Agra is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, famous for its iconic monuments and rich history. Each year, millions come from around the globe to this (relatively) small city in northern India. “Why?” you ask. Two words: Taj Mahal, one of the 7 wonders of the world. This famous monument has immortalised the love of an emperor and his wife since its completion in 1648. Epitomising the ornate Mughal architectural style, the Taj Mahal has made jaws drop and hearts swoon for centuries.
However, you’re wrong to consider Agra just a one-stop shop. With two additional UNESCO World Heritage sites to its name, the city boasts multiple windows into the past.
About the itinerary: Here I not only give info on the best time to visit Agra but also what to eat, where to stay and an itinerary that will show you the most stunning parts. I have my top travel tips for visiting Agra, advice for female travellers and much more – read on for what you need to know while planning your trip to Agra!
Best things to do in Agra
Here is a list of places to visit in Agra:
- Taj Mahal
- Agra Fort
- Itmad-ud-Daulah’s Tomb
- Fatehpur Sikri
- Mehtab Bagh
One thing to note when planning your visits to the various monuments in Agra and around (including Fatehpur Sikri), is that tickets now have to be bought online and are not available at all the monuments themselves (you’ll find signs with a QR code that you can scan). Head to this website to buy your tickets – they can be booked up to a week in advance. If you have trouble with your card being accepted, you could ask your hotel to try and book tickets for you on an Indian card and add them to your bill (foreign cards seem to be hit and miss if they are accepted or not).
You can also purchase skip the Taj Mahal queue tickets from here.
Best time to visit Agra
While the city can be visited year-round, there are certain times of the year that are more ideal for travellers based on weather conditions and crowd levels.
The best time to visit Agra is during the winter months of November to February. During this time, the weather is pleasant and cool, with temperatures ranging from 8°C to 22°C. This makes it comfortable for travellers to explore the city and its attractions without being hindered by extreme heat. Additionally, the clear skies during this time make for stunning views of the Taj Mahal and other architectural marvels in the city.
Another reason to visit Agra during the winter months is that it coincides with several festivals and events. One of the most popular festivals in Agra is the Taj Mahotsav, which is held in February. This festival celebrates the culture and heritage of Uttar Pradesh and includes cultural performances, food stalls, and handicraft exhibitions. The festival also provides a unique opportunity to witness the Taj Mahal at night, as it is opened up to visitors during the festival.
If you can’t make it to Agra during the winter months, the next best time to visit is during the monsoon season, which runs from July to September. While the weather can be unpredictable during this time, with occasional heavy rainfall and humidity, it is still a great time to visit as the crowds are significantly lower.
Avoid visiting Agra during the summer months of March to June, as the weather can be extremely hot and dry, with temperatures soaring as high as 45°C. The heat can make it uncomfortable for travellers to explore the city, and the crowds are also at their peak during this time, making it difficult to enjoy the attractions.
Where to stay in Agra
Where you should stay depends on how many days have you are travelling for, the main purpose of your stay and what kind of commute would you like. My main purpose was to visit Taj Mahal and see the sunrise, hence we stayed in a homestay near the East gate of Taj Mahal.
- We stayed in Coral court Homesaty, 10 mins walk from the Taj Mahal East gate, and I cant recommend it enough. Homely, clean, beautiful view with the best decor. We met a lot of fellow travellers from Germany, South Korea, UK.
- If you are visiting for more number of days and want to stay in luxury spa resort, then I definitely recommend ITC Mughal, it is within the city and only 20 mins drive from Taj Mahal. Plus it has the best restaurant which you will read about later is a MUST EAT in Restaurant in Agra.
You can also look for more accommodations on this link – booking Hotel in Agra
Agra travel tips
As a popular tourist destination in India, Agra needs some pre-planning, especially if its one of your first stops in India. Unfortunately as a place that sees a lot of visitors on whistlestop tours who haven’t done their research, over-charging is common practice, and scams are not uncommon.
Here are some of my tips for seeing the better side of Agra. You can find additional considerations for (solo) female travellers below, too.
- Stay longer than a day – There’s so much more to see in Agra than just the Taj Mahal and the fort, I really recommend staying 2-3 days here if you possibly can to get a real sense of Agra.
