During my first trip to India I visited 27 places in 4 months, that’s a lot I know! You can read my full 4 month itinerary here. I loved my time in India (so much that I made a second website called indiabybackpack.com make sure you check it out afterwards) and I loved most of the places I visited in India. Some places I didn’t like so much but they were the ‘iconic India’ places so I’m glad I went.
If you are looking for the best places to visit in India or get more information on exactly where to visit in India, I have written this post with a little paragraph on how I felt about each place I visited and rated them out of 5 so that you can read this and decide if you want to visit too or not!
This will be especially useful if you are travelling India on a tight timeframe and don’t want to waste time in places you may not like.
Of course everything is down to my personal opinion, some days I wasn’t feeling well especially in the South so I didn’t see as much and therefore didn’t like it as much, but the below will give you my honest thoughts on every place I visited to help you plan your trip to India and itinerary around India!
To also help you plan your trip be sure to read these posts after:
I really loved Mumbai! It was the first place I visited in India and the area of Colaba in South India is a traveller and tourist haven without being that touristy at all. I felt safe there and there were plenty of places to eat. The Mumbai Local Train system is easy to use. There’s Uber too. There are enough things to do, although I do recommend doing a tour to help you see some of them and overall it’s a cool city to visit with a lot to offer.
Recommended Accommodation: Backpacker Panda Hostel Colaba
Udaipur, also known as the White City and the City Lakes is very beautiful, just like a lot of people told me.
I loved it’s rooftops and I loved how small and easy it is to get around, but what I didn’t like is all of the guys outside the shops trying to make conversation and get you into their stores. They’re good at it I admit and I felt bad when I just walked by and ignored them but when you get asked 50 times a day ‘ma’am where are you from? are you lost? what are you looking for?’ it gets really annoying!
Update: After visiting more Cities in India and Rajasthan I realise that Udaipur is actually very nice and it’s size is also great as it’s easy to explore and the hassle isn’t that bad there in hindsight!
Updated Score: 4
This place is not on the typical Rajasthan Itinerary but I’m really glad I split my trip up between Udaipur and Jodhpur and went here. I stayed in a lovely hotel – Shahpura Kumbhal Villas which was a bit of luxury but actually its only £40.00 a night.
There are a lot of higher end resorts in Kumbhalgarh so you do need more a budget to go and you’ll need a private driver but if you have the money and you want some peace and quiet in india, Kumbhalgarh is a great place to go!
Recommended Accommodation: Shahpura Kumbhal Villas
Related Blog Posts: Shahpura Kumbhal Villas in Kumbhalgarh Review!
I had 2 experiences in Jodhpur- a 3 nights in a homestay 30 minutes from the City and 3 nights in the City.
I loved the homestay so so much, it was literally the exact experience I wanted on this trip to India and I got it within 2 weeks of being here! I got to sleep in a mud hut, watch food being made, help cook food, play with the children, ask lots of questions and see the stars, this was truly one of my best travel experiences ever!
I did not get on with the City of Jodhpur however. It’s really dirty with s**t literally everywhere. There’s a lot of traffic in small areas and there isn’t that much to do really, also, its not that blue!
I’m glad I went and I would still recommend it if you have time but if you are short on time I’d say to leave the city of Jodhpur out
Homestay in Jodhpur Score: 5!
City of Jodhpur Score: 2
Pushkar is the place to come if you want to relax a bit. Compared to most places in Northern India it’s very chilled and has a backpacker, traveller, and hippy vibe. Its also very spiritual and holy which makes it popular with Indians and Hindu’s.
I spent 1 week in Pushkar to catch up on some blogging work and it was a great place to do this from. I got into a nice routine of getting up early, getting a chai, going to yoga and meditation, working, getting lunch, having a walk, watching the sunset and having dinner.
Pushkar is pretty cheap for accommodation, food and shopping too!
I’ll say now that the ‘Pink City’ is not that pink (just like Jodhpur isn’t that blue), and again like Jodhpur, I had romanticised views that the Pink City would be where I’d spend all my time and it would be really pretty but apart from being more terracotta, it’s actually only a small part of the City and very busy with traffic!
