Welcome to Agra otherwise known as India’s city of love for its captivating story of adoration that inspired the iconic Taj Mahal. If you want to be wowed by breathtaking architecture and grandeur then you are in luck as there are so many places to see in Agra that fit that category.
Among the top Agra attractions are 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, one of the seven wonders of the world, and colorful bazaars that are what enchanting dreams are made of.
The Mughal architectural influence on the top places to visit in Agra are assembled in the most elegant materials of white marble and red sandstone. Today, these noteworthy buildings look as if they were built yesterday and not hundreds of years ago!
Most visitors to Agra come in for the day just to see the Taj Mahal and that’s it. What a disservice that is! I highly recommend staying 2 full days to allow enough time to experience the best things to do in Agra.
Where Is Agra?
Agra is located in the Uttar Pradesh region of Northern India and about 125-miles (200 km) southeast of the capital of Delhi. As part of the Golden Triangle with Delhi and Jaipur, Agra is a frequently visited city along this golden route.
Agra lies along a bend in the Yamuna River with many attractions in Agra located on the western banks of the river.
To find out more abut what to do in Jaipur, read my post The Best Places To See In Jaipur The Pink City!
And if you are traveling to Delhi then explore these tips in my post A First Timer’s Guide To 3 Days In Delhi Itinerary!
What Is The Best Way To Travel To Agra?
You can travel to Agra via train, car, or plane but by far the easiest is taking the train. Especially if you are coming from either Delhi or Jaipur. Driving can be hectic and in some places a bit dangerous at night or during periods of heavy fog.
Taking the train from Delhi will take approximately 2 – 3 hours. From Jaipur, a train should take between 3.5 and 4 hours. As with all trains running in India, don’t be surprised if there are delays. It is just part of traveling in India!
The main train station in Agra is the Agra Cantonment Railway Station (AGC). If you would rather fly, you can take a domestic flight into Agra Airport (AGC).
It also serves as the Kheria Air Force Station. To find out the best flight options to Agra, start exploring today!
Accommodations In Agra
Oberoi Amarvilas Agra – A luxury hotel with views of the Taj Mahal
ITC Mughal, A Luxury Collection Hotel – A luxury hotel with views of the Taj Mahal from select rooms.
Radisson Hotel Agra – Has rooftop view of the Taj Mahal
Doubletree by Hilton Agra – Select rooms have a view of the Taj Mahal
Fun Agra Tours To Take
Taj Mahal Skip The Line – Purchase your ticket so that you don’t have to wait in crazy long lines to buy one. That way you can get in faster to see the Taj!
Private Taj Mahal & Agra Fort Tour – This tour includes your skip the line tickets and a guide with a driver to take you on a guided tour of Agra’s two most iconic sights!
Agra Food Walk Tour – What better way to get to know a city than to sample the yummy assortment of street food! A guide will take you wandering the old bazaars for a wide selection of foods to try and the history behind them.
Agra Day Trip From Delhi – Although I highly recommend visiting Agra over a few days, this day trip will take you to see the most popular places to visit in Agra including the Taj Mahal from Delhi. A driver, entrance fees, a guide, and lunch are all included!
An Organized Trip by Intrepid Travels – If traveling to India on your own sounds a little daunting, then taking one of these completely guided tours of India is a great option. They will handle the logistics, modes of transportation, and lodging so you don’t need to worry about a thing!
Traveling in a group is great especially if you are solo. I wouldn’t recommend going to India alone as a female, as I would have felt uncomfortable at times. I either took my parents or my ex-husband and felt safe on each trip to India.
Essential Tips For Visiting Agra
- Always make sure to have cash in small denominations as places might not take credit cards.
- The currency is the Indian rupee (INR). Use the XE Currency app to help assist with determining the exchange rate.
- I would avoid using ATM machines located on the streets as they are likely not as well maintained and easy to lose your card in.
- Keep your money and passport tucked away in this money belt or this scarf with a hidden pocket.
- Arrange for a taxi from your hotel and agree upon a price before taking off.
- Only drink bottled water or water you have purified yourself. Carry this water purifier bottle.
- If you do buy bottled water, make sure the seal of the cap has not been broken! A local told me that sometimes bottles are filled with tap water and sold as new…
- At each Agra attraction, you will notice that there are two prices, one for locals and one for foreigners. If you don’t live in India then you pay the foreigner price.
- Don’t lose your sweater or jacket with this handy travel clip to attach to a purse or backpack.
- Hindi is the main language spoken but most will speak English as well.
- Carry a portable power bank to keep your phone always charged!
- Don’t wear nice socks as you will be asked to remove your shoes at some attractions and they will get dirty!
