The city of Agra is located on the banks of the Yamuna river, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It is the fourth most populous city in the state and twenty-fourth in the whole of India. Agra is a popular tourist destination for its Mughal period architecture, among them, the most well-known ones are Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So, what to do in Agra? — the city is famous for its magnificent Taj Mahal and how to plan a perfect budget trip to Agra for the first-time? Let’s check out our Agra travel blog (Agra blog) with the fullest Agra travel guide (Agra guide, Agra tourist guide, Agra city guide) from how to get there, where to stay, best places to visit, what to eat and things to do in Agra during my Agra itinerary 3 days to find out the answer!
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Agra travel blog: Overview of the City of Agra
Geographically, the city of Agra is located about 204km south of the Indian capital New Delhi. Agra is a metropolis of the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. Here you can explore the ancient culture and history of the city through its fortresses, palaces, mausoleums and royal gardens.
And, for many travelers, the purpose of visiting Agra is simply because it owns an extremely worldwide famous place on the list of wonders of the world, which is the Taj Mahal. However, you will also explore many other attractions that are equally unique.
I will write about the Taj Mahal to guide you in detail in a separate article, and within the scope of this article, I will generalize important destinations to help you have an overview and the most basic to know what to expect, things to do in Agra, what to do in Agra India when coming to this city.
Agra blog: When is the good time to visit Agra?
Agra’s climate does not have 4 seasons, but only 3 main seasons: winter, summer and the other season is the rainy season. Summer in India lasts 3 months from March to June, followed by a rainy season from June to September and the following winter from October to February of the following year.
September to March is the best time to explore Agra. During this time, Agra does not have rain and is not too hot, so visitors can comfortably check in without getting tired of the weather.
Agra travel guide: How to get to Agra?
Usually, you will go to Agra from New Delhi by express train, stay for a few days and then take the train back to New Delhi or continue to other cities.
Because it is about 204km from the capital, you can also choose to go to Agra early in the morning to visit the Taj Mahal and return in the evening. However, this way is very rushed and it is not possible to visit the Taj Mahal at the most beautiful time of the day, which is early morning.
To traveling between attractions, tuktuk is still the most economical and reasonable option even though the roads are quite dusty.
From Agra train station, exit the station gate and then take a tuktuk back to the hotel.
Agra city guide: How to get around Agra?
If you go with a large group, you should take Uber (in big cities like New Delhi or Jaipur, there is Uber service) or Tuktuk. The advantage of these two means over bus/metro is drop on/drop off at the place, no need to walk to the bus stop or station, don’t have to share with anyone. The price is also known in advance, going in a group so when share the cost, it’s not much.
There is no Uber in Agra, so we travel entirely by Tuk-tuk, walking for short distances. Taking Tuk-tuk, you should remember always have to bargain. Tips are:
- Preview the distance in advance from the place of departure to the destination to estimate the appropriate price. I feel that tuktuk in Agra or Varanasi is more expensive than in a big city like New Delhi.
- Remember to bargain hardly because the drivers are very challenging, if you can’t pay the price, just turn around. Tuk-tuk is a lot, do not afraid to find another driver, if you refuse this driver, another driver will rush over.
- If you travel a lot in a day, you can negotiate the combo price for that whole day, attractions to go, time,… Only pay after the end of the day.
Agra travel blog: Where to stay?
Agra is the 4th city in my journey, so when I come here, I give a lot of priority to the most attractive place to visit of this city, the Taj Mahal. Therefore, I chose the hotel closest to its entrance gate for convenience.
It can be said that the hotel in Agra is the worst hotel in almost 10 hotels I stayed in during my India trip. Terrible dirty room, without change bed sheet, no cleaning, no hot water… but always asking for a 5 star for rating after stay. And to avoid this issue, I recommend this tip: Just enter the name of the hotel you want to book into the Tripadvisor app to see reviews from previous guests. Pay attention to the good reviews from Indians, those reviews are not trustworthy because they are fake reviews to deceive you.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Agra (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Holiday Inn Agra MG Road, an IHG hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Crystal Sarovar Premiere (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- ITC Mughal, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Agra (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Trident, Agra (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Courtyard Agra (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- Jaypee Palace Hotel & Convention Centre (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
- The Oberoi Amarvilas (Agoda.com or Booking.com)
Agra travel blog: Where to go and what to do in Agra?
