places to visit in Kerala

Best Places to Visit in Kerala: Insider’s Tips and Tricks

Kerala, often referred to as “God’s Own Country,” is a paradise for travelers. This enchanting state in southern India is renowned for its lush landscapes, tranquil backwaters, stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and rich history. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or an adventure seeker, Kerala has something to offer everyone. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best places to visit in Kerala and share insider tips and tricks to make your trip unforgettable.

1. Munnar: The Queen of Hill Stations

Overview: Munnar is a picturesque hill station located in the Western Ghats. It’s known for its sprawling tea plantations, misty mountains, and pleasant weather.

Highlights:

  • Tea Gardens: Take a walk through the lush tea gardens, and visit the Tea Museum to learn about the history of tea in the region.
  • Eravikulam National Park: Home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr, this park offers breathtaking views and the famous Anamudi Peak, the highest peak in South India.
  • Attukal Waterfalls: A beautiful spot for a picnic and some amazing photo opportunities.

Insider Tip: Visit during the monsoon season (June to September) to see the tea gardens at their greenest and the waterfalls in full flow.

2. Alleppey: The Venice of the East

Overview: Alleppey, or Alappuzha, is famous for its serene backwaters, houseboat cruises, and picturesque lagoons.

Highlights:

  • Houseboat Cruises: Spend a night on a traditional houseboat, gliding through the calm waters, surrounded by lush greenery.
  • Alleppey Beach: Enjoy the beautiful sunset and the old pier that extends into the sea.
  • Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary: A paradise for bird watchers, this sanctuary is home to a variety of migratory birds.

Insider Tip: Book your houseboat in advance during the peak season (November to February) to avoid last-minute hassles and get the best prices.

3. Kochi: The Queen of the Arabian Sea

Overview: Kochi, also known as Cochin, is a vibrant city with a rich cultural heritage and a perfect blend of traditional and modern influences.

Highlights:

  • Fort Kochi: Wander through the historic streets, visit the Chinese Fishing Nets, St. Francis Church, and the Dutch Palace.
  • Jew Town and Synagogue: Explore the antique shops and the Paradesi Synagogue, one of the oldest active synagogues in the Commonwealth.
  • Marine Drive: A scenic promenade perfect for evening strolls, offering stunning views of the sunset over the backwaters.

Insider Tip: Take a ferry ride from Fort Kochi to Vypin Island for a unique perspective of the city and its bustling harbor.

4. Thekkady: Wildlife and Spice Plantations

Overview: Thekkady is synonymous with wildlife, adventure, and spice plantations. It’s a haven for nature enthusiasts.

Highlights:

  • Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary: Go on a boat safari to spot elephants, tigers, and various other wildlife.
  • Spice Plantations: Take a guided tour of the spice gardens and learn about the cultivation of spices like cardamom, pepper, and vanilla.
  • Bamboo Rafting: For the adventurous, bamboo rafting on the Periyar Lake is a thrilling experience.

Insider Tip: Early morning boat safaris increase your chances of spotting wildlife, especially elephants.

5. Wayanad: A Green Paradise

Overview: Wayanad is a lush green district filled with scenic beauty, wildlife, and historical treasures.

Highlights:

  • Edakkal Caves: Explore these ancient caves with petroglyphs dating back to the Neolithic age.
  • Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary: Spot animals like deer, elephants, and if you’re lucky, even a tiger.
  • Chembra Peak: Trek to the heart-shaped lake on the way to the peak for stunning panoramic views.

Insider Tip: Visit the caves early in the morning to avoid the crowd and the midday heat.

6. Varkala: Cliffs and Beaches

Overview: Varkala is a coastal town famous for its unique cliffs adjacent to the Arabian Sea.

Highlights:

  • Varkala Beach: Also known as Papanasam Beach, it’s known for its therapeutic mineral springs.
  • Janardana Swami Temple: A 2000-year-old temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, located close to the beach.
  • Varkala Cliff: Enjoy the stunning views, restaurants, and shops along the cliffside promenade.

