What's the Best Time to Visit Kerala, India?

best season to visit kerala

The best time to visit Kerala is from September to March, when the weather is pleasant and ideal for sightseeing and exploring its beautiful backwaters, lush landscapes, and pristine beaches. During these months, Kerala's natural beauty is at its peak, offering vibrant festivals, tranquil houseboat cruises, and delightful culinary experiences. Monsoon season, from June to August, is also an option if you enjoy the rain and want to experience the rich green landscape and popular Ayurvedic treatments, which are enhanced by the cool, humid climate.

The Best Seasons to Visit Kerala

Kerala offers unique experiences in each season, from the bustling tours of winter to the serene rains of the monsoon. Timing your visit can transform your journey through this picturesque Indian state.

Winter in Kerala: Peak Tourist Season

Winter, from December to February, is the most popular time to visit Kerala. Comfortable temperatures ranging from 73°F to 90°F make exploring backwaters, beaches, and hill stations highly enjoyable. During these months, you can witness Kerala's cultural events, festivals, and traditional boat races. Houseboat cruises in the serene backwaters of Alleppey and Kumarakom are particularly delightful. However, the popularity of this season means that tourist spots can be crowded, and prices for accommodations may be higher.

Summer in Kerala: Off-Season Travels

Summer in Kerala occurs from March to May, with temperatures soaring between 84°F to 100°F. This period is less crowded, offering a more tranquil experience for visitors who can handle the heat. You can take advantage of lower prices on hotels and activities during this off-season. Despite the high temperatures, hill stations like Munnar and Wayanad provide cooler retreats with misty mornings and pleasant evenings. Beaches may be hotter but are less populated, giving a quieter, more personal experience.

Monsoon in Kerala: The Magic of Rain

The monsoon season, from June to September, brings heavy rainfall to Kerala, transforming the landscape into lush green expanses. The rains are crucial for the state's agriculture and contribute to the region's rich flora and fauna. Despite the weather, travelling to Kerala during the monsoon is facilitated by the efficient airports in Kerala, ensuring accessibility even during this rainy season. Monsoon is an ideal time for Ayurvedic treatments, as the climate opens up your pores and makes therapy more effective. While travel can be challenging due to heavy rains, watching the rain in Kerala is a unique experience. Waterfalls are at their peak flow, and the entire state feels rejuvenated and refreshing.

Top Destinations within Kerala

Here are some of the most popular tourist destinations in Kerela:

  • Munnar's lush tea plantations provide a breathtaking escape. The rolling hills and misty environment invite you to unwind and rejuvenate. Don't miss the Eravikulam National Park, home to the endangered Nilgiri Tahr.
  • Alleppey (Alappuzha), which is also known as the Venice of the East, has tranquil backwaters that offer you a unique houseboat experience. Cruise along and soak in the picturesque landscapes.
  • Kochi (Cochin) seamlessly blends the old and new. Explore Fort Kochi's colonial architecture, ancient churches, and vibrant markets. The Chinese fishing nets are a must-see.
  • Wayanad's wildlife and lush greenery captivate nature enthusiasts. Experience the thrill of a safari at Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary or hike up Chembra Peak for a stunning view.
  • Kovalam's crescent-shaped beaches are perfect for a relaxed beach holiday. You can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, and even some surfing here.
  • Thekkady: Visit Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Thekkady for an exciting wildlife adventure. The boat ride on Periyar Lake offers sightings of elephants and other wildlife.
  • Varkala's unique cliffs and beaches provide a striking landscape. The Papanasam beach in Varkala is known for its cliffs overlooking the Arabian Sea.
  • Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram): the capital city is rich in cultural heritage sites. Visit the Padmanabhaswamy Temple and the Napier Museum for a dive into history. The city offers a blend of history and contemporary experiences.

best time to visit kerala

Festivals and Cultural Events

Kerala's vibrant festivals and cultural events provide a deep dive into the state's rich heritage and traditions. You can experience the lively festivities of Onam, the grandeur of Thrissur Pooram, and the mysticism of Theyyam.

