The prospect of a family trip to India can be a daunting one. While this vast, hugely diverse country has family-friendly attractions and activities galore, it’s also notorious for chaotic cities and the infamous “Delhi Belly.” Luxury travel in India is a whole different ball game, however; this two-week trip takes in all the best sights and experiences for families in India, while avoiding the complications and inconveniences. With high-end hotels at every stop, and quality private transfers to get from A to B, our memory-making trip of a lifetime takes the stress out of a first-time family trip around India.


Day 1-3: Delhi

India’s beyond-busy capital (the population is about 25 million) is the obvious place to begin your family vacation in India. Begin in style with a private transfer (around 35 minutes’ drive) to the city’s grandest hotel, the Leela Palace, whose fleet of Rolls Royce and BMW cars is available for airport meet and greets. The super-plush hotel has enormous rooms and incredible suites, and is very accommodating for families. A heated rooftop pool, ritzy spa, and several on-site restaurants mean the family is unlikely to want to move far from the hotel for the first 24 hours–all the better for recuperating from jet-lag! A 24-hour babysitting service is available should the grownups feel like exploring the city after dark.

? Boxout: India’s enormous capital city is divided into “Old Delhi” and “New Delhi.” The former a chaotic maze of medieval lanes, and the latter is a neat, modern garden city designed according to the skillful plans of British architect Edward Lutyen. Both sides of the city sit atop the remains of several previous incarnations of the city.

Given Delhi’s size and scale, the best way to see the sights is via a private driver and guide. Spots not to be missed include the UNESCO-listed tomb of Mughal ruler Humayun, the vast Red Fort, and the former home of Gandhi at a museum created in his honor. The vast Lodhi Park is a great spot for picnics and a rare bit of peace and quiet, while kids love the city’s Deer Park. Located in the southern part of the city, the park boasts ducks, rabbits and other fluffy friends as well as the eponymous deer. A rickshaw ride around Old Delhi, taking in the colorful bazaars, is a fun way to round off your family stay in Delhi.

? Tip: It’s worth giving the kids a crash course in Indian history before arriving in Delhi. Particularly prevalent are the might Mughals, who ruled the Indian subcontinent from 1526 to 1857. The six Great Mughals: Babar, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb built a powerful empire and left a legacy of distinctive art, architecture, literature, and food.


Day 4-7: Varanasi

Board a flight to Varanasi, the captivating spiritual capital of the Hindu world. From Delhi, the flights last about 90 minutes. Take a riverboat tour along the Ganges River to admire the many grand palaces and temples, and watch the hordes of pilgrims perform ritual ablutions in the holy waters. Visitors can see master silk weavers at work, buy gorgeous silk creations, and all ages will enjoy a visit to the 18th Century Durga Temple, famous for its monkey inhabitants as well as its grand design. It’s well worth taking a side trip to nearby Sarnath, where Buddha gave his first sermon after reaching enlightenment. Deer Park in Sarnath is a lovely place for families to take a picnic.

Where to stay: Check into the intimate Taj Nadesar Palace, where beautiful gardens are perfect for kids to run amuck in, and where guests can enjoy BBQs in the open air as they soak up the views.

?Boxout: Varanasi’s Golden Temple, dedicated to Shiva, only admits Hindus (and sacred cows), but non-Hindus can admire the glimmering gold-plated spire from outside. Nearby are narrow lanes packed with wandering animals as well as food sellers, market stalls and numerous mosques.


Day 8-9: Agra

There are just a few direct flights per week between Varanasi and Agra, home to the magnificent Taj Mahal, so be sure to time your flights accordingly–or allow time for the scenic eight-hour train ride.

Where to stay: For a truly luxurious family stay in Agra, book into the Oberoi Amarvilas, which is the only hotel in the world whose rooms have a view of the Taj Mahal, just 600 meters away. This hotel truly turns the luxury level up to 11, but remains a fun place for families – kids will love the enormous pool, the fountains and the golf buggy rides to the Taj Mahal. There’s fine-dining on site, with kids’ options available (and babysitting for parents who feel like a fancy meal sans kids).

? Boxout: Mangoes galore 

Like mangoes? You’ll be in your element in India. India is the largest producer and consumer of mangoes in the world, and there are more than 100 different varieties. Kids tend to love mango whipped up with yogurt to make a cooling lassi, and they’re a great ingredient for grown-up cocktails, too.


Day 10-11: Jaipur

It’s a drive of around three hours from Agra to Jaipur, so be sure to book a suitably comfortable car and load the kids’ backpacks up with pens/pencils/iPads or whatever else keeps boredom at bay. You’re en route to Rajasthan’s famous “Pink City.”

