The Perfect 24 Hour Layover in Delhi – A Greeter’s Guide
Do you have a layover in Delhi? Don’t waste it in a hotel or at the airport! Delhi is one of the most fascinating and diverse cities in the world. It’s also easy to navigate thanks to an amazing metro system.
It is possible to do Delhi on your own, but this is one city where having a Greether is incredibly beneficial. Delhi is just so vast, and so jam-packed with people, history, culture and food, an insider’s guidance is invaluable.
On my first trip to Delhi, I was scared to cross the street outside my hotel. I didn’t know how to hire an auto rickshaw or take the metro. I wish Greether had been around then – I would have seen a lot more of the city!
I’ve been living in Delhi since 2020 and I adore this city. Here is the perfect 24 hour layover in Delhi.
Use the Metro Get Around Delhi
The Delhi metro is one of the best systems in the world. It’s also the most efficient way to move around the city. Terminals 1 and 3 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport have metro stations.
Pick up a metro card at any station, load it up with about INR 200 and you’re ready to go! The first carriage of the train in the moving direction is reserved for women only.
Check the Delhi metro site for routes and a system map.
Have a good breakfast because it’s going to be a jam-packed day! You’re going to start in one of the greenest and loveliest parts of the city.
Take the metro to Jorbagh station (yellow line) and exit gate 2. Walk up Sri Aurobindo Marg to the entrance of Safdarjung Tomb. It will be on your left.
Safdarjung Tomb is one of the most beautiful and atmospheric tombs in Delhi. It was built in 1754 for Nawab Safdarjung, a high ranking advisor in the Mughal court and is the last garden style tomb built in India.
Because it was built at the decline of the Mughal empire, sub-standard materials and pieces of other tombs were used in its construction, but it’s lovely all the same.
Hours & Cost: 7:00 am – 9:00 pm, daily – INR 300 (children under 15 free)
Lodhi Art District
From Safdarjung Tomb, walk across Lodhi Road and turn right onto Second Avenue in Lodhi Colony.
This is India’s first outdoor art district. Stroll along the roads and lanes of Lodhi Colony to see 50+ murals painted on the British built residential buildings. Most have a social or environmental theme and feature international artists.
Greeter Tip: Go to Devan’s South Indian Coffee House for a coffee or tea – it’s at the bottom of Lodhi Colony near Khanna Market. If ice cream is more your thing, one of Delhi’s best ice cream shops is in Lodhi Colony – Jaatre.
Hours & Cost: 24/7 but to see the murals go in the daytime – free
Walk back up to Lodhi Road and cross the street to Lodhi Garden, the most captivating park in Delhi.
The park was planned in 1931 by the wife of the British Viceroy at the time. It’s a stunning park with mature trees, walking paths and flowers, but it is the tombs, mosque and arched bridge from the Sayyid and Lodhi periods (1414 to 1526) that make it so magical.
This area is one of the best in Delhi and some of the city’s most expensive real estate is located behind the park.
Hours & Cost: 6:00 am to 7:30 pm, daily – free
it’s time to visit Delhi’s favourite market. This will be a great place for lunch.
Either walk along Subramaniam Bharti Marg for about 10 minutes, or grab an auto rickshaw from outside Lodhi Garden. All the drivers know Khan Market and it should be no more than INR 60.
Khan Market is a more upscale and quiet market (by Delhi standards) to browse around. It’s full of international and Indian brand shops, cafes and restaurants.
Great options for lunch are: Di Ghent, The Big Chill, Yum Yum Cha, Sly Granny and Punjab Grill.
Greeter Tip: If you’re a reader, books are cheaper in India than in the West. There’s a couple of good bookshops in Khan Market: Bahrisons and Faqir Chand. Don’t let the hoarder appearance of Faqir Chand put you off. They have everything – but you’ll have to ask.
Hours & Cost: 10:00 am to 12:00 am, daily (hours may vary) - free
Now it’s time to see one of Delhi’s most iconic sites, India Gate.
From Khan Market, either walk straight up Shahjahan Road or take an auto rickshaw to India Gate. This should cost no more than INR 100.
Built as a war memorial in the style of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe, India Gate is always full of activity. Honestly, the people watching is just as interesting as the monument.
If you’re feeling energetic you can walk along Kartavya Path to Rashtrapati Bhavan, Delhi’s parliament buildings – it’s about 2 km.
Hours & Cost: 7:00 am to 11:00 pm, daily – free
Agrasen ki Baoli
From India Gate take an auto rickshaw up KG Marg to Agrasen ki Baoli on Hailey Lane. This is by far the most beautiful stepwell in Delhi.
