Top Tourist Attractions in Kerala

Updated on Apr 17, 2024 | Indian e-Visa

The calm waters of Kerala winding backwaters and the widespread spice plantations are some of the qualities that define the state of Kerala as one of the most preferred tourist spots in India. Popularly known as God’s Own Country, the state is a heaven for travelers, both locals and outsiders who visit the place.

Travelling in India is an experience of its own. The country’s heterogeneity has something to offer in every corner of India. It is impossible to not like the layers in which India has enveloped itself. Whether it is the Marine Drive in Mumbai, Taj Mahal of Agra, Howrah Bridge of West Bengal or the lush green tea plantations of Kerala, India covers it all. 

The interesting fact about this state is that it’s topography ranges between the evergreen cool hills to the calmness of the sea beaches. Kerala is a delicacy for travelers and vagabonds. Tourists swarm to this state to detox in the salubrious climate of Kerala -detached completely from the metropolitan jungle. 

If you happen to be in India, do not miss out on visiting the beautiful state of Kerala. The food, people, language, culture, and the earthly beauty of Kerala has something new to offer to its visitors. To guide you to the best tourist spots in the state, we have curated a list of most-visited cities and places which are a ‘must-see’ for those visiting this tropical heaven for the first time.

Kerala is no less than a paradise on earth and is therefore aptly known as God’s Own Country. Located on the Malabar Coast in South India, the state is famous for its varied topography, full of networks of rivers, lakes, and canals that form what are called its backwaters, beaches, and mountains with tea, coffee, and spice plantations, and a plethora of wildlife and biodiversity. There’s so much beauty of the nature to be explored in Kerala and with its insistence on a sustainable ecotourism, the state can be explored by tourists in a way that doesn’t adversely affect its environment. So without further ado here is a list of things to do and places to see in Kerala for tourists.

Backwaters and Waterfalls in Kerala

Some brackish lagoons and lakes in Kerala, which have more salinity that freshwater does but less than seawater, that lie parallel to the Malabar Coast of the Arabian Sea form a network that is known as Kerala’s backwaters. These backwaters are famous for houseboat riding and boat races during festivals and form one of the major tourist attractions of the state. The most popular backwaters of Kerala that you must definitely visit are the palm tree lined backwaters of Alleppey where you can take Houseboat Cruises and witness the traditional snake boat race in August and September and the beautiful backwaters of Kollam, the Ashtamudi Lake, which is an ancient port town in Kerala and the gateway to Kerala’s backwaters.

Kerala is also home to some of the most beautiful and majestic waterfalls you will ever get to see in your life and you should definitely visit some of the most famous waterfalls of Kerala, which are the three-tiered Soochiparra Falls in Wayanad, surrounded by forests on all sides, and which fall into a large pool where tourists can swim and bathe; the Athirappilly Falls in Thrissur, which is the largest waterfall in India and is called India’s Niagara; and the Palaruvi Falls, which is one of the highest waterfalls in India.


Thrissur was previously crowned the capital of Kochi, however, now it is known as the cultural capital of the state of Kerala because of its rich cultural, spiritual, and religious uprising through the course of history. Tourists can visit a stretch of aesthetically appealing temples and churches that are now a symbolisation of religious activities carried along during the festive season in the city. When you visit Thrissur, you cannot forget to try the delectable Vellayappam which is a kind of a rice delicacy, considered a speciality of the city.

How can you get there? One of the drawbacks of Thrissur is that it does not have an airport. However, the nearest airport is the Kochi Airport which is about 95 km far from the main attractions of Thrissur. You can easily hop on local passenger trains to Thrissur from other major connecting cities of the country. Additionally, there are a ton of tourist buses available to take you to Thrissur from major cities of the country. If comfortable with a long and exciting road trip with just your friends and family, you can also rent a car.

Where can you stay? Being an important city in Kerala, Thrissur has a number of options available for tourist stays. Best options are hotels/resorts such as the Hotel Peninsula, Lulu International Convention and Dass Continental. All available at pocket-friendly prices!


