Namaste and welcome to Kerala!
Kerala is, without a doubt, South India’s most beautiful state. It prides itself on its serenity, calmness and enticing landscapes. The land of the coconut tree is colored with shades of green vegetation and the golden coasts of the Arabian seas. It’s a mixture of jungly hills, a rich history of spice traders and colonists, and slender strips of sprawling landscapes.
This lucky bag of surprises that is Kerala is a world away from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives – it revels in a laid-back, almost exotic vibe. Exotic birds, a rich culture, glistening backwaters, and soul-quenching landscapes will make you fall in love with Kerala’s blissed-out amble.
Today – Now
PLANNING & BOOKING
The dreaded part of any vacation - planning! Every savvy traveler knows that it’s always better to plan and book early in advance to bag those irresistible bargains. Not only do you get to save up to 25% on flight and hotel prices, but you also get to never settle for second-best! Lower flight prices, room deals and early bird discounts are only some of the many benefits of booking your tickets, excursions and accommodation early on. We recommend planning and booking 3 to 6 months in advance – a surefire way to have a worry-free pre-holiday buzz when the time to travel is near!
Unforgettable Moments - Kerala Highlights
Kerala is beautifully slow paced – it seems to go on forever with endless green landscapes. Add to that extremely friendly people, festive events, markets that are soused with the scent of spices and palm-fringed beaches and you’ve pretty much got yourself the perfect destination.
In this itinerary, you will be staying in different places so you can get to enjoy all the little towns and cities of Kerala without always being on short on time. We also recommend renting a car so you can be able to move freely and not have to depend on the almost non-existent public transport system. A road-trip around Kerala is what you need!
Day 1: Kochi
You will be arriving in Kerala via Kochi, by landing at the Cochin International Airport. Pick up your car rental there and venture off to the city of Kochi.
Please note, that you will be arriving at Cochi International Airport but departing from the Trivandrum International Airport on your seventh day. This saves you a 5 and a half hour road trip all the way from Trivandrum to Kochi.
Kochi is the most enchanting city in all of South India. The city has been influenced by all types of civilizations – from the Arabic to the British to the Dutch and even the Chinese, so you’ll find an interesting architectural mix, along with prominent historical attractions.
The best thing about it is that can also be very easily accessible by foot, or on a bike
Start your day by having breakfast at the Kashi Art Café, where you can enjoy savoring a cup of Indian Café, homemade cakes, and French toast. Take your time there, as the locals do, and then head over to Mattancherry – an old neighborhood that is worth spending the entire morning exploring.
If you’re a history buff, this neighborhood will be fascinating for you. Your first stop will be the Mattancherry Dutch Palace that dates back to the 1500’s and houses rare art inside. You’ll be able to look back at previous kings, murals and artifacts.
Your next stop will be the Paradesi Synagogue. It’s one of the top attractions in all of Kerala, and boasts gorgeous design – from the gold pulpit to the willow pattern floor tiles.
In the heart of Mattancherry, is the little area called Jew Town. Just walking around the endearing lanes, exploring the stores, and taking pictures while enjoying the small of spices wafting through the air is enough to end your morning on a great note.
Princess Street is an effortless amalgamation of ancient and modern where you’ll find all the architectural influences coming together. Dutch and European architecture stand next to Portuguese influences and the influence of those colonial powers is more evident than ever in this street.
This is a perfect place to go to really soak up the local atmosphere and go for some people watching. There are a lot art galleries, shops, and bookstores you can explore and let us just tell you – you’ll want to buy it all! Pass by the St. Francis Church after, the only European built church in India.
If you feel like you still want to learn more about the culture of Kerala, then pay the Kerala Folklore Theatre & Museum a visit. Apart from the magnificent architecture, the museum has 3 floors that you can explore that focus on the traditions of Kerala
For sunset, head over to the Chinese Fishing Nets, an iconic sight in Kerala. Surprisingly enough, they’ve been in use since the 14th century and are still utilized by local fishermen up to this day, and there’s no better way to watch it all than by buying some food and enjoying it all.
Your last stop for the day will give you a glimpse into the festivity and diversity of Kerala, and specifically Kochi’s, culture. Watch dancers perform the kathakali dance and keep an eye on their extravagant makeup and costumes.
The best way to end your first day is by heading over to the Ava Lounge. An upscale bar where you’ll get to enjoy the finest drinks amidst elegant interiors, while savoring on Indian snacks. If you’re feeling hungry then their seafood dumpling is a must-try!
Day Two: Munnar
Start very early:
Drive from Kochi to Munnar: 3 hours, 44 minutes.
For your second and third days you will be based in Munnar, the most visited destination in the entirety of south India where you’ll be surrounded by natural wonders, going through tea gardens and trekking up mountains. Munnar is the place to be if you’re a nature enthusiast.
Once you arrive at Munnar, start your day by having an authentic South Indian dish on banana leaves at the Saravana Bhavan. Make sure to fill your stomach up because you have a looong day ahead. On your second day, you’ll be visiting Matupttery Dam and Echo Point, the most famous lookout points at Munnar that are worth spending all your day at.
Start as early as 10 am as the Matuppetty Dam where you’ll get to enjoy the lake scenery with the gorgeous hills that circle the rippling blue water. Spend your lake on a serene boat ride so you can enjoy the sleepy vibe while floating on the waters of the dam.
Your next morning stop will be Echo Point – this place is specifically interesting due to the fact that nature returns whatever call you give it. Yes, that means that if you shout something out loud that voice will come back right back at you a few moments later. There is this eerie charm to the place – the low-lying clouds over the lake, the voices coming right at you from around you and the beautiful wooded hills right behind you.
