The Best Places to Visit in Agra in One Day

This post is a travel guide about the best places to visit in Agra in one day. Agra is a city that I still have a love hate relationship with. It’s home to some of the most beautiful historical sights in India, but it is also one of the most hectic and dirty cities on India’s Golden triangle. Luckily it is possible to see all the places to visit in Agra in one day. 

I have seen the Taj Mahal three times now and every time it took my breath away. The Taj mahal alone is worth the effort to conquer the chaos of Agra. But there is more to Agra than just the Taj Mahal. The other places to visit in Agra are equally interesting and neatly fit in a one day itinerary. 

The Taj Mahal is among the top places to visit in Agra in one day
One of the mosques at the Taj Mahal

Agra in one day

On my first visit to India in 2007 I almost didn’t make it to Agra. I fell ill in the nearby village of Fatehpur Sikri. The accumulation of 3 weeks of Indian bacteria in my stomach finally took its toll. I stayed in a lovely guesthouse where I stayed in bed for two days while the concerned staff brought me roti’s and herbal teas.

I was supposed to stay only one night, but eventually stayed almost a week. The neighbour children took me to their local madrassa and invited me for tea to their homes. The hospitality was heartwarming and it was hard to leave.

But if I still wanted to continue to Varanasi and Nepal I had to go. But I still didn’t go to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Everything inside of me didn’t want to go to this hectic city, but I made a decision. The next day would be my birthday and nothing is more special than seeing the Taj Mahal on your 25th birthday, isn’t it?

I would take the bus and then hire a tuk tuk to see all the places to visit in Agra in one day. It was the best decision ever. While its tourist attractions are stunning, the rest of the city is nothing to write home about. 

Later in my life I visited Agra two more times. The Taj Mahal never gets boring. Even though I never spent more than one day in Agra itself, I did discover some of the interesting places to visit nearby Agra such as Fatehpur Sikri and Mathura. 

In this post I will share with you the most important places to visit in Agra in one day and some suggestions of places to visit nearby Agra in case you have more time. 

The Taj Mahal is among the top places to visit in Agra in one day
Taj Mahal

Places to visit in Agra in one day

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is the most beautiful mausoleum in the world and a symbol of love. It was built by the Mughal ruler Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Although it was an arranged marriage when they were both very young they eventually fell in love. She died in 1631 giving birth to their 14th child. 

Her last wish was for a large mausoleum in Agra. It almost emptied the royal treasury and led to famines in the region as grain was diverted to Agra to feed the 20.000 man workforce.  

The mausoleum is made of white marble and famous for its pietra dura. An inlay technique in which colored stones are used to create beautiful images. Obviously it is a must see, but it is also one of the most busy and crowded attractions in India with over 7 million visitors annually. 

The gardens are large enough for people to spread out, but expect to stand in line to get inside the tomb chamber. The cenotaphs you see here are actually empty and the real tombs are at a lower level.

Insider tip: The only reason to stay in Agra is to see the Taj Mahal at sunrise when it is almost pink. It opens at 6 AM and in my opinion it is worth the early wake up call. Not only is the Taj Mahal at its most beautiful in the early hours of the day, but it is also still relatively quiet. Sunset is another great time to see the Taj Mahal, but this time it is better from a boat on the Yamuna from where you have some of the best views minus the crowds. 

The Taj Mahal is among the top places to visit in Agra in one day
Pietra Dura at the Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is among the top places to visit in Agra in one day
Taj Mahal

Agra Fort

The Agra Fort was the residence of the very first Mughal emperors before the capital changed to Delhi. If you have been in the red fort in Delhi, where the Mughals moved next, you might see some similarities. Both are in fact more like a walled city within a city.

Akbar began construction of the fort in 1565 on the site of an ancient fort built by the Lodi dynasty. The fort was built mainly as a military structure to protect the Mughal capital of Agra from invading forces. It features a number of impressive structures, including the Jahangiri Mahal, the Khas Mahal, the Diwan-i-Khas, and the Diwan-i-Am.

Shah Jahan, who is perhaps best known for building the Taj Mahal, made significant additions to the fort during his reign in the mid-17th century. He built the beautiful Moti Masjid, or Pearl Mosque, within the fort and also constructed a number of other structures, including the Sheesh Mahal and the Musamman Burj.

The fort was the site of a number of significant historical events, including the imprisonment of Shah Jahan by his son Aurangzeb, who overthrew him in a bloody coup in 1658. The British also used the fort as a military barracks and administrative center during their rule in India.

Personally I liked the Agra fort even more than the one in Delhi and it is definitely among the top places to visit in Agra in one day.

Agra Fort is among the top places to visit in Agra in one day
Agra Fort

Baby Taj

The tomb of Itimad Ud Daulah is often called the Baby Taj, but it is in fact slightly older than the Taj Mahal and might even have been used as an inspiration. It’s one of the first examples of the pietra dura inlay technique using precious stones. 

