And Goa and Kerala can make a perfect part of your one month south India itinerary.
And it’s not too complicated to get from Goa to Kerala.
Although, it might take some planning in advance as it will be best to book tickets. (Although, there’s always a way if you don’t want to book ahead – it just might take some more flexibility and extra time going through more cities!)
So you have a couple of options.
First, a list of each of the top places to visit to consider making a part of your Kerala itinerary.
Then, what’s on the way from Goa to Kerala, in the state of Karnataka, in case you want to see a few more places in South India.
Then after that, a little bit of info on how to get to Kerala from Goa:
…along with a suggested route itinerary from your main entry point in Kerala!
And if you’ll be flying into Goa, see how much a taxi costs from Goa airport.
Also see more about public transportation within Kerala, including taking an Alleppey backwaters ferry in part to Varkala, to Munnar, or to Thekkady. Go for the very Kerala experience to get around Kerala! 😉
Best places to make a part of your Kerala itinerary when backpacking in South India
1. Fort Cochin
Fort Cochin is a cute little area. This is a good place to visit if you’re interested in seeing more of India’s colonial past.
You can also find cultural arts performances here, including the Kathakali classical dance and Kalari martial arts.
It could also be interesting to do some cycling in Cochin.
Alleppey is the hub of the famous Kerala backwaters.
This means that with a visit to here, you’ll find a good variety of options for the best things to do in the backwaters.
The houseboat is one of the most popular experiences on the Kerala backwaters.
There’s also Alleppey Beach here for some coastal beach vibes so you can get both the backwaters and the beach.
For a unique coastal Kerala experience when in Alleppey on a budget, sleep on a rooftop bed and wake up to ocean views.
You can also take a sunset beach yoga class here too. (Or do it on your own on the beach!)
Varkala is one of the most famous beach towns in Kerala.
It’s also a place you can pretty easily find a spot to get a one hour ayurvedic massage or multi-day ayurvedic yoga retreats. (Kerala is the birthplace of ayurveda which uses natural remedies to stay healthy and get healthy.)
Go here for the coastal vibes so you can have every meal on the Varkala cliff overlooking the ocean.
Munnar is in the hills of the Western Ghats.
It’s famous for the scenic tea plantations, and you can go for a leisurely tea plantation trek in Munnar.
Or you can also go for a slightly more difficult Meesapulimala Trek up to the second highest peak in Kerala.
5. Munroe Island
Munroe Island is another place you go to for the backwaters, and it serves as a quieter alternative to Alleppey.
With a Munroe Island backwaters homestay, you can get good Kerala food, go for a sunrise canoe tour, go cycling around the island, and go for a village walk.
Where to stay on the backpacker trail in Kerala
- Fort Cochin: Zostel Kochi
- Alleppey Beach: Zostel Alleppey or Funky Art Beach House for chill beach vibes! (see my pics – zostel / funky – and how to spend one day in Alleppey)
- Alleppey backwaters: cottage right on the waters
- Munroe Island: cottage backwaters homestay right on the waters (and see why you should consider munroe island!)
- Varkala cliff: Seawin or Prashanthi with ocean views
Links to partner website!
For the overview of top things to know about Goa and what beaches to stay near, see this Goa travel guide!
So now, how to get to Kerala from Goa…
Is there anything on the way from Goa to Kerala?
MAP: Goa to Kerala
View this Goa to Kerala map on Google maps!
There’s a state that’s between Goa and Kerala, and that’s Karnataka.
If you’re looking to break up your journey between the 2 states, or you just want to explore more of South India, there are a few cities in Karnataka that you might want to look into:
Breaking it up, instead of going straight from Goa to Kerala, is how you’ll be able to get away with less planning ahead of time, as it’s generally easier to go between shorter distances! (Although these still aren’t exactly short distances!)
I went from Goa to Kerala in June 2019.
This was my route to get to Kerala from Goa
- Goa to Hampi train (Panjim to Madgaon bus + Madgaon to Hospet train + Hospet to Hampi bus)
- Hampi to Mysore train (Hampi to Hospet rickshaw + Hospet to Mysore train)
- Mysore to Kerala train (Mysore to Bangalore train + Bangalore to Alleppey train)
In Goa, as long as you have the time and patience, local bus travel is totally possible!
To get to Madgaon (aka Margao), I’ve gone from Palolem to Margao by bus, and also Panjim to Margao by bus. (Both have direct bus options.)
If you want to skip Hampi and Mysore, also consider:
- Goa to Gokarna train (I went in the opposite direction and took a passenger train from Gokarna to Goa)
- Gokarna to Kerala train
So this option means that you will basically go straight down the coast without heading inland at all.
What about if you’re not looking to break up the journey?
What’s the best way to get from Goa to Kerala?!
Goa to Kerala by bus
This really isn’t a good option.
The distance between the 2 states is a bit long.
It would be possible to get to Kerala exclusively by bus from Goa, but it would require more than one bus. And it will take you at least 2 days.
