Varkala travel guide

Varkala Tourism | Varkala Guide

You're Going to Love Varkala

One of the finest beach destinations in the southern Indian state of Kerala, Varkala is strung along bright red cliffs and presents a gorgeous sight. Laid-back and friendly, it also has an intriguing historical side, and always makes visitors feel welcome.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Varkala

1. The Tropical Beaches

Varkala's beaches are a wonderful place to be. Play some beach volleyball, sunbathe, or rent a board and try windsurfing in an idyllic coastal location.

2. Visit Hindu Temples

Varkala isn't just a beach resort. Temple sites like Janardhana and the Golden Temple on Ponnumthuruthu Island present stunning vistas to visitors (even if you may not be allowed to go inside).

3. Chill Out

For backpackers, Varkala is all about relaxation and zoning out. What better place to get away from the stress of home than places like the Savasana Yoga Center or a massage at Thanal Ayurveda Home?

4. Try Delicious Fresh Keralan Seafood

The people of Varkala continue to make a living from the sea. And they also make some superb dishes. You'll adore the tandoori shrimp and fish whipped up as you wait at the resort's clifftop stalls.

5. Kollam Is an Hour Away

The city of Kollam is another Keralan gem, with its elegant bridges, Portuguese ruins at Thangassery, and the chance to take restful cruises on Ashtamudi Lake.

What to do in Varkala

1. Varkala Beach: A Beach Where the Sea Meets the Ocean

Varkala Beach has a special meaning in the lives of locals: it is believed that a dip in its waters cleanses away the sins of one's life. That may or may not be true, but one thing is for sure: relaxing on the blanket of its sands and strolling along the edge of its shoreline is sure to calm the nerves and reconnect one back to a simpler way of existence. Varkala Beach is situated along the edge of the Arabian Sea, which feeds into the larger Indian Ocean. Its position as a coast in Southern Kerala makes it a prime location for overhanging cliffs where evening sunset views, sun-bathing, and warm breezes rule the day.

2. Janardanaswamy Temple: The Sacred Sea Side

Also known as the Varkala Temple, the Janardanaswamy Temple is an important place of worship as well as a touted healing center. The nearby waters of Varkala are said to have healing properties due to the growth and cultivation of medicinal plants. Besides being the center of festivals and religious ceremonies, the Janardanaswamy Temple is also a place for Ayurvedic practice and sacred pilgrimage. Because of its floral abundance, seaside location and religious significance, the temple is known as "Gaia of the South" or the "Southern Benares."

3. Sivagiri Mutt: A Religious Resting Place

Its fight for independence called on the bravery and initiative of many leaders and one of them was the social reformer Narayana Guru. This beloved figure fought for social equality and caste abolishment within the country and his fight for spiritual freedom was consecrated by the tomb built all around his remains. This final resting place has not only become a major point of homage for pilgrims but, interestingly, a significant venue for celebrations: festivals, cultural shows, group weddings, and annual processions. In this way, the spirit of Narayana Guru lives on at Sivagiri Mutt.

4. Kappil Lake: A Romantic Oasis

Believe it or not, the monsoon season that drums down on all of India makes this beautiful lake, with its far expanse of water, lush green forestry, and beautiful beach even more romantic. During festival season, from March to April, the beach draws many visitors and locals alike, hoping to find a quiet spot to relax after a day's celebrations and noise. It also has a boat club and plenty of water sport activities that travelers can experience, including parasailing and boating.

5. Varkala Tunnel: Love Boat

Take a trip through this 974 feet long tunnel and see Varakla from a completely different vantage point. The tunnel took 14 years to complete but the journey through should only take you about 30 to 45 minutes. You'll feel like you're in the original "Love Boat" ride. The tunnel's architecture is itself something to take in, with distinct colonial style construction. Though it was used as a form of transportation and established for the trade of goods, it's now a major tourist attraction.

1. Varkala Beach: A Beach Where the Sea Meets the Ocean

Varkala Beach has a special meaning in the lives of locals: it is believed that a dip in its waters cleanses away the sins of one's life. That may or may not be true, but one thing is for sure: relaxing on the blanket of its sands and strolling along the edge of its shoreline is sure to calm the nerves and reconnect one back to a simpler way of existence. Varkala Beach is situated along the edge of the Arabian Sea, which feeds into the larger Indian Ocean. Its position as a coast in Southern Kerala makes it a prime location for overhanging cliffs where evening sunset views, sun-bathing, and warm breezes rule the day.

2. Janardanaswamy Temple: The Sacred Sea Side

Also known as the Varkala Temple, the Janardanaswamy Temple is an important place of worship as well as a touted healing center. The nearby waters of Varkala are said to have healing properties due to the growth and cultivation of medicinal plants. Besides being the center of festivals and religious ceremonies, the Janardanaswamy Temple is also a place for Ayurvedic practice and sacred pilgrimage. Because of its floral abundance, seaside location and religious significance, the temple is known as "Gaia of the South" or the "Southern Benares."