Pre-book your Agra accommodation. The usual rackets operated by rickshaw/car drivers who will try to take you to hotels that pay them commission is a problem here, which can be avoided if you pre-book and insist on being taken there.
- Negotiate with rickshaw/car drivers – the prices quoted at popular tourist sights and at railway stations on arrival will be high, so barter them down (by at least 50%). I recommend organising a pickup through your hotel from the train station or airport to cut down on hassle. You can also use Uber but don’t agree for the car drivers to shut down the app. When coming from train station, you will see a government pre-paid taxi booth just outside the station. They will give you fixed price for taxis, like they gave us Rs. 250 +10 (for service) for our taxi from train station to Coral Court homestay.
- Check the weather and dress accordingly – Agra has very seasonal weather, so you’ll need a decent coat/jacket in winter, and light cotton in hot months. If in doubt, pack layers you can peel off as the weather warms up during the day. Another thing would be to dress modestly in this city, so leave the short dresses or anything above knee packed in the bags.
- Ignore people who approach you offering to be your guide / show you around / show you a better view, take your photos, claim to know you (eg from your hotel), or just start following you and telling you about things – in all of these cases people are trying to either hire themselves as your guide (will expect payment) or are unfolding some kind of scam.
- Agra is not the best place for souvenir shopping. Because of the high tourist footfall, souvenirs are overpriced here – try to buy in other parts of India from local crafts (wo)men directly if you can.
- Do enjoy the amazing local food. Agra is famous for its mithai (sweets) and milk produce – Lassi, rabri & hot milk as well as for its non-veg (meat) based food. Pick restaurants and stalls that are busy and have a high turnover of customers.
- Factor in some down time. As with so many of India’s top destinations, there’s so much to see and do here it can be tempting to pack your days solid with sightseeing – but for best results I find some downtime is helpful to reflect on all you’ve experienced and seen, or just catch an afternoon nap – especially important if you’re travelling to Agra during warmer months!
- Buy your monument tickets in advance, online– as mentioned above in ‘Best Things to do in Agra’ section.
6:30 AM – Taj Mahal: No trip to Agra is complete without a visit to the Taj Mahal, one of the most famous landmarks in the world. The Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s not hard to see why. This stunning white marble monument is an architectural masterpiece and a symbol of eternal love. Arrive early to beat the crowds, watch the sunrise and take advantage of the soft light of the morning sun for stunning photos.
Opening Hours: The Taj Mahal is open for visitors between 6 am to 6 pm but remains shut on Fridays
Ticket prices: The entry fee for Indians is Rs 20 and for foreign nationals it is Rs 750. Take a proof of your Indian nationality for Indian tourists.
10:00 AM – Agra Fort: After your visit to the Taj Mahal, head over to Agra Fort, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This massive red sandstone fort was the seat of the Mughal Empire for generations and has a rich history. Explore the impressive architecture and take in the panoramic views of the city from the top.
Opening Hours: Agra Fort is open to tourists all days of the week from 7 am to 6 pm.
Ticket prices: For Indians, the entry fee is Rs 20 while for foreigners it is Rs 300.
12:00 PM – Lunch : Take a break from sightseeing and sample some of Agra’s famous cuisine. Agra is known for its Mughlai dishes like biryani, kebabs, and tandoori chicken. Head to a local restaurant or food stall and try some of these mouth-watering delicacies. My must have restaurants are – PESHAWRI in ITC Mughal hotel, try the Dal Bukhara and some of the best Mughal Kebabs ( call to make bookings). For a more budget option, I recommend Pinch of Spice.
1:00 PM – Itmad-ud-Daulah’s Tomb: Next on your itinerary is the Itmad-ud-Daulah’s Tomb, also known as the Baby Taj. This elegant mausoleum was built for the father of Nur Jahan, a powerful Mughal empress. The intricate carvings and inlaid marble work are truly breathtaking. Don’t miss the chance to take some stunning photos of this lesser-known gem.
Opening Hours: You can visit the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah any day of the week between 6 am to 6 pm.
Ticket prices: The entry fee for Indians is Rs 10 and for foreigners it is Rs 250.
3:00 PM – Mehtab Bagh : Make your way to Mehtab Bagh, a beautiful garden on the opposite side of the river from the Taj Mahal. This is a great spot to relax and enjoy the serene ambiance. From here, you can capture a stunning view of the Taj Mahal at sunset. Make sure to bring your camera and capture this unforgettable moment.
