Darjeeling is one of India’s most beautiful hill stations and during the time of the British Raj, was the main summer resort destination. And it’s easy to see why this rolling hill station has remained a favourite holiday destination through the years.
Darjeeling attracts visitors from India and across the world thanks to the peace, greenery and ample of places to visit and things to do here. If you are wondering what to do in Darjeeling, read our suggestions.
Whether you want to connect with your spiritual side, enjoy some delicious local food, shop or seek a few adventure thrills, Darjeeling will have you spoilt for choice. Here are some of the best things you can do in Darjeeling.
Things to do in Darjeeling
1. Enjoy a ride on the Batasia Loop
This is one of the most stunning rail routes you can find in this region. And the best part is that here you will find a toy train that runs over this 50 thousand square foot ecological garden. Here you can spot a large variety of wildflowers and enjoy the views of Darjeeling and the amazing Kanchenjunga peak.
Batasia Loop is located 4 kilometres from the city centre and if you’re hungry do try the snack stalls nearby. It can get a little crowded on the weekend so do try to head there early.
2. Meditate at the Japanese Temple and Peace Pagoda
This stunning temple isn’t located too far from the city centre and is located among the rolling hills of the Jalapahar area in Darjeeling. The Japanese Temple and Peace Pagoda are popular tourist attractions here and are must-visit spots if you are in the city. These impressive structures were built in the 70s and are open to everyone, regardless of religion.
In fact, the Pagoda has been made with the intention to promote peace among people. Access by a vehicle has been restricted, for now, so do be prepared to walk a little. The best time to visit is between 4:30 am to 6:30 am and 4:30 pm and 6 pm so you can participate in the prayers and chanting.
3. Take a walk in The Rock Garden
This is also known as the Barbotey Garden and is located about 10 kilometres from the city centre. This outstanding designed nature park offers rock surfaces that are cut out at various levels to form benches where you and your family can sit.
There is also a lot of flora and fauna to be seen here. Don’t miss out on trying to spot as many varieties of birds as you can here. This is one of Darjeeling’s most popular spots for tourists as well as locals. Do try to visit during the monsoon as the waterfall is in full force.
4. Have a picnic at Nightingale Park
This lovely park was formerly known as the Shrubbery. It was a private courtyard and has since been renovated and has been open for the public to enjoy since 2011. The project took four years to complete and every nook and corner has been designed to perfection – this once ruined garden is now a major spot for tourists to enjoy.
Some of the must-see things here include the huge statue of Shiva along with a musical fountain and manicured gardens.
5. Shop for gifts at Nehru Road
If you’re looking for one of the best places to pick up a number of items to take back home with you then you must head down Nehru Road. Here you will find a number of stalls selling handicrafts such as engraved gems, pendants, carvings and other trinkets, made locally and of course a multitude of local teas; something the region is famous for.
There are a number of different teas available here so do take your time picking the perfect blend. While some of the shops offer fixed prices, bargaining is acceptable.
6. Buy woollens at Chowk Bazaar
This is one of the best markets to visit to pick up some local items. And the best part about this bazaar is that you can get a taste of local life here too as this bazaar is popular with the residents who come here for their daily shopping.
It can get a little crowded post 4 pm, though. Some of the must-buy items include their large range of woollen items such as shawls, coats and hats. They also have some good local street food options to check out.
7. Mountaineer at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute
The lovely hill station of Darjeeling has a number of attractions that tourists just love and one such place is The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, one of the leading institutions
in its field. If you’re interested in mountaineering, this place offers a great insight to the equipment and skills needed to conquer some of the highest peaks in the world.
They have trained over 50,000 students, so it is the best place to get certified.
This is also a must-see for the fantastic view of the Kanchenjunga amongst other interesting activities.
8. Spot leopards at Padmaja Naidu Zoological Park
This is also referred to as the Darjeeling Zoo and was set up in 1958. This is a major tourist attraction and was named after the governor of West Bengal, Padmaja Naidu. If you’re an animal lover and nature enthusiast, then do pay a visit to this park which is world famous for its breeding and conservation programs.
Here you can spot rare animals species such as the Asiatic black bear, barking deer, macaws, leopards to name a few, close to the city centre. It’s best to visit during summer as the greenery is especially charming.
9. Enjoy the view from Observatory Hill
While the area leading up to Observatory Hill may not be such a pleasant trip, once you reach the top of Observatory Hill, it will be completely worth the climb. At the top of the hill, you will be treated to the Mahakal Temple, an impressive structure, as well as a number of places to sit and take a break along the way if you’re tired.
This is a religiously significant site that will make sure you feel tranquillity. The 20-minute walk to the top of the hill offers some stunning views of Darjeeling.
10. Take a tea trail at Happy Valley Tea Estate
Located at an impressive altitude of over 6500 feet, this tea valley is spread over 450 acres of property and boasts of growing some of the finest teas. This is the second oldest tea estate in this lush hill station and we recommend you take a guided tour through the tea estate to understand about the different blends and varieties.
The plantation shows off the best nature has to offer and, of course, don’t forget to sample the tea grown here. There is also a shop on the estate where you can pick up your favourites teas and take them home as gifts. Make sure you book your tour at least a day in advance.
11. Go on a cable car ride at Darjeeling Ropeway
There’s no better way to see this green hill station than from above. And a cable car is one of the most fun ways to get this view! Built in 1968, this is a tourist activity and is open through the year.
Once you hop onto the cable cars, you will get to see stunning images of the charming hill stations, striking manicured tea landscapes, rolling hills and snow-capped mountains. This ropeway is the oldest in the nation and at 7000 feet, one of the highest too, so do make sure you carry your camera to capture the sights.
12. Try out the local street food
Darjeeling, with its pleasant weather, is the perfect place to dig into some yummy, hot snacks. And they’ve got some of the best street food, with Thukpa and momos being the most popular. You will find these treats available in the street joints at almost every nook and corner of the town.
Don’t miss another surprise – Churpi. This is a kind of chewing bar that is slightly sweet but with a distinct taste. It’s available at most grocery stores and is especially popular during the winter months as it is said to provide energy. Do buy some packets to take back home, too.
13. River raft at Teesta river
While Darjeeling can be a hill station that you visit to enjoy some peace and quiet, it also has a lot to offer those seeking the thrill of adventure. And one such activity is river rafting in the gushing Teesta River.
Here you will find a series of rapids with varying intensities, ranging from Grade 1 to 4 – the latter which is only allowed for experienced rafters. There are a number of agencies you can book this activity through.
If you are visiting Darjeeling, make sure you put these happening spots on your list of places to visit. You won’t be disappointed! Do let us know about your favourite spots in Darjeeling in the comments section below. Happy journey!