Slower paced Delhi itinerary: a realistic 2 days in Delhi

Rachel HannahOctober 20, 2023

As the second largest city in the world, Delhi can be an overwhelming place to travel for any given length of time. If you are only spending 2 days in Delhi like I did there is logistically no possible way to see and do everything but you can definitely knock out the highlights!

If you’re like me and are sensitive to constant noise and stop-and-go traffic you will want to limit the amount of stops for each day.

Personally, I found the layout of our 2 day Delhi itinerary to have a good balance of attractions and time spent at each place. I never felt rushed and by the end of the day, I was ready to go back to the hotel.

So if you don’t want to move as fast as this city does keep reading for the perfect slow-paced 2-day Delhi itinerary.

Note: We did all of our activities as part of a private customized tour that was set up by my fiance’s parents through personal connections. However, I have done my best to recommend comparable tours that can be booked online. 

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.

Don’t have time to read the full article? See the 2 Days in Delhi Highlights

Top Landmark: Qutab Minar UNESCO World Heritage Site was so interesting to me. You can visit on your own or as part of a guided tour.

Top Sightseeing Tour: Old and New Delhi Sightseeing Tour – I love this choice because it combines the old history and modern day India in to one tour and it only costs 2329 INR ($28 USD)!

Top Hotel: The Oberoi New Delhi is affordable luxury in an idellic location! Enjoy views of Humayun’s Tomb on one side and Delhi’s Golf Course on the other. There are endless ammenities including a spa, two pools, and five restaurants; two of which are on the rooftop!

Top Day Trip: The Taj Mahal is only 3 hours by road from New Delhi so if you haven’t been this is a must! Most people including myself go on a guided tour. I like this Taj Mahal Sunrise Tour because you can beat most of the crowds and watch as the sun rises over this Wonder of the World!

Delhi FAQ

india gate and netaji subhas chandra bose canopy are two of the best attractions to see during 2 days in delhi

Delhi Itinerary: Day 1

Morning: Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Qutab Minar and its monuments

rachel hannah standing on stone with qutab minar in background
up close of qutab minar delhi india
Qutab Minar is so detailed!
rachel hannah standing at quwwatul islam masjid new delhi
Me admiring the Quwwatul Islam Masjid ruins

This 2 day in Delhi itinerary begins with the tallest monument in Delhi. Located in South Delhi, Qutab Minar stands at 72.5 m (238 feet) tall which is an impressive accomplishment considering that it was built in the 12th century. It was made out of red sandstone and marble and the inside features a spiral staircase which was used as a watchtower and also as a prayer chamber. 

Qutbuddin Aibakas, who was part of Delhi’s first Islamic empire, began construction of this minaret after defeating the Rajput rulers (Hindu). Also referred to as the “Victory Tower”, this 5-story landmark is inscribed with words from the Koran and is a symbol of Islamic rule in India.

After seeing this tower in person it is definitely a site you have to experience first-hand to be able to fully appreciate it. While Qutab Minar is the main attraction this historical complex also has many other interesting mosques, tombs, and structures including the Iron Pillar, the Quwwatul Islam Masjid ruins, Imam Zamin’s Tomb, Alai Minar, and more.

You can buy tickets at the gate for 50 INR ($0.60), online for 35 INR ($0.40), or if you don’t have transport you can join this private Qutub Minar Tour for 4,685 INR ($56 USD) that also visits the Lotus Temple (the next stop on this list) and Dilli Haat. It is a 5-hour tour that begins as early as 9 am which will still give you enough time to visit the Akshardham Temple in the evening for the water show (more on this below). 

My Finding’s Tip: Just a 15-minute walk from Qutab Minar is the Mehrauli Archaeological Park.

Afternoon: Lotus Temple

girl standing in front of pool at lotus temple new delhi india at golden hour
I can’t believe I got this picture with no people in it!
sidewalk leading up lotus temple new delhi india
up close of the top of lotus temple new delhi india
The details are everything!

Next up on the itinerary is the Lotus Temple. The iconic design of this temple is meant to replicate the lotus flower which is the National Flower of India. 