All nature lovers call Kundala Lake their favorite, and we don’t blame them. The lake looks like something straight out of a fairytale with tranquil waters surrounded by lush greenery and all types of flora and fauna that frame the lake. Finally, the most rewarding part of your trip – the Top Station. Stop your car there and then stroll towards the viewpoint and then get ready to take it all in. We’re talking 360 panoramic vistas of clouds and waterfalls that float amidst the soaring Western Ghats.
At the time you go back to the town of Munnar you’ll probably be starving! Head to the Rapsy Restaurunt for lunch, and while it may be a little bit touristy, the food is definitely worth it.
If you still have any energy after lunch, then visiting the Tata Tea plantations is a must-do. You’ll be touring the tea factory where the first steps of processing take place, and then you can choose to watch a short movie to learn more about the plantation workers. Keep in mind that the plantation shuts at 4 PM.
If you don’t feel like you have energy, you can skip the Tata Tea plantations, and instead walk through the town of Munnar and explore its many markets, shops, and lanes.
Have some authentic Kerala dishes at Guru Bhavan, a place that is usually frequented by locals. Needless to say – don’t miss out on their chicken curry with kerala parotta!
Day 3: Munnar
Munnar has so many things to do that it would be a shame to spend only one day there. Have breakfast at Saravana Bhavan and pack some lunch with you so you can be well prepared for your third day’s visit. The most popular tourist place in all of Munnar and is where you’ll spend the entirety of your day at.
Home to the endangered species of the Nilgiri Tahr mountain goats, and the Neelakurinj flower, the place is a treasure trove for all bird and animal lovers.
There will be a bus by the gate that will take you 5 KM inside of the park where you’ll get to explore an innumerable amount of flora, fauna and gorgeous scenery. It is the place to be to really get an idea of the diversity of Kerala’s wildlife.
Once you’re done exploring the park and you still feel like you have some more exploring left in you, head over to the Nyayamakad Falls where you can trek up the hill, surrounded by cascading waterfalls and lush greenery.
Once you’re back in Munnar, spend your evening lazily exploring around, and grab dinner at one of its many restaurants.
Day 4: Day Trip to the backwaters of Allepey
Allepey – All Day (overnight)
Your day trip will be a little different than you’d expect on this trip! First, it involves hiring a houseboat and then it involves traveling to the backwaters of Allepey and staying on your houseboat overnight.
Allepey is the gateway to the backwaters that lie between Kochi and Kollam and you’ll be taken on an adventure that’s different than anything you’ve ever experienced. Spend your entire day rejuvenating with glasses of wine as your houseboat slowly travels amidst striking landscapes, enjoy the sunset from your boat and revel in the blissful locations that you’ll be floating through. As you glide through palm-fringed azure waters, you will realize the breadth and diversity of landscapes that Kerala has to offer – and to top it all off….You get a cooked meal by the on-board chef.
The voyage will immerse you in the sounds, sights, and smells of Kerala and will give you a glimpse of what village life is like, all while indulging in authentic delicacies from Kerala. It’s also the perfect opportunity to have this break between your otherwise hectic trip.
You can choose one of those options:
· Have your hotel organize a car + drive for you if you don’t feel like driving. The estimated time for the trip will be 4 hours and a half.
· Take the Munnar 6:20 am bus that arrives there at 12:50pm which takes a little over 5 hours (we don’t recommend this option since the bus service there is rarely ever reliable.)
· Drive there yourself with your rental car.
For a luxurious experience, we recommend staying in your houseboat overnight so you can get the whole experience.
Day Five: Varkala
Drive down for 3 hours until you reach Varkala, the ultimate relaxation destination where you can spend your entire day lazing by the beach and enjoying incredible sights. If the day before was enough relaxation for you, you can always indulge in all types of watersports and adventure activities there that include but are not limited to paragliding.
Varkala is actually quite strikingly beautiful – red cliffs beautifully contrast the blue waters, and it’s the place to be to relax and rejuvenate. Once you arrive there, head over to Papanasam Beach and stay by the Northern side of the beach where all restaurants and shops are located.
There are a lot of yoga classes and workshops that take place right by the beach and we recommend spending your morning taking a Yoga class at the Green Hotel situated on the cliff.
For the ultimate healthy ending to your day, we recommend Oottupura Vegetarian Restaurant for dinner.
Day Six: Thiruvananthapuram
And finally, we get to your final destination! Only a one-hour drive away lies Thiruvananthapuram where you’ll be flying out the next day.
Once you arrive, go for a stroll along the Kovalam beach and let your nose be your guide for which place you want to have breakfast at! Next, visit the Science and Technology Museum and then take a tuk-tuk to the Padmanabhaswamy Temple and the Chalai Bazaar. Start with the lively bazaar that encapsulates the Kerala atmosphere perfectly – bustling with life and energy, filled with noise and absolutely colorful, the place is incredible to get anything from spices to flowers.
Spend your afternoon exploring the grand Padmanabhaswamy Temlpe where you’ll get to experience the true meaning of grandeur. This awe-inspiring location is an effortless mixture of Keralite and Dravidian cultures and you can see that prominently in its architecture. Intricate decorations, beautiful stonework and an unreal backdrop…You’ll fall in love! It’s no surprise that this place attracts a lot of tourists. We recommend a buffet lunch at SP Grand Hotel.
Grab dinner at the Mother’s Veg Plazza and spend your evening strolling around the town.
Day 7: Thiruvananthapuram
We recommend taking the latest flight out of Thiruvananthapuram so you can get to explore a little bit more before you leave. If you still have a few hours before your flight, we recommend the Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary.