Spend nine days in northern India, learning all about its food, culture, and history. Start in Delhi sightseeing and tasting its street food, feast on Peshawari cuisine in Agra after visiting its red sandstone fort, and dine with a descendant of the Nawabs in Lucknow. Your tour finishes in Varanasi on the River Ganges, where you'll try treats in a local market before you head back to Delhi for a final day of exploring.


  • Visit the world-famous Taj Mahal at sunrise 
  • Learn about Lucknow's food scene and sample local delicacies
  • Explore Old Delhi and go on a street food tour
  • Enjoy a meal while floating along the River Ganges

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Delhi, Lodi Garden Guided Walk Delhi
Day 2 Old & New Delhi Sightseeing Tours, Street Food Tour Delhi
Day 3 Transfer to Agra, Agra Fort Sightseeing, Enjoy Peshawari Cuisine Agra
Day 4 Taj Mahal Sunrise Visit, Transfer to Lucknow, Culinary Walking Tour Lucknow
Day 5 Explore Lucknow, Cooking Class & Dinner With Nawab Lucknow
Day 6 Transfer to Varanasi, Evening Aarti (Prayer Ceremony), River Boat Dinner Varanasi
Day 7 Sunrise River Trip & Historic Ghats Walk, Street Food Walk, Visit Sarnath Varanasi
Day 8 Transfer to Delhi, Sightseeing Tour Delhi
Day 9 Depart Delhi  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Delhi, Lodi Garden Guided Walk

Lodhi Garden
Enjoy a guided walk in Lodi Garden

Welcome to India! Your guide will meet you at Indira Gandhi International Airport with a traditional swagat (welcome), and you'll be taken to your hotel in New Delhi. To acclimatize to life in India's capital and to stretch your legs after your flight, you'll go on a guided walk of Lodi Garden. The 90-acre (36 ha) scenic garden is one of the city's most popular parks and is home to many varieties of trees and birds, as well as 15th-century tombs and mosques. After your stroll, enjoy a cup of chai (sweet, strong milky tea) with the locals at a tea shop in its center. Delhi's iconic monument, India Gate, is close to the gardens.

In the evening, you can relax at your hotel or go on an optional trip to Chor Bizarre, a popular restaurant in Delhi that serves everything from tandoori to Mughlai dishes. Try the wazwan, a multicourse Kashmiri specialty. While you dine, you can soak up the unique ambiance of Chor Bizarre, which combines a blend of fine Indian furniture and fabrics with antique tables, grandfather clocks, and auto parts that are designed to capture the eclectic spirit of India. According to the restaurant, "nothing matches," yet "everything gels."

Day 2: Guided Old & New Delhi Tour, Street Food Tour

Red Fort
The majestic Red Fort

Your sightseeing today starts in Old Delhi, the city's historic heart, where the Mughals once ruled from the ramparts of the majestic Red Fort. You'll visit the Jama Masjid, an extensive 17th-century mosque, and will take an exhilarating rickshaw ride through the bustling Chandni Chowk market, which was the center of the city in Mughal times and is often referred to as the food capital of India. Enjoy a street food tour in Old Delhi, beginning at the Paranthe Wali Gali restaurant with mouth-watering paranthas (flatbreads) stuffed with spiced vegetable fillings, washed down with a lassi (a yogurt-based drink).

Then follow your guide through the narrow alleys of Chandni Chowk, tasting dishes such as paneer tikki (patties made with Indian cottage cheese), samosas, and chaat, which will be made of a mixture of potatoes, crispy fried bread, and spices. After this, you'll head to New Delhi, where you'll visit Raj Ghat (Mahatma Gandhi's memorial) and drive past the Presidential Palace and Secretariat Buildings and along the impressive Rajpath avenue to India Gate. If there's time, you'll also see Humayun's Tomb, said to be the inspiration for the Taj Mahal, and the exquisite 236-foot-tall (72 m) Qutub Minar (Victory Tower).

Day 3: Transfer to Agra, Agra Fort Sightseeing, Enjoy Peshawari Cuisine

Entrance to Agra Fort
Agra Fort is like a walled palatial city

In the morning, you'll travel with a private driver to Agra. After checking in at your hotel, you'll have some time to relax. The city of Agra grew in prominence under the rule of the Mughal Empire from the 16th century. Akbar, one of the great Mughal emperors, reigned over one of the most memorable periods in the city's history when it became a leading center of art, science, commerce, and culture.

In the afternoon, you'll visit Agra Fort. Within its mighty red sandstone walls are the white-marble Pearl Mosque, ornate palaces, halls, and courtyards. The fort is like a walled palatial city featuring different architectural styles representing the boldness of Akbar's period, the refinement of Jehangir's time, and the subtleness of Shah Jahan's rule. In the evening, you'll enjoy Peshawari cuisine. This is made with a simple preparation technique—large chunks of meat, seafood, and vegetables are marinated sparingly and then cooked in a clay tandoor at high temperatures so that they remain tender and succulent.
Plan your trip to India
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 4: Taj Mahal Sunrise Visit, Transfer to Lucknow, Culinary Walking Tour

The impressive Taj Mahal
The impressive Taj Mahal

At sunrise, you'll visit one of India's top monuments, the Taj Mahal, and can watch the sun hit the building's marble exterior, bathing it in buttery shades of gold. Shah Jahan built the 17th-century mausoleum for his Empress, Mumtaz Mahal, and it's thought to have taken more than 20,000 artisans, led by legendary architect Ustad Ahmad Lahori, 22 years to complete. After touring the monument, you'll return to your hotel for breakfast. Then, you'll be driven to Lucknow

Lucknow is a city known for its delicious Awadhi and Mughlai delicacies and its rich history and culture. The streets of Lucknow are a foodie's heaven, and travelers come from all over the world to sample its regional specialties, such as rich malai makhan (a dessert made from milk cream). You'll learn all about its food scene on a culinary walking tour of Lucknow, which includes stops at world-famous traditional venues. You'll try pasanda (a creamy, mild curry) in Mubeen's, nihari gosht (beef stew) in Raheem's, biryani in Bismillah or Idris, and Indian ice cream at Chanakya, plus more.

