Home > Best Places in Agra
Updated: December 1, 2019
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The Best Area to Stay in Agra
The main – and, for many, the only – reason to come to Agra is to visit the Taj Mahal, the ultimate monument to love, which very rarely disappoints anyone. So it makes sense to stay close by; even better, within walking distance. This allows visitors to wander about surrounding souvenir stalls, eat at a rooftop café with (mostly distant and obstructed) views of the Taj, and, maybe, visit again at the special and less crowded times of sunrise or sunset. While many come on day trips from Delhi, it’s worth staying several days to also explore other majestic remnants of the Mughal Empire, including the Agra Fort, only 2km from the Taj.
Happily, many hotels of all standards are within about 2km of one of the three entrances to the Taj Mahal. Along Taj East Gate Road, which leads directly to one ticket office, are many hotels of all ranges, including Agra’s, and one of India’s finest: The Oberoi Amarvilas. The final 1km of this road is a vehicle-free pedestrian street used only by cycle-rickshaws, horse-carts, and electric shuttle buses. Budget-minded travelers often stay in and around Taj Ganj, a genuine village adjoining the southern perimeter of the Taj Mahal complex. The narrow alleys are packed with cheap guesthouses and cafés, although some locals prefer that tourists would stay elsewhere.
Along the major inner-city thoroughfare, Fatehabad Road, are the finest range of hotels, restaurants, and shops, but the traffic is horrendous. Near the other major attraction – Agra Fort – is the Old City, a charismatic but chaotic area with a majestic mosque and bustling bazaar. Designed during the colonial era, the suburb of Cantonment in the inner west is lined with wide shady streets and lies close to the bus station, train terminal, and airport – though all three transport hubs are less than 13km from the Taj Mahal anyway.
The Best Places to Stay in Agra
Best Area in Agra for…
- Best Area in Agra for Sightseeing: Fatehabad Road
This very convenient – but typically busy and noisy – road is packed with places to stay, eat, and shop. All hotels are within an easy 2km radius by auto-rickshaw of all three entrances to the Taj Mahal, while some are even within walking distance. Just a little further north is the other major attraction, Agra Fort, in the older and more interesting part of the city.
- Best Area in Agra for Shopping: Kinari Bazaar (Old City)
The oldest part of the city around Agra Fort is not as touristy and overpriced as areas closer to the Taj Mahal. At the Kinari market – especially the alleys around the Jama Masjid mosque – lookout for handwoven rugs, gemstones (probably manufactured in Jaipur), leather bags and shoes, and marble items such as statues. Prices are always negotiable, and authenticity cannot be guaranteed, so some visitors choose to spend their rupees instead on T-shirts and fridge magnets. With few tourists wandering about, the bazaar is pleasingly hassle-free.
- Best Area in Agra for Families: Taj East Gate Road
Those traveling with children will appreciate staying along the western end of Taj East Gate Road, which is 1km long and free of vehicles and, therefore, noise and fumes. It’s very pleasant strolling to the Taj or the numerous cafés and shops along this pedestrian street that is only used by horse-carts and cycle-rickshaws. Some cafés and agencies rent bicycles, which are a terrific way to explore the area immediately surrounding the Taj.
- Best Area in Agra for Food & Restaurants: Fatehabad Road
This major thoroughfare through the inner south only 2km or so from the Taj Mahal is packed with mid-range hotels. These overwhelmingly cater to Indian tourists, so there is no shortage of places to eat (including a few internationally-known fast-food outlets). This is a terrific area to try tasty, authentic, and well-priced Indian food, including local versions of paratha (Indian roti-style bread filled with potatoes and other vegetables), as well as Agra’s famous sugary sweetmeats called petha.
- Best Area in Agra for Transport: Cantonment
Most arrive at the Agra Cantonment Railway Station or the small airport, which is part of the heavily-secured air force base. These transport hubs, along with the main bus terminal, are in the southwest part of the city and close to the suburbs around the Cantonment area. In reality, however, almost every hotel is only a few minutes from the Cantonment area anyway.
- Best Area in Agra for Nightlife: Taj Ganj
There’s very little to do after dark but admire the illuminated Taj Mahal. This is best enjoyed – albeit at a distance of 700m or more – from a rooftop café/bar at a guesthouse in Taj Ganj, a village along the southern perimeter of the Taj Mahal complex. Not as impressive as the signs and staff might suggest, and always obstructed to some degree, the views are most impressive after sunset when the majestic monument is beautifully lit up.