Does this design look familiar to you but you can’t figure out why? It’s probably because you’re thinking of the Sydney Opera House in Australia but the designer was said to have been inspired by the shape of the shells on the Sydney Harbor. 

The Lotus Temple serves as a place of worship for those of the Baha’i faith who believe in the possibility of world peace by uniting all races and people of the world together. 

To respect the temple we had to remove our shoes and silence our phones before entering. The workers encouraged people to pray or meditate once inside the hall but you can also just walk through and admire the architecture as I did. There is no photography allowed inside the temple but the details were truly incredible! 

I definitely think that the Lotus Temple has to be a part of your 2 days in Delhi! You can either visit on the Qutab Minar and Lotus Temple combo tour that I mentioned above or you can visit on your own for free but you will still need to hire transport which is why I’d suggest the tour. 

Evening: Akshardham

Akshardham Temple
I had to use a stock photo because electronics are not allowed!

To end off the first day of your 2 days in Delhi you’ll head to the architectural wonder of the Akshardham Temple. Here, you’ll get to admire a beautiful temple, be immersed in the local culture, and learn about the history and teachings of Hinduism. 

While you could visit the temple early in the morning for less crowds the benefit of visiting in the early evening is that you can see the temple when there is still daylight and also the daily water show that happens right after sunset.

Not much of the temple is visible from outside of the gates so I was so curious to see what was inside. I must say, the Akshardham Temple is unlike any place I’ve ever been to. It was absolutely stunning! 

I primarily came to enjoy the architecture and my goodness the intricate carvings in the sandstone were breathtaking but I was shocked to also be invested in the teachings of Pramukh Swami Maharaj that are told in words and carvings on the outer edge of the temple. 

As a Christian, I personally don’t believe in these teachings but I think it is important to gain an understanding of other belief systems because it helps me to understand different cultures. 

Tips for visiting the Akshardham Temple:

  • Leave all electronics at your hotel (otherwise they will need to be put into a locker)
  • Follow the dress code: cover your shoulders, chest, stomach, upper arms, and below knee-length for bottoms
  • Bring money for the food court

Visiting Akshardham Temple is completely free but I highly recommend adding on the water show that happens every evening as the sun begins to set. It only costs 90 INR ($1 USD) so you shouldn’t pass this opportunity up! 

If you don’t have transport arranged the easiest way is to join a guided tour like this one which includes hotel pick up and drop off, your tickets to the water show, access to the other paid exhibits, and a local guide who will be able to explain the temple to you. On the way back to your hotel you will also be given the option to stop somewhere for dinner.

The cost of this tour starts at 5,189 INR ($62 USD) per person but goes down in price with the more people you have. The best part is that if you do the 9 am Qutab Minar and Lotus Temple Tour first you will have time to join the guided Akshardham Tour which doesn’t start until 4 pm (time may vary depending on the time of the year). If you’re interested you can book this exact tour here.

Unfortunately for me, visiting the temple was a last-minute decision so we had no idea about the water show until we were inside. Because no electronics were allowed, we had no way of telling our driver that we wanted to stay longer for the show. 

Delhi Itinerary: Day 2

Morning – Afternoon: Humayun’s Tomb, India Gate, and Lodhi Garden

Humayun’s Tomb

humayuns tomb delhi india

If you love photography or architecture then Humayun’s Tomb has to be on your 2 days in Delhi itinerary! This tomb is set in a lush garden setting surrounded by neem trees. 

If you want to take photos with no people you’ll want to get here when it opens which is at 6 am every day. 

As far as history goes, this tomb was built in the 16th century by Humayun’s first wife and one of the most interesting facts about it is that the Mughal-style architecture is said to have inspired the Taj Mahal. The tomb was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

All-in-all there are over 100 graves within the entire complex, so good luck finding them all! Make sure to climb to the top of the tomb for awesome views of the gardens and the city of Delhi. 

