Things to do in Varanasi

Our most recommended things to do in Varanasi

Private Full-Day Varanasi Tour & Monkey Temple

1. Private Full-Day Varanasi Tour & Monkey Temple

Start your full-day of exploration with a convenient pick-up at your accommodation. You will meet your driver/guide at 11:00 AM in the lobby of your hotel and set off on your adventure to find out why the city holds such religious importance in the Hindu mythology.  Your tour will start with a visit to Kashi Vishwanath Temple - a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Witness the beauty of a temple that is considered to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (the holiest Shiva temples) in India. Here, in the Hindu belief system, visiting the temple and dipping yourself in the waters of the holy Ganga River is considered to be the way of achieving Moksha (liberation). Continue on your tour to visit the famous Monkey Temple, also called Durga Temple. Marvel at the temple's beautiful carvings, inlaid stones and the holy water pond called 'Kund'. Follow your temple trip with a visit to 'Tulsi Manas Mandir', where Hindu scripture Ramayana was originally translated by Tulsidas from the Sanskrit language to Awadhi dialect in 16th-century. Admire the temple walls that display scenes and pictorials from the Ramayana in the form of paintings. You will also get the chance to see Bharat Mata Temple, also called Mother India temple. Here you can see the undivided relief map of India carved out of marble.  Add to the list of beautiful temples visited with a trip to Birla Temple, also known as Marble Temple, another famous architectural structure dedicated to Lord Shiva. After a fascinating full day tour of Varanasi city, the tour will complete and you will be safely dropped back at the hotel.

Varanasi: Full-Day Tour of Temples, Sarnath and Aarti

2. Varanasi: Full-Day Tour of Temples, Sarnath and Aarti

Your private tour will start early with 5:00 AM pickup from your hotel. See the morning aarti ceremony as the sun rises, a magical spiritual experience. After this you’ll visit the main temples in Varanasi, including Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Monkey Temple, Tulsi Manas Mandir, and Birla Temple. These are famous for their ornate carvings and historical significance.  Continue to Sarnath, a must-see in Varanasi. Your guide will teach you the history of this Buddhist pilgrimage site, as you explore the beautiful ruins of Buddhist monuments. See the incredible Dhamekha Stupa, where Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. Then visit the Sarnath Archeological Museum, the Lion Capital of Ashoka, and at a monastery with beautiful wall paintings.  Head back into town to watch the evening aarti ceremony on the banks of the Ganges. Watch the ceremony, where a supreme priest offers prayers o the holy river with a sacred brass lamp. The ceremony involves lights, cymbals, incense, and people singing hymns and chanting. After an amazing day of sightseeing, you will be dropped safely back at your hotel. 

Walking Tour of Varanasi

3. Walking Tour of Varanasi

Take a three hour private walking tour of the back streets of Varanasi. The tour begins with a pickup from your hotel lobby at 10:00 AM, at which time you will be driven to the heart of the city, in a residential area where your walking tour will start with a guide. Wander through the oldest markets and charming alleys of Varanasi. The city is sectioned into several areas which are distinguished according to their speciality. See the typical way of living of the locals in the narrow lanes, so small, there is barely space to walk! You will see the tiny apartments stacked one over the other, spilling over with life into the streets. Switch to another area lined with numerous dharamshalas, or public dormitories, offering lodging at low prices to the city visitors. The heavy influx of tourists and devotees owes to the large number of dharamshalas as an inexpensive option to spend your days in Varanasi. Try the famous banarasi paan (a mouth freshener prepared with betel leaves) from one of the kiosk in the market. Enjoy the walk as you witness the untouched charm of the city. After the walking tour you will be dropped safely back at your hotel with chauffeur service.

India: Evening Ganga Aarti With Dinner and Private Transfer

4. India: Evening Ganga Aarti With Dinner and Private Transfer

Your driver will collect you from your hotel lobby for the journey to Ghat for Aarti. On arrival at Ghat, you will embark on the boat trip to Dashashwamedh Ghate. The Aarti prayer service is performed each evening by a group of priests. You will also witness the Agni Pooja, which is performed as a commitment to the Lord Shiva. All priests here are students of the Vedas and Upanishads, which is led by the head priest of the Gangotri Seva Samiti. The service is performed by traditionally-garbed priests by the light of brass lamps. This magnificent Aarti takes 45 minutes and starts at 6:45 p.m.  After Aarti, eat in a famous Indian restaurant, where you will enjoy a mouthwatering dinner.