3. Sivagiri Mutt: A Religious Resting Place

Its fight for independence called on the bravery and initiative of many leaders and one of them was the social reformer Narayana Guru. This beloved figure fought for social equality and caste abolishment within the country and his fight for spiritual freedom was consecrated by the tomb built all around his remains. This final resting place has not only become a major point of homage for pilgrims but, interestingly, a significant venue for celebrations: festivals, cultural shows, group weddings, and annual processions. In this way, the spirit of Narayana Guru lives on at Sivagiri Mutt.

4. Kappil Lake: A Romantic Oasis

Believe it or not, the monsoon season that drums down on all of India makes this beautiful lake, with its far expanse of water, lush green forestry, and beautiful beach even more romantic. During festival season, from March to April, the beach draws many visitors and locals alike, hoping to find a quiet spot to relax after a day's celebrations and noise. It also has a boat club and plenty of water sport activities that travelers can experience, including parasailing and boating.

5. Varkala Tunnel: Love Boat

Take a trip through this 974 feet long tunnel and see Varakla from a completely different vantage point. The tunnel took 14 years to complete but the journey through should only take you about 30 to 45 minutes. You'll feel like you're in the original "Love Boat" ride. The tunnel's architecture is itself something to take in, with distinct colonial style construction. Though it was used as a form of transportation and established for the trade of goods, it's now a major tourist attraction.

Where to Eat in Varkala

Beachfront options worth checking out include Wait n Watch (which has great sea views), Cafe del Mar, and Trattorias, where you'll find dishes from around the world. Hotel Dwaraka is a great city center option too. Meals should come to less than ₹400 per head.

When to visit Varkala

Varkala in November
Estimated hotel price
C$ 33
1 night at 3-star hotel
Varkala in November
Estimated hotel price
C$ 33
1 night at 3-star hotel

The best time to go is definitely between September and April, when you can avoid the wet season and the humidity and intense heat of summer.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Varkala

Plane

Trivandrum International Airport (TRV) is around 30 miles away. Indian Railways provides a direct connection every three hours or so, which costs ₹500. Taxis should be around ₹700.

Train

Indian Railways has a stop at Varkala, connecting the resort to Trivandrum and Kollam, as well as major Indian cities like Mumbai and Bangalore.

Car

From Mumbai, take Highway 66 southwards along the Indian coast, while route 744 runs from Madurai.

Bus

Buses from Trivandrum cost ₹90 and take just over an hour. You can also connect with the publicly run national bus service.

Airports near Varkala

Airlines serving Varkala

Lufthansa
Good (3,711 reviews)
KLM
Good (686 reviews)
British Airways
Good (3,456 reviews)
Air France
Good (838 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (4,270 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (2,208 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (1,816 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (732 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (602 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (285 reviews)
Malaysia Airlines
Good (140 reviews)
Air India
Okay (1,964 reviews)
Gulf Air
Good (99 reviews)
Qantas Airways
Good (376 reviews)
Kuwait Airways
Good (204 reviews)
SriLankan Airlines
Good (34 reviews)
Scoot
Good (206 reviews)
Vistara
Good (132 reviews)
Air Arabia
Excellent (22 reviews)
SpiceJet
Okay (47 reviews)
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Where to stay in Varkala

Varkala Beach - famous for its black sands, Varkala beach is the social center of the resort. Locals gather there in the evenings and travelers all day long to swim, play, and socialize.

Popular Neighborhoods in Varkala

Papanasam Beach - south of Varkala, Papanasam is just as scenic and offers some great dining spots like the Theeram Beach Restaurant.

Sivagiri Road - slightly inland, Sivagiri Road is home to a famous pilgrimage center, but it's also the location of Varkala's train station.

Where to stay in popular areas of Varkala

Most booked hotels in Varkala

Gateway Varkala - Ihcl Seleqtions
Good (7.9, Good reviews)
C$ 164+
Raja Park Beach Resort
Good (6.7, Good reviews)
C$ 45+

How to Get Around Varkala

Public Transportation

Public transportation in the town itself is very limited, although auto-rickshaws may be rented if required.

Taxi

Taxis are a good way to get around, and not to expensive at ₹25 for the meter drop, then ₹25 more per mile.

Car

Car rental outlets include Unnikannan, where you should find vehicles for around ₹400 per day.

The Cost of Living in Varkala

Shopping Streets

If you want to shop for tourist souvenirs, Varkala's clifftop is the place to head, but there are also more notable art dealers like the Art of India and boutiques like Shalimar Weaves.

Groceries and Other

Supermarkets in the town center include Merlyn and Margin Free, where 12 eggs will come to around ₹75.

Other popular cities in Kerala