Opening Hours: Visit Mehtab Bagh between 6 am to 7 pm, it is open on all days of the week.
Ticket prices: The entry fee for Indians is Rs 5 while for foreign nationals it is Rs 100.
5:00 PM – Sunset view of Taj Mahal : When you go towards the Taj Mahal instead of taking left towards East Gate, turn right and walk straight. After around 7-10 min walk, you will come across a Temple compound called “Shri Daoji Maharaj Ghat temple”. Go past the temple and you will find a boatman who works during sunrise and sunset in taking tourists to the middle of Yamuna river to take pics.
Hours to go: Sunrise and Sunset.
Prices: The boatman charges around £3-5 per person ( Rs. 300-500).
7:00 PM – Departure: After a full day of sightseeing and shopping, it’s time to head back to your accommodation or onward to your next destination. Reflect on your memorable day in Agra and plan your next adventure.
Where to eat in Agra
- PESHAWRI in ITC Mughal hotel, try the Dal Bukhara, Paneer Kurchan, Pudina Paratha, Tandoori naan and Murgh Malai Kebabs ( call to make bookings).
- For a more budget option, I recommend Pinch of Spice. It is a bit more oily with the dishes, but the Mughal dishes are on point. Try their sizzling Brownie and Pan shots ( non-alcoholic).
Agra for solo Female travellers
Located in western Uttar Pradesh, Agra is one of India’s more conservative parts of the country, and although many solo female travellers visit Agra with absolutely no problem, it’s advisable to think and plan ahead to get the best experience out of your trip.
Here are a few tips:
- You probably know this already, but Agra is not Goa. Leave the shorts firmly in your bag, the advice for ‘conservative India’ applies here.
- You don’t need to cover your hair to enter most monuments here, but dressing respectfully is appreciated (no bare limbs).
- Book hotels / homestays with reviews from other solo female travellers ahead of time.
- For some of the larger Agra sights such as Sikandra, I recommend hiring a guide – as grounds can be big and there can be groups of men loitering. Book a guide through your hotel or through a pre-booked tour, not someone who claims to be a guide outside sight entrances. (You don’t need a guide for the Taj Mahal which is always busy).
- If you’re going to Fatehpur Sikri, you definitely do need a guide, as sadly the place is full of scammers and touts (and for this reason has been removed from many tour itineraries). I recommend pre-booking a trip and transfer online such as this one or via your accommodation in Delhi or Agra.
- Avoid heading out at night on your own in Agra as a solo woman. If you do want to go out at night, use Uber, or better book a trusted driver through your hotel who will wait for you and get dropped door-to-door. If you’re in a mixed group, going out is no problem, but don’t wander late at night un-necessarily.
- It’s not recommended to go down to the river or remote sunset spots on your own for safety reasons (think groups of men loitering).
Getting To and Fro Agra
Agra is well connected to Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, Varanasi and many other Indian cities.
- Train: Agra is very easy to reach by train – but be aware that Agra has several train stations so do check which yours comes into and leaves from. Agra Cantt (Cantonment) is the largest with the majority of trains arriving into and out of. To or from Delhi, the best train to get is the 12050 / 12049 Gatimaan Express – currently one of India’s fastest trains – which runs between Hazrat Nizamuddin in South Delhi to Agra Cantonment early in the morning and takes less than 1 hour. Book your Delhi-Agra train tickets here
- Or – if you like the sound of going to Agra by train from Delhi but would rather someone else did the planning, you can book this Agra day trip by train tour.
- Air: Flights from major Indian cities connect to Agra’s airport, which is located 13kms from Agra city.
- Taxi: Agra is a quick 3-4 hour drive of around 185kms from Delhi along the Delhi-Agra Yamuna expressway. You can book a taxi, inter-city Uber, or take one of the many buses serving the Delhi-Agra route.
In conclusion, Agra is a city with a rich history and a must-visit destination in India. With this optimised itinerary which can be extended to more than a day, you can make the most of your time and see the city’s most famous sights while also exploring its vibrant culture and cuisine. Don’t forget to bring your camera and capture these unforgettable moments!
If you have any questions, review or feedback, feel free to connect with me through comments.
Keep that dream alive !