Planning to visit Kerala and don’t get enough time to jot down the list of things to do in Kerala. Then don’t worry, we are here to help you out with the list of things that you can start with right after stepping in.
Kerala is stretching along India’s southwest corner on the tropical Malabar Coast, boasting everything from sprawling hill stations to pristine beaches and from vast coastline to glistening backwaters. The rich heritage and exotic natural beauty of Kerala attract tourists from all over the world.
Kerala is dotted with lush green landscapes, wildlife sanctuaries, and tea covered hills of Western Ghats. This tropical state has a distinctive culture and extremely picturesque settings. The historical forts, Jewish streets, unexplored caves, and exquisite beaches are the main tourist attractions in Kerala. There is no dearth of things to do in Kerala. Ayurveda and Yoga have their origins in India. Many people from all over the world come there to rejuvenate and attend the sessions.
Here is a list of the best things to do in Kerala:
1. Stay in a Houseboat
Alleppey is a heaven for the travel enthusiasts and it is home to brackish lagoons, canals, interconnected lakes, and backwaters. The soul-southing greenery of this place deserves a visit. Backwaters were used as a mode of transportation by farmers and locals-only but now it is one of the famous tourist attractions. Soak in the mesmerizing beauty of the backwater, cruising in the houseboat is a surreal experience which one should not miss. Sunset viewing, bird watching, star gazing are the main attraction of the journey of backwater on the houseboat.
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2. Stay in a Treehouse
Staying in a treehouse must sound like a dream but this dream can come true in Kerala. Treehouse stay is one of the best things to do in Kerala. Treehouses are made up of eco-friendly materials and offer an enthralling view of the lush green forests. Wayanad, Athirapally, Thekkady, and Munnar are the few places where you can enjoy staying in the elegant treehouses which are as luxurious as hotels. The contemporary décor, fascinating view of the gigantic mountains along with some delectable cuisines are the few things that you will cherish for the lifetime.
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3. Take a Jeep ride in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area and notable as a tiger reserve and elephant reserve. It is situated nearby the Thekkady in the Idukki District and perched on the Cardamom Hills and Pandalam Hills of the Western Ghats. The best way to explore the national park is by the Jeep safari which allows you to spot some of the endangered species in their natural habitat. Safari is one of the most fascinating experience which takes you through the lush greenery of the forest and the sprawling vineyards. Periyar Lake is another famous tourist attraction which is situated inside the national park. One can take a ferry ride in the lake and experience the majestic beauty of the avifauna.
4. Take a Traditional Village Tour
Kerala’s backwaters are dotted with several small villages where one can experience the traditional village life while spending time with the locals. Kumbalangi is one such small village surrounded by the paddy fields on the outskirts of Kochi amidst the backwaters. This village is famous for the Chinese Fishing Nets. The fishing is the main occupation of this village and houses around 100 fishing nets. Here one can have an authentic rural experience while exploring the local paddy cultivation, canoeing, and crab farming.
5. Watch A Kathakali Performance
Kathakali is an ancient dance form and it is a ‘story play’ genre of art. The traditional themes of the Kathakali are folk mythology, religious legends and spiritual ideas from the Hindu epics and Puranas. Kerala Kathakali Centre, Kochi is one of the best places to delve into the beauty of this cultural dance performance. The elaborate costumes and subtle dance movements depict the stories of Hindu Mythology. Performers undergo intense training including the hours of eye practice while learning the art of dance.
6. Theyyam Dance
Theyyam is one of the most eagerly awaited festivals of the year and it is a popular ritual form of worship in Kerala. The dance or prayer is generally performed in front of the village shrine in the open space. Sometimes people also performed prayers in their homes as ancestor-worship with all the rituals. Theyyam festival is one of the most vibrant festivals which is based on a very different concept. It is believed that after performing the rituals and chanting the right shlokas, the resident deity of the shrine manifests itself into one of the deserving men and enlighten him with the divine experience. Theyyam festival is celebrated at more than 100 locations in Kerala however, Kannur is the most famous destination and most frequented place by visitors. In this joyous celebration, more than four hundred folk dances and performances are given to appease the local deity, gods, and goddesses. The irresistible charm and magic of this festival will leave you spellbound.
