Hyderabad, India

A melting pot of Muslim and Hindu cultures, the joint capital of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana comprises the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, with a combined population of around eight million. Secunderabad, of little interest, is the modern administrative city founded by the British, whereas Hyderabad, the old city, has teeming bazaars, Muslim monuments, the absorbing Salar Jung Museum and the magnificent Chowmahalla Palace. Hyderabad declined after Independence, with tensions often close to the surface due to lack of funding. Nowadays, although the overcrowded old city still suffers from substandard amenities, the conurbation as a whole is booming.

The best travel tips for visiting Hyderabad

A predominantly Islamic city, as well as a focal point of twenty-first-century high-tech India, with a compelling combination of monuments, museums and bazaars, Hyderabad has overtaken Bengaluru to become India’s foremost computer and IT centre.

The Hyderabad metropolitan area has three distinct sectors: Hyderabad, divided between the old city and newer areas towards HITEC City; Secunderabad, the modern city; and Golconda, the old fort. The two cities are basically one big sprawl, separated by an artificial lake, Hussain Sagar.

The most interesting area, the old city south of the River Musi, holds the bazaars and Charminar, the city’s principal landmark, as well as the Salar Jung Museum and Chowmahalla Palace. North of the river, the traditional shopping areas are found around Abids Circle and Sultan Bazaar.

By far the most atmospheric part of Hyderabad is the old city, immediately south of the River Musi. This is easily the most Islamic enclave in south India, where the majority of women wear full black burqa and many men sport fine beards. This is where you will find the city’s liveliest and most interesting bazaars, and many of its most important sights, from the eclectic Salar Jung Museum, to the minarets of Charminar.

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The Salar Jung Museum is an art museum located in Hyderabad © Shutterstock

The Salar Jung Museum is an art museum located in Hyderabad © Shutterstock

Best things to do in Hyderabad

From the unmissable Salar Jung Museum to the bazaars that teem with people around Charminar, these are the best things to do in Hyderabad.

#1 Explore the Salar Jung Museum

The unmissable Salar Jung Museum, on the south bank of the River Musi opposite the ornate bulbous domes of the Osmania General Hospital, houses part of the huge collection of Salar Jung, one of the Nizam’s prime ministers, and his ancestors.

A well-travelled man of wealth, he bought whatever took his fancy from both East and West, from the sublime to, in some cases, the ridiculous. His extraordinary hoard includes Indian jade, miniatures, furniture, lacquer work, Mughal opaque glassware, fabrics, bronzes, Buddhist and Hindu sculpture, manuscripts and weapons. At the time of writing, it was planned to reorganise the somewhat haphazard collection into geographical themes with the use of two new buildings that have been constructed either side of the old one. The museum gets very crowded at weekends, especially on Sunday.

#2 See the four minarets of Charminar

A maze of bazaars teeming with people, the old city has at its heart Charminar or Four Towers, a triumphal arch built at the centre of Mohammed Quli Shah’s city in 1591 to commemorate an epidemic of the plague. It features four graceful 56m-high minarets, housing spiral staircases to the upper storeys. The (now defunct) mosque on the roof is the oldest in Hyderabad. The yellowish colour of the building is due to a special stucco made of marble powder, gram and egg yolk. In the evening (7–9pm), the edifice is attractively lit up.


Charminar in Hyderabad © Shutterstock

#3 Be wowed by Chowmahalla Palace

The 150-year-old Chowmahalla Palace, southwest of the Mecca Masjid, was built between 1857 and 1869 by the nizams to entertain royal visitors and official guests. Inspired by the Shah’s palace in Tehran, it is actually a complex of four palaces, other imposing edifices, elegant courtyards and fountain-filled gardens.

The grand Kilwat Mubarak (Durbar Hall) is the most impressive building, containing a hall dominated by opulent chandeliers and other rooms full of furniture, ornaments, costumes, china crockery and displays on the history of the nizams.

The oldest part is the southern courtyard, where you can visit the two-storeyed Aftab Mahal, which houses more costumes and some intricate wall hangings, as well as the smaller Afzal Mahal, Mahtab Mahal and Tahniyat Mahal. At the rear of the complex there is a collection of carriages and vintage motorcars.

#4 Take in bustling Nampally

The area around Hyderabad Deccan railway station, known locally as Nampally, and north towards Hussain Sagar contains some interesting nooks and crannies. Just south of the station itself, tucked in the lanes behind the striking bulbous yellow dome of the Ek Minar mosque, the atmospheric Yusufian Dargah is the shrine of a seventeenth-century Sufi saint of the venerable Chishti order.

