April 6, 2018

Perfect one day in Agra :: My 2018 Agra itinerary :: Golden Triangle, India

One day in Agra, itinerary: Taj Mahal palace architecture. How much time at Taj Mahal? Best places to visit in Agra beyond Taj Mahal, Golden Triangle, India

ALOHA!

If you’re in India, no doubt that the world wonder that belongs to India is worth a visit!

If you’re doing the Golden Triangle, or you’ll be in Delhi or Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal is just a few hours away.

So here are some tips for your visit to the Taj Mahal and trip to Agra!

The Agra itinerary

Here first is the quick list of things to know when planning your one day in Agra.

Read on below for more details about each of these tourist attractions in Agra!

One day in Agra, itinerary: Taj Mahal entry gate, grounds, tourist attractions. How much time at Taj Mahal? Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

Getting to Agra: Jaipur to Agra by train

I went to Agra from Jaipur by taking a “superfast” Shatabdi Express train.

Shatabdi trains are a step up from the typical trains in India. The seats are more comfortable, and you will be served a good amount of food even though it’s a short duration.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Agra train superfast Shatabdi Express, EC executive chair. Jaipur to Agra. Delhi to Agra. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

These Shatabdi trains are more expensive than traditional trains, but the convenience of arrival and departure time can be worth it!

There are many trains that go to Agra, and there is the Agra Cantt train station and Agra Fort train station. Most seem to go to Agra Cantt, but the Jaipur to Agra Shatabdi train goes to the Agra Fort train station.

Since I visited the Agra Fort, I found the nearby train station to be convenient since I could walk there at the end of the day.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Delhi to Agra train, Jaipur to Agra train. Agra Fort train station. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

Taking a direct train in which you’re boarding the train at the station of origin also means that you know you’ll have an on-time departure.

One of the best ways to search for trains to Agra can be using trainman.

You can also check out your bus options using redbus.

Should you make it a day trip to Agra and not stay overnight?

I made it a day trip to Agra from Jaipur, and I thought it was the perfect one day in Agra.

There are also a number of train options from Delhi, so you can make a day trip to Agra from Delhi worth it too.

On the Jaipur to Agra Shatabdi train, it took around 3.5 to 4 hours one way.

There’s a Shatabdi train in both directions. I took the Jaipur to Agra train in the morning, and the Agra to Jaipur train in the evening. With the timings of this train, I had around 6 hours to explore Agra.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Agra train superfast Shatabdi Express. Jaipur to Agra. Delhi to Agra. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

From Delhi to Agra, the distance is slightly shorter. This means that you can likely find express trains that will give you the same amount of time or more to explore Agra in one day from Delhi too.

This was enough time to make me feel like my trip to Agra was worth it!

The main reasons I liked making it a day trip to Agra:

  • You don’t have to drag around heavy luggage
  • You don’t have to unpack and pack your luggage again
  • The top sights are relatively close to each other
  • You get to return “home” to a familiar place at the end of the day!
  • You won’t feel too bad about not sightseeing in Agra for more than a day

Agra beyond the Taj Mahal: Is there anything worth it?

One day in Agra, itinerary: Agra beyond the Taj Mahal. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

Agra has a number of sites that you might find to be worthwhile if you like to admire architecture and Indian history.

But the main problem is that after you pay the foreigner entry fee of 1,000 rupees (US$15) for the Taj Mahal, while Indian nationals pay 40 rupees, you may not feel inclined to pay the 200 to 500 rupee entry fees at the other sites and monuments.

If you don’t mind some of these entry fees in Agra, be sure to look further into Agra beyond the Taj Mahal!

Best tours in Agra

Planning a one-day trip in Agra is something that is very possible to do on your own.

But if you’re looking to take the stress out of planning so you can enjoy the sights of Agra and the Taj Mahal even more, a tour may be something to consider!

You can opt for private tours and group tours.

These tours are some of the best ways to spend one day in Agra.

For organized trips from another city, see some of these tours:

One day in Agra, itinerary: Taj Mahal tours. Day trip to Agra from Delhi, from Jaipur, from Mumbai, from Bangalore. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

So, is one day really enough in Agra?

These are the things I did.

See what you think about this Agra itinerary!

These are some of the best places to visit in Agra in one day

TAJ MAHAL

One day in Agra, itinerary: Taj Mahal tours. Day trip to Agra from Delhi, from Jaipur, from Mumbai, from Bangalore. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

Well, this UNESCO world heritage site is the #1 reason for visiting Agra, and it will be best to head to the Taj Mahal first.

