Things to do in Varkala – A Complete Travel Guide

Tucked in the southern part of Kerala, away from the busy touristy destinations of the state, Varkala is a quaint beach town overlooking the Arabian Sea. Owing to several ancient religious sites and temples, it is also regarded as the ‘Temple Town’ of Kerala. It is recognized as one of the best beaches in India and ‘one of the top 10 seasonal beaches in the world’ and is a hub of water sports like swimming, parasailing, snorkeling, and particularly surfing. Explore Varkala’s beauty with a car rental from Trivandrum with Savaari, ensuring convenience and flexibility throughout your journey.

Things to do in Varkala

Table of Contents

  1. Things to Do
  2. How to Plan a trip to Varkala
  3. About
  4. Hotels and Resorts

Things to do in Varkala

In Varkala, immerse yourself in the serene beauty of its golden beaches, visit ancient temples, and indulge in thrilling water sports like surfing. Experience the perfect blend of spirituality, relaxation, and adventure in this charming coastal town of Kerala.

Include these fun and exciting activities to do in this beach town along with your sightseeing – 

Offbeat things to do in Varakala

Varkala boating experience

Things to do in Varkala during the day:

  • Varkala is one of the best surfing destinations in India. The roaring, frothy waves of the Arabian Sea in autumn makes for the best surf. Post surfing, you can enjoy sunbathing on the silvery sands. 
  • Try out an Ayurvedic spa treatment or a holistic Ayurvedic consultation from one of the prominent centres in the town. 
  • Stay at one of the yoga retreats offering wellness packages, natural therapies, and meditation sessions for a relaxing vacation. 
  • Try snorkeling at Thiruvambadi Beach or Papanasham Beach and explore the underwater.

Things to do in Varkala at night

As the sun sets over Varkala, the coastal town comes alive with a vibrant nightlife. Here are some exciting things to do in Varkala at night:

  • Beachside Dining – Enjoy a romantic dinner or unwind with friends at beachside restaurants and cafes that offer a delightful combination of delicious cuisine and stunning views of the Arabian Sea.
  • Night Markets: Explore the bustling night markets of Varkala, where you can find a variety of local handicrafts, jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs. Experience the lively atmosphere as you stroll through the vibrant stalls.
  • Live Music and Cultural Performances – Immerse yourself in the local culture by attending live music performances and cultural shows that often take place in beachside cafes and restaurants. Enjoy the rhythms of traditional music and witness captivating dance performances.
  • Ayurvedic Spa Treatments – Indulge in a rejuvenating Ayurvedic spa session to relax and unwind after a day of exploring. Varkala is known for its Ayurvedic centers that offer various treatments and therapies to enhance your well-being.
  • Stargazing at the beach – With minimal light pollution, Varkala provides an ideal setting for stargazing. Head to the beach or find a quiet spot and marvel at the sparkling night sky, dotted with countless stars.
  • Moonlit Beach Walks – Take a leisurely stroll along the moonlit beach and feel the gentle ocean breeze against your skin. The tranquil ambiance and the sound of crashing waves create a serene and romantic setting.
  • Take a walk along the Varkala Cliff and hang out by any of the art cafes in the area. Head to the North Cliff area for late-night cafes and lounges with good vibes and live music.

Religious things to do in Varkala

Varkala is known as the ‘Temple Town’ of Kerala and offers a range of religious experiences. Here are some of the religious things to do in Varkala:

  • Visit Janardanaswamy Temple: Explore the iconic Janardanaswamy Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This ancient temple, believed to be around 2,000 years old, attracts devotees and tourists alike. Experience the serene ambiance and architectural beauty of this sacred site.
  • Sivagiri Mutt: Pay homage to the great philosopher and social reformer, Sri Narayana Guru, at the Sivagiri Mutt. This important pilgrimage center promotes the teachings of equality, social justice, and spiritual enlightenment.
  • Take a Dip in the Holy Papanasam Beach: The Papanasam Beach in Varkala holds religious significance, believed to wash away sins. Many devotees take a dip in the holy waters of this beach, offering prayers and seeking spiritual purification. Visit Papanasam Beach and bathe in the holy springs or sit for prayers at the Janardana Swami Temple. 
  • Explore the Varkala Cliff Temples: Discover the small temples and shrines nestled along the picturesque Varkala cliff. These sacred sites offer breathtaking views of the Arabian Sea while providing a serene space for prayer and contemplation.

