Agra is a city in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state, home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Taj Mahal. Although Taj is the primary reason people come to visit Agra, there are other sights worth seeing in Agra. Conveniently, these are all near the Taj Mahal and can be seen in one day. Read on for a perfect self-guided Agra itinerary for a one day trip to Agra.
Agra has always been on my list when traveling to India. Other than the famous landmark, Taj Mahal, our guest writer Lora tells us about Agra tourist places, the lesser known places to visit in Agra, and how to explore Agra in one day.
Plan a one day trip to Agra: What to include in your Agra Itinerary
Sunrise at the Taj Mahal
The best time to visit Taj Mahal is at sunrise. The Taj Mahal is among the most popular attractions in India. On busy days, the Taj Mahal attracts as many as 70,000 people. You’re never going to have it to yourself, but if you visit at sunrise there will be significantly fewer people there. As a bonus, getting there early makes walking around a much more pleasant experience since India can become hot and humid during the day.
Start your Agra sightseeing tour by visiting the Taj Mahal which opens at 06:00 AM and closes at 06:30 PM. While I was there in November the sunrise was at 6:50 AM, so we arrived at 6:15 AM and only just made it inside before the sunrise because the line-up at the entrance was so long. Security is tight at the Taj Mahal. It’s similar to going through an airport, with bag scanners and body scans, so allow lots of extra time to get through. Plus, the earlier you get there, the more photos you can get without people in them. The entry fee of Taj Mahal is Rs. 45 per person for Indian visitors and Rs. 1,050 per person for foreigners.
When I walked through the main gate and saw the Taj Mahal for the first time I felt my entire body shiver with excitement. It was surreal to be walking towards one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world. It also takes you by surprise by how large it is. Walking around, the monument becomes even more impressive as you see the intricate work that went into every detail of the monument. It was mindblowing to think about how it took over 20 years to construct, and how every piece was carefully crafted by artists and stone carvers.
TIP: To skip the crowds, get a ticket for this Private Sunrise Tour from Delhi. The tour includes a private car to pick-up from your hotel and guide that will help you throughout your time at Taj Mahal.
Once inside, you can explore the gorgeous white marble mausoleum, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a testament of his love for his favorite wife. The Taj Mahal complex consists of five main elements. First, you can walk through the main gate. From there, the Taj Gardens extend all the way to the Main Mausoleum. Inside the main mausoleum is the false tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, which you can go inside to see.
On the west side of the main Mausoleum is a mosque made of red sandstone used for prayer. This mosque is not open to the public aside from those going to pray. On the east side, there is an identical building to the mosque called the rest house, which allows visitors as it is not used for prayer purposes. The exact purpose of the building is unknown, but it was likely built for symmetry.
Depending on how many photos you want to take, I would allow yourself at least two hours to properly explore the Taj Mahal complex. Click here for a chance to get skip-the-line tickets for a private sunrise tour of the Taj Mahal!
The next from the places to visit in Agra near Taj Mahal is the Agra Fort, a UNESCO world heritage site. The fort is only a 3km/10minute ride on an auto rickshaw from Taj Mahal. The entry fee for Agra fort is Rs. 40 For Indian Tourists and Rs. 550 for foreigners. You can walk around the fort on your own, or arrange an Agra tour guide at the front entrance.
The Agra Fort is worth a visit because of its historical significance. It was the main residence of the Mughal dynasty until 1638. It’s just a great experience to be able to walk through such an important part of history, and the structure is well-preserved. It’s also nice to admire the red sandstone and the intricate marble inlays in many of the rooms inside the fort. Basically, it’s a beautiful monument!
Agra fort often tends to be forgotten in the shadow of Taj Mahal, but it’s definitely worth a visit. It’s a nice break from the hoards of tourists at Taj Mahal and offers many interesting photo opportunities.
Have lunch at Sheroes Hangout
After a jam-packed morning of sightseeing, you can take a break for lunch. A nice place to go for lunch is Sheroes Hangout, a socio-entrepreneurial project just blocks away from the Taj Mahal. The café was opened by Stop Acid Attacks, a non-profit in India that provides long-term rehabilitation and assistance to acid attack survivors. The cafe aims to foster confidence in women who have survived the devastating attacks.
I had no idea about the prevalence of acid attacks in India before going to Sheroes café; it was an educational experience. The food at the café is delicious, offering both Indian and Western cuisine. Order the Paneer Butter Masala while you’re there! I ate this a lot in India and it was particularly delicious at Sheroes Hangout.