7. Admire The Local Art Kalaripayattu
Kalaripayattu is an Indian martial art form which is originated in Kerala and practiced by the warriors of Kerala. It is believed to the oldest martial art with its origin dated back to the 3rd century BC. With the incorporation of 27 different weapons, this art has no shortage of excitement and thrill. Kadathanadan Kalari Centre in Thekkady is one of the best places to catch a performance of Kalaripayattu bout featuring sidekicks, grappling, and weaponry.
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8. Take a Spice Plantation Tour
Various kinds of spices are cultivated in Kerala such as cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, and nutmeg. The aromatic spice plantation in Kerala lures a large number of tourists. Some spice plantations also offer accommodation to the tourists in the lodge which is being built in the spice plantation. The most famous spice plantation in Kerala that is worth the visit is of Wayanad, Munnar, and Thekkady. The visit to the captivating farms sprawling with the spice plantation is the best way to spend some quality time in nature.
9. Visit Coffee Plantation
Wayanad is famous for its coffee plantation fields. It is a perfect getaway from the hustle-bustle of city life. Wayanad is a major manufacturer of coffee in the country. Setting amidst the lush green hills of Dhana Giri in the Vythiri district of Wayanad, this place is famous for the magnificent coffee plantation fields. Take a sip of steaming coffee while taking a plantation walk. You can learn about the different types of coffee here, about the processes of coffee making and you can also take the exotic coffee home. If someone wishes to stay at the plantation then the accommodation can be arranged here. One can indulge in camping, trekking, night safaris, and many more activities.
10. Enjoy an Ayurveda Session
Ayurveda has its origin in India and it is one the oldest healing system in the world. Any trip to Kerala is incomplete without indulging in the Ayurveda session. There are innumerable Ayurvedic Centres in Kerala which offer various types of massages in the Ayurvedic sanctum, several types of Ayurvedic health packages, and customized treatment plans. The Ayurvedic Centres are boasting Ayurveda retreat, spas, detox, nutrition, and cooking classes as well. Bask in the rejuvenating activities and allow you to have a sense of wholeness.
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11. Shikara Ride in the Kerala Backwaters
The backwaters of Alleppey or Alappuzha are one of the most famous tourist destinations in Kerala. This city is bordering the Laccadive Sea with a great network of interconnected canals, rivers, and inlets. This city is very popular for the houseboat cruise and shikara ride that passes through the serene backwaters and gives you a glimpse of the beautiful avifauna. The palm-fringed shoreline of the backwaters gives a mesmerizing view from the Shikara Ride. The bird watching, glimpses of the paddy fields, and witness the life of local people from the Shikara add the authenticity to your travel experience.
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12. Sunset At Kovalam Beach
Kovalam is situated alongside the Arabian Sea. This idyllic place is famous for its three pristine beaches namely Lighthouse Beach, Hawah Beach, and Samudra Beach. The rocky outcropping of a 17 km coastline of the three beaches forms the famous crescent of Kovalam Beach. Watch the majestic sunset from this tranquil location which is surrounded by a grove of coconut trees. The swaying coconut trees are everywhere in this quaint town. Indulge in Ayurvedic treatment here which is also one of the famous activities here.
13. Enjoy Bird Watching
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary set amidst the backwaters and a favorite place for the migratory birds. This sanctuary also famously known as the Vembanad Bird Sanctuary which is situated on the southern bank of Kavanar River. One can take a boat ride in the Vembanad Lake or Kavanar River to experience the beauty of this place. The sanctuary is famous amongst nature lovers and shutterbugs as it gives numerous opportunities to click the enchanting beauty of the different species of birds. The local birds which are the main attractions of this sanctuary are waterfowl, cuckoo, owl, heron, cormorant, Brahminy kite, as well as few migratory birds like Siberian crane, parrot, teal, lark, and flycatcher. Few birds come here from the Himalayas and few came from Siberia.
