OT Itinerary: Three Days In Varanasi

From the historical heart of the city the intricate and old handicrafts, explore Varanasi thoroughly with our elaborate 3-day itinerary
A view of a ghat in Varanasi
A view of a ghat in VaranasiShutterstock

As a longstanding busy site, the city of Varanasi is a timeless exhibition of spirituality, culture and history, where every alleyway and every ghat holds a story waiting to be discovered. The city traces its history back over 3,000 years as a cradle of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. In a noteworthy take on Varanasi, Mark Twain famously wrote, "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together." As such, it has been a centre of spiritual and intellectual pursuits.

From the mystical rituals performed on the banks of the Ganges to the intricate craftsmanship displayed in its temples and markets, Varanasi has long drawn visitors to its unparalleled charms. Each day opens up new spectacles of its essence, weaving together moments of serenity, revelation and vibrant energy. Whether wandering through the labyrinthine streets of the old city or cruising along the sacred river at dawn, Varanasi offers an immersive journey. With our carefully curated 3-day itinerary, embark on an exploration of Varanasi that will leave you replete with fulfilment.

Day 1: The Heart of Varanasi

Morning view of Assi Ghat
Morning view of Assi GhatShutterstock

Begin your trip to Varanasi with a serene morning walk along Assi Ghat, one of the southernmost ghats in Varanasi. Watch the sunrise over the Ganges and witness the morning rituals performed by devotees. It is particularly notable as the River Assi meets the Ganges near here. After soaking in the spiritual ambience, head to Banaras Hindu University (BHU), which is one of the largest residential universities in Asia. The campus's buildings built in the first half of the 20th century are examples of Indo-Gothic architecture. Explore the sprawling campus, visit the Bharat Kala Bhavan Museum to see its impressive collection of artefacts, and admire the iconic Vishwanath Temple.

Dhamekh Stupa and ruins in Sarnath
Dhamekh Stupa and ruins in SarnathShutterstock

In the afternoon, venture to Sarnath, just a few kilometres away from Varanasi. The site is where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. It is a sacred place for Buddhists. Make sure to visit the Dhamek Stupa, Mulagandha Kuti Vihar and the Sarnath Archaeological Museum to learn about the rich history of Buddhism and witness the ancient ruins.

Ganga Aarti in progress at the Dashashwamedh Ghat
Ganga Aarti in progress at the Dashashwamedh GhatShutterstock

As evening descends, return to Varanasi and make your way to Dashashwamedh Ghat. Witness the mesmerising Ganga Aarti ceremony, an elaborate ritual performed by priests with lamps and incense, creating a captivating spectacle. Afterwards, explore the ghats by boat, taking in the illuminated riverbanks and witnessing the floating diyas (lamps) during the Ganga Aarti from a unique vantage point on the river. The elevation will give way to an enchanting end to your first day in Varanasi.

Day 2: The City and the Culture

A view of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple
A view of the Kashi Vishwanath TempleShutterstock

On Day 2 of your Varanasi exploration, immerse yourself deeper into the city's culture and history. Begin your morning with a visit to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is located on the banks of the Ganges river and is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines, considered the holiest shrines dedicated to the Supreme God. Start your day early to experience the ardent ambience and observe the rituals performed by devotees, offering a serene start to your day.

Alleys of the Old City, Varanasi
Alleys of the Old City, VaranasiShutterstock

In the afternoon, take an Old City Walking Tour to delve into the heart of Varanasi's heritage. The Old City Walking Tours entail tours led by a guide. You can choose from sightseeing tours, boat tours and cultural tours. Explore the narrow lanes and bustling markets of Varanasi's Old City on foot, witnessing the old, vernacular architecture. Visit the famous silk weaving workshops, spice markets and traditional eateries that offer delights such as Kachori Sabzi, Choora Matar, Dahi Chutney Gol Gappa, Tamatar Chaat and more, giving a true insight into the taste of Banarasi culture.

A view of the old Manikarnika Ghat
A view of the old Manikarnika GhatShutterstock

Towards the end of the day, enjoy a leisurely dinner at one of the rooftop restaurants overlooking the ghats. Savour traditional Banarasi cuisine while enjoying the panoramic views of the cityscape, offering a perfect conclusion to your day of cultural immersion in Varanasi.

Day 3: Art and Craft

Gulabi Meenakari
Gulabi MeenakariInstagram/gulabimeenakari

On your third day in Varanasi, explore the city's art and craft culture. Varanasi is renowned for its unique arts and crafts that have received a Geographical Indication (GI) tag. This includes Banaras Gulabi Meenakari, a traditional enamel work that received its GI tag in September 2023. Introduced to India by the Mughals, it embellishes Kundan jewellery, where gemstones are mounted with gold foil, with lavish enamelling on the reverse. However, local meenakar artisans suggest that meenakari has lost its prominence over the last century.

The Varanasi Soft Stone Jali Work is another distinguished GI tag recognised in 2017. Other famous art and craft items with GI tags include Varanasi Sarees, Wooden Lacquerware and Toys, Banaras Metal Repousse Craft, Handmade Carpets of Bhadohi, Varanasi Glass Beads, and Ghazipur Wall Hangings. Together, they reflect the city's rich artistic heritage.

Traditional street life with a sellers of small spices shops & passers-by in Varanasi
Traditional street life with a sellers of small spices shops & passers-by in VaranasiShutterstock

Spend your morning exploring Varanasi's vibrant bazaars and artisan workshops. Wander through the bustling streets and shop for exquisite Banarasi silk sarees, handcrafted jewellery, and other traditional crafts. Engage in the age-old tradition of haggling for the best deals, adding an authentic touch to your Varanasi experience.

Food shops in Varanasi
Food shops in VaranasiShutterstock

Towards noon, embark on a culinary journey with a cooking class. Learn how to prepare authentic Banarasi dishes such as malaiyyo, litti chokha, and baati chokha, discovering the secret ingredients and techniques passed down through generations.

In the evening, capture the essence of Varanasi with a photography tour of the Ganga ghats during the golden hour. As the sun sets over the river, witness the ghats come to life with activity, offering countless opportunities for stunning photographs and memorable moments. Finally, attend another Ganga Aarti ceremony at any of the ghats, bidding farewell to Varanasi with blessings and prayers and concluding your trip on a spiritual and uplifting note.

How to Reach


Varanasi's airport, Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport, connects the city with all major cities in the country and hosts international flights. Hiring a taxi from the airport is convenient.


Varanasi Junction is the city's busy railway station, with daily trains connecting it to most regions of the country. As it is easily accessible from every corner of India, it is the best way to reach the city.


Buses to Varanasi run from major cities in Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring regions like Allahabad, Patna, Ranchi, Lucknow and Gorakhpur. Varanasi is also accessible by well-paved roads and national highways.

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