It costs 600 INR ($7.21 USD) for foreigners and 35 INR for Indians. If you want the convenience of a tour, this Private Half-Day Tour of Delhi visits Humayun’s Tomb and other popular spots including India Gate, and the Lodi Garden (the next two places on this itinerary). It includes hotel pick up and drop off, a guide, and all entrance fees for just 2555 INR ($31 USD) – what a great deal! 

Note: If you choose the tour, the earliest you can get to the tomb is around 9 am. 

India Gate

selfie of rachel and daryl at india gate delhi
informational posters at india gate delhi

The impressive 42-meter tall (138 feet) India Gate is a sobering reminder of the 84,000 Indian soldiers who died during World War I and the Afgan War.

Walking through the gate as a foreigner was a really cool experience and I liked how there were some informational panels next to it where I was able to learn more about India’s history. 

In addition to the gate, there are also lovely lush gardens and fountains to stroll through or sit and relax for a little while. 

There is no cost to visit this landmark and it is open 24/7. For the most peace and quiet I would recommend visiting on a weekday. 

My Findings Tip: If you are not visiting India Gate as part of a guided tour like the Private Half-Day Tour of Delhi I mentioned earlier, or you could opt to save this activity for the evening when the gate lights up. Evenings or early mornings are also ideal if visiting in the summer. 

Lodhi Garden

two tombs at lodhi gardens new delhi
one of the tombs at lodhi gardens new delhi

Looking for a tranquil escape from the chaos of the city? The Lodhi Garden is a beautiful and calm spot to go for a walk and enjoy the manicured grounds, old trees, wonderful-smelling flowers, water features, and historical artifacts.

Keep an eye out for parrots, ducks, and other birds that call this place home! 

This garden does a great job of tying together the ancient and modern worlds as all of the historical elements have been well preserved. 

If you want to learn more about the history attached to the gardens there are guided tours offered on-site or you can simply read from the posted signage. 

If you want to take your time here I would recommend going on your own instead of visiting as part of a tour. However, if time is an issue, this private tour stops here for around 20 minutes. 

Late Afternoon: Red Fort

red fort wall delhi india
front of red fort delhi india

A destination that embodies Old Delhi is the Red Fort which takes up around 250 acres and the fort walls stretch over 2 km (1.24 mi) long. It’s one of the most important pieces of India’s history so this must-visit landmark is a great way to end your 2 days in Delhi!

The fort, made from red sandstone, started to be built in 1638 when the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan decided to move the capital of India from Agra to Delhi. The project was finished 10 years later in 1648. It served as the main residence of the Mughal Emperors for around 200 years. 

diwan i aam red arches at red fort delhi india

Once you get inside the fort there are several other gates and famous structures to check out including Delhi Gate, Diwan-i-Aam, and the Steam of Paradise which flows through the palaces and gardens. 

While exploring inside we got a little bit hungry so we enjoyed some food at the Cafe Delhi Heights before checking out the gift shop. 

Skip-the-line tickets to the Red Fort can be purchased online in advance for 3077 INR ($37 USD) whereas standard in-person tickets cost just 500 INR ($6 USD) for foreigners and 35 INR for nationals.

I recommend adding on a guide because they only cost 333 INR ($4 USD) so it’s well worth it to learn about the history that lies behind these walls.

The Red Fort is open every day from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm except for Mondays. You can also visit after normal hours for the light and water show. The time for this varies throughout the year so you’ll need to check the website for timings

Other Activities to Do During 2 Days in Delhi

woman bartering in womens dress shop in india
My fiance’s mom bartering in a shop. She’s a pro!
indian woman holding Soan Papdi street food dessert in india
Soan Papdi is a really delicious sweet treat!

While the outline above recommends the activities that we chose to do during our 2 days in Delhi I also wanted to leave you some other alternative options in case you have different interests or decide to spend more than 2 days in Delhi. 

