Along the Musi River in the southern Indian state of Telangana is the historic city of Hyderabad. With a rich history that dates back to 1591 and includes eras of rule by the Qutb Shahi Dynasty, the Mughals, the Nizams of Hyderabad, and the British Raj, the city is a gold mine for history lovers. Combine its heritage with its world-famous cuisine and cultural attractions and you’ll find there are dozens of things to see and do in Hyderabad.
While this is a city that has a lot to offer curious travelers, it’s also so large that it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all of the options. That’s why we have compiled a list of sites to visit, restaurants to eat at, and things to do for all types of travelers, whether you’re a foodie, a history enthusiast, a culture lover, or all three. These are the top 10 things to see and do in Hyderabad, India.
No trip to Hyderabad is complete without a trip to the historic city’s Old Town. There, you’ll find Charminar, a monument and mosque that was built in 1591. The historic building is a beautiful example of Indo-Islamic architecture and is known for its four magnificent arches and four fluted minarets. It is listed as an archaeological and architectural treasure by the Archaeological Survey of India.
It costs 300 rupees for foreigners to visit Charminar, which is ten times the entry fee for locals. Once you climb the narrow, winding staircases and emerge onto a balcony overlooking the city, the price is more than worth it. The balcony offers a spectacular view of much the city, including the four gates that mark the entrances to the old city.
From the balcony, you can admire the incredible architecture and even spot writing from the Quran on the walls of the central atrium. If you love history, visiting Charminar is without question, one of the top things to see and do in Hyderabad!
Have Biscuits and Irani Chai at Nimrah Café and Bakery
You’re bound to burn quite a few calories as you explore Hyderabad’s Old Town on foot. Luckily, there’s a fantastic spot between Charminar and Makkah Masjid that’s sure satisfy your taste buds if you need a snack: Nimrah Café and Bakery. This amazing establishment has been offering tasty treats to Hyderabadi visitors and citizens since it opened in 1993.
Nimrah Café and Bakery is famous for their cookies, which are called biscuits in Hyderabad. There are dozens of varieties on the menu. Of them all, their buttery Osmania biscuit seems to be the most popular, but I also highly recommend the rich and sweet coconut with cherry biscuit and the flaky and crumby chocolate-cashew biscuit.
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Order some of Nimrah Café and Bakery’s milky, frothy, and flavorful Irani chai and dip your biscuits into it for an unforgettable flavor combination. This tea is unlike any I’ve ever had and is bursting with notes of cinnamon and ginger. It’s no wonder coming here is one of the best things to see and do in Hyderabad!
Try the Biggest Dosa in Hyderabad at Chutneys Restaurant
If you’re traveling through Hyderabad with family or several friends, or if you just like tackling massive foods like I do, don’t miss out on trying the biggest dosa in the city. A two-and-a-half-foot-long rice and black gram Indian pancake can be found at Chutneys Restaurant in the Jubilee Hills neighborhood. It’s so big, it’s actually made for five to six people to share!
As with most types of dosa, it was served with a nutty and earthy sambar, which is a tasty vegetable-based broth, but there are other dipping options as well. I highly recommend the phenomenal peanut chutney and the sweet and refreshing coconut chutney. They’re both out of this world.
The green chili and ginger chutney packs a real gingery punch, while the red chili with ginger was had a thick, tomato base with ginger flavor throughout. It’s the ultimate Indian veg feast! If you’ve had this monster dosa before, let me know how much you managed to eat!
Visit Necklace Road and the Buddha Statue of Hyderabad
One place all visitors to Hyderabad should carve out some time to explore is Necklace Road, which is named after a road of the same name in Mumbai’s Marine Drive. The area is loaded with restaurants, recreational facilities, and plazas, and there are several parks nearby as well.
But the area’s most stunning attraction is the enormous Buddha Statue of Hyderabad, which stands on Gibraltar Rock in the middle of the lake.
The statue stands 58 feet tall and is the world’s largest monolith of Gautama Buddha. The Buddha came to rest on Gibraltar Rock two years after an accident during its transportation, which resulted in the statue falling over and killing ten people.
Today, visitors can pay 20 rupees to ride a ferry to the island and admire it up close. This massive Buddha statue is absolutely gorgeous and has lots of intricate carvings around its base. Viewing this statue up close is easily one of the best things to see and do in Hyderabad.
