How do you spend 1 day in Agra?
Agra is about 140 miles southeast of Delhi and is India’s most popular city, because of the Taj Mahal. With a history that dates back to the pre-Mughal era, Agra has several other monuments that are worth visiting.
Agra has always been close to my heart. My paternal side comes from Agra, and we still have family there, although most have moved to Delhi.
Growing up, I remember playing in the gardens of the Taj with no knowledge or interest in one of the seven wonders of the world.
However, this time, we returned, intending to see two places in 24 hours, with only 1 day in Agra. This would be my fourth trip to the Taj Mahal and my husband’s first trip.
This time, we were excited little kids exploring the monument of love in the City of Love, Agra.
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There are other things to do in Agra, other than just visiting the Taj Mahal and Red Fort. For a wholesome experience, join a walking tour that explores Agra Old Town while sampling local cuisine from stalls at Kinari Bazaar.
Animal lovers would a tour of Wildlife SOS where you can choose to visit either the Elephant Zone or Bear Zone while learning about efforts to protect India’s wildlife, forests, and national heritage.
You can also experience a full-day tour with an experienced tuk-tuk driver who would pick you up from any location in Agra. After lunch, you will explore Itmad Ud Daula or Baby Taj before heading back to your preferred drop-off location.
Get off the beaten path with a Chambal River Safari led by a naturalist guide. Look out for the crocodiles, turtles, birds, and the occasional Gangetic River Dolphins.
For theater lovers, why not experience the play that tells the story behind the Taj Mahal? With the Mohabbat-e-Taj skip-the-line tickets, you can avoid the long queue before the show.
Where is Agra?
Agra is on level plains on the banks of the Yamuna river, about 140 miles southeast of New Delhi. The city is the fourth most populous city in Uttar Pradesh and is famous for the Taj Mahal, the UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 17th century.
The city has a mix of desert climate and tropical climates which means that it has warm winters, dry summer heat, and a monsoon season. Avoid traveling to Agra during April, May, and June as the heat becomes unbearable and can lead to heatstroke.
While the Taj Mahal remains the best-known landmark of the city, several other tourist historical landmarks are worth visiting. Agra Fort, Itmad-Ud-Daulah’s tomb, Akhbar’s Church, Mariam’s Tomb, and Fatehpur Sikri are some other landmarks in and near the city.
No trip to Agra is complete without having some of its cuisines. Agra’s famous sweet dish, petha is a very sweet and addictive, at least for me. Petha is made from ash gourd sliced into bite-sized pieces and soaked in lime which is white calcium hydroxide until the fruit is soft.
Once the fruit has softened, the sweet has a sugar-crisp exterior and a chewy and sticky interior that comes in all shapes and flavors. Agra’s savory dish which I also loved was the dalmoth which is simply spicy fried lentils with nuts and raisins.
The earliest known history of Agra dates back to the Hindu epic, Mahabharata where Agra is referred to as ‘Agraban” where “ban” in Sanskrit meant forest. At that time, Agra was a forest where black bucks could be spotted.
The modern city of Agra which we know today was founded by Akhbar in the 16th century who made the city his capital. Sikandar Lodi rebuilt Agra on the east side of the Yamuna river and the city flourished with royal presence, merchants, and scholars.
The First Battle of Panipat saw Babur conquering Agra and the golden age of the Mughal Empire in Agra began. The Aram Bagh was the first Mughal garden in Agra. It was Shahjahan, Akhbar’s grandson that immortalized Agra in the history books.
With the decline of the Mughal Empire, Agra fell into the Marathas and the British under the East Indian Company. Agra was also one of the centers of the Indian Rebellion of 1897 with about 6,000 Europeans moving into Agra Fort for safety.
The minor victory of the British against the mutineers from the rebellion was named the Battle of Agra. Post-independence, Agra became a part of Uttar Pradesh and gradually developed into an industrial city.
