk, the Red Fort was an important part of Mughal history and Shah Jahan. Explore the majestic halls, intricate courtyards, and the iconic Lahore Gate, where emperors once addressed their subjects. Witness the mesmerizing “Sound and Light Show” in the evenings for a captivating historical narration. On Independence Day, the Prime Minister will make an address from this location. Hours: 9:30a-4:30p Nearest Metro: Chandni Chowk
Immerse yourself in the spiritual serenity of Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India. Admire the imposing red sandstone structure, three arched gateways, and four towering minarets. Asend the north tower for stunning views of the bustling Chandni Chowk market below.
Haldirams is a popular sweets and snack shop located in Connaught Place and Chandni Chowk. The Chandni Chowk location can get crowded, albeit it’s around 3-4 levels. The first floor sells traditional sweets that locals like to gift and tourists like to box up to take home as souvenirs. The second floor is the restaurant/cafe where you can order yummy India street snacks!
Interested in joining my India group adventure to Rajasthan?
Join my group travel squad — Check out my GRRRLTRAVELER adventure tours !
10. India Gate
The India Gate is a war memorial set in the heart of Delhi. See the India Gate from the road or see it up close. It’s impressive and reminiscent of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. Admission: Free . Nearest Metro:Central Secretariat
11. Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum
I didn’t know much about the life of Indira Gandhi or her family. Step inside her estate turned museum and I quickly found out. The exhibition resonates hard, showcasing photos, Indira’s rooms & belongings, …even the last clothes she and her son were wearing upon assassination. Finally, the place on her property where she finally fell to her own guard’s bullet. This is a highly underrated exhibition. Admission: Free Nearest Metro:Central Secretariat
12. Quatab Minar (a UNESCO site)
Quatab Minar is a World Heritage site as it’s said to be the tallest brick minaret in the world, but it’s also a complex of historical monuments reminiscent of Rome’s Collosium. Walking around the complex can take you several hours. Made of red sandstone and marble, Qutub Minar is 240 feet tall and has taken over 75 years to complete. Inside the tower, there is a spiral staircase with 379 steps leading to the top. This spot can take a few hours to go through leisurely, if you have the time. Hous: 7am to 5pm, daily Location: Qutub Minar station Cost: India/foreigner Rs 10/250 . Nearest Metro:Qutab Minar
Join my group travel squad — Check out my GRRRLTRAVELER adventure tours !
13. Colorful Murals at Lodhi Art District
Did you know there is a mural art scene in Delhi? The Lodhi Art District Project is a urban project that has transformed streets with aged buildings into a colorful gallery of eye-popping murals, each telling a unique story. It invited over 60 international artists to participate in creating murals rich with messages and meaning.The goal was to make art accessible to all while celebrating the city’s diverse heritage.
Visitors can wander through these streets, discovering the history and contemporary expressions that decorate building walls . Some murals are filled with hope and optimism, while others may carry a warning message of a future that can be avoided if people pay caution to what they adopt in their lifestyles.
Tip: Take a walking tour to explore it with @women_for_world will give gave you more insight into the artist intentions.
14. Meditate at the Baha’ai Temple (aka Lotus Temple)
The first time I saw the Baha’ai Temple was years ago from the street and I thought it was enough. I was wrong.
15. Hamayun tomb
Hamayuns tomb Built in 1570, this is the first garden tomb in India. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s the tomb on Mughal emperor Humayun. Its Mughal Islamic architecture and memorial has also been said to have inspired the Taj Mahal. More info here. Nearest Metro: Pragati Maidan
16. Delhi Shopping
Delhi doesn’t have one giant everything mall. Instead it has smaller malls and bazaars. Here’s three places to shop in Delhi
16. Connaught Place
Connaught Place (otherwise known by Indians as CP) is a huge spiraling outdoor shopping mall housing restaurants, mobile service providers, boutiques and is a hub of commercial activity and for metro connections. At night it’s lit up bright from the shops and locals like to stroll. There’s a lot of western brands and street hawkers selling mobile accessories and street foods. You can try your hand at fire paan there. But I like to stop by a frozen treats vendor to pick up a kulfi.
Tip: Rajiv Chowk is the metro station for Connaught Place and If you want to see the Indian metro at its busiest, just come to this stop and hang out. It’s actually a cool hub when you’re hungry and in transit. It has many mini and small cafes for you to grab a bite, drink or hang out with a friend. It’s one of my favorite metro stops because I’ll tell you a secret– they have a lot of no-nonsense food choices for the go! Momos, burgers, frosted drinks,… there’s a lot of decent, inexpensive bite size foods to tide you over. Hours: Daily except Sundays. Metro: Rajiv Chowk/Connaught Place
17. Khan Mall
A bit out of the way but accessible by metro is Khan Mall. It is a big U-shaped open aired mall of trendy clothing boutique stores and cafes. It is popular among tourists, expats and locals. It’s not quite historical and the shops are mostly contemporary, but many people know about it as a place to visit and shop at. Nearest Metro: Khan Market
18. Delhi Haat
This open-air market is a showcase of Indian handicrafts and culture. Stalls from different regions of India offer a variety of traditional items, from textiles and pottery to paintings and jewelry. There’s also a food court serving regional specialties. Dilli Haat is a great place to pick up souvenirs and experience the diversity of India. The nearest metro station is INA Market.
