As soon as I step foot in Jaipur that I feel like I have truly arrived in India. There is something magical about the so-called “Pink City”. Its painted walls, all shades of dusky terracotta with the occasional buttery yellow building peeking in, the mix of bustling alleys and quiet temples one comes across by chance, the kaleidoscope of colours, from the spices in the markets to the bright saris local women wear: Jaipur is a constant source of inspiration in every way. The city is a melting pot of the old and the new, offering something for everyone. Visit with a hunger for adventure and ready to take it all in, and you will make memories that will linger long after you have left.
Here are some of my favourite things to do in the city (I feel like a part 2 and 3 might be needed!)
1. Get up early and visit Phool Mandi, the Jaipur Flower Market
Even if you are not a natural early riser, the Jaipur Flower Market is worth the alarm clock call. Take a tuk-tuk to get there if you are not staying within walking distance and enjoy the unusually quiet streets as the city is still waking up. Farmers from nearby villages bring freshly cut flowers which are simply displayed on sheets and saris on the floor, in their hundreds, turning the ground into a multicoloured carpet of blooms. Tuberoses, roses, jasmine, marigolds and chrysanthemums in all shades of orange, gold and pink are sold by striking-looking men with moustaches that would be the envy of many.
Most flowers are sold as heads only, without stems, as they are mainly used to make garlands for ceremonies, as daily offerings in temples and as floating flower heads in decorative copper and marble containers.
Women in saris as colourful and beautiful as the garlands on offer, work in the adjacent vegetable market. They carry big piles of cauliflowers and other greens on their heads, perfectly balanced, moving swiftly from the delivery lorries to the stalls. Even the colours of the vegetables seem to take on a brighter hue in India: greens are almost fluorescent, carrots all shades of orange. You might not see many tourists here depending on when you visit. The atmosphere is friendly and many of the sellers love to pose for a photograph.
The market is at Hawa Mahal Road at Chandi Taksal Gate (please note the market moved from the earlier location at Badi Chaupar)
2. Enjoy a creamy lassi at Lassiwala
There is a reason why this little shop has been serving Indian yoghurt, known as lassi since 1944. It is thick, creamy, and perfectly sweet. The lassi is topped with a dollop of "malai" (a bit like clotted cream) and I am still to find one as delicious elsewhere. They are served in terracotta "kulhads" (handle-less cups also often used to serve delicious chai) which make for lovely souvenirs. The cups get thrown out after being used to be recycled and remade, so nobody will tell you off for taking one!
Open daily from 7am. Get there before 4.30 pm to make sure you don't miss out before they sell out
312 MI Road, Jaipur
3. Watch artisans in action while you shop at Nila House
The moment you enter the beautifully manicured grounds of Nila House, you almost forget the busy traffic on the other side of the fence. Nila (meaning dark blue in Sanskrit) is a not-for-profit initiative founded in 2016 with the purpose of reviving pure craft forms and supporting artisan communities. The grounds of Nila House opened to the public in 2019. There is a studio, a gorgeous free-to-use library and workrooms which host regular craft-focused workshops and seminars. And then there is THE SHOP. This is such a beautifully curated space, you might want to buy it all. A series of connecting rooms displaying homewares and fashion seamlessly flow into each other. Clothes in a simple palette of neutrals and indigo and gorgeous weaves you can buy by the metre sit alongside embroidered cushions and delicate pottery.
Open Mon-Sat 11am to 6pm
Nila House , C-86 Prithviraj Road, C - Scheme, Jaipur - 302001
4. Enjoy a comforting cup of chai masala at Sahu Chai
This modest tea shop usually has a queue outside for a reason. It is worth the wait for the most delicious cup of chai you might have during your whole stay in Jaipur. Under a fig tree, masala chai is slowly cooked in tin pots over a fire.
Open from 5am until late.
Shop 365, Chaura Rasta Rd, Bapu Bazar
5. Immerse yourself in the world of block printing at the Anokhi Museum, then visit their shop downtown.
I have a bit of a soft spot for Anokhi. I was lucky to work alongside them for over 12 years whilst working for British brand East. I urge you not to leave Jaipur without a visit to their wonderful museum, which you could combine with a visit to the nearby Amber Fort. There is no better place to get immersed in the world of block printing. The museum, inside a gorgeous restored Haveli, has a permanent collection that shows the wide-ranging beauty and creativity of traditional block prints. Other highlights include a gallery displaying garments from the archives dating back to the 70s and modern interpretations from the 1980s through to the 1990s. It is a beautiful showcase of the fusion of international trends at the time with traditional Indian handiwork.
Make sure you find the museum’s chippa block printers & block carvers who do demonstrations on the top and ground floors, and try and have a go yourself: you will see it is a lot more difficult than it seems at first!
You can learn about the block printing process here
There is a fab little café in the courtyard.
Closed on Mondays
Anokhi museum , Chanwar Palkiwalo ki Haveli, (Anokhi Haveli), Keri Gate, Amber
Tip! Walk to the gorgeous Panna Meena ka Kund stepwell after or before your visit to the museum. Please note that there are guards there now, so you will not allowed be to walk down onto the steps for THAT instagram photo.