Kochi is the culturally and economically rich capital of Kerala. It’s a hub of tourist attractions from India and across, grabbing attention from across the world. Starting with the Chinese fishing nets to the lavish spread of spice cultivations, this city offers a lot to feast your eyes upon. This city is a very concise amalgamation of various diverse cultures which seek to survive even today. When you visit the place, you will receive a surprise in every corner of Kochi, waiting to be seen and celebrated by human eyes.

How can you get there? The network of connectivity is well-knit in Kochi. You can easily find direct flights to Kochi from all primary cities across India and the world. The main city attractions are at a distance of about 29 kilometers from the Kochi airport.

Where can you stay? Best hotel options for a luxurious stay in Kochi are Le Colonial Neemrana and the Trident and the Neemrana’s Tower House. Charges applicable as per facilities and surge rate during the time of booking.


Alleppey or some call it Alappuzha is famous for the world-renowned backwaters of Kerala. These backwaters form a network of brackish canals, lakes and rivers and lakes that combine and flow through more than half of the state of Kerala. The waters offer luring sceneries and one can cruise down the streams and canals of the backwaters while ravishing the unique feel of the house boats or better known as “Kettuvallams”. These house boats come with several amenities including the traditional cuisine of Kerala. For other travelers on quest, there are a series of famous and unique churches and temples which add to the value of the picturesque beauty of Alleppey.

How can you get there? Located close to Alleppey is the Cochin International Airport, situated at approximately 75 kilometers from the airport. The airport has a well-knit network across the country and abroad.

Where can you stay? If you want a luxurious experience, it would be  best to rent a houseboat such as the JCT House Boat, The Tharangini HouseBoat or the Cosy Houseboat. The prices of these houseboats may differ individually in terms of surge rate and the facilities you choose to opt for. If you wish to stay on land, The Citrus Retreats, Lemon Tree Vembanad and the Ramada Alleppey would be wise choices. All your demands will be rightfully met at these places and the staff here will ensure you have a memorable stay!

Beaches and Lighthouses in Kerala

Kerala is quite famous for its beaches, so much so that some people might call them superior to even Goa’s beaches, especially because some of them are comparatively much less crowded and more quiet and serene, although there are plenty of beaches here too where tourists come in flocks. Go to one of Kerala’s best beaches in the months between September and March and you would have quite a memorable experience. The most popular beaches of Kerala that you should give a visit to are the best beaches in Kovalam, such as the Lighthouse beach, Samudra Beach and Hawa Beach/Eve's Beach, which are the most visited beaches in Kerala; Varkala Beach and Marari Beach, which are quieter and less frequented; the secluded beaches of Kannur, where you will also find beach houses; and Bekal Beach in North Kerala where you can find luxury hotels nearby.

Kerala’s beaches are made all the more special by the presence of elegant and charming lighthouses on them, which are a major tourist attraction in Kerala. Some of Kerala’s popular lighthouses that you must go and see are the Alappuzha Lighthouse, which is 150 years old, the Varkala Lighthouse, which was built in the 17th century by the British, and the Vizhinjam Lighthouse, which is the highest lighthouse in Kovalam.


To sink your feet in the warm water and soft sandy beaches, rush to visit the beauty called Kovalam. Surrounded by a series of coconut trees as far as your eyes can see, there are breathtaking prime resorts in the middle of lush green vegetation. Some of the most popular tourist destinations in Kovalam are known to serve such views. Due to the place being situated in between evergreen forests and essential species of plants, Kovalam has become a popular hub as an Ayurvedic centre of healing in the last few years. If you wish to rejuvenate your mind and body and give yourself the direly needed vacation treat, Kovalam spa and healing centres are the place for you. Do not miss out on this!

How can you get there? The nearest airport and railhead is located in Trivandrum which is about 20 km far from Kovalam. You can hire a cab or take an auto-rickshaw to your destination; they are a very feasible means of transport in Kerala.

Where can you stay? For a comfortable stay in Kovalam, you can stay in Hotel Samudra KTDC, Beach Hotel De Tour Neelakanta and Vivanta by Taj Green Cove. All these hotels are extremely affordable and provide excellent service to the lodgers.


