India is one of the world’s great backpacking destinations. The diversity of the landscapes, the richness of culture, the warm hospitality of its people, and the famously flavoursome cuisine guarantee any would-be backpacker a wealth of enriching adventures.
The only difficulty with arranging an epic trip to India is knowing what to include on your itinerary. From top to bottom, this is a destination stacked with bucket list experiences.
So, unless you’re planning to tour Indian indefinitely, what are the cities and regions that must be visited? Join Novoto as we discuss just a few of our top places to backpack in India.
And while you’re here, please check out our selection of Escorted Group Travel Options in South Asia.
The ancient ruins of the fortified Hindu city of Hampi rank among India’s most breathtaking sights. This UNESCO World Heritage Site in the south Indian state of Karnataka once served as the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, one of India’s largest kingdoms.
Coming to prominence in the 14th century, by the start of the 16th century, Hampi was the second-largest medieval city in the world after Beijing. The city was, though, conquered, pillaged and destroyed by a coalition of Muslim sultanates in 1565.
Today, you see the remnants of this once vast and powerful city. The archaeological site covers 16 sq mi and features over 1,600 remain, including royal and sacred complexes, temples, and shrines.
This is a true bucket list destination!
If you would like to explore this fascinating place in the company of expert local guides, consider joining Novoto on our South India Group Tour.
The state of Goa extends along 130 km of coastline and features some of India’s most beautiful coastal scenery. Featuring palm trees, crystal waters, and pristine sandy beaches, Goa has a lot to recommend it. This is part of your trip to kick back on the beach and forget about modern urban life.
Work? Studies? Forget about the pressure and commitments of home – you’re backpacking in a veritable paradise now! Find inner harmony at the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can encounter leopards, elephants, and countless species of brightly coloured birds.
Cultural activities more your thing? Visit the extraordinary Basilica of Bom Jesus, a 400-year-old church which houses the remains of St. Francis Xavier.
Alternatively, explore Goa’s many flea markets to get a feel of local life. The Saturday Night Market at Arpora is our personal favourite. Buy some gifts, grab some street food and grab a drink with new friends.
Looking for the best beach in Goa? It’s a question we get a lot. Check out Anjuna Beach (pictured above) – Instagrammable and perfect for swimming.
We visit Goa on our Northern Discovery Tour of India.
Popularly referred to as the “French capital of India”, Pondicherry is a coastal city that boasts a wondrous blend of colonial catholic and Hindu architecture.
As with Goa, you’ll be able to mix time spent in nature with time spent exploring cultural and historical sites. Regarding the latter, visit the Manakula Vinayagar Temple, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges cathedral.
For beaches, Paradise Beach, Auroville Beach, Serenity Beach, Karaikal Beach, and Veerampattinam Beach are all excellent choices.
But our favourite thing about Pondicherry? The out-of-this-world cuisine! Pondicherry’s cuisine is a unique combination of Tamil and French influences. You can enjoy French classics like croissants or ratatouille with one meal and south Indian delicacies such as masala dosa or sambar with another.
Pondicherry is one of our favourite stops on our Group Tour of Southern Indian.
Alleppey (also known as Alappuzha), located on the Malabar Coast in the state of Kerala, is nicknamed the Venice of the East for its expansive backwaters and networks of canals. The landscapes of this region are truly unique, with the plam tree-lined canals being especially beautiful.
Boat rides and houseboat cruises are some of the most popular travel experiences for visitors. Enjoy restorative, contemplative hours on the gentle water of the canals – this scenery is the stuff a backpacker’s dreams are made of.
Alleppey Beach should also be on your itinerary. This pristine beach is famed for the many festivals organised there, and features an old lighthouse that’s a perfect subject for Instagram photos!
Finally, don’t miss out the seafood curries in Alleppey! Keralan cuisine is famed for its complex, zesty flavours and there’s nothing better than tucking in to a delicious fish curry with a sea view in front of you.
The political capital of India, New Delhi offers travellers a wealth of experiences. What we admire best about time in the city is the rewarding mix of heritage and modernity. In New Delhi you can visit ancient Indian ruins and colonial buildings from the time of British rule. Still, you’ll also find innovative modern restaurants, hip neighbourhoods, and bustling shopping districts.
Culture vultures will not want to miss historical sites, such as Humayun’s Tomb, the Red Fort, and the medieval streets of Old Delhi.
When you work up an appetite from all the sightseeing, take a deep dive into the city’s amazing street food.
A town famous for attracting travellers who are on a spiritual quest, Pushkar is a laid back town that’s well-suited for backpackers.
Pushkar is a pilgrimage site for Sikhs and Hindus (the only place on the planet with a temple dedicated to Brahma). It is covered with temples and possesses a uniquely atmospheric vibe.
Our India Encompassed Group Tour spends time in Pushkar, during which we get to enjoy the city’s vibrant markets.
Our final recommendation is the city of Jaipur. The largest city in the state of Rajasthan, Jaipur, is known as the Pink City due to the colour of its sandstone buildings. Forming part of the west Golden Triangle tourist circuit (along with Delhi and Agra), Jaipur holds UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Head to the Bapu and Johari Bazaars when exploring the city to experience a world of colour and soak out the local vibes. Then take a trek up to the 18th-century Nahargarh Fort, where you’ll enjoy fantastic views over the Pink City – perfection!
This ends our selection of some backpacking destinations in India. If you have any questions about any of the places we’ve covered or want to learn more about our tours in South Asia, send us an email via the Novoto website.