Remember to dress modestly and follow the customs and traditions when visiting religious sites in Varkala. It’s always advisable to check the specific timings and regulations of the temples and religious centers before planning your visit.

Things to do in Varkala for couples:

  • Take a boat ride to the Ponnumthuruthu island, 12KM off the main coast, sitting on the Anjengo Lake. The island houses a 100-year-old Hindu temple. 
  • Spend a romantic day at the serene estuary of Kappil Lake. You can do a kayak ride along the coconut groves and mangroves on the backwaters or enjoy a boat ride on the lake.

Places to visit in Varkala

Anjengo Fort
Anjengo Fort

With the best pristine beaches, hills, lakes, forts, lighthouses, natural fisheries and springs there’s no shortage of things to do and places to see here. Check out these famous places on your trip –

  • Janardana Swami Temple: The 2000-year-old temple enshrines an ancient deity of Vishnu and is an important pilgrimage site for Vaishnavites. The temple also houses a historical bell brought in by the sea from a wrecked Dutch vessel. Entry Fee– Free
  • Sivagiri Mutt: Dedicated to Shri Narayana Guru, this ashram spreads over 200 acres and houses a religious centre with a prayer hall, ornate temples and accommodation for travellers, surrounded by greenery. Entry Fee– Free for the tour, accommodation costs are separate.
  • Papanasam Beach: This is the main Varkala beach and is known for its natural beauty as well as spiritual significance. There’s a natural freshwater spring which is considered sacred and wash away sins. The shores are perfect for an afternoon stroll or catching the stunning sunset views. Entry Fee– NA
  • Anjengo Fort: This fort is a significant symbol of Kerala’s historical and cultural legacy. It houses an 18th century English fort, which is now a National Heritage Monument. Entry Fee– Free
  • Varkala Tunnel: Established in 1867, this 924 FT long tunnel runs through the periphery of the town. Built by the Dewan of Travancore, for the East India Company, this canal served as an internal waterway as well as an irrigation source. Entry Fee– Free
  • Varkala Lighthouse: This 17th-century lighthouse is 130 feet on the Varkala Beach and offers panoramic views of the endless sea on one side and backwaters on the others, and is perfect for sunset views, photography, or day picnics.

Places to visit near Varkala

Places to visit near Varkala

Besides the regular tourist places in Varkala you can also explore other scenic locales nearby – 

  • Kilimanoor Palace: The 300-something years old palace spreads across 15 acres of land and consists of smaller mansions, ponds, wells, and sacred groves. The site is revered as the birthplace of Raja Ravi Verma and regarded as a hub of the art history of Kerala. Entry Fee– Free for a tour.
  • Kollam Beach: Often called the “First Beach Destination in India”, this is a perfect place to spend a day outside Varkala, with sunbathing, water sports, and boating. Entry Fee– NA
  • Trivandrum: A hub of art, architecture, history, and religion, Trivandrum is the cultural capital of Kerala. Visit the Sri Padmanabha Swami Temple, Sri Chitra Art Gallery, Napier Museum, Puthe Maliga Palace Museum, and the Natural History Museum. Entry Fee– NA
  • Kovalam: One of the most exotic beaches on the Malabar Coast, this small coastal town is known for surfing and adventurous beach vacation. Visit the Light House Beach, Vizhinjam Mosque, Samudra Beach, and Eve’s Beach, for sunbathing, swimming, catamaran cruising, or herbal spa treatments. Entry Fee– NA

Places to Eat in Varkala

Varkala cafes

Explore these best-rated eateries to sample the local flavours – 

  • Café Del Mar 
  • ABBA Restaurant & Everest German Bakery Varkala
  • Darjeeling Café Varkala
  • God’s Own Country Kitchen
  • Chimney Family Restaurant 
  • Trattorias
  • Sunset Multicuisine Restaurant

How to Plan a Trip to Varkala

You can also plan a personalized trip by selecting the mode of transport, the route, and more. 

How to reach Varkala

By Train

Varkala Sivagiri Railway Station is well-connected to the rest of the state and other major cities and towns in neighbouring states, like Kochi, Bangalore, Calicut, Kanyakumari, Mangalore, etc. 