I enjoyed my stay in Jaipur but that was all down to my 2 accommodations. I stayed at Shahpura House which is a luxury heritage hotel. It is really beautiful and if you want a bit of luxury and a good price, I’d recommend it. I then moved to a hostel – Moustache Hostel which I also loved as I met great people and they have lots of activities on which makes seeing the City easier.
Because thats the thing, Jaipur has a lot to do, there are Forts, a Palace, iconic Buildings, Stepwells, Temples and more but a Rickshaw or Taxi is needed to go everywhere and although it is fairly cheap it is quite exhausting and the traffic is bad too, therefore I didn’t end up seeing everything Jaipur had to offer but I still enjoyed it!
Related Blog Post: The Best Way To See Jaipur aka The Pink City of India!
I was actually pleasantly surprised with Delhi! I had heard how busy it was and I was a bit worried about going but I stayed in New Delhi in the main backpacker section and although it was busy it was manageable and I enjoyed being able to walk to Connaught Place which is more modern with lots of shops.
The Delhi Metro is really easy to use and is a great way to get around, a lot of the main places to visit in Delhi can actually be visited using the metro, alternativley if you do a day tour you can see everything of places in Delhi in a short amount of time!
I’m glad I went to Amritsar, the Golden Temple is incredible, so is the kitchen experience and the Wagah Border but I was very happy to leave after 2 days, I had booked 3 nights and reduced it to 2!
The back streets are pretty dirty and very small and busy, apart from the things I have mentioned above there is not much else to do, I got food poisoning too which didn’t help my trip there, and I went on a public holiday so it was soo busy! I have heard from others that they really enjoyed their time in Amritsar and found it quite relaxed so I think my public holiday experience was a one off.
Definitely go but only stay 48 hours max!
Recommended Accommodation: NOT WOW Backpackers, I didn’t like it there at all! I have heard that Jugadus Hostel is good and GoStops Hostel in Amritsar is a which is a chain of hostels in India could be good too!
Related Blog Post: Tips for Visiting Amritsar’s Golden Temple and the Wagah Border Ceremony!
-Dharamshala / McLeod Ganj
I loved it here! And I was still ill for most of my time here! Dharamshala is in the state of Himachal Pradesh up in the Mountains, in fact at the bottom of the Himalayan Mountains. Because it’s so far away a lot of travellers don’t make it here but it really was the fresh air I needed in India! It’s the home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Council so it has a huge Tibetan and Buddhist influence which makes it really unique. It’s a lot quieter than anywhere else I have been with simply stunning nature, good food and good people! I stayed in McLeod Ganj which is in the Dharamshala area and thought this was a great base!
From here I really wanted to go to Manali or Shimla but it was November and too cold. I do plan to go back and I would recommend you seeing more of Himachal Pradesh whilst in Dharamshala.
Recommended Accommodation: I stayed at Ram Yoga House which definitely helped enhance my experience there, it was so nice and good value. I 100% recommend staying there!
Related Blog Post: Dharamshala & McLeod Ganj Travel Guide for Travellers!
Rishikesh is the home of yoga and a bit hippy and if you know me you’ll probably know already that I liked it here! Don’t get me wrong, I perhaps went with slightly too high expectations as I know a lot of travellers and expats end up getting ‘stuck’ here and even living here because they love it so much whereas it is still very busy and busy with Indian tourists too which made it not the shanti/peaceful place I thought it would be.
That aside, I love the vibe here. I love the abundance of yoga classes and all types of other healing classes and courses. The people it attracts are really great and there’s so many cafes overlooking the beautiful Ganga River!
Recommended Accommodation: I stayed at Shiv Shakti Hostel and wasn’t a huge fan of it’s private rooms although other’s liked it for it’s dorm rooms and social vive. I also heard The Hosteller is good, so is Live Free Hostel. For something more fancy and in a great location, the Kunwar Residency would be a good option. Aside from that there are also the Ashram’s that are very popular in Rishikesh!
