Tourism
Whether you’re an adventure buff, a beach bum or a mountain child, we’ve made a list – by no means exhaustive – of 10 quick getaways in the south.
Echo point in Munnar. Photo: Kerala Tourism

What better to do on a long weekend than head out somewhere?

And even though 2018 has fewer long weekends than 2017, there still are a fair few – as many as 14, in fact.

This year, Republic Day (January 26) falls on a Friday, which makes it a three-day weekend. Similarly, Mahavir Jayanti (March 29) and Good Friday (March 30) fall on Thursday and Friday respectively, making that weekend perfect for a short trip out of town.

In fact, if you take leave on one day (Thursday, August 23), you can get five entire days off in August – Eid-ul-Adha falls on a Wednesday and Onam falls on the Friday after.

Check out a list of more long weekends in 2018 here.

So pack your bags and book your tickets. With some mainstream and some less explored options, take your pick from these 10 places in the south which are perfect getaways for long weekends.  

Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu

The Shore temple. Photo by Sai Sathihsh Vijayan/Wikimedia Commons

This ancient temple town, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies on the outskirts of Chennai and is famous for its rock-cut Pallava temples, carvings, beaches and general historical significance. What’s not so well-known is that this sleepy little town is also a paradise for surfers.

Mahabalipuram is ideal for surfing from January to March, and boasts of a number of surfing schools. A popular one is Mumu’s Surf Shop, run by Mumu, a fisherman’s son, who chanced upon a surfboard years ago and hasn’t looked back since.

The temple town is also home to several restaurants and cafés that are the perfect spots to sit back, relax and indulge your taste buds. Moonrakers and Bob Marley’s Café are the ideal places to go to if you want some great seafood and a few chilled beers.

If you’re into history and architecture, do visit the Shore Temple, the Pancha Rathas and the Varaha cave temple.

Vattakanal, Tamil Nadu

A view of the Vattakanal hills. Photo by San95660/Wikimedia Commons

This little town is the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of mountains, far from the maddening crowds.

Popularly known as Vatta, it lies nestled between the Upper Palani hills in southern Tamil Nadu. The village has a lot to offer, including peaceful cafés, plenty of treks and lots of sightseeing.

A popular attraction is Altaf’s Café, which offers great views of the surrounding hills and is said to be the hangout of many artists and writers. You could also sign-up for a steep, but enjoyable, trek to Dolphin’s Nose, a flat rock that protrudes from a mountain.

Head to the Vattakanal falls, which is situated inside a peaceful forest. The best time to go here is during the rains.

The village draws a large number of tourists during winter months. However, the ideal time to plan a trip here is from April to June, when the temperature stays around 20 degrees. 

Varkala, Kerala

Paragliding in Varkala. Photo courtesy Kerala Tourism

A high cliff, clean sands and a stunning view of the ocean, plus it lies only 30 minutes away from Kerala’s capital – what more could anyone want for a quick getaway?

Varkala, a beach and seafood lovers’ paradise, will pamper you, plying you with the freshest catch and an impressive variety of delicacies from the sea.

The Varkala clifftop boasts of a long line of shacks and restaurants where you can either opt for a peaceful evening or party hard at one of the many events happening every night. To unwind, relax on the pearly white sands of the Papanasam Beach or head to the lesser known, scenic Kappil Beach to see how the lagoon effortlessly merges with the ocean.

If you’re the adventurous kind, Varkala has lots to offer: surfing, parasailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, to name a few.

The best season to visit Varkala is during the winter, between October and March, when the weather is ideal.

Munnar, Kerala

Munnar. Photo by Bimal CK/Wikimedia Commons

Arguably one of the most beautiful hill stations in Kerala, Munnar is said to see the meeting point of three mountain streams. Known for its lush tea plantations, ideal weather, blue lakes and wildlife sanctuaries, Munnar is also home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr, which you can spot at the Evarikulam National Park.

Devikulam, Kolukkumalai tea estate and Kundala Lake offer stunning views of the valley. For tea lovers, the Tata Tea Museum is a must visit. Guests can learn how tea is processed and can take an extensive tour of the estate.

Finally, scream your lungs out at the Echo Park and listen to how your voice echoes around you. 

Papikondalu, Andhra Pradesh

Boating at Papikondalu. Photo by Vinay Kumar Malyam Upadyaya/Wikimedia Commons

Ideal for a two-day trip, Papikondalu, or Papi Hills as they are known, is a mountain range covering three districts – East Godavari, West Godavari and Khammam.

Bound by the Godavari River, the hills have plenty to offer if you are a nature geek. You can choose to go on treks in the day and camp in the hill at night, which you can book via tourist agencies or the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Department.