- Bring a pair of shoe pouches to hold your comfy walking shoes when you need to take them off. That way you can throw them in your bag instead of leaving them at the front.
Bonus Tip: If you are looking for a filtered water bottle that will keep you safe on your journeys then read my post, 7 Best Filtered Water Bottles For Travel And Hiking!
Best Places To See In Agra
1. Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is the quintessential symbol of love and quite possibly one of the most remarkable architectural feats in the world. That might be why the Taj Mahal is one of the 7 Wonders of the World and is a must-see on every bucket list!
To say it is beautiful is a major understatement as once you first lay your eyes on the majestic memorial you will be awestruck and momentarily speechless.
I have been fortunate enough to see the Taj Mahal twice and each time was like the first. Its beauty and expression of love may even bring you to tears. This is one of the Agra attractions that shouldn’t be rushed but enjoyed at leisure…
Note: My photos were taken from 2 different trips and at different times of the day so you will notice the various shades of color depending on the light! No filters used…
“The Taj Mahal rises above the banks of the river like a solitary tear suspended on the cheek of time, forever and ever.” – Rabindranath Tagure
History of The Taj Mahal
Emperor Shah Jahan wanted to build a memorial to express his undying love to his third and favorite wife.
She unfortunately passed away during childbirth in 1631 leaving him with a broken heart. He was determined to create the most radiant tribute that would last well past his own days on earth.
Beginning construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1932 with the completion of the main mosque in 1648 and the surrounding structures in 1653. The Taj Mahal and its complex are crafted in a mix of Indo-Islamic architecture.
His beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal is buried in the tomb and his body was later added to lie next to her. She lies directly in the center of the dome tomb with Shah Jahan to the west of her.
Along with being one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What To Know About Visiting The Taj Mahal
Upon entering the complex, your gaze will lead you down a path of a long rectangular pool lined with manicured trees for your first glimpse of the Taj Mahal. The Taj is built on a raised marble platform which makes viewing from any angle the primary focus.
On each corner of the platform are 131 feet (40 meters) high minarets matching in ivory-white marble as that of the Taj. The red sandstone mosque to the west of the Taj Mahal is for Agra’s Muslims to gather.
As you walk around the Taj Mahal, inspect the incredible craftsmanship of the inlay work within the white marble walls. Precious and semi-precious stones are what make up the colorful inlay motif.
Leave any bags and large items including tripods at your hotel or in the car as you can only carry a small bag, camera, and bottle of water. You will also be given booties to place over your feet to protect the marble from damage.
If you want to be one of the first in, get there before sunrise. Once inside, you have up to 3 hours to take plenty of photos, walk around the complex and take a few minutes to sit and take it all in.
Tip: Early mornings during December through February may be foggy, so going later in the day might be better. Just look ahead at the weather forecast to plan your visit.
Hours & Admission: Open every day except for Fridays (closed) from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm. On a full moon evening, the night hours are from 8:30 pm to 12:30 am. Admission for foreigners is INR 1100 (rupees) and INR 750 for full moon nights.
2. Agra Fort
The Taj Mahal might get lots of attention when visiting the best places to see in Agra, but Agra Fort is a striking sight by itself. Construction of the fort began in 1565 by Emperor Akbar and a century before the Taj.
Later his grandson Shah Jahan would make updates by adding the marble he loved throughout. Sadly, many years later in his old age, Shah Jahan was imprisoned in Agra Fort. And by his own son no less and spent his last days there.
Agra Fort is further north up the curved banks of the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal (~ 20 minutes). And on a clear day you can see the Taj from Agra Fort.
When you first approach the front entrance, a red sandstone wall and gate stand prominent as if nothing could penetrate it. The powerful 70 feet (20 meters) high walls are a powerful force intertwined with architectural beauty.
Once inside and after you have walked up the ramp, you will see a city within a city. This UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of buildings, palaces, gardens, and temples with exquisite design. Visiting Agra Fort is by far one of the best things to do in Agra after the Taj Mahal!
Hours & Admission: Open daily from sunrise to sunset. Admission for foreigners is INR 650 (rupees). You could easily spend all day roaming the fort but spend at least 2 – 3 hours.
Tip: If you are with a guide, ask if they can get you access to the Palace of Mirrors where the walls and ceiling are covered in thousands of tiny mirrors that look more like sparkling diamonds when illuminated by candlelight.
The area is locked and luckily our guide knew the man who holds the key. It is a gorgeous section of the fort to see!
3. Sound & Light Show
If you are spending the night in Agra, head back to Agra Fort in the evening for the Sound and Light Show. The show lasts about 1 hour with a commentary of Agra’s enthralling history and is a treat to see!
It is a great activity for all ages and a fun way to spend the evening outdoors. There are two performances, one in Hindi (7:30 pm) and one in English (8:30 pm). Admission is INR 70 (Indians) and INR 150 (Foreigners).