I really liked Agra! I mean, it wasn’t my favourite place in India BUT considering that a lot of people say to ‘get in and get out’ I found that to be wrong and I think that made me like it more because I think it’s a city you can spend 2-3 days in.
I liked that some of the streets around the Taj Mahal are a bit more modern and there’s one street that led me from the road of my hostel to the Taj Mahal which is totally pedestrian friendly with a pavement and everything (not common in India!). I also liked how many places there are to see the Taj Mahal from and I loved seeing the Taj Mahal, I think it’s absolutely incredible and exceeded all my expectation so this really helped heighten my opinion of Agra!
Recommended Accommodation: Moustache Hostel Agra, I stayed here in a private room which was really great value. It’s in a good location, ran well and I enjoyed staying there!
People say you either love or hate Varanasi because it is a very busy, old and unique city and with that comes the fact that it is very different to a lot of places in India, let alone the world and the oldness creates a lot of dust and dirt.. or is that the burning bodies?
I went to Varanasi after being in India for 2 months and I think this is what made me enjoy it. I know people who have been at the start of their trip to India and found it very overwhelming. I think you should be prepared for Varanasi but don’t be worried about going. If you go at the start of your trip, embrace it and know that not everywhere in India is like this!
Recommended Accommodation: Moustache Hostel Varanasi, I was recommended to stay here by a guy I met in Moustache Hostel Jaipur, mainly because of the location as the hostel is at Assi Ghat which is further down the river from the ‘centre’. I’m really glad I stayed here as I loved the location, much less stress and craziness than accommodation in the centre and it has some great cafes and restaurants around it.
Related Blog Post: 2 Day Itinerary for Varanasi – Will You Love it or Hate it??
Now we’re at the end of my North India locations be sure to see:
You MUST have travel insurance for India! I am with World Nomad’s who I highly recommend, whilst you’re thinking about it, get a quote from them here!
Even though Goa is pretty big and differs in each place I’m going to bunch it together because it is mostly the beaches!
I visited Arambol and Candolim in North Goa and Palolem in South Goa. Palolem was my absolute favourite, in fact realising that India had a beach just like you find in Thailand or Philippines made me love India even more because it proved to me that India really does have it all! I loved the vibe of Palolem, it’s a bit hippy, a bit holiday maker but there are no big ugly buildings and most of the accommodation is huts by the beach. After 3 days in Palolem with friends I stayed at Earth Yoga Village and did their yoga holiday for 1 week which was so so nice too!
I did like Arambol too but only because that was the first place I went in Goa, it’s a lot more holiday vibe and popular with Russians and Indian’s, which was fine. It’s also one of the original hippy places in North Goa but these days there are a lot of neon lights and loud music coming from the beach bars.
Candolim was fine for 2 days but I wouldn’t go back or recommend it. It seemed most popular with Brits and the main road is very much a busy road whereas Arambol and Palolem’s main road is a lot quieter and full of shops. The beach is nice and there’s lot of beach bars but it didn’t have anything that special about it in my opinion.
I know there are so many more beaches to visit in Goa but Palolem for me will take some beating!
The one thing I didn’t like about Goa is how hard it is to get from beach to beach! There are local buses but they do not go directly to each popular beach and are local so they take a long time. There is a train line in Goa but a lot of stations are not main stations.
I ended up getting taxi’s between places with my friends, luckily we could split the cost otherwise as a solo traveller this would get very expensive!
Score: Palolem – 5, Arambol – 3.5, Candolim – 2.
Recommended Accommodation: Palolem – Tent Cressida Cyrus – really nice tents and huts just off the beach. Arambol – Sunny’s Guesthouse – huts on the cliffside close to Arambol Beach. Candolim – Niki Guest House – nice guesthouse close to the beach.
Related Blog Post: My Magic Yoga Holiday in Goa at Earth Yoga Village! & A Guide to Palolem Beach.
