Kerala is located on the southwestern coast of India running along the Arabian sea. Kerala is also part of the western ghats, which is UNESCO’s protected world heritage site because of its unique flora and fauna. It is not only rich in its cultural heritage but there are some beautiful places to see when you travel to Kerala. Nature has blessed Kerala with many unique places, it has a coastline of 580 Km on the Arabian sea, backwaters around Alleppey with an intricate waterway system, tea gardens, coffee plantations, spice plantations and a city like Kochi which has preserved its colonial heritage. There is everything for a traveler for sightseeing in Kerala. That’s why it’s popularly known as God’s own country. There are many beautiful tourist places in Kerala.
During my first trip to Kerala, I visited many interesting places. I went to temples, had local cultural experiences, visited tea gardens, sailed in backwaters, saw the spice plantations and explored beaches during my 10 days Kerala itinerary.
It may look like that these are too many things but we had good sightseeing in Kerala during our trip. My schedule was packed but as there is nothing much for the night out or late night so I had a good sleep every night. This helped me and every morning I felt refreshed to visit a new attraction in Kerala. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip and managed to visit some of the best places in Kerala.
Check out my other post about travel guides and travel tips for Kerala before planning a trip.
Best time to visit Kerala
Kerala is a coastal state running along the Arabian sea and weather remains warm everywhere throughout the year except for the hill towns of Munnar, Vagamon, and Thekkady, etc.
Usually, Kerala’s travel season is divided into 3 parts i.e. peak season, summer season and monsoon season but I slightly differ from this general perception.
If you are travel to Kerala as a tourist then there are 4 seasons.
Peak Season is from November to February, from March onwards it starts getting hot. Winters is the peak season in most parts of India. This time of the year is the most popular season among people traveling to Kerala because the weather is mild and perfect for roaming around. It is the best time to go out on beaches and exploring the backwaters.
Keep in mind that tariff is higher at this time of the year and don’t expect to get bargain prices.
If you travel during Christmas and the new year than be prepared to shell out 15 to 25% extra for room rent as well as for air tickets. The 2 weeks between 20th December to 5 January are the busiest time of the year. If you are traveling during these two weeks then do hotel bookings in advance because most of the good hotels sell out in advance. There is a high probability of tourist rush in most of the popular sightseeing places in Kerala.
Monsoon season is not a preferred time for travel to Kerala because of heavy rainfall. At the beginning of June monsoon arrives in Kerala, it’s the first place where monsoon starts in mainland India.
Rain starts from the first week of June and lasts till mid of September. Monsoon is considered as the best time of the year if you want to get Ayurveda treatment in Kerala. According to Ayurveda weather plays an important part in treatment with natural herbs.
Monsoon is also a good time to visit if you just want to relax and not looking forward to going out everyday for sightseeing in Kerala.
Summer season is from March to May are the hottest months. Temperature ranges between 35-degree Celsius during the day to 25-degree Celsius at the night. But it feels much hotter as humidity is very high in Kerala. It feels at least 5 to 6 degrees Celsius hotter. It is very difficult to go out and explore places. Though the hill stations of Kerala remain cooler during this time of the year and one can go there for short breaks. I personally not recommend this time of the year if someone wants to do sightseeing in Kerala.
Post monsoon months of September and October are my favorite to visit Kerala. There are lesser tourists during these months and that’s why it is easier to get better hotel deals. Most of the attractions in Kerala are not crowded with tourists like in peak season. Most importantly it is lush green after monsoon rains and backwaters of Kerala are best with all the canals full of water.
There are occasional rains in the evenings but not heavy rains which can disturb the sightseeing plans. It is also the best time of the year to explore Munnar because tea gardens are green. The cloudy and misty weather with fog creates a mysterious environment. I personally prefer these two months because of all these reasons.
* Do not travel to Kerala during Onam because most of the places remain closed for 3 days. IF you want to experience the festivities and have no issues if you are not able to visit Kerala attractions which remain closed due to holidays then definitely go. Onam is the most important festival of Kerala and celebrated by people of all religions.
Some of the must-visit tourist places in Kerala with pictures
Kerala has so many beautiful places and it’s not possible to see all the attractions of Kerala during a week or 10 days trip. As a first time traveler, it is natural that one would like to visit the best places in Kerala. Here is my list of must-visit places in Kerala.
It is the second-largest city in Kerala. A trip to God’s own country Kerala is incomplete without visiting the Fort Kochi area. Kochi or Cochin is divided into two main parts. i.e. Fort Kochi and Ernakulam.
