It is always a challenge to pick the best holiday destinations to visit in India. Moreover, India is a unique place for a traveller with a variety of destinations to choose from. It also caters to the needs of most of the travellers be it adventure travel, sight seeing or luxury travel. India comprises of total 37 entities (as of Dec 2019) which includes 28 states and 9 union territories (UT). Out of which there are 22 official regional languages (apart from English) and related cultures practiced in the country. For exploring such a complex and vast landscape, we need to explore in regions (not the official regions/zones of administration). To make it simple, I divided India into 4 must visit regions and the 2 other regions for specific niche,
Northern States– Comprising of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir (UT), Ladakh (UT), Punjab, Haryana, Delhi (UT), Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan
North Eastern States – Comprising of West Bengal, Sikkim and the famous seven sisters. (7 Sister states – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Mizoram)
Western Ghats – The Evergreen hilly areas and the beautiful coastal areas of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Gujarat. Also the Union territories of Diu (UT), Daman (UT) & Dadra and Nagar Haveli (UT)
The Islands – The Anadaman and Nicobar Islands (UT) and the Lakshadweep (UT). These islands are home to some of the best private beaches, turquoise blue seas and scuba diving spots
Eastern Ghats – The temple cities and the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry (also Pondicherry), Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Orissa
The Unknown – The central states of Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Telengana, parts of Andhra Pradesh & Gujarat, Bihar and Jharkhand. These regions are relatively less explored due to harsh weather conditions but have a plenty in store for an adventurer.
Select a regional travel guide,
- Ultimate Maharashtra
- The Kashmir Valley
- North East guide
- Sikkim unexplored
- Western Ghats
- Gods own country
- Chattisgarh Unveiled
Best Holiday destinations to visit in India – Photo Highlights
Best Holiday destinations to visit in India – Top #20
It is literally impossible to list the complete set of must visit places in one article. It would be exhausting to read as well as more complex to plan your travel. Do read the regional guides for a comprehensive overview of the places to see, things to do and what to expect in India. Listed below are some of the handpicked holiday destinations to visit in India.
Easily accessible and just 200 km from New Delhi (the capital of India), Agra is a beautiful city on the river banks of Yamuna and it houses the world wonder ‘The Taj Mahal’ and 2 other UNESCO world Heritage sites namely the Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. I enjoyed walking thorough the city’s monuments and it depicts the architecture of the Mughal Empire of the 15th and 16th century. There is nothing like a best time to visit the place, but my suggestion would be to avoid the visiting in the months of April to June, where the temperatures can reach up to 42°C.
Located at 450 Km from Delhi, it is the closest major city to Pakistan border. The city of Amritsar has an international Airport which operated domestic flights as well. Culturally, it hails Sikh heritage filled with Gurudwaras (A temple for Sikhs). It is home to the most holiest Gurudwara, The Golden temple also known as Harmandir Sahib (meaning “house of God”). It is a mesmerizing sight to watch this majestic temple built around a pool, which was initially built with white marbles and later plated with gold which is estimated to be more than 750 kg! Once in Amritsar, you should not miss the Historical Wagah border and the Jallianwala Bagh memorial.
Welcome to the Kashmir valley! Be ready to experience some of the most beautiful gardens and Houseboats. There are a wide range of things to do and see in Srinagar, from experiencing the local kashmiri cuisines to indulging in adventure sports. Rafting at Sonmarg, skiing at Gulmarg, Peaceful Shikara ride on Dal Lake and Paragliding are few things you should not miss. And don’t forget to stay in one of those gorgeous houseboats at least for a day!
Located at 11560 ft above the sea level in the Himalayan range, Leh is historically the capital city of the Himalayan Kingdom. It has an airport with connectivity to Delhi, Srinagar and Jammu. Best time to visit is post monsoon (from mid August to mid September) when the nature’s beauty is at the best with blossoming flowers. You can visit in May-July as well which is equally good with all infrastructures in place. Visiting in any other months will be possible too but it is not for the leisure traveler as you would struggle to get transport and accommodation.
