Varanasi is a city in Uttar Pradesh located in the central Ganga valley in the southeastern part of the state. Varanasi is one of the most oldest cities in the world and is also known as the spiritual capital of India. Home to over 2,000 temples, this place has a lot to offer. So whether it’s for spiritual enlightenment or historical knowledge, this culturally rich city is the right place to visit.

Varanasi, spiritual captial of India | best things to do in varanasi

Ganga aarti (the ritual is performed by young priests) | best things to do in varanasi

So, where to go in Varanasi, where to visit in Varanasi? Let’s check out our top rated 13+ famous places to visit in Varanasi, must see places in Varanasi, must visit places in Varanasi including best places to see in Varanasi, best places to visit in Varanasi, top places to visit in Varanasi and best places to visit near Varanasi as follows!

Varanasi is a holy city of Hindus, located on the banks of the Ganges River in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. | best things to do in varanasi
Very strange and mysterious characters appear a lot in this ancient city of Varanasi. | best things to do in varanasi
Rickshaws on Varanasi street
Old Varanasi with its old neighborhoods and alleys intertwine and lead to the Ganges River. This is where the sacred rituals, customs and culture of the Indian people are kept intact. | best things to do in varanasi
The lifestyle here is extremely unique, with stalls, restaurants, and markets creeping in every small alley. @thang le | best things to do in varanasi

Discover the most mysterious and sacred holy city of Varanasi in India with countless unique experiences when traveling to this interesting country. What exciting things await you ahead? Let us reveal the most worth-visiting places, best things to do in Varanasi through the following article.

Brief introduction about the holy city of Varanasi (#best things to do in varanasi)

Varanasi location on the northern India map | best things to do in varanasi

Varanasi is a sacred and ancient city of Hindus. Since ancient times, this city has been known by different names such as Benares, Banaras, Kashi or Gasi meaning the place where the divine light shines. It is believed that Varanasi was founded by Lord Shiva himself – the god of destruction and rebirth 6,000 years ago. Varanasi is the cultural and religious center of India from ancient times to the present. This is one of the oldest cities in the world and is known as the spiritual capital of India.

The holy land of Varanasi is one of the tourist destinations that many people know and love when they come here to visit. | best things to do in varanasi

| best things to do in varanasi

The best way to explain Varanasi in one word would be ‘sacred’. The city is one of the most colorful and ceremonial destinations on the earth. It is one of the oldest inhabited cities still in use. Hindus believe that the city was built and inhabited by the gods themselves and the river that flows through Varanasi is called the Ganges. This is the holiest river for Hindus. Therefore, many Ghats in Varanasi were established on both sides of the river for specific purposes. Incense burning rituals, divine rituals and the fragrance of incense are symbols of Varanasi.

Daily life here is quite peaceful and quiet. | best things to do in varanasi
Coming to Varanasi, visitors will be attracted by the hundreds and thousands of years old temples standing on the riverbank. | best things to do in varanasi
Every year, this place welcomes a large number of people to visit, explore and participate in many famous festivals
A ghat (riverfront steps leading to the banks of the Ganges river) | best things to do in varanasi
This is an ideal destination for those who love to learn about Indian culture | best things to do in varanasi

Along with Haridwar, Varanasi is one of the holiest cities for Hindus. A place where every Hindu wants to bathe in the sacred Ganges river at least once. And when he dies, his wish in life is to be cremated and scatter his ashes into the Ganges River from here. If you are not a Hindu, Varanasi is also worth a visit because this is the oldest city that has been inhabited by humans for more than 6,000 years. And Varanasi is also a sacred land for Buddhists, one of the Four Holy Lands of Buddhism with the Sarnath Deer Park where Buddha Shakyamuni preached his first sermon after attaining enlightenment.