With an Agra itinerary 3 days 2 nights, I will share with you the places that I think are really beautiful and worth going.
1. Taj Mahal
2. Agra Fort
3. Fatehpur Sikri
4. Itimad-ud-daulah’s Tomb
5. Jama Masjid
6. Mehtab Bagh
7. Local market
8. Rooftop coffee
9. Chini Ka Rauza
A few notes:
- If you have been to, or plan to go to Jama Masjid in New Delhi, you should skip Jama Masjid in Agra because it is nothing special.
- Fatehpur Sikri is very far from the center, it takes a whole day to go here and return, so I also skipped it because I didn’t have too much time for Agra.
- I also skipped Agra Fort because I have visited too many forts in Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Jodhpur… so this place is not very attractive to me. Instead I spent quite a lot of time for the Taj Mahal.
Address: Dharmapuri, Forest Colony, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India
Construction started: 1631
Height: 73 m
Details on how to go, how to take beautiful photos and important information when visiting, I will dedicate another article to have more information for you refer to.
If you don’t have much time for the Taj Mahal, you can buy a day tour from your hotel in New Delhi. There will be a shuttle service to pick up and drop you off at the place. If you are familiar with train travel in India, you can also buy a express train ticket to go back and forth in the same day, although it is a bit difficult.
The Taj Mahal is very crowded, or in other words, extremely crowded from the very early morning, most of which, I think 80-90%, are Indian tourists. So queuing to buy tickets is also very difficult. So, you can also purchase tickets in advance through travel apps or through the official Taj Mahal website here: https://www.tajmahal.gov.in/
Each ticket is only allowed to visit in the Taj Mahal for exactly 3 hours, if you return late, you have to pay an extra fee. Day tickets are not allow to access at night. On the ticket, there are very specific requirements, please remember to read carefully.
Important note: Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays for general viewing.
Address: Agra Fort, Rakabganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282003, India
Agra Fort is also known as Lal Qila, Fort Rouge or Red Fort. Agra Fort is the second most important destination after the Taj Mahal. Agra Fort is located in the northwest of Agra city, 2.5 km northwest of Taj Mahah. So, standing here you can see the Taj Mahal in the distance.
Originally Agra Fort was a brick fortress built by a family of Rajputs. However, the fort was later occupied by the Mughal dynasties and later rebuilt by the emperor Akbar. The inside of the fortress also includes mosques, halls, palaces, towers, and beautiful courtyards.
Address: Moti Bagh, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282006, India
This mausoleum is located across the Yamuna River, also known as Baby Taj for short. The main structure of the mausoleum is built of white marble and is famous for its elaborate and sophisticated carvings. Many people consider it to be a small version of the Taj Mahal because of its very similar architecture.
This mausoleum was built in honor of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, a bankrupt merchant who got lucky after his wife gave birth to their daughter Nur Jahan.
Thereafter, Ghiyas Beg became the great treasurer under the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and was conferred the title Itmad-ud-Daulah (The “pillar of the State”) while his daughter was married to the emperor.
His daughter, Nur Jahan, built this mausoleum for her father in the 1620s and his granddaughter, Mumtaz Mahal, was also built the Taj Mahal by her husband, the emperor Shah Jahan.
After visiting the Taj Mahal, you can catch a tuktuk to continue going to Itimad-ud-daulah which is reasonable because they are quite close to each other.
This mosque is a magnificent 17th-century Mughal masterpiece set amidst the bustling traditional markets of Agra. Jama Masjid with its impressive architecture stands prominently on a high platform in the center of a vibrant traditional market.
The Mosque is located in the middle of the lively Kinari market in Agra, near Agra Fort Station and about a 15-minute drive from Agra Cantonment Station.
While here, make sure to walk along the maze-like walkways of Kinari Market to discover shops selling a variety of colorful fabrics, jewelry, sari, spices and more.
