Long weekend on the radar? We have just the right holiday ideas for you! Whether youʼre travelling with family, friends, or solo, discover our hand picked destinations that offer an escape from the everyday hustle of major Indian cities—each one serving up something special for the quick getaway of your dreams.
BY KHYATI MALOO
Heading Out From Delhi
A weekend’s worth of regalia awaits in this haven of maharajas and magnificent palaces! Begin your adventure by exploring the majestic Amer Fort, a beacon of Rajput architecture, with its ramparts, gates, and cobbled paths overlooking Maota Lake. The area around the fort is the usual starting point for various hot-air balloon rides—a great way for families to tour the Pink City. About a 10-minute drive away is the City Palace, the home of Jaipur’s royal family. It’s a must-visit for its textile and art museums, as well as the mesmerising Diwan-i-Khas, the erstwhile Hall of Private Audience, boasting impressive chandeliers, silver jars, and other opulent exhibits. Make time for shopping at Johari Bazaar, where lac bangles, juttis (Indian footwear), and block-print textiles are worth the splurge! To savour the moment, treat yourself to pyaz ki kachori (fried doughnut stuffed with onions) and ghewar (Jaipuri sweet) at streetside stalls as you take in the intricate façade of the Hawa Mahal—a great backdrop for a couple’s
Must-do: The Chokhi Dhani village is a must-visit for its cultural and culinary experiences.
Getting there: Jaipur is around 300 kilometres by road from Delhi.
DHARAMSHALA, Himachal Pradesh
A true-blue hill station with myriad activities for every kind of traveller. Spiritual seekers will love the suburb of McLeod Ganj, home to the Tsuglagkhang Complex, a monastic village and sanctuary of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. This pretty little town also hosts the Namgyal Monastery and Tibet Museum, both offering enlightening peeks into Tibetan life, art, and philosophies.
Next, shop carved boxes, wind chimes, and thangkas (Tibetan paintings) at the Jogiwara Road Bazaar. All this exploration and the fresh air is sure to build your appetite, so make sure to try mouth-watering momos and comforting thukpa (noodle soup) at Tibet Kitchen. Top off your trip with a trek to the Bhagsu Falls and a cooling dip in its gushing casacades! Families and groups of friends will also enjoy the paragliding and flying fox adventures in nearby
Must-do: Take in a traditional show at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.
Getting there: Dharamshala is around 460 kilometres by road
Heading Out From Mumbai
Delightfully versatile, this scenic city is sprinkled with charming, contemporary vineyards, as well as many prehistoric structures and mythological spots! The neighbourhood of Ramkund, for instance, is a prominent holy site for Hindus as it is believed to be the place where Lord Rama bathed. Lakhs of devotees visit it every year to immerse the ashes of their loved ones in the Asthivilay Kund. A short drive away, the Pandavleni Caves, dating back to the 3rd century BC, offer insights into ancient Buddhist rock-cut architecture. At the other end of the spectrum, Nashik is a wine lover’s delight! The Sula Vineyards and Soma Vine Village are popular destinations for wine tours and tastings, presenting tempting culinary treats and cosy get-togethers that make this retreat the perfect getaway for couples and friends.
Must-do: Take a boat ride on the Godavari River with the Gangapur Boat Club.
Getting there: Nashik is around 166 kilometres by road
Heading Out From Kolkata
SUNDARBANS, West Bengal
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is your gateway to the wild. Venture into the dense mangrove forests on boats to catch glimpses of majestic Bengal tigers and formidable saltwater crocodiles. Traverse the Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary, where watchtowers, nature interpretation centres, and crocodile breeding grounds will make adults and kids gush with wonder. Connect with the local communities in villages like Gosaba to learn about the unique way of life in this part of the world. And, of course, treat your taste buds to regional delicacies, including mud crab curry, bhetki macher paturi (fish steamed in banana leaf), and macher jhol (Bengali fish curry) at the many resorts and lodges that dot this region.
Must-do: Ask your guide about legends of the spirit of Bonbibi and visit one of her shrines.
Getting there: Sundarbans is around 130 kilometres by road
Heading Out From Ahmedabad
RANN OF KUTCH, Gujarat
Going by the other-worldly landscape of this stunning white-salt desert, it’s hard to imagine that it’s just a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of city life. An instant weekend getaway superstar in our books! Adventure lovers will enjoy the thrill of jeep and camel safaris, followed by camping trysts on full moon nights. Further, villages like Bhujodi and Nirona offer intricate embroidery, textiles, and traditional art for shoppers. Visit between November and February to enjoy the ‘Rann Utsav,’ a festival that showcases the cultural heritage of this region on a grand scale.
Must-do: Visit the Dholavira village, site of the Indus Valley Civilization, to see ancient ruins.
Getting there: The Rann of Kutch is around 400 kilometres by road from Ahmedabad.
Heading Out From Guwahati
Perched like a jewel amid the verdant Khasi Hills, this picturesque hill station blossoms with manicured gardens and flowering trees, which is why it’s known as the ‘Scotland of the East’. From the majestic Elephant Falls to tranquil boat rides on Umiam Lake, Shillong is a delectable slice of paradise. Bite into this quaint city’s delightful food scene by visiting the street stalls in Police Bazaar; you’ll find everything from momos and jhalmuri (spicy puffed rice) to jadoh (Khasi-style rice) here. Music lovers and couples will enjoy the vibrant live music scene at Café Shillong, while adventure seekers can embark on foot along nearby scenic trails like the gorgeous Mawphlang Sacred Forest Trek and Khasi Heritage Village Trek. The cool, pristine climate of this lush setting is a welcome plus!
Must-do: Visit nearby Cherrapunji to see the living root bridges and the world-famous Mawlynnong village.
Getting there: Shillong is around 100 kilometres by road
Heading Out From Bengaluru
Emerald landscapes and the wafting aroma of coffee welcome you to this pleasant hill station in the Western Ghats. Spend days chasing the Abbey and Iruppu Falls and satiate your appetite with delectable local specialities like pandi curry (spicy pork) and akki (rice flour) roti at the Coorg Cuisine restaurant in Madikeri. Wildlife enthusiasts can aim to venture into the jungles of the Nagarhole National Park or visit the lovely Dubare Elephant Camp for a close look at these gentle creatures as they stroll about and splash in the waters. Last but definitely not the least, one can’t leave Coorg without coffee and spice plantation walks and tours, along with endless cups of the brew for
the whole family!
Must-do: Trek up to Tadiandamol Peak and say a prayer at Namdroling Monastery.
Getting there: Coorg is around 240 kilometres by road
Heading Out From Chennai
A coastal jewel that effortlessly blends French colonial opulence with Indian spirituality! Wander through the French Quarter, known for its well-preserved heritage architecture, vibrantly colourful houses, and boutique shops. Those seeking some spiritual solace should head to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, and then journey to the utopian Auroville township for a light repast. As the sun sets, meander along Promenade Beach—a serene, unspoiled paradise set amidst crystal-clear waters—savouring gelato at GMT Ice Cream. Make a pit stop at Le Café, a historic eatery by the sea that serves Indian and French cuisine—their croissants and aromatic filter coffee are unmissable!
Must-do: Visit Paradise Beach for a tranquil escape and a fun boat ride, and shop at the quaint stores in Auroville.
Getting there: Puducherry is around 150 kilometres by road