Varanasi is called “the city of temples”, “the holy city of India”, “the city of light” or “the city of learning”. | best things to do in varanasi
This city is also called the “cultural capital” of India. | best things to do in varanasi
A homemade tent not known to a monk or a follower of a particular sect. | best things to do in varanasi
Varanasi street food
For Indian Hindus the god is sacred animal, so cows are everywhere in Varanasi. | best things to do in varanasi
People here often go down to the riverbank to bathe and clean themselves. This is also one of the unique cultural features of India. | best things to do in varanasi
People often take water from the river to serve daily activities. | best things to do in varanasi

Explore the ancient temple of Kashi Vishwanath (#best things to do in varanasi)

  • Address: Lahori Tola, Varanasi, Domari, Uttar Pradesh 221001, India
  • Hours: 3 AM–11 PM
The sacred ancient Kashi Vishwanath temple is a familiar sightseeing spot for locals and tourists alike | best things to do in varanasi

Kashi Vishwanath, located on the western bank of the Ganges River and about 5.3km from Varanasi, is one of the most ancient and sacred temples in India. The temple was built in 1780 by the Holkar Queen of the Maratha Malwa kingdom, India and shines brightly with its domes and minaret of pure gold. Entering the main gate, you will feel the sacred and solemn atmosphere of this place. Inside the temple there are many small shrines dedicated to different Hindu gods. The highlight of the temple is the stone statue of Lord Shiva placed on a silver pedestal, soaring and extremely impressive. This is where millions of people come to pray and worship Lord Shiva.

| best places to visit near varanasi
| best places to visit near varanasi

Kashi Vishwanath temple is one of the holiest and oldest temples in the country. This splendid temple attracts devotees of the Hindu god, Lord Shiva. The temple has a dome and spire elegantly made of pure gold. As visitors slowly enter the main hall of the temple, they will be greeted by small shrines of Hindu gods. In the center of the hall, a magnificent stone sculpture of Lord Shiva stands tall on a silver pedestal, making it the main central point of attraction.

| best places to visit near varanasi
| best places to visit near varanasi

Assi Ghat (#where to visit in near varanasi)

  • Address: Nagwa Rd, Assi ghat, Shivala, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221005, India
  • Hours: Open 24 hours

This is another famous spiritual tourist attraction in the list of best places to visit in Varanasi. Assi Ghat, one of Varanasi’s most famous ghats, is located in the southern region of the holy city. This is one of the most visited tourist places near Varanasi.

| best places to visit near varanasi

Ghat is the steps that leading down to a body of water or wharf, the ghat is a place that offers you a peaceful experience if you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Relaxing under the peepal trees (bodhi trees) or taking a relaxing boat ride to see the panoramic sunset is a must-do when visiting Assi Ghat. Many Hindu texts, including Kurma Purana and Matsya Purana, refer to this ghat. It is a great destination for recreational activities and to immerse yourself in the spiritual atmosphere that Varanasi has to offer.

| best places to visit near varanasi
| best places to visit near varanasi

Tourists will witness a wonderful cultural spectacle because this is one of the places in India with the greatest religious influence. Locals as well as visitors participate in the sacred Ganga aarti every evening. Assi Ghat is an ideal place to view the confluence of two rivers – Ganga and Assi.

| best places to visit near varanasi

Alamgir Mosque (#where to go in varanasi)

When it comes to mosques, Varanasi has a lot of temples, but it also has a lot of other interesting places and temples for everyone. One such sophisticated temple is the Alamgir Mosque. Located 5.6 km from Varanasi, it is located near Panchganga Ghat and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in India.

Alamgir Mosque possesses unique and impressive architecture, creating a masterpiece in the heart of Varanasi | best places to visit near varanasi

Varanasi is not only famous for its Hindu temples but also many unique and beautiful Muslim architectural works. One of them is Alamgir Mosque located near Panchganga Ghat about 5.6km from the city center. This is a historical mosque built in the 17th century by Emperor Aurangzeb. The church has an architectural style that blends India and Islam with three high domes and two elongated towers. However, the two towers were damaged and collapsed in the past, leaving only the base remaining. Coming here in the afternoon, you will witness a romantic and impressive sunset scene.

This 17th century mosque is also known as Aurangzeb Mosque and Beni Madha Ka Darera because Emperor Aurangzeb founded it. The beautiful mosque has three domes and two minarets, giving it a majestic appearance. Come here to watch the sunset and hear the sound of water flowing from the garden’s fountain.