  • Learn about Mahatma Gandhi – Gandhi is a household name all around the world. If you want to take a deeper dive to understand what made him such an impactful leader there are several museums around Delhi dedicated to him. Some of the most popular include Gandhi Smriti, The National Gandhi Museum, and the Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum. There is also this Footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi Tour that will take you to notable places including his home, memorial, and the National Gandhi Museum. 
  • Jantar Mantar – Which directly translates to “instruments for measuring the harmony of the heavens” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 13 different astrology instruments that were once used to predict time. There are 5 different Jantar Mantar locations in India and I actually visited the Jaipur location. My recommendation is to look for a guide to hire near the entrance who can explain the different instruments to you. 
  • Visit the markets – India is known for its bustling markets where you can shop for clothing, unique jewelry, art, and handmade souvenirs from all around India! Some of the most popular markets are Janpath and Tibetan Market, Dilli Haat, Paharganj, and Chandni Chowk. You can visit them on your own or join this particular private shopping tour where you’ll be able to customize the stops that are included. Just be prepared to bring your best bargaining skills!
  • Try the street foodOne of the best parts of any trip is the local food scene and the bold and diverse flavors in Delhi will not disappoint! The easiest way to navigate the language barrier and taste a range of the city’s most iconic dishes is on a food tour. On this particular street food tour you’ll sample specialties like soft paratha flatbreads and spiced aloo chaat potatoes. Then offset the savory flavors with some sweet treats including lassi, deep-fried jalebis, and rice pudding.

Easiest Way to Get Around Delhi

tuk tuk on street in india

There are several methods of transport that you can use to navigate around Delhi and while you can use public busses and rickshaws I have listed the safest ways for below:

  • Metro – Delhi Metro is one of the most efficient and convenient ways to travel within the city. It connects various parts of Delhi and its neighboring areas. It’s a clean, air-conditioned, and affordable option. You can purchase smart cards or tokens at metro stations.
  • Taxi/Uber – You can easily find taxis in Delhi, including regular taxis and app-based cab services like Uber and Ola. These provide a more comfortable and air-conditioned option for transportation. Ensure that the driver uses the meter or agrees on a fare before starting the ride.
  • Tour – If you would be uncomfortable navigating such a large and busy city on your own I suggest a guided sightseeing tour like this one where you’ll be privately driven around Old and New Delhi. You can browse all Delhi sightseeing tours on Viator. I personally use Viator because most of their tours have customer-verified views. Plus, they have a great cancelation policy in case plans change.

Best Day Tours From Delhi

taj mahal framed by entrance gate
I had chills when I saw Taj Mahal for the first time!
rachel standing in front of pastel building at amber palace
Jaipur has so many beautiful colors

If you haven’t thoroughly planned your entire India trip yet you might want to consider the different cities that you can explore easily from Delhi. Below are some of the most popular day tour options you can choose from. However, if you are able to allot a few more days into your itinerary my personal recommendation would be to book one of the multi-day tours which are in the section right after this one!

Taj Mahal Sunrise Tour 

Let’s face it, the Taj Mahal is one of the main reasons why people visit India so if you haven’t already booked your tour yet this Taj Mahal Sunrise Tour is one of the best options out there.

It’s a long 15-hour tour but I know that it will be worth it once you see how stunning this Wonder of the World is in person! You will depart at either 2 am, 2:30 am, or 3 am and drive 5 hours to Agra just in time to watch the sun rise over the Taj Mahal. The best part of this tour is the knowledgeable guide who will accompany you. Our guide taught us so much history and information about the architecture and surrounding monuments. He also gave me helpful photography tips so I left with a ton of amazing photos! You can book this Taj Mahal Sunrise Tour here for 9980 INR ($120 USD).

Private Same-Day Jaipur Tour

The Pink City of Jaipur is on many tourist’s bucket lists, and for good reason because it is a beautiful place with lots of history! This particular private tour starts at 5 am when you will be picked up from your hotel in Delhi by your driver and then drive 5 hours to Jaipur. Your first stop is the beautiful Amber Palace which was my personal favorite site – it is huge!

Next up is a brief visit to the Jal Mahal palace which sits in the middle of Man Sagar Lake. Then, be intrigued by the royal history of the Palace of the Wind and City Palace of Jaipur before ending the day at the World Heritage Site, Jantar Mantar. This complex was built in 1734 and has 19 astrological instruments which were cool to look at!

