Varkala Tourism

Varkala Tourism

Rank 17
Ranked 17 of 58
Kerala Tourism Destinations
Destination Rating
5.9 / 7
1171 Ratings & 704 Reviews

Varkala Info

  • State: Kerala
  • Famous for/as: Beach
  • District: Thiruvananthapuram

Varkala is a famous beach destination situated in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala. Varkala is a small town located about 53 km to the north – west of Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) and about 40 km to the south – west of Quilon.  Besides being a popular getaway for backpackers, Varkala is a well known religious destination also. 

History of Varkala

Varkala has a glorious past. During the Sangham era, Varkala had been a major port known by the name ‘Balitha’, the references of which can be found in Ptolemy’s Periplus as well. 

Anjengo Fort, a national heritage monument near Varkala, tells about the bygone era of trade settlement by the Portuguese, the Dutch and finally the English East India Company. Anjengo Fort was built by the Dutch during the17th century to guard the coastline. Anjengo Fort had been the target of foreign powers for several centuries so that they could have a strong foothold in Kerala.  

During the pre – independence days of India, Varkala was a part of the state of Travancore. In 1956, Varkala became a part of the state of Kerala.

Things to do in Varkala

Among the several picturesque beaches of Varkala, the prominent one is the main Varkala Beach, which is also known by the name Papanasanam Beach. The beaches of Varkala have steep cliffs, natural springs, etc. These cliffs, termed as Varkala Formation, that are found adjacent to the Arabian Sea are declared as geological monuments by the Geological Survey of India.

Varkala has witnessed great developments in its infrastructure since the advent of the tourism industry. There has been a boom in the hospitality sector in Varkala in the recent years owing to the popularity of its beaches and various religious spots in the area.

The most significant religious spot in Varkala is Sree Janardana Swami Temple. Sree Janardana Swami Temple or Dakshin Kashi is more than 2000 years old. Other prominent places of attraction in Varkala are Varkala Tunnel, Ponnumthuruthu Island, Sivagiri Mutt, Kaduvayil Thangal Dargah, etc.

With the rise in Varkala tourism, the healthcare industry here has flourished well. Varkala is a famous centre for Ayurvedic treatments. Natural therapies and spa treatments have become very popular here. Backwater cruising at the estuarine stretch between Edava and Kappil is another popular activity in Varkala. There are many Varkala holiday packages that focus on similar treatments. 

Travelling to Varkala

Varkala is well connected by road to various cities. Tourists can choose to reach Varkala by buses, trains, flights and taxis. The nearest airport is located at Trivandrum, 45 km from the destination. The best time to visit Varkala Beach is from November to March.

Accommodation options in Varkala

Apart from budget hotels in Varkala like homestays and a few resorts, tourists also have luxurious options while visiting Varkala. 

Best time to visit Varkala in the next six months

  • May
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  • September
  • October

Varkala Traveller Reviews

Read 34 destination reviews
with average rating of 5.9/7, 1
out of 704 Varkala reviews 34
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  • Tourist
  • Sridhar
  • 3 photos
  • 1 Review
  •  186 readers

"Beauty at its best"

  • 6.0/7
  • Posted 1 month ago
The smallest ever vacation spot that keeps you amazed for days. The stretch of beach is one of the cleanest and the sexiest in the whole country. The food here is very homely that anyone could live with. All restaurants serve almost the same taste surprising. Stay is very comfortable and you can easily find one that fits your pocket. Best spot to unwind and take a dip if you are a beach lover.
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Praveen jain

  • Scout
  • Praveen jain
  • Lives in Delhi
  • 4 Reviews
  •  346 readers

"Best place"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted 3 months ago
One of the best places in south India to spend quality time with friends and family. The main attraction here is the number of foreigners one can see. People from different parts of the world can be seen here having holidays.

For non-vegetarians, there is a variety of food to have. The major attractions being live fish. Nothing much for vegetarians. However, there are few good vegetarian hotels where you can have some tasty food. There is a large collection of Tibetian products like jewellery and all to shop on for ladies.
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Roshna Aasif

  • Tourist
  • Roshna Aasif
  • Lives in Coimbatore
  • 1 Review
  •  2 helpful votes
  •  345 readers

"Awesome beach destination!"

  • 6.5/7
  • Posted 3 months ago
We have no clue how this place would be, but to our surprise it was an awesome place with clean cliff beach and less expensive too. Most of the stay place have sea view restaurants. There is no much places to visit at Varkala except an island which has a temple. Though you don wanna visit the temple the journey to it in the boat is worth a try.
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  • 2 votes

Shivam Doshi

  • Tourist
  • Shivam Doshi
  • 2 photos
  • 9 Reviews
  •  6 helpful votes
  •  2717 readers

"Nothing is like Varkala"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted Feb 2, 2016
Practically speaking, it is a bit difficult to reach here from everywhere in India as it is way below in Kerala too. If going by road or rail, you won't be disappointed as you can experience the beauty of Kerala on your way. On reaching here, you'll be amazed after seeing a place like this exist and yet is not popular enough. The beaches are extremely clean and the water, blue. You feel freshened once you see the beach from the cliff. This brings us to the best and the most unique part of Varkala, the cliff. An amazing point of view where you'll find tons and tons of amazing restaurants, out of which most will serve you beer and cocktails. A very peaceful retreat, where you can play at the beach, relax in a restaurant overlooking the ocean, catch up on a book, try on surfing(with professional tutors), go shopping etc etc. The cliff side is a very narrow street with around 200 colourful cafes and shops where you can buy anything ranging from hippie clothes to sleeping bags, hand made diaries to artifacts. The cliff itself is so beautiful and so unique that you won't find another place like this in India(maybe even the world). The accommodation cost here vary depending upon the season but if you move around here and there and have strong bargaining skills, you can get the accommodation at around 300 per head per night. Apart from the main beaches and the cliff, you can also rent two wheelers and go to nearby places like Kappil beach(extremely tranquil beach and the road leading to it is also amazing), Anchutenga fort and an elephant reserve where you can go on an elephant safari.

Also the Varkala boasts an extremely huge portion of international crowd which ensures that you get a huge variety of tasty cuisines in the tons of cafe's on the cliff. The mornings of Varkala are full of people doing yoga on the beaches and surfing in the ocean. Get an ayurvedic massage and experience the peace that Varkala has to offer. A must visit for travellers who enjoy the beach lifestyle or people just wanting a break from their monotonous lifestyles. Cheers, enjoy and thank me later.
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  • 1 vote

Ambuj Kumar

  • Tourist
  • Ambuj Kumar
  • Lives in Muzaffarpur
  • 1 photo
  • 1 Review
  •  403 readers

"Amazing place!"

  • 5.0/7
  • Posted Jan 29, 2016
It is an amazing place to be there. The place is so much good and it is quite relaxing we cant be bore there. So much to see. Lots of places to visit. Some temples are also there and the cliffs are amazing which provide a nice see view over there. Must go!
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Saurabh Shukla

  • Scout
  • Saurabh Shukla
  • Lives in New Delhi
  • 1 Review
  •  2 helpful votes
  •  619 readers

"Beaches with a difference - Varkala"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted Dec 28, 2015
If you are looking for a perfect holiday destination that invloves a beach, then I strongly recommend a visit to Varkala. If you are a beach lover, chances are, you've already been to Goa, but if you are looking for a something natural and serene yet

Breathtaking and exciting, then this is the place to be. A haven for nature lovers, it provides an all-in-one experience. And here is how. One of the striking features which makes Varkala stand out from the rest of the beaches in the country is its rocky beaches strewn with abundant vegetation, which provides a perfect view of seawater mingling with the flora. It is not entirely rocky which means you can enjoy the view through the waters as well as while sunbathing. And what a better place to calm your nerves, there are multiple naturally occurring water spouts and spas rich in minerals across the beach which will reinvigorate your senses and take you into a whole new world. You will find people from all over the world flocking this place, and they just loved it. To add to the adventure side of things, there are facilities for water skiing, wake boarding, knee boarding, kayaking etc. Which can be opted for reasonable rates. All along the beach there are innumerable hotels, restaurants, spas and eateries. Hotels available are both cheap and expensive, so money is not an issue if you want to hang around for a couple of days. Due to its proximity to sea, restaurants here provide a variety of indigenous and exotic range of seafood, which will bring new experience to your taste buds. The best time to visit is during the months of October and December, when the weather is cool even during the daytime. For religious and spiritual visitors, Sree Janardan Swami Temple and Sivagiri Mutt are located nearby though I didn't visit them. All in all, this was a memorable experience for me, and I am totally convinced one would want to visit this place again and again if they give it a try.
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  • 2 votes

Vishal Bulbule

  • Scout
  • Vishal Bulbule
  • Lives in Pune
  • 3 Reviews
  •  883 readers

"Varkala, an average destination"

  • 4.0/7
  • Posted Dec 13, 2015
Arkala is an average place to visit, with only a beach to see, no other entertainment. Climate is hot and humid and beach is far from central Varkala town, transportation is costly. Restaurants available on north cliff are very very costly as per Indian standards and food is bad, but the ambience is good. Nothing much to do over there, you will get bored in couple of days.

