Tip: Splurge on a lakefront meal (or drinks)

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Udaipur is easily one of my favorite places in Rajasthan, India. Gone is the hustle and bustle of the big cities. With the breeze of Pichola Lake wafting through the narrow alleys, the city and its inhabitants seem to mellow. I’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in Udaipur, India.

Often dubbed as the ‘Venice of the East,’ Udaipur is the most romantic destination in India. 

Before I dive into my guide of the best things to do in Udaipur, I want to preface it by saying that we didn’t “do” a whole lot. After a lot of running around in India’s major cities, we used our time in Udaipur to relax and enjoy. Rather than making sure that we hit every “must-see” destinations, we leaned into comfy rooftop with epic views

If you’re short on time, here are some of the most popular tours:

Popular tours in Udaipur

  • ⛵️ Explore the City Palace with a private guide and take a boat ride on this tour
  • 🌅 Enjoy a sunset boat ride on this tour
  • 🍝 Enjoy the best local dishes on street food tourwith a local guide
  • 👩‍🍳 Enjoy a cooking class to learn how to cook local dishes

How to get to Udaipur 

Udaipur is located in India, in the southern part of the state of Rajasthan. With a small international airport, the city is very accessible from all parts of India.

For visitors traveling through Rajasthan and beyond they have the option to take a bus, private car, or plane. Unfortunately there is no train station in Udaipur. Travelers often arrive from other parts of Rajasthan, such as Jaipur or Jodhpur. The most common way to get here is by bus or private car. By bus is the cheapest way to get to Udaipur, however a private car will be more comfortable for the journey. The flight is very quick, but only a bit faster than driving as you will need to factor in travel time to and from the airport, as well as time at the airport.

  • Jaipur to Udaipur by car/bus: 6-7 hours
  • Jaipur to Udaipur by plane: 1 hour
  • Jodhpur to Udaipur by car/bus: 6-7 hours
Sunset over the lake in Udaipur, Rajasthan
Sunset over the lake in Udaipur, Rajasthan

Getting around Udaipur 

If you are staying in or near the city center, then Udaipur is a very walkable city. We found it to be the most walkable city that we visited in Rajasthan. Most of the many attractions can be reached on foot, as well as the best restaurants and bars in the city.

For locations that are further away in the city you have the option of a taxi, tuktuk (rikshaw) or rideshare (Uber/Ola).

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Udaipur is during the winter months, from September to March. These months are, however, also the busiest in the city. We visited Udaipur at the end of March at is was perfect. While temperatures were hot, hovering the 80s, they were still very manageable, especially with the breeze coming from the lake. It was not too crowded at all, making it easy to visit all of the popular dining spots within reservations (while still getting the best lakefront tables).

Sun setting over Lake Pichola, Udaipur
Sun setting over Lake Pichola, Udaipur

Best things to do in Udaipur

Visit the City Palace 

We visited a lot of palaces throughout our month in India, so by the time we reached Udaipur I was unsure if I really wanted to visit yet another palace. The City Palace of Udaipur, however, stood out amongst them all.

The Udaipur City Palace, which was originally constructed in 1599, although it took hundreds of years to complete, is the largest palace in Rajasthan. To this day, the current king and his family live within the palace walls.

Queen's quarter in the City Palace, Udaipur
Queen’s quarter in the City Palace, Udaipur

I highly recommend booking a guide, as there is so much to learn about this royal palace. There are official guides for hire at the main entrance. Expect to pay 500 INR ($6 USD) for a tour of the grounds and museum. 

After visiting the Palace, make sure to check out Anokhi boutique for beautiful hand printed bedding and clothing.  

Cost: 300 INR

Hours: 9AM to 4:30PM (always double check hours before visiting)

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Lake views outside of the palace
Lake views outside of the palace
Detailed designs and art in the City Palace
Detailed designs and art in the City Palace

Book a night at the Taj Lake Palace

If you’re looking to splurge, do it at the Taj Lake Palace. With rooms starting at $300 per night, you can actually stay in a floating palace. This is easily one of the nicest hotels in Udaipur, and in all of India for that matter. They no longer let non-guests visit the property, so if you’re looking to see this historic hotel up close, then you’ll need to spend a night here.

