A Good Tour
Assuming you see the Taj Mahal first (and that's certainly not mandatory), it's easy to take leisurely drives to the rest of the sights and be ready to unwind by early evening. Drive 5 km (3 miles) north of the Taj Mahal—about a 20-minute drive on a congested road—to Itimad-ud-Daulah's Tomb and then 8 km (5 miles) northwest—about a half-hour drive, with traffic—to Akbar's Tomb. (Also known as Sikandra for the town it's in, this monument is often overlooked, but it's an impressive sight that's well worth a stop.) From here it's a 12-km (7-mile), or 45-minute, drive northeast to Agra Fort, where it's easy to spend an hour or more. If you have the time and energy, drive southwest for an hour (37 km [23 miles]), to Fatehpur Sikri.
If you're day-tripping from Delhi with a car and driver, it's a must to leave it by 5 am to avoid terrible traffic. You can see Akbar's Tomb and Itimad-ud-Daulah's Tomb on the way to the Taj Mahal, at which you'll easily arrive before noon. Spend the afternoon visiting the Agra Fort or Fatehpur Sikri, then hit a good restaurant before heading back to Delhi.
Any time between September through March is a good time to visit. Winters here are cool and sometimes quite cold in December and January, so make sure you have some layers packed if you visit at that time.
If you try to pack all of Agra's sights into a day that starts in Delhi, you'll have a long, tiring day; starting fresh in the morning from Agra will make for a full, but fairly easy day. Consider staying a second night at your hotel and dividing your excursions between two days to eliminate that constant hectic feeling that Agra's crowds, congested traffic, and sights often impart.
Government-approved tourist guides can be found through the local tourist offices.
Uttar Pradesh Tourist Office. This is a good resource for local transportation queries, and they have a list of government-approved drivers and tour guides at market rates so you will not be cheated. Their recommendations for restaurants and hotels, however, are less reliable. 64 Taj Rd., UP Tourist Office, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 282001. 562/222–6431; www.up-tourism.com. Closed Sun..