After you return from the Buddha Statue of Hyderabad, I suggest checking out the food stalls around Necklace Road. There is a stall there that sells a phenomenal papdi chaat and an equally delicious samosa chaat, both of which contained chickpeas, onions, and mint and tamarind chutneys that had my mouth watering. Trying them is a great way to end your Necklace Road adventure!
Eat Dosas at Ram Ki Bandi
Early risers visiting Hyderabad would be remiss if they didn’t take advantage of their pre-sunset start to the day and have breakfast at Ram Ki Bandi. This legendary street food stall at Nampally opens at 3 a.m. and is only open until 8 a.m., but despite the early hours, it’s a very popular stop among locals and tourists alike. Once you try the food they serve, it’s not hard to understand why people go wild for their unique dosas!
If you only try one thing at Ram Ki Bandi, make it their pizza dosa. Unlike most dosas, which are often served with sambar and a potato mash, this Italian-inspired dosa contains traditional pizza toppings and comes dripping with hot, melted cheese. It is a magnificent, spicy way to start your day, and the wonderful coconut chutney it is served with helps calm down the heat.
If you still have room in your belly afterward, try the Chinese-inspired Szechwan cream dosa, which is sweeter and spicy and contains onion, cilantro, and other mouthwatering ingredients.
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Finally, round out your dosa breakfast with the amazing Palak Paneer dosa, or go for one of their varieties of idli, which is a soft, nutty, and savory rice cake that also contains black lentils. Try the loaded variety with herbs, spices, cheese, and paneer, as well as the more traditional version with Ram Ki Bandi’s outstanding coconut chutney.
Each dish there is a can’t-miss and makes breakfast at Ram Ki Bandi one of the top things to see and do in Hyderabad!
Visit a Flower Market
One of the best things you can do in Hyderabad is visit one of the city’s flower markets. I had the pleasure of visiting the city in November, which is in the middle of festival season. Diwali was being celebrated at the time, and because of that, I was able to watch locals purchase lots of different types of flowers in preparation for their celebrations. The entire market was packed!
As with most markets in India, be prepared for a wild flurry of activity around you when you visit a flower market, especially during Diwali. As you slowly make my way down the crowded, narrow alleys of the market, check out vendors preparing beautiful flowers, delicious-looking vegetables, and much more for their customers.
It might be hard to pay attention to one thing at a time due to all of the activity around you! It’s an assault on the senses for sure, but is also an experience you won’t soon forget!
Visit Golconda Fort
History buffs visiting Hyderabad will have a blast visiting Golconda Fort, which had humble beginnings as a mud fort around 1143. According to legend, a shepherd boy found an idol in the area in that year.
The king of the Kakatiya Dynasty ordered a mud fort to be built around the site when he heard about this, and the fort grew larger and became more complex over the centuries that followed.
Golconda Fort is actually a complex that is made up of four smaller forts and boasts a 10-kilometer-long outer wall and 87 bastions. The fort is noted for once housing the Koh-i-Noor Diamond and the world-famous Hope Diamond within its enormous walls. Both diamonds, as well as the Nessak Diamond, were found in the region around the fort.
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Take some time to visit the fort’s main gate and stables, which used to house animals like elephants. Then make the hike up the 360 steps to get to the very top, where you’ll find the Sri Mahakali Temple.
There you’ll also find a terrific lookout point where you can see all of Hyderabad spread out below you. Don’t overlook the boulders in the temple area, which are covered in beautiful and intricate paintings of Hindu deities. If you’re a history lover like me, this is one spot in Hyderabad you can’t afford to miss out on!
Eat Exotic Southern Indian Food at Uluvacharu Restaurant
As a foodie who has eaten spectacular dishes all over the world, when I heard about the exotic Southern Indian offerings at Uluvacharu Restaurant, I didn’t hesitate to go there and check it out for myself. I’m glad I did, because if I hadn’t, I would have missed out on one of my favorite food experiences during my time in the city.
This popular restaurant operates with the goal of reinventing long-forgotten recipes. At the same time, they aim to bring authentic, unique, and original dishes together under one roof. They also want to keep ancient dishes that were prepared by their ancestors alive for current and future generations.
They do this by serving incredible dishes like their smoky Korameenu Tandoori Fish, which contains masala and other spices and is served with a mint chutney. Their crunchy and peppery Bangla Kodi, which is potato-wrapped chicken masala nuggets, is also wonderful.