Varanasi: Evening Arti Boat Tour with Dinner

5. Varanasi: Evening Arti Boat Tour with Dinner

At around 5:30PM, your chauffeur along with your tour representative will pick you up from the hotel lobby to drive you toward the Dashashwamedh Ghat to experienc the mesmerizing Ganga Aarti. On arrival, you will board the royal boat to enjoy a 1-hour cruise and Aarti experience in a more comfortable manner. This royal boat has red carpet flooring and is decorated with flowers. You will receive a warm welcome on board to the boat with a welcome drink, with the boat also having snacks and soft drinks to make this evening more relaxed and comfortable. You can easily catch a glimpse of Ganga Aarti from the boat, with many vantage points being provided to enhance your evening aboard the vessel. The Aarti will start from 6:45PM after sunset, with a croon of mantra. This will be followed by melodious hymns dedicated to Lord Shiva, Surya (The Sun), Mata Ganga (Ganga river) and Agni (Lord of Fire) given by priests wearing the same kind of cloth named as dhoti and kurta, and holding a multi-tiered heavy brass lamp and conch shell. After experiencing the elegance of Ganga Aarti, you will be taken to a famous restaurant in Varanasi for a tempting dinner. In the restaurant, you will receive a pleasing welcome before being served with drinks, starters, a main course and desert. After your appetizing dinner and interesting conversation with your guide, your chauffeur will drop you back at your nearby accommodation.

Varanasi: Night Boat Ride, Aarati Ceremony and Dinner

6. Varanasi: Night Boat Ride, Aarati Ceremony and Dinner

Your tour will begin at 5:00 PM with pickup from your hotel. Take a boat ride along the river, where you can enjoy the breathtaking sights of the city lit up at night. Disembark to watch the aarti ceremony on the banks of the Ganges. See a priest take a sacred brass lamp and offer prayers to the holy river. The ceremony involves lights, cymbals, scented incense sticks, and people singing hymns and chanting. It’s a truly mesmerizing experience. After the ceremony, you will be taken for a delicious dinner at a local restaurant. Order your favorite dishes and relish them in the warm hospitality and cozy ambiance. After dinner, you will be dropped safely back at your hotel in Varanasi.

From Varanasi: Sunrise Boat Tour and Heritage Walk

7. From Varanasi: Sunrise Boat Tour and Heritage Walk

One of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and one of the most holy for Hindus, Varanasi is the true embodiment of culture, mythology, heritage, and a real face of India. A city situated at the banks of the holy Ganges and known for its many ghats (embankments made in stone steps where pilgrims perform rituals) and large number of temples, this is definitely one of the best places to get to know India. Set off on an early-morning tour and explore this ancient city at dawn. Enjoy a boat ride past many colorful ghats and to where you can see people practicing their many rituals. One popular ghat is the Manikarnikaghat, where Hindu cremation takes place. Witness a funeral pyre there. Your tour will start with a pickup from your hotel by your guide at 5:00 AM in the summer or 6:00 AM in the winter. After reaching the ghat, get into the boat for a memorable ride on the Ganges where you’ll get to watch the city come alive with the sun. Once the boat ride is complete, walk through the oldest part of Varanasi and experience the rich culture and heritage of this mystical city firsthand. Get dropped off at your hotel at the end of the tour.

