The Ultimate 7 Day Kerala Itinerary and Travel Guide

February 9, 2024

Plan your next adventure to Kerala and make it the best one yet with this 7-day vegan and eco-friendly Kerala itinerary

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Kerala is located in southern India and is often referred to as “God’s Own Country” – for its natural beauty, cultural heritage, and religious significance. It welcomes travelers with enchanting landscapes, vibrant culture, and a commitment to sustainability. 
 
Whether you’re a tourist, eco-conscious traveler or nature enthusiast, this itinerary takes you through some of the best places in Kerala. All with a focus on ecotourism, wellness, and vegan cuisine. 
 
From the scenic backwaters and lush greenery to the aromatic spice gardens and local villages, each day promises an immersive experience.
 
So pack your bags and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure to South India!

Best Time to Visit Kerala 

The best time to visit Kerala depends on what type of experiences you are looking for and what your preferences are. That said, below are 3 seasons that are the most popular for visiting.  

Winter

Winter season is generally considered the best time to visit Kerala. The weather is mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 30°C. It’s an ideal time for beach vacations, houseboat cruises, and exploring hill stations like Munnar.

Summer

Summers in Kerala can be hot and humid, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 35°C. While it might be warm in the lowlands, the hill stations like Munnar offer a cool escape.

Monsoon

The monsoon season brings heavy rainfall to Kerala. The southwest monsoon (June to September) is the primary rainy season. While the rain can create lush landscapes, it may hinder outdoor activities. 

 Unique Experiences by Season:

  • Winter: Best for general sightseeing, beach vacations, and houseboat cruises.
  • Summer: Ideal for hill station retreats and wildlife exploration in national parks.
  • Monsoon: Great for Ayurvedic retreats, and indoor cultural excursions without the crowds.

Explore Ayurvedic Retreats in Kerala

Discover bliss in Kerala's Ayurvedic Retreats, where ancient healing meets natural tranquility. Tailored programs and rejuvenating sessions promise a transformative escape for holistic well-being.

Getting to Kerala

Kerala is well-connected by air, rail, and road, making it easily accessible from various parts of India. However, the most common entry point for both domestic and international flights is through Cochin International Airport (aka Kochi Airport). 

This is the best way to get to Kochi, the hill stations of Munnar, and the Alleppey backwaters. It’s also a great place to land before heading south to the beaches of Varkala.

However, if you choose to start your trip on the southern end, you can always fly into Trivandrum International Airport. From there, you can work your way up north and fly out of the Cochin Airport. 

​I recommend conducting an Expedia or Skyscanner search to find the best flight deals from your starting point. 

Recommendation for safe travel

If flying into Trivandrum on a late flight, spend the night near the airport or the nearest train station. Otherwise, grab a transfer from the airport directly to Varkala. 

Get the app for quick transfer scheduling access. This will come in handy!

Traveling By Train

Trains to Kochi (Ernakulam Junction): Kochi has a major railway station known as Ernakulam Junction (ERS) and is well-connected to major cities throughout India.

Trains to Thiruvananthapuram: Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) is the capital city and has a central railway station (Thiruvananthapuram Central) with frequent train services from various parts of the country.

Trains to Kozhikode (Calicut): Kozhikode is another important railway station in northern Kerala, offering good connectivity.

Traveling By Road

National Highways: Kerala is well-connected by a network of national highways. The National Highway 66 (previously NH47) and National Highway 544 (previously NH 212) are two major highways connecting Kerala with other states.

State Highways: Kerala also has various state highways, making road travel convenient with options like buses, taxis, and private vehicles.

Interstate Buses: Several state-run and private buses operate between Kerala and neighboring states. Major cities like Bangalore, Chennai, and Coimbatore have regular bus services to Kerala.

Self-Drive: You can also opt for a car rental if you want to drive yourself. With scenic routes through Kerala, a road trip can often lead to your best experience.

Visa for Kerala, India

Foreign travelers are required to obtain a visa before visiting Kerala. However, if you’re a citizen from any of the following 11 countries, you can obtain a VoA (Visa on Arrival) from either the Kochi or Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram) Airport.

