With a rich history spanning over 3,000 years, Varanasi is a spiritual and cultural centre, attracting pilgrims, scholars, and tourists alike. 

It is one of the holiest cities in India, and with so much religion, devotion, and history throughout its streets, ghats, and temples, there are many activities to do in Varanasi. Its timeless charm and religious significance make it a quintessential destination in Indian culture. 

If you are planning a trip to this beautiful city in the central part of India, here are our suggestions on the best things to do in Varanasi, India that would help you experience almost everything that the city has to offer.  

Things to do and see in Varanasi

  1. Visit the Historical Ramnagar Fort
  2. Seek blessings at Kashi Vishwanath Temple
  3. Take a dip in the Holy Ganges
  4. Watch the evening Aarti on the banks of the Ganges
  5. Go on a sightseeing tour of Sarnath
  6. Visit the weavers' village
  7. Indulge in some shopping
  8. Gorge on local delicacies
  9. Watch Sunsets at Varanasi's Enchanting Ghats
  10. Discover the Bharat Mata Temple and Tulsi Manas Temple
  11. Visit the Banaras Hindu University and its museums

Let's check out the Varanasi things to do list in details:

  • Visit the Historical Ramnagar Fort 

Located on the banks of the Holy Ganges, this magnificent fort was built by Kashi Naresh. Although a major portion of the fort is now in a dilapidated state, the structure still stands tall and is as imposing as ever, a testament to the fact that it would have been a splendour once upon a time.  It is one of the great historical places to visit in Varanasi. 

You can get the most magical view of the fort by taking a boat ride from the Dasawamedh Ghat. As you ride over the calm waters of the Ganges in the evening, the sun paints the sky gold, and the reflection of the light of the waters on the fort is a sight to behold!  

  • Seek blessings of the Lord at Kashi Vishwanath Temple

The Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the most important places of worship for the Hindu community in India. Located on the western bank of the Ganges, the temple has one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, and it gets many worshippers and followers of Lord Shiva throughout the year. 

With the constantly praying tourists around the temple complex and the priests chanting the mantras, there is an undeniable divine aura around the temple, making it a great spiritual awakening in India.

  • Take a dip in the Holy Ganges 

Whether you are spiritually inclined or not, when you are in Varanasi, you ought to take a dip in the Holy Ganga. It is one of the best things to do in Banaras (another name for Varanasi). In India, the Ganges is considered the most sacred river and people believe that taking a dip in the river will wash away all their sins and wrongdoings. 

  • Watch the evening aarti on the banks of Ganges

Talk about things to do in Varanasi, watching the evening Aarti must be at the top of your list. The evening Aarti is a spectacular sight that you will cherish for a long time. Dedicated to the Holy Ganges, the Aarti or the prayer celebrates the River Goddess, and you can witness the surreal ceremony from the Dasawamedh Ghat. 

As the sun goes down, the Ghat comes alive every day as the priests light up huge brass lamps that weigh about 4.5 kgs, incense sticks, and chant prayers. 

Aarti Timings - 6.45 PM  

  • Go on a sightseeing tour of Sarnath 

Sarnath is a great example of why Varanasi is the cultural capital of India. Like the rest of India, which is known for its cultural diversity, this holy city houses many places of worship for different religions. Located just about 12 kms from Varanasi, this is a popular holy site for Buddhists. It is the place where Lord Gautam Buddha first taught the principles of Buddhism to people after he achieved enlightenment. Visiting this place should be on your list of things to do in Varanasi. 

One of the major attractions here is the Dharmekh Stupa, a 128-foot high pillar dating back to 200 BC. Also, there are some intricate and interesting carvings that depict Buddhist culture. If you love archaeology or history, you must visit the Archaeological museum nearby that houses some of the most amazing treasures that you won’t find anywhere in India. 

  • Visit the weavers village

You may have heard about Benaras silk garments. They are famous globally, and the weavers in this beautiful city are known for creating masterpieces. The Sarai Mohana village, also known as the weavers' village, is popular for its many silk-weaving looms. 