Day 5: Explore Lucknow, Cooking Class & Dinner with Nawab

Visit Bara Imambara in Lucknow
Visit the amazing Shiite tomb complex, Bara Imambara

As well as having a famous culinary scene, Lucknow has many must-visit monuments and buildings, and this morning you'll take a tour of the city, visiting its beautiful historical sites. You'll learn about the Indian Uprising of 1857 at the former British Residency. You'll also visit Bara Imambara, an amazing Shiite tomb complex built without any pillars, and then Rumi Darwaza, a huge entrance gate and a fine example of Awadh architecture. This was the entrance to the romantic city of the Nawabs, the rulers of the Kingdom of Awadh, from 1732 to 1856.

In the late afternoon, you'll meet with a descendant of Lucknow's Nawabs at a palace. You will get the opportunity to talk about the family's culture, tradition, and, of course, lifestyle, plus changes that have occurred over the centuries. You'll talk with Nawab Sahib on a range of topics, including history, craft, and cuisine, at his home in his small family museum. You'll then watch highly-skilled chefs prepare a meal and learn about the techniques used in this variety of Lucknawi cuisine. Afterward, you'll sit down to enjoy a sumptuous dinner with the royal family, who will be dressed in their traditional attire.

Day 6: Transfer to Varanasi, Evening Aarti (Prayer Ceremony), River Boat Dinner

Varanasi sprawls along the River Ganges

After breakfast, you'll travel to Varanasi, passing through the countryside and lush green meadows. Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel to check in and relax. Varanasi is a fascinating holy Hindu city that sprawls along the River Ganges. It has an array of shrines, temples and palaces rising in several tiers from the water's edge. In the evening, you'll ride in a rickshaw to Dashashwamedh Ghat to witness the spectacular Ganga Aarti, a powerful spiritual ritual and prayer ceremony performed at dusk by several priests with the sound of Sanskrit mantras, drums, bells, and cymbals on the banks of the River Ganges.

Afterward, you'll dine on a traditional boat while floating along the River Ganges. Relax in your boat while passing various historic ghats (steps leading down to the River Ganges), such as the Dashashwamedh Ghat, Chausatti Ghat, Assi Ghat, plus many more, while enjoying the comforting river breeze. Each ghat on the west riverbank encapsulates the antiquity of the city of Varanasi. You'll enjoy a regal vegetarian dinner with a wide range of mouth-watering delicacies by the onboard chefs.

Day 7: Sunrise River Trip & Historic Ghats Walk, Street Food Walk, Visit Sarnath

Lassi in Varanasi
Try some famous milk products in a local market

Just before dawn, you'll take a boat trip on the River Ganges to witness the amazing spectacle of events on the ghats. Every day, people in their thousands make their way to Varanasi's ghats to offer prayers, meditate, and purify themselves by taking a dip in the holy river. You'll travel past several of the steps and will gain an insight into how important religion is in the city. You may even see a Hindu cremation on the banks of the river. You'll be able to walk around the historical ghats too.

After your boat ride, walk through the busy streets of a local market to try some famous milk products such as lassi, thandai (a milk drink with spices, nuts, seeds, and rose petals), and pedas (an Indian sweet made with milk solids, sugar, and cardamom powder). Your tasting will end with a sweet banarasi mitha paan made with betel leaves and nuts. In the afternoon, you'll be driven to Sarnath, an important place for Buddhism, as it's where the Buddha preached his first sermon. You'll visit the place of this sermon, Dhamekh Stupa, then Sarnath Museum, and a Buddhist temple.  

Day 8: Transfer to Delhi, Sightseeing Tour

Gurudwara Bangla Sahib
Visit one of the city's main Sikh pilgrimage centers, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib

After a leisurely breakfast, you'll be transferred to Varanasi Airport to board a flight to Delhi. On arrival, you'll go to your hotel. You can either relax in Delhi today and explore at your own pace or join an optional tour around the local sites.

The tour starts at one of the city's main Sikh pilgrimage centers, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib. Here discover the healing properties of the gurudwara (Sikh house of worship) as you stroll through its grounds. Admire the white-marble structure that was built in the middle of the 17th century, with its golden domes and sacred pond. Its premises include the main prayer hall containing the "Granth Sahib" (the Sikh holy book), a library, a museum, and an art gallery. As in all gurudwaras, a langar (communal meal) is served here, and you can witness this being prepared. Afterward, peruse Delhi's popular shopping area, Connaught Place.

Day 9: Depart Delhi

Enjoy the last of your time in Delhi

Today is the last day of your tour, so enjoy your final time in Delhi before you're transferred to Indira Gandhi International Airport to board your flight for your onward destination. Until next time!

More Great India Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to India? Check out these other India itineraries, explore different ways to spend nine days in India, or discover the best time to visit India.


Map of A Culinary Tour of North India: Delhi, Agra, Lucknow & Varanasi  - 9 Days
Map of A Culinary Tour of North India: Delhi, Agra, Lucknow & Varanasi - 9 Days