Countries Eligible for VoA:

  • Apan
  • Vietnam
  • Myanmar
  • Singapore
  • Finland
  • Luxembourg
  • New Zealand
  • The Philippines
  • Cambodia 
  • Laos 
  • Indonesia

Where to Stay (Kerala Accommodations)

To find the best option and prices for your stay in Kerala, I suggest cross-checking between Booking.com and Agoda.

If you prefer a vacation rental for a more comfortable “at-home” experience, VRBO is a great option. 

If you’re a backpacker, I recommend exploring hostel options on Hostelworld. Another option is searching for a homestay on Homestays which are similar to an Airbnb but more economical. 

 

India’s Currency

India uses the official currency of the country, which is the Indian Rupee (INR). The Indian Rupee is abbreviated as “₹” and is often represented by the symbol ₹. It is the official legal tender throughout the entire country.

I recommend carrying some Indian currency for local transactions as credit and debit cards may not be accepted at all establishments. Especially in rural areas. 

Exchanging Your Currency

Before exchanging currency, compare rates and fees across different options to get the best deal. 

You’ll also want to be aware of any commissions, service charges, or fees associated with the exchange service you choose. Additionally, always use authorized and reliable sources to avoid potential scams or counterfeit currency issues. 

Currency exchange services are available at airports, banks, and authorized currency exchange centers. Getting this taken care of in your home country and preferably NOT at the airport, will help minimize fees. 

Click on the image below to use the Currency Converter and check conversion rates. 

How to Get Around Kerala

I would suggest using Google Maps or Mappls MapmyIndia to research your itinerary routes. It will show you the fastest way to get around whether it’s by car, train, or bus. However, for these apps to work successfully, you’ll need a pocket WiFi or SIM Card such as a DrimSim SIM card or an Airalo eSIM card

Primary ways to get around Kerala:

By Bus: Kerala has an extensive network of state-run and private buses connecting major cities, towns, and remote villages. State-run KSRTC buses and private operators offer regular services.

By Car: Getting a ride or renting a car is an option for more flexibility, especially when exploring remote areas.

By Taxis and Auto-rickshaws: Taxis and auto-rickshaws are readily available for shorter distances and within cities. Negotiate fares before starting your trip or use meters if available.

There are various taxi options in Kerala. To ensure you select the best and most affordable service, view the different options and their reviews HERE

By Train: With a railway system that connects the entire state, getting around by train is fairly easy. For both short and long distances. Cities like Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, and Alappuzha all have major railway stations.

Staying Connected in Kerala

Kerala has widespread mobile network coverage and available Wi-Fi in urban and tourist areas. Plus you can get free WiFi at most hotels and cafes but speeds may vary. 

Consider your data needs and explore SIM card options for a more reliable and efficient connection during your Kerala trip. This way you can be sure to consistently stay connected as needed throughout your stay. 

In addition to staying connected via WiFi, a good VPN service is essential. This will ensure your internet connection is secure and safe from intrusions. Especially while in a foreign country. 

With ExpressVPN, you’ll be able to safely secure your connection online. Whether you’re streaming, browsing, or using free public WiFi, encrypting your internet connection is critical. 

Safety in Kerala

The state has strict safety guidelines and protocols in place to ensure visitors feel comfortable and safe during their stay. 

However, as with any travel destination, it’s important to exercise common safety precautions. Pay attention to your belongings, use reliable transportation services, and be cautious in crowded or unfamiliar areas. 

Helpful Kerala Phrases 

Learning a few basic phrases in the local language, Malayalam can greatly enhance your experience during your trip. 

Here are 10 helpful phrases:

  1. Hello / Hi:

    • English: Hello
    • Malayalam: ഹലോ (halo)
  2. Thank you:

    • English: Thank you
    • Malayalam: നന്ദി (nandi)
  3. Yes / No:

    • English: Yes / No
    • Malayalam: അതെ (athe) / ഇല്ല (illa)
  4. Excuse me / Sorry:

    • English: Excuse me / Sorry
    • Malayalam: ക്ഷമിക്കണം (kshamikkanam) / ക്ഷമിക്കണം (kshamikkam)
  5. Please:

    • English: Please
    • Malayalam: ദയവായി (dayavayi)
  6. Good morning / Good evening / Good night:

    • English: Good morning / Good evening / Good night
    • Malayalam: സുപ്രഭാതം (suprabhatam) / ശുഭ സന്ധ്യ (shubha sandhya) / ശുഭ രാത്രി (shubha raathri)
  7. How much does it cost?:

    • English: How much does it cost?
    • Malayalam: ഇത് എത്ര ആയിരിക്കുക? (ithu ethra ayirikkuka?)
  8. Where is…?:

    • English: Where is…?
    • Malayalam: … എങ്ങനെ പോകുന്നു? (… engane pokunnu?)
  9. I don’t understand:

    • English: I don’t understand
    • Malayalam: ഞാൻ പരിഭാഷ ചെയ്യുന്നില്ല (njan paribhasha cheyunnila)
  10. Help! / Emergency:

    • English: Help! / Emergency
    • Malayalam: സഹായം (sahayam) / അപകടം (apakadam)

These basic phrases should help you communicate and navigate common situations during your travels in Kerala. The locals will likely appreciate your efforts to speak their language, even if it’s just a few words. 

For more help, download the Google Translate app. It works like a charm!

7 Day Vegan and Eco-Friendly Kerala Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrive in Kochi

The first stop is Kochi City. After you get settled into your hotel, head over to Loving Earth Cafe in Fort Kochi to grab something to eat. Here you'll find plenty of delicious cruelty-free, plant-based food options on the menu. They even have a yoga studio if you want to unwind and stop in for a class. 

If you're up for a cultural experience you can grab a skip-the-line ticket and head over to the Kathakali Dance Show. This show takes place in the city of Kochi so it's a perfect option for staying local on your first night. 

Unless you would rather opt for a more low-key, eco and nature-infused kinda stay. In which case, I would recommend heading to Coconut Lagoon

Next up, is Alleppey which is a little over an hour drive.  

Day 2 - Explore the Kerala Backwaters in Alleppey (Alappuzha)

Begin your day out in nature with a backwater cruise along the iconic Lake Vembanad. The largest lake in Kerala. Glide through the labyrinth of interconnected canals, flanked by emerald-green paddy fields and swaying palm trees. 

You'll paddle through a scenic canvas of rural life, amidst traditional houseboats and vibrant wildlife along the tranquil waters. 

This Kerala tour will allow you to immerse yourself in nature as you navigate the network of waterways. All while gaining a profound appreciation for the unique ecosystem and cultural richness of the Kerala Backwaters

The good thing about Kerala is that it's predominantly vegetarian so you shouldn't have a hard time finding vegan-friendly places to eat. You can also use the HappyCow app to explore nearby eateries. 

The next destination is Munnar. A highly popular destination that is surrounded by nature’s beautiful dense forests, rolling hills, and mountain terrain. It’ll take around 4 hours and 18 minutes to get there so leave bright and early!

Day 3 - Explore the Tea Plantations in Munnar 

Getting here is a bit longer but well worth the time. I recommend staying at the Kaivalyam Wellness Retreat (aka Sitaram Mountain Retreat) to enhance your travel experience.

The retreat sits amidst spice plantations and has an in-house restaurant with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. 

>>READ KAIVALYAM'S TRIPADVISOR REVIEWS

Today is all about enjoying the day exploring the tea gardens, tea museum, waterfalls, and observing the elephants in their natural habitat. This will be an exciting adventure!

Be sure to book either of the tours below (or both) to secure your spot ahead of time. If you want to do both, you can opt for doing the Elephant Tour on Day 3 and adding on the Tea Trail Tour to Day 4. 

Both are immersive experiences that involve exploring Kerala's unique culture and providing insights about its rich history. 

In addition, with the tea tour, you'll have the opportunity to walk amidst aromatic rolling hills, while breathing in the purest of air. You can also interact with the tea pluckers and experience tea tasting at the tea museum factory. 

