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.
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
- The Backwaters Kerala
- Chettinad Kerala
- Cochin Kerala
- Kothamangalam Kerala
- Kovalam Kerala
- Madurai Kerala
- Mararikulam Kerala
- Munnar Kerala
- Neeleshwar Kerala
- Palakkad Kerala
- Tellicherry Kerala
- Thekkady & Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary Kerala
- Waynad Kerala
- Ooty 99 miles away
- Nagarhole National Park 147 miles away
- Trichy 149 miles away
- Mysore 161 miles away
- Tanjore 177 miles away
- Coorg 181 miles away
- Bangalore 216 miles away
- Belur & Halebid 228 miles away
- Tranquebar 228 miles away
- Pondicherry 254 miles away
- Kanchipuram 285 miles away
Photos of 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.
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.
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.
Windermere makes a wonderful retreat, set amidst magnificent scenery with the best views in town.
Located near the town of Neeleshwar in northern Kerala, Neeleshwar Hermitage is a peaceful retreat set in 12 acres of naturally landscaped grounds.
Tranquil is a wonderful country retreat in the heart of a large coffee plantation.
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.
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 amongst tropical palm gardens.
Just a short stroll away from Marari’s expanse of beach, Xandari Pearl is a contemporary hotel set in beautifully landscaped grounds.
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.
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.
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.
Situated to the north of Kovalam beach the Taj Green Cove Resort is a combination of beach resort, backwater escape, hill retreat, and spa.
The Leela is set in the middle of three palm fringed coves in the renowned Kovalam Beach area
A lovingly restored Heritage Hotel, perfect for exploring the small town of Karaikkudi.
Situated about three miles from the town centre Ambady Estate is a small property in a peaceful location.
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.
A Beach Symphony is located on Kerala’s most beautiful and serene beach, Marari, 90 minutes from Cochin and 15 minutes from Alleppey.
The best place to stay in Periyar with its beautifully designed cottages and surrounding spice gardens.
Marari Villas offers a very personalised service including a private chef in each villa about 300m away from a small, quiet section of the beach.
The Wildernest B&B is a simple property, with a relaxed and friendly staff, ideally situated for the Periyar Wildlife Reserve.
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.
Located on the eastern shore of Lake Vembanad, Coconut Lagoon offers all the comforts and facilities you would expect from a good resort.
A stay here is a wonderful opportunity to meet with an interesting family and learn something of the way of life in the backwaters.
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.
This hotel has tremendous character, is beautifully designed with the best facilities in Fort Cochin and very well placed for sightseeing.
On the picturesque island of Fort Cochin an 18th century colonial house has been converted into a characterful hotel by its European owners.
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.