India's capital is immense, bursting with energy and prosperity; it's a contrast between the very ancient and the thrillingly new, a place where the traditions of India are being reshaped and complemented by modernity as the nation rises and rises.
Home to 20 million people, New Delhi is an exciting place to be. You could spend a week soaking up the atmosphere of Old Delhi, or party in Rajouri Garden. Whatever you do, expect a warm welcome.
New Delhi has its frantic moments, but it has its relaxing side too. In a city where the future and the past collide every day, there's something for everyone to enjoy.
Delhi lays claim to being the oldest continually inhabited city in the world with more than 5,000 years of history. As you'd expect after so many centuries, there's no shortage of enthralling historical attractions. From the Red Fort built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to UNESCO-listed monuments like Humayun's Tomb and the soaring Qutub Minar, the past is everywhere.
Modern Delhi offers quite an experience for affluent travelers. You can stay at the Imperial, where there's an on-site Chanel boutique, enjoy 24-hour butler service at the Oberoi, and rent private cars to whizz to nearby attractions like the Taj Mahal or Jaipur, before dining at fine eateries like Le Cirque at the Leela Palace Hotel.
New Delhi has an incredible range of museums. Find out about Indian heroes like Mahatma Gandhi or Nehru at dedicated museums, get up to speed with contemporary Indian art at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, or learn about everything from interstellar physics to dinosaurs at the National Science Centre.
New Delhi is a meeting point of the world's great religions, and it has an extraordinary range of religious attractions. From the Baha'i Lotus Temple and the serene Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib to the majestic Jama Masjid Mosque and the Sacred Heart Cathedral, all faiths are represented in a city of hope and coexistence.
New Delhi is also one of India's great gastronomic destinations. In a country famous for its cuisine, that's really saying something. Don't miss delicacies like butter chicken, authentic paratha breads, meaty kebabs, and filling biryanis, but leave any worries about your waistline at the airport.
Most locals recommend visiting Delhi between October and March. That way, you can take in the colors of the north Indian spring and enjoy the best of the weather. Temperatures will vary, but shouldn't drop below 65 degrees and rain will be minimal. May and June see the city baking in mid-summer heat, while July usually brings the monsoon, which is attractive, but not everybody's cup of tea.
Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) is the main entry point for visitors from North America, and getting into town is fairly simple. The Airport Express Metro train from Terminal 3 is your best option, which takes 20 minutes and costs ₹60. Buses take almost an hour and cost ₹50, while taxis are faster (unless traffic intervenes) but will cost you around ₹400.
Trains arrive in New Delhi from all over the Indian subcontinent, and if you are traveling around India, at least one rail journey is recommended. If you do catch the train to Delhi, try to alight at New Delhi station, not Delhi Junction or Hazrat Nizamuddin (though both are linked to New Delhi by the subway).
Renting a car at the airport is an excellent idea, and you'll find companies like Avis and VIP Cars represented at the terminals. If you are driving into town, take Route 48 northbound and follow signs for the city center. Those coming from Agra need to take the Yamuna Expressway, which runs straight into Delhi.
India has a complex intercity bus network, with many state companies running services into different New Delhi bus stations. Buses from the south tend to get into Sarai Kale Khan bus station, which is right next to Hazrat Nizamuddin station. If you are coming from Kolkata or other eastern cities, you'll probably get off at Anand Vihar bus station, which has a subway stop as well, so getting to city center hotels shouldn't be hard.
Delhi has a vast choice of high-quality luxury hotels (and plenty of family-run guesthouses too). Some of the best are in the ultra-modern Gurgaon area, including the Hyatt and the Meridien. Excellent options near the Red Fort include the stately Haveli Dharampura and the reliable Hotel Bombay Orient, while the best hotel near Connaught Place is the Imperial.
Connaught Place - often shortened to CP, Connaught Place is one of Delhi's financial, shopping, and nightlife hubs. The British built the area as a centerpiece for colonial Delhi, and nowadays it's still the center of the action. Its markets, shopping streets, and restaurants are where locals go to unwind.
Gurgaon - actually located a short distance southwest of New Delhi, Gurgaon is its most modern suburb and the richest neighborhood in the whole of India. It's the kind of place where tourists brush shoulders with Bollywood stars, where the locals have a choice of waterparks for steamy summer afternoons, and new high rises appear every week.
Old Delhi - a far cry from the brash modernity of Gurgaon, Old Delhi has been there for millennia. This is where you'll find magical historical attractions like the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid Mosque, and it's where most visitors begin their tours of the city.
Delhi's subway (Metro) is easily the best way to get around the inner part of the city, and its six lines provide excellent coverage that is improving all the time. Fares rise depending on how far you travel from a minimum of ₹8 and it's a good idea to purchase a rechargeable Smart Card during your stay. Day tickets for the whole network cost ₹100, so taking single journeys may work out as the cheapest option.
Delhi's taxi scene has fully embraced smartphones, and alongside Uber you'll find Indian companies like Meru and Ola doing the same thing. This means that fares are fairly low. Even in standard green and yellow taxis, expect to pay ₹15 for the meter drop, then around ₹12 per mile. Air-conditioned taxis tend to be more expensive, but are almost always worth it.
Although the inner city traffic in Delhi can be terrible, having your own car really makes sense if you plan to venture further afield or stay in Gurgaon. You can rent from companies like Avis, Carzonrent, and Zoomcar, and daily rates start at around ₹350.
Delhi is a shopper's paradise, whether you are into ultra-modern fashion boutiques or atmospheric bazaars. To start with, take a walk in the Old Delhi Bazaar, where its narrow lanes contain myriad clothes, spice and jewelry stalls (and smell delicious thanks to the street food vendors). Then head to DLF Emporio for a totally different experience. Here, luxury is everything, and brands like Paul Smith and Hugo Boss compete with Indian designers like Manish Arora. Connaught Place is another great shopping area - like a mixture of the two, with old-style stores and modern businesses alongside each other.
If you are self-catering or want to buy picnic ingredients during your stay, supermarkets like Big Bazaar and INA Market stock a range of western and Indian goods. Prices are very reasonable, at around ₹170 for a gallon of milk and ₹62 for 12 eggs.
Delhi is massive, so it's hard to pick a few exceptional eateries. Then again, there are some places that just can't be missed, like Cafe Lota near the Crafts Museum, with its bamboo screens and delicately spiced modern Indian cuisine. Bukhara in the Sheraton hotel often tops the list of "best Indian restaurants", while Sagar Ratna serves authentic southern Indian delicacies. Then there's the street food. Head to Connaught Place's Bengali Market for an astonishing array of tastes (and enticing aromas). In general, expect a high-end sit down meal to come to around ₹600 per head, but street food will be much less expensive.
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