Otherwise, one option to consider with overnight stays if you don’t mind taking a few days to get from Goa to Kerala:
- Goa to Hampi bus (1-2 days to explore the Hampi ruins!)
- Hampi to Bangalore bus (1-2 days explore the Bangalore pubs!)
- Bangalore to Kerala bus
- Bangalore to Wayanad
- Bangalore to Munnar
- Bangalore to Cochin
A good way to check these bus routes is redbus.
Goa to Kerala by train
Check trainman for specific train options from Goa.
Train stations in Goa
The 2 main train stations in Goa that will be helpful to know about:
- Thivim in North Goa
- Margao (Madgaon) in South Goa
So depending on which beach you’ll be leaving Goa from, you can look up possible train routes.
Train stations in Kerala
Some train stations in Kerala that can be helpful to know about:
- Ernakulam (Cochin)
These are all coastal towns.
Ernakulam is the train station for Fort Cochin. Be sure to see how to get from the Ernakulam train station to Fort Cochin.
You may also consider looking into stopping by Kannur in north Kerala for a shorter train journey.
Since these are overnight trains, it’s best to reserve train tickets in advance. Go for 2AC or 3AC.
When arriving to Cochin by train, consider this route:
- Fort Cochin
- Munroe Island
When arriving to Alleppey by train, consider this route:
- Munroe Island
- Fort Cochin
When arriving to Varkala by train, consider this route:
- Munroe Island
Goa to Kerala flight
- Goa to Cochin Airport
- Goa to Trivandrum Airport
Check makemytrip for specific flight options from Goa.
Airport in Goa
There’s one airport in Goa, and that’s located in South Goa, but not too far from Panjim in central Goa:
- Goa airport GOI
Airports in Kerala
For the popular backpacker’s trail, there are 2 airports to know about in Kerala:
- Cochin airport COK
- Trivandrum airport TRV
It is possible to take a direct flight from from Goa to Cochin, but those flights are limited.
So more than likely you’ll end up finding a flight with one stop whether you fly to Cochin or to Trivandrum.
A direct flight from Goa to Cochin is 1.5 hours. Otherwise, it’ll probably take around 4-6 hours to get from Goa to Kerala by flight including time in transit.
Fort Cochin and Alleppey are the top tourist destinations that are near the Cochin airport. If Munnar is your goal, Cochin airport would be your choice too, although it’s a bit further away.
Time from Cochin Airport by taxi:
- To Fort Cochin – 1 to 1.5 hours
- To Alleppey – 2.5 hours
- To Munnar – 3.5 to 4 hours
Varkala is near the Trivandrum airport.
Time from Trivandrum Airport by taxi:
- To Varkala – 1.5 hours
When arriving to Cochin by flight, consider this route:
- Fort Cochin
- Munroe Island
When arriving to Trivandrum by flight, consider this route:
- Munroe Island
HAPPY GOA TO KERALA ITINERARY PLANNING!
The need-to-know India travel tips!If it's your first trip to India, be sure to see these tips for getting around India on a budget, and more! Also be sure to see how to spend one month in South India and 2 weeks in North India, as well as tips for the Golden Triangle. And, overnight sleeper bus travel isn't so bad, and neither is traveling in general class on the train! Also see the easy way to get an e-visa.
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Where to stay on the tourist trail in KeralaThese places basically go down the coast from north to south!
- Cochin: Try a homestay in the cute heritage area of Fort Kochi.
- Marari Beach: This is an "off-beat" location as Marari is mostly unknown to backpackers, but it can be a convenient stop to make between Cochin and Alleppey with chill laid back vibes. For an idea of what type of beach can be nearby, see my beach walk from Alleppey to Marari.
- Alleppey Beach:
- Funky Art Beach House again for chill vibes with a location among locals in a residential neighborhood
- And there's Zostel Alleppey too for another beach location to stay several days
- OR if Alleppey is a quick visit, try Dream Nest to be closer to town
- And see how to spend one day in Alleppey (short version: go for the backwaters village canoe tour instead of a houseboat!)
- Alleppey backwaters:
- Munroe Island: This is another generally kind of more off-beat location, and you can see a different part of the Kerala backwaters on a quiet island
- Varkala cliff:
Retreats in KeralaFor relaxation and rejuvenation for health and wellness, also see:
- Yoga retreats in Kerala
- Ayurveda retreats in Kerala - ayurveda is basically healthy living through natural herbs and remedies, and Kerala is the birthplace of ayurveda!
How to book India train tickets online as a foreignerIf you don't want to go through the complicated process of setting up an IRCTC Indian railways account as a foreigner...
Then the most convenient way to buy train tickets online is through this booking website. I've used it, and it's super simple! You buy the ticket, and then show the electronic version on your phone once you're on the train. Compared to buying directly through an Indian ticket booking website (IRCTC account required) or directly at the train station in India, there is a small convenience fee, as well as a less flexible cancellation policy, though!