You can book this Private Day Tour of Jaipur here for 4075 INR ($49 USD).

Day Trip to Haridwar and Rishikesh

On this 14-hour day trip from Delhi, you will visit Haridwar and Rishikesh which are two cities in the state of Uttarakhand that hold religious significance in India. Haridwar directly translates to “Gateway to God” and is said to be one of the seven holiest places in Hinduism.

Rishikesh is slightly northeast of Haridwar and it is also a spiritual hub known as the “Yoga Capitol of the World”. It is located at the foothills of the Himalayas so it’s a popular starting point for trekking. Rishikesh also has a lot of natural beauty and adventure activities.

This day trip to Haridwar and Rishikesh will familiarize you with all of the main attractions in both cities and you will learn all about their historical and religious significance including a visit to the Ganges River where many people take part in ritual baths to cleanse their sins and souls. You will then explore different hanging bridges, ashrams, shrines, and more!

It will be a packed day but it is such a unique experience! You can book this tour here for 10729 INR ($129 USD).

Best Multi-day Tours From Delhi

astrology meaturing instrument at jantar mantar jaipur india
We made sure to see Jantar Mantar while in Jaipur!
girl in long flowy pink dress walking in front of taj mahal in india
I will never get over this view of the Taj Mahal!

Personally, I recommend allowing enough time in your itinerary so you can book a multi-day tour from Delhi versus going on one of the day trips I listed above. Not only will you be able to see a lot more but you won’t be as rushed for time. Plus, most of the multiday tours combine the Taj Mahal in Agra and the city of Jaipur so bundling them is cheaper and more efficient than taking two separate day trips. I would only recommend taking a day trip if you are limited to one day.

Here are the multi-day tours I recommend most:

Four-Day Private Luxury Golden Triangle Tour to Agra and Jaipur

The Golden Triangle is the most popular tour route in India which connects New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. This four-day tour in particular is one of the most highly rated options that hits these popular cities along with 4 or 5-star hotel stays. It’s a great value priced at just 16301 INR ($196 USD) per person. On day one you will tour around New Delhi and see many sites including a few that I mentioned above. On day two you will be driven to the Taj Mahal for sunrise before checking out Agra Fort and the Itmad-ud-Daula tomb. The third day starts by driving to Jaipur for a full day of exploration. Some notable stops are Amber Palace, Jah Mahal, City Palace, and Jantar Mantar.

3- Day Ranthambore Wildlife Safari Tour

One of the less popular places to visit from Delhi is Ranthambore National Park. If you want to see tigers in their natural habitat you’re in luck because this national park is one of India’s Project Tiger reserves and home to a large tiger population. I love this 3-Day Wildlife Safari Tour from Delhi because you get to go on 3 different safaris so your chance of spotting Bengal tigers is high not to mention the other native species that can be found here including leopards, sloth bears, sambar deer, striped hyena, and more! This will be an unforgettable experience that costs 41501 INR ($499 USD) per person and includes all transport, entrance fees, safaris, 2-night accommodation, and two breakfasts and lunches.

10-Day Private Golden Triangle and Holy City Tour

If you want to maximize your time in India I recommend seeing it all on this Private 10-Day Tour from Delhi. Not only will you get to see the highlights like the Taj Mahal and the top attractions in Jaipur on the Golden Triangle route but in addition you will also venture further to the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri, and cruise the Ganges in Varanasi, which is said to be India’s most sacred city. For the length of this tour, I seriously cannot believe how affordable it is priced at just 41917 INR ($504 USD) per person! 3-star hotels are included in the cost along with all breakfasts, and private transportation with a driver.

Where to Stay in Delhi

king room park inn by radisson new delhi
outside dining area park inn by radisson new delhi

In Delhi, there is no shortage of accommodation options. To make your hotel hunt a little bit easier I’ve selected a hotel for low, moderate, and high budgets that you can read more about below.

