Whether Delhi is your gateway to India or a stop along the way, you probably haven’t budgeted much time for your visit. Spread across a large area and inhabitated by 19 million people, the city can seem daunting at first. We have condensed the top must-see sites into a 2 day itinerary. So sit back, relax, and enjoy your 48 hours in Delhi!
Your Itinerary for Two Days in Delhi
Day 1 – New Delhi
Start your day at Rashtrapati Bhavan or Presidential Palace. Originally built for the British Viceroy in India, Rashtrapati Bhavan is now the official home of the President of India. The H-shaped building covers 5 acres and is the largest (in terms of area) residence of any head of state in the world. The main building has 340 rooms, 2.5km of corridors, and 190 acres of gardens. Nice house!
Passports required! Security is tight surrounding Rashtrapati Bhavan. You need a passport to enter the complex.
For our itinerary, we just recommend walking into the complex, viewing the house from afar, and enjoying the architecture of the flanking Secretariat buildings. If you do want a look inside the palace or gardens, you can book a tour. Make sure you organize this well in advance as visits are extremely limited. Alternatively, you can take a virtual tour or read the detailed official information.
From Rashtrapati Bhavan, stroll downhill along the Rajpath to India Gate. Yes, hawkers will approach you offering to take your photo or sell you bangles. A firm “no” will send them on their way to the next victim. The hawkers here are not overly persistent.
India Gate is a war memorial to the 70,000 soldiers of the British Indian Army that died between 1914-1921. India’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is underneath the archway. Every driver will tell you about Republic Day on January 26 when a massive parade marches from Rashtrapati Bhavan and around India Gate.
If you would like, you can continue along the Rajpath to the new Indian National War Memorial. Inagurated in February 2019, the National War Memorial honors soldiers killed since Independence.
Finish off your first day in Delhi at our favorite Delhi site – the tomb of Mughal Emperor Humayun. You will need to take a taxi or tuk-tuk as it’s not walking distance.
Humayun’s Tomb is a massive red sandstone and white marble mausoleum built on the banks of the Yamuna River (yep, the same Yamuna River that flows by the Taj Mahal in Agra). In addition to Hamayun, who has prime burial position in the octoganal chamber directly under the dome, over 160 other people are buried here. Hence the nickname “Dormitory of the Mughals.”
Humayun’s Tomb is the site of other key events in India’s history. In 1857, the last Mughal king surrendered to the British right here. Following Partition in1947, the tomb and surrounding gardens became a refugee camp for families displaced from the newly formed Pakistan.
Make sure not to miss Isa Khan’s octagonal tomb. The entryway is to the right after the ticket turnstiles. The tomb and mosque were built 20 years before Humayun’s Tomb. If you don’t mind uneven footing, climb up on the wall and walk the circumference of the enclosure.
Day 2 – Old Delhi
As Dorothy said, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” That may be your reaction when you first throw yourself into the chaos and vibrancy of Old Delhi. Well, hold onto your hats (and valuables), give up any sense of personal space, and dive right in.
Watch your bags! If you are carrying a bag or backpack, wear it on the front of your body in the crowded Old Delhi streets. Locals do this too so you won’t look like the weird tourist…at least not because of your bag wearing style.
Old Delhi Food Tour
The delicious and varied food stalls of Old Delhi are one of our favorite reasons to visit. Understandably, street food in India makes a lot of people nervous. We highly recommend booking a food tour with Delhi By Locals. This is a great way to ease yourself into Indian street food without worrying about getting sick. In addition to food, Delhi By Locals will point out key Old Delhi sites. We did the Old Delhi Brunch Tour, which let us get a late (jet-lagged) start to the day. If you are a group of 4 or 5, it is more economical to book the private tour, which also lets you set the start time.
If you decide to go Old Delhi alone, allow several hours to wander the different areas of Chandni Chowk. Each area has different goods – from spices, to wedding sarees, to bicycles, to construction equipment. You will also, of course, encounter lots of food stalls!
Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib
If you aren’t visiting Amritsar (or even if you are), try to visit the Sikh temple Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib. You can go inside to meditiate or relax, but our favorite part is to volunteer in the community kitchen (langar). Watch closely or ask for help and someone will teach you how to make chapati. If you’re hungry, anyone is welcome to eat.
Clean your plate! If you decide to eat in the langar, make sure you eat everything on your plate. Food is valued and waste is frowned upon. Helpers will automatically refill your plate unless you clearly say “no more.”
What! No Red Fort and Jama Masjid?
If Agra is on your itinerary, we recommend skipping the Mughal sites of the Red Fort and Jama Masjid mosque. You will be more impressed with Agra Fort, the Taj Mahal, and Fatehpur Sikri. If you need inspiration for visiting Agra, see our one day Agra itinerary.
Of course, if Delhi is your only chance to see Mughal architecture, then please budget time and energy for the Red Fort and Jama Masjid.
Looking for More Places to See in Delhi?
If you’re looking for more places to visit during your Delhi stay, globetotting.com has some great suggestions for great places in Delhi with kids.
Where to Stay in Delhi
No matter your budget, Delhi has accommodation to match. Use the search below to find Delhi accommodation for your visit.