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The capital of the largest democracy in the world, Delhi is paramount in history, cuisine and moreover diplomatic presence. The capital is long-standing from its Sultanate days. Wandering around the chaotic Old Delhi will give you goosebumps. Drive around the Lutyens, hop on from one monument to another, chill in the Khan Market cafes, you’ll not realize how these 3 days in Delhi slipped away. Use this 3-day in Delhi travel itinerary by a local – Shivani from The Wandering Core – when planning a trip to Delhi.
Also read these top 10 things to know about traveling to India from an insider to better plan your trip.
Delhi is usually overshadowed by the nearby Taj Mahal and thus tourists usually don’t spend more than a day or two in Delhi. There are ounces of things to do in Delhi, but any less than 3 days will be like a drop in the bucket.
Those who land in Delhi take its poverty, chaos, and traffic as the first impressions and end up undervaluing the capital. But I can assure you Delhi has much more to offer than it’s valued. I will present what to do in Delhi in 3 days with my recommendations on where to eat and stay. So, here’s how to spend 3 days in Delhi and maximise your time!
Delhi Travel Guide: 3 Days in Delhi
Start your Delhi’s first-morning early by Qutub Minar to beat the crowds, enjoy the place in tranquility and photograph the monument in solace. The Qutub Minar is the eleventh century Brick Minaret built by the Mughals when their rule commenced in the country. The minaret is in Mehrauli district of South Delhi, very close to the airport. So, if you’re staying nearby, reaching the monument early morning won’t be a concern. Spend some time here and after clicking Insta-perfect pictures, head to nearby Saket for breakfast.
Hauz Khas Fort
Hauz Khas Fort is a hidden gem from Delhi unknown to many foreign tourists yet. The fort is close to Saket and easily accessible by metro, cabs or the auto-rickshaws. A 12th-century monument with free entry and a sumptuous lake is a must-see especially when you have more than 2 days in Delhi.
The fort has various small monuments in the premises including pavilions, madrassas, mosque and also Firoz Shah’s Tomb – that is why it is one of the top attractions in Delhi. The fort is not massive and 2 hours will be sufficient to explore it. The Fort oversees the man-made lake, but with no direct way to reach. The lake can be seen either from the fort or through a long walk from the deer park and the best one is by a hidden alley. The hidden narrow pathway will take you through cafes, boutiques, and most-importantly infamous street art.
Post this tiresome stroll, enjoy a delicious lunch at one of the many hip cafes in the Hauz Khas village. I recommend Smoke House Deli or Imperfecto restaurant, but you can try any. Don’t forget to enjoy a dessert at the leading L’Opera bakery.
From the Hauz Khas Fort, head to Dilli Haat in less than 15 minutes. It is one of the famous heritage and cultural market in Delhi. With open premises and entry charge as low as 30INR (40 cents USD), the market is worth exploring in the evening. The market flaunts stuff from around the country and also holds cultural events in the evening. You might have to check out the schedule if you wish to attend one.
The market has various cafes & restaurants in the complex itself niched from every part of India. If you’re not visiting other parts of the country in this trip, you can get a taste from all in Dilli Haat. The first day is well spent when the South Delhi is covered and you can call it a day from here. Hire a cab or take a metro back to the hotel, both are easily available from Dilli Haat.
Next on this Delhi travel itinerary is India Gate, the war memorial & a triumphal arch built on similar lines of the ones in Paris & Rome. Hire a cab for early morning to photograph India Gate in the Golden hours. The mornings at the largest roundabout of India are beautiful and serene. You will find locals on their morning routine here and have a chance to explore the vast memorial in peace. The monument premises is lively in the evenings with vendors and tourists having a chilled out time. You can come back here anytime in the evening to enjoy the vibe, but the entry closes at 10:00 PM. Though the park stays open and the vendors shift towards the Rajpath side.
The Rajpath hosts the annual Republic Day parade. So, I suggest walking through the road from India Gate to the Rashtrapati Bhavan aka President’s house. When here, don’t miss out visiting the iconic President’s House, and treat yourself with some of the best pictures from Delhi.
Feeling hungry now? Head to Cafe Lota at a walkable distance in the Crafts Museum near Pragati Maidan. It is one of the hip cafes famous for working plus relaxing serving typical Indian food. Would like anything non-Indian? Then head to the Khan Market for some of the famous cafes visited by most tourists.
Call for a cab and make your way to the most spectacular building from Delhi – The Humayun Tomb. The mirror image of the famous Taj Mahal, built in red sandstone, the monument mustn’t be missed. The monument holds the gravestones of the King Humayun and his wife Haji Begum. A UNESCO heritage site, the tomb has massive premises including water channels surrounding it, a mosque and a minister’s hall.
Try to visit here as early as possible, else the place fills up fast with tourists as the day proceeds. When I visited the tomb, there were only a handful of tourists but got crowded towards the evening but by then, I was leaving. Keep a back-up for your phone or camera’s battery, I’m sure, you’ll need it. The monument is extremely photogenic and will eat up the major chunk of your day. Eating is not allowed in the area and there’s a cafeteria outside but not many options available.
Once done, I suggest squeezing the Nizammudin dargah in the itinerary, which is just across the road from the exit of the monument. It’s one of the most famous Dargah (an Islamic shrine) and a serene place to see in Delhi. With the fragrances of roses and the incense sticks, the dargah will imprint you for life. If you enjoy the Mughal cuisine, try some of the restaurants here. Or hold your belly for the next part where I’m taking you to some amazing cafes & restaurants.