Today, the city is a major tourist destination with both the Taj Mahal and Red Fort being UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Taj Mahal remains a must-visit destination for world leaders and tourists with Agra being part of the Golden Triangle Circuit with Delhi and Jaipur.
Visitors, regardless of country, are required to have a valid international travel document together with a valid visa obtained from an Indian Mission or via e-Visa. Citizens of Nepal and Bhutan do not require a visa to enter India.
E-visa by the Bureau of Immigration is an online application process available for citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Brunei, Denmark, and Malaysia.
Alternatively, you can apply for an Indian Visa via i-Visa which would process your application safely and securely. With 24/7 customer support, your questions and queries will be answered promptly while your application process remains secure.
How do you get to Agra?
As Agra is one of the major cities in the Golden Triangle which makes the city very well connected to other cities and tourist attractions.
A day trip to Agra means that you would be rushing through both the major attractions which is why we recommend spending at least 2 days here to explore other historical landmarks that are truly off the beaten path.
The closest airport to Agra is the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Agra has an airport, the Kheria Airport, which is a military base controlled by the Indian Air Force.
However, since 2021, IndiGo operates regular flights between Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bhopal, and Bengaluru. While flying to Agra is a convenient option, the flights can be seasonal. Flying to Agra is an expensive option that we do not recommend.
This is the most popular and cheaper way to get to Agra. There are 7 railway stations with Agra Cantonment being the main train station. Agra Cantonment is a 20-minute drive to the Taj Mahal.
It would be best to take the All-Inclusive Taj Mahal Tour by Galtimaan Express with pick-up and drop-off in Delhi and sightseeing in a private air-conditioned car. The tour comes with a guide and meals included.
The Galtimaan Express is the fastest non-stop morning train to Agra at a speed of 160 km/h and takes about 1.5 hours to reach Agra. Meals are provided onboard with both Indian and Continental cuisines served. This train is known for its punctuality and minimal delays.
This is the second most convenient way to get to Agra. Agra is connected from Delhi via the NH 19 and the Yamuna Expressway which is a six-lane tolled road that connects Agra via Noida and Mathura.
You can also do a day trip to the Taj Mahal from Jaipur with a full-day tour of the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and Fatehpur Sikri which comes with a professional guide.
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How can I spend 1 day in Agra?
To ensure that we had enough time to visit the two iconic monuments in Agra, we limited our sightseeing to two places. Our first place was the Taj Mahal followed by the Agra Fort. We created this guide to show you how to visit Agra in one day.
Our first stop in our 1 day in Agra was the Taj Mahal. We arrived early to avoid the long queues later in the day. Taj Mahal is open from sunrise to sunset with the official opening hours being 5 am to 6.30 pm on weekdays. The monument is closed on Fridays while the opening hours on weekends are 5 am to 6.30 pm.
My cousin brother bought the tickets for us and after a brief bag and body check, we entered the second line which was a breeze since there was no queue. We gathered in front of Darwaza-i-Rauza or the Great Gate of the Taj.
You can always purchase the skip-the-line entry ticket that comes with a guide who would take you around the monument while showing you the best spots to take photos.
The Great Gate is the gateway to the gardens which symbolically represented Paradise. The building is made from clay bricks is does look defensive at first. However, the Great Gate has an open interior layout which felt more like a passageway.
We slowly walked along the pathway of the gardens. The gardens or char bagh is a complex of 4 garden quarters divided into 16 flowerbeds. At the center of these gardens, lies the “al Hawd-al Kawthar” or the Tank of Abundance.
In our 1 day in Agra, we enjoyed the Persian-inspired gardens that were introduced by Babur, India’s first Mughal emperor. The cool weather made the walk in the gardens refreshing.
From where we stood, the Taj was very symmetrical. Although the minarets appear straight, they are in fact, tilting slightly from the base. This was done to safeguard the Taj in that during an earthquake, the minarets would fall away from the main structure.
As you can see, we couldn’t get enough of the views of the Taj Mahal. After spending some time chatting on the benches, we made our way to the Taj Mahal.
Once we were at the base of the Taj, we were given a shoe cover that must be worn so long as you are on the Taj. The shoe covers are part of the ticket price and are given to protect the marble from deteriorating further.
The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum made entirely from white marble with in-laid semi-precious stones. The white marble reflects the hues of the sunlight and moonlight. The Taj is based on an Indo-Islamic design with its highlight being the tombs.
The two tombs of the Taj on the upper floor stand on a square marble plinth. These tombs are fake as the graves of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal lie on the lower level of the Taj.
After exploring the interior of the Taj, we made our way to the western end of the Taj which housed the Mehmaan Khana, or the guesthouse. The mosque faces the eastern end of the Taj. These two buildings provide the symmetrical balance that completes the structure.
Since we were running out of time, we did not explore the mosque. After spending almost 3 hours here, we made our way to the exit.
If you are planning a trip to the Taj, these are the 7 tips you must know before visiting this majestic monument.
- The Taj Mahal is closed on Fridays for Friday prayers.
- The best time to visit the Taj Mahal is during the summer months from March to June. We visited in April for this trip.
- Wear comfortable shoes as you will be doing a lot of walking. Shoe covers are provided as part of the ticket price.
- There are many scams and touts in and around the Taj Mahal. Always be cautious and aware of your surroundings and personal belongings. Don’t fall for anything that seems too good to be true, chances are, it is a scam.
- Dress appropriately as the Taj Mahal is a religious site. Wear clothes that cover your shoulders and knees and avoid shorts, skirts, and revealing tops.
- Always bring your water bottle and stay hydrated as the weather in Agra in summer is hot and humid.
- Respect the monument as the Taj Mahal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site by following the rules and regulations, not littering, and not touching the marble to avoid further degradation.
As it was close to noon, we made our way to the next on our 1 day in Agra which was the Agra Fort. This fort is about 1.5 miles from the Taj Mahal. This historical fort was the main residence of many Mughal emperors until 1638 when the capital was moved to Delhi.
This red sandstone fort has 4 gates and the most beautiful being the Delhi Gate which is not open to the public as it is used by the Indian military. We made our way to the main tourist gate, the Lahore Gate or the Amar Singh Gate which lead us to the ticket counter.
After that, we walked up a steep ramp to the Jahangir Palace courtyard. There we saw the Jahangir Hauz which is a large tank that was used for bathing. This huge tank was first discovered in Akhbar’s Palace before being moved to its current location.
We walked east toward the residence of Shah Jahan, the Shah Jahani Mahal. Shah Jahan’s residence is located between the white marble of Khas Mahal and the red sandstone of Jahangiri Mahal.
It is from the Shah Jahani Mahal that you can get a view of the Taj. With large halls, an octagonal tower, and side rooms, you can imagine Shah Jahan spending his last days imprisoned by his son and looking out towards the tomb of his lady love.
We walked towards Anguri Bagh and from these gardens, we came to our last stop in Agra Fort.
The Sheesh Mahal or Mirror Palace has distinctive features that set it apart from other buildings within the fort. The walls of this palace have wall-to-ceiling ornate mirror work.
The glass inside this palace was imported from Syria. Now, Sheesh Mahal is in fact, the imperial bath. The walls here are thick and when lit with a single candle, give the impression that you are under the stars.
After admiring the beauty of Sheesh Mahal, we moved to the Hall of Public Audience or Diwan-i-Am which once contained the Peacock Throne. The Peacock Throne is now in the Delhi Fort.
After almost 3 hours, we were tired, hungry, and happy. We exited through the Amar Singh Gate and bought some food and drinks from a vendor near the entrance.
Which hotel has views of the Taj Mahal?
Although you can visit the two prominent landmarks of Agra in one day, we recommend that you spend more than 1 day in Agra so that you can fully experience each UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Oberoi Amarvillas
Our first choice if you decide to spend more than 1 day in Agra is the Oberoi Amarvillas. This 102-room hotel is about a mile from the Taj Mahal. This modern hotel was designed with inspiration from Mughal palaces, reflection pools, and terraced lawns.
What we loved about it was the fact that each room had uninterrupted views of the Taj. The warm and pleasant personality of the staff was an added plus point. All rooms come with free WiFi, a safety deposit box, an iPod docking station, and a seating area.
Guests here loved that the staff was friendly, the excellent location of the hotel, and the superb rooms. The other raving reviews include the comfortable beds, the buggy ride to the Taj, and the delicious welcome drink.
DoubleTree by Hilton
Our second choice, if you have more than 1 day in Agra, is the DoubleTree by Hilton. This 104-room hotel is a 10-minute drive from the Taj. While all rooms come with a hair dryer, in-room safety deposit box, and ironing facilities, there is no free WiFi in the rooms.
However, guests loved the clean rooms, the amazing breakfast, and the polite, friendly, and accommodating staff. Reviewers also loved the spacious rooms, the large gardens, and the overall ambiance of the hotel.
Crystal Sarovar Premiere
Our third choice, if you have more than 1 day in Agra, is the Crystal Sarovar Premiere. This 112-room hotel modern hotel that comes with a rooftop pool and restaurant where you can dine with a view of the Taj.
All rooms come with free WiFi, ironing facilities, and a seating area. Guests loved the smooth check-in, the spacious and clean rooms, and the courteous staff.
Reviewers also enjoyed the ambiance and interiors of the hotel and the fact that the property was close to the Taj and Agra Fort.
Hotel Atulyaa Taj
Our fourth choice, if you have more than 1 day in Agra, is the Atulyaa Taj Hotel. This 36-room hotel is about 600 meters from the Taj and where the WiFi is always free. There are two room types, the Deluxe, and the Super Deluxe rooms.
All rooms come with daily housekeeping, a full kitchen, a balcony, and the usual amenities expected from a boutique hotel. There are two restaurants with the rooftop restaurant having a view of the Taj.
Some positive reviews include the hotel being reasonably priced and within walking distance of the Taj and the breakfast being tasty. Guests also loved that the rooms were spacious and the staff was helpful.
Hotel Clarks Shiraz
Our last choice, if you have more than 1 day in Agra, is the Clarks Shiraz Hotel. This 237-room hotel is a mile from the Taj Mahal and has well-appointed rooms to suit the business and leisure traveler.
Guests loved the location, staff, and overall cleanliness of the hotel. The buffet spread was delicious and reviewers also loved the view of the Taj from the rooftop restaurant. The plus points were the fact that the rooms were always cleaned and the staff helpful.
Frequently Asked Questions on Agra
The fake tombs of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal are inside the Taj on the upper level in an eight-sided ornamental pietra dura enclosed in a marble lattice screen. Their actual tombs lie at the garden level of the monument.
Yes, you can go inside the Taj Mahal. The ticket price for foreigners is ₹1,100 ($14) and an optional ₹200 ($2.50) to visit the main mausoleum where the actual tombs are.
Yes, you can wear a dress to the Taj Mahal as there is no strict dress code. The Taj Mahal is a religious monument and out of respect for the cultural and religious significance of the site, you can wear a decent dress that covers the knees and shoulders.
You would need at least 2-3 hours to visit the Taj Mahal. It took us about 3 hours to visit the site and even then, we didn’t visit the Taj Museum or the mosque within the Taj. Always arrive early to avoid the long queues and the large crowd.
The Taj Mahal is turning yellow due to the severe air pollution in Agra, the discoloration of the marble due to oxidation, and neglect from wear and tear from the millions of tourists that visit the site every year.
Yes, the Taj Mahal is worth visiting. Although you may have seen many photos of it, the experience of seeing it with your own eyes makes it surreal. I have been to the Taj Mahal many times and every time, I get goosebumps once I pass the entrance.
Yes, Agra Fort and Red Fort are the same. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known as Lal Qila and Fort Rouge. The name is derived from the fact that the fortress was built using red sandstone. The fort was originally known as Badalgarh after Raja Badal Singh, the Rajput ruler who built the fort.