Fort Kochi is a must-visit place for a traveler. The colonial architecture is still preserved in Fort Kochi and there are many interesting sightseeing attractions of Kerala. If you want to buy funky stuff or souvenirs or do shopping for spices then Fort Kochi is the best place.
Chinese fishing nets, St Francis Church, Mattancherry Palace, Paradesi Synagogue, Jew town, Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica, and Bolgatty palace are some very interesting places in Fort Kochi.
Cherai beach, Vypin Island, Marine drive, and Kochi beach are for sun, sand and sea experience.
The Ernakulam is a modern city and commercial hub of Cochin. For cloth, saree and handicraft shopping a trip to Ernakulum are must in Kerala itinerary.
Here is my complete guide for the best places to visit and things to do in Kochi.
The tea town of Kerala is situated at an altitude of 1532 meters above sea level. Though Munnar is 130 Km from Kochi still it is more than 4 hours drive through winding roads.
The drive from Kochi to Munnar is very scenic and when we traveled just after the monsoon we saw some beautiful waterfalls on the way. I traveled around the end of September and it was cloudy but no rains. As we reached closer to Munnar, we saw tea gardens on both sides of the road and due to clouds, it was very misty & foggy. It felt very mysterious and interesting while we drove.
The Eravikulam national park, Tea museum, Mattupatty dam, Pothamedu viewpoint or photo point, plants nursery and echo points are some of the popular places to visit in Munnar.
There are several tea plantations in Munnar but nobody mentions that there are many cardamom plantations also. During my visit, I saw cardamom plants with flowers and pods. The flower and pods can be seen from August to March.
Here is my detailed post about things to do in Munnar.
Kerala is known, as spice bowl of India and Thekkady is the main spice producing area of this state. There are several spice gardens and plantations in Thekkady. Infect when we drove from Munnar to Thekkady we saw many spice plants and trees of both sides of the road. I can say that I noticed that every house has a plant of black pepper in their garden.
Thekkady’s weather is also ideal for Ayurveda treatments and massages.
Periyar tiger reserve and sanctuary, Spice garden & plantation, elephant junction and a boat trip in Periyar lake are some of the must-do things in Thekkady.
Check out what all you can do in Thekkady and Periyar.
Kumarakom and Alleppey
These two towns are situated on opposite sides of Vembanad lake. Alleppey is more popular among tourists two due to its easy accessibility and intricate canal system. Alleppey is synonymous with the backwaters and a trip to Kerala is incomplete without visiting this area.
Stay in a houseboat or Kettuvallams (local name for a houseboat in Malayalam) and cruising in Vembanad lake is in every traveler’s wish list of Kerala. People on a tight budget can take a day trip in Shikara boats, tourist boats or canoes. Or maybe travel from Alleppey to Kollam in a tourist boat, which is the most economical way to explore backwaters of Kerala.
Alleppey beach and Marari beach are two popular beaches in Allepuzza. These beaches are clean and not crowded.
Here is my complete guide to about Kumarakom & Alleppey with how to explore backwaters of Kerala.
It is situated at the extreme south of Kerala. The capital of Kerala is commonly known as Trivandrum but its official name is Thiruvananthapuram.
Sri Padhmanabhaswamy temple is the most iconic place of Trivandrum. In terms of temple wealth, it is the richest temple in India. According to an estimated valuation, temple treasure troves is of 22 billion dollars. This wealth is in the form of gold coins, jewels, statues, diamonds, throne, ornament, crowns, and precious stones.
Napier Museum, Sri Chitra art gallery, Thiruvananthapuram zoo, Veli tourist village, Shanmugam beach, Ganesh temple, and lighthouse beach road are some popular attractions in Trivandrum.
Padmanabhapuram Palace is 60 km from Trivandrum. A visit to this wooden palace should be in the list of attractions to visit in Kerala.
There are several shopping malls and big showrooms in Trivandrum for shopping. The prices here are comparatively cheaper from what I get in metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Check out my detailed post about what to buy in India and unique souvenirs.
This is my detailed guide for exploring Trivandrum and Kovalam during the Kerala trip.
It is 14 km from the Trivandrum and one of the most popular beach destinations among Indian as well as foreign travelers. The beaches are small but clean and surf is medium. These beaches are the perfect place for swimming as the temperature of the water is nice.
Lighthouse beach is most popular among travelers.
Poovar is another popular beach and backwater area near Kovalam.
By visiting the above places during my first travel to Kerala, I got the essence of God’s own country.
If you have more than a week or 10 days or maybe traveling to Kerala for another time then visit some of these tourist places.
This small town of Kerala is popular because it houses the Guruvayur Sri Krishna temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Guruvayur is one of the most popular temples in Kerala and it is the fourth most visited temple in India. This temple is considered auspicious by the people of Kerala for getting married. It is believed that approximately 80% of Hindus in Kerala get married in Guruvayur temple.