Dashashwamedh Ghat

  • Address: Dashashwamedh Ghat Rd, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001, India
  • Hours: Open 24 hours
| best places to visit near varanasi

If you are taking a trip to Varanasi to experience divine bliss, then a visit to Dashashwamedh Ghat must be on your itinerary. Here, you can witness spectacular Ganga Aarti ritual is performed along the ghat. Experience the magic at sunset when the entire ghat is illuminated with earthen lamps to usher in the sacred rituals. Here, tourists can participate in spiritual rituals when priests and crowds gather to pay homage to deities.

| best places to visit near varanasi
| best places to visit near varanasi

Chunar Fort (#best places to visit in varanasi)

  • Address: 4VFG+87X, Tammanpatti, Uttar Pradesh 231304, India
  • Hours: 8 AM–5 PM

This is a popular point of interest for history buffs. Located about 32 km from Varanasi, Chunar Fort has played a vital role in shaping the nation’s history. Located on the banks of river Ganga, the fort is also known as the Magic Fort or Tilismi Quila as it is mentioned in the popular novel ‘Chandrakanta’ by Devaki Nandan Khatri. It also appeared in the movie “Gangs of Wasseypur”, making it a must-see landmark for many visitors.

| where to visit in varanasi

Chunar Fort is an ideal place for those who love exploring history. Located 32km from Varanasi, this fort is a symbol of Indian history as it has witnessed many wars and changes in power. This fort is located on a small hill beside the Ganga river creating a majestic and beautiful scene. In addition, this fort is also better known to people in the movie Gangs of Wasseypur by Anurag Kashyap.

Chunar Fort is associated with heroic historical stories of India | where to visit in varanasi

Man Singh Observatory

  • Address: Dashashwamedh Ghat Rd, Godowlia, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221001, India
  • Hours: 9 AM–5 PM

In the 15th century, Sawai Man Singh of Amber built a magnificent palace called Man Singh Palace. In the 19th century, a Hindu observatory was built by Sawai Jai Singh. He was very proficient in mathematics and astronomy. He developed many tools to calculate the positions of celestial objects.

| where to visit in varanasi

On the palace roof, Sawai Jai Singh II built a Hindu observatory in the 19th century. He was a talented mathematician and scientist who developed many tools to measure the positions and movements of the celestial objects. This observatory is one of five stone observatories known as Jantar Mantar, meaning astronomical calculator. When you come here, you will admire the giant equipment used to study the sun, moon, stars and planets. You can also participate in educational and fun activities such as watching movies about astronomy and trying science quizzes.

Visit this extraordinary wonder to observe the site of the planets, celestial bodies, sun and stars. Here, you can walk around and observe the different devices used to observe and record the movements and speeds of different celestial objects.

Durga Temple

  • Address: Durga Mandir Rd, Chandoli, Nathupur, Uttar Pradesh 221008, India
  • Hours: 5:30 AM–7:30 PM
| where to visit in varanasi

This is one of the very famous sacred temples in Varanasi, known for the striking red color of its religious symbols. Coming to this temple, you will be able to join the group of pilgrims and watch them make offerings at the temple, experience vibrant Hindu festivals and ancient rituals. This temple worships Goddess Durga, the embodiment of female personality. However, local people often call this place the Monkey Temple because there are always monkeys running around in and around the temple grounds.

| where to visit in varanasi

Behind the Durga temple is the Durga Kund water tank, where you can admire the unique beauty with a new perspective towards the red painted facade. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple complex, but you can stand outside and watch devotees ring the bell, pray and make offerings to the god statues. You can also observe mischievous monkeys running around and be careful with your belongings because they can steal things when you are not careful.

Bharath Mata Mandir

Bharath Mata Mandir Temple is located in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapith campus campus in Varanasi. This is the only temple dedicated to Mother India, built in 1936 by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupta. At the temple there is a statue of Bharat Mata built of marble symbolizing undivided India.

| where to visit in varanasi

The temple currently has 8 floors, each floor has a different theme showing respect to the gods, warriors and leaders who played an important role in the formation and development of the country. What’s special about the temple is the relief map of India carved in marble depicting mountains, plains and oceans in extremely accurate proportions. The temple is open to welcome all domestic and foreign tourists regardless of religion or belief to admire a unique and unique work in the world.

Manikarnika Ghat

| where to visit in varanasi

This is a place that you should not miss when you want to explore unique customs in India. Manikarnika Ghat is one of the oldest and holiest ghats in Varanasi city. Most of the cremation rituals in Varanasi are conducted at this ghat.

| where to visit in varanasi

Visitors can watch cremation ceremonies with guides or take a boat to watch from afar. However, they will not be allowed to use cameras and must show respect for the ceremony.