When you are in Leh, the Pangong Tso & Tso Moriri (Tso = Lake in Tibetan) and the Nubra valley should not be missed. Also, you could visit the Leh Palace which is a 9 story royal palace to witness the historic remains and can get a panoramic view of entire Leh from its roof top.
Located at an altitude of 8500 ft in Northern Uttarakhand, is India’s top destination for Skiing and Hiking! You get to see the panoramic view of the major peaks of the Himalayan range relaxing in a resort in Auli (top attraction being the Nanda Devi peak – 7816 meters high). The culture is predominantly Garhwali and most people speak Hindi as well.
You can enjoy Skiing at Auli all through the year as the government is encouraging people to Ski by providing artificial snow during the off-seasons. And the best time to visit for Skiing is from November to March. Alternatively, for a more leisure and relaxing trip, you could visit during May to October when the weather is pleasant and can see the flora of the valley (it has highest concentration of flower species in the world – around 520 species).
It is the famous resort town in India and the most popular honeymoon destination. Apart from staying in some of the most beautiful resorts, there are a plenty of room for adventure sports in Solang Valley like Zorbing, Paragliding, Parachute and even riding a Yak!. There are numerous trekking points in and around Manali and Kullu (an hour drive from Manali). Rohtang Pass, Bhrigu Lake and Manikaran Hot springs are the major tourist attractions. If time permits, you should never miss the opportunity to visit Spiti Valley which is around 3h drive from Rohtang pass.
Best time to visit for relaxation is during the winters (November to February) where you can enjoy the fresh snow in the comfort of your resort. Also, May-June are the most crowded and may not be preferred by all. For adventure, the best time to visit is May-June / October-November as the Rohtang pass will be closed from December to May.
Officially call as the blue city of India, Jodhpur lies in the heart of the Thar desert. the sea of blue houses and the panoramic view form the city’s monuments and clock tower are absolutely stunning. Mehrangarh fort and Jungle Safari are the major attractions. I would suggest to visit Jaisalmer which is a 5 hour journey from Jodhpur (Buses and taxis are a plenty). Being in the region of Thar desert, you should not miss the opportunity of star gazing experience and of course the camel safari. The best season to visit Jaipur is obviously the winters (November to March) where you can enjoy the pleasant weather.
The Pink city of India and part of the Golden triangle (other cities of the Golden triangle being Delhi and Agra), Jaipur is a palace city too rich in cultural heritage. It is home to 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites – The Amber Fort and Jantar Mantar. Other attractions being the Hawa mahal, boating to Jal Mahal (entry is prohibited) and the Elephant sanctuary called the Elefantastic, where you get to see one of the best tours riding on a elephant and by the end of the tour you would probably start loving elephants. You can visit the place from November to March when the weather is pleasant and relatively cool (days not exceeding 24°C and nights can go up to 5°C). Alternatively, you could visit in the monsoon as well (July-September) as there is little rain in the region and you can get a good deal with your hotel bookings. Summers are literally too hot and better to avoid.
Located in the lesser Himalayas at an altitude of 6700 ft above the sea level, Darjeeling is famous for its tea cultivation and the serene beauty of the surrounding mountains. It is home for the famous UNESCO World Heritage site – the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) which runs from Darjeeling to Assam. It has a temperate climate and pleasant throughout the year, with July receiving the peak monsoon rains. There are two famous seasons to visit, firstly the summer from April to June when the nature is at its best to enjoy the panoramic views. Secondly, the winter in the months of December and January where there is maximum possibility of snow and loved by the honeymooners!
First thing to do is to take a ride on DHR to Ghum station, where you reach the Tiger hills. It is an absolute heaven to see the sunrise from the tiger hills when the first rays fall on the peaks Kanchenjunga (3rd highest peak) and Everest (Highest Peak) at the same time. Visiting the Himalayan mountaineering institute and the Himalayan Rope way to get a view of the tea estates are a must. For the adventure lover, there are a plenty in store in terms of river rafting and trekking.
