17 Places to Visit in Kerala for the perfect holiday

From the most romantic of honeymoon destinations to the best of beaches, here is a lowdown on the best places to visit in Kerala.

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#1 Alappuzha (Allepey)

The very heart of the backwaters and often referred to as backwater country, Alappuzha is Kerala’s crown jewel. With its expansive network of lakes, lagoons and rivers meandering through lush green villages, Alleppey’s beauty is unparalleled and reason enough for Kerala to proudly proclaim for itself the tag of ‘God’s Own Country’.

#2 Kovalam

Hands down the most popular beach of Kerala. Kovalam is easily accessible from Thiruvananthapuram. Three crescent shaped bays, separated by rocky outcrops and lined in coconut palms, together form the Kovalam beach. Dotted with resorts, Ayurvedic centres, restaurants and storefronts this is as touristy as it gets in Kerala.

#3 Fort Kochi (+ Kochi)

Fifteen minutes from the mainland of Kochi is Old Kochi, popularly known as Fort Kochi. Fort Kochi has had a long and eventful past, from being a little known fishing village to becoming the first European township in India, every lane and building in this part of Kerala has a tale to tell.

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Today Fort Kochi is not just a hippie favourite but also tops the list of places to visit in Kerala for photographers. For it is here that you will find those iconic Chinese fishing nets that feature in almost all the images of Kerala.

#4 Bekal

The sprawling gardens of the seventeenth century Bekal Fort and the adjoining stretch of Bekal Beach have always been much sought after by the locals. For wander here of an evening and you will see families, usually large, sitting down to a picnic while the kids scamper about in this erstwhile military stronghold of the Malabar province.

It is only now, with the advent of glamorous resorts here, that this seaside town in North Kerala is slowly but surely opening up to tourists.

#5 Munnar

After the Alappuzha Backwaters if there is a star on Kerala’s tourist map, it is Munnar. Fed by a confluence of three mountain streams Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala, Munnar with its luxuriant gardens of tea rolling off the hillsides and its crisp mountain air make it one of India’s top honeymoon destinations.

The picture book town with its stores of home made chocolates only add to Munnar’s charm making it a must visit on your list of places to visit in Kerala.

#6 Kumarakom

Hands down one of the most beautiful places in Kerala for a laid back holiday, Kumarakom is home to a bird sanctuary surrounded by beautiful backwaters. Here by the tranquil backwaters, you can wake up every morning to birdsong.

One of the more popular of Kerala’s islands, Kumarakom derives its name from the words kuminja (heap) and akam (inside) referring to how the island came to be. From a natural accumulation of mud and sediments.

#7 Wayanad

Though Wayanad is counted amongst the popular tourist places in Kerala, it is seriously underrated! Agreed that it can only be accessed by road. But, this trip to the heart of wilderness in the Western Ghats is one jeep ride that is totally worth it.

And, if you are an elephant lover, then the Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary, a Project Elephant site, is where you ought to be. For here you will see them in the wild, and free.

#8 Varkala

A hippie haven, Varkala is one of those towns typical of India, where you wouldn’t know if East meets West or vice versa. Originally known for its ancient temples and sacred beaches like the Papanasanam Beach, where one dip in the sea is believed to wash away all of one’s sins to what it is today, a cliff hugging backpacker beach town, Varkala is one Kerala destination that cannot be skipped.

#9 Athirapally

Kerala’s largest and most sought after waterfall, the Athirapally Waterfalls, near Thrissur, cascades down a mighty eighty feet. This densely forested area is home to not one, but four endangered species of the Hornbill!

#10 Kollam (Quilon)

Home to the famous Ashtamudi Lake and Wetland Eco System, Kollam was once Kerala’s trade centre and is today the gateway to the backwaters. Here is where the longest and the most popular backwater route to Alappuzha begins.It is also here, near Kollam, that Jatayu Earth Centre, with the world’s largest bird sculpture – of the mythological Jatayu – is being constructed.

#11 Thekkady

Home to one of the more popular tiger reserves of the country, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkady, is known for its unending hills of dense evergreen forests. So, besides spotting herds of wild elephants, rafting is also a much loved activity here. Fabled for its spice gardens, Thekkady is also popular for plantation tours, treks and safaris.

#12 Idduki

If you want to get up close and personal with nature, from treks along forest trails to plantations tours, then Idduki is the place for you.It is also here in Idduki, that you find the Neelakurinji, a rare blue flower that only blooms once in twelve years. It bloomed last in 2018.

While Munnar is just one of the hill stations here, over fifty percent of Idduki is carpeted in forests. And one such relatively under the radar hill station is Vagamon. It is quickly becoming the next romantic destination in Kerala, an alternative to Munnar.

#13 Kannur

Get off the tourist trail in Kannur for some pristine white sand beaches, uninhabited islands and drive in beaches that are absolutely ideal for water sports. These secluded beaches also make for the perfect setting, when after an intense day out in the sun, you want to retire to a quiet night by the sea.

#14 Kozhikode (Calicut)

The Food Capital of Kerala, Kozhikode is where the celebrated Malabar Cuisine comes from. From the Calicut Biryani that traces its flavours back to the Arabs who landed here to the purely local unnakkaya, a deep fried snack made from sweetened ripe bananas rolled in cashews and raisins; Kozhikode is known for its distinctive food culture.

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#15 Thrissur (Trichur)

The Cultural Capital of Kerala, Thrissur is best known for its Pooram, the Thrissur Pooram. Where caparisoned elephants come out with the local Gods on their backs, to a celebration of lights and colours. All the local temples in the region participate in the Thrissur Pooram. 

Guruvayoor – India’s third largest temple and probably the only one with a palace for temple elephants – is also near here.

#16 Muziris

A thriving centre of trade in the first century BC, the ancient port city of Muziris is today the Muziris Heritage Village. A unique heritage conservation project that takes one on an archaeological trail into India’s dramatic past. Muziris was once the launching pad for many a religion in the country; Islam, Judaism and Christianity being the most prominent. Today, it is the place to visit in Kerala if you travel for culture.

#17 Valiyaparamba

The Valiyapramba Backwaters in Kasaragod, near Bekal, though not as popular as the Alappuzha Backwaters are just as picturesque, if not more. As is typical to North Kerala, this stretch is still relatively untouched by mainstream tourism making for less traffic on the waterways. And the pretty as a picture islands make for great stopovers along the way.Get there before it gets onto everybody’s list of tourist places in Kerala.

Author: Neeharika Satyavada

Hi! I am Neeharika. An award winning photographer and travel writer based out of Hyderabad, India. I love telling stories of heritage, art, culture and off-the-grid travel. But, here on Map In My Pocket you will find more. From moody pictures to comprehensive travel guides; words and images enough to inspire you to travel and also be of help along the way. Thanks for coming along on this visual journey with me, I do hope you enjoy the ride. 🙂

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