Where to stay: Stay at the Rambagh Palace, and watch the kids’ faces light up when they’re greeted by a parade of decorated elephants and horses on arrival at this former royal residence. Aside from the opulence of the hotel itself, visitors on luxury family holidays in Jaipur can visit hill forts and spectacular palaces, race around vast parks and gardens, and soak up the color and culture of the medieval backstreets and bazaars, where tribespeople in bright sarees and turbans sell beautiful textiles and leatherwork.


Day 12: Udaipur

Set aside time in your schedule for at least a day in one of India’s most beautiful cities (90-minute flight from Delhi). A luxury family stay in Udaipur should include a boat trip around Lake Pichola, tour of the ornate city palace, and a visit to Jagdish Temple. Kids can try out their bargaining skills shopping for keepsakes at the bazaars, and burn off energy at the compact-but-fun Saheliyon Ki Bari Garden, where marble elephants, fountains and forts compete for kids’ attention.

Where to stay: Where you and the brood can lap up the luxury at Oberoi Udaivilas.


Day 13-14: Mumbai

Take the 90-minute flight to India’s other super-city, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), where you’ll  The hotel can book you a whistle-stop tour of the big, bright city (famously the home of Bollywood) – be sure not to miss a boat ride out to the Elephant Island Caves, which is filled with fascinating Hindu statues dedicated to Shiva. Dining options take in everything from a patisserie serving fine pastries, to seafood and tapas, as well as traditional Indian cuisine, so guests may want to spend their last few nights simply lounging by the pool, soaking up the views and reflecting on their luxury family holiday in India.

Where to stay: Round off your trip in style with a stay at the Taj Mahal Palace, in the south of the city which offers dramatic views of the Arabian Sea, and where kids are greeted with a “Kids’ Passport” packed with puzzles and other things to do. Aside from exploring the vast, palatial pool and its grounds, the hotel lays on a range of bespoke creative activities for kids, so the grown ups can enjoy some pampering treatments at the super-lavish spa. Babysitters are available to look after the brood if the grownups feel like a kid-free nightcap or two.

We go to India for few months almost every year, so check out our top tips for family travel to India.

Before going to India try to learn some Hindi!

Vast, beguiling and hard to define, India – and it’s food – can be both intriguing and intimidating. Foodie families may be put off traveling in India because of fears of tummy troubles (the infamous Delhi Belly) and the enormous nation can seem a little too much to tackle with kids in tow. But in fact this richly diverse nation has an awful lot to offer foodie families, with a few caveats: Don’t try to do too much, too quickly. Allow for delays and don’t let them derail your plans, and take time to get kids’ tummies used to the local dishes. Research places to eat in advance if you are very concerned, but grownups shouldn’t be afraid to get stuck into the excellent street food scene — not to try the chaat during a culinary trip around India would a be crying shame. Use hand sanitizer on little hands, only drink bottled water (and check it’s sealed), but don’t be put off visiting India because of food fears. For all the best reasons, the delicious scents, sounds and, of course, taste of India’s cooking will stay with you forever.

Day 1-10: Mumbai

Brace yourselves for a sensory overload, and don’t make too many plans for your first couple of days in India. Landing in Mumbai – the country’s most populous city, visitors with kids should take a little while to settle into the hectic pace of life in the city. Once you’ve got your bearings and the culture shock has calmed a little, there’s a lot of foodie fun to be had in this most colorful and chaotic of cities. It’s perhaps wise to let delicate stomachs get used to new flavors and textures gradually, and to eat at slightly pricier than average restaurants in the first few days rather than diving straight into the admittedly impressive street food scene. The Bandra neighborhood in particular has lots of good juice spots, bakeries and organic cafes, including the super-cute Birdsong Organic Cafe.

Those with stronger stomachs can find some of the best chaat (street food) in the country – in fact, it’s probably some of the best street food in the world. Crawford Market, with its huge collection of street vendors and restaurants, is a hotspot, but  food hygiene can be an issue at some of the stands, so choose carefully.

? Box out: Mumbai’s most popular street snack is the ubiquitous vada pav, a delicious (meat-free) burger. This go-to snack for hungry locals is a crisp fried potato patty served inside a pav bread bun that’s spread thick with spicy, garlicky chutney. Like most street snacks in Mumbai, it’s incredibly cheap – any more than the equivalent of $1 would be considered extortionate. There are lots of places to try it without risking Delhi Belly — try Ashok Vada Pav Stall on Cadel Road, Kirti College Lane, Prabhadevi. Ask for it sans chutney for kids, while parents can spice it up with whole green chillies on the side. Attractions for kids abound here, including butterfly gardens, aquariums, a zoo, and the caves of nearby Elephanta Island all make it worth spending at least 10 days in and around this enormous Metropolis.

