15 Top Things to Do in Rishikesh, India, For a Great Adventure Holiday

One of the most popular tourist destinations in India and one of the best places to visit in Uttarakhand, Rishikesh is a fascinating town. From white water rafting to Yoga to trekking in nature, there are so many things to do in Rishikesh to keep you busy for at least a week. Find out what are the best places to visit in Rishikesh, what to do and what to see in this vibrant city of northern India.

Top things to do and places to visit in Rishikesh

Along the bank of the Ganges, lies a town tucked away in the foothills of the Himalayas, which is also regarded as the ‘Yoga Capital of the world’. Yes, you guessed it right, Rishikesh. Located amidst a serene setting and bustling with activities and places to visit in Rishikesh, this is a place that never fails to charm a wandering soul.

If you are coming to India for the first time, especially in Rishikesh, be ready to witness a place that will fascinate you with its rich culture, heritage as well as an assortment of holistic wellness programs and adventure activities.

From yoga to Ayurveda to bungee jumping to white water rafting, you’ll fall short of time to experience and enjoy all the activities in Rishikesh. Therefore, to help you with your itinerary and plans here is a list of 15 things that are a must try while you are in the land of gods. Let’s get started.

1. Camp, Play and Relax Along the Banks of River Ganges

A view of the Ganges River
A view of the Ganges River

The River Ganga flows by this bustling city situated in the Shivalik Hills just at the Himalayan foothills attracting pilgrims and adventure seekers from different corners of the country as well as abroad. Camping along the banks of the River Ganges is truly an experience in itself and one of the best things to do in Rishikesh. Here you get to spend some amazing time in nature’s harmony.

There are plenty of well-known campsites like Cradle of Life, Roller Coaster Camp, Camp Gold Coast, Camp Ganga Riviera. These give you the opportunity to spend an ideal holiday amalgamated with a relaxing stay and adventure sports in Rishikesh like cliff jumping, water hike, rappelling and more.

2. Indulge Yourself in the Sacred Practice of Yoga

Rishikesh is the land of yoga and is regarded as the ‘World Yoga Capital’. It is in this very soil that this ancient science of the body, mind and soul originated. So, why not treat yourself to some authentic and traditional form of yoga in this pious land?

There are plenty of yoga schools and retreats available all throughout the city. From yoga teacher training courses to Ayurveda teacher training and more, you will get a plethora of options. Choose wisely and witness a transformative journey like never before. If you are still wondering what to do in Rishikesh, this is definitely one of the most fascinating, so pack your yoga travel mat and get moving!

READ MORE: Check out our useful guide to what to pack for a yoga retreat in India.

3. Take a Break and Just Chill in a Café Savouring on the Alluring Views

Since there is a huge footfall of tourists and travellers, plenty of cafes have sprung up around the city to satiate the tired souls.

Devraj Coffee Corner, Little Buddha Café, Chatsang Café, Madras Café, Oasis Restaurant are some of the ever-popular joints among both national and international tourists. Sip on a hot coffee and just adore the abundant beauty of nature in these lovely places in Rishikesh.

4. Give Your Adrenaline the Rush with River Rafting in Rishikesh in the Ganges

River rafting in Rishikesh
River rafting one of the best outdoor activities in Rishikesh, India

White water rafting is quite popular in Rishikesh. The peak season is from March to June for amateurs, but if you are a professional, July to September is what you should be aiming for.

There are plenty of agencies that conduct river rafting in Rishikesh under the guidance of professionals. You can also book a package that includes one night camping along the banks of the Ganges along with the rafting.

TIP: Book a white water rafting expedition in Rishikesh to experience the adrenaline.

5. Wander Off to Breathtaking Places with Trekking Options Aplenty

Rishikesh actually serves as the starting point of some exhilarating treks in the Himalayas. If you love trekking and hiking, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the varied options available. Including the hill stations near Rishikesh.

From short waterfall and temple hikes to more traditional treks like ‘Valley of Flowers Trek’, ‘Kuari Pass Trek’, ‘Chandrashila Trek’, fill your heart and soul with mind-blowing sceneries and unique experiences.

TIP: Book Kunjapuri Trek and Dasrath Ka Danda Trek from Rishikesh for a great activity in nature.

6. Watch the Ganga Aarti along the Ghats (River Banks)

Ganga Aarti ceremony
Attending a Ganga Aarti ceremony is one of the best things to do in Rishikesh

For shutterbugs, capturing the ‘Ganga Aarti’ is undoubtedly a special moment. The ceremony is a congregation of worshippers along the river bank with ‘diyas’ (earthen lamps), garlands and chanting mantras (ancient sacred texts).

It creates an aura that is mystical and fascinating. So, don’t forget to be part of the ceremony. This is what to see in Rishikesh if you want to undersstand the local culture.