By Road

Varkala is well-connected to the rest of Kerala and neighbouring cities and towns via NH66 and the Panvel-Kochi-Kanyakumari Highway to Maharashtra, Goa, and north Karnataka. There are regular state-run and private buses from Calicut, Trivandrum, Kochi, Alleppey, Kanyakumari, Mangalore, Mysore, Bangalore, etc. to Varkala. You can book a cab from any of these cities and travel comfortably.

By Flight

There is no airport here. The nearest airport is in Trivandrum, at Thiruvananthapuram International Airport, about 42 km away. From there you can book an airport taxi with Savaari to reach Varkala. 

Best time to visit Varkala

Being a coastal town, Varkala’s weather is the best during winters. So, the best time to travel and explore Varkala is between November and March. You can also visit after the rainy season, between September and November if you want to surf.


The golden sandy shores, lined with the palm-covered red cliff, the endless expanse of the Arabian Sea, and the laid-back vibes make this town a perfect getaway. It is also famous for traditional Kerala Ayurvedic therapies. From the local culture to the exquisite scenery, this coastal town is an ideal destination for every kind of explorer.

With our travel guide, you can plan an all-rounded trip to this exquisite place and explore the attractions.

[Also Read: 30 Places to Visit Before You Turn 30]


Varkala road - beach on one side & the ocean on the other

Varkala is located in the Trivandrum district of Kerala, 42KM from Trivandrum city, 53KM from Kovalam, 24KM from Kollam, 107KM from Alleppey, and 117KM from Kottayam.


Varkala experiences a typical tropical monsoon climate with classic coastal weather patterns. Summers are extremely hot and humid, followed by heavy monsoon rains, and warm but pleasant winters. 


Varkala is often called the Udaya Marathandapuram to commemorate the then Travancore king Udaya Marthanda Varma. The town’s history goes back to the times of the Sangha dynasty and was an active trading port for foreign merchants from other parts of Asia and Europe. It was known as Balita, as mentioned in the ancient Greek scripture – The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea.

[Also Read: Varkala – A lesser known gem of Kerala]


Varkala is geologically significant for millions of years old sedimentary rocks found here. The town is distinguished by red limestone and sand, laterite cliffs, dense groves of coconut palms and casuarina plants along with the coast and paddy fields in the hilly areas. There are also some natural springs on some cliffs which are believed to be mineral-rich and carry medicinal properties.

Interesting Facts

Varkala is the only place in Kerala where cliffs are found right adjacent to the Arabian sea.

Hotels and Resorts

Check out these popular places to stay in and around Varkala – 

Hotel Name Address
Indraprastha Beach Resorts Papanasam Beach Road Papanasam Beach Rd Janardhapuram, Varkala, Kerala 695141
The Lost Hostel Varkala Helipad Road, Varkala, Kerala 695141
Phone: 070124 16343
PointBreak Surf & Stay Aquarium, Pointbreak Surf & Stay 1/290/1, behind Varakala, Varkala, Kerala 695141 Phone: 099626 76294
Elixir Cliff Beach Resort and Spa 21/346 Perumkulam, Varkala, Kerala 695141
Phone: 091885 19780

Witness the beauty of Varkala by booking a car rental to take you to all these places with a local driver. Install the Savaari cab booking app for offers and discounts on outstation rentals.  

Last Updated on April 5, 2024 by V Subhadra

A quick summary
Exploring Unique Coastal Wonders - Things to do in Varkala
Article Name
Exploring Unique Coastal Wonders - Things to do in Varkala
Tucked in the southern part of Kerala, away from the busy touristy destinations of the state, Varkala is a quaint beach town on the Arabian Sea. It is recognized as one of the best beaches in India and ‘one of the top 10 seasonal beaches in the world’.
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About the author

Shabari, a modern-day wanderer, seeks out the hidden stories within the world's serene landscapes and vibrant cultures. She views each person as a living, breathing tale, a unique signature in the grand narrative of existence. With an insatiable curiosity for local customs and traditions, Shabari explores the rich drapery of humanity wherever her journey leads. Her passion is to unravel the secrets of tranquil temples, scale majestic mountains, and share the ancient wisdom they hold. Join Shabari on her quest for solace amidst the world's quiet corners and let her writing transport you to the heart of these captivating adventures.

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