Day 11-25 Goa to Kerala

Ain’t going to Goa? Oh yes you are! After all that big city chaos, it’s time for some chilling on the beaches. This former Portuguese colony has a different vibe to much of the rest of India, and while some of its beach towns are too full of partying gap-year types to be appealing to families, visitors to Goa with kids will find blissfully quiet white sand beaches and swaying palm trees in the south of the coastal state. The food here tends to be a highpoint for families with kids, as it’s a lot more child-friendly than some parts of India. There’s plenty of international fare to be found, but adults and kids alike might get a taste for the local dishes. A couple of good spots to try are a well-cooked Goan dishes are are Mum’s Kitchen, in Panjim, northern Goa, and the atmospheric Britto’s, in Baga, where Goan seafood is served alongside easy eats such as pizza and fried chicken – and kids can play in the sand right in front of the restaurant.

Boxout: Goan food has a strong Portuguese sotaque – with the legacy of colonisation evident in many of the herbs and spices that are combined with local fish, seafood, fruits and vegetables to delicious effect. The Portuguese taste for all things sweet and creamy has made an impact too – families in Goa can tuck into such Portuguese treats as pasteis de nata (custard tarts), and in fact every variation on the theme of pastry, eggs and sugar that one could imagine.


Take your time to savour the scenery and the food, traveling slowly south (trains are a good way to take in sights en-route) with stops at the beaches en-route to Karnataka, making the a stop at the rich historical city of Mysore (which will likely have particular significance for any yogis on this foodie trip around India), checking out thoroughly modern Bangalore and sailing on houseboats along the rivers of Kerala, past tea plantations and tropical jungle where elephant roam. Wildlife reserves and some very pleasant guest houses make this off-the-beaten track region fun to explore with kids.

? Box out: In Bangalore, do not under any circumstances miss the famous dosa–pancakes made with rice or lentil flour (and therefore naturally gluten free) and filled with chutneys and anything from vegetarian spiced potato to chicken.

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Day 26-36 :Kolkata (Calcutta) via Chennai (Madras)

If there’s one Indian city that no self-respecting foodie should miss, it’s Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). Travel-savvy gourmands speak in hushed tones about the place, so it’s worth the long journey, which can be made via long distance train (break up  the journey up with a day or two in Chennai (Madras), where meat-free dishes abound, and visitors should be sure to try an authentic Thali : a selection of richly-spiced sauces, sambar, spiced vegetables and chutneys, served on a banana leaf and served with chapatis for mopping up (expect to pay anywhere between $2-15 dollars, depending on the fanciness of the spot) If you don’t fancy spending a couple of days on a train, fly direct to Kolkata, to see what the foodie fuss is about.

The city is somewhat less hectic than many others in India, and visitors with children are all but guaranteed a friendly welcome, so it’s a great place for foodie family adventures. There are street eats to be found on every corner, but visitors should make a beeline for Vivekananda Park, where chaat-to-die-for includes fantastic phuchkas (a deep fried, hollow ball of flour typically filled with spiced potatoes). A whole family could tuck in to street snacks without spending more than a few dollars, but for a sit down family meal it’s worth trying Oh, Calcutta! On Elgin Road, an unfussy all-you-can-eat restaurant where kids and adults can take their pick of all the foods they want, and avoid those that don’t take their fancy.

Click here to get more cool tips for family travel in India

? Boxout: Kolkota’s most famous contribution to India’s culinary scene is the kati roll, which sees paratha flatbread grilled on one side, then filled with your choice of chargrilled meat, chicken, spiced potato or paneer, and a dash of chili. It’s served in a twist of paper to be enjoyed on the hoof, or you can eat it sitting down at legendary spot Nizam’s (said to be the very spot where the snack was invented), which also sells excellent Biryani. Wherever you eat it, this is a pocket-friendly snack (typically $0.50-1).


Day 37-60 Delhi & Surrounds

The chaotic Indian capital can be stiflingly hot in the summer (the large aqua-parks make for a fun cool down), so set aside a good amount of time to see everything if offers without dashing around and risking familial meltdown.There are sleeper trains (17-hour journey, around $65 first class with meals included) but unless you feel like taking the scenic route, flights are only a little more expensive, and a lot quicker. However you arrive, you should be sure to dive into the dynamic chaat scene, which is a mouthwatering mix of India’s cultural and culinary heritage. You can find everything from Tibetan momos to delicious roti and paratha flatbreads, dunked into every kind of spiced curry, sauce and condiment you could dream of. Don’t miss a trip to Khan Market, which brings together wonderful chaat with international dishes, colorful juices and yummy cakes, in a series of family friendly restaurants. Side trips to gorgeous nearby cities such as regal Jaipur ‘the Pink City’ and spots such as Keoladeo Ghana National Park, with its magnificent birdlife, mean there’ll be plenty to see and do on a family trip to Delhi – luckily, you’re never far away from a chance to refuel for further adventures.