14. Snake Boat Race
Snake Boat Race is locally known as Vallam Kali which is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Kerala. The snake boat race events take place during August and September. The backwaters of Kerala in the monsoon season comes alive with the energy and enthusiasm of snake boat races. Nehru Trophy Boat Race is a famous boat race which is being organized in the Punnamada Lake near Alleppey. The colorful snake boats of around 30-35 meters long with the 64 – 128 peddlers are being cheered by the thousands of locals and tourists who flock to the city during this time to attend the event and witness the unique part of the culture.
15. Visit Athirapally Falls
Athirapally Falls situated in the Thrissur district of Kerala on the Chalakudy River. It is the largest waterfall in Kerala which falls from a great elevation of 80 feet and this 330 feet wide marvel is often called ‘Niagara Falls of India’. This emerald rapid of gushing water originates from the Anamudi mountains of the Western Ghats and makes its way to the Vazhachal forest towards the Arabian Sea. One can trek to the waterfall and spot some of the exotic species on their way. The falls look magnificent during the monsoon as it overflows and its beauty enhances during this time of the year.
16. Swimming In Varkala Beach
Varkala Beach is commonly known as Papanasham Beach, situated alongside the Arabian Sea as a part of the Indian Ocean. This beach is the only place in Kerala where one can find a cliff alongside the Arabian Sea. These cliffs have water spouts and mineral-rich springs which have medicinal properties. Take a dip in the spring of the Varkala Beach. Janardana Swami Temple is another famous tourist place near the beach which is believed to be the 2,000-year-old site. Varkala Beach is also renowned for leisure activities such as boat-riding, parasailing, and jet skiing.
17. Taste various flavors of Tea
Kerala is one of the most sought after destinations in India. The tranquility and serenity of this place make you fall in love with this place. Besides this, Munnar is famous for one more thing and that is the Tea Plantations of this place. If you are not a tea person, then also you should visit this place. The aroma of this place lures everyone and this place can compel anyone to have a steaming cup of tea. Sprawling over acres of land, this umpteen tea plantation of Kanan Devan Hill Plantation (KDHP) will surely attract you and leave you mesmerized.
18. Explore a Tharavad- An Intimate Heritage Experience
Tharavads are the ancestral homes of Kerala which are now converted into the homestays. These heritage homestays standout for their hospitality and the amazing experience they gave to their guests. This unique property is full of old-worldly charm and it can take you to the bygone era. These homestays are thriving with antique furniture, wooden carvings of the elephant, snake, fish, and dragon. These 200-hundred-year-old houses are surrounded by rice paddies. This old gem of architectural marvel is constructed with wood and teak. To visit Tharavad and experience the serenity and tranquility of the bygone era is one of the top things to do in Kerala.
19. Enjoy Elephant Bathing
Kerala has the highest number of domestic elephants in India with the number as high as 700. Kodanad village is a popular place among tourists as it is home to Kodanad Elephant Sanctuary which houses Elephant Training Centre where visitors can take part in some of the exciting activities such as elephant bath, elephant safari, and elephant feeding. Here visitors also able to watch the baby elephants enjoying and playing. This village is situated on the south bank of the Periyar River.
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20. Meal At Veli Village
Veli is a famous tourist village which is situated at a place where Veli Lake meets the Arabian Sea. The dining experience in the floating restaurant at the Veli Lake is one of a lifetime experience which one should not miss. This tourist village is situated just 12 km from the capital city of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram. Visitors can also hire a pedal boat and go for a speedboat ride across the lake. Boating and dining at such a serene place will be an incredible experience.
