India is a huge country with a lot going on. With its UNESCO-listed historical sites, beautiful natural sceneries, delicious cuisines, India can take months or years for those who want to explore it properly. However, if you only have a short vacation, it is still possible to cover some of the best experiences in India. This post provides a 2 weeks India itinerary for first-time visitors. This was my itinerary during my India trip, where I traveled most of the time with G Adventures. I had an absolute blast on this journey and I hope the information will be helpful for your India travel planning.
My experience with G Adventures was partially sponsored. All opinions expressed are my own. This article may contain affiliate links, which means, at no extra cost to you, I may earn a commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for supporting!
When to Visit India
For the most part, India has a tropical climate. Unless you enjoy being a melting human, it is best to avoid the summer months when the weather is extremely hot and humid. The general prime time to visit India is from October to March during Winter. Having said this though, India does have regions with cold climate as well. Up in the Himalayas can be absolutely freezing, so it is important to research your exact destination and pack accordingly.
Getting a Visa for India
No matter how long you plan to be in India, you need to get a visa. I recommend iVisa, the easiest way to get a visa to any country. The cost of an Indian visa varies depending on where you are from. For my readers from the United States, it costs $138 USD in total. For my Canadians, it is a bit cheaper at $117 USD.
Deciding where to visit in India
For first time visitors who only have 2 weeks, it is crucial to narrow down what are the must-dos in India for you. From north India to south India, or east to west, the cultures and offerings can be very different. Are you into the historical heritage sites? Wildlife spotting opportunities? Spiritual experiences? It is very difficult to do everything in such a short span of time so choose wisely. I opted to do the classic highlights of India during my first visit. With G Adventures, we spent just the right amount of time at each destination and I was very happy with the activities we got to cover. Keep reading for my exact two weeks India Itinerary, and you can adjust the suggestions according to your interests.
Getting around in India
The best ways to get around India are by plane or train. They each have their pros and cons. Catching a domestic flight is obviously faster, which is great for saving time when you are on a 2 weeks itinerary. However, the cost can add up to be a lot if you are flying everywhere. I recommend the MakeMyTrip app for finding cheap flights in India. I was able to get a really good deal between Goa and Mumbai. With trains, travel time takes longer. However, it is cheaper and you get to see beautiful villages and vast wilderness along the way. I really enjoyed traveling by rail through western India and Rajasthan. Our train journeys were arranged by G Adventures. However, if you would like to plan your travel independently, I suggest familiarizing yourself with the different train classes and booking in advance.
Staying connected in India
When you arrive at the airport in Delhi, you will notice that there is no wifi. You cannot get connected unless you have an Indian phone number already because you need to receive a pin code to log in to the network. *facepalm This caused a headache for me when I arrived because I could not find my pick up and needed to figure out what was going on. There is SIM card available at the airport for 800 rupees. It includes 2 months of data at 1 GB a day and unlimited calling. The caveat is that it doesn’t work right away. You have to wait at least a couple of hours for it to kick in.
I recently discovered Skyroam, a mini pocket WIFI that lets the user stay connected in 120+ countries around the world. There is no SIM, no roaming, just unlimited internet! The device also doubles as a power bank so you can charge your phone. How cool is that? I really wish I had gotten my Skyroam before I went to India. Check out how it works here.
Should you join a group tour or travel independently in India?
For me, I admit I was a little intimidated to travel solo in India. I was very glad to have joined a group tour, where I had the expertise of a local guide, the company of a fun group of travelers, and overall peace of mind knowing that I was safe and being taken care of. I 100% recommend the Western India and Rajasthan trip that I did with G Adventures. If you do want to DIY your trip, not to worry. I know several travelers (including girls) who had done India independently and enjoyed the experience. Whether you choose joining a tour or doing it solo is entirely up to your comfort level.
My 2 Weeks India Itinerary
This 2 weeks India itinerary starts in Delhi and finishes in Goa. It is 14 days in total, including days of arrival and departure. From the quintessential Golden Triangle tour to the beaches, this journeys covers a lot at a good pace. Enjoy!
2 Weeks India Itinerary – Day 1 & 2: Delhi
Delhi is the hub where most travelers first land in India. Right away, you will find yourself in the center of chaos when you arrive in the city. The roads are intensely busy with vehicles and animals going in every direction. It can be dizzying and a bit of a cultural shock. Take the first day to rest and adjust to the surrounding. Depending on your energy level and mood, you can opt to take it easy or start your sight seeing.
Things to do in Delhi
New Delhi and Old Delhi are quite different. It is interesting to visit both to witness the contrast. Some of the popular attractions are:
New Delhi: Humayun’s Tomb, Connaught Place, Parliament, Lotus Temple, Jantar Manta, Humayun Tomb, and India Gate.
Old Delhi: Red Fort, Jama Masjid, and Chandani Chowk market.
I highly recommend hiring a guide, whether for a private tour or group tour. It can be nerve-racking trying to figure out where to go and how to get there in a place as overwhelming as Delhi. I hired Umesh to take me on a walking tour through the markets of Old Delhi. It was great to have a local initiate me since I was so anxious. Umesh took me to some hidden spots like the rooftop of a spice market where we saw a gorgeous sunset. I also loved browsing the colorful spices and beautiful sarees being sold by the street vendors. If you want to do some shopping, a guide will be immensely helpful in knowing the best places and getting the best prices. I didn’t buy any clothes since I had no room in my luggage, but I did get a pretty henna done for cheap, thanks to Umesh’s connections. Check out Get Your Guide for all sorts of tours you can do in Delhi, like this yummy food tour.
