24 Hours in Delhi: An Express Itinerary

Allison Sodha

As the capital of India, Delhi is the political center of the country. With a population of 23+ million people, it is the world’s second largest urban area. Historically the capital of multiple kingdoms and empires, the eclectic neighborhoods reflect a melting pot of ethnicities, heritages, and traditions. Delhi showcases India’s unique ability to modernize at a rapid pace without casting aside its cultural, historical, and spiritual identity.

Is it called Delhi or New Delhi?

Let's start with this common question.

Delhi’s official name is the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi; New Delhi is the administrative district of Delhi that serves as the capital. Both names are interchangeable, though technically New Delhi serves as the capital. Delhi’s urban area presently extends beyond the NCT boundaries and includes the neighboring cities of Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad, and Faridabad in an area called the National Capital Region (NCR).

Only have a day in Delhi?

Here is an express itinerary to make the most of your stay.

Man chai-1

8 am: Breakfast in Chandni Chowk

Start the morning in one of our favorite neighborhoods, Old Delhi. A visit to Chandni Chowk will surely activate your senses for the day ahead. It is an incredible experience to observe the unusual serenity at an otherwise chaotic marketplace. Try local dishes like Bedmi Poori, Nagori Halwa, Chole Kulche, Chole Bhature, and Lassi. Since the area is dominated by the Muslim community, I also recommend trying authentic Mughal breakfast dishes like Nihari and Paaya with traditional breads like Khameeri roti and Sheermal. Definitely save room for authentic Indian treats from one of the oldest sweet shops in India. Hop on a cycle rickshaw to reach Asia’s biggest spice market while witnessing the architectural marvels and multicolored facades that line the historic alleys.

10 am: Jama Masjid

After a satisfying meal, visit one of the largest mosques in India, Jama Masjid. Its construction was started in 1644 and completed by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. The courtyard of the mosque was constructed with red sandstone and can be accessed from the north, south, and east gates by flights of stairs that were once venues for house markets, food stalls, and entertainers. Climb to the top of one of the four towers for fantastic city views.

Jama Masjid-1

11 am: Gurudwara Bangla Sahib

This Sikh temple, with its glistening golden dome, is a quiet and serene spot amid the bustling marketplace. As you enter the sacred space, you will be enveloped in a sense of peace. After paying homage at the sanctum, where the holy book is kept, you can stroll along the tranquil pond in the Gurudwara. If you feel comfortable, I highly recommend volunteering in the community kitchen where free meals are offered to devotees. This practice of selfless service goes beyond the bounds of religion and serves to nourish the soul, creating a sense of unity and oneness.

12:30 pm: Janpath

Janpath is a bustling marketplace near Connaught Place that features carpets, shoes, clothing, jewelry, handicrafts, textiles, accessories, paintings, and furniture - just to name a few!


2 pm: Raj Ghat

Raj Ghat is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi. It was here where Gandhi’s last rites were performed on January 31, 1948, one day after his death. His last words, ‘Hey Ram,’ are inscribed on the marble which is always adorned with flowers. The memorial was designed to reflect the simplicity of the Mahatma’s life.

3:30 pm: Qutub Minar and Mehrauli Complex

Next is the Qutub Minar, a UNESCO world heritage site. With a towering spire stretching 238 feet into the sky, the red sandstone and marble mosque has the tallest minaret in India. Get an up-close look at the ornate exterior, which is covered in detailed carvings of text from the Quran. Take a 15-minute walk to the nearby Mehrauli Archaeological Park where historical monuments and crumbling ruins will provide a unique look at the city’s past. The park consists of various tombs, mosques, and stepwells, making it a unique heritage

Delhi India Gate-1

5:30 pm: India Gate

Although the India Gate is grand in any light, the site transforms at dusk when locals gather for picnics and social gatherings. Often you will be asked to join an impromptu cricket match or to enjoy a slice of birthday cake, all with the iconic archway as your backdrop. The emblematic monument resembles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and commemorates the 71,000 soldiers who lost their lives in World War I. Stroll the grounds and stay until nightfall when the nearby fountains illuminate with colored lights.

7:30 pm: Hauz Khas

HKV (as it’s known to the locals) is a lively commercial district featuring trendy restaurants, boutique shops, and art galleries. At night the area comes alive with rooftop bars and live music.

Delhi Destination Inspiration

Looking for more spots to stay, play, tour, dine, and drink in Delhi? Check out Go! Girl Guides India, a comprehensive travel guide written by Sodha Travel's President, Allison Sodha.


Topics: India, Shopping, Delhi, Featured Tours, Popular Indian Foods

Allison Sodha

Written by Allison Sodha

As the President of Sodha Travel and author of Go! Girl Guides India, Allison has spent almost two decades exploring South Asia. She has a passion for creating experiences fueled by a deeper understanding of local communities.