21. Explore Historic Fort Kochi
Fort Kochi is a seaside village that happens to be a settlement of Europeans. There was a fort named Fort Emmanuel built by the Portuguese on the waterfront to protect their commercial interest which was later destroyed by the Dutch. The name of the place Fort Kochi comes into picture due to this fort. This historical city, with bustling ports and world-famous Chinese fishing nets, is dotted with old houses that are highly influenced by Portuguese, Dutch and British architecture. The famous tourist attractions in Fort Kochi are Fort Kochi Beach, Santa Cruz Basilica, Jewish Synagogue, Mattancherry Palace, St. Francis Church, and many more.
22. Admire Edakkal Caves
Edakkal Caves are situated in the remote location of Wayanad district. This is a collection of two natural caves and perched at an altitude of 1,200 meters above the sea level on Ambukuthi Hills. This area of Western Ghats was once an ancient trade route that connects the high mountains of Mysore to the ports of the Malabar Coast. One needs to trek for an hour to reach there but this place is worthy enough. These caves are famous for the exquisite rock and wall carvings. These caves have historical significance and it is believed that the carvings are from the Stone Age dated back to the Neolithic era. The oldest carving in the caves is believed to date back to over 8,000 years old. The Stone Age carvings are very rare and the only known example in Southern India. These are not technically caves but rather a cleft or rock shelter.
23. Visit Bekal Fort, Kasargod- A Historical Treasure
Bekal Fort is the largest fort in Kerala and it appears to have emerged from the sea. This 300-years ago fort is the most well-preserved fort in Kerala. This magnificent structure stands proudly on the rocky shores of the sea in Kasargod. This historic tourist destination is situated in a strategic position because of its proximity to the Karnataka state. It houses an archeological excavation where coins and artifacts can be found from the time of Tipu Sultan. The Observation Tower in the Bekal Fort is another famous tourist attraction. The stunning views of the nearby town can be seen from the top of the tower. Bekal Fort is easily accessible and offers the majestic view of the Arabian Sea from the top of it. This makes it one of the best things to see in Kerala.
24. Discover the Ancient Port City of Muziris
Muziris was the ancient Harbour on the Malabar Coast which connects South India from Persia, Middle East, North Africa, and Mediterranean Region. The important commodities exported from Muziris to these places such as spices, semi-precious stones, Chinese Silk, Gangetic Spikenard, and tortoiseshell. This place houses almost 25 museums and this city is one of the largest heritage conservation projects in India. In the museum, one can explore the history of the lost spice routes of Kerala. These museums also exhibit the relics of the bygone era. One can also take a circuit tour and sail into the unique experience of boating around the tourist attractions.
25. Explore Jew Street
Take a stroll on Jew Street in Kochi and witness some historical landmarks, appreciated the colorful walls, and the ancient synagogue. The 400-year old synagogue will give you an idea of a long and fascinating history of Jews in Kerala. It will be an eclectic experience to explore the majestic beauty of this town. It is among the top in Kochi points in interest. As the name suggests, it is a place of Jewish settlement. It is one of the oldest Jewish settlements in the country. This place has so many shops which are famous for spice, antiques, perfumes, clothing, books and many more things. It is a great place for shopping and you can buy souvenirs from here.
26. Attend a Temple Festival
Kerala is famously known as the ‘God’s own country’ and it is dotted with the scores of Hindu temples. Many temples hold annual festivals which are usually a multi-day affair. Some festivals include Pooram which is an annual festival and dedicated to Goddess Durga or Kali. And among them, Thrissur Pooram is the most popular temple festival of Kerala. In this fiesta, at least one ornately decorated elephant being paraded. The idol of the temple is taken out in procession atop this elephant. This festival attracts a large number of foreign tourists to the gala. Vela Festivals are also the same as Pooram Festivals in terms of scale. They organize at a different time of the year than the Pooram festival. The festivals of Kerala are famous around the globe due to its diversity of experiences.