It was built in the early 17th century by Nur Jahan, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, in memory of her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg. Mirza Ghiyas Beg was a Persian nobleman who had served in the court of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and his son Jahangir. He had been given the title of Itimad-ud-Daulah, which means “pillar of the state,” and had amassed a considerable fortune during his lifetime.

After Mirza Ghiyas Beg’s death in 1622, Nur Jahan decided to build a tomb for her father in Agra. She chose a site on the banks of the Yamuna River and commissioned the construction of a beautiful marble mausoleum. The design of the tomb was influenced by Persian architecture and features delicate marble inlay work, intricate carvings, and elaborate floral designs.

Even though the Baby Taj is much smaller, I might have liked it even more. For one, it lacks the crowds and the pietra dura floral patterns are very pretty. Inside you will also find images of trees and vases. Where the Taj Mahal impresses you by its size, the beauty of the Baby taj are in its details.  

Baby Taj is among the top places to visit in Agra in one day
Baby Taj Mahal

Jame Masjid

The Jame Masjid (large mosque or friday mosque) in Agra was another master piece by Shah Jahan. Like the Friday mosques in Delhi and Fatehpur Sikri it is made from red sandstone with white marble decorations.

The Jama Masjid of Agra is one of the largest mosques in India and is capable of accommodating thousands of worshippers. It has a large courtyard, which is surrounded by a cloistered arcade with a series of domes and minarets. The mosque has three large entrance gates, which are decorated with intricate designs and calligraphy.

The Jama Masjid of Agra was built at a time when the Mughal Empire was at its height and the city of Agra was one of the most important cultural and political centers in India. The mosque was built to serve as a place of worship for the people of Agra and also to demonstrate the power and wealth of the Mughal Empire.

Jame Masjid is among the top places to visit in Agra in one day
Jame Masjid

Sadar bazaar

If you still have some time left I can recommend a visit to Sadar bazaar. This is one of the less touristy parts of Agra and a great place to do some shopping. It is not as big or colorful as the bazaars in Jaipur or Delhi, but you can definitely find some nice souvenirs here. For Dinner head to Mamma Franky house that has the best chicken kebabs with naan in Agra.  

Sadar bazaar is among the top places to visit in Agra in one day
Mamma chicken at Sadar bazaar

Places to visit near Agra

While it is possible to see all the places to visit in Agra in one day, there are some interesting places nearby that are a good reason to stay a bit longer in this region. If you have more than one day in Agra consider some of the lesser known places below. All of them are an easy day trip from Agra or offer a good alternative for a place to base yourself.  

Fatehpur Sikri

Most people visit Fatehpur Sikri as a daytrip from Agra, but I did it the other way around. I am not a city person and I loved the village atmosphere in this small rural town where I enjoyed the sunset views from the rooftop of my guesthouse while I recovered from my stomach bug. 

On my next visits to Agra I always came back to Fatehpur Sikri. Nowadays it is a typical poor village in Uttar Pradesh, but it was once the capital of the Mughal empire. It was founded by Akbar and the choice for Fatehpur Sikri as the new capital was not a coincidence. The place was much loved by Akbar’s predecessors and first Mughal emperors Babur and Humayun. 

It was also in Fatehpur Sikri that saint Salim Chisti predicted the birth of Akbar’s son Jahangir who was born there. The glory days of Fatehpur Sikri were short though. The city became the capital of the Mughal empire in 1571, but Akbar abandoned it already in 1585. 

Highlights include Akbar’s red sandstone palace, the Jame Masjid with the Buland Darwaza gate (highest gateway in the world) and the tomb of Saint Salim Chisti that is still a popular pilgrimage site for local muslims. 

Tomb of Saint Salim Chisti in Fatehpur Sikri
Tomb of Saint Salim Chisti in Fatehpur Sikri
Fatehpur Sikri India
Fatehpur Sikri

Sikandra 

Only 10 kilometers away from Agra lies Sikandra where you will find the impressive tomb of Akbar the Great. It’s a great example of Mughal architecture and although it is not as big as some of the other Mughal structures it is very beautiful and rich in elaborate and colorful decorations. 

Mathura & Vrindavan

Being the birthplace of Krishna, Mathura is one of the seven holy cities in India that attracts hundreds of pilgrims every day. It’s a city of temples and scenic ghats along the Yamuna river that reminded me a bit of Varanasi. 

Nearby Vrindavan is equally important as lots of events in Krishna’s life played out in this area. Nowadays it is a shelter city for widows that come here to seek refuge after the death of their husbands.  

Like everywhere in India the business around religion and the amount of annoying wannabe guides can be a bit overwhelming at first. There will be more temples than you can visit, apparently over 5000 of them. The best way to enjoy the towns is walking through the scenic alleyways and the picturesque ghats. 