The Connaught Place is the heart of Delhi, the largest financial and shopping district with a number of things to do here. CP has the central park for an evening picnic, restaurants for foodies, and Gurudwara Bangla Sahib for spirituality. CP not only has the big brand showrooms but also flee markets like Janpath and Palika Bazaar – an underground AC market. You can see why I included it among the reccommendations for 3 perfect days in Delhi.
Head to Farzi Cafe for a sumptuous lunch serving Indian flavors with a twist, Chaayos for Indian Chai, or a known Starbucks just around the corner. Chill out at the cafes here, shop till you drop, or sit around seeing the life passing by. It’s where you’ll see most locals having a nice time.
You can also stop to see newly opened Madame Tussauds, although not many statues there yet but a nice collection.
Gurudwara Bangla Sahib
Walk till the most famous Gurudwara Bangla Sahib of Delhi, the Sikh Shrine which is one of the top places to visit in Delhi. The gurudwara is another historic place dating back to the 16th century. The spiritual atmosphere, the striking architecture, and the holy pond, the Gurudwara will touch your senses to the core.
If visiting at the meal times, don’t forget to try their famous Langar, a service free for all. Bear in mind that you’ll have to sit on the floor to eat. Sikhs are known to be most humble people and you will surely encounter that here.
Some rules are to be followed here, including head covered by a scarf, no photography inside the main shrine, and talking politely.
Keep your last day for the Old Delhi which is known not only to be chaotic but also home to some of the famous monuments & street food.
Start your final day with the Jama Masjid – the largest mosque in India. The mosque is another Mughal landmark with a history going back to the 16th century. The prayer hall is the main building in Jama Masjid surrounded by four minarets. I highly recommend respecting the people praying here and try not to come in their way.
Remove shoes outside the main gates, better to keep them with you in a bag rather than leaving outside. Buy a ticket from a counter next to the gate 2 for going to the top of one of the minaret. The minaret offers some of the best views of the capital which you wouldn’t like to miss.
Chandni Chowk is the markets you’ve heard about, mostly for being the busiest and a chaotic one. But it is an experience you would love to take back with you. The local shops selling clothes & Indian bridal dresses, jewelry shops in Dariba, Kinari Bazaar for artificial jewelry & zardozi items are all part of Chandni Chowk.
The market is known for its world-renowned street food and undoubtedly best in the country. The Bhalle from Natraj Bhalle Walla, the stuffed bread from Paranthe walli Galli, the chole bathurey or kachori. Chandni Chowk’s street food will not disappoint you.
As it’s one of the busiest markets in Delhi, stay focused, beware of your stuff and try to maintain a distance. Right in the middle of this busy market is Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib, another Sikh Shrine frequently visited by locals. The Ghalib ki Haweli is a hidden gem unheard by many – a residence of the Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib. The haveli is not easy to locate, ask any local here, they’ll help out or simply hire a rickshaw to drop you till here.
The Red Fort is the main highlight of Old Delhi, the residence of the Mughal emperors. The red-colored fort is a historic landmark built of red sandstone, now also has various museums. The fort has an enormously huge complex and needs at least 2-3 hours to see. The Prime Minister addresses the nation from the fort during the Independence Day celebrations on 15th August.
Wandering around the Old Delhi will take most part of the day leaving time only for dinner. CP is close to the Old Delhi so you can head here for the last meal from the Indian capital.
An insider’s tip for Delhi – If you have some time to spare, hire a car using Zoomcar and drive around Lutneys. It is one of my favorite things to do in Delhi and I can say you’ll like it too.
Where to Eat in Delhi
Delhi is unquestionably India’s food capital with cuisines ranging from North & South Indian, Mughlai, international and also popular street food. Delhi’s Dal Makhani with bread, butter chicken, choley bathurey and chicken shorba must be tried.
- Khan Market – Head here for quirky cafes, and a non-touristy chilled out vibe. I recommend Big Chill Cafe, or SodaBottleopener walla for a nice dine in. Nearby Pandara road also have some of the best restaurants from Delhi.
- Connaught Place – The CP being the center attracts the attention of restauranteurs. Farzi Cafe for Indian, Saravana Bhavan for South Indian, The Darzi bar & kitchen are some of my favorites.
- Saket & Hauz Khas – These two places have typical South Delhi vibe and have some of the best restaurants in town.
- Chaayos, CP – Don’t miss this cafe for a typical Indian “Chai”, a quirky cafe with yellowish indoors and pleasant ambiance.
- Cafe Coffee Day – An Indian coffee chain serving a variety of coffee & Indian drinks as well. CCD can be found at various locations in Delhi.
- Rose Cafe, Saket.
Where to Stay in Delhi
Paharganj tends to be the favorite of tourists & travelers alike. But there are a number of places you can stay in Delhi. Delhi has a range of 5-star hotels in central & South Delhi and also just next to the airport. Keep an eye for Airbnb also, you never know you might land into a popular residential neighborhood & make friends for life with some of the coolest Delhiites.
Are you planning to visit Delhi on your India trip? I would suggest spending at least 3 days in Delhi. You can save it for later.
About the author: Shivani
A full-time techie and part-time traveler/ blogger at The Wandering Core. An avid book lover, a chai fan and coffee addict, Shivani likes to explore her hometown – Delhi – when not working & traveling. She also has a deep interest in photography and likes to enhance her writing through her pictures. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram too.