4. Baby Taj Mahal
Pretty much everyone on the planet knows about the Taj Mahal but did you know there is a Baby Taj? Yep, that’s right! It is commonly called Baby Taj as a nickname for two reasons and one of the best things to do in Agra.
The first is it resembles the Taj Mahal on a much smaller scale and it has a challenging official name of Itmad-ud-Daulah’s Tomb. A little harder to remember than Baby Taj, don’t you think?
What many don’t know, is that Baby Taj was actually built first and was the inspiration for the larger than life Taj Mahal.
Along with its smaller size, Baby Taj has a lot more dainty and intricate carvings and paintings that make it a treasure to see. It doesn’t get many visitors compared to the Taj across the Yamuna river but it is definitely worth visiting.
Itmad-ud-Daulah was a Persian nobleman that became a close court member of emperor Akbar. His daughter later became a very powerful woman of her time and known as Nur Jahan.
Baby Taj was built between 1622 and 1628 by his daughter Nur Jahan, as she wanted to bury her father in a mausoleum in marble. Her design inspiration was to bear a similarity to a jewelry box in a serene garden.
Note: Much like the Taj Mahal, the color of the marble will take on different hues depending on the time of day. You may see shades of stark white, faint pink to a golden color.
Hours & Admission: Open daily from sunrise to sunset. The admission price for foreigners is INR 310 (rupees). Expect to spend around 45-minutes to 1-hour here.
5. Mehtab Bagh
Directly opposite and across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal is Mehtab Bagh. Mehtab Bagh is a garden complex whose name means Moonlight Garden. It is one of the best places to view the Taj Mahal as long as it isn’t foggy.
Mehtab Bagh was built in the early 1500s and is the exact width along the Yamuna River as that of the Taj Mahal complex across the way. If you look at a map or aerial photo it is fascinating to see how the two align.
Emperor Shah Jahan built the Taj in its location so that the gardens across the way would be the perfect place to take in the view of the Taj. For years, the garden complex fell into a state of decay. Fortunately work is being done to repair it to its former elegant state.
It is one of the last Mughal styled gardens with manicured trees and flowers that is a lovely place for a stroll. The best time of day to visit is in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the extreme heat at midday.
Hours & Admission: Open daily from sunrise to sunset. Admission for foreigners is INR 300 (rupees). Expect to spend 1 – 2 hours here. It is about a 30 – 40 minute drive from Agra Fort.
6. Akbar’s Tomb
Akbar’s Tomb is the resting place for the Mughal Emperor Akbar who reigned from 1556 to 1605. His tomb is surrounded by Mughal styled gardens where you can see monkeys, birds, and other animals.
It is interesting that Akbar chose the design and began the construction of his own mausoleum while he was alive. The exterior is built of marble blended with red sandstone giving it that rust-like color.
His actual tomb is in the basement away from the public with a fake replica tomb that visitors can see. The tomb is a little further out from the main Agra attractions in the city of Sikandra (7.6 mi or 12 km). The architecture and color of Akbar’s Tomb remind me a lot of Fatehpur Sikri which is next to see.
Hours & Admission: Open daily except for Friday’s from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm (sunrise to sunset). Admission for foreigners is INR 310 (rupees). Expect to spend about
7. Fatehpur Sikri
Driving from Akbar’s Tomb, the drive to Fatehpur Sikri will take close to 1 hour. During Emperor Akbar’s reign, he had Fatehpur Sikri built in the late 1500s to be the capital of the Mughal Empire.
It didn’t remain the capital for long (~ 10 years) and was eventually abandoned by Akbar. Although Fatehpur Sikri means “City of Victory”, it didn’t quite have a victorious ending as lack of water literally dried up the city.
Is it worth visiting you may ask? Yes, as the stunning complex of buildings has incredible craftsmanship and design in the architecture. The buildings include palaces, mosques, public buildings, and living spaces that are made of red sandstone mixed with a little marble.
There are 3 palaces one for each of his favorite wives and the main mosque known as Jama Majid. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of the best places to see in Agra and as a bonus there are fewer crowds than other attractions.
You may see several children attempting to sell you their wares such as bracelets. Just know if you buy from one, they all expect you to buy from them! I gotta say they are savvy and persistent salespeople.
Overall, it has a very peaceful vibe as you wander from building to building admiring the exquisite ghost town… It is a lovely spot at sunset as the sun gives the red-colored structures a warm glow.
Hours & Admission: Open daily from sunrise to sunset. Admission for foreigners is INR 610 (rupees). Expect to spend about 1 – 2 hours here.