- Best Area in Agra for Vibe & Culture: Fatehabad Road
This main road through the inner city is always vibrant or chaotic, depending on your view (and level of tolerance) of Indian city life. There’s heavy traffic and the sidewalks are packed with stalls, but everything is genuine and not specifically designed for Western tourists. Numerous restaurants serve authentic Indian food, including local versions of countrywide favorites, and the souvenir shops sell saris, rugs, gemstones, and leather goods. The Indian-style TDI Mall features a cinema showing the latest Bollywood blockbusters.
- Most Romantic Area in Agra: Taj East Gate Road
Built by a Mughal emperor after the death of his beloved (third) wife, the Taj Mahal is arguably the most romantic monument on earth. The finest area for a honeymoon or intimate getaway within this industrial city is the pedestrian street along the western end of Taj East Gate Road. The only ‘traffic’ is cycle-rickshaws and electric shuttle buses, so it’s comparatively very quiet. Rooftop cafés provide views (albeit obstructed and distant) of the Taj, which is especially romantic after dark, and the immediate area can also be explored by chartered horse-carts or rented bicycles.
- Best Area in Agra for First Timers: Taj East Gate Road
By Indian standards, Agra is a small city of ‘only’ about 1.5 million. While not nearly as large and frenetic as Delhi, the traffic and resultant noise and fumes can be overwhelming to anyone coming to India for the first time. Taj East Gate Road provides access to one entrance of the Taj Mahal but is not nearly as chaotic as other roads in Agra. In fact, the traffic-free pedestrian street along the western section of the road is lined with cafés (some in shady courtyards and all offering some Western food) and terrific for exploring by rented bicycle.
- Safest Area of Agra: Taj East Gate Road
There is nothing particularly unsafe about Agra, although some tourists have been stung by dishonest salesmen and auto-rickshaw drivers. Like all Indian cities, the main danger in Agra is the heavy traffic. Always remember: no vehicle will ever stop for any pedestrian, except (usually) at a red traffic light, so crossing the road should be done carefully. This makes staying along the western end of Taj East Gate Road advisable, especially for first-timers and families. This 1km-long section of the road is traffic-free, so pedestrians will only have to look out for electric shuttle buses and cycle-rickshaws.
The 5 Best Neighborhoods in Agra for Tourists
This road leads to the namesake entrance (one of three) to the Taj. The quietish south-eastern end is lined with casual cafés and upmarket hotels, while the 1km-long western section is a pedestrian street. With only electric shuttle buses from the bus/carpark, cycle-rickshaws, and horse-carts, this section offers many shops, bars, and cafés, some offering distant and obstructed rooftop views of the Taj. In this likable and laidback area, which is perfect for exploring by rented bicycles, are several great-value hotels, as well as the opulent Oberoi, which provides the most superior views of the reason everyone is in Agra.
2. Taj Ganj
This area immediately south of the Taj Mahal perimeter is a genuine village within a city. It’s an agreeable slice of Indian life, but some locals are not keen on intruding Westerners. The narrow alleys, some too narrow for auto-rickshaws, are scattered with long-standing hostels and budget-priced guesthouses. Many offer rooftop cafés/bars, but views of the Taj – despite what the signs and staff may say – are distant and obstructed.
3. Cantonment & Sadar Bazaar
Much of the inner western part of the city was designed and built by colonialists, so some streets are wider and shadier than elsewhere. This is especially true around the Agra Cantonment Railway Station, where most trains to/from Delhi and Jaipur stop; the Sadar Bazaar commercial district; and the defense housing area, notable by all the red walls. It’s an ideal area for walking and even cycling, but few tourist facilities are nearby. The Taj Mahal is about 10 minutes away by auto-rickshaw.
This inner-city thoroughfare about 2km from the Taj Mahal is packed with hotels and, therefore, places to eat and shop that mostly cater to Indian tourists. The eastern section has a few first-class hotels (such as the ITC), with several more near the corner with Taj East Gate Road. Clustered along the western end is an oversupply of mid-priced hotels. This area is far noisier, dirtier, and more chaotic, but it does offer a mall, some moneychangers (rare elsewhere), and many better-than-average handicraft shops.
Other than distance from the crowds visiting the Taj Mahal (only about 2km away), there are two other significant reasons to stay in this area: the Agra Fort Railway Station, where some intercity services stop, and the old city area, which features the fascinating Kinari Bazaar, venerated Jama Masjid mosque, and the extraordinary Agra Fort. The area is noisy and polluted, which is typical of Indian inner cities but lacks foreign tourists and, therefore, maddening auto-rickshaw drivers and dishonest shop-owners.
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