Visit the Anokhi boutique (back in town) for gorgeous block-printed homewares and gifts . It is also a great spot for lunch, serving freshly cooked organic food.
The Anokhi boutique is open daily until 8pm
KK Square, 2nd Floor, C-11, Prithviraj Rd, C Scheme
6. Have lunch at LMB
Lakshmi Misthan Bhanda, also known as LMB, is a vegetarian restaurant and sweet shop near the iconic Hawa Mahal Palace. It has been around for nearly 300 years, which is a pretty good indicator of its popularity.
They have an extensive menu including a popular (and spicy) Rajasthani Thali, chaat (indian snacks) and Indo Chinese fusion dishes which I always love.
Open daily 9am until 11pm
No. 98, 99, Johari Bazar
7. Sundowners at Bar Palladio
Inspired by the iconic Caffè Florian and Harry’s Bar in Venice, with a touch of exuberant Mughal-era ornamentation thrown in, I cannot think of a more beautiful setting to enjoy an evening of cocktails while going over one's daily adventures. Bar Palladio is set in an open courtyard, which has been transformed into a colourful dreamworld where you will be surrounded by wandering peacocks and mango trees, whilst sitting in a garden of tented canopies. Inside, the bar area is covered in frescoes of birds painted by a local artist. The bar itself has lions carved in marble, a little nod to early 20th-century Venetian cafes. Bar Palladio serves classic Italian cuisine and classic cocktails.
Mon-Sat 4pm until midnight. Sun 11am until midnight
Narain Niwas Palace Hotel, Kanota Bagh, Narain Singh Road, Jaipur
Please note that the Café also previously onsite closed down although it is soon to reopen in a new location
8. Visit the Amber Fort
Amer Fort is also known as Amber Palace or Amber Fort. This UNESCO World Heritage Site has a rich history that goes back centuries. The complex, built in sandstone and marble, consists of various residential buildings, temples, gardens and courtyards built in typical Rajputana architectural style with gorgeous Mughal influences. There are rooms covered in floor-to-ceiling mirror work, stunning frescoes, and sandalwood doors with inlay ivory designs. Take time to explore the grounds and take it all in.
Open every day from 8am until 5.30pm
Get there first thing to avoid the crowds. Tour buses will start to get there at around 9 am.
You might get offered an elephant ride to the entrance from the car park. Please consider the welfare of the elephants first.
If you have time...
Climb up to the Amber Fort viewpoint for fabulous views of the Aravalli Mountains, the Fort itself, and the desert landscape. 350 steps will lead you to the top in around 25 to 45 minutes. There is no entrance fee to pay for the viewpoint, so please do not listen to anyone that tells you otherwise.
Stop at the viewpoint for the Jal Mahal palace on the way to or back from Amer. The gorgeous palace looks as if it is floating on the Man Sagar Lake. You can admire its beauty from the shoreline and might even catch an elephant bathing in the lake if you are lucky.
9. Shop and dine at Jaipur Modern
Jaipur Modern is a gorgeous lifestyle shop, café and restaurant. Located in a 1940's bungalow, surrounded by a lovely patio, it is a mini oasis in the heart of the city. The store celebrates the art of Indian craftsmanship and offers an eclectic range of handcrafted clothing, accessories, and homewares from around the country. Unique hand-stitched pieces by up-and-coming designers sit alongside contemporary block-printed home and fashion collections. Delicate jewellery is displayed next to colourful pottery, natural dyes colour buttery soft scarfs: the overall look is eclectic yet so beautifully curated you will want to buy it all.
The restaurant has a delicious menu inspired by global flavours with a focus on organic farming initiatives & supporting local farming communities in Rajasthan. During a recent 6-week stay in Jaipur, this was the place I visited the most, and it never disappointed me. Even if you are not staying for a bite to eat, go inside and admire the incredible hand-embroidered wall, it is quite special!
Open everyday until 10.30pm
51, Dhuleshwar Garden, Sardar Patel Marg, C Scheme
Brunch photo credit Jaipur Modern
10. Take a peek through the windows at the Hawa Mahal
The iconic Hawa Mahal or ‘Palace of the Winds’ is perhaps the most photographed monument in the city. A blend of Rajput and Islamic Mughal architecture, this stunning building, with a delicate honeycomb-like facade of red and pink sandstone, was built as an extension to the Royal Palace in 1799. The Hawa Mahal is in fact a "viewing gallery" rather than an actual palace. 953 tiny lattice windows were built on the front so that ladies of the royal household could watch everyday street scenes and festivals taking place outside while abiding by strict rules of "purdah", which stopped them from being able to appear in public without face coverings.
For that perfect photograph, cross over to the Wind View Cafe opposite (you will see a sign pointing you up a steep staircase between two shops, don't worry, it is there!). Find a spot on the rooftop terrace and have a steaming chai while you soak in the view.
Open 9am to 4.30pm daily
Hawa Mahal Rd, Badi Choupad,Jaipur
Beyond the old city
For those with a bit more time, a visit to the district of Sanganer on the outskirts of town, and one of the main block printing areas in the region, will give you the chance to see working block makers at play.
Are you planning a trip to Jaipur soon? Do let me know if have any questions.
For more India travel tips and for further inspiration , please subscribe to our newsletter below to be the first to know when new articles are published on our journal.