Alleppey in Kerala is a ‘get in, get out’ place, and I say that because I was there an extra day longer than needed! It’s the best place to visit the Backwaters of Kerala from making it popular place to visit but aside from that there’s not much there. There is a beach but I didn’t feel comfortable sunbathing and there are a few places to eat so its best to go there, do the backwaters and either chill or leave.
Score: 5 because the Backwaters were amazing!
Related Blog Post: Cruising the Backwaters of Kerala from Alleppey!
Another beach place I loved is Varkala. It’s hard to decide whether I loved it more than Palolem although I guess I don’t really need to! Varkala is super chilled but has more edge than the beaches I visited in Goa. The beach itself is more wild and open and I love the cliffside full of accommodation and restaurants.
There are some cool cafes which I found great to work from with good food, there’s lots of yoga on offer and the overall vibe is rally good! I’ll definitely come back to Varkala!
Related Blog Post: A Guide to Varakala Beach.
Kochi/ Cochin is an interesting City as it’s like no other place in India with a real Portuguese influence. Fort Kochi is the area where travellers stay and I’d say there’s no need to spend any time anywhere else in the City. I found Kochi a bit boring to be honest and I wasn’t a huge fan. Although I was there over New Year which meant that many of it’s nice cafes were too busy to get a seat and the beach area was also really busy with tourists – Indian and foreigners so I felt like I couldn’t fully enjoy it and appreciate it’s vibe.
I have heard good opinions from other people though so I wouldn’t fully take my word on that it’s boring but there is only enough to cover 2 days in my opinion.
Recommended Accommodation: Bastian Homestay in Fort Kochi.
Related Blog Post: I was so underwhelmed I didn’t even write one!
Munnar shows a totally different side of Kerala and I really loved it! Munnar is a popular place to see the tea plantations in this area along with lots of Mountains. I stayed in Munnar for 3 nights and 2 days and did a hike to see the tea plantations and some awesome viewpoints.
For me, this is what I wanted to see of inland Kerala and I’m really glad I did. I did see some blog posts saying Munnar is too touristy now and suggesting other hill stations in Kerala but I didn’t even go into the town of Munnar, instead staying at a homestay type place where they offer meals and tours which I’d really recommend doing too and made me really enjoy my time there!
Recommended Accommodation: The Wayside Cottage which is the homestay I stayed in.
Related Blog Post: Hiking in the Tea Plantations of Munnar, Kerala!
Thekkady also known as Thekkady National Park and Periyar National Park was another nice inland destination in Kerala. The main town to stay in is actually called Kumily. It’s very much centred around tourism but I actually quite liked it. The most popular thing to do of course is to head out into the National Park which I did on the Borders Hiking Day Tour. It started off quite intense and I was worried I’d gotten myself into a hike that was too hard for me but the main aim of the hike is to see animals, we saw a few like Bisen, Monkeys and some Wild Cows but Wild Elephants were what I wanted to see and thankfully at the end of the trek I did! It made going there totally worth it and I enjoyed my time there and actually could have stayed for a second full day.
Recommended Accommodation: Green View Hotel
Madurai was the first place I visited in the state of Tamil Nadu, I had no expectations for it and knew nothing about it apart from it’s iconic Hindu Temple.
To be honest there isn’t that much more to do in Madurai but I did really enjoy the City. It’s bustling like all other Cities but it’s manageable and the locals are very friendly! I took a walking tour out with Story Trails which helped me understand more about the City and I enjoyed The Lost Hostel where I stayed which helped enhance my few days in Madurai. I feel like this city may get missed off travellers India itinerary but it’s worth a visit I think!
Recommended Accommodation: The Lost Hostel, it’s the only hostel in Madurai but it has a kitchen, great rooftop and a washing machine.. bonus!
Related Blog Post: What To Do in Madurai, Tamil Nadu in Just One Day!