27. Admire Neelakurinji
Neelakurinji is a flower which blooms only once in 12 years. And this flower can be found in Kerala. One can get an in-depth insight into the Neelakurinji phenomenon through the pictures, videos of the time when it blooms. Eravikulam National Park is the place where one can witness this rare species of flower which grows here in an enormous amount. Along with this fascinating experience, one can also get to spot Nilgiri Tahr, an endangered mountain goat and many other species of flora and fauna in the national park. Munnar is home to several other famous tourist attractions of Kerala despite this national park. The coffee and tea plantation on the rolling hills of Munnar are worth watching.
28. Bamboo Rafting in Periyar Lake
Periyar Lake is situated in the Periyar National Park. This national park is one of the most popular forest reserves in the country. It can be best explored by the jeep safari or one can opt for bamboo rafting across the Periyar Lake. It is one of the best things for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. The bamboo rafting in the Periyar Lake lasts for 3-4 hours and it offers you a panoramic view of the forest-clad hills. Those who wish to spend some more time in the national park can opt to stay here at the lodge which is also made up of bamboo.
29. Onam Festival – A Cultural Extravaganza
Onam is a traditional festival that is being celebrated in Kerala with great vigor and zeal during the month of August-September for 10 days. It is also known as the Harvest Festival. According to the legends, it is also believed that this festival signifies the homecoming of the King Mahabali after being sent down to the underworld. This festival is a perfect blend of culture, heritage, and spirituality. It is being celebrated with all the rituals and the vibrant vibes of this fiesta cannot be described in the words. The events of the festivals range from traditional dance, colorful art, snake boat races, and a traditional feast. This is the time of the year when Kerala is being delved into the charm of a large number of festivities.
30. Explore Marari Beach
Marari Beach is a very tranquil beach and the name originates from the quaint small village ‘Mararikulam’. The serenity of the beach will make you fall in love with this place. This beach is the best vacationing spot for family and friends. Snuggled in the Alappuzha district, this is the perfect getaway from the chaos of the city. The beach has scores of resorts that offer rejuvenation activities such as Ayurveda treatment, spa, and yoga classes. You can spend quality time here and pamper yourself with these relaxing activities.
31. Thrilling Experience of Bike Ride
Idukki is nestled in the lap of the Western Ghats of Kerala and the most of the area of this district is covered by the forest. To explore the enchanting beauty of this place one must take a bike ride here. There are three routes from Kottayam to Idukki and the best route is through the Pala – Thodupuzha – Kulamavu. This route takes you through the Arch Dam which is being built on the Periyar River and connected the two granite hills which are separated by the narrow gorge. This double curvature parabolic arch dam is one of the highest arch dams in Asia. A bike ride through this route is one of the thrilling experience.
32. Ride a Canoe
Kollam is an old seaport city which is located on the bank of the Ashtamudi Lake on one side and the Laccadive Sea on another side. This place can be best explored while canoeing. It allows you to pass through the untrodden paths of Kerala and let you admire the enchanting beauty of the untouched places. The glimpses of the countryside while canoeing will leave you spellbound. The tranquility and serenity can be found while paddling through the emerald waters.
Kerala is not only about serenity and tranquility. It has much more in its bucket for everyone. If you are an adventure enthusiast then this place has many things to satiate your wanderlust filled soul. Paragliding is one such thing in this paradise which will perk up your adrenaline. Just imagine having a birds-eye view of the enchanting beauty of Munnar, Vagamon, and Varkala. Sailing over the hills and have a majestic view of the lush greenery is one of the thrilling experiences in Kerala which one will cherish throughout life.
34. Bullock Race
Malappuram is perched atop the hill and bounded by Nilgiri Hills on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. This town is dotted with hills, beaches, backwaters, and valleys. Bullock Race is a traditional sport of Malappuram in Kerala. It is a symbol of farmers’ tradition, unity, and prosperity. Every year a large number of people flock to Malappuram to witness the bullock race. It is one of the exhilarating experience of Kerala which one should not miss. The impeccable landscape of Malappuram is the icing on the cake.
