Architectural wonders, beautiful beaches, tropical climate and lush green backwaters, no wonder South India is one of India’s most popular regions. You will find humble people with love for their roots and a relaxed vibe. The Portuguese influence you still see in many of the historical buildings and in their food. Beautiful trimmed tea plantations that stretch over hills as far as the eye can see. The food in the South of India is another level; crispy dosa’s (large filled pancakes), and the typical thali (like Indian style tapas). I have to admit that South India is the region that has most similarities with other countries in Asia so if you are looking for something completely different then go to Rajasthan or the Himalayas. I have gathered my 16 best places to visit in South India in this blog with a focus on southwest India (+ a suggestion how long to stay).
Mumbai (+/- 2 days)
1. Eat the Best Pav Baji of Mumbai
Mumbai is well known for its Pav Baji. It’s a mixture of vegetables, a generous dose of fresh tomatoes, some butter, optional toppings of cheese and dry-fruits and fresh fruits, consumed with warm bread. There is one specific spot opposite the CST train station which is mainly run by women. The pav bhaji is beyond awesome! It has its own charm and it is a place we can really recommend when you want to try this delicious snack!
State Highway 39, Chhipitola, Rakabganj, Agra, Uttar Pradesh 282001, India
2. See the Graffiti art on Victoria & Chapel road
Just off bustling Hill Road in Bandra, there are a couple of narrow lanes with more than 100-year-old buildings. One of these lanes is Victoria Street and Chapel road, both decorated with one of the oldest graffiti and street art of Mumbai. As the paint on the walls already became to fall off, 4 artists decided to breathe some new life into these walls.
Near Lilavati Hospital & Research Centre, Bandra Reclamation, Bandra West, Mumbai Visit the Wall Project to read more about the art
3. Evening stroll at Marine drive
Marine Drive is Mumbai’s most popular place for a walk, especially around sunset. People gather to soak up the ocean view, go for a run, meet friends or just enjoy a stroll. It is a good 3km walk from Nariman Point to Malabar Hill.
4. An over the top breakfast at the Taj hotel
Taj hotel is one of the most luxurious hotels in India. I was lucky that I was invited to stay two nights at this amazing hotel. And I got really excited when I saw their mouth-watering breakfast: from continental (delicious breads, eggs, pastries) to a broad range of Indian delicacies. It was all too good.
5. Enjoy delicious South Indian food
Their biggest draw is the South Indian food. It is always packed with people, but the service is very fast and the food cheap. Our favorites are the masala dosa’s, a thin and crispy kind of pancake filled with mashed potatoes. Also try their uttapam, a thicker pancake with different toppings.
Ram Ashraya – Bhandarkar Rd, Matunga (CR), Matunga, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
6. Visit Mumbai’s largest slum
Dharavi is one of India’s largest slums. It is not only one of the largest, but it is the home of many small-scale industries in Mumbai. Dharavi’s industries have an annual turnover of approximately US$ 665 million. Walking through Dharavis small alleys will give you a real sense of this community and will provide you with a unique, local experience. You can go by yourself, but better is to do a tour that at the same time support the local people as well.
7. Buy some Indian crafted items
Contemporary Arts & Crafts (CAC) in Fort is is an amazing place to get Indian crafted items. From colorful quilts, jewelry, kitchenware, scarves, and many more.
8. Go antique hunting at Chor Bazaar
If you are looking for some Indian antique then Chor Bazaar is the place to go. Especially on Mutton Street you will find great solid teak antiques, lighting and art facts.
Mutton St, Masjid Bunder Railway Station. Open daily from 9 am to 7 pm.
9. See the traditional Koli Fishermen at Sassoon Docks
Sassoon Docks is the main fishing port of the city. Although the smell would make you turn around immediately it is one of the only places in the city where you can see the Koli fisherman, the most ancient and original inhabitants of Mumbai, at work. It is one of the most photogenic spots to capture the fishermen at work.
10. Enjoy Gujarati food at Shree Thaker Bhojanalay
Wow, this food is simply mind blowing! It is one of the oldest and best restaurants for Indian food and most famous for its Gujarati food. The variety of dishes is incredible, the food is delicious and you can get as much as you want for a very small price. This should definitely be on your restaurant bucket list when you are in India.
Shree Thaker Bhojanalay – 31, Thaker Bhojanalaya Building, Dadiseth Agyari Marg | Marine Lines, Mumbai
Goa (+/- 6 days)
10. Stroll around Panjim’s narrow lanes
If you are interested in the Portuguese history and like the old buildings then you definitely must visit the narrow lanes of Panjim. It still has beautiful Portuguese villas painted in bright colors and streets that look like the old days. Some of the old houses are now transformed into art galleries where you can relax and sip on a cup of coffee.
Governador Texeira da Silva Road, Altinho, Panjim, Goa 403001, India
11. Relax at Goa’s beaches
We like Palolem and its sister Patnem more than the beaches in the north of Goa. These beaches are curved and tinier. Don’t expect to be alone; unfortunately that’s not the case anymore. Palolem still remains a beautiful beach where you can find a large choice of restaurants and sleeping options. Patnem beach is smaller and less crowded. It has relaxed beach shacks and lively surf. If you want to chill at more remote beaches then enjoy the unspoilt sands of Galgibaga, Kakolem, Cabo de Rama, Talpona or Cola
12. Stay at a 200-year colonial homestay
Stay with Beni and Ganesh in their 200-year colonial homestay. It is set amongst verdant fields and wooded areas, with the front edge of the property overlooking a seasonal lake; the house is styled along colonial Portuguese lines. Spacious rooms, open balconies and a splendid view.
Kerala (+/- 6 days)
Varkala. It’s like Goa, but better. It’s not about partying and smoking, it’s a more chilled-out, healthy spot. ut perhaps the nicest restaurant on the strip, and one I kept returning to, was Clafouti. When you find something you like, stick with it, I figured, and I certainly enjoyed the prawn masala, garlic naan and tandoori red snapper (which we selected from the display)
13. Cruise the Backwaters
A cruise through the backwaters past idyllic traditional villages is a real highlight and typically for this part of the world. It is a very special experience to rent a houseboat for 1 night and cruise through the small channels lined with coconut palms. There are many local people in Alleppey or Kollam that offer a houseboat. Although it’s not cheap it is worth every rupee.
14. Visit the tea plantations of Munnar
Munnar is the center of one of the highest tea-growing plantations in the world. It provides dramatic mountain sceneries, manicured tea estates as far as the eye can see and crispy mountain air. While walking among the tea plantations you often meet the tea pickers who will greet you with a friendly smile and even try to make a chat. Below a suggested homestay of a very friendly family.
The Shade Homestay, Chithirapuram, Powerhouse – Kunjithanny Road, 685565 Munnar, India
15. Stay at a coffee farm in Kumily
This coffee farm is located in the middle of the forest, plantations and surrounded by cardamom hills and close to Periyar National Park where you can see elephants and tigers. You can help Molamma and Bruno with plucking coffee and learn to cook Indian food.
When to go
The peak season to visit South India is from December to February. The temperature is not too hot and least humid. Temperatures range between 22-30 degrees.
May to October is the monsoon season, but it is said that for Ayurveda it is most effective during this period.