Pondicherry was what I thought it would be, it’s a very Indian Town but the main centre and the ‘tourist area’ is a place called White Town where the French once lived which means it’s filled with lots of nice buildings. Some are more preserved than others and in no way is it an ‘artificial’ town, it’s very real and raw India but I liked seeing something a bit different to the usual Cities and Towns.
Plus Pondicherry has some nice cafes selling international food.. and lots of bread! I ate as much bread as I could here and it was great!
Auroville is a popular place to visit as a day trip from Pondicherry for for a few days so I enjoyed taking myself there for the morning.
Recommended Accommodation: The only hostel in Pondicherry right now is Micasa Hostel but that’s fine because I really liked it, really comfy beds and a kitchen! Villa Krish and Hotel de Petit are good hotel in Pondicherry options.
I did not like this place at all and felt that I wasted two days there. Firstly it was much busier than usual there as it was a state holiday but the town is very small and the main attractions of mahabalipuram are to see some rocks, rock carvings and caves. The free ones that I saw were impressive in that they are so old but I just felt myself think- have I used up 2 days just to see some rocks??
Mahabalipuram Beach is a local beach and not that clean and the accommodation in the town is very lacking in good quality places.
Even though I had a particularly bad experience I wouldn’t recommend it anyway. The best way to see Mahabalipuram if you really want to is on a day trip from Chennai or staying at a nice resort to make it like a holiday!
Recommended Accommodation: The Radisson Blu with its own pool and dining complex looks like the best way to enjoy the area!
Chennai doesn’t have any major attractions but it has a nice Hindu Temple, some Churches, some viewpoints and although it’s big it’s easy to get around. I did a tour with Story Trails which I enjoyed and helped me understand more about Hinduism and the City.
I wasn’t in love with Chennai and don’t have any need to go back but I enjoyed a few days there especially learning about the History of the British in Chennai and the Portuguese.
I did think it was a good place to visit for first time travellers to India though and I know it’s a popular first destination due to it’s cheap flights.
Recommended Accommodation: One of the only hostels is Red Lollipop Hostel which is where I stayed, it’s a good place to meet new people, and has a kitchen!
Related Blog Post: Why Chennai is a good place to visit on your first time in India.
Mysore is kind of split into two. It’s known for its grand architecture and especially the Palace which is very impressive. It has many other attractions too but they are all quite far from the City.
It’s also known as a good yoga hub in India but as I found out, this isn’t in the centre of Mysore City, it’s out in the neighbourhood of Gokulam.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Mysore but that’s because I stayed near the palace (I was ill and a bit over cities by this point), however I did enjoy my day out to Gokulam visiting some of its nice cafes. And I have heard that many other people do really like the city of Mysore. It is very unique and different to anywhere else with some very nice buildings.
Mysore has Uber which works really well and is a cheap way of getting around.
If you want to sight
Bangalore was my last stop in India after nearly 4 weeks. I enjoyed it but mainly because it felt so much more westernised and that made ma happy! Bangalore’s Metro system is clean and easy to use which I loved.
I stayed in the area of Indiranagar which I would really recommend, it has a metro stop but also so many cool places to eat and drink from local independent places to big chains like Nando’s, Costa, Pizza Hut.
Sightseeing in Bangalore isn’t the easiest I found. I went to the Palace via metro and tuk tuk but it cost so much to get in plus extra charges for camera’s, the art museum also cost a lot. It has a few nice parks though and some shopping centres if you need to do some shopping.
I’d say Bangalore is a good stopping point or half way point in India if you need some Westernisation!
This is a super long post but I hope it gives you some real insights into what each place in India is like from where I visited and I visited most of the major tourist places in India!
I will be going back to India and will continue to keep this updated so make sure you bookmark it for future use!
You must have travel insurance for India! I am covered by World Nomad’s and they offer such a great cover including the fact that you do not need proof of going home after your trip which a lot of companies want however is impossible for long term travellers to prove, and you can start and renew a cover with them whilst travelling, you do not need to be at home. If you haven’t got insurance yet, get a quote and get it sorted now whilst you think of it.
This post contains affiliate links but at no extra cost to you.