19. Raj Ghat
Pay your respects to Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation, at Raj Ghat, his simple yet poignant memorial. This black marble platform marks the spot where Gandhi was cremated, and its inscription reads “Ram Rahim Rahim,” meaning “God is merciful.” Immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere and reflect on Gandhi’s legacy of non-violent resistance.
20. Visit a local suburb home
If you’re in Delhi for such a short stay, it’s wonderful to get the perspective inside a local home. You can do local cooking and dinner at a local suburb home in Delhi. My friend Komal, offers a cooking experience with her mom at Women for World. Check it out. The experience includes hearing stories about her Indian wedding and dressing up in a sari! Very cool!
22. Day trip to the Taj Mahal in Agra
The Taj Mahal, an ivory-white marble mausoleum, needs no introduction. It’s one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’re in Delhi, take a guided day trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal in person is a must-do for many travelers. It will take a bit of time to get there and back, so plan a day for it.
Agra is about 200 km south of Delhi.
Tips: Trains take 2-4 hours, while cars can take 3-5 hours depending on traffic. Book your Taj Mahal tickets online in advance, especially during peak season (October-March). Early mornings are the best time to visit is early morning for cooler temperatures and fewer crowds.
Tips for your day trip:
- Hire a guide: A local guide can provide insights into the history and architecture of the Taj Mahal, making your visit even more enriching.
- Comfortable shoes: You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so wear comfortable shoes.
- Food: Sample Agra’s Mughlai cuisine at one of the many restaurants near the Taj Mahal.
- Dress modestly, as the Taj Mahal is a Muslim religious site.
- Carry water and sunscreen, especially during the summer months.
20. Tails of Compassion Trust
Some beginnings can start sad, but these incredible Indian dogs and their caretaking staff are proving it doesn’t need to stay that way! Tails of Compassion Trust houses over 100 paralyzed, handicapped & senior dogs. They have 40 paralyzed ones! You can visit and play with the dogs or volunteer to help care for them. This place is inspiring! It’s a bit tricky to get to and you need to make an appointment but it is so worthwhile! Getting there cost around $6 in taxi ride to the outskirts of Delhi.
These dogs, with their unwavering joy in the face of adversity, redefine what it means to live your best life. Some are playful, curious, silly, attention- hogging… it’s all innocent laughter and fun. Three legs, two legs, elderly, blind.. this is their home now. Check out my IG Reel
Co-founder Divya says many of these dogs come from the streets. Freedom is all they know. But due to their condition, they are not safe to return to it. The large open spaces of the property they rent helps the dogs adapt better.
The staff cares for over a hundred special needs dogs; some who have lost function below the waist. The staff is inspiring as well. If you visit, take them a box of sweets for me!
When you spend time with these dogs, you cannot help but feel their magic and beauty of living in the moment .I stayed til dark to absorb this peaceful place where dogs can roam free, play, be mischievous and see their beauty mirrored in their community. TOC isn’t just a sanctuary for dogs but a healing place for travelers who visit! Follow them on Instagram at @tailsofcompassion. DM them if you want an appointment to visit or volunteer!
Is Delhi Safe?
Safety Tips for Solo Travelers in Delhi
Delhi is one of the more trickier cities in India and yet, it’s a top tourist destination. Indian locals know Delhi to have occasional scammers and cheats. I’d say you’re more likely to experience this type of activity vs any physical danger like muggings. But walking the streets as a woman can feel intimidating when you see a sea of men all around and occupying all the main jobs. If you are wondering why that is, it is because Indian women usually stay indoors.
Ideally, book a hotel with an airport pickup service. Some hotels offer this service complementary. Mixed reports on travelers being scammed by the prepaid airport taxis. These days Indians are using Uber or Ola Cabs. They have kiosks in the airport and they have anything from motorbike rideshare to air-conditioned car. If hiring a regular taxi or tuk tuk, always ask for a meter on. For DIY solo travelers, I highly recommend taking the airport metro line. It goes straight into the city.
Beware of Tourist Scams in Delhi
Beware of taxis, tuk-tuk drivers or extremely helpful locals wanting to take you to the Delhi Tourism Office. This is often a misdirection scam to a tourist agency where they will sell you a tour package. Some friends and I fell for this one on my first trip to India and it is how I became a solo traveler. Same goes if someone tells you that your hotel burned down or closed. Always call in advance to verify or tell your scammer that you’re meeting a friend at your hotel and must go there. Likely, you’ll find your hotel in perfect working order.
Always count your money if you’re getting it changed and notice the bills you’re giving, so you get the correct change back.
