So the best (only) way to get from Kerala to Sri Lanka directly is by flight.
There is currently no ferry or boat connecting India to Sri Lanka.
- Cochin airport COK (kind of near Fort Cochin, Alleppey, Munnar)
- Trivandrum airport TRV (kind of near Varkala, Kovalam)
There are also 2 more airports in Kerala a little further away, located in north Kerala:
- Calicut airport
- Kannur airport
Your flight to Sri Lanka will be to Colombo airport CMB that is actually located outside of Colombo in Negombo.
You can search for flights from India on makemytrip.
But here I present to you a slight detour before you make your way to Sri Lanka!
Cheapest India to Sri Lanka flights?!
From what I have seen in looking up flights from India to Sri Lanka, it seems that Madurai in Tamil Nadu is generally cheaper to fly out of than Cochin or Trivandrum.
So, why not make that as an excuse to see a little bit more of South India and fly out of Madurai?!
Sounds good. 😉
If you are flying FROM Sri Lanka TO India, you may find flying into Madurai will be the cheapest flight to India. If you do that and want to go straight to Kerala from Madurai, see how to get from Madurai to Kerala:
Kerala to Sri Lanka itinerary
So if you have around 10 days between the time you arrive in Kerala until your flight to Sri Lanka, here’s what you can do for your South India itinerary:
- Arrive in Kerala
- 1 day in Cochin
- 1-2 days in Munnar
- 1-2 days in Alleppey
- 1-2 days in Varkala
- 1 day in Kanyakumari aka the southern tip of India!
- 1 day in Madurai aka one of the holiest cities in India
- Madurai to Sri Lanka flight!
And if you’re backpacking other parts of India, see this 2 week North India itinerary.
1. Fort Cochin
7. Sri Lanka!
Getting around Kerala
Bus travel (to Munnar and to Alleppey) and train travel (to Varkala) can work well.
Varkala to Kanyakumari train
There are a number of trains from Varkala to Kanyakumari.
And it’s not too long of a distance, so this can be a pretty easy trip to make.
You can make it even easier if you take general class.
This would mean no need to book train tickets in advance.
You can just show up to the train station, buy your ticket, and board the next train to Kanyakumari!
This will likely be around a 5 hour train ride.
Then, spend a few hours in Kanyakumari at the southern tip of India where the 3 seas meet and stay here a night!
See the train timings:
Kanyakumari to Madurai train or bus
The next day, you can head to Madurai.
The train timings aren’t plentiful or the best, but you can make it work.
Ideally you would take the morning train, but that only runs once a week.
The other train options will get you to Madurai past dark.
The train ride will be around 5 hours.
You might also consider going from Kanyakumari to Madurai by bus, although the direct buses (which again aren’t all that plentiful) will also probably get you to Madurai past dark.
To get there during the day, you might try first going from Kanyakumari to Nagercoil by government bus. (That’s maybe around a 45 minute ride.)
In Nagercoil, you’ll likely find more government bus options to Madurai. Nagercoil to Madurai by bus will probably take around 5 hours.
You’ll just show up to the Kanyakumari bus station and find the right bus. (Make the station master office your first stop at the bus station to ask about it.)
See the train timings:
See the bus timings:
And then finally…
Madurai to Sri Lanka flight!
HAPPY KERALA TO SRI LANKA ITINERARY PLANNING!
Be sure to take a look the Kerala Travel Guide for one week in Kerala so you can plan the PERFECT trip to Kerala!
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! You might wait until India to buy this mosquito repellent that works for many foreigners! 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. And this is the easy way to book train tickets online as a foreigner. I've used it, and it's simple! You can just show the e-ticket on your phone.
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Hostels in KeralaFor a hostel with international standards in Kerala, try Zostel!
More Zostels in Kerala:
Zostel is a top backpacker chain across India, and I've stayed at many Zostels in India! And outside of Kerala, if you'll be passing through Gokarna as you go from Goa to Kerala (here are options of how to get from Goa to Kerala!), then Zostel Gokarna is in an amazing location too! Here are pictures from the on-site cafe that overlooks the ocean.
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!