If you book flights to Delhi expecting to find only a historic city filled with reminders of India's imperial past, you're in for a surprise. As the capital of India, Delhi epitomizes the country's modern cities, and while it certainly has its fair share of ancient temples, monuments, and forts, it is also home to several corporate headquarters, haute couture fashion houses, and is the hot-seat of Indian politics.
Although it can be quite dangerous to travel alone at night, don't let that stop you from exploring the city during the day. To trace the city's history from its Mogul rulers to its British colonizers, to its current inhabitants, visit the magnificent Red Fort, the eccentrically designed buildings at Jantar Mantar, the towering minaret at Qutub Minar, and the imposing entry to the city centre at India Gate. You can also explore the country's religious history from the famous 17th century Jama Masjid mosque, to the more recently constructed Swaminarayan Akshardham, the world's largest comprehensive Hindu temple. See all of this, and you will still have only scratched the surface!
A place of contrasts, you can find mansions in Greater Kailash that will rival those in Beverly Hills, as well as crowded streets and open-air markets in Karol Bagh; fine-dining restaurants and five-star hotels are just a stone's throw away from some of the most delicious street food or chaat you will ever encounter; and shopping options include everything from an exclusive Louis Vuitton store to the cheap stalls at Khan Market.
Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) is located about 20 km away from the city centre and is the main gateway for international and domestic flights to Delhi.
Air India offers non-stop services from Toronto to Delhi but you can also get cheap flights to Delhi on airlines like Air Canada, Jet Airways, American Airlines, United, and Lufthansa, with stop overs in Europe like Amsterdam or Brussels. Alternatively, you can also fly with Cathay Pacific via Asia with a stopover in Hong Kong.
When planning your trip to Delhi, steer clear of booking flights in the summertime when temperatures soar well into the 40s (Celsius) and the likelihood of sunstroke is quite high. Delhi winters have occasional hail storms and temperatures sometimes dip to a chilly 3°C. If you're booking airline tickets to Delhi from November to January, keep in mind that heavy fog frequently disrupts flight schedules so confirming your flight status before leaving for the airport is always recommended.
Airfares on Delhi flights are most expensive in December due to the number of people travelling for the holidays and the city's busy wedding season. The time to get the cheapest fares and good weather in Delhi is from September to November or February to March.
International flights to Delhi arrive at Terminal 3, the most recent addition to Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL). Terminal 1 deals with domestic air traffic while Terminal 2 is no longer in use. Passengers on Delhi flights who need to make connections to services departing from Terminal 1 can use the free shuttle service which runs between the terminals every 10 minutes. Check the airport's website for any additional details on the ground transportation options listed below.
Train: For the quickest trip into town, use the express train service which runs every 20 minutes between the Airport and the New Delhi Metro Station. This service operates only from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m., so if your flight arrives after 11 p.m., you will need to make other travel arrangements. Tickets cost about $2 CAD and can be purchased at vending machines and counters inside the airport station. If you're in Delhi for a while, it may be worth buying a Smart Card which you can top up with additional funds as and when you need to.
Bus: Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses serving the airport depart from a stop opposite the Centaur Hotel, located near Terminal 3, and a free shuttle bus runs every 15 minutes between this stop and the airport. First-time visitors to Delhi should avoid using these bus services unless absolutely necessary as they are frequently crowded and the network is more difficult to navigate than the metro.
DTC also operates a shuttle bus service which connects the airport with several locations in central Delhi. Buses depart every 30 minutes and depending on your destination, ticket prices vary between $1-$3 CAD, making this an extremely cheap and convenient travel option if you're not in a rush.
Hotel Shuttle: Most hotels in Delhi offer a shuttle service to and from the airport. Many of these are paid-for services and the charges are added to your final hotel bill. If you choose to book this service, contact the hotel with your arrival details so that a car is waiting for you as soon as your Delhi flight arrives.
Taxi: Pre-paid cabs are usually cheaper, and booking kiosks for these are located near the airport exits. Post-paid taxi services operate from stands outside all terminal exits and are run by Meru, Mega Cabs, and Easy Cabs. These cabs run on digital meters and accept cash or credit cards. Fares to Delhi's city centre range from $5-$10 CAD depending on whether you choose an air-conditioned, non-air-conditioned, pre-paid, or post-paid service.
Car Rental and Chauffeured Car Services: Carzonrent is the only provider of rental cars and chauffeured car services at Delhi Airport. While self-drive sedans and luxury cars are available, it is not advisable for visitors to drive in Delhi unless they are familiar with the Indian roads and traffic. Most visitors opt for chauffeured cars instead, and the price for these depends on whether you choose a flashy Mercedes Benz or something more mundane.