Here is a list of some places to consider visiting so you can take in the best parts of Kerala!
Kerala is most famous for its backwaters, and Alleppey is the main hub of these famous Kerala backwaters.
You can choose from a number of activities.
And you can also get Kerala homestay food on a backwaters village tour.
Munnar is best known for tea plantations.
One of the most popular activities is a Munnar tea plantation trek that can include a walk through tea plantations and spice plantations, with a nice homestay meal to end the day.
Kerala is known as the birthplace of ayurvedic medicine, which uses only natural remedies.
This place is also famous for its cliff which has plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from so you can eat and drink with ocean views.
Varkala is also one of the famous beach towns of Kerala.
4. Fort Cochin
Walking or cycling around Fort Cochin will also give you a glimpse of Kerala’s colonial past.
Cochin can also be recognized in pictures from its famous Chinese fishing nets.
5. Thekkady – Kumily – Periyar
One of the biggest reasons Thekkady is popular is because it’s home to the Periyar National Park, which is also a wildlife sanctuary and tiger reserve.
Kumily is the main town of this area.
You have lots of activities to choose from at the park, including a boat ride. If you’re lucky, you may spot an elephant in the wild!
Kovalam is one of the most popular beach towns in Kerala.
There are plenty of beachside restaurants here so you can enjoy some food or drink with some ocean views.
7. Munroe Island
You go to Munroe Island for the backwaters, and it serves as a quieter alternative to the Alleppey backwaters.
You can make the most of your time here by staying at one of the many Munroe Island homestays on the island.
At the homestay, you can have opportunities for a bicycle ride, village walk, and sunrise canoe tour around the Kerala backwaters.
And most importantly, you’ll have opportunities to eat good Kerala food!
Trivandrum is the capital of Kerala.
One of the noteworthy places to visit in Trivandrum is the Padmanabhaswamy Temple which is known as one of the richest temples in the world.
9. Meesapulimala Peak
Heading inland takes you towards the Western Ghats which is distinguished as a UNESCO world heritage area with a mountain range that’s older than the Himalayas.
It’s possible to reach the second highest peak in Kerala by signing up for the Meesapulimala Trek through the Kerala forest department.
You can access the Meesapulimala Trek from Munnar.
Kollam is best known to travelers for the tourist ferry that starts or ends here, depending on which direction you’re going.
The Alleppey to Kollam tourist ferry is a full day activity that makes a stop for a traditional Kerala meal for lunch.
Take this ferry when you’re traveling from Alleppey to Varkala, or in the other direction from Varkala to Alleppey.
Amritapuri is home to the spiritual center of Amma’s ashram.
Amma is an international humanitarian who is also known as the hugging mother, and she has followers all around the world.
You can also get here by taking the Alleppey to Kollam ferry.
Kerala is home to many colorful birds, and if you’re lucky, you can spot some of them at the bird sanctuary in Kumarakom.
This area is also known as another alternative to Alleppey for its backwaters, although it’s considered to be more expensive here.
You can also make this a day trip from Alleppey by taking the bus to Muhamma and then a ferry to Kumarakom.
13. Marari Beach
Marari Beach is considered one of the best beaches near Alleppey.
You can make a day trip to Marari Beach from Alleppey.
If going by scooter or bicycle, make a detour at one of the many fishing beaches along the way and you can get a feel for the local life of village fishermen. (You can see local fishermen right on Alleppey Beach near this guesthouse too.)
On the way to the main overlook of Ponmudi, you can stop by for a waterfall trek.
Then you can continue making your way through hills and winding roads to reach the hill station of Ponmudi where there’s a scenic overlook.
You can make this a day trip from Varkala.
Neyyar is best known for its dam and reservoir. You can take a boat ride around the reservoir for some nice time on the water.
The Sivananda yoga ashram is also located in Neyyar, and this is known as one of the best ashrams in Kerala.
You can make a trip to Neyyar from Trivandrum.
Vagamon is another hill station in Kerala, so it makes for a scenic drive to get there.
You can make this an overnight trip from Alleppey.
17. Kuttanad – Kainakary
Kuttanad is an area with backwaters to explore that’s near the main center of Alleppey.
You can get to Kuttanad and Kainakary from Alleppey town by scooter or bicycle and then walk around the streets and smaller backwater canals.
Or you can get here by public transportation taking the bus or the See Kuttanad ferry.
There’s not much that’s noteworthy in Kottayam itself, but this is about the journey, not the destination!
The Alleppey to Kottayam ferry is another one of the public ferry routes that’s recommended if you’re looking for a cheap way to experience the Kerala backwaters.
Vizhinjam is a fishing village that has a harbor where you can see a whole bunch of fishing boats.
You can make a short visit here when you’re in Kovalam.
Kerala is known for the backwaters, and you have many ways to experience the famous Kerala backwaters.
So take your pick out of the best backwaters activities and be sure to get out on the water!
And also take your pick of one of the best beaches in Kerala and be sure to catch that ocean sunset!
HAPPY KERALA TRAVEL 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! 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!