In the state of Kerala, Kannur is a city on the coasts. The place was once used as an ancient trading port. Witnessing remarkable monuments such as the 16th-century St. Angelo Fort, once under control by European colonial forces, shows the pivotal role of the city in the spice trade. Once located in a former palace, the Arakkal Museum exhibits the story of Kerala's Muslim royal families. The palm-fringed beaches of Payyambalam Beach run parallel to Kannur’s western shore. The beach of Kannur city is called Payyambalam beach. The beach has a shattered coastline of a few kilometres. From the beach itself, you can witness ships in transit parked parallel to the Malabar coast. This region is ahead of Kozhikode and it moves towards Goa, Mangalore and Mumbai.

The beautifully spread-out garden and the overarching landscape sculpture of a mother and child etched by the famous sculptor Kanayi Kunhiraman makes the whole view extremely captivating. St Angelo Fort was constructed in 1505 by Sir Francisco de Almeida who was the first Portugal-born viceroy of India. The fort has been tested by time and wars, witnessing bloodshed and sorrow until the British flag was finally planted over it in 1790. Even today, the fort remains in a good state by constant care and preservation under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). A must-visit for all history-enthusiasts!


The word ‘Thiruvananthapuram’ is taken from the Malayalam word ‘thiru- anantha-puram’, which stands for ‘City of Lord Ananta’. Ananta is believed to be the serpent ‘Shesha’ on whom the Hindu God Padmanabha (a form of Lord Vishnu) rests. You must have noticed in the pictures, where lord Vishnu is seated on a throne which is a serpent. During the British colonial era, the city’s name was anglicized and changed to Trivandrum. This was the official name of the city till 1991. After that, the government of India renamed the city to its original name - Thiruvananthapuram.

The very famous temple - Sri Padmanabhaswamy - is one of the most-visited temples in South India and the country. Devotees travel from afar in large groups to visit this temple every year. Not just for its religious significance, the temple is famous for its architectural excellence and spiritual teachings. 

Thiruvananthapuram is also known as the paradise for beach lovers. The beaches here are located on the outskirts of the city like the Kovalam and Shankumugham beaches.  


Did you know that Kozhikode was the first place in India where Vasco Da Gama - the famous explorer- set his foot? Kozhikode at once ranked amongst the top tourist places in Kerala. The city is a package of sun-blessed beaches, thick jungles, and bears a rich historical legacy. Every street you walk through, every fort you visit, and every corner you see in this city is carrying its untold story and reflects time from the past. Kozhikode offers abundant activities to its tourists to enrich their tour in this amazing locale. The place offers a one-time opportunity for bird-watching enthusiasts to explore the Kalalundi bird sanctuary, other than a range of interesting sightseeing places. To dip into the unique culture of Kerala, tourists often visit the Iringa Crafts Village. Another very important thing to do while in Kozhikode is trying out the scrumptious cuisines of the place. Other than these, do not skip on walking down the time-travelled memory lanes of the ancient port and visit the 15, 000-year-old shipping yard.

Hill Stations in Kerala

Kerala is quite unique in that in this one state you get not only beaches and lakes and backwaters but also hill stations for Inland Kerala has the mighty mountains, gorges, and valleys of the Western Ghats where the lush forests support a plethora of wildlife and a lot of the land not covered by forests is under tea and coffee plantations. Some of the best hill stations in Kerala that you can spend a great holiday at are Wayanad, whose misty mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and spice plantations make it look like an idyll; Munnar, which is famous for its tea plantations and the blue Neelakurinji flowers, which bloom only once in twelve years; and Vagamon, which is surrounded by three hills and is full of meadows and nature trails where you can peacefully explore nature and find some inner peace.



Munnar is hands down one of the most enchanting and in-demand tourist places in Kerala. Resting on the Western Ghats of the country, Munnar is quite evidently one of the top producers of high-quality tea on the Indian soil. The breathtaking view of overarching hills caressing the clouds in Munnar is something that will remain etched in your mind forever. The town is invaded by a narrow patch of the Arabian Sea and the unbound beauty of The Western Ghats on the other side, making Munnar a preferred getaway from the hullabaloo of city life. You have palm-spread backwaters, sunny and breezy beaches, scenic waterfalls, misty mountains and wild gushing streams, Munnar comes in a package you cannot refuse.