Temple in Mathura India
Temple in Mathura
Streets in Vrindavan
Vrindavan streets

Bharatpur

For nature head to Bharatpur for the Bharatpur bird sanctuary and the Keoladeo National Park. This area is an important breeding site and wintering area for a number of aquatic birds. You will spot lots of them here including my favourite kingfisher. Besides birds you might also spot deers or wild boars. 

Hopoe bird in Bharatpur India
Hoopoe bird in Bharatpur

Bear rescue center

The Agra bear rescue facility is one of the largest sloth bear rescue facilities in this world. It is run by Wildlife SOS that works throughout India for the conservation of sloth bears, elephants, leopards and other animals. 

Places to visit in Agra in one day travel tips. 

How to get to Agra

Agra has good connections by rail to major cities in India. The city has four railway stations – Agra Cantt, Agra Fort, Agra City, and Raja ki Mandi. Many express trains and superfast trains connect Agra to Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, and other major cities in India.

There are also several bus services that operate between Agra and nearby cities like Fatehpur Sikri, Sikandra, Mathura and Bharatpur.

How to get around in Agra

If you wish to see all the places to visit in Agra in one day it is best to use taxi’s or tuk tuks. To avoid having to negotiate everytime I can recommend the use of a taxi hailing app. 

Uber is a good way to get around in Agra, but India has its own similar business called Ola cabs that is even more popular. The good thing about both Ola and Uber is that it is cheaper than a tuk tuk and you do not need to negotiate the price. Both offer a pool option in which you share your ride with others that makes it even more affordable.

Ola also has a tuk tuk option that is one of the best and most affordable ways to travel for shorter distances. 

Places to eat in Agra

One of my favourite restaurants in Agra was the roadside stall “Time 2 Eat Mama Chicken” or “Franky’s chicken house”. There is no place to sit, but the chicken is the best you will ever taste.

Time 2 eat mamma chicken in Agra
Chicken kebab from mamma chicken at Sadar bazaar

Places to sleep in Agra

The first question is whether you should sleep in Agra. Personally I prefer to visit Agra as a day trip while staying in Fatehpur Sikri. However, there is one good reason to stay at least one night in Agra. That is to visit the Taj Mahal early (it opens at 6 AM) to see the sunrise and escape the crowds. 

Agra: Good hostels in Agra are Max guesthouse, Anukampa Paying guesthouse and Coral House Homestay

Fatehpur Sikri: The Sunset View Guesthouse is behind the mosque in Fatehpur Sikri. It is not as clean as it could be and staff are of mixed quality, but the owner is friendly. The best about this guesthouse is the peaceful and quiet location and the view from the rooftop terrace. As the name implies, a great place to watch the sunset. I stayed here 3 times now and during my last visit we saw parrots, peacocks and squirrels who came to join us on the rooftop for breakfast.

Sunset view guesthouse in Fatehpur Sikri India
Parrots and squirrels at the rooftop of sunset view guetshouse

When to visit Agra

The best time to visit Agra is between November and February, during the winter season. The weather during these months is pleasant and comfortable, with daytime temperatures ranging between 15°C to 25°C and cool nights. This makes it a perfect time to explore the city’s outdoor attractions, such as the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and other historical monuments.

The summer months from March to June can be very hot, with temperatures soaring up to 45°C, which can make outdoor sightseeing very difficult and uncomfortable. However, if you do visit during this time, it is best to visit the monuments early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the heat.

The monsoon season in Agra starts in July and lasts till September. During this time, the city experiences heavy rainfall.

Sustainable Travel in Agra

Agra is a large city and pollution is a very big problem. Traveling sustainably in Agra, involves conscious choices that minimize your environmental impact and support the local community.

Support the local community: You can support the community by purchasing goods and services from local vendors, artisans, markets and restaurants. It is better to try Northern Indian cuisine that uses local ingredients rather than imported foreign foods. Northern Indian food is very vegetarian friendly and it is easy to follow a vegan diet.

Stay in small scale sustainable hotels: It is also better to stay in locally-owned guesthouses or homestays to support the local economy directly. These accommodations often have a more positive impact on the environment compared to large hotels.

Where possible, I can recommend staying in a homestay for an authentic cultural experience. You might want to bring a small book with pictures of your family to break the ice.

You can also try to look for guesthouses or homestays that prioritizes sustainable practices. That said, environmental awareness is still low. It’s up to you to use water sparsely, turn off lights, air conditioning, and heating when leaving your accommodation.

Use public transport: Agra has a well-developed public transportation system. Opt for public transport, whenever possible, instead of private cars to reduce carbon emissions.

Respect the culture: Besides environmental concerns it is also important to respect the culture. Agra has a Hindu majority. Therefore, learn about the local customs and traditions beforehand and be mindful of your behavior.

People will appreciate it, if you dress modestly, especially at religious sites. Learning a few basic phrases in Hindi, can go a long way in building meaningful connections and to learn more about the local culture. Not everybody is happy to have their picture taken. When in doubt, ask permission.

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