Places To See in Agra
When thinking of places to see in Agra everyone usually just thinks of the Taj Mahal. And you know what? If you went to Agra, saw the Taj Mahal and turned around and went straight back to where you came from it would still be a worthwhile trip. The Taj Mahal is spectacular.
It’s likely over the years you’ll have seen so many pictures of the Taj Mahal that you almost dismiss it now and don’t really register how beautiful it is. I certainly did and definitely didn’t expect the reality of it to be so so much more impressive than any photo ever shows. In truth I expected it to be a bit of a let down (like the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy). But it was the complete opposite. The Taj Mahal is one of the most majestic and impressive things I’ve ever seen in my life. GO!!!!
So let’s start with that:
We got to the Taj Mahal without any real plan as to how we were going to see it. We weren’t in a tour group and hadn’t organised anything in advance, in fact we almost didn’t make it due to not actually having the train tickets we thought we had.
All we had booked was a hostel for 2 nights, details below.
Our hostel was lovely and when we arrived in the evening we checked it was ok for the 2 of us, both female, to walk around outside in the dark and they said yes so we wandered off in search of wine.
We bought a bottle to take back to our hostel and then ordered take out Pizza from one of the hostel staff members and had a lovely chilled evening there.
(Note: If you buy wine in India don’t buy the cheapest one. That’s literally made by them combining grape juice, sugar and alcohol. My friend visited the “winery” if you can even call it that. Get the next one up. The price they should charge you will be stamped on the paper seal too so you can check you’re not being ripped off.)
If you do decide to walk around in the dark in Agra, or actually anywhere in India, be really careful where you step. Often massive exposed holes in the pavement/sidewalk are just left ready and waiting for someone to fall in. They’re REALLY big and if you fell in you probably wouldn’t be able to make your way out on your own. They look like someone was doing construction work and then just forgot to carry on or put any warning signs around the area. Oh India.
My mate sat there the night before saying she needed to plan her outfit for our visit to the Taj Mahal the next day and I just sat there thinking “huh?”. This was before Instagram was big, or before I was cool enough to be on it, but she was all over it and saying that a photo in front of the Taj is one you’ll keep forever so you want to make sure you’re looking good in it.
I didn’t exactly really have any nice clothes on me so yeah, I look like a mess in all our Taj Mahal photos. All I was thinking of was making sure my shoulders were covered without boiling to death. My friend looked wonderful ?. If you want to visit the Taj Mahal a bit more prepared than me, read through this thorough guide of things to know before you visit Taj Mahal.
Apparently the queues get really long to get into the Taj Mahal so we got up early to set off the next morning (it opens at 6am). It’s about a 15-20 minute walk from the hostel we were in to the entrance to the Taj and along that road is a tourist office just before all the tourist shops start.
At the tourist office we paid for our entrance to the Taj and grouped together with a few others from our hostel the night before to share a guide between us. Given none of us really knew any history about the Taj it seemed only right we should learn about it while there.
Since we were early the queues to get in weren’t so bad and it wasn’t that busy. Once of my favorite views of the Taj Mahal was actually just before we go to the main part of it where you can see it through the archway. I’m sure you could take some nice insta shots there. I didn’t, just some of the Taj itself.
If you’re English be warned as you travel round the Taj, and actually a lot of sights in India, your tour guides are likely to say things like “look at this beautiful bronze spire. It used to be gold……..But then the English took ALL the gold”.
I shit you not, I can’t tell you how many times that was said to me!
The shops just outside the East Gate sell some really cute clothes and ornaments too but bear in mind they are a lot more expensive there than in other areas of India since it is pretty much the most touristy place in the country.
Wander round to the south gate town area of the Taj afterwards as well for lunch as there are a lot of great really cheap places to eat there.
Other Places To See in Agra
Agra’s not just about the Taj Mahal, well mostly, but not just. There is also the Red Fort, or Agra Fort, so named since it’s kind of red.
You can easily see the Fort and Taj Mahal in one day and there’s not much else to do in Agra. I’d therefore suggest arriving in the evening, looking around the next day then moving on.
We had 2 nights in Agra but really didn’t need that second night.
It’s also great to go to Agra Fort as it means you get to see the Taj Mahal from a distance too.
And the fort itself is beautiful
Best hostel in Agra
I stayed at Zostel Hostel which is India’s first chain of hostels. It was clean, nice, sociable and walking distance to the Taj Mahal. I’ve heard some pretty horrible stories about places other travelers stayed in Agra but I loved Zostel.
For those wondering what the horrible stories are, they usually involve female friends who have stayed alone in hotels in the area. Some of the hotel staff made them feel uncomfortable, at times feeling like they couldn’t leave their rooms and have worried about their safety. At least if you’re in a hostel there are other travelers around if you were ever made to feel uncomfortable.
How Long to Spent in Agra
One or two nights. As long as you have one full day to look round the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort you have allowed plenty of time there.
How to get from Delhi to Agra
Approx. 3 hours by train or 5 hours by car.
How to get from Agra to Jaipur
Approx. 5 and a half hours by train.