Delhi may be at its most festive ever, but to want to get out of town the minute an extra day or two hooks itself on to the weekend is no odd experience. Even so, it can feel like a bit of legwork to figure out what kind of venue is appropriate for the length of time you have available. We’ve done the legwork for you and compiled a list of ten destinations on the outskirts of Delhi that you can visit without spending hours in transit. We’ve got you covered for a road trip to the desert or a few days in a cozy cabin in the hills…
The top ten long weekend getaways from Delhi
With a journey time that allows for even an (ambitious) overnighter, the mediaeval town of Alwar is likely to be at the top of any Delhiites quickie getaway hit list. While there is shopping at Aapno Bazaar and Neemrana Promenade, and if you’re feeling brave, a zip line at Flying Fox, this is a town best explored on foot and enjoyed mostly as a heritage staycation.
The national park in Nainital is busier in the summer, but the solitude and quiet of the open woodlands are what makes winter so special. The weather is similar to that of the capital, so you can go bird watching, see waterfalls, mountain bike, and fish without becoming too cold. Stop by the charming Nest Cafe and Farmstay for a hot cup of coffee and a burger or three after a day of adventure.
3. Rishikesh, India
Though frequented most in summer, when the rivers are dazzling blue and the hills are alive with the calls of white-throated Kingfishers, Rishikesh is attractive in chillier temperatures as well. It’s a nice staycation with a few visits to great cafes like The Beatles café or Bistro Nirvana when the temperature lowers to around 8 degrees with highs of 28 on sunny days.
Though it’s at its coldest right now, the small town just outside of Mussoorie is the ideal place to visit if you’re looking for a snowy Christmas or New Year’s Eve. Dinner at Emily’s at Rokeby Manor (their Stroganoff and Shepherd’s Pie are both delicious), as well as coffee and a croissant at Landour Bakehouse, are also recommended. This is the town for walking, so I hope you enjoy it.
5. Billing Bir
Originally known as the Bir Tibetan Colony, this Himachal Pradesh community has quickly become a favorite among adrenaline junkies. If you prefer your getaways to be less stop than stop, this is the place for you. Tandem paragliding, mountain biking, hang-gliding, zip-lining, bungee-jumping, and trekking are all on the adventure menu.
This Kullu town is charming in its easy, unassuming air. It’s a hilly hamlet that’s surprisingly quiet the culinary hotspot. It’s full of charming small cafes that provide the ideal setting for writing that novel you’ve always wanted to write–Stone Garden and Woodrose, with a Jim Morrisson one thrown in for good measure if you’re a music fan. The Kheer Ganga walk and the hippie village of Tosh are both excellent activities to do when you’re not eating.
7. Udaipur, Rajasthan
There’s enough to do in the city of lakes to fill a whole travel guide, and winter is the best season to visit…Simply include a few extra parkas in your suitcase in case the wind picks up.
8. Agra, India
Sure, the Taj Mahal has become a romantic cliché, but it is still a marvel from an aesthetic and architectural standpoint. If you haven’t seen it yet, seeing it in person should be on your list, and any time between now and April is a terrific opportunity to do so. Aside from the monumental love monument, the Light and Sound Show at Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri are both worthwhile visits. Bazaar aficionados should set aside some time to shop for jewelry, home decor, spices, and sweets in Kinari Bazaar, Sadar Bazaar, and Raja Ki Mandi.
The capital of Rajasthan is a kaleidoscope of color and colorful history, with enough to do, see, explore, and eat. As you enjoy the cold desert winter, hop between historic monuments (particularly Amer Fort, Hawa Mahal, and the temples at Galta Ji) and colorful markets (such Johari, Chandpol, and Tripolia Bazaar). A martini at the cerulean-hued The Bar Palladio and the cheesecake at The Anokhi must be checked off your food and drink tour.
This Himachal hill resort is a fantastic cross between buzzy (like Manali or Shimla) and tranquil (like Spiti or Kasol), with fewer tourists than Manali or Shimla, and is another great destination for a snowy Christmas or just a frosty winter getaway later in the season The nearby Mcleod has a plethora of great small cafes, bookshops, and Tibetan shopping that merit repeat visits (especially Llhamo’s Croissant), but the quieter Jogiwara has the lovely Illiterati, full of books and well-made cappuccinos, as well as The Other Space, a quaint store with multiple friendly canines, so there’s plenty to do.