This way, you can spend as much time on the grounds of the Taj Mahal as you want. Then once you’re finished, you can determine how much time you have left, and what other sights in Agra you have time for.

When planning out your Agra itinerary, you’ll also want to add in some buffer room for getting into the Taj Mahal.

This can include things like:

  • Walking to the ticket booth
  • Walking to the Taj Mahal gate entrance
  • Security check
  • Checking a bag into a luggage storage locker

These things may not seem like a lot, but the time can add up!

One day in Agra, itinerary: Taj Mahal grounds. How much time at Taj Mahal? Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

Are the lines long at the Taj Mahal?!

Of course this can depend on when you go. But as a foreigner, I did not think the lines were long at all at the south gate of the Taj Mahal.

When you first arrive, you may feel overwhelmed by the incredibly long line you see in front of you. For Indians, the lines were absolutely long!

One day in Agra, itinerary: Long lines for Taj Mahal tickets. Foreigners skip ahead. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

You will likely have people approach you telling you that you can pay them to skip ahead to the front of the line. But there may not be a reason to pay for this “service” if you also encounter minimal lines. So first check how long the line is before considering the “skip the line” service. Just because you see an intimidating long line doesn’t necessarily mean the line will be long for you!

There are separate lines for foreigners for the ticket booth and gate entrance. The separate line for foreigners was pretty much non-existent.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Long lines at Taj Mahal. Foreigners skip ahead. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

The security bag check is combined for Indians and foreigners, but I didn’t think the wait time for this was that bad. If you don’t have a bag that needs to be scanned, this can be totally skipped!

Security and luggage storage lockers at the Taj Mahal

As a global icon and national monument, security at the Taj Mahal is tight.

Guards with guns were all around. Even on the train to Agra, guards with guns were frequently walking through.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Security, what's allowed at Taj Mahal? Store prohibited items in storage lockers, backpacks and bags. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

I went through the security check at the Taj Mahal and had a flashlight that’s not allowed in my backpack so I had to walk over to the luggage storage area, then walk back again. This probably added a total of around 20 minutes of time.

So also make sure you don’t take any prohibited items, or head to the luggage storage lockers first to drop off your bag.

Small backpacks like this daypack are allowed at the Taj Mahal, but don’t take a big backpack.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Small backpack allowed at Taj Mahal, prohibited items in storage lockers. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

The lockers are located to the far left of the ticket booth of the south gate, and it cost 20 rupees to check a backpack. There are both lockers and a bag rack.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Taj Mahal prohibited items in storage lockers, backpacks and bags. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

Visiting the grounds of the Taj Mahal

Once you get through the entry gate…

Finally, what you came for!

One day in Agra, itinerary: Taj Mahal entry gate. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

The grounds of the Taj Mahal are pretty expansive.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Taj Mahal entry gate, grounds. How much time at Taj Mahal? Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

And there is plenty of architecture to admire on the grounds of the Taj Mahal.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Taj Mahal palace architecture. How much time at Taj Mahal? Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

So if you want to enjoy the experience even more, you can spend some extra time here just taking it all in!

ROOFTOP RESTAURANT: Best views of the Taj Mahal with a cup of tea

A visit to the Taj Mahal can feel chaotic with the sheer number of people all around.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Taj Mahal crowded lines. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

So next, a peaceful setting with a view of the Taj Mahal seemed perfect!

Sit back with a tea or a lassi (or both!) and enjoy some of the best views of the Taj Mahal from afar.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Best views of Taj Mahal from rooftop restaurant - Hotel Saniya Palace. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

I have the digital version of an India guidebook too, so once I finished up at the Taj Mahal, I consulted the guidebook and headed to the cafe at the Saniya Palace Hotel. You can walk here from the south gate of the Taj Mahal.

MEHTAB BAGH: Best views of the Taj Mahal from the back

Well, Agra is all about the Taj Mahal!

So next, it was off for another perspective of the Taj Mahal.

This time, it was a view across the Yamuna River.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Best views of Taj Mahal across Yamuna River at Mehtab Bagh Garden. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

This was another peaceful setting away from the chaos of Taj Mahal visitors.

Be sure to walk through the gardens too, instead of just heading to the river and back. Walking through the gardens will afford you another spectacular view of the Taj Mahal!