The Banaras silk saree made by the weavers here are the finest in India. These saris feature work of gold and silver embroidery and they are mostly worn on special occasions. They are also a favourite bridal wear. While in the village, you can see the master craftsman at work creating their masterpieces. This is one of the things to do in Benaras that would give you a close-up look at one of the city’s hidden gems

  • Indulge in some shopping

Shopping is one of the best things to do in Varanasi and a great way to take home some amazing memories from the holy city. The city is known for its awesome silk garments, and ornate jewels. You can visit the local market to explore the plethora of colours, elaborate designs and intricate patterns.  

Apart from Saris, you can buy shawls, carpets, idols of Buddhist and Hindu deities and bangles. And the best places to visit Varanasi to shop include Thatheri Bazaar, Godowilia, and Vishwanath Lane.  

  • Gorge on the Local delicacies

Varanasi sightseeing experience would be incomplete without getting a taste of the local food. This is without a doubt one of the activities to do in Varanasi for everyone.
The city is a haven for all food lovers. From the lip-smacking gol gappe, to tikis, chaat and jalebi rabri there is so much that you can try while exploring the Varanasi streets. From street-food vendors to cozy cafes there are many places that you can visit. 

Watch Sunsets at Varanasi's Enchanting Ghats
The Ghats along the Ganges River are the most beautiful places to visit Varanasi. Taking a walk there during sunset is a wonderful experience – watching spectacular sights and creating special moments with your loved ones. It's a must-visit in Varanasi, and watching the sunset from the Ghats is unforgettable. There are many Ghats to choose from, so pick your favourite spot. Since they can get crowded, it's best to go early to get the best views that you'll remember forever. 

Discover the Bharat Mata Temple and Tulsi Manas Temple 

The Bharat Mata Temple, also known as Mother India Temple, is a unique temple in Varanasi dedicated to the personification of India as a mother. Inaugurated in 1936, the temple houses a marble relief map of undivided India, symbolizing unity and integrity. The temple is a symbol of nationalism and attracts numerous visitors who come to pay their respects to Mother India. The architecture of the temple is simple yet elegant, reflecting the essence of the country. 

Tulsi Manas Temple, dedicated to Lord Ram, is another significant temple in the city and among the great spiritual places to visit Varanasi. Constructed in 1964, the temple is named after the great Indian poet Tulsidas, who composed the Hindu epic Ramcharitmanas. The walls of the temple are adorned with beautiful verses from the Ramcharitmanas, making it an important pilgrimage site for devotees of Lord Rama. The temple's serene atmosphere provides a spiritual retreat for visitors seeking solace and peace. 

Visit the Banaras Hindu University and its museums 

Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is one of the largest residential universities in Asia, established in 1916 by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. The sprawling campus, spread over 1300 acres, is home to several educational institutions, hostels, museums, and temples. It is a hub of learning, research, and cultural activities, attracting students and scholars from around the world. 

The Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum, located within the university premises, is a treasure trove of Indian art and culture and one of the things to see in Varanasi for history enthusiasts. 

Established in 1920, the museum showcases a vast collection of sculptures, paintings, textiles, coins, and manuscripts. Its galleries exhibit a rich variety of art forms, including Mughal miniatures, Rajasthani paintings, and ancient bronze artefacts. The museum's collection provides a comprehensive insight into the diverse and vibrant history of Indian art and culture. Visiting BHU and its museums is an enriching experience, offering a glimpse into the academic and cultural heritage of India. 

So, here you have a list of amazing things to do in Varanasi. So, get your bags ready and head off to the holy city for an awesome tourist experience.  

How to reach Varanasi

Excited about the activities to do in Varanasi? Here’s how to reach Varanasi.

By Air:

Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport (VNS) in Varanasi connects it with major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and more. You can book a flight to Varanasi and then take a taxi or local transport to your desired destination within the city. 

By Train:

Varanasi Junction (BSB) is the main railway station serving the city. It is well connected to major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, and others. You can book a train ticket to Varanasi, and upon arrival, use local transport or taxis to reach your destination. 

By Road:

Varanasi is well connected by road to other major cities and towns in India. You can choose to drive, hire a car, or take a bus to reach Varanasi. There are several state-run and private buses that operate between Varanasi and other cities.

Driving to the city in a private vehicle will give you more flexibility to access the best things to do in Varanasi.

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