#5 Enjoy the fine views from Kala Pahad Hill

The Birla Venkateshvara Mandir on Kala Pahad (“black mountain”) Hill, north of the public gardens, is open to all. Constructed in 1976, the temple itself is not of great interest but affords fine views and is a notable landmark, tapering towards the sky in an elegant fashion.

#6 Go to the diverting BM Birla Science Centre

Nearby is the mildly diverting BM Birla Science Centre which has a lot of satellite hardware and photos, sensory perception machines and a small dinosaur display, plus a planetarium.

These displays showcase the advancements in space exploration, satellite technology, and the wonders of our universe. From intricate satellite models to breathtaking photographs of galaxies and celestial bodies, the exhibits capture the imagination and ignite a sense of wonder.

#7 Visit Nirmala Birla Gallery of Modern Art

In a very unscientific manner, the centre also incorporates the Nirmala Birla Gallery of Modern Art, featuring the works of Indian painters such as Krishnan Kanna and Amitava Dhar. This gallery provides a unique blend of science and art, offering you a chance to appreciate the creative expressions of renowned Indian painters.

#7 Find peace at Hussain Sagar

Hussain Sagar, the large expanse of water separating Hyderabad from Secunderabad, lends a welcome air of tranquillity to the busy conurbation, and the pedestrianised sections of its banks are popular areas for a stroll, especially at sunset. In the centre of the artificial lake stands a large stone statue of the Buddha Purnima (“Full Moon Buddha”), erected in 1992.

Just off Secretariat Road, which offers some shady spots and also has a toy railway. The park was the site of one of two bombs that exploded in August 2007, claiming 44 lives, so security is predictably tight.

From Charminar via Nampally Golconda, 122m above the plain and 8km west of old Hyderabad, was the capital of the seven Qutb Shahi kings from 1518 until the end of the sixteenth century, when the court moved to Hyderabad itself.

#8 Hear the acoustics of Bala Hissar Darwaza

Well preserved and set in thick green scrubland, it is one of India’s most impressive forts, boasting 87 semi-circular bastions and eight mighty gates, complete with gruesome elephant-proof spikes.

Set aside a day to explore the fort, which covers an area of around four square kilometres. Entering the fort by the Balahisar Gate, you come into the Grand Portico, where guards clap their hands to show off the fort’s acoustics.

#9 Wander the trendy western suburbs

Most of Hyderabad’s newfound wealth is concentrated in the city’s western suburbs. The nearest of these is Banjara Hills, around 4km from Nampally, which comprises spacious residences in quiet streets surrounding Road No.1, a glitzy strip of trendy shops, restaurants and bars.

The Western appearance and dress, particularly of the young women here, is a sharp contrast to the niqabs and saris ubiquitous in the old city. Several kilometres further west, you enter the even leafier and more upmarket district of Jubilee Hills, which is largely residential.

#10 Get a glimpse into tribal culture at the Nehru Centenary Tribal Museum

Around half a kilometre west of Banjara Hills Road No.1, the Nehru Centenary Tribal Museum offers an interesting glimpse into tribal culture and customs. Displays include musical instruments, costumes, agricultural equipment, a bullock cart and a depiction of a traditional dance by the Khond and Bagata peoples.

#11 See the world’s largest moie studio, Ramoji Film City

Around 25 km east of central Hyderabad, is the world’s largest film studio complex. Covering nearly two thousand acres, with around five hundred set locations, it can produce up to sixty movies simultaneously.

Although you cannot see films actually being made, you can tour the facades, enjoy rides such as the Ramoji Tower simulated earthquake and watch a dance and stunt show. The adjacent Sahas Adventure Park is packed with activities such as zip-lining, zorbing, quad biking and other adrenaline-filled fun. The easiest way to get here is on a tour from Hyderabad.

Film set in Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, India © Shuttterstock

Film set in Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, India © Shuttterstock

Best areas to stay in Hyderabad

From the historic Old City to the trendy Banjara Hills, each district offers its own unique charm and attractions. Here’s where to stay in Hyderabad.

Old City

This historic quarter is alive with magnificent architecture, bustling bazaars, and a fusion of cultures. Stay in the heart of the action and experience the authentic essence of Hyderabad.

Banjara Hills

Known for its upscale hotels, fine dining establishments, and designer boutiques, this exclusive enclave offers a retreat from the city's hustle and bustle. Indulge in luxury accommodations and pamper yourself with rejuvenating spa treatments.

Jubilee Hills

This upscale neighbourhood is a favourite haunt of Hyderabad's elite and while the hotel scene doesn’t quite reflect that in the same way the nearby Banjara Hills do, there are some extremely comfortable places to sleep.