How can you get there? The nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport, which is 110 kilometers away by road. From Cochin, you can hire a cab to get to Munnar.  There are state-run or private buses, plying from various towns in Kerala and Tamil Nadu which are the best way to get to Munnar by road.

Where can you stay? To have a memorable vacation dipped in comfort and style, you can book at Munnar Terrace Greens, Misty Mountain Resorts, or Fort Munnar. All provide well-furnished luxury rooms at a very affordable range.


Spread over the northern hills of Kerala is the mystic tourist destination of Wayanad, taken care of by the District Tourism Promotion Council of Wayanad.  This place is popular for its high demand of camping and trekking trails, cave trekking, breathtaking waterfalls, birdwatching, a variety of unseen flora and fauna and an overall experience of unhindered intimacy with nature. This place has grown to become a tourist favorite over the past few years. People are especially attracted to the range of exotic species which includes tea, coffee, spices, bamboo products, herbal plants and shrubs and sweet honey. All available for the tourists at varying prices. Kanthanpara Waterfalls is one such place which has the maximum tourist attractions in Wayanad. It entices travelers from all over the world and not just India. It is not just these magnificent falls that garner tourist attention, Wayanad also beckons you to explore the stunning beauty of the Karapuzha Dam, Karlad lake and Pookode.

If you are up for a thrilling adventure, then Cheengari Rock Adventure Center is calling out your name. The place is a must-visit for all travelers, especially the ones coming from far. Another spectacular must-visit place is without doubt the Edakkal Caves. These caves were born when two natural rock structures came to form by a large split in one huge piece of rock. The carvings inside these caves are a rare beauty.

Wildlife in Kerala

Since Kerala is full of evergreen rainforests and highland deciduous forests and has a humid tropical climate it inevitably has a wildlife and varied biodiversity unique to itself. The rare and often exotic flora and fauna is conserved in many wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala, some of which you should definitely try to visit while you are in the state. Some of the most popular of these are Begur Wildlife Sanctuary, where you’ll find such animal as Black bulbul, Peafowl, bears, Laughing Thrush, Panthers, Wild boars; Parambikulam Tiger Reserve, where you’ll find tigers, leopards, lion-tailed Macaque, Asian Elephant, Pit Vipers, King Cobras, Great Pied Hornbill, etc.; and Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary, where different species of birds, such as waterhen, marsh sandpiper, different species of butterflies, and the surrounding mangrove vegetation can be seen.


Thekkady calls itself the home to the well-known Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. If you are a big-time wildlife observer and have a keen interest in the animal kingdom, you can walk and observe the elephants that call the sanctuary their home, explore the deep green forests encompassing the land, go on a boat cruise to explore the Periyar Lake or take an elephant safari into the deep woods to gain a zoomed-in perspective of the wilderness. Periyar is undoubtedly the ideal getaway for wildlife enthusiasts. For those who wish to dwell in the bliss of nature can surely visit the misty mountains of the Nilgiris.

How can you get there? Thekkady/Periyar is situated at approximately 165 km from Kochi (Cochin). Through railways and roadways, the Periyar Tiger Reserve is well-connected to Kochi. However, the ideal way to reach Thekkady from Kochi is by car. The journey only takes about four hours.

Where can you stay? If you wish to have a memorable time at Thekkady, you can book a hotel at Michael’s Inn, Aranya Niwas, or Springdale Heritage Resort, all available at pocket-friendly prices and praiseworthy facilities.

Festivals in Kerala

Kerala witnesses a lot of events and festivals that makes a truly interesting and fascinating place to visit where you get the chance to see for yourself its unique culture and spirit. You absolutely must visit the city during the Kochi-Muziris Biennale where an international exhibition of contemporary art takes place, which includes everything from film, new media, and performance art, to installation, painting, and sculpture. This yearly festival is the largest art exhibition in India. You should also visit the Grand Kerala Shopping Festival in which small businesses as well as big industries all participate in an annual shopping event that takes place from December to January in which customers are offered large discounts, refunds, and gift coupons to promote Shopping Tourism in Kerala.

The Onam celebration is a colossal occasion and festivity in India—especially in the territory of Kerala. This antiquated gather celebration happens each year and is a significant function for the Malayali public.

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