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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 Perriyar 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

    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.

    • Heritage Madurai, Madurai

      Heritage Madurai


      The best option in the city, the Heritage Madurai offers a variety of rooms to suit most budgets and is in a good location to explore the delights of Madurai.

    • Mundackal Plantation Homestay, Kothamangalam

      Mundackal Plantation Homestay


      This welcoming homestay is set in a 104 acre rubber estate surrounded by a cluster of pepper and coconut plantations, though it is little more than an hour's drive from Cochin.

    • Tranquil Hideaway, Sultans Battery

      Tranquil Hideaway


      Tranquil is a wonderful country retreat in the heart of a large coffee plantation.

    • Standard room, Neeleshwar Hermitage, Neeleshwar

      Neeleshwar Hermitage

      First Class

      Located near the town of Neeleshwar in northern Kerala, Neeleshwar Hermitage is a peaceful retreat set in 12 acres of naturally landscaped grounds.

    • Pool and restaurant, Vivanta by Taj - Kovalam

      Vivanta by Taj — Kovalam

      First Class

      Situated to the north of Kovalam beach the Taj Green Cove Resort is a combination of beach resort, backwater escape, hill retreat, and spa.

    • Infinity Pool at The Club, The Leela, Kovalam

      The Leela Kovalam

      First Class

      The Leela is set in the middle of three palm fringed coves in the renowned Kovalam Beach area

    • Ecotones Camps Mud House



      Ecotones offers a rustic collection of cottages and mud houses, all built using local resources. Less than an hour's drive from Munnar, it's set among exotic gardens and close to a picturesque reservoir.

    • Pool at Windermere Estate, Munnar

      Windermere Estate


      Windermere makes a wonderful retreat, set amidst magnificent scenery with the best views in town.

    • Marari Beach Resort, Marari Beach

      Marari Beach Resort

      First Class

      A great place to relax for a few days at the end of an exploration of Kerala, the Marari Beach Resort is set right on the beach among tropical palm gardens.

    • Xandari Pearl Villa

      Xandari Pearl

      First Class

      Just a short stroll away from Marari’s expanse of beach, Xandari Pearl is a contemporary hotel set in beautifully landscaped grounds.

    • Reception, The Bangala, Chettinad

      The Bangala


      A lovingly restored Heritage Hotel, perfect for exploring the small town of Karaikkudi.

    • Visalam, Chettinad


      First Class

      Visalam is a beautiful heritage Chettinad Mansion in Karaikkudi. It has 15 heritage rooms and reflects the grandeur of the Chettiar lifestyle but with modern conveniences including a swimming pool.

    • Traditional houseboat cruise

      Keralan Houseboats (Rice barges)


      Exploring the backwaters of Kerala by houseboat is a wonderful and unique experience, allowing you to observe the area’s fascinating culture and rich wildlife as you glide peacefully along the water. Each vessel is comfortable and well-equipped for a short stay.

    • Meandering Pool Villa, Kumarakom Lake Resort, Kumarakom

      Kumarakom Lake Resort

      First Class

      Thoughtfully laid out on the shores of Vembanad Lake, the Kumarakom Lake Resort is a relaxing retreat set amidst landscaped gardens and canals, which meander around the traditionally-styled cottages.

    • Old Harbour Hotel, Cochin

      Old Harbour Hotel

      First Class

      Our most popular hotel in Fort Cochin, The Old Harbour is a beautiful colonial property set in lush gardens. It offers a relaxing place to stay in the heart of Cochin within easy reach of restaurants, shops and the harbour.

    • Cottage, Ambady Estate, Munnar

      Ambady Estate


      Situated about three miles from the town centre Ambady Estate is a small property in a peaceful location.

    • Shalimar Spice, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

      Shalimar Spice


      Shalimar Spice Garden is a haven of tranquillity. Set in a rural location with comfortable rooms, the hotel is just a 10 minute drive from Kumily.

    • Spice Village, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

      Spice Village

      First Class

      The best place to stay in Periyar with its beautifully designed cottages and surrounding spice gardens.

    • The Wildernest B&B, Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary

      The Wildernest B&B


      The Wildernest B&B is a simple property, with a relaxed and friendly staff, ideally situated for the Periyar Wildlife Reserve.

    • Palm Beach, Marari Villas

      Marari Villas


      Marari Villas offers a very personalised service including a private chef in each villa about 300 m away from a small, quiet section of the beach.

    • Nagaswaram Cottage, A Beach Symphony, Marari Beach

      A Beach Symphony


      A Beach Symphony is located on Kerala’s most beautiful and serene beach, Marari, 90 minutes from Cochin and 15 minutes from Alleppey.

    • Olavipe Homestay, Backwaters

      Olavipe Homestay


      A stay here is a wonderful opportunity to meet with an interesting family and learn something of the way of life in the backwaters.

    • Philip Kutty’s Farm, Backwaters

      Philip Kutty's Farmhouse


      When you land on this island, punted across the water in a long canoe, you will feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere.

    • Heritage Mansion, Coconut Lagoon Resort, Kumarakom

      Coconut Lagoon

      First Class

      Located on the eastern shore of Lake Vembanad, Coconut Lagoon offers all the comforts and facilities you would expect from a good resort.

    • Malabar House, Cochin

      Malabar House

      First Class

      On the picturesque island of Fort Cochin an 18th century colonial house has been converted into a characterful hotel by its European owners.

    • Vivanta by Taj - Malabar Hotel, Cochin

      Vivanta by Taj — Malabar Hotel


      Stunningly situated on the tip of Willingdon Island, the Vivanta by Taj — Malabar Hotel commands a magnificent view of Cochin harbour, its beautiful back waters and picturesque surroundings.

    • Brunton Boatyard, Cochin

      Brunton Boatyard

      First Class

      This hotel has tremendous character, is beautifully designed with the best facilities in Fort Cochin and very well placed for sightseeing.