Hitech City

The area to the east of Hyderabad (Nampally) railway station has the cheapest accommodation, but you’re unlikely to find anything acceptable for less than ₹500: avoid the grim little collection of five lodges with “Royal” in their name.


Hyderabad’s twin city, Secunderabad, is often overshadowed by its more famous counterpart. A little over 1 km north of Secunderabad railway station, several decent places can be found on Sarojini Devi Rd.

Browse accommodation options to stay in Hyderabad.

Best restaurants and bars

There are plenty of options in Hyderabad for eating out. You’ll find everything from street food to fine dining in areas such as Gachibowli, Jubilee Hills, Banjara Hills and Hitech City.

Jubilee Hills is known for its trendy bars, lounges, and high-end restaurants. It attracts an affluent and cosmopolitan restaurant crowd. Nearby Banjara Hills has a similarly swanky reputation and offers a mix of international and Indian cuisines. Many establishments have stylish interiors and outdoor seating.

As a major IT hub, Hitech City has seen significant growth in recent years. It now has a range of dining options, including casual eateries, microbreweries, and gastropubs, making it popular with working professionals in the area. Located close to Hitech City, Gachibowli is known for its vibrant food scene. It has a mix of restaurants serving Indian, Chinese, Continental, and other cuisines, along with bars and pubs offering a lively atmosphere.

Lake Hussain Sagar and Hyderabad city skyline, Hyderabad, India © Shutterstock

Lake Hussain Sagar and Hyderabad city skyline, Hyderabad, India © Shutterstock

How to get around

When it comes to getting around Hyderabad there are a variety of options.

By metro

Hyderabad Metro Rail is a convenient and efficient mode of transportation. It operates on multiple routes, connecting various parts of the city. The metro system is clean, air-conditioned, and provides a reliable way to travel quickly, especially during peak hours.

By bus

The Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) operates an extensive network of buses that cover the entire city. These buses are an economical mode of transport, and you can find both regular and air-conditioned buses serving different routes.

By auto-rickshaw

Auto-rickshaws are a common mode of transport in Hyderabad. They are three-wheeled vehicles that can accommodate up to three passengers. Fares are generally metered, but it's advisable to negotiate and confirm the fare before starting the ride.

By taxis

Taxis, including app-based services like Uber and Ola, are widely available in Hyderabad. These provide a more comfortable and convenient option for travel, especially if you prefer a private vehicle. App-based services allow you to book taxis with ease and provide upfront pricing.

What is the best time to visit Hyderabad?

The best time to visit Hyderabad is during the winter months, which typically span from November to February. During this time, the weather is pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F).

Visiting Hyderabad during winter allows you to explore the city comfortably, as the weather is not too hot or humid.

However, if you prefer to avoid crowds, it's advisable to plan your visit during the shoulder seasons of spring (March to April) or autumn (October to November). During these months, the weather is still pleasant, and you can enjoy the city with fewer tourists.

It's important to note that summer in Hyderabad can be quite hot, with temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F). The monsoon season, which occurs from June to September, brings heavy rainfall and occasional flooding,

Find out more about the best time to visit India.

Chowmahalla Palace in Hyderabad, India © Shutterstock

Chowmahalla Palace in Hyderabad, India © Shutterstock

How many days do you need in Hyderabad?

To truly savour the essence of Hyderabad a recommended timeframe for exploring the city and experiencing its main attractions would be around 3 to 4 days.

This duration allows you to get a good overview of the city's culture, history, and cuisine, taking in the Salar Jung Museum, Charminar, Chowmahalla Palace and Hussain Sagar.

How to get here

As a major city, there are numerous ways to reach Hyderabad, though most tourists will arrive by plane or train. Here’s how to get to Hyderabad.

By plane

Modern and efficient Rajiv Gandhi International Airport is around 20km south of central Hyderabad. There are frequent international flights and excellent domestic connections to Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Koch, Kolkata, Mumbai, and many other cities.

Until the metro connection is complete, the airport is only linked to the city by taxis and Pushpak Airport Liner buses.

By train

Many long-distance trains terminate at Secunderabad; your ticket is valid for any connecting train to Hyderabad (Nampally) railway station. The two stations are also linked to each other – and other points in the city, such as Banjara Hills and HITEC City – by the overground Hyderabad Metro (or MMTS).

By bus

The long-distance Mahatma Gandhi Bus Stand occupies an island in the River Musi, 3 km southeast of Nampally railway station. Destinations From the long-distance bus stand, regular bus services run to destinations throughout the state and beyond.

Various “deluxe” private buses depart for Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and other major cities from outside Hyderabad (Nampally) railway station.

Find out the best ways to get to India.

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Andy Turner

written by
Andy Turner

updated 17.05.2023

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