Many visitors head to Agra, India on a day trip from Delhi only to see the Taj Mahal. While the Taj is definitely the top monument you need to see in Agra, there are more places that are worth a visit as well.
We spent 2 full days in Agra exploring the area. This ended up being the perfect amount of time to see the highlights of this bustling city in Uttar Pradesh.
Included in This Blog Post:
- Top Places to See in Agra
- How to Get to Agra
- Getting Around Agra
- Where to Eat & Stay
- Applying for an eVisa
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Top Places to Visit in Agra
1. The Taj Mahal
It’s no surprise that the stunning Taj Mahal tops the list of things to see in Agra. As one of the Wonders of the World, this all marble Mausoleum is a MUST SEE!
The Taj Mahal was commissioned by the emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 for his late (and favorite) wife Mumtaz Mahal. Her dying wish was that her husband commemorate her death with the most elaborate and extravagant display of his love for her. The result of that is the iconic Taj Mahal, one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Inside the Mausoleum you will find the tomb of Shah Jahan’s beloved wife.
The Taj Mahal was built over a time period of 2 decades out of shimmering white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones in a flower design.
The entrance cost to the Taj Mahal is 1,100 INR per person plus 200 INR to enter the mausoleum (~19 USD total). The price includes booties to cover your feet when entering the mausoleum and a water bottle.
The Taj booking counter opens 30 minutes prior to sunrise and I highly recommend getting there that early to avoid the big crowds!
2. Tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah (Baby Taj)
Actually built prior to the Taj Mahal, the tomb of I’timād-ud-Daulah is often referred to as the “jewelry box.” This is due to the beautiful designs made out of colorful semiprecious stones that completely cover the entire Mausoleum.
The I’timād-ud-Daulah was built between 1622 and 1628 and is the first structure to use the specific pietra dura design that would later be used in the Taj Mahal. This easily recognizable floral design is the part that is made up of the semiprecious stones which are then inlaid into the marble.
Just like the Taj Mahal and many of the other tombs, or mausoleums, in India you will find a main entrance gate that will typically be made from red sandstone. The baby Taj is located along the river Yamuna on the same side as the Mehtab Bagh gardens.
The cost to enter is 260 INR (~3.80 USD) if you pay with credit card and 310 INR (~4.50 USD) if you pay with cash.
3. Agra Fort
This historical fort was the prior residence to the emperors of the Mughal Dynasty until the capital was moved over to Delhi in 1638. This massive red sandstone fortress is located in the heart of Agra and has stunning views of the city, including the Taj Mahal.
Inside the fort you will find many beautiful archways and passages so be sure to give yourself some time here to wander around.
The entrance cost is 650 INR (~9.50 USD) per person for foreign tourists. The fort is open from sunrise to sunset.
4. The Tomb of Akbar the Great
Located about 40 minutes outside of Agra in a town called Sikandra, this is the tomb of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Built between 1604 and 1613, this tomb is a stunning piece of Mughal architecture. Made almost entirely of a deep red sandstone with contrasts of white marble, this structure is one that shouldn’t be missed if you have a few days in Agra.
The grounds surrounding the tomb are quite large and it’s nice to spend some time walking around.
The entrance cost is 310 INR (~4.50 USD) per person for foreign tourists and 30 INR (~.50 USD) for locals or SAARC Country visitors.
5. The Mehtab Bagh Gardens
A large garden complex located just opposite the Taj Mahal, across the Yamuna river. Here you can get some pretty stunning shots of the backside of the Taj without the crowds. Built between 1631 and 1635, this Mughal built garden was a lovely spot to wander around for awhile.
It is said that there was going to be a black Taj Mahal built within the garden complex and the early stages of building can be seen. If you look carefully you can see where the foundation was for the main mausoleum, the entrance gate and the 2 buildings on the side. You can also see where the reflection pool had started to be dug up.
The entrance cost to the gardens is 250 INR (~3.65 USD) for credit card and 300 INR (~4.40 USD) for cash. But be aware that the credit card machines may not actually be working so you’ll have to pay with cash.
6. The Secret Sunset Spot to See the Taj Mahal
If there’s one spot you should visit for sunset it has to be this one! Located just east of the Taj Mahal, on the same side of the river, this secret spot isn’t easy to find. Luckily for you I’ve written a full guide of how to get there! The views from here are stunning and you’ll most likely have complete privacy while you’re up there.
They are now charging tourists to enter this area but it’s only 50 INR per person and well worth the small fee. Be sure to bring your tripod as well to get the best shots with you in them!
How to Get to Agra
As Delhi is the closest international hub for travelers, most visitors will arrive in Delhi before continuing onward to Agra. There are multiple ways to reach Agra from Delhi, ranging in costs.
The easiest, most stress free way is to hire a personal driver. There are many companies which will provide these services and typically you will pay a fee per kilometer.
You can also take a bus or the train. There are different buses, some with a/c and some without. The buses without a/c will be notably cheaper but it is not advisable during the middle of summer. We did the bus option and it cost 632 INR per person (~9 USD) with the journey lasting about 3.5 hours.
The other option is to take the train. Sometimes the trains can get booked up pretty quickly so it’s best to book these in advance. Otherwise you can show up at the train station when you arrive in a city and book your onward journey.
They also have something called Taktal and it is where they reserve a certain number of seats that you can purchase the same day. These tickets will be more expensive but at least you’ll be able to get a seat.
Getting Around Agra
Once you’ve arrived in Agra the easiest and most hassle-free way to get around the city is by taking an UBER or rickshaw. We have found that UBER is the absolute cheapest option and the best part is that you don’t have to waste any time haggling for a cheaper rate.
Many of the rickshaws won’t even offer a price as low as the UBER. That being said, we did hire a rickshaw for the entire day to take us to all of the sights besides the Taj Mahal. It cost 800 INR (~12 USD) for the day and we didn’t have to find an UBER every time we wanted to visit somewhere new as he would wait for us at each of the sights. This would be the ONLY time I would use a rickshaw for a full day.
Where to Eat & Stay
Unfortunately I don’t have a recommended place to stay in Agra as we stayed in a private room in a hostel which ended up being quite dirty. However, I do recommend that you stay somewhere close to the Taj Mahal’s East Gate Entrance. There are many options of places to stay, ranging from hostels to homestays to luxury hotels.
Another great option and one of our favorites is AirBnB. Here you’ll find private rooms, entire homes or apartments and unique places to stay in most cities around the world.
If you find yourself in the area I do recommend eating at Bambino’s. It was conveniently located across from where we were staying and they had just recently opened. The food was delicious, hygienic and inexpensive. We had many meals here and enjoyed the company of the owner and his staff.
There are many rooftop restaurants located along the road leading to the Taj Mahal’s East Gate. Without a doubt these places will have the best views of the Taj. However, their food will most likely be priced higher.
For even more information on visiting India including: how to get around, phones & SIMS, vaccination requirements and more check out the post below.
Applying for an eVisa
An eVisa to India is required for most international travelers. You will need to apply online for the eVisa prior to your arrival in India. Luckily, it is a fairly easy process. I applied through ivisa.com. This is slightly more expensive (by about $30) due to processing fees but is completely stress free and worth it.
I tried to do it through the government site first but it was a bit complicated and they wanted so many details. To apply online, you will need to upload a picture of your passport and a passport sized photo. I just took a photo of myself against a white wall and cropped it to the right size which worked just fine.
Be sure to apply about 7-10 days prior to your arrival in India as the processing time could take a few days!
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