One day in Agra, itinerary: Best views of Taj Mahal across Yamuna River at Mehtab Bagh Garden. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

You can make this a quick visit, or you can spend an hour or more in the gardens surrounded by green. I also saw a couple of birds here that looked nothing like any other types of birds I had seen before. They were a rare appearance though!

The entry fee to the Mehtab Bagh was 200 rupees (US$3) for foreigners.

BABY TAJ: Itimad-ud-Daulah

As I was going from the Mehtab Bagh to the Agra Fort by rickshaw, my driver pointed over to a monument that stood out on the river.

It was the Baby Taj!

I didn’t make it here for a visit, but this seems like another good place to admire architecture.

I asked my rickshaw driver to stop so I could take some pictures directly across the river from the Baby Taj.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Getting around Agra by rickshaw. Baby Taj Mahal. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

When I was on the train from Agra to Jaipur, someone mentioned that they really enjoyed their visit to the Baby Taj. So this could be another tourist attraction to consider if you have extra time in Agra.

My guidebook says the entry fee for the Baby Taj is 210 rupees (US$3) for foreigners.

AGRA FORT: A fort worth visiting

One day in Agra, itinerary: Agra Fort, UNESCO world heritage site. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

By the time I visited Agra Fort, I had visited 2 forts near Udaipur (Chittorgarh and Kumbhalgarh), the Jodhpur Fort, the Jaisalmer Fort, and the 3 famous forts in Jaipur.

Still, I thought the Agra Fort was impressive!

You can take it slowly as you walk around the fort, palace, and gardens.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Agra Fort Palace. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

And, you’ll get a view of the Taj Mahal from the fort too! 😉

The entry fee to the Agra Fort was 500 rupees (US$8) for foreigners. So after spending 1,000 rupees on a ticket to the Taj Mahal, it might seem like a little bit of a hefty price, but I did think the Agra Fort felt pretty grand. This is also a UNESCO world heritage site.

JAMA MASJID

From the road, this mosque (aka masjid) was another monument that stood out pretty well.

The Jama Masjid may not be a must-visit, but it’s located near the Agra Fort train station. So if you find yourself nearby with minimal luggage, it may be worth a visit.

So if I had more time before my train departed, with the proximity to the train station, I may have gone for a quick visit to the Jama Masjid. Instead, I viewed it from the road and the train station!

One day in Agra, itinerary: Jama Masjid sunset near Agra Fort train station. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

It seems from the guidebook I’d been using that there’s no entry fee at the Jama Masjid.

Getting around Agra by rickshaw: How much does it cost?

One day in Agra, itinerary: Getting around Agra by rickshaw, fare. Agra Fort train station. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

When you’re walking the streets around tourist attractions, you will be constantly asked if you want a rickshaw.

You will also most likely be quoted a price for the rickshaw much higher than is necessary to pay.

I’m not sure if I overpaid, but as a baseline, here are some prices that I considered to be reasonable during my time in Agra in 2018:

  • Agra Fort train station to Taj Mahal: 100 rupees
  • Rooftop restaurant near Taj Mahal to Mehtab Bagh: 150 rupees
  • Mehtab Bagh to Agra Fort: 100 rupees

It’s also possible to hire a rickshaw for a full day, or for a round-trip that includes waiting time.

I opted not to do it this way, as I felt I had more flexibility in taking one-way trips.

One day in Agra, itinerary: Getting around Agra by rickshaw, fare. Best places to visit in Agra, Golden Triangle, India

For every one-way trip I took, during the ride, the rickshaw driver tried to get me to go add on another site too, or to agree to a round-trip cost.

This could be okay to agree to, but it makes it more important to make sure you get your first trip for a reasonable cost so your starting point isn’t too high. Or you can just look to hire a rickshaw for a full day or half day from the beginning.

The Lonely Planet says that to hire a rickshaw in Agra for 4 hours should cost around 400 rupees. It would seem that from other listed rickshaw prices that I may have overpaid a little bit, but… I was contributing to the local economy. 😉 That’s what you can tell yourself after you discover you got ripped off. 😉

Itinerary planning for Rajasthan

One day in Agra, itinerary: Taj Mahal palace architecture. How much time at Taj Mahal? Best places to visit in Agra beyond Taj Mahal, Golden Triangle, India

HAPPY ONE DAY IN AGRA!

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