Located at 100 Km from Darjeeling, Gangtok is the capital city of Sikkim, which has tourism as its major economic resource. Taking a cable ride to have an Arial view of the city and taking a Yak ride are must do things. The Kangchendzunga National park, Yumthang Valley and the historic Nathula pass (which is an important link between India and China) are must visit places. Some of the other attractions are the Tsongmo lake, Gurudongmar lake, Tashi view point (Enjoy beautiful sunset on the Kanchenjunga) and the Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary.
Best time to visit Gangtok is from March to May when the Rhododendron flowers start to blossom and its a beautiful site in the valleys. Alternatively, the autumn season from September to November also has a pleasant weather. And of course, snow lovers can visit in January & February but make sure to carry warm clothes as the temperatures can go as low as -15°C in Yumthung valley
Famously known as the ‘Abode of Clouds’, Shillong is the capital of Meghalaya state which is home to the top 2 wettest places in the world, Mawsynram and Cherrapunjee (which are 15 Km apart and 60 Km from Shillong). The Nohkalikai Falls, Umiam lake and the Krang Suri waterfall are must visit places. I would suggest visit the border town, Dawki which is 2 Km from Bangladesh border and enjoy the boat ride in the most cleanest and transparent water.
The best time to visit Meghalaya is during the summer and early winter (February to April) and post monsoon (October – November, and even December). Braving the monsoons in any North eastern state, especially Meghalaya is not advisable as you may encounter bad roads and sometimes even road closure due to land slides.
Guwahati is the gateway to Northeastern India (all the seven sister states are well connected through Air from here). The Deepor Beel and the Assam National Zoo must visit sites in the city. A must visit place is Majuli – which is a 3 hour drive from Guwahati and is the world’s largest river island sandwiched by the river Brahmaputra. One should explore the sister states as well as the Air is extremely cheap from Guwahati. Take a trip to Imphal, visit the famous Loktak Lake and take a 3 hour drive to visit Kohima and Dzükou Valley which is an other worldly paradise!
Again, the best time to visit this Northern state is during the summer (march to May) and post monsoon (October – November, and even December).
The Crown Jewel of the Western ghats! It is 6 hour drive from Mumbai and it is a mini heaven to escape from the busy lives. There are numerous things to do, see and experience in Mahabaleshwar. Firstly, trek (steps available) to the Pratapgad fort to enjoy the panoramic view of the hill station. There are numerous view points to enjoy nature and the Wilson point of sunrise, the Arthur seat point, Kate’s point, Elephant point and the Venna lake view point are a few popular ones. Boating in the Venna Lake and take a horse ride tour around the lake are some of the things to do. Also, there are numerous trekking opportunities in and around Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani.
In the summer season, you get to find the strawberry market at its peak. The Mapro (Mahabaleshwar Products) Strawberry festival is conducted every year in march end. Also, Strawberry farm tours are a must to experience during the summers. Some tours allow you to pick the strawberries, mulberries in the field as well (a good experience for kids too). Though the best time to visit is from March to June when the strawberries are ripe, you could visit during the months of December to February as well (when the weather is more pleasant at around 20°C .
Goa has some of the best beaches and Churches of India and combined with the cultural fests, night life, food and water sports (has some of India’s best Scuba diving locations), it comes with a complete package for a vacation! The beaches of the farthest North (Candolim beach, The Baga beach, Calangute beach, Anjuna beach and Arambol & Vagator – the less crowdy) and the farthest south (Palolem beach, Patnem beach, Agonda beach and Cola beach) are the best. Spending 2 days in North Goa, 1 day in South Goa and 1 day for the shopping would be a good agenda.
I would also suggest driving to Malvan (2h 30m drive from North goa) to experience the best SCUBA diving, Snorkeling and many other water sports in the secluded beaches. Best time to visit Goa is during the winters (November to February) when the weather quite pleasant. Also, you try visiting in the monsoons (June to September) which brings a unique beauty to Goa’s landscape and most importantly, you get a good discount for your accommodation!
