Varanasi is one of the coolest places to visit in India and one that I tell people is a MUST visit when you’re here traveling for a couple of weeks or more. To this day, it’s the most unique place I’ve been in the world. This is a pilgrimage site for many Hindus as they visit the holy Ganges and choose to end the cycle of reincarnation by being cremated on this site. Here are some of the top places to visit in Varanasi. While these are the top tourist places in Varanasi, you’ll still experience it in full if you just wander around and see what you see – but I know there are list people out there so here you go! While there are dozens of places to visit in Varanasi, I’m only going to list the top 10 because it’s really a place for experiences. I’m also going to embed a tourist places in Varanasi map below so you can see these all spaced out.
Don’t miss the official Hippie in Heels Guide to India ebook. At the end of this post are three articles I’ve written on my time in Varanasi to prepare you what it’s like and give exact tips on how to stay safe and not get scammed.
Tourist Places in Varanasi Map
Before You Go To Varanasi
Don’t forget your visa! You can’t get one when you arrive, and you won’t be able to travel without one. I personally use iVisa because it makes everything easier. You can get a quote here and read more about getting your India tourist visa here.
You also don’t want to skimp on travel insurance. India’s cheap, but a bad break or ER visit can set you back quite a pretty penny. Here’s my World Nomads review on why I use them, and you can get a quote here.
Top Places to Visit in Varanasi
1. Kashi Vishwanath Temple
This Lord Shiva temple is the most famous in the state of Uttar Pradesh and a must-see while in Varanasi.
2. Manikarnika Ghat
This is the most popular Ghat for cremation. To visit here, you will want to be mentally prepared. Do not take photos of families who are cremating their loved ones. You will be a part of a beautiful experience that is very auspicious in the Hindu faith, but you’ll also see people being burned (at least their feet and parts that are uncovered).
3. Assi Ghat
This is one of the most famous Ghat in Varanasi. Many pilgrims come here to pay tribute to Lord Shiva. You can see a gorgeous ceremony here called the Arti, where they put little diwas into the water.
4. Dashashwamedh Ghat
This is one of the most famous Ghats in all of Varanasi. This is a very holy place because it’s said that Lord Brahma sacrificed 10 horses here – many pilgrims will come here and perform an Arti.
5. Durga Mandir
Some people call this the “monkey temple”. There is an idol inside that is said to not have been built, but actually just appeared one day – making it a very famous place to visit.
6. Tulsi Manas Mandir
Have you heard of the Ramayana? It’s a Hindu epic and the most famous book in the country. This is where Tulsidas wrote a different dialect of the book. It’s made of all white marble and is very beautiful!
7. Ramnagar Fort
Inside is kind of a random museum, but the Fort itself is soo pretty, built in the 18th century, and offers amazing views and great photo opportunities.
Just about 30 minutes outside of Varanasi is a quiet little Buddhist area to relax at, called Saranath Many people go there to see Monastery ruins like the Dhamekh Stupa, Chaukhandi Stupa, Mulagandha Kuti Vihara and just chill out.
9. Alamgir Mosque
Located near Panchganga Ghat, this is a stunning mosque to see from the outside but you cannot go inside if you are not Muslim. It was built in the 17th century by the Mughal emperor over what was once a Vishnu temple. You will learn as you travel in India that many sites that were Hindu, during times of war, where tampered with and even destroyed.
10. Markets: Godowlia, Chowk, and Vishwanath Gali
This is an overwhelming experience. Wander around here and keep your belongings safe – you might not want to buy a lot but the people watching is amazing. You will see men chewing paan, women buying beautiful saris, kids playing, and so much to keep your eyes busy. All of the above-listed markets are very cool and worth checking out, with the last two being what are essentially the most popular streets in town.
This will give you a great start to sightseeing in Varanasi. I have more tips in the below articles so you can know what to expect there, where to stay, what to eat, and scams to look out for.
Tours Around Varanasi
More on Varanasi
- 20 Unique & Honest Travel Tips for Varanasi
- What to Expect at the Cremation Ghats In Varanasi
- Introduction to Varanasi: It did NOT Go as Planned