7. Take a Boat Ride to Witness the City from a Different Angle

Hop on a boat with your chocolate shake and enjoy a breezy ride across the River Ganges. This would be your opportunity to capture the life of the city from a different angle and one of the activities to do in Rishikesh.

Carry your cameras for sure and oh… don’t forget to bring your sun-hats!

8. Marvel at the Construction and Sculptures at Various Temples

Since spirituality is an integral part of the culture of Rishikesh, you’ll find temples at every corner of the city. However, there are quite a few notable ones that you must visit. Such as Neelkanth Mahadev temple, Shatrughna Temple, Kunjapuri Devi Temple, Bhootnath Temple, Trayambakeshwar Temple, etc.

Take a look at the intricate decorations, stunning architecture and immerse yourself in the serene ambience. This will inevitably add value to your Rishikesh sightseeing.

9. Relive the Legend by Paying a Visit to the Beatles Ashram

It was in 1968 when The Beatles visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram to be a part of Transcendental Meditation. Although several parts of the ashram are still in a dilapidated state, some of it was opened to the public in the year 2015 to become one of the tourist places in Rishikesh.

Take a tour of this place where The Beatles composed 40 songs in 3 weeks and experience the tranquillity. Take a journey back in time and see for yourself what made this place so special.

10. Shop in the Colorful Markets and Bazaars

The narrow streets of Rishikesh are copious with colourful shops selling a variety of items ranging from handlooms to travel bags to traditional clothing. The local markets are great places to see in Rishikesh.

Pamper yourself with some shopping and buy souvenir items to take back home. Bargaining is part of shopping in Rishikesh, so put in your best effort and have a great time.

READ MORE: Check out our tips to avoid getting sick in India.

11. Treat Your Taste Buds to Some Authentic Indian Food

This can be your best opportunity to give yourself a treat with some amazing Indian foods.

Try Aloo Puri at 60s The Eat Story, Chole Bhature at Chotiwala (Swargashram), Pani Puri, Masala Chai at Prem Namaste Café and Lassi at Pappu Lassi. You’ll be delighted that you didn’t miss out.

TIP: Book a Rishikesh street food tour to sample some Indian delicacies with a local.

12. Give Your Aching Body the Right Dosage of an Ayurvedic Massage

Travelling from one place to another can be taxing for your health and lead to aches or discomfort in the body. Give yourself an Ayurvedic massage or a Panchkarma treatment and feel refreshed and rejuvenated to hit the streets once again.

13. Take Part in Adventure Sports in Rishikesh and Relish Your Time

From ziplining to rock climbing to paragliding to cliff jumping, Rishikesh is full of adventure activities to give you an exciting time.

Enjoy the aerial views of the city paragliding or take a splash in the cold water of River Ganga cliff jumping. Stay safe and appreciate the little funs in life.

TIP: Book a Bungee Jumping, The Giant Swing and Flying Fox combo package in Rishikesh.

14. Travel Around in an Auto-Rickshaw Like a Local

Whether you plan to visit Haridwar which is only around 20km from Rishikesh or travel around the city to explore its sights and sounds, an auto-rickshaw is probably your best bet.

This is by far the most economical mode of travel in Rishikesh and the best part – you can avail them from anywhere. You can also try your hand at riding it provided the owner is willing to risk it.

15. Take a Break from the Hustle and Visit the Neer Garh Waterfall

Located at a distance of about 5km from the Laxman Jhula Bridge in Rishikesh, this is a place that offers solitude away from the bustling city life.

Take a plunge in the pools below the waterfall or just sit back and enjoy the calm environment and meditate. However, it would be a good idea not to visit the place during the weekends since it’s very crowded.

Find great hotels in Rishikesh

Though, once you set foot on this land, you’ll discover a land which is very similar when compared to other small cities of India but, you will gradually fall in love with it for sure. Accommodation options are available in abundance from ashrams to hostels to luxury hotels. If you love to stay away from the crowd, finding accommodation in the north of the city will be a good idea.

Bhandari Swiss Cottages, 60’s Green Hills, Ayurveda Bhavan at Rishikesh, Dewa Retreat – A Himalayan Boutique Hotel, EllBee Ganga View are some of the most popular places to stay in Rishikesh, especially among international tourists.

Enjoy your stay in Rishikesh and the ethereal charm and innocence of this place will make you come back, again and again.

Author Bio: Manmohan Singh is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He teaches Ayurveda Courses India. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas.

about me: Angela Corrias
About the author

I'm Angela Corrias, an Italian journalist, photographer, and travel writer located in the heart of Italy's capital. Welcome to my website, your comprehensive source for your travels and expert guidance for crafting your dream travel experience.

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