A 2-Day Itinerary for the holy city of Varanasi

Mesmerising Ganga Arti on the ghats of Varanasi

Welcome to Varanasi, the spiritual heart of India, where ancient traditions mingle with the vibrant culture. In this all-inclusive 2-day itinerary, let’s delve into the essence of the holy city, discovering the things to do in Varanasi, the beautiful places to visit, and eat to your heart’s content. Prepare for a remarkable journey full of history, spirituality, and culinary delights.  

Things to do in Varanasi- Day 1

Immerse yourself in Tradition and Culture


1. Witness Sunrise and Take a Holy Dip at the Ghat

Floating on the Ganges

Your journey to Varanasi isn’t complete till you witness the ethereal sunrise over the Ganges. A holy dip in the water and a boat ride are just the perfect ways to start your Varanasi tour. For some, it is a life-changing experience, as the endless flow of the river and the calming sound of the temple bell reverberates in your soul. However, make sure you reach early to avoid the crowd. The best time to visit the ghats is before 9 am.

The cost of boat rides starts from Rs 150-200 depending on the number of people and the distance you wish to cover.

2. Head to Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Kashi Vishawanath Temple Varanasi
Pic Credit: Abhishek Pandey, as uploaded on Wikipedia

The renowned Kashi Vishwanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva draws a huge crowd daily. It is also one of the twelve jyotirlingas in India. Built in 1780, the temple was sadly destroyed and rebuilt multiple times. Nonetheless, the intricate architecture of the ancient temple will leave you mesmerized. It is said that the temple darshan and a holy dip in the Ganges will help you attain moksha. Temple timings are 3 am to 11 pm every day.

Please note: No cameras, mobile phones, lighters, cigarettes, belts with metal buckles, or shoes are allowed inside the premises. Additionally, you will pass multiple security checks before getting to the main shrine. Lockers can be hired for a nominal fee.


1. Explore the Ghats and Markets

Varanasi’s energy is contagious. As many say, the city is not just a city but an emotion. And it is undoubtedly true. While wandering through the narrow alleys and bustling market of Varanasi, you will be transported to a different world. You will find a variety of things to shop ranging from hand-crafted items, and traditional attires to utensils and toys. The Vishwanath Gali and Godowlia Market are the most visited markets in the city. Immersing in the local culture and shopping for souvenirs are among the best things to do in Varanasi.

2. Relish Varanasi Local Cuisines

Litti Chokha in Varanasi
Scrumptious Litti Chokha in Varanasi

There is nothing better than trying lip-smacking street food in the holy town of Kashi. From refreshing hand-churned lassi to kachori sabzi, litti chokha to Banarasi pan, you cannot settle for one. It is also said that your trip isn’t complete without trying Shiv Prasad’s thick, creamy lassi, which is eaten and not sipped. Amazing yeah? It is best to relish the punchy flavors of Varanasi with a traditional thaali at local eateries. Don’t miss thandaai and malaiyo, the best-selling desserts in the city.  


1. Attend Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat

Attending evening aarti in Varanasi
The iconic Ganga Aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi

At Dashashwamedh Ghat, priests perform rituals with fire, incense, and chants honoring the river goddess, hence creating a magical atmosphere. Witness the spectacular display of lights and devotion against the backdrop of the rushing Ganges. The arti at this ghat is the biggest in Varanasi. If you reach at least 90 minutes early, chances are you can get a spot to view the aarti from a close distance.

2. Dinner and Stroll at the Ghats

Savour Varanasi cuisines for dinner after an eventful day. You can sit by the river soaking in the twinkling views. You can also watch musical performances while strolling around the ghats. Foreign nationals playing musical instruments and dancing to the tunes of bhajans, is a common sight in Varanasi.

Things to do in Varanasi – Day 2

Delve into History and Spirituality


1. Visit to Sarnath

Buddhist Stupa at Sarnath
The iconic stupa of Sarnath

Just 10 km outside of Varanasi is the quiet town of Sarnath famed as a a place where Gautam Buddha delivered his first sermon post attaining enlightenment. In short, Sarnath is home to ancient ruins, temples, and Buddhist stupas, like the ones in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh. The most popular among them is the Dhamek Stupa which stands as a symbol of Buddhist heritage. Also, don’t forget to visit the Sarnath Museum which has a collection of sculptures and artifacts from Sarnath excavations. The museum remains open all days except Friday.

Daytime gets extremely hot and unbearable. Hence morning is the best time to visit Sarnath. The fastest way to reach Sarnath is to board a train from Varanasi and the journey takes less than fifteen minutes.


Marvel the Ramnagar Fort

The fame of Varanasi’s ghats and street food often overshadow the Ramnagar Fort. In 1750, Kashi Naresh Maharaja Balwant Singh built the fort. Further, this historic fort houses a museum that showcases a royal vintage collection. Ramnagar Fort has several carved balconies, open courtyards, and pavilions. However, only a part of the structure is open for public viewing as the rest of it is the residence of Kashi Naresh and his family. 

Located opposite Tulsi Ghat, a boat ride from Dashashwamedh Ghat to the fort takes about an hour. But taking the newly built Ramnagar Bridge will be a shorter journey for those coming from Banaras Hindu University.


Ghat Stroll and Evening Prayers

Evening Prayers at the ghat
Faith that ignites all souls

We saved the best for the last! Take a stroll around the ghats, imbibing the tranquil environment and observing devotees’ evening prayers. You will indeed feel the spiritual energy that flows through the historic city of Varanasi. Also, the Ganga aarti at Assi Ghat is another sight to behold. The pooja and the recitals are soul-stirring. It is wonderful to see an old tradition still alive and in practice that continues to attract people. The evening aarti is a major crowd-puller and gets insanely crowded. Henceforth, reach early to grab your spot. You can also witness the aarti from a boat for a price.   

How to reach Varanasi

Varanasi is well-connected by various modes of transportation:

Varanasi Junction
Varanasi Railway Station
  • Train: Varanasi Junction is the primary railway station, connected to major cities across India. Book your tickets from here.
  • Flight: Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, located about 20 kilometers from the city center, serves both domestic and international flights.
  • Bus: A network of public and private buses connects Varanasi to nearby cities and states.
    To travel within the city, you can rely on auto-rickshaws or cycle-rickshaws. App-based cab services are not widely available since Varanasi is congested. P.S- If you book your flight and hotel from here, it will help us earn a small revenue at no extra cost to you. Your support means a lot to us.

Where to Stay in Varanasi

There is no dearth of hotels in Varanasi. Above all, you can choose from plenty of homestays and budget accommodations. In fact temple trusts run a lot of dharamshalas, paying guest rooms and lodges across the town. Mid-range to premium hotels are also available.

Varanasi gets overcrowded during Maha Shivratri, Holi, Dev Deepawali, Ganga Mahotsava, and Chhath Puja. Book a stay in advance and plan your trip to Varanasi accordingly.   

Summing up Varanasi

Embark on a soul-stirring journey through Varanasi with this meticulously crafted 2-day itinerary. You won’t just discover the spiritual allure but also the rich heritage, and culinary delights that define this ancient city. Let Varanasi enchant you with its timeless charm and profound spirituality, leaving you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.

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