Red Fort was originally built by Raja Badal Singh, the Rajput ruler who ruled the lands near Agra. However, the fort was in ruins by the time Akhbar found it. Akhbar rebuilt it using red sandstone. Shah Jahan maintained the fort in its current state while building the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal is about 2.5 kilometers or 1.2 miles from Agra Fort. You can take an auto-rickshaw to get to the Amar Singh Gate entrance of the Agra Fort.
The story of Agra Fort is that it was originally occupied by the Chauhan Rajputs and from the 16th century onwards, the fort was the main residence of the Mughal Emperors.
Although it was initially built as a military structure, the fort was expanded with gardens, pavilions, and renovations throughout the centuries.
Shah Jahan was imprisoned in Agra Fort for the last eight years of his life by his son, Aurangzeb in the 17th century. Other notable figures imprisoned in Agra Fort include British Officer Colonel William Hodson, who captured the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur, Shah Zafar.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja and his son Sambhaji were also held prisoners in Agra Fort. However, they managed to escape.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja and his son Sambhaji as well as Princess Jahanara Begum, Aurangzeb’s sister managed to escape. She disguised herself as a Sufi mystic and walked out of the fort and lived the rest of her life in Delhi.
Yes, the Taj Mahal can be seen from Agra Fort. You can view the Taj from Jahangir Mahal, Musamma Burj, and Shah Burj where Shah Jahan was imprisoned. These viewpoints give some of the best views of the Taj.
While Red Fort Agra and Red Fort Delhi seem similar, they are different. The Red Fort Agra was built by Emperor Akhbar and is famous for its Mughal architecture, gardens, and palaces within the building. It was originally built as a military structure.
Red Fort Delhi was built by Emperor Shah Jahan and is famous for its unique architecture that blends Persian, Timurid, and Indian styles. The Red Fort Delhi is significant in that the Prime Minister hoists the national flag on Independence Day here, every year.
Yes, Red Fort Agra is worth visiting because of its magnificent Mughal architecture and beautiful gardens. Other than its historical and cultural significance, Red Fort Agra has some of the best views of the Taj Mahal in Agra.
Petha is the most famous sweet in Agra. This translucent candy is made from ash gourd or winter melon soaked in sugar syrup and flavored with rose water, saffron, and cardamom. You can find petha from Panchi Petha and Gopal Das stores.
The other sweet that Agra is famous for is gajak which is a dry delicacy made from sesame seeds, jaggery, oil, and sugar.
This sweet is perfect for the winter months and comes in two sizes which are rewadis which are small bite-sized pieces and chikis which are without sesame seeds. You can get these at Bedariya Ram Gajak Wale.
Hindi is the main language spoken in Agra. However, English is spoken by locals and businesses as Agra is a major destination for tourists. Due to the city’s varied population, Urdu, Punjabi, and Bengali are also spoken in Agra.
The best time to visit Agra is during the winter months from October to March when the weather is cool and pleasant. The temperature is between 8°C and 25°C which makes it ideal for sightseeing and exploring the city.
Winter months may see thick fog enveloping the city and you may not get the best photos of the Taj.
The other best time to visit Agra is during the summer months from April to June when the weather is hot and dry. Temperatures range from 23°C and 40°C which means there are fewer tourists during these months.
During these months, you can spend more than 1 day in Agra and explore its cuisine and other off-beat landmarks such as the Baby Taj and Fatehpur Sikri.
Yes, Agra is worth visiting because it is home to the Taj Mahal, the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is a symbol of love and romance. Agra also has some off-beaten destinations such as the Itimad-ud-Daulah, nicknamed the Baby Taj, and Fatehpur Sikri.
Agra is also known for its delicious cuisine that blends Northern Indian and Mughal spices to create rich dishes that leave you wanting more. If you have more than 1 day in Agra, you can visit the bustling local handicrafts and textile markets. Leave Agra with some souvenirs and memories to last a lifetime.