The perfect 24 hours in Agra, India

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Curated By

Phelipe Cardoso Sekai

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  • Agra

  • India

  • Active Travel

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • History

  • Local Culture

  • Local Food

A white palace in front of a narrow water canal.
Curator’s statement

Agra is undeniably a must-see destination for your first visit to India. Planning the perfect day in Agra requires a blend of historical exploration, cultural immersion and culinary delight to fully appreciate the city's rich heritage and diverse offerings. Here's a detailed itinerary to make the most of your day in this iconic city, home to the timeless wonder, the Taj Mahal.

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Where to stay in Agra, India

The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra

Considered as one of the best hotels in Agra, The Oberoi is inspired by Mughal palace designs with fountains, terraced lawns, reflection pools and pavilions. 

ITC Mughal, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Agra

Sprawled over Mughal-style gardens, with the characteristic use of water channels, fruit trees, flowers and shaded walkways, this resort is a fitting tribute to the great Mughal builders of the past.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

DoubleTree by Hilton Agra

Indulge in luxurious comfort with a warm welcome, where every stay is a treat for the senses.

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Unlock perks by contacting Phelipe to book your trip.

Things to do in Agra, India

Two buildings with domes as seen from inside two pillars.

Agra is undeniably a must-see destination for tourists. Renowned worldwide for its historical significance, architectural marvels and cultural richness. Here are some compelling reasons why Agra is an essential stop for travelers:

  • The Taj Mahal: Agra's crown jewel. The Taj Mahal is one of the most iconic and universally recognized monuments on Earth. This white marble masterpiece is a testament to love and craftsmanship, built by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Its breathtaking beauty, intricate detailing, and symmetrical design make it a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The Taj Mahal is an absolute must-see for its sheer architectural brilliance and emotional resonance.

  • Agra Fort: Another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Agra Fort, also known as the Red Fort of Agra, is a historic fortress that served as the main residence of the Mughal emperors for generations. Its towering walls, elegant palaces and rich history offer a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Mughal rulers. Exploring the fort's vast expanse and admiring its architectural grandeur is an enriching experience for history enthusiasts.

  • Historic Monuments: Beyond the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, the city is dotted with other historic monuments and tombs that showcase exquisite Mughal architecture. These include the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah (often referred to as the "Baby Taj"), Sikandra (the mausoleum of Akbar the Great) and Fatehpur Sikri (a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its well-preserved Mughal structures).

  • Yamuna River and Gardens: Agra's picturesque setting along the banks of the Yamuna River. Combined with serene gardens like Mehtab Bagh, offers tranquil spots for relaxation and photography. These locations provide stunning views of the Taj Mahal from different angles.

  • Accessibility: Agra's central location in Northern India makes it easily accessible by road, rail, and air. It's a popular stop for travelers exploring the Golden Triangle, which includes Delhi and Jaipur, making it a convenient addition to many itineraries.

Here's a detailed itinerary to make the most of your day in this iconic city, home to the timeless wonder, the Taj Mahal:

Morning

5:00am - Sunrise at the Taj Mahal

Begin your day by setting your alarm early to catch the awe-inspiring sunrise at the Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. As the first rays of the sun caress the immaculate marble mausoleum, it bathes it in a soft, golden hue, creating a truly magical and serene ambiance. Visiting at this hour allows you to savor the beauty of this architectural masterpiece with fewer tourists around. To make the most of this experience, make sure to purchase your tickets in advance to avoid the long queues that can form later in the day.

8:00am - Breakfast at a Local Café

After your enchanting visit to the Taj Mahal, head to one of the local cafés for a delectable breakfast. Indulge in 'bedai,' a flavorful and spicy fried snack, complemented perfectly with a sweet, yogurt-based dish called 'jalebi.' To complete this gastronomic delight, savor a piping hot cup of traditional Indian chai, a soothing beverage that's an integral part of the Indian culinary experience.

9:00am - Visit Agra Fort

A short drive from the Taj Mahal will take you to the majestic Agra Fort, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spend your morning delving into the rich history of this red sandstone fortress, which once served as the seat of the Mughal Empire. The Agra Fort offers a captivating glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Mughal emperors, with its intricate architecture, palaces, and lush gardens.

Midday

11:00am - Explore Local Markets

Venture into the vibrant heart of Agra by visiting the bustling Kinari Bazaar or Sadar Bazaar. These markets are a treasure trove of colorful textiles, intricately handcrafted jewelry, and exquisite marble crafts. Take your time to peruse the offerings and shop for unique souvenirs and gifts to remember your visit to Agra.

1:00pm - Lunch at a Mughlai Restaurant

Recharge your energy with a sumptuous lunch at a renowned Mughlai restaurant. Agra is famous for its Mughlai cuisine, and you must try authentic dishes such as biryani, kebabs, and korma. As a sweet finish to your meal, don't forget to indulge in 'Petha,' a classic Agra sweet known for its rich and creamy texture.

Afternoon

3:00pm - Mehtab Bagh Visit

Following your satisfying lunch, head to Mehtab Bagh, a serene Mughal garden located across the Yamuna River. It offers a breathtaking view of the Taj Mahal. This tranquil spot is ideal for photography and relaxation, away from the crowds. The quietude and beauty of this garden provide a perfect opportunity to capture stunning moments and appreciate the Taj Mahal from a unique perspective.

Evening

5:00pm - Tea by the Yamuna River

As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, treat yourself to a peaceful evening tea at a riverside café, overlooking the Taj Mahal. The soft, golden evening light transforms the scene into something truly magical and ethereal, making it a delightful experience to cherish.

7:00pm - Cultural Show at Kalakriti Cultural & Convention Center

Enhance your understanding of the Taj Mahal's history and significance by attending the 'Mohabbat-the-Taj' show at the Kalakriti Cultural & Convention Center. This mesmerizing performance brings the story of the Taj Mahal to life through captivating music and dance, adding a layer of cultural richness to your day.

Night

8:30pm - Dinner with a View

Conclude your unforgettable day with a romantic dinner at a rooftop restaurant that offers a panoramic view of the Taj Mahal. Under the starry night sky, with the iconic monument illuminated in the background, you'll enjoy a truly unforgettable and enchanting meal. This is the perfect opportunity to reflect on your day and the beauty that Agra has to offer.

10:00pm - Stroll Along the River

If you still have some energy left, consider taking a leisurely night stroll along the banks of the Yamuna River. The Taj Mahal in the distance, bathed in soft moonlight, creates a serene and contemplative atmosphere, providing a peaceful end to your day of exploration.

Our Tips

Stay hydrated and wear comfortable shoes, as there's a fair amount of walking involved throughout the day.

When shopping in the local markets, don't hesitate to negotiate prices to ensure you get the best deal and have a memorable shopping experience.

Places to eat & drink in Agra, India

A table with indian food.
  • Esphahan at The Oberoi Amarvilas: This fine-dining restaurant, located within The Oberoi Amarvilas, offers a regal setting with a splendid view of the Taj Mahal. Esphahan specializes in traditional Mughlai and North Indian cuisine, featuring a wide array of kebabs, curries, and biryanis. The luxurious atmosphere and impeccable service make it an excellent choice for a romantic dinner.

  • Peshawri at ITC Mughal, Agra: Peshawri, nestled in the ITC Mughal, Agra, is renowned for its authentic North-West Frontier cuisine. The rustic charm of the restaurant, along with its delectable kebabs and bread freshly baked in a clay tandoor, create a memorable dining experience. The restaurant's warm and inviting ambiance adds to its appeal.

  • C'est CHINE: Situated in the Jaypee Palace Hotel, offers a blend of cuisines in a regal setting. The restaurant's elegant decor, along with its à la carte options, cater to a wide range of culinary preferences.

  • The Taj Bano at The Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Road: The Taj Bano, part of The Gateway Hotel Fatehabad Road, offers a mix of Indian and international dishes in a bright and contemporary environment. This restaurant is known for its breakfast spreads, as well as its à la carte menu featuring a variety of cuisines to suit different palates.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Michelin Dining in Paris: A Connoisseur's Travel Guide.

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Phelipe Cardoso Sekai

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to India.