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Indian riverboat on lake side

Compare the best India holidays

This rapidly changing yet traditional South Asian nation will get your taste buds tingling, widen your eyes, and might just seep into your soul forever.

Why go?

In dynamic, dazzling and downright mystifying India, holidays can be taken at any speed you like...

Although it's best to keep your hands hovering over the gear stick ready for a quick change.

Hop on a rickshaw, drink a cup of tea in colonial splendour, get dressed up for a cocktail in a classy city bar, taste authentic Indian food at both top restaurants and street-side stalls, and marvel at the country's many ancient wonders that dot the landscape: holidays in India can include a wealth of diverse attractions.

In fact, choosing where to travel is the main challenge. Goa, on the west coast, is great for beach holidays, while the mega cities of Mumbai and Delhi will amaze all first-time visitors. Other options include visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra, seeing the pink city of Jaipur, cruising on the Ganges, cooling off at the hill stations and tea plantations around Calcutta and heading to the tropical paradise that is Kerala, deep into the south.

Picking your accommodations could prove just as hard, thanks to the choice between the finest five-star hotels in the world, traditional guesthouses and more unusual locations such as houseboats and wildlife safari camps.

There is so much to see and do in India, so much to be tempted by, and so many unique experiences to be a part of - you owe it to yourself to see this breath-taking destination before you die.

When to go?

Weather conditions vary greatly across this vast nation...

In Delhi, for example, it is staggeringly hot between April and October, while average winter daytime temperatures hover at around 20C. On the west coast, where you find Goa and Mumbai, however, the hot, humid and rainy summer season between June and September leads into warm, dry winters. The south is more tropical, with cooler, humid conditions and frequent tropical storms. 

What's on?

There's a varied and fascinating collection of events taking place throughout the year in India...

Indian Derby; February: If you find yourself in Mumbai in February, book tickets to one of the biggest horseracing events in Asia, the Indian Derby at Mahalaxmi Racecourse.

Panjim Carnival; February/March: The city of Panjim, in the state of Goa, hosts a wonderfully colourful European-style carnival amid ancient Portuguese architecture.

Holi; February/March: Many Indian destinations will put on a show for Holi, when coloured powders fill the air and cover the participants, making for a messy, memorable spectacle.

Ganesh Chaturthi; August/September: Honour Lord Ganesh in Mumbai at one of India's major events, when huge models of the deity are paraded through the city streets.

Deepavali (or Devali/Diwali); October: This Hindu festival of lights is honoured in towns and cities across India. Simply follow the flickering candles and lanterns to find the party.

What to do?

The possibilities for authentic Indian experiences are endless, but we've selected a few highlights...

Romance: A Mughal emperor built the iconic Taj Mahal to honour the memory of his third wife. Crowds can blight the experience, though, so try to arrive very early or very late. Agra is around three hours south of Delhi and it's easy to book day trips here from your Delhi hotel.

Active types: Clamber on to the back of a camel and tackle the immense sand dunes of the Thar Desert, or Great Indian Desert, in Rajasthan. You can book overnight trips from Delhi.

Relaxing: Book a trip aboard a traditional kettuvallam, a houseboat typical of Kerala, in the south of India. It's a tranquil and unique way to discover this region.

Free and cheap: It costs nothing to wander the streets of Delhi, savouring the unique flavours of India. While New Delhi is modern and beautiful, you can't beat the old neighbourhoods of Delhi for an authentic look at local life. Shopping at the markets is a cheap affair too.

Babies and toddlers: It is entirely possible to enjoy a family holiday in India. The west-coast resort of Goa has beaches and family-friendly hotels galore, though you can still get a feel for India without the incredible chaos of the major cities.