All profits go towards the project, and payment for food is made on a donation basis, so you pay what you want.
Visit Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah
If you’re wondering what to see in Agra apart from the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, head over to the Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah, also known as Baby Taj. The cost to enter is Rs. 250.
Queen Nur Jahan built the structure for her father before the Taj Mahal. It is said that Baby Taj was the inspiration for the Taj Mahal, and walking around this becomes apparent, as the two have striking similarities. I enjoyed getting to walk around Baby Taj; there were only a few other tourists there when we visited in the late afternoon so it felt much more peaceful than the Taj Mahal. Baby Taj has a lot of beautiful photo opportunities that would be a hit with both aspiring and expert photographers alike!
Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah represents a transition in Mughal architecture construction from red sandstone with marble decorations, to white marble decorated with pietra dura inlay. As you walk around inside you can see the intricate details of the mausoleum in greater detail than at the Taj Mahal. This is often missed by most tourists visiting the city but is an absolute must to visit during your travels in Agra.
Sunset at Mehtab Bagh Park
If you have time at the end of the day, head to Mehtab Bagh Park to watch the sunset. The park was reconstructed to protect the Taj Mahal from the erosive effects of the sand blown across the river. Now, the park is one of the best places to view the great mausoleum and offers the opportunity to get some fantastic photos.
What to eat in Agra?
If you’re having an Agra tour for more than a day or are someone who wants to really experience the local cuisine, head to the street food stalls there. Here you can find some great recommendations for what to eat in Agra and where you can find Indian street food like Paneer Tikka, Tandoori Chicken, and crispy Jalebi! Click here for the street food in Agra guide.
Looking to Stay in Agra?
If you’ve decided to spend more time in this magical city and thought of extending your Agra itinerary, I would suggest you look at some of the best resorts in Agra according to your budget and requirements.
- The Coral Court Homestay: For budget travelers and offering possibly the best place to stay in Agra, is this homely hotel that has colorful decor. The Taj Mahal is a short distance from the hotel but unfortunately not clearly visible through its balcony. Breakfast is included but you can also choose to have a vegetarian home cooked dinner at the hotel. Check here to see the latest prices.
- Radisson Blu Agra Taj East Gate: If you prefer staying in a hotel with multiple dining options and more facilities, I suggest choosing Raddison Blu. Apart from the 5 dining options they offer, the hotel has a fitness center and a swimming pool overlooking the Taj Mahal. They also have 24-hour room service for all your needs. I would say, for the services available this could be one of the best budget hotels in Agra. You can have a look at the pictures and prices here.
- The Oberoi Amarvilas Agra: The one that tops the list of luxury hotels in Agra is The Oberoi. Situated among lush greenery and a view of Taj Mahal that no hotel can beat, this is surely the best hotel in Agra for couples and families. Since it is one of the hotels in Agra near Taj Mahal, it makes full use of the landmark to provide a room completely dedicated to unparalleled views which would make for the perfect Instagram picture or just a beautiful moment to cherish. The service and facilities offered are top class and highly recommended. See pictures and prices of different rooms here.
What to pack for Agra?
January – March are winter months in Agra with temperatures going lower than 5-degree Celcius. This is probably the best time to see Agra attractions. If you are visiting during this time, be sure to pack something warm to wear like this Parka Puffer Jacket that has a soft fur rim. Click here to see it.
April – June is when temperatures start heating up and go 45 degrees Celsius. It is very important to travel with sunscreen during this time and light cotton clothes with breathable fabric. This might not be a good time to plan your one day trip to Agra if you cannot take the heat.
The months from July to October is when the monsoon season starts in India. Expect continuous showers at all times. It may not be advisable to see Agra famous places during this season.
Other than being home to the worldwide known Taj Mahal, Agra is a city that one should take time to enjoy. Much thanks to Lora for contributing for this post and giving us the push to book our tickets to Agra! Find out more about her below.
About Lora from Explore with Lora:
Lora is a Canadian travel blogger on a quest to visit every country in the world and discover the best wildlife and nature that each one has to offer. She has traveled to 49 countries and just returned from a one-year trip backpacking around the world. While traveling, her favorite activities to do are hike, dive, and photograph wildlife. Lora is passionate about wildlife conservation and responsible tourism. Her blog, Explore with Lora, aims to show readers that anyone can live their travel dream, no matter how big or small, without harming the planet. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. On her blog, Lora writes about organizations and projects that are leading examples of responsible and sustainable tourism, as well as destination guides, and advice on solo female travel. Find her Instagram page here.
Until then, happy eating! xx
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