Something a bit different (and healthier) than the typical wine tasting. 

Day 4 - Discover more of Munnar!

Embark on a trekking adventure through Eravikulam National Park, home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr. ​Anamudi Peak (the highest peak in the Western Ghats), and the Attukal Waterfalls add to the experience.

Take some hiking snacks with you so you stay fueled throughout your hike and don't forget to stay hydrated!

After returning from your hiking exploration, spend the afternoon relaxing and retreating at the resort.

Take advantage of all that Kaivalyam Wellness Retreat has to offer. Maybe even pamper yourself with an Ayurvedic treatment or massage to help unwind from your trek. 

The next stop is located 2 hours and 48 minutes away in Thekkady.

Day 5 - Head to Periyar National Park in Thekkady

This is a great stop for wildlife enthusiasts. Here you'll have the option to choose from many ecotourism adventures at Periyar Tiger Reserve

I would suggest a nature walk or trek through the jungle amidst the lush green hills and dense forests, a boat safari adventure, or bamboo rafting with a camping overnight stay. That's if you don't mind roughing it for one night! ​

If you want to skip the overnight camping experience, the reserve has other accommodations to choose from. Or, you can stay at any of these amazing eco-resorts in Thekkady. 

Other wildlife sanctuaries include:

Parambikulam Tiger Reserve
Aralam Wildlife Sanctuary

Peppara Wildlife Sanctuary

The next day will be a 4-hour and 34-minute trip to Varkala.

Day 6 - Kayak the Mangroves in Varkala 

The final stop is the beautiful Varkala Beach which borders the Arabian Sea. Today will be more about connecting with nature and exploring the mangroves on kayak. 

This hidden gem offers an ideal setting for a serene paddling experience. With motorboats prohibited in the area, the calm waters provide the perfect setting for a quiet exploration of the mangrove forests. 

You will be led by a professional guide who will not only ensure your safety but also provide valuable insights into the unique ecosystem surrounding you.

>>CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT

The trip is 4 hours long so it's best to catch the 6:30 AM trip to make the most of your day. Plus, it makes for a more tranquil and meditative experience through nature. 

Spend the rest of the day relaxing along Varkala Beach, take in the views from the Varkala Cliffs, or wind down with a relaxing, scenic boat trip to Ponnumthuruthu Island. 

To get to Ponnumthuruthu Island you would need to head over to Nedunganda Village to catch a boat ride. It's about 19 minutes from Varkala Beach. 

Day 7 - Prepare for Your Return Flight

If you're flying out of Trivandrum Airport, you could spend time lounging by your resort pool and grab something to eat at one of the local vegan/vegetarian restaurants before you leave. Depending on what time your flight takes off. 

On the contrary, if you're flying out of Cochin Airport, you will need to head out early to make your flight. Cochin International Airport is about 4-1/2 hours from Varkala so you want to give yourself enough time. 

Planning a Longer Trip?

If you want to plan for a 10 or 15-day trip, you can add on the following destinations. They are among the most popular places to visit in the state of Kerala. 

Gavi Forest
Mattancherry Palace – Commonly known as the Dutch Palace
Paradesi Synagogue 
St. Francis Church – The oldest European church
Padmanabhaswamy Temple
Napier Museum

Trip Essentials

A part of the trip planning process is ensuring your trip is insured so you are covered in every way that matters. 

It’s your safety net against the uncertainties that can disrupt your trip, from sudden cancellations to unexpected medical emergencies or lost belongings.

With travel insurance, you gain peace of mind, knowing that you’re financially protected and supported in unforeseen situations. 

It’s a small investment that ensures you can focus on the joys of travel while leaving the worries behind. So, before you set off on your Kerala adventure, be sure to secure your trip with a plan that best fits your needs. 

It’ll make for smoother and stress-free travels!

Sandra Campillo

Sandra Campillo

Sandra Campillo is a holistic lifestyle and travel blogger focused on veganism, eco-tourism, and wellness - mind, body, and spirit. Join Sandra and her community of readers on SandraCampillo.com to learn how to live a holistic, more sustainable, and compassionate way of life.

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