Onam: The State Festival

Onam, celebrated in late August or early September, marks the harvest season and is Kerala's most significant festival. It's a ten-day event filled with traditional rituals, elaborate feasts (Onam Sadya), and vibrant cultural performances. Key highlights include:

  • Pookalam: intricate floral designs laid at the entrances of homes
  • Vallam Kali: exotic snake boat races held on scenic backwaters
  • Pulikali: colourful folk art where performers paint themselves like tigers

Families gather to enjoy a sumptuous meal served on banana leaves, featuring over 20 dishes. Onam is a time for communal harmony and showcases the cultural unity of the state.

Thrissur Pooram: The Festival of Elephants

Thrissur Pooram takes place in April or May at the Vadakkunnathan Temple. This grand spectacle features a majestic parade of caparisoned elephants and massive, richly decorated umbrellas. Main attractions are:

  • Kudamattom: a competitive display of parasols
  • Ilanjithara Melam: traditional percussion ensemble with drums and cymbals

The festival's highlight is the magnificent display of fireworks, which illuminates the night sky. It's an event that brings together thousands of spectators, both locals and tourists, to witness the unique blend of cultural grandeur and the rhythmic beats of Kerala's traditional music.

Theyyam: The Dance of Gods

Theyyam, performed from October to May, is an ancient ritualistic dance found in the northern districts of Kerala. It blends dance, music, and mime to bring mythological stories to life. Some noteworthy aspects are:

  • Elaborate costumes: bright face paint, towering headgear, and intricate body paint
  • Sacred performance: often held in village temples and sacred groves

This art form has performers transform into the deities they represent, creating a powerful spiritual experience for the audience. Theyyam offers a captivating glimpse into Kerala's spiritual and cultural essence.

Travel Tips for Kerala

Kerala offers a rich mix of cultural experiences, diverse cuisine, and unique shopping opportunities. Learn about the best ways to navigate the state and enjoy local delicacies.

Local Cuisine and Dining Experiences

Kerala's cuisine is a delightful blend of flavours and spices. Don't miss trying traditional dishes like appam and vegan stew, puttu and kadala, and the famous Kerala Sadya. For fish lovers, be sure to avoid anything that contains fish, prawns, and crabs because they are sentient and should be left alone. Street food stalls and local eateries can provide authentic tastes at budget-friendly prices. Dining in a houseboat offers a unique experience with scenic backdrops. Always drink bottled water and be cautious with raw food to avoid any health issues.

Shopping and Souvenirs

Kerala boasts a variety of unique handicrafts and products. Popular items include Kasavu sarees, Nettipattam (decorative elephant caparisons), coconut shell handicrafts, and spices. Visit local markets like Jew Town in Kochi or the Chalai market in Thiruvananthapuram for an authentic shopping experience. Don't forget to bargain; it is customary and can enrich your interactions with shopkeepers. Purchasing spices directly from farms or spice shops ensures quality over the mass-produced ones found in common tourist spots.

Transportation and Getting Around

Kerala's transportation options are diverse and convenient. The state has four international airports, including Kochi, Kannur, Thiruvananthapuram, and Kozhikode, making it easily accessible from major cities worldwide. Local transportation includes auto-rickshaws, taxis, and buses for urban travel. For a more scenic route, hop on a train or hire a bike. Renting a car is also an option, but note that traffic can be chaotic. Use navigation apps for directions and information on traffic conditions.

Wrap Up: The Best Time to Visit Kerala

The best time to visit Kerala is from September to March when the weather is pleasant and ideal for exploring the state's natural beauty, vibrant festivals, and cultural experiences. Each season offers unique attractions, with winter being the peak tourist season, summer providing quieter and more affordable travel, and the monsoon transforming the landscape into lush green expanses.

Whether you prioritize comfort, tranquillity, or the enchanting rain, Kerala has something special to offer all year round!

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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