Delhi: 6-Day Golden Triangle & Varanasi Private Tour

8. Delhi: 6-Day Golden Triangle & Varanasi Private Tour

Begin the first day of your trip with a pickup from your hotel or other desired place in Delhi, Noida or Gurugram. Start with a half-day city tour of Delhi. Visit Qutub Minar, Lotus Temple, and India Gate. Drive by Parliament House and the President's Palace. After that, proceed to Agra via a 4-hour drive. Upon arrival in Agra, check in to your hotel.  On day 2, you will get up before sunrise, and head to the Taj Mahal to watch the sun come up over this world-famous monument. You will spend two hours exploring the site. After that, return to your hotel for breakfast and to check out, and then spend an hour visiting the Agra Fort. You will then start the 5-hour drive to Jaipur. After breakfast the following day, you will enjoy a guided tour of the Amber Fort. Next, visit the Jal Mahal, a palace located in the middle of the Man Sagar Lake, followed by the Maharaja’s City Palace. Drive past the beautiful Hawa Mahal, a large structure built so the women of the royal household could observe the streets outside whilst remaining hidden.  After breakfast on day 4, you will be transferred to Jaipur airport for your domestic flight to Varanasi. Upon arrival at Varanasi airport, you will be picked up and transferred to your hotel to check in. The rest of the day is free at your leisure.  In the morning of day 5, you will be driven to Assi Ghat, where you will watch the Hindu fire ceremony rituals performed by women priests. Next, enjoy a sunrise boat tour on the River Ganges to see the Ghats of this ancient city. After breakfast, enjoy a city tour of Varanasi which includes the Banaras Hindu University and its temple, a traditional school where children are learning an ancient version of Sanskrit, and a historical wrestling ground.  On day 6, if you have not chosen the option with a return flight to Delhi, you will be transferred to a location of your choice in Varanasi. If you have chosen the option with the flight, upon arrival at Delhi airport, you’ll be dropped off at a location of your choice in Delhi, Noida or Gurugram.

Varanasi: Half-Day City Tour and Evening Aarti (Worship)

9. Varanasi: Half-Day City Tour and Evening Aarti (Worship)

Your tour of Varanasi, one of the holy cities of India will start at 2:00 P.M. Your guide will be waiting for your arrival at your hotel lobby and you will drive to Dasaswamedh Ghat. When you arrive, you will start your boat ride on the Ganges River.   During this 1-hour boat ride, you will see a beautiful sunset and ceremonies happening on the banks of Ganges river, performed by Hindu priests and devotees. Then you will be able to observe Hindu people cremated in Manikarnika Ghat (an auspicious ceremony), where the final resting of the human body takes place. At night, you will see different shows displaying Hindu culture on the banks of Manikarnika Ghat. It’s a colorful ceremony that happens every day and showcases the glorious Hindu culture. At the end of the ceremony, you will enjoy dinner at a popular rooftop restaurant, where you can take in the unforgettable views of the city. At the end of the tour, you will be driven back to your hotel.

Indian Village Tour

10. Indian Village Tour

Your village tour will begin with a pickup at 12:00 PM from your hotel lobby. Board the air-conditioned car and get ready to see the raw beauty of India, living strong in its villages. You will be driven to the secluded villages of Lamahi and Dashrathpuri, situated near Varanasi. This city is well known for its Hindu spiritual and religious traditions, as well as for its serenity with numerous ghats. A short drive from Varanasi takes you to the bygone golden period, living on in its nearby villages. This is the chance to see the true India in its golden period. Take a peek at the slow rural life of India, far away from the chaotic city. See farmers, artisans, and local people at work. Chat, try your hand at pottery, and spend time with skilled artisans. Get to know in detail about daily life in India over a hot cup of tea. After the tour, you will be safely dropped back at your booked hotel.

Other Sightseeing Options in Varanasi

Want to discover all there is to do in Varanasi? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Varanasi

Overall rating

4.0 / 5

based on 48 reviews

Great tour! Rajat was professional, informative, accommodating, and friendly. Each part of the tour was worth it, and we enjoyed the one-of-a-kind beauty of Varanasi. Recommend for travelers who are up for a unique adventure!

We had a great tour, everything was nicely planned. Our guides provided us with interesting insights and the drivers were also very helpful and reliable. Would definitely recommend this tour!

We were picked up on time in the morning, had his great guide and driver. would book excursions again at any time with get your guide. Lunch and continuing into the evening were simply great.

On time. Informative. Incredible experience. Highly recommended.

Guide was good and he explained in detail about all the ghats