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Honey-gold beaches, meandering backwaters, aromatic spice gardens and elephant encounters on your visit to one of India’s most laid-back states.

In 1341, flooding refashioned Kerala’s coastline — the Periyar River changed its course, islands were submerged, and new ones were born. Little-known Cochin was transformed into a natural seaport, attracting the attention of traders looking to export spices and refugees seeking a safe haven.

Today’s Kerala bears witness to the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonialists who vied for control of Cochin, each leaving their mark. Beyond the trading capital, Kerala’s coast is a patchwork of paddy fields, coconut trees, mangroves, marshes and interlinking backwaters. Progressing inland, the Western Ghat mountains play host to a large concentration of elephants and Indian bison. The mountain slopes are interspersed with tea and spice plantations — their bounty nurtured by seasonal monsoon rains. Our specialists know Kerala inside-out and can suggest the best ways to explore the tapestry of landscapes that define it.

Cochin marks its cultural diversity with heady spice markets, Chinese fishing nets, trading warehouses, Jewish synagogue and Christian churches. Inland, you could head to some of the world’s highest tea estates and tackle walking trails ranging from short tea-field wanders to peak-conquering hikes. Wildlife enthusiasts could search for elephants in Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary. You could cruise Kerala’s backwaters by houseboat, or relax on honey-gold beaches on the Malabar coast, watching the sunset over the Indian Ocean.

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James, an Audley Travel specialist

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Kerala by contacting one of our India specialists

Places to visit in Kerala

Featuring heavily on our experiences of visiting Kerala, these selected places are destinations that also prove consistently popular with our travellers. Our specialists can help you choose how to include them in your wider trip, based on your preferences.

Suggested itineraries featuring Kerala

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Kerala, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Kerala

Places & hotels on the map

    Places in and around Kerala

    Our expert guides to exploring Kerala

    Written by our specialists from their own experiences of visiting Kerala, these guides will help you make the most of your time there. We share both our practical recommendations and the best ways to appreciate Kerala at its best.

    • What to do in India: our highlights guide
      Sadhu in Varanasi

      What to do in India: our highlights guide

      What to do in India: our highlights guide

      Our India specialists pick some of their best things to see and do, and where to stay from the Himalaya to Kerala. Include spotting tiger, staying in a palace in Rajasthan, taking a boat trip down the Ganges and experience one of the country’s many festivals in your trip to India.

      8 min read

      Read this guide
    • Homestays in Kerala
      Keralan Backwaters

      Homestays in Kerala

      Homestays in Kerala

      The concept of the homestay was first developed in Kerala and the naturally friendly Keralites continue to welcome visitors to their homes. Our specialists have visited many homestays and can suggest the best places to stay.

      1 min read

      Read this guide
    • What to do in Kerala: our highlights guide
      Alleppey Backwaters, Kerala

      What to do in Kerala: our highlights guide

      What to do in Kerala: our highlights guide

      Kerala’s slow pace of life is a gentle introduction to India, with tranquil backwaters, manicured tea plantations and fishing villages to explore. India specialist Tara lends her advice for how to make the most of your time there.

      8 min read

      Read this guide

    Accommodation choices for Kerala

    We've selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Kerala. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    Ideas for experiencing Kerala

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Kerala, and which use the best local guides.

    • Keralan Houseboat/Rice Barge
      Alleppey Backwaters, Kerala

      Keralan Houseboat/Rice Barge

      Keralan Houseboat/Rice Barge

      Locally known as 'kettuvallam', these craft have been converted into simple, furnished houseboats with en suite bedrooms, an open lounge and eating area, a deck and kitchenette.

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