Admire the Jagdish Temple

Located just a few minute walk down the road from the City Palace, Jagdish Temple should definitely be a stop on your tour of the best things to do in Udaipur. This beautiful Hindu temple is the largest temple in Udaipur, and the most famous as well.

You won’t need too long for your visit, but it is a beautiful stop to admire to incredible details.

Cost: Free

Hours: 4:15AM-1PM, 5:15PM-8PM daily

Details of Jagdish Temple
Details of Jagdish Temple
Udaipur city center
Udaipur city center

Learn about the famous Miniature Art technique of Udaipur 

You won’t need to spend very long in Udaipur before you start to notice the unique art style in of paintings being sold in every other shop in the city center.  This style of painting originates from the 17th century in Rajasthan. The Miniate Art style was originally used to record the events in the lives of the royal families, so there is a lot of cultural and historical significance to these beautiful paintings.

You can purchase a piece to bring home, but note that the prices will vary greatly based on the level of detail. I recommend shopping around a bit to get a sense of prices before making any purchases.

Miniature art master
Miniature art master
Make sure to take a boat ride on Lake Pichola
Make sure to take a boat ride on Lake Pichola

Take a boat ride on Lake Pichola 

One of the most popular things to do in Udaipur is to take a boat ride on Lake Pichola, especially at sunset. It is a great way to see the city from the water. And if you don’t have the chance to stay at the Taj Palace, you’ll be able to see it up close from the boat.

Boat a sunset cruise here.

Enjoy a cup of chai with a view

For us, our time in Udaipur was all about slowing down. We had 1 month to spend in India during this trip, and the first few stops were very busy and filled with lots of food, people, and sights to see. Once we arrived in Udaipur we took this much slower. So cue the (many) cups of chai drank with beautiful views of Lake Pichola. And if chai is not your thing, then you can grab a beer or even a kombucha instead.

Get lost in the streets of Udaipur 

One of the things that I loved most about Udaipur was how walkable of a city it is. Unlike the larger cities in Rajasthan, and in India generally, where you need to rely on tuk tuks and taxis to get around, you can comfortably walk around Udaipur. I recommend taking some time to simply get lost wandering the beautiful winding streets of Udaipur.

motorbike in udaipur
dog in udaipur city center

Create lasting memories with a photoshoot with local artist, Rajesh

As we were wandering the streets of Udaipur with no real plan in mind, we happened to come across a small photography gallery that belonged to Rajesh. Unlike the miniature artwork that we had seen in shop after shop, Rajesh’s work immediately stood out for us. Following in the artistic footsteps of his family, who once painted for the royal family, Rajesh is known for using the same artistic style to hand paint modern photographs.

You can check out his Instagram account for examples of his work.

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Photoshoot with local photographer, Rajesh
Photoshoot with local photographer, Rajesh

Stay at a Heritage Hotel 

‘Heritage Hotels’ are hotels built on culturally or historically significant properties in Udaipur. They are often very picturesque, with traditional architecture. If it is in your budget, one of the best things to do in Udaipur is to stay at a heritage hotel.

Here are a few heritage hotels in Udaipur to check out:

Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel

A heritage hotel in the heart of Udaipur, Jagat Niwas is a gorgeous place to stay in the city. Features an on-site restaurant with water views.

Check rates and availability

While these heritage hotels are all reasonably affordable, they might not be in your budget if you are backpacking or traveling on a strict budget. If it is not in your budget to stay at one of these hotels (for us it made more sense to stay at Kotra Haveli for just $20 USD per night), then definitely stop by for a drink or meal. Some hotels like Udai Kothi offer a day pass to their rooftop pool for non-guests.

Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel, heritage hotel in Udaipur
Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel
Udai Kothi rooftop pool
Udai Kothi

Enjoy rooftop (or lakefront) drinks with a view

Bars in Udaipur are plentiful, and many of them offer some of the most beautiful views of the lake and city. Easily one of the best things to do in Udaipur is to simply sit and enjoy a cocktail or beer while the sun sets over Lake Pichola.

Take a sunset hike to Bahubali Hills

If you’re looking for a bit of activity while in Udaipur, consider a sunset hike up Bahubali Hills. After meeting Rajesh (an awesome local photographer), we brought us up here to enjoy a final sunset in the city.

These lakes are located about a 30 minute drive from the city center so you will need to hire a private driver to reach this point. The hike itself is only about 15 minutes and not super steep.

A fun, easy hike in Udaipur
A fun, easy hike in Udaipur
Sunset over Bahubali Hills
Sunset over Bahubali Hills

Other things to do in Udaipur:

We took our days in Udaipur very slow – leaning into afternoons by the pool and reading a good book with a beer in hand. For this reason we didn’t get a chance to check out all of the most popular things to do in Udaipur (and that’s okay)! But if you’re interested, here are some other popular things to do in Udaipur:

  • Ride the ropeway 
  • Visit the Ahar Centographs 

Where to eat in Udaipur 

We ate very well while in Udaipur, but we also ran up our food bill quite a bit. Generally speaking, any restaurant with a view is going to have high prices. You can expect to pay 400-500 rupees for a main dish. And if you are dining or drinking at a hotel, you can expect a hefty amount of taxes to be added. We also found that there are also more bars in Udaipur than the rest of Rajasthan, however alcohol comes with a larger price tag, when compared to local food prices.

If you are traveling to India on a budget, you can choose to eat local and then head to the restaurants with the best views for just a beer or a lassi. Since we were traveling right at the end of the season in late March, we did not have any trouble finding a table at restaurants. However, if you are traveling during the busiest season then you may way to consider making dinner reservations.

Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel 

Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel was easily my favorite place that we ate in Udaipur. For starters, the view is absolutely incredible. You’ll find cushioned seats set out in window boxes, perfect for a relaxed lunch. We dined at Jagat Niwas twice during our stay in Udaipur. While prices are a bit higher than your local restaurant (partially due to high hotel taxes), it is well worth it for the amazing ambiance and views. Plus, despite being a hotel restaurant, the food is so so good. I recommend the Butter Paneer with a side of warm Garlic Naan. And then, of course, a mango lassi if they are in season. One of the best that I’ve ever has. 

Incredible lunch views over the lake
Incredible lunch views over the lake
Restaurant at Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel, Udaipur
Restaurant at Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel

Khamma Ghani Restaurant

Another beautiful restaurant on Lake Pichola, Khamma Ghani is well worth the visit. Although not directly in the city center, it is an easy walk over the bridge. While prices are higher than local prices, they are well worth it for the views and delicious foods. Make a reservation or arrive early to snag one of the seats right on the water.

Delicious dinner at Khamma Ghani Restaurant
Delicious dinner at Khamma Ghani Restaurant
Make sure to arrive early or reserve a lakefront table
Make sure to arrive early or reserve a lakefront table

Restaurant Harigarh

A restaurant with the same owners as Khamma Ghani, Restaurant Harigarh is another one of the check out if you are looking for a meal with a view. Prices are on par with the other “fancier” restaurants in town, but the food and views are incredible. After a lot of street food, it felt nice to pamper ourselves a bit dining in Udaipur.

Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel rooftop
Jagat Niwas Palace Hotel rooftop

Where to stay in Udaipur

There are so many amazing places to stay in Udaipur, and there is truly something for any budget. We stayed at Kotra Haveli and paid $77 for 2 people in the deluxe room for 3 nights. The room was clean and spacious, and the hotel itself was in a super convenient location right by the temple and city palace. A delicious breakfast was included in the daily rate.

Visiting India? Here are some other articles to check out to help you plan your trip:

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