The original stepwell dates back to 3000 BC. The current one was built in the 14th Century by the Agrawal community. It is 108 steps to the bottom and if you venture down, don’t stare at the black water in the pool for long - it’s believed to have mystical powers!
Hours & Cost: 7:00 am to 6:00 pm, daily – free
Devi Prasad Sadan Dhobi Ghat
Exit Agrasen ki Baoli and turn right down the lane. You will come across one of the outdoor laundries India is famous for.
By this time of day, the laundry is probably done and delivered, but you can still see the hand crank spinning machines, huge vats and cement slabs used for beating the laundry. It’s like stepping back in time.
The dhobis are a friendly community but please be respectful – this is not a tourist site, it is their place of livelihood.
Hours and Cost: 5:00 am to 2:00 pm (laundry time), daily - free
Hop in an auto and take it across Tolstoy Road to Janpath Road. This should be no more than INR 60. Have the driver drop you in front of the KCS Kashmir Shawl Emporium (but don’t go in). Keep walking north on Janpath Road and you’ll find yourself in one of Delhi’s best street markets.
Janpath Market is actually 4 markets in one, so it’s a great place to cover some traditional Delhi market ground! There’s a Tibetan section, Gujurati section, the main market and a street market. You’ll find all sorts of souvenirs, clothing and small household items. Make sure to bargain.
Greeter Tip: You can get old denims updated with hand embroidery, patch-work or decorative embellishments at the Gujurati section for a very reasonable price.
Hours & Cost: 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, daily – free
A trip to Delhi is not complete without visiting the unofficial centre of the city, Connaught Place. Known affectionately as CP by Delhiites, this is the city’s favourite hangout and meeting place.
From Janpath Market, walk straight up Janpath Road to CP. It is immediately recognizable by the white colonnades.
The British built this commercial and retail hub and it’s still a hive of activity anytime of the day. Head to the inner circle for the most entertainment. Blocks are all lettered and it’s laid out in 3 concentric traffic circles, so it’s easy to navigate.
CP is an excellent spot to have some dinner. Some of the best restaurants are: Daryanganj Restaurant, Saravana Bhavan, Sagar Ratna and Naivedyam. Unplugged Courtyard has a great terrace with brick oven pizza and live Indian music on the weekends.
Greeter Tip: If you are feeling adventurous, go to Kake da Hotel for food. It is very famous in Delhi and locals crowd outside to get in every evening. This is a super casual, local joint – but food is excellent and eating here is a very authentic Delhi experience! It’s located on the outer circle of CP.
Hours & Cost: 11:00 am to 10:00 pm (hours may vary), daily – free
Not ready to go back to your hotel?
Delhi has a thriving night life. These are some of my favourite spots.
Always keep an eye on your drink and use an app based taxi service to get back to your hotel, like Uber or Ola. If you don’t have local data, ask the bartender or manager to order one for you - just make sure you get the OTP. The metro is safe to take until about 9:00 pm.
Cirrus 9 at Oberoi Hotel –sedate and upscale
Did you know Delhi is one of the greenest capital cities in the world? From the rooftop bar of the Oberoi you can clearly see why. It overlooks what is often referred to as the lungs of Delhi and Humayun’s Tomb, a UNESCO site.
Hours: 5:00 pm to 1:00 am, daily
Molecule Air Bar in Green Park – dressy casual with great live music
Molecule Air Bar is a really nice bar with several floors, including a rooftop terrace. There is often live music and they have fantastic sufi music performers. Check ahead because some of their events are ticketed.
Hours: 12:00 pm to 1:00 am, daily
Auro Kitchen Bar in Hauz Khas – casual with techno dance music
Auro Kitchen Bar is a popular restaurant/dance club just around the corner from Molecule Air Bar. Auro attracts a younger crowd, but has great music and is packed on the weekends.
Hours: 12:00 pm to 1:00 am, daily
The Best Hotels and Guest Houses to Stay At
South or Central Delhi are the best areas of the city to stay in. If you want to stay near the airport, Aerocity is the best location. Avoid Paharganj and Old Delhi – both are very congested, noisy and unsafe to return to at night. These are my top recommendations:
Andaz Delhi $$$
Lemon Tree $$
ITC Maurya $$$ - Chanakyapuri
Home@F37 $$ - Kailash Colony
Prakash Kutir Bed & Breakfast $ - Hauz Khas
Imperial Hotel $$$ - Connaught Place
Hotel Palace Heights $$ - Connaught Place