35. Explore Sandalwood Forests at Marayoor- Nature’s Delight
Marayoor is located in the Idukki district of Kerala, about 40 km from Munnar. This place is the home to the natural sandalwood forests and vast sugarcane farms. A large number of tourists flocks to the Marayoor to experience the pristine beauty of the sandalwood forest which is run by the Forest Department. It is a paradise for travel enthusiasts and adventurers as well. It is one of the most beautiful places to trek and one can catch glimpses of the natural beauty of this place while exploring. Marayoor is home to around 65,000 sandalwood trees, where visitors can learn about these trees and the processing of the sandalwood.
36. Take a Train Journey
If you wish to explore Kerala and learn about the beauty of this state then board the train from the Ernakulam Railway Station to the Trivandrum which will take you through the Kollam. The route to the Trivandrum via Kollam offers you one of the most beautiful sights. On your way, you will be able to witness the scenic beauty of the state, from the serene backwaters to the glistening lakes and from the swaying coconut trees alongside the beaches to the enchanting tea and coffee plantations. You will be able to get a beautiful view of the lush green landscape of Kerala on this train ride.
37. Visit the Lowest Altitude place of India
Kuttanad is the lowest altitude place in India, it is situated at 2 meters below the sea level. This place is famous for the paddy fields and its geographical peculiarities. This place is popularly known as the ‘rice bowl of India’ and it is among the very few places across the world where farming is carried on around 1.2 to 3 meters below the sea level. Four of the major rivers of Kerala flows through this place namely Pamba, Meenachil, Achankovil, and Manimala. This place is also very popular for its boat race in Punnamada Backwaters. Take a tour of this place which is situated below the sea level and flourishes with the paddy fields.
38. Trek to Chembra Peak
Chembra Peak is the highest and the largest peak in the Western Ghats of India. It is accessible on foot by the Meppady. The tourist council provides guides and trekking equipment. It takes 3-4 hours to reach the top of the peak and it is one of the famous tourist attractions in Wayanad. The view of the Banasur Sagar Dam from there is also enchanting and mesmerizing. On the way to the peak, one can see the heart-shaped lake which looks so serene. It is believed that this lake will never be dried up. The trek offers the majestic view of the lush greenery and this is one of the must-visit places.
39. Sip Tender Coconut Plucked from a Coconut Tree- And Get Refreshed
Kerala basks in the lap of nature and famously known as the ‘God’s own country’. This state used 7.7 lakh hectares of cultivated area in the coconut plantation. This is the land of coconut trees. You can see the swaying coconut trees everywhere in the state. Just imagine the number of coconut trees this state owns. Pluck the coconut from the tree and drink the water, it is so refreshing.
40. Get High on Toddy
Toddy is a local intoxicating coconut drink. It is known by various names such as Palm Wine, Palm Toddy, and Kallu. The alcoholic version which is mildly intoxicating is known as toddy and the non-alcoholic version is known as Neera. If you are in Kerala then try toddy in a little amount as it is an alcoholic version. It can be found year-round and most of the toddy shops are fringes of the backwater. It can get you slightly high if you are a newbie but the hangover of toddy is not very good. So avoid having it in a large quantity.
Have you ever wondered why Kerala is popularly known as ‘God’s Own Country’? Kerala holiday package gives you all the answers as this place is full of scenic landscapes and breathtaking views. This is a huge list of what to do in Kerala. We hope it gives you a deep insight into many things that you can do in Kerala. This state has no shortage of marvels. This is a place for honeymooners, family, friends, and even for solo travelers as well. Kerala is a place where one can visit throughout the year but the best time to visit Kerala fluctuates on the basis of where you wanted to visit. The best time to visit here is in winter during the months of October to March. This place can perk up your adrenaline and satiate the wanderlust filled soul of the travelers. Dotted with serene backwaters, glistening beaches, majestic hill stations, pristine rivers, and unexplored wildlife sanctuaries. This state is home to the aromatic tea, coffee and spice plantations. Book Kerala tour packages with us and explore the exotic locations of Kerala and indulge in various activities. Make memories that you will cherish for your whole life.