8 Popular Tourist Places to Visit in South India

Each state in South India boasts distinct culture and traditions, and this is what enchants tourists the most along with the natural wealth in this part of India. South India is widely known for historical ruins, biodiversity hotspots, stunning temples, Ayurveda, spiritual retreats, tea/ coffee/ spice plantations, hill stations, backwaters, and extremely delicious South Indian food.

Bordered by the three seas (Arabian, Bay of Bengal, and the Indian Ocean) on three sides, South India is also the go-to destination for all coast lovers. This article touches upon some of the best places to visit in South India. Read on!

Kerala: One of the best places to visit in south India

It’s hard to pick up one or two best places from Kerala as the whole state is brimming with immense natural beauty. Blessed with coconut-lined beaches, snaking canals, heritage buildings, wildlife sanctuaries, tea/ spice plantations, gorgeous hill stations, and Ayurvedic retreats, the ‘God’s Own Country‘ is every tourist’s dream destination.

Backwater tourism is the biggest draw of this top tourist place to visit in South India. Opt for a stay in a traditional houseboat and spend a holiday away from chaos and crowds. Cruising along the palm-fringed backwaters is a surreal experience, to say the least.

Best time to go: October to March

Must-visit places in Kerala

Alleppey, Munnar, Kochi, Kumarakom, Varkala, Periyar National Park, Wayanad, Thekkady, Thrissur, Trivandrum, and Kollam.

Nearest airport: Cochin International Airport (COK)

Hampi, Karnataka

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hampi is known for its historical ruins that throw light on the grandeur of the bygone Vijayanagara Empire. Situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in northern Karnataka, Hampi is scattered with stunning temple complexes, rock-cut temples, ancient forts, huge boulders, monoliths, and other captivating remnants of its glorious times in the past.

The ‘City of Ruins’ is an open museum treasuring hundreds of ancient monuments that demand the attention of every history, architecture, or archaeology enthusiast.

Best time to go: October to February

Must-visit places in Hampi

Virupaksha Temple, Vijaya Vittala Temple, Yantrodharaka Hanuman Temple, Hazara Rama Temple, Stone Chariot, Matanga Hill, Queen’s Bath, Lotus Mahal, and Archeological Museum.

Nearest airport: Bellary Airport (BEP)

Madurai, Tamil Nadu

Madurai, the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu, is home to one of India’s most beautiful temples, i.e., the Meenakshi Amman Temple. The presence of several ancient Hindu temples makes Madurai a top pilgrim place to visit in South India. A mind-blowing example of the Dravidian style of temple architecture, the colorful Meenakshi Temple dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi (an incarnation of Parvati) features 14 towering gopurams, pillared halls, and spectacular sculptures.

Other than temples, Madurai is also famous for its shopping stores and street-side food outlets that serve delicious South Indian food. 

Best time to go: October to March

Must-visit places in Madurai

Meenakshi Temple, Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal, Thirupparamkunram Murugan Temple, Koodal Azhagar Temple, Gandhi Memorial Museum, Samanar Hills, and Pazhamudhir Solai.

Nearest airport: Madurai International Airport (IXM)

Hyderabad, Telangana

An interesting blend of ancient and modern, traditional and cosmopolitan, a melting pot of cultures, Hyderabad has a unique charm to it, and you must not give this city a miss during your tour of South India.

The City of Pearls impresses tourists with its iconic historical monuments, forts, palaces, gardens, artificial lakes, bustling shopping bazaars, swanky pubs, resorts, and not to mention its lip-smacking cuisine that dishes out the world-famous Hyderabadi biryani and GI-tagged Haleem. If not anything else, its culinary treats call you back to this place whenever you book flights to India for a holiday.

Best time to go: October to February

Must-visit places in Hyderabad

Charminar, Golconda, Falaknuma Palace, Chowmahalla Palace, Salar Jung Museum, Birla Mandir, Hussain Sagar, Ramoji Film City, Lumbini Park, Shilparamam, and Osman Sagar.

