The best time to visit India is in the winter (December to early March). It tends to get very hot from April onwards, and most regions experience the summer monsoon from June to September. That being said, India is a huge country with diverse climatic regions, and there are incredible places to explore all year. We’ve put together a guide to the best time to visit some of its most popular destinations.

When’s the best time to visit the Indian Himalaya?

The best time to visit the Indian Himalaya is from November to February. This is the driest period, though January and February are very chilly at the higher altitudes. In the eastern Himalaya, in places like Gangtok and Darjeeling, the monsoon brings heavy rainfall from June to August and, to a lesser extent, in the shoulder seasons. It’s best to avoid this area in the summer.

When’s the best time to visit Delhi?

A holy cow standing in an alleyway in Delhi, India

Delhi experiences a subtropical climate with a mild, sunny winter, a scorching summer and a wet, humid monsoon season from July to September. The best time to visit is from November to February to avoid the rains and the intense heat between March and June. Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located, experiences a similar climate.

When’s the best time to visit Goa?

Goa is known for its beaches and laid-back vibe. The monsoon arrives in late May through September and brings very intense rainfall. It’s best to visit Goa in January and February when it's warm (average maximum of 32°C/90°F) and dry. March, April and November are still technically part of the dry season, but it can be hot and sticky and there’s a risk of cyclones.

When’s the best time to visit Kolkata?

The best time to visit Kolkata is during the dry winter from mid-December to February. The temperature increases from March onwards and the heat can get quite intense. The monsoon rains tend to arrive towards the end of May, with October and November seeing an increased chance of cyclones, tropical storms and flooding.

When’s the best time to visit Mumbai?

The best time to visit Mumbai is in January and February when the weather is dry but not too hot. March, April and May are generally dry, though the heat can be overpowering. June, July, August and September see the worst monsoonal rains, but cyclones are still possible in November and December.

When’s the best time to visit Kerala?

A traditional houseboat in the Kerala backwaters, India

In Thiruvananthapuram (formerly known as Trivandrum), at the southern tip of Kerala, the rains – from April to late November – are less intense but last longer. The high season in Kerala runs from late November through late March, when it’s relatively dry and not too hot.

When’s the best time to visit Rajasthan?

The state of Rajasthan, which includes Jaipur and Ranthambore National Park, is most enjoyable in December, January and February. That said, it’s not a bad place to go outside of these months as the monsoon usually has a smaller impact than in other regions.

When’s the best time to visit Varanasi?

The best time to visit Varanasi is from November until early March before the heat intensifies. April, May and June are extremely hot, with the monsoon arriving in July until the end of September.

Month-by-month breakdown

January

Best for: wintry magic in the Himalaya, hitting the beach in Goa, cruising through Kerala

January is one of the driest months in India. It’s cold up north, but it’s a magical time to travel through the foothills of the snow-topped Himalaya, learn about Tibetan spirituality in Dharmsala or sip hot chai in Rishikesh’s cafes. For warmer weather, head to Goa’s golden beaches or to Kerala to cruise the palm-fringed backwaters on a houseboat.

February

Best for: exploring Rajasthan’s regal sites, Jaisalmer Desert Festival

Winter nears its end in February and temperatures start rising across the country. It’s a fantastic time to explore Rajasthan’s majestic Maharajah forts and palaces or journey into the Thar Desert without melting in the heat. You could even align your trip with the Jaisalmer Desert Festival to witness the colour and opulence of Rajasthani culture. Expect elaborate camel processions, folk dancing, turban-tying competitions and traditional food.

March

a pair of hands covered in colourful powders at Holi festival in India

Best for: Holi Festival, the Golden Triangle

March is the last month before scorching temps take hold, which makes it a great time to tick off the Taj Mahal and Amber Fort in the Golden Triangle. But the biggest reason to travel to India in March is, of course, Holi! It’s not every day you can take to the streets with hundreds if not thousands of people and throw colourful powders over each other in the name of love. The date changes based on the Hindu calendar, but usually occurs on the last full moon in March.