One good thing is you can purchase fresh fish on Varkala beach at 7:00 am very cheap and prepare in your own kitchen. Use sunscreen while going to beach to avoid sunburns. Surf boats and umbrella available on beach. Alcohol is available just opposite Amantha restaurant at north cliff. The auto's charge you 100 Rs from railway station to north cliff.

We stayed in mummy bamboo house near the cliff, worst hotel with worst service by Rani, the owner of Mummy Bamboo House. Since restaurants are costly, Rani takes advantage of this situation and overcharges customers with pathetic food which is served cold. There is no room service at all, no laundry, no TV. My room was dirty for 3 days with no change of bedsheets, no bathroom cleaning. You have to do self service. Many other guest houses are nearby the cliff, giving much better service at a lower price. Others also have attached kitchens if you want to cook your own. Of course your own cooked food will be better than Rani's food at mummy bamboo house.

Overall Varkala is an average place, nothing great.
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Kaarthik Sr

  • Expert
  • Kaarthik Sr
  • Lives in Bangalore
  • 9 photos
  • 29 Reviews
  •  106 helpful votes
  •  27772 readers

"Super place for a slow vacation"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted Nov 26, 2015
Went in November for 3 days with friends. Stayed close to the cliff, which was a good decision. Best way to get to varkala is either by train or by cab from trivandrum. Lot of places which serve beer on the beach. Few places to visit are Kappil beach and anchuthengu. Anchuthengu is a fort, which is very secluded. Lot of places which have yoga in the morning. Expect to pay rs200 for a 90 min session.
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  • 3 votes

Tarun Sharma

  • Explorer
  • Tarun Sharma
  • Flashpacker
  • Lives in Bangalore
  • 15 photos
  • 9 Reviews
  •  1 helpful vote
  •  5721 readers

"Best beach with the view from cliffs"

  • 7.0/7
  • Posted Nov 8, 2015
I have been to Varkala twice now. Both the trips have been in same year. I have driven about 700 odd kms one side to reach this beautiful place. I think this itself speaks volumes about the natural beauty of the place and warm hospitality of people from varkala. Varkala is I believe only Indian geological site which has cliffs. These cliffs are about 3-4 kms long and can also be seen from kappil beach which is another gem in varkala town. I have been to Goa many times but I prefer Kerala beaches and of those varkala is my favourite. For people who love surfing, October November is a good time with safer seas. When it comes to food, I like eating at the shacks on the cliffs. Temple cafe is my favourite. They are the best coffee shop there. But if you are a sea food lover and want to did into a fresh catch of the day, pick some other shack in the vicinity. There are many. In your travel kit, do not forget to have your swim trunks, SPF 50 lotion, umbrella and mosquito repellent.
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Nish Shah

  • Connoisseur
  • Nish Shah
  • Lives in Bangalore
  • 16 Reviews
  •  145 helpful votes
  •  23081 readers

"The sea is a lot calm and cleaner"

  • 6.0/7
  • Posted Oct 12, 2015
Varkala, a name not known or heard of to most public. It is one of the understated beaches, which is good if you ask me, it's a lot cleaner, fresher, less crowded. It is one of those beautiful beaches which also makes it to the top 10 best beaches of India. The sea is a lot calm and cleaner, more bluish than what most other beaches look like.

It's a mini Goa with shacks on the beach. You have quite a few activities too. You can as well go atop the hill and view the beach from above. It's a spectacular horizon to watch from atop the hill. A must go for beach lovers and someone looking for a good time, be it a solo traveller or couples seeking to rejoice and cherish. For stays on the beach side, one needs to do a prior booking for most of the time it's unavailable.
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Santhosh Rohan Dilip Mr vimal Santhosh, Rohan, Dilip and 1142 other people have been to Varkala.
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