Another great way to enjoy Papikondalu is to opt for a boat ride down the Godavari – enjoy the scenic views as the river snakes through the mountains that flank it on either side. Full-day boat journeys take you to a number of touristy places like the Gandipochamma Temple, Perantapalli village, Veereswara Swamy Temple and more.

For photography buffs, the Papikonda Wildlife Sanctuary is a great place to capture the local flora and fauna. The sanctuary houses a number of animals including leopards, hyenas, jackals, chitals and more.

Situated at a distance of 60km from Rajahmundry, the ideal visiting season is from October to March.

Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh

Araku valley. Photo by Eswararaokenguva/Wikimedia Commons

Remember gorgeous photos of colourful hot air balloons rising towards an incredibly blue sky from November last year?

That was Araku Valley, which hosted Andhra Pradesh’s first hot air balloon festival in 2017.

The valley is a breath of fresh air, far from city life, with its rich biodiversity, scenic beauty and coffee plantations.

Located at a distance of 112 kilometres from Visakhapatnam, the best way to get to Araku Valley – with its stunning views of hills and streams – is via road or train.  

You can stay in ‘hanging’ cottages and tree houses, visit the Katiki waterfalls and Borra caves while you’re there. Drop by at the Coffee House, which also houses a museum, to take home some coffee and chocolatey goodness.

Adilabad, Telangana

Kuntala waterfalls in Adilabad. Photo by Sruthin26/Wikimedia Commons

Looking for a quick getaway without much hassle? Adilabad is the place for you.

Adilabad district is located in the northern Telangana, and is known for its quiet, pollution-free environment and natural beauty. With wildlife sanctuaries, water reservoirs, lakes, waterfalls and temples to choose from, there’s something here for everyone.

While Adilabad can get extremely hot in the summer, Kuntala, Saptha Kund and Ponchera waterfalls are a sight to behold in the monsoons. Pranahita and Kawal Wildlife Sanctuaries offer safaris at affordable rates, and you can always top the day off with a view of the sunset from the Kadam reservoir.  

Dandeli, Karnataka

River rafting in Dandeli. Photo by Sarangib/Wikimedia Commons

Skip the Goa crowds and head to Dandeli instead. A town located in Uttara Kannada district along the banks of River Kali, Dandeli is blessed with a mix of lush greenery, wildlife and water sports.

There’s plenty to keep wildlife buffs and explorers occupied – lots of trekking and wildlife-spotting opportunities at the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, the second largest in Karnataka. Look out for black panthers, sambhar deer, bisons and Malabar giant squirrels here.

Pump up your adrenaline with activities like boating, river rafting, mountain hiking, night camps and more. You can stay in jungle lodges, tents and shacks. Dandeli is known for its bamboo craftsmanship, which make perfect gifts to take back home.

Winter months between October and February are the ideal time to visit this place.

Chikkmagaluru, Karnataka

Chikamagluru. VinodTiwari2608/Wikimedia Commons

Long weekend or not, there’s something about this quaint little hill station that makes it the perfect getaway. Great for a road trip if you’re living in Bengaluru, Chikkmagaluru is nestled at the foothills of the Mullayanagiri range.

Stay options include overnight camps, homestays, hotels, lodges and more. Adventure seekers can get their rush with organized mountain treks to peaks including Kudremukh, Kodecheri and Mullayanagiri, among others.

Opt for a homestay in coffee estates or riverside lodges, and enjoy the solitude of nature. What’s more, you can even make pit stops on your way to Chikkmagaluru if you’re traveling from Bengaluru – stop at the Gorur Dam, Shettihalli Church (which lies submerged in the Hemavathy River’s backwaters, except for the summer) and the star-shaped Manjarabad Fort in Hassan, to name a few.

Aihole

Durga temple at Aihole. Photo by Nagaraj/Wikimedia Commons

Travel back 1500 years in time in just three days by visiting Aihole or Aivalli in northern Karnataka. Lesser known than Hampi, Aihole offers sites that are no less grand than those in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. A tribute to the architecture of ancient Karnataka, the town has several Jain, Hindu and Buddhist sites that will take your breath away.

The 7th century Durga temple, or Fort Temple, built by the Chalukya kings tops the list of must-visits at Aihole. There is also an Archaeological Museum within the temple premises, which houses precious artefacts from Aihole and neighbouring towns of Pattakadal and Badami.

Don’t miss the exquisite 6th century Ravanaphadi rock-cut cave temples dedicated to Shiva and the famous Mallikarjuna Temple Complex, which boasts of several architectural styles. Another great site is the Meguti Jain temple, which was built in 634 AD and rests on a hillock surrounded by the Aihole Fort.