Hotel Pearl – Mahipalpur Delhi Airport $ – If you’re only spending 2 days in Delhi you might want to stay close to the airport. Hotel Pearl is less than a mile from the airport and around 6 miles from Qutub Minar. It’s affordably priced at around 8317 INR ($100 USD) per night and has spacious and stylish furniture and decor. The rooms and bathrooms are thoroughly cleaned. A nice Indian breakfast buffet can be added on for just 333 INR ($4 USD). I also like that Hotel Pearl has a 24-hour taxi service so it is convenient for any flight time.

Park Inn by Radisson, South Delhi $$ – This is where we stayed and it was a great experience! I will always remember how helpful the front desk staff were. Park Inn by Radisson is located in South Delhi with access to the metro station (1 min walk) and close to the airport and many notable landmarks. Our Business Room was very clean and spacious with a seating area, mini-bar, TV, and hot shower. Plus, their WiFi was the fastest that I’d experienced anywhere in India! The free breakfast was more than satisfactory with both American and Indian options on the buffet. We also enjoyed a great dinner from here one night which was very convenient after a long day.

You can check availability and book Park Inn by Radisson here for around 8982 INR ($108) USD a night.

The Oberoi New Delhi $$$ – Want to feel like royalty? You will find just that at the newly renovated Oberoi New Delhi! The service here is out of this world and the staff will make sure that each of your needs are met. I think this hotel is absolutely stunning and one side of the hotel has views of Delhi’s Golf Club while the other showcases Humayun’s Tomb.

It is located in Central Delhi and just 10 minutes from the international airport. The list of amenities is endless. Get a massage at the spa & wellness center, take a dip in the indoor or outdoor pools, workout in the 24-hour fitness center, or take advantage of the complementary yoga each morning. The Oberoi has a variety of dining options including a delicious rooftop Chinese restaurant, an open-air rooftop bar, a wine cellar, an authentic Indian restaurant, and a Cigar Lounge with a full bar.

All of the rooms are air-conditioned and have free WiFi and a minibar. They also feature a large picture window so you can enjoy the view. On average the nightly rate is 28511 INR ($343 USD). If you have a luxurious travel style I don’t think you can go wrong with The Oberoi.

You can check availability and book it online here.

Best Time to Visit Delhi

rachel hannah at quwwatul island masjid ruins

Delhi experiences three main seasons: summer, monsoon, and winter. I visited Delhi during the winter which is the best time for sightseeing outside. I experienced moderate temperatures averaging in the mid-50s to mid-60s (48°F to 68°F) during the daytime and in the evening it cooled off into the 40s to where I needed a light jacket to be comfortable. 

The winter season is also when there are several holidays being celebrated including Diwali, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.

Spring (March and April) is also a decent time to visit as a tourist because the spring flowers are blooming. The daytime temperatures in spring are still comfortable ranging from 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F). 

Summer (May to June) and Monsoon season (July to September) are the times of year to avoid visiting India. Summer brings with it oppressive temperatures that can reach up to 104 F whereas the heavy rainfall during the Monsoon season can cause high humidity and flooded roads.

Practical Tips for Visiting Delhi

indian man frying jalebi in hot oil in india
A local making Jalebi!

Street Food: While Delhi is famous for its street food, exercise caution when trying it prevent Delhi Belly. Opt for busy stalls with a high turnover of food to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.

Bargaining: Bargaining is common in Delhi’s markets and with auto rickshaw drivers. Be prepared to negotiate prices when shopping and for short rides.

Safety: Delhi is generally safe for tourists, but be cautious of pickpockets, especially in crowded areas and markets. Keep your belongings secure and avoid displaying expensive items like jewelry.

Final Word on Spending 2 Days in Delhi

Thanks for reading this 2 days in Delhi itinerary! For such a large metropolitan city I learned that you can still see most of the highlights while going at a slower pace. I hope you gathered enough insider information to piece together your own perfect itinerary for 2 days in Delhi!

If you’re traveling around India you can read more of my content below:

Things to do in Shillong

India travel tips

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