Insider Tip: Visit during the off-season (March to May) for a quieter experience and lower prices on accommodations.

7. Kovalam: The Beach Paradise

Overview: Kovalam is one of Kerala’s most popular beach destinations, known for its palm-lined shores and clear waters.

Highlights:

  • Lighthouse Beach: The most famous beach, known for its lighthouse that offers panoramic views of the coastline.
  • Hawah Beach: A quieter alternative to Lighthouse Beach, perfect for relaxing.
  • Kovalam Art Gallery: Explore the local art and culture at this small but interesting gallery.

Insider Tip: For a unique experience, take a catamaran ride with local fishermen early in the morning.

8. Thrissur: Cultural Capital of Kerala

Overview: Thrissur is known for its cultural heritage, temples, and festivals, particularly the famous Thrissur Pooram.

Highlights:

  • Vadakkunnathan Temple: An ancient Shiva temple and a classic example of Kerala architecture.
  • Thrissur Zoo and Museum: A great place to learn about the wildlife and history of Kerala.
  • Athirappilly Waterfalls: Often referred to as the “Niagara of India,” it’s a spectacular sight during the monsoon season.

Insider Tip: Plan your visit during the Thrissur Pooram festival (usually in April or May) to witness the grand elephant procession and fireworks.

9. Bekal: Historical Fort and Scenic Beaches

Overview: Bekal, in the northern part of Kerala, is famous for its historic fort and beautiful beaches.

Highlights:

  • Bekal Fort: A well-preserved fort offering stunning views of the Arabian Sea.
  • Bekal Beach: A serene and clean beach perfect for a leisurely stroll.
  • Chandragiri Fort: Another historic fort located nearby, offering panoramic views of the river and the sea.

Insider Tip: Visit the fort during sunset for breathtaking views and fewer crowds.

10. Kumarakom: Backwater Bliss

Overview: Kumarakom is a charming backwater village on the banks of Vembanad Lake, known for its tranquil surroundings and bird sanctuary.

Highlights:

  • Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary: A haven for bird watchers, with many migratory birds visiting during the winter season.
  • Backwater Cruises: Enjoy a peaceful boat ride through the network of canals and lagoons.
  • Aruvikkuzhi Waterfall: A beautiful waterfall located amidst rubber plantations, perfect for a picnic.

Insider Tip: Visit during the migratory season (November to February) to see a variety of bird species at the sanctuary.

Tips and Tricks for Traveling in Kerala

  • Best Time to Visit: The ideal time to visit Kerala is from October to February when the weather is pleasant. However, the monsoon season (June to September) is perfect for enjoying the lush greenery and waterfalls.
  • Local Cuisine: Don’t miss out on trying Kerala’s local cuisine, including dishes like appam with stew, Kerala sadya, and seafood specialties like karimeen pollichathu.
  • Transportation: While public transport is available, renting a car or hiring a private taxi can make your travel more convenient, especially if you plan to explore multiple destinations.
  • Cultural Etiquette: Kerala has a rich cultural heritage, so dress modestly, especially when visiting temples and religious sites. Respect local customs and traditions.
  • Health and Safety: Carry mosquito repellent, especially if you’re visiting during the monsoon season. Drink bottled water and ensure that your vaccinations are up to date.
  • Language: While Malayalam is the primary language, English is widely understood and spoken, especially in tourist areas.

Also Read: How to Find the Best Kerala Travel Packages for Your Budget

Conclusion

Kerala is a land of diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and warm hospitality. From the misty hills of Munnar to the tranquil backwaters of Alleppey, the vibrant city of Kochi to the serene beaches of Varkala, there’s something for every traveler. Use this guide to plan your trip and explore the best places to visit in Kerala, making the most of your journey with our insider tips and tricks. Happy travels!