Recent Searches
Clear
When are you traveling?
Select Dates
Price
$0
$500+
Duration
Time of Day
RatingClear
Specials

How to Spend 1 Day in Varanasi

How to Spend 1 Day in Varanasi

Due to its position on the banks of the sacred Ganges River, Varanasi is considered the holiest place in India for devout Hindus. Even with just one day, you’ll have time to experience the pulse of this city and check out some of Varanasi’s top attractions. Here’s how to do it.

Morning: Sunrise on the Ganges

Wake before dawn and prepare yourself for the quintessential Varanasi experience: a sunrise boat ride on the Ganges River. You’ll be paddled along the sacred river—passing pilgrims performing early-morning rituals along riverside ghats (riverside steps)—just as the sun is beginning to rise. After your boat ride, continue exploring the area around the river with a guide; walking tours help you navigate the labyrinthine lanes of Old Varanasi and lead you to some of the city’s most important temples and ghats, which include the Golden Temple (Kashi Vishwanath), Pillars of Ashoka, and Kedar Ghat.

Afternoon: A Journey to Sarnath

In the afternoon, head out to Sarnath, a small town that’s only 30 minutes from Varanasi by car. As one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage centers in India, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of beautiful old stupas and temples. Guided tours, which provide crucial historical and religious context, typically cover the Chaukhandi Stupa and the Dhamek Stupa, which commemorates where the Buddha allegedly gave his first sermon. The Sarnath Museum, home to almost 7,000 Buddhist art and artifacts, is also worth a visit.

Night: Evening Aarti

In the evening, make your way back to Varanasi in time for Aarti, an evening prayer ceremony on the banks of the Ganges River. Starting just after sunset, this hour-long ritual takes place at Dashashwamedh Ghat and involves a group of traditionally-clad Hindu priests paying their respects to the holy river. Witnessing the priests play large brass lanterns to the tune of traditional religious hymns is a magical experience that’s best experienced with a guide for context. After the ceremony, grab dinner at one of the many rooftop restaurants in the area for a final glimpse of the Ganges River.

Read More
Filter
Select Dates
Today
Tomorrow
Free Cancellation:Get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance on most experiences.See Details

8 Tours and Activities

Sort by: Featured
Insight Varanasi Day Tour

Insight Varanasi Day Tour

star-5
19
This unique tour of Varanasi offers visitors an insider's look at local customs and traditions in one of the world's oldest living cities. Tour the Hindu and Buddhist sites with an expert guide, including the Ganga Ghats, where pilgrims come to absolve their sins and the Sarnath, where Buddha delivered his very first sermon.
More
  • 14 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$117.34
From
$117.34

Private 5-Hour Varanasi Tour at Dawn Including Boat Ride

Private 5-Hour Varanasi Tour at Dawn Including Boat Ride

star-5
2
If you’re looking for an enchanting experience of India’s religious traditions, opt for this private tour of Varanasi at dawn. Take a sunrise cruise down the holy Ganges River, see bodies publicly cremated at Manikarnika Ghat, and visit the famous Golden Temple (Kashi Vishwanath). See, too, pilgrims bathe at Assi Ghat and local wrestlers fight in mud pits during this cultural experience. Hotel pickup and drop-off in Varanasi are included.
More
  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$83.00
Price varies by group size
From
$83.00
Price varies by group size

Varanasi Evening Aarti Tour

Varanasi Evening Aarti Tour

star-4.5
21
Spend three unforgettable hours in one of India's most ancient cities during this evening Aarti tour in Varanasi. Experience the beauty of this Hindu ritual where light is offered up to deities. Hear religious songs sung out into the night and watch as lamps are offered to the gods. Learn why locals say this city liberates the soul from the human body during this once in a lifetime cultural experience.
More
  • 3 to 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$48.00
From
$48.00

Private Full-Day Varanasi Tour with Ganges River Boat Cruise

Private Full-Day Varanasi Tour with Ganges River Boat Cruise

star-4
9
Explore Varanasi on a private full-day tour that includes a sunrise and sunset boat ride on the Ganges River. Visit landmarks in and around Varanasi including Banaras Hindu University (BHU)'s Bharat Kala Bhavan museum, and Dhamekh Stupa in Sarnath — an important Buddhist site. Finally, watch the evening aarti ceremony from the sunset boat cruise.
More
  • 12 to 14 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$64.00
From
$64.00

2 Days Varanasi tour package for first timers

2 Days Varanasi tour package for first timers

star-5
28
Get a comprehensive tour of Varanasi on this 2-day that's perfect for first-time visitors. Spend two days in the company of a guide, learning everything there is to know about one of India's holiest cities, perched on the banks of the Ganges River. Visit all the must-see attractions and listen to in-depth commentary on the city's history, religion, architecture, and modern-day life.
More
  • 2 days
  • Free Cancellation
From
$185.00
Price varies by group size
From
$185.00
Price varies by group size

Private Full-Day City Tour of Varanasi Including Boat Ride

Private Full-Day City Tour of Varanasi Including Boat Ride

Avoid getting lost in the winding lanes of this ancient city on a private day tour. Experience the sacred Hindu atmosphere and rituals of Varanasi on and beside the Ganges River, and also visit the nearby town of Sarnath, where Buddha first preached after reaching enlightenment. End the day by witnessing the daily Ganga Aarti, or worship ceremony, beside the river.
More
  • 13 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$88.00
From
$88.00

Varanasi Boat Ride and Ancient Temples Day Tour with Breakfast

Varanasi Boat Ride and Ancient Temples Day Tour with Breakfast

star-3
1
Experience Varanasi on a sunrise cruise on the Ganges River followed by visits to several temples during a half-day tour accompanied by a private guide. Ride in a boat from Assi Ghat to Manikarnika Ghat, observe a puja ceremony at Kashi Vishwanath temple, and visit two more temples for a comprehensive overview of one of the world’s oldest living cities. Includes traditional vegetarian breakfast, and hotel pickup and drop-off.
More
  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$83.00
Price varies by group size
From
$83.00
Price varies by group size

Varanasi Morning Boat Tour [RowBoat]

Varanasi Morning Boat Tour [RowBoat]

star-5
17
See the ancient city of Varanasi come to life as you make your way down the scenic Ganges River by boat. Observe Hindus practicing their morning rituals as the sun comes up along the banks of the river and learn about local customs and traditions from your expert guide.
More
  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
$42.67
From
$42.67