Ramnagar Fort

This is one of the royal-style masterpieces built in the 17th century located in the southeast of Varanasi. Coming here, you will admire the majestic beauty of the fortress, explore antique collections and watch the breathtaking sunset over the Ganges River. This fortress is a harmonious combination of Indian and Islamic architectural styles, creating a monumental building chosen by many royal families as their residence.

| where to visit in varanasi

Once inside, you will see a large courtyard surrounded by walls and extremely unique domes, balconies, canopies and towers. Moreover, there is also a museum here with a huge collection of many historical artifacts such as weapons, antique cars, musical instruments, jewelry, etc. In particular, you can come to this fortress on October to experience the festival of Dussehra, which represents good overcoming evil.

| where to visit in varanasi

Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum

  • Address: Semi Circle Road No. 3 Opp Institute of Mgmt Studies, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221005, India
  • Hours: 10 AM–4:30 PM/Sunday: Closed

This is an art and archeology museum located on the campus of Banaras Hindu University. Bharat Kala Bhavan is the oldest museum in India and attracts many visitors every year. This place preserves many artistic sculptures, statues and historical artifacts through the ages.

| where to visit in varanasi

Bharat Kala Bhavan museum currently owns more than 100,000 artifacts in many different fields. When you come to this museum, you will admire jewelry from primitive times or extremely attractive ceramics and textiles of indigenous tribes. Don’t forget to visit the painting gallery with miniature paintings of the Mughal period, religious sculptures,…

| where to visit in varanasi
| best places to visit in varanasi
| best places to visit in varanasi

Vindham Falls

  • Address: 2JJ6+529, Windom Fall Rd, Gortutwa, Barkachhakalan, Uttar Pradesh 231001, India
  • Hours: 6 AM–6 PM
| best places to visit in varanasi

Vindham Waterfall is a tourist destination with wild beauty that attracts many tourists to visit and picnic with family and friends when coming to the ancient city of Varanasi. From this waterfall you can admire the majestic natural landscape, the vast surrounding forest, and wild animals roaming everywhere. In addition, you can also visit the Tanda fountain, caves, and temples in the surrounding area. In particular, you should come to this waterfall in the fall when the trees change leaves and the cool weather is suitable for exciting outdoor picnics.

Shopping at Godowlia market

| best places to visit in varanasi

Godowlia Market is a shopping paradise for those who want to explore the culture and traditions of Varanasi. This market is located near Kashi Vishwanath temple – one of the holiest Hindu temples in India. The market is about 3km long through bustling and crowded small streets. You can see shops selling all kinds of goods from household appliances and food to beautiful fabrics and silks. You can buy Zari products which is a silk fabric embroidered with gold or silver thread, wooden carvings, Bhadohi rugs and many other products at reasonable prices.

| best places to visit in varanasi

Take a trip to the beloved Godowlia market, a popular stop for shopaholics. Located in the Kashi Vishwanath temple area. Stroll down the narrow street lined with stalls and vendors’ shops selling all kinds of goods.

| best places to visit in varanasi

Right from home appliances, groceries and silk embroidery, you can find almost everything here. You can buy Zari products, wooden carvings, Bhadohi carpets and even high-quality products at affordable prices at Godowlia market. Visitors can also find exquisite handicrafts, home decorations, shoes, jewelry, scarves, beads and bracelets to bring back as souvenirs for family and friends at this Varanasi tourist place.

Dhamek Stupa

  • Address: Dhamekh Stupa, Dharmapala Rd, Singhpur, Sarnath, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221007, India
  • Hours: 6 AM–5 PM
| best places to visit in varanasi

Varanasi is a multi-religious city. One of the symbols of Buddhism here is the Dhamek stupa located in Sarnath village about 12km from the city center. This stupa is a massive and outstanding architectural work with a cylindrical shape of 28m in diameter and 43.6m in height. This work was built in 249 BC by Emperor Ashoka – the man who spread Buddhism throughout India. This stupa is considered the place where Buddha gave his first sermon to his five disciples after attaining enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. The architecture here stands out with beautiful carvings on red brick and stone in the style of the Gupta Dynasty.

Dhamek Stupa is one of the impressive architectural works in Varanasi | best places to visit in varanasi

The stupa is cylindrical in shape made of red brick and stone. Domestic and international travel enthusiasts flock to see Buddhist culture at this important Buddhist center. The exquisite floral decorations reveal the high standard of stone vessel craftsmanship of the Gupta Dynasty.