Nearest airport: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (HYD)

Ooty, Tamil Nadu

The Queen of Hills, Ooty is one of the best places to visit in South India during the summer months. Nestled in the Western Ghats at an elevation of 2,240 meters above sea level, this hill station enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year. With a romantic ambiance, scenic location, colonial charm, and plenty of fun activities on offer, Udagamandalam (as Ooty is officially called) cater to tourists with different kinds of interests.

A ride in the toy train (Nilgiri Mountain Railway) that passes through forested hills, misty valleys, tea plantations, a number of bridges and tunnels is a must-have experience in Ooty. 

Best time to go: October to June

Must-visit places in Ooty

Doddabetta Peak, Botanical Garden, Rose Garden, Ooty Lake, Dolphin’s Nose, Deer Park, Emerald Lake, Avalanche Lake, St. Stephen’s Church, Catherine Falls, and Pykara Waterfalls. 

Nearest airport: Coimbatore International Airport (CJB)


Puducherry (Pondicherry) is a Union Territory of India situated on the Coromandel Coast. As a former French colony, Puducherry beautifully preserves its French legacy, which is clearly evident in the White Town area.

Soak up the distinct vibe of this place by strolling along the streets gazing at the French-style buildings and walk into one of its French bakeries to munch on French delicacies. All in all, Puducherry’s sunny beaches, beautiful promenades, ancient temples, and spiritual centers ensure that you enjoy a laid-back holiday. Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Puducherry is particularly popular among spiritual seekers.

Best time to go: October to March 

Must-visit places in Pondicherry

White Town, Promenade Beach, Paradise Beach, Aurobindo Ashram, Serenity Beach, Arikamedu, Pondicherry Lighthouse, Manakula Vinayagar Temple, and Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Nearest airport: Chennai International Airport (MAA)

Mysore, Karnataka

Mysore, the City of Palaces, boasts some of the most beautiful palaces in India, if not the world. The center of attraction is the royal Mysore Palace that covers 72 acres of land in the heart of the city. Every inch of this imposing palace built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture reflects the royal heritage of Mysore. It is one of the best places to visit in South India for history and architecture buffs.

Apart from palaces and other heritage monuments, Mysore is also famous for its temples, silk sarees, sandalwood, Dasara celebrations, and Ashtanga Yoga. 

Best time to go: July to February 

Must-visit places in Mysore

Chamundeshwari Temple, Mysore Palace, Jaganmohan Palace, Brindavan Gardens, Mysore Zoo, Karanji Lake, Ashtanga School of Yoga, Somanathapura Temple, and St. Philomena’s Church.

Nearest airport: Mysore Airport (MYQ)

Lakshadweep Islands

Uncrowded islands, pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, and a plethora of water sports await you in Lakshadweep (a word that translates to one lakh islands). Located off the Kerala coast in the Arabian Sea, this archipelago consisting of 36 coral islands is a paradise for peace lovers. The untouched beauty of these islands attracts tourists looking for an enjoyable beach holiday minus crowds.

Tourists (both Indians and foreigners) need an entry permit to visit Lakshadweep Islands. While Indian tourists may visit all accessible islands, foreign tourists are given access to the most popular ones only, namely Agatti, Bangaram, and Kadmat Islands.

Best time to go: October to mid-May

Must-visit places in Lakshadweep

Agatti Island, Bangaram Island, Minicoy Island, Kavaratti Island, Kadmat Island, Kalpeni Island, Marine Museum, and Pitti Bird Sanctuary.

Nearest airport: Agatti Airport (AGX)

                             A few more popular tourist places to visit in South India include Gokarna (Karnataka), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Warangal (Telangana), Coorg (Karnataka), Araku Valley (Andhra Pradesh), Tanjore (Tamil Nadu), Lepakshi (Andhra Pradesh), and Rameshwaram and Dhanushkodi (Tamil Nadu). Enjoy your holiday and have a great time exploring South India.

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