Getting Around in Delhi
Delhi is a city that’s well-connected by its public transportation. If you didn’t want to splurge around 1500 Rupees to hire a driver for the day (booked through a travel agent, Uber or Ola Cabs), then the local bus and metro are well-maintained, clean, safe and can be your best survival tools for getting around.
Taking the Metro in Delhi
Delhi has a metro that’s quite good and convenient to use as it’s been expanding. Some junctions like Rajiv Chowk Metro station (aka for Connaught Place) have snack bars where you can buy drinks and snacks on the run or sit down at the cafes and enjoy a chai with friends. They’re actually great for quick meetups.
Cost is determined by distance or region, but it’s super inexpensive. It’s not even one dollar.
Recommended: You can buy a Delhi tourist metro card. You can get a reloadable card or a tourist unlimited. A one-day tourist smart card costs 200 rupee and a three day card is 500 rupee. Both with a refundable security deposit of ₹50. I recommend the unlimited, so that you do not have to stand in line to load your card. For some reason, the top up machines are always broken or there’s a long line for the individual window agent.
There are women’s only cars; although these days, the middle class has grown in Delhi and many of the cars are co-ed. The metro trains are air conditioned and well-maintained. There is no eating or drinking on them.
Taxis, rickshaws (all are fair inexpensive but often haggling is required)
Long-Distance Train Stations from Delhi
As of 2023, foreign travelers still have difficulty booking their trains online. It’s always best to do it in person or through a Delhi travel agent (your hotel will have recommendations). Delhi has a good handful of railway stations and it can get confusing. But I still love taking the trains in India. Here’s a couple of Indian train guides. The overnight trains are great for maximizing your sightseeing time as you can sleep by night and arrive in the day ready to check into your hotel and hit the sightseeing. Here’s if a specific train is booked full and you want to utilize the foreign tourist quota. India reserves a few seats for tourists.
There are 5 main railway train stations:
- New Delhi Railway Station ND – near Paharganj and Connaught Place. There’s 2 metro lines that stop at it.
- Old Delhi Railway Station – in Chandni Chowk
- Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station.
- Anand Vihar Terminal.
- Delhi Sarai Rohilla Railway Station.
Navigating the railways can be a little confusing, as there are many tracks and trains. Always check the timetables. The timetables will let you know what track the train will arrive on. Also download some of the below apps.
New Delhi Airport Information
Delhi has an international and domestic (low budget air carriers) terminals, some of which are at least 20-45 minutes apart. Free Airport Shuttle bus: Connects T1 and T3. Plan accordingly, especially during peak traffic times.
Taxis: All commercial vehicles (& taxis) are charged a 150rupee fee to get into T1 & T3 terminals of Indira Gandhi international airport, as the airport has a partnership with Meru Cabs. There are prepaid taxis available and you can phone Uber or Ola Cabs (just be aware you’ll be charged the extra 150Rs)
Metro: Airport Metro Hours: 4:45a – 11:30pm.
From/To Airport T3, take the Delhi Airport Express Train to New Delhi Metro Station (Opposite of New Delhi Railway Station, which is opposite of Paharganj).
From/To Airport T1, you will need to transfer to an airport bus at Delhi AeroCity Station.
Where to Stay in Delhi
Karol Bagh– Many locals and expats will tell you Karol Bagh is a decent place to stay in with loads of lovely hotels. I stayed at
Paharganj is a popular traveler’s spot with loads of guesthouses and hotels. However most locals will tell you not to stay there. Still, it can be convenient leaping ground for your activities. However, the area can feel gritty. It houses small merchant shops and is much like a local bazaar. While I’m not a fan of Paharganj per se, the fact it’s now got a metro stop in its neighborhood, makes it homebound for me. It’s also a stone’s throw from Old Delhi Railway Station and the metro, making early morning departures easy.
Hostels aren’t a term in India, but recently, a hip and boutique hostel chain opened up for modern travelers (wifi available). I’ve seen a couple of their hostels; book in advance as spaces fill up fast.
Zostel Delhi,(conveniently located across the street from the New Delhi Railway Station– side next to Paharganj, walking distance). Zostel is India’s first chain of backpackers’ hostels (they have locations in Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodhpur, Varanasi and Goa)
Connaught Place is another place you’ll hear travelers recommended because there are many budget hotels and it is in a large outdoor mall. It is not far from Paharganj. I would not recommend it, because as it is a large commercial area attracting tourists, there are also hustlers and scam tour agencies. Also, the budget hotels feel depressing and I did not get a good feeling visiting some of them. Nearest Metro: Connaught Place
South Delhi is recommended, because the hotels in South Delhi (this is a hotel I stayed at in Bhogal) are away from all the tourist bustle and hustlers. South Delhi was recommended to me by local Indians because it is in the suburbs, thus, much safer. The one downside is depending upon where you stay, it may not be as accessible via metro.
Cottage Ganga Inn– clean,spacious and conveniently located near Ram Krishna Ashram Marg metro station. Around $20/night for a single queen bed.