The temple is the main reason why people visit this town, other then this there are few other temples and an elephant sanctuary in Guruvayur.
Check out my experience and must-visit places in the temple town of Guruvayur.
Wayanad is one of the most popular hill stations in Kerala. It is full of plantations, forests, and wildlife. Wayanad is also one of the biggest rice cultivation areas in Kerala. Other major crops grown in Wayanad are Coffee, tea, cocoa, pepper, plantain, vanilla, rice, coconut, cardamom, tea, ginger, etc.
Wayanad is an important part of the Western Ghats, which is UNESCO’s world heritage site. Wayanad is still untouched by modernization. A big area is inhabited by local tribal communities. It is popular among tourists who want to relax in the middle of nature. There are several resorts in the tea and spice plantations.
This beach town of Kerala is situated in the south of Kerala and very popular among foreign travelers. Varkala beach and its surf are perfect for swimming in the sea.
Varkala beach and Varkala cliff are the two most popular places among tourists for relaxing and enjoying sun & sand.
Janardhana Swamy Temple, Anjengo Fort, Vishnu temple and Sivagiri Mutt are some of the popular places to visit if you are interested in the culture of Kerala.
It is located at the southernmost part of Kerala backwaters on the banks of Ashtamundi lake.
Tangasseri Lighthouse, Tangasseri fort, Thirumullavaram Beach, Kollam beach are some of the popular places to visit in Kollam. The backwaters of Kerala can be explored from Kollam.
This small island in backwaters of Ashtamundi lake is a hidden gem of Kerala near Kollam. Munroe island can be reached by road or boat from Kollam.
There is so much calm and peace in this small island.
After exploring Monroe island see coir retting, coir weaving process in local handicraft units. Go for fishing and prawns feeding in Ashtamundi Lake. Also, canoe in narrow canals and waterways around Monroe island between mangroves. Visit coconut farms on the shores of Ashtamundi lake. During winter months migratory birds can be seen around the island.
A visit to tiny islands of Pathupara from Monroe island is one of the must-do.
It was earlier known as Calicut. This is where famous Portuguese trader Vasco De Gama first arrived in India. This beach town is located in the northern part of Kerala.
There are some nice beaches in Kozhikode but it is still not very popular as other parts of South Kerala. There are temples, a bird sanctuary, Kozhikode beach, and Bypore beach for sightseeing in Kozhikode.
This is another beach town in the north of Kerala. Sri Sundareshwara temple, Mutthapan temple, Arakkal Museum, and St. Angelo fort are some of the popular places to visit in Kannur. If you want to see Thayyam than visit Kannur between November to February.
Vegamon is also known as Wagamon. This is one of the lesser-known hill stations of Kerala. It is untouched from massive tourist inflow like other parts of Kerala.
Tea garden and lush green hills are the major attraction of this small town. It is a perfect place if you want to spend some time relaxing in the middle of nature away from the hustle and bustle.
Kerala tourist places map with distance
|From||To||Distance in Km||Approximate travel time|
|Calicut/Kozhikode||Kannur||92 Km||3 Hr|
|Kochi||Munnar||135 Km||4.5 Hrs|
|Kochi||Kumarakom||80 Km||2 Hrs|
|Kochi||Alappuzha||64 Km||1 Hrs|
|Kochi||Thiruvananthapuram||222 Km||5.5 Hrs|
|Kochi||Kannur||276 Km||7.30 Hrs|
|Kochi||Vagamon||132 Km||4 Hrs|
|Kochi||Guruvayoor||108 Km||3 Hrs|
|Kochi||Calicut/Kozhikode||200 Km||5 Hrs|
|Kochi||Wayanad||301 Km||8 Hrs|
|Munnar||Thekkady||112 Km||3.5 Hrs|
|Munnar||Vagamon||102 Km||3.45 Hrs|
|Kumarakom||Alappuzha||35 Km||1 Hr|
|Alleppey||Kollam||85.6 Km||2.15 Hrs|
|Alleppey||Varkala||116.8 Km||3.15 Hrs|
|Thekkady||Kumarakom||122 Km||3 Hrs|
|Kollam||Thiruvanthapuram||66 Km||2 Hrs|
|Kollam||Munroe Island||16 Km||1 Hr (By road + Ferry)|
|Kollam||Munroe Island||26 Km||1 Hr (By road)|
|Kollam||Varkala||35 Km||1.10 Hrs|
These are some of the must-visit places in Kerala. I hope the map and distance information for the places will help in planning the itinerary and travel route in Kerala.