Famous for the Varkala beach, also known as Papanasam beach (meaning ‘wash away your sins’), it is rated as the world’s second best cliff beach! It is among the very few places where the cliff directly interferes with the sea. Sunset over the red cliffs at the beach is stunningly mesmerizing to watch. It is located at about 40 Km from Trivandrum (Capital city of Kerala) and easily accessible. I would suggest visiting Edava beach (5 Km from Varkala) which is untouched and has some beautiful backwaters. There are a plenty of activities for the adventurer in you. You can do Paragliding, Parasailing and even take up surfing lessons in Varkala. Also, if interested in yoga, it is a best place for you to practice yoga in the beach!
The weather is tropical and can be visited all through the year. Although, the best time to visit is the winters (October to February) when the weather is more pleasant with cool breeze (not very cold – at around 22°C to 25°C) across the cliff.
16. Alappuzha (Alleppey)
Popularly known as ‘the Venice of the East’, Alappuzha is full of beautiful canals, backwaters, lagoons and beaches. The best thing to do is to book a ‘Houseboat’ accommodation for your vacation, and the rest is pure bliss! Staying in Kuttanad & Pathiramanal to experience the culture, riding through the backwaters, visiting Vembanad lake and the silent Marari beach are the major attractions. On the food, the Kerala puttu with curry (a type steamed rice) & freshly captured and fried fish is a must try. If you are on a Houseboat, the host would do it for you!
In Kerala, as said before, the best time to visit is the winters (October to February) when the weather is more pleasant with cool breeze across the cliff. The temperature in Alappuzha is around 30-33°C in the winters.
Previously known as ‘Cape Comorin’, Kanyakumari is the southern most tip of mainland India. You can witness the Triveni Sangam (meaning confluence of oceans), where the 3 major oceans (Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea & the Indian Oceam) meet. The colors of the oceans are so distinct that you could witness the confluence with naked eyes. The beautiful sunrise and sunset at the beach, Visiting the islands – Vivekananda Rock and Thiruvalluvar statue and the Thirparappu falls are the major tourist attractions. I would suggest you to visit the most herbal falls (also called as the ‘magical spa’), the Courtallam (130 Km – 2h 45 min drive from Kanyakumari) and the famous black beach, Kovalam (90 Km – 2h 30 min drive from Kanyakumari).
Any month is best to visit, though there is hardly a winter in the Southern India, the months of December to February experience a more pleasant weather. It is to be noted that Kanyakumari has monsoons in october-November!
19. Rann of Kutch
Rann of Kutch is one of the largest Salt deserts in the world, located below the Sindh region covering parts of India (Gujarat) and some parts of Pakistan. It is a very safe place to visit and the best time to go is the winters and especially during the Rann Utsav which happens between the months of November to February. The desert becomes otherworldly in the nights, especially on a full moon day! To witness this spectacle, you could book your accommodation in the desert during the Rann Utsav days.
As said earlier, the best time to visit is during the winters and to be noted that the summers are the ones to be avoided. The mercury can soar to an astonishing 50°C
20. Havelock Islands
Havelock Island is located at around 2 h ferry ride from Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Beach hopping is something everyone does there. You could literally walk around and complete the Island! Swimming with elephants is a unique experience in Havelock Island. One more highlight is to visit the bio-luminescent beach in Havelock (you can get to know the spots from the local SCUBA diving guides, and can be seen only on a no moon day!). Also, waters ports and activities like snorkeling, SCUBA diving and Parasailing are the best to experience in India.
Visiting the Neil Island (18 Km from Havelock), Mangrove kayaking at Mayabunder and taking a Helicoptor tour of South and North Andaman are a must. If you have enough time, booking a cruise to Andaman from Chennai/Vizag/Kolkata gives you the best cruise experience within India. And of course the best time to visit is the post monsoon season from November to April.
Everyone of us would have read about plenty of things to do in Mumbai and would have done it religiously. Being a diehard fan of Mumbai, I have aplenty of things to share about the places to visit and…