There is also a spicy chicken dish called Kona Seema Kodi Vepudu, a tangy and flavorful vegetable kebab known as Pandu Marayapaka, and four outstanding pulaos. One of them, the Matka Mamsam Pulao, contained the most buttery and tender lamb I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Two of my favorite items on the menu at Uluvacharu Restaurant were the Royyala Vepudu, which are spicy river prawns with masala, cilantro, and green chilies; and the mind-blowing bamboo chicken, which consists of pieces of raw chicken that are cooked inside bamboo shoots with masala spices.
The bamboo flavor permeates the chicken and had my palate craving more! Trust me, if you’re heading to Hyderabad, you need to take one night to have dinner at Uluvacharu. There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s one of the things you must see and do in Hyderabad. Every dish is a home run!
Eat Authentic Hyderabadi Biryani at Paradise Restaurant
The city of Hyderabad is practically synonymous with biryani, a layered basmati rice dish that is extremely popular throughout the Indian subcontinent. One of the best places in the city to try authentic Hyderabadi biryani is Paradise Restaurant in HITEC City.
I had the pleasure of trying four different types of biryani at Paradise Restaurant and each one was an explosion of mind-blowing flavors and sensational textures in my mouth.
The mix of rice in their mutton biryani was wonderful, and the mutton itself was juicy and tender. The mutton bones were filled with delicious marrow that added an unexpected new layer of flavor to the dish that ultimately made it one of the most spectacular biryanis I’ve ever had in my life!
Their chicken biryani is also incredibly tender and perfectly cooked and had a delightful roasted flavor that I couldn’t get enough of. Paradise Restaurant also serves a stunning egg biryani containing a poached egg, which went really well with the rice and Indian spices.
But my favorite biryani, and the one I recommend the most, is the veg biryani. This biryani contains beans, peas, and a flavorful non-melting Indian cottage cheese called paneer. The mix of the paneer with the rice, yellow curry, vegetables, and spices was next level. This is a dish that must be eaten to truly understand how heavenly it is. If you only order one thing at Paradise Restaurant, this is the one you should get. It alone makes dinner at Paradise Restaurant one of the top things to see and do in Hyderabad!
Have a Southern Indian Breakfast at Minerva Coffee Shop
There are lots of incredible spots to get veg dishes in Hyderabad, but few of them compare to the southern Indian fare that is offered at Minerva Coffee Shop. This popular restaurant has been serving flavorful and well-made southern Indian cuisine since 1987, and after I had breakfast there, I quickly realized why so many people recommended it to me.
There’s no way to truly go wrong with any item on their menu, but I highly recommend ordering the vada, a type of savory, fried doughnut. This flaky and crispy creation has a soft interior and is served with coconut chutney, sambar, and a spicy ginger chutney. You also must try the polenta-like upma and the giant puris with various vegetable curries.
Another star on the menu is the uttapam, a savory pancake that contains curry leaves, onions, cashews, and carrot. Dip it into the curries and chutneys provided and watch your taste buds sing! Don’t miss out on this fabulous breakfast. It’s definitely one of the best things to see and do in Hyderabad!
BONUS: Eat a Southern Indian Thali
When traveling through India, I highly recommend trying a thali in every city you visit. A thali is a large platter that contains lots of different Indian dishes, as well as rice, a variety of bread, or both, depending on which part of the country you’re in. When you go to Hyderabad, the best place to try an authentic southern Indian thali is Taj Mahal Restaurant.
Southern Indian thalis are mostly rice-based and you eat them with your hands, so be prepared to get your hands messy. I had never eaten rice with my hands before, but after having done it several times since then, I truly believe eating with your hands makes your food taste even better, so dig in!
It is staggering how phenomenal this thali is. From mixing the dal and rice together with my fingers, to trying the fried onion and the puris with a mixture of spinach, cabbage, and nuts, every experience was more delicious than the last. This thali came with a wonderful tomato rasam, which is unreal when it is eaten with a thin, crispy flatbread called papad.
One of my favorite elements of this thali was a curry that contained green beans, carrots, and peppers, which was easily one of the best curries I’d ever hand. Another highlight was the vada that was soaked in a watered-down curd. I usually don’t like curd, but this one was exceptional! You have to try when you come to Hyderabad!
There’s a reason why the southern Indian city of Hyderabad is such a popular tourist destination. With a rich history that can be explored in its monuments and a delicious cuisine that is both traditional and innovative, there is so much to see and do in this amazing city. Book a trip to Hyderabad now to experience it for yourself!
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