Don’t feel like being on the go so much and want to do something more laid back? How about a day cooking and dining with a local? During my second day in Delhi, I tried Authenticook, a platform that connects travelers with home chefs in India. I visited the home of Moushumi, who lives in South Delhi. She was a lovely host who prepared a whole feast for me. I mean, the meal was EXTRAVAGANT. Read about my experience here.
Where to stay in Delhi
Connaught Place, Pahargani and Karol Bagh are the most popular areas to stay for travelers since they are so central. I stayed in Hotel Perfect in Karol Bagh, which was the starting point for the G Adventures tour. The hotel was clean, comfortable, and very close to the metro. For budget travelers, I recommend the Himalayan Hostel in Pahargani. Although I only stayed there for one night, the owner was very nice and you can’t beat the price at 750 rupees.
2 Weeks India Itinerary – Day 3: Agra
Home to one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal, Agra is a can’t miss stop on any India itinerary, especially for first-timers. The city attracts as many as 8 millions of tourists every year, and it definitely lives up to the hype.
From Delhi, it takes between 2 to 3 hours to get to Agra by the Shatabdi Express train, which is what we did on the G tour. The ride was pretty smooth and we even got served breakfast on board.
Things to do in Agra
The Taj Mahal
Needless to say, the Taj Mahal is a must see. Poised elegantly on the south bank of the Yamuna River, this ivory-white marble mausoleum is world renowned for its beauty and cultural significance. The Taj Mahal was a project by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Started in 1632, the lavish palace took approximately 20 years and 20,000 workers to complete. The 17-hectare complex includes a grande garden, a mosque, and a guest house. In 1983, the Taj Mahal was officially designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This architectural masterpiece is rich with intricate details that you can marvel at for hours.
The best time to visit the Taj Mahal is either in the early morning right when it opens at 6 AM, or in the evening before 6:30 PM. These are the times with the least people as well as the best lighting for that Insta worthy shot. Our G Adventures squad showed up in the evening and got a mesmerizing sunset backdrop. I could not have asked for a better way to check off this bucket list dream of mine.
*Note: The Taj Mahal is closed to the public on Fridays. Make sure to plan your day of visit to avoid disappointment.
Did you know that Agra has several other marvellous architectural sites besides the Taj Mahal? The Baby Taj is a mausoleum built by Queen Nur Jahan for her father, L’timād-ud-Daulah. Shaped like a jewel box, this tomb is often thought of as a draft of the Taj Mahal since it was built first. The Baby Taj started the second phase of Mughal design when white marble and pieta dura inlay were first used.
The Agra Fort is only fort where all the early Mughal emperors lived. It is also the site of one of the most critical battles during the Indian rebellion of 1857, which led to the end of the British East India Company’s rule in the country. The ground, enclosed within fortress walls made of red sandstones, include several palaces and mosques.
Where to stay in Agra
Hotel Crystal Inn | Just 2 km away from the Taj Mahal, the hotel is very convenient. Crystal Inn offers WIFI, air conditioning, and American style breakfast. The staff here are quite accommodating. They let us check in early and also let me check out a couple of different rooms for photography purposes (Yes I’m a needy blogger).
2 Weeks India Itinerary – Day 4 & 5: Jaipur
Delhi, Agra and Jaipur make up the classic Golden Triangle route. So, of course, we got to complete the trio and visit Jaipur. Nicknamed “the pink city”, Jaipur is the capital of the Rajasthan state. Its trade mark building color is, you guessed it, pink. There is a lot to do and see in Jaipur. I was glad we spent two nights here.
Things to do in Jaipur
Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds)
This ornate pink palace was built in 1799 for the royal ladies. Its exterior facade resembles the honeycomb of a beehive. There are 953 small intricate windows that allows the women to observe the streets below while keeping themselves concealed. This was because of a rule that royal ladies was not allowed to be seen by the public without face coverings. Today, us peasants can enter into the Mahal and find one of the best views of Jaipur.
Jaipur City Palace
Ooh the opulence, the luxury! Right in the center of the old city, the City Palace was where the Maharaja of Jaipur reigned from. It was also where many religious and cultural events took place. You can get a glimpse of the lifestyle of the royal family when you walk through the courtyards, galleries, and living quarters. My favorite building was Sarvato Bhadra, an open hall that is entirely pink. The details here impeccable. Make sure to look up to see the crystal chandelier and beautiful molding.
There are a couple of forts in and around Jaipur. If you were to see just one, make it the Amber Fort. Perched on a hill right next to the Maota Lake, this striking fort is worth driving to. Built with red sandstone and marble, its design combines Hindu and Muslim elements. The four-level palace in the complex was the residence of the Rajput Maharajas for a long time. It is best to have a guide to learn all the treacherous and scandalous stories that took place at the fort.
Jantar Mantar is an observatory and museum. Here you can find a collection of astronomical instruments and learn how people observe the moon and stars in ancient India. The monument