April

Four Bengal tigers in Ranthambore National Park, India

Best for: hiking in the Himalaya, spotting wildlife in Ranthambhore

The hot, sticky weather begins in April, with temperatures in Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai often hitting 37°C/99°F. April’s a great month to spot wildlife in Ranthambhore National Park; the increasingly dry conditions mean vegetation is thin, and animals tend to congregate around waterholes. If you’re lucky, you may spot a Bengal tiger. It’s also a pretty time to hike in the Himalaya which are blooming with wildflowers.

May

Best for: retreating to the mountains and hill stations

May is one of the muggiest months in India, so unless you can handle the heat, you might find it too hot. Beat the heat in the mountains where a cooler climate and colourful blooms await, or go to Darjeeling for cool breezes and delicious tea. Monsoon rains arrive in southern states in late May, which is a welcome relief from the humidity. While it doesn’t rain all day, downpours tend to be very intense. Don’t forget a waterproof poncho!

June

Best for: exploring northern India, off-season crowds

The wet season is underway by June and the humidity can be oppressive. Travel in south India is off the cards (unless you fancy getting drenched), so go north to swap beaches and backwaters for mountains, rivers and yoga classes. If you can cope with the heat, it can be a good time to take advantage of off-season crowds and prices.

July

A traveller holding up a chai with Jaipur's Hawa Mahal in the background

Best for: uncovering the magic of Rajasthan sans the crowds

The south is saturated in July, causing many national parks to close. There’s also a risk of landslides and flooding in lowland areas. Take advantage of off-season crowds and visit the stunning forts and palaces in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer without the crowds. To escape the rain completely, head to the Thar Desert (just bear in mind it’ll be hot).

August

Best for: Ganesh Chaturthi Festival, Independence Day, Kerala snake boat races

August is the wettest month, but if you don’t mind ducking inside during downpours, you’ll enjoy fewer tourists and maybe cheaper accommodation. Plus, tropical landscapes in the south look extra lush thanks to the rain. If you’re in Kerala on the second Sunday in August, don’t miss the annual snake boat races on the backwaters. It’s also a great time to do the Golden Triangle or Varanasi with vibrant festivities for Independence Day and Ganesh Chaturthi, a festival dedicated to Ganesha.

September

Best for: Krishna Janmashtami, touring the Golden Triangle, foodie adventures

The rain eases in September. As a shoulder month, it’s a great time to see big ticket sites in the Golden Triangle as they’re not too crowded. Rajasthan is gorgeous at this time of year, with lush countryside and full lakes thanks to the monsoon rains. September also marks one of India’s significant harvest seasons, so why not jump on a Real Food Adventure to uncover the best of Indian cuisine.

October

A man and a boy lighting firecrackers for Diwali festival in India

Best for: cycling adventures, Diwali festivities

October sees pleasant weather across most of the country, so it’s an excellent time to hop on a bike to experience India at a slower pace. A highlight of October is Diwali (though some years it may fall in November). Often called the festival of light, Diwali celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Expect to see homes and streets decorated with lights, candlelit ceremonies and firework shows.

November

Best for: pleasant weather, the Pushkar Camel Fair

The weather in many parts of India is cool and dry in November, and most activities are back on again. But the biggest drawcard is the Pushkar Camel Fair. Every year, thousands of camels (and their owners dressed in their finest garb), villagers and entertainers from all over Rajasthan travel to the holy city of Pushkar to trade and entertain crowds with eyebrow-raising exhibitions – including a much-anticipated moustache competition.

December

Best for: hitting Goa’s beaches, dodging the crowds in northern India

The weather is a mixed bag in December, from cold conditions in the north to clear skies and plentiful sunshine down south. It’s one of the busiest months with international travellers arriving in the masses for the festive season break, particularly in Goa, so booking accommodation and activities in advance is recommended. If you’d rather dodge the crowds, head north to watch morning prayers along the misty Ganges in Varanasi, or eat your way around Jaipur on a Pink City Rickshaw tour.

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