Admire the sacred Ganges River

| best places to visit in varanasi

The Ganges River, also known as Ganga, is a sacred river for Hindus and Jains. This place is considered a place that brings blessings to those living and pilgrims on both banks of the river. The Ganges River also has the ability to purify all impurities and sins of people, making them liberated. This is shown in the Puranas – ancient Hindu scriptures. Therefore, the Ganges River has long become a famous sacred site and is often the venue for important events of the people here.

The sacred Ganges River is the venue for many unique cultural events and festivals in India | best places to visit in varanasi

And this is also what I encourage you to do. Because the panoramic view of the river ghats here with the view below the boat is full of vividness and gives a panoramic view. As well as detailed and certain views, if we just walk on the shore we will not fully feel them.

The sacred Ganges River is the venue for many unique cultural events and festivals in India

The Ganges River is a place of spiritual and sacred activity for Hindus. From dawn, many people come here to pray and immerse themselves in the sacred river. There are also many open-air crematoriums here. Every day, the cremation ground near Dasaswamedh Ghat alone has more than 300 bodies cremated from early morning until late at night. Each cremation usually lasts 4 hours. These bodies are not only those of people in the area, but they are rich families, gathered from many different regions to this place to be cremated with the hope of soon being saved in the sacred river.

Ganga aarti

Varanasi is also famous for the Holy River Ganga Ceremony that takes place at sunrise and sunset every day on the Ghats. In Varanasia, there are dozens of Ghats – places that kings and wealthy people of many centuries ago built for themselves as a way to access and easily pray every day on the sacred river. There are many Holy River Ganga Ceremonies that take place every day in the Ghats, but the most famous and sacred and crowded with Hindu devotees is Dasaswamedh Ghat. I also spent my two evenings in Varanasi to watch the ceremony at Dasaswamedh Ghat, partly perhaps because here I could most easily learn and observe the atmosphere of the ceremony, the spirit of the Hindus, and perhaps there was also a in no small part because the 7 priests are so handsome, more outstanding than the priests in the remaining Ghats with shaggy beards and big bellies typical of Indians.

The Banaras Silk Emporium

  • Address: 8XQH+248, Cantonment Rd, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 221010, India
  • Hours: 10 AM–8:30 PM

Varanasi is known throughout the country for creating Banarasi saris and premium silks. Visit Banaras Silk Emporium and bring home unusual silk sarees and fabrics elegantly woven to perfection. Located about 4.4 km from Varanasi, at this Varanasi tourist destination, you can shop for beautiful silk sarees for yourself or your family.

Banaras Silk Emporium caters to many customers across the globe every year. Skilled artisans use traditional techniques to sew the finest, high-quality silk and fabric items for customers. If you are a fan of sarees and silk fabrics, then you must visit Banarasi Silk Shop.

Some notes before you go

To have a safe and enjoyable trip to Varanasi, you need to keep in mind a few things:

  • If you want to participate in religious rituals, you should wear modest clothing that does not expose your shoulders, legs or chest. You should also bring a scarf to cover your head when entering sacred places.
  • Please respect the rules and customs of the indigenous people, do not take photos or videos without permission.
  • To discover delicious local cuisine, you should choose clean and reputable restaurants and eateries. In particular, you should avoid enjoying street food, drinking tap water or ice because it can affect your health.
  • Don’t forget to bring digestive medicine, antibiotics and mouthwash to prevent disease.
  • When shopping, don’t be afraid to negotiate prices with sellers because they often offer higher prices than the actual price. You should buy typical products of Varanasi such as silk, handicrafts, jewelry, decorations…
  • If you want to explore, you should sign up for tours organized by reputable companies. You will be led by a professional tour guide and explain the places, history, and culture of Varanasi. Don’t forget to plan your trip in advance so you don’t miss out on great places to visit.

Intimate rituals of life and death take place in public, and the sights, sounds and smells of the maze-like old town can be intense. However, the City of Lights is one of the most colorful and fascinating places on earth. Strolling the ghats or watching the sunrise from a boat on the Ganges is a highlight, and facing the reality and ritual of death can be a powerful experience in Varanasi.

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Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Varanasi you can refer to

Read more Varanasi guide here and India guide here.