How to get from Delhi airport to the city centre

Delhi, in addition to being the capital of India and main gateway to the country, is a city built on seven other civilizations and today in its streets you can admire the footprints left by other inhabitants. The great mosaic of cultures that inhabit it today and the constant hervidero of its streets make it an incombustible and fascinating metropolis. If you are planning to visit the capital, don’t miss the comprehensive guide I made on “What to see and do in Delhi”. But today I want to help you in those first moments in the city and I will explain you how to get from Delhi airport to downtown.

Delhi airport is called “Indira Gandhi International Airport” (DEL), is the most important airport in the country and is located only 23 kilometers south of the center of the Indian capital. The airport has a good and modern infrastructure for female travellers.

At the airport you will find currency exchange facilities, ATMs, bars, restaurants, cafeterias, various shops (where you can buy clothes, accessories, technology, magazines and books, souvenirs, etc.), duty free, pharmacy and 11 VIP lounges. Although it offers free internet connection for 45 minutes, it is only valid for Indian mobiles.

Inside the airport, in the T3, there are consignment services (to keep your suitcase) and the prices vary according to the size of your suitcase or backpack and the time you are going to keep them. For example, to leave a bag up to 8 hours the price ranges from 200 rupees and 400 rupees (between 2.50 € and 5 €). If it is for a whole day, you can pay between 400 and 700 rupees (between 5€ and 7,50€). Please note that you will need to show your original passport to leave your backpack/suitcase.

Delhi airport is well connected to the city centre, and here I tell you all the options to get to the centre. I want to make a clarification, I will call “downtown” the area of Paharganj, near the Main Bazar, where there are a lot of hotels (both backpackers and several stars). This is also where the New Delhi Railway Station is and from where you can easily move to see the most emblematic sites of the capital.

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The fastest, most efficient and cheapest way to get to the centre of Delhi from the airport is with the orange metro line called “AirPort Express” which stops at Terminal 3.

If your flight arrives at another terminal, you can take the free shuttle bus that connects all the terminals, runs every 15 minutes and 24 hours a day (to get on the shuttle bus you must show your passport and boarding pass).

The metro is modern, clean, punctual and has enough space to carry backpacks and suitcases. This line operates every day from 4.45 a.m. to 11.30 p.m. and runs every 10 to 15 minutes. The journey to the centre (stop: NEW DELHI, the last stop on the orange line) takes 25 minutes. Here you have all the details of the metro line “AirPort Expres” (schedules, stops, etc.).

The metro ticket costs 60 rupees (0,80€) and you can buy it at the vending machines located in the metro station or at the ticket offices.

✏️ Here you have the link to the Delhi metro map.

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If it’s your first time in India, it may not be the most comfortable or efficient option to get to your destination, but hey! if you like adventures and/or go with little money, this may be an alternative to consider.

Delhi Transport Corporation operates a bus service from Terminal 3 of the airport to the city centre (some stops are: Connaught Place and Kashmiri Gate Station), from where you can of course combine with the metro or other means of transport to get to your accommodation.

If you have opted for the bus, then you must go to the Centaur Hotel and in front of this hotel is the bus stop that operates every 30 minutes. However, keep in mind that during peak hours the traffic is a real chaos and you can take a long time to get there. The price is around 50 rupees and you can buy the ticket on top of the bus.

If you haven’t arrived at Terminal 3 and want to go downtown by bus, then you can take a free shuttle that leaves every 15 minutes, runs 24 hours and connects the terminals. In order to board you must show your passport and your flight boarding pass. If you do not have your boarding pass – because you lost it, for example – you will have to pay 25 rupees for the journey.

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As with any international airport, there are official taxis at the Delhi terminal that take you downtown. There are 4 operators in particular that you can hire at the counters inside the airport (and thus avoid haggling with taxi drivers at the door): Meru Cabs (Terminals 1, 2 and 3), Mega Cabs (Terminal 3), WTi Cabs (Terminals 2 and 3) and the company Carzonrent (which in addition to renting cars, puts at your disposal a car with driver, which is the same as a taxi but more expensive).

The good thing about these taxis is that you can pay in cash or with a credit card and there is a “pre-payment” mode so you can save on fare negotiation, scams and so on (see the “scams” section below). When you book the taxi at the counters inside the airport, after paying the fare you will be given 2 papers, one green and one pink. When you arrive at your destination (and never before) you must give the green paper to the taxi driver and you should not pay absolutely anything else.

The journey can take anywhere from half an hour to an hour, depending on where you’re going and the traffic. The price is around 500 rupees (about 6,25€) and 25% more if you take it at night (between 11pm and 5am).

Keep in mind that outside the terminal there are also the typical taxis with taximeter and that they will try to take you offering you a lower price… distrust. There are a lot of scams and scams around taxis in Delhi, so I recommend that if you are going to go downtown by taxi, choose the official prepaid option.

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⚠️ Frequent TIMOS at the airport

Airport scams are more frequent than you think, and they can mess you up a lot!

Let’s start with the taxi drivers. If you get into a taxi, they’ll always want to charge you more, they’ll give you 20,000 laps around the city or tell you that the area/hotel you’re going to is closed, incinerated, full of fleas or something. Don’t mind me.

Tell the taxi driver to take you to where you have ordered and for the price you have agreed or you do not get into the taxi. Those same taxis, just before arriving at your hotel will tell you that the street is cut (they will invent some excuse) and they will want to take you to another one. Tell them no, let them leave you at the hotel or you don’t pay them. Go with the gps in your hand to see how far away you are from the hotel, in case you have to get off unexpectedly.

Trust me… don’t believe anything they tell you. If you have booked a hotel, your booking will be secure and your hotel exists. My recommendation, to avoid all this, is that for your arrival in Delhi book a private transfer service, so you save this scam so common

Ah! and very IMPORTANT: every time you negotiate a price, always always always have to say “indian rupees”, otherwise they can tell you later that they were talking about dollars or euros and there you messed up.

Finally, there will be people at the airport who will tell you that the city is closed, burned, vetoed, with zombie attacks, etc. and they will try to take you to a travel agency so that you travel first to other areas, like Agra or Jaipur to then take you to Delhi, when “they supposedly reopen the city to the public”. Reading it this way it seems impossible for anyone to fall for this scam, but they are very convincing and many people fall.

💤 ACCOMMODATION in Delhi

The city offers a range of accommodation possibilities: from super budget hostels to luxury hotels. The backpacking area par excellence is Paharganj – although there are hotels of all types and prices, which is where the Main Bazar is, and from where it is quite easy to get around the rest of the city.

💤 My recommendation is that you stay at the Atlanta @ New Delhi Train Station hostel. It is a hostel that has private rooms (about 20 € / night) and also dormitories (separated by gender). The prices of the beds in the dormitories are cheap (about 5€/night) which are clean and include breakfast and wifi which works quite well.

–> Of course you can also find cheaper or more “luxurious” accommodations, but of course… there I’ll let you choose the one you like the most or the one you think is the “least worst”.

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