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Kerala’s Top Itineraries

Traditional rice barge, the backwaters of Kerala (between Alppuzha and Kollam).
Image courtesy: Lonely Planet Images

Based on the time you have at hand, these suggested itineraries include a variety of experiences for a holiday in Kerala: food, culture, history, landscape and, let’s not forget – sheer relaxation.

Historic Sites & Backwaters (3 Days)

This itinerary covers quintessential Kerala, with backwaters, colonial history and culture. Note that you can also begin the trip at Alappuzha, which is well connected by train.

1) Kochi (1 day)
Arrive in Ernakulam and head straight to Fort Kochi, Kerala’s historic colonial trading centre. Spend a day exploring the Pardesi Synagogue on Jew Street, the Chinese fishing nets, St. Francis Church and other monuments here, stopping for food at the atmospheric cafes. End the evening with a cultural show at Greenix Village. For dinner, there’s fresh seafood at restaurants near Princess Street. Fort Kochi is very small and it’s easy to get around. Tuk-Tuk Odyssey can arrange for a quick tour.

2) Alappuzha (1 day)
Leave for Alappuzha (60km/1½ hr) in the morning for a pre-booked 22-hour stay in a houseboat. Most operators start these trips by 11am so ensure that you are at the dock in time. The houseboat experience allows you to see the countryside in super comfort. Wake up to the sight of fishermen gathering their nets and heading to the villages.

3) Ernakulam (1 day)
You will be able to leave Alappuzha by noon and will easily manage to reach Ernakulam to catch an evening flight. If catching a late night bus or train, you can explore the shops and grab a quick bite on the arterial MG Road.

A bird's-eye view of Kovalam Beach.
Image courtesy: Kerala Tourism board

Beaches & Heritage (4 Days)

This trip is about sunny beaches and excellent seafood. It also includes a visit to one of the most famous temples in Kerala.

1) Kovalam (2 days)
Arrive in Thiruvananthapuram and head straight to your hotel at Kovalam (15km from the airport). Enjoy the seaside and fresh seafood in breezy cafes.

2) Varkala (1 day)
You can head to Varkala (58km/1½ hr) for a different experience of the Arabian Sea. The topography of the laterite cliffs plunging into sandy patches below is stunning. The nightlife is vibrant with live music in cafes as you relish some fresh seafood.

3) Thiruvananthapuram (1 day)
Head back to Thiruvananthapuram to indulge in some sightseeing. Don’t miss the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Puthe Maliga Palace Museum and the Zoological Gardens & Museums.

A tea plantation at Munnar.
Image courtesy: CC BY 2.0/Flickr/Manu M G

Nature Trail (5 Days)

In five days you have ample time to take back memories of historical monuments in Fort Kochi, one of the best wildlife parks of India and scenic views of tea plantations carpeting the hills of Munnar.

1) Kochi (1 day)
Arrive in Ernakulam and check-in at a hotel in Fort Kochi to spend a day exploring the beautiful monuments and relaxing in cafes serving irresistible seafood (see historic sites & backwaters itinerary).

2) Kumily & Periyar Tiger Reserve (2 days)
Kumily is the base camp for visiting Periyar Tiger Reserve around 115km from Fort Kochi. You can take a taxi early in the morning and reach in time for lunch. Spend time in the Periyar forest. Activities include a day-long bamboo raft trip through the jungles, jeep rides, nature walks or a boat ride in the evening.

3) Munnar (2 days)
Drive through the thick cardamom plantations of Kumily to the neat tea estates of Munnar (50km). Since the drive is in a hilly region, you will take a good three to four hours with stops to reach Munnar. Check in and relax for the rest of the day. The next morning, go for a plantation walk or make a trip to the Kanan Devan Tea Museum and head out for Ernakulam post lunch. There are many overnight buses from Munnar to the major cities.

This article is an excerpt from our Kerala travel guide. Go on, grab a copy NOW!