The city can be scorchingly hot in the summer months so, if possible, time your visit to fall between October and March, and bring something warm to wear for chilly days and nights.
Varanasi is well connected by plane, train, and bus. The trains and buses are dirty and overcrowded.
Lal Bahadur Shastri Airport (IATA: VNS) is located 25km northwest of the city center. A taxi to/from the airport takes an hour and costs ₹750, while a tuk-tuk/auto-rickshaw can take twice as long and costs ₹500. Allow extra time due to traffic. Air India, JetKonnect, SpiceJet, and IndiGo all operate regular flights to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Khajuraho, and Visakhapatnam. There are flights to Colombo on Mihin Lanka Airlines, and flights to Bangkok on Thai Airways.
Its easy to get a state-run bus to city center (opposite Varanasi Junction/Cantt station), which costs less than half a dollar. Bus stand is 10 minutes walking distance from airport. If taking state run (or private operator) bus from Varanasi to airport, take bus going to Jaunpur and get down at Babatpur airport stop. After walking 10 min, you can easily get to airport.
There are multiple daily services to cities including Delhi (13 hours), Agra (13 hours), Lucknow (7 hours), Mumbai, and Kolkata.
Varanasi is served by three major railway stations:
- Varanasi Junction (IR station code : BSB) – the trip between the train station and the Ganges-area costs ₹100 in a tuk-tuk.
- Manduadih Railway Station – the trip between the train station and the Ganges-area costs ₹100 in a tuk-tuk.
- Mughal Sarai Junction (IR station code : MGS), about 20km east of the city – the trip between the train station and the Ganges-area costs ₹500 in a taxi.
Here is a list of useful trains to reach Varanasi:
|Train Number||Train Name||You may board at||You may alight at|
|12424||Rajdhani Express||New Delhi||Mughal Sarai Junction|
|12436||Rajdhani Express||New Delhi, Lucknow||Varanasi Junction|
|12560||Shivganga Express||New Delhi||Manduadih Varanasi|
|12165||Lokmanya Tilak (T) – Varanasi Express||Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Mumbai)||Varanasi Junction|
|12336||Lokmanya Tilak (T) – Bhagalpur Express||Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Mumbai)||Mughal Sarai Junction|
|12333||Vibhuti Express||Howrah (Kolkata)||Mughal Sarai Junction, Varanasi Junction|
|12307||Howrah-Jodhpur Express||Howrah (Kolkata)||Mughal Sarai Junction|
|12669||Ganga Kaveri Express||Chennai Central||Varanasi Junction|
|12295||Sangamitra Express||Bangalore City, Chennai Central||Mughal Sarai Junction|
|17091||Secunderabad-Patna Express||Secunderabad (Hyderabad)||Mughal Sarai Junction, Varanasi Junction|
|14854||Marudhar Express||Jaipur, Agra Fort||Varanasi Junction|
|14864||Marudhar Express||Jaipur, Agra Fort||Varanasi Junction|
Also see Rail travel in India
The bus station in Varanasi is located just east of the Varanasi Junction train station. A tuk-tuk from the bus station to the Ganges area costs ₹100.
Arriving from Nepal
Buses are available from major cities in Nepal to the border city of Sunauli. From the Sunauli bus station, take a rickshaw (200 NPR) to the border crossing, get your passport stamped on the Nepali side then walk through the border. After 100m of walking through no-man’s land, you will find the Indian immigration office hidden away on the left hand side of the road. After going through Indian immigration, walk 300m and find the bus stop on the right hand side. From there, take the government bus to Gorakhpur, not the private lines which are far less comfortable and stop everywhere. The bus trip between the border and Gorakhpur takes 4 hours and costs ₹60. To reach Varanasi from Gorakhpur, you can either take a train from the Gorakhpur Junction train station (5-7 trains per day, 5.5-7 hour journey, ₹200-800 cost) or a bus (hourly, 8+ hour journey, ₹130 cost).
Alternatively, there is a single bus that can be taken from Kathmandu through to Varanasi. As of Dec 2016 the bus costs 2100 NPR although if you reserve a ticket through a travel agency in Thamel it may be slightly more. The bus leaves from the Swayambhu bus park at 7pm every two days, a schedule should be available on the UPSRTC website. There is an office at the Swayambhu bus park where you may be able to directly reserve your tickets ahead of time. The bus is reasonably comfortable although it has no toilet and stops every few hours or so. The trip itself can take anywhere from 15 to 23 hours.
Arriving from other cities in India
There are buses run by state government from Lucknow (8 hours, ₹160), Gorakhpur (8+ hours, ₹130), Khajuraho (12 hours, ₹250), Kanpur (9 hours – ₹195), Faizabad (7 hours, ₹105), Bodhgaya (7 hours, ₹250) and Allahabad (3 hours – ₹107 for AC, ₹60 w/o AC).