Address: near Taj Mahal, Dharmapuri, Forest Colony, Nagla Devjit, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India
Hours: 6AM–9PM/Thursday: 6AM–5PM
Also known as Moonlight Garden, it is located on the north bank of the Yamuna River, opposite the Taj Mahal overlooking a river, and is a great place to see the Taj Mahal from afar.
The park Mehtab Bagh is not very special, apart from seeing the Taj Mahal from afar, especially in the afternoon is a very beautiful time. Admission is INR 100 but Indians will be free.
These are also well-known places to visit of Agra that is loved by many tourists. Here you can choose great souvenirs for relatives and friends. Agra’s famous products are stone sculptures. In which, the statue of the Mughal Emperor is considered the pinnacle of sculpture.
Mughal Heritage Walk in Kachhpura Village
The Mughal Heritage Walk was initiated by Centre for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE India). This is a community-based tourism initiative in India to help local people get more income from tourism, thereby improving people’s lives.
People trained to be guides for tourists participate in a 1km walk, on the riverbank on the opposite side of the Taj Mahal, through the village of Kachhpura and the last stop is Mehtab Bagh. Along the way you’ll get to visit lesser-known ruins of the Mughal Age, admire the views of rural India, interact with locals, and of course admire the stunning beauty of the Taj Mahal.
What to do in Agra India: Local markets
A market in Agra that is mentioned by many people is Sadar Bazaar. This can be considered as the central local market because it is quite large, trading is very busy.
If you don’t have time, you can also visit the Kinari market located right next to the Jama Masjid.
Many people whisper to each other to visit the rooftop coffee Hotel Saniya, because here, you can see the Taj Mahal from afar. Sipping a cup of coffee, sitting on the windy roof watching 1 of the 7 wonders of the world is a very wonderful feeling that you should experience.
Hotel Saniya serves drinks and meat dishes, mainly chicken. But looking at the piece of chicken dyed red with curry is not very attractive.
Address: 34/277 Chowk Kajziyan South gate of Taj Mahal, Tajganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India
Hours: Open 24 hours
Chini Ka Rauza
This is the tomb of Allama Afzal Khan Mullah, a scholar, poet and close-in-chief of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The tomb was built in 1635. Chini ka Rauza is located just 1 km north of the Tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah, on the east bank of the Yamuna River.
Therefore, after visiting Itmad-Ud-Daulah (Baby Taj) you can visit here very conveniently. The tomb is located in a spacious and airy ground, next to the windy, quiet Yamuna River, there were almost no tourists, so many locals come here to walk and read books.
Agra travel tips
- For me, Agra is not very special except the attraction of the Taj Mahal. Therefore, I just spent 3 days in Agra and then took the train down to Varanasi to continue my journey in India.
- You can visit Agra for 1-2 days then return to New Delhi or continue heading to Varanasi is the most convenient route.
- You should choose a hotel near the Taj Mahal so that you can get up early to take beautiful pictures.
- Agra is quite dusty, so always have a mask and outerwear ready.
- You should visit the Taj Mahal in the morning to avoid crowds. The afternoon is spent visiting one of the sites: Agra Fort, Akbar Tomb and the last stop is Mehtab Bagh to watch the sunset.
- You should check and bargain the tuk tuk driver. Tuk tuks and taxis here always say overcharge, always 2-3 times higher.
- Go to places of interest, just go to the ticket booth to buy tickets, don’t listen to fake tour guides.
- Some spots need to book tickets in advance to avoid crowds: Taj Mahal, Agra Fort.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Agra you can refer to
- Taj Mahal Fast Track Entry Ticket
- Itmad-ud-Daulah Ticket in Agra
- Taj Mahal and Agra Private Day Tour by Express Train from Delhi
- Taj Mahal and Agra Fort Day Tour from Delhi
- Taj Mahal and Agra Fort Private Half Day Tour
- Walking Tour Of Agra City
- Sunrise Tour Of Taj Mahal and Agra Fort from Delhi
- Taj Mahal and Agra Fort Day Tour from Jaipur
- Private Sunrise Tour Of Taj Mahal and Agra Fort from Delhi
- Private Tour Of Taj Mahal + Agra Fort From Agra
- Agra Street Food Crawl
Read more: Taj Mahal blog — 10 Taj Mahal photography tips & tips for visiting Taj Mahal and more India guide here.