8. Taj Nature Walk
As the name implies, the Taj Nature Walk is a 5.6-mile (9 km) trail running along the banks of the Yamuna River and next to the Taj Mahal. If you are entering the east entrance of the Taj Mahal, you will likely pass the beginning of the trail.
As you wander along the trail, you are surrounded by a forest of trees, bushes, and flowers that are a tranquil and lush oasis. Several varieties of birds including the Kingfisher, and butterflies greet you for the happy residents they appear to be.
Throughout the trail, there are several viewing points that are perfect to snap a photo of the Taj Mahal. In total, the Taj Nature Walk covers 70-hectare making it a wonderful place to get in a morning or late afternoon walk.
Hours & Admission: Open daily from 7:00 am to 6:00 pm. Admission for foreigners is INR 100 (rupees). I would recommend spending 1 -2 hours and depends on how much of the trail you want to cover.
9. Wander Agra’s Old City
Many visitors won’t make their way to Agra’s Old City but if you have the time definitely go. It is a great place to get something to eat, grab a coffee or get some shopping in! The old bazaars are bustling with locals selling an assortment of souvenirs such as saris, spices, shoes, and handicrafts.
If you want to make your photos pop when visiting Agra attractions such as the Taj Mahal, buy yourself a traditional silk sari and wear it for the day! The silk materials are absolutely elegant and so comfortable to wear.
Have you always wanted to get a tattoo but not one that is permanent? While you are wandering the shops in Agra Old City, get a henna tattoo. Don’t worry, it only lasts for a few weeks at most.
It is a beautiful design usually on your hands and/or feet using ink from the henna plant. I loved getting it done as I am too chicken to get a real tattoo! And no, it doesn’t hurt as there is no needle, just a brush to paint it on.
Tip: As a fun banter with locals, be ready to negotiate as it is standard practice. Just don’t be the annoying tourist who is trying to get something for practically nothing. And beware, they have incredible sales and negotiating skills so if you are not interested in buying be firm in saying no.
10. Take A Cooking Class
If you love Indian food and curious as to how to cook it yourself, take a cooking class and learn from a local! Spend a few hours learning about the various spices and ingredients used in traditional Northern Indian cuisine to make superb dishes.
Plus, you get to eat the meal after you are done! Now you will be prepared with the know-how, recipes, notes and a new passion to recreate in your kitchen at home.
11. Restaurants In Agra
Esphahan – Located in the Oberoi Amarvilas Hotel and open for dinner serving Northern Indian cuisine.
Pinch of Spice – A popular spot with locals serving up Punjabi Indian cuisine.
Dasaprakash – Serves up authentic Southern Indian cuisine.
Hotel Kamal – A rooftop restaurant with a view of the Taj Mahal and maybe the best rooftop view.
Taj Terrace – A rooftop restaurant with a view of the Taj Mahal serving Chinese and Indian food.
Hotel Saniya Palace – A rooftop restaurant that has a view of the Taj Mahal serving Indian food.
Best Time To Visit Agra
The weather in Agra can get quite hot depending on when you visit. Regardless of the time of year, Agra is usually warm during the day. The temperatures range from warm to hot to scorching hot.
The best time of year to visit Agra is during the winter months of December to March. You can expect the day time temps to range from 70 F to 85 F (22 C to 29 C).
The next best months to visit are October and November but they will be a little hotter reaching up to 91 F (33 C).
The months of late March through June are incredibly hot with temperatures from 89 F to 104 F (31 C to 40 C).
The summer months of July through August is the monsoon season where not only are temperatures higher but lots of rain making it the worst time to visit Agra.
In late December or January, you may likely see fog in the mornings so be prepared during this time.
How To Get Around Agra
For short distances or if you need a ride from your hotel to see one of the best places to see Agra then hopping into an autorickshaw is the cheapest way and fun!
If you are not taking a tour that includes a driver to sights that are a little further away or if it is really hot then I recommend hiring a driver for the day. It is very economical and worth it! You can ask your hotel to arrange a driver and see Agra at your own pace.
Do I Need A VISA?
Yes! Definitely look into your country’s requirements but for the U.S. a passport is required that has 6 months validity from the time you travel to India. The passport must have 2 blank pages.
Applicants need to apply for a Tourist VISA that is if you are traveling as a tourist. If you are traveling for business or other reasons then look into those requirements. The tourist VISA is good for 180 days and allows for multiple entries.
Prior to travel, speak to your healthcare professional to make sure all vaccinations that might be needed are up to date such as tetanus, hepatitis A and consider taking malaria chemoprophylaxis (pills). On each trip to India, I chose to take precautions with malaria to be on the safe side.
Note: You CANNOT get a VISA upon arrival so make sure you apply in advance of your trip.
Have a fabulous time and enjoy the best things to do in Agra!
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