One of the biggest and the most vibrant cultural hubs of India, Chennai is home to countless visit-worthy places, fit for every traveller’s palette. Be it culture, art, heritage, urban wonders, cuisine, nightlife, sacred sites or nature, the city’s spectacles don’t disappoint. Chennai has too many delights to count, including beaches, architectural gems and ancient temples. Let’s take a look at 17 best places to visit in Chennai in a day.
Places To Visit In Chennai For A Day: Beaches
1. Marina Beach
The country’s longest natural urban beach, Marina Beach witnesses upto 30,000 visitors a day. There are statues of celebs such as Anna, Gandhi and MGR. The beach is also home to olive ridley sea turtles. Many public festivals and celebrations are held here.
The sunrise and sunset of Marina are splendid to photograph, Vivekananda House is a famous cultural museum here, as well as Madras Lighthouse Museum. A lot of food stalls selling fish dishes line the beach. Marina Beach Road is full of beautiful buildings constructed during British colonial times.
- Location: Triplicane
2. Elliot’s Beach or Besant Nagar Beach
A less populated and polluted beach compared to Marina. Here you can check out two popular attractions, Karl-Schmidt memorial and Ashtalakshmi on the sand. This is also a popular hangout for young people during evenings.
- Location: Besant Nagar
3. Covelong Beach
Located 40 kilometers away from the city centre, Covelong Beach is famous for its calm atmosphere among palm trees. At Covelong Beach, you can indulge in several activities like swimming and surfing. Another curious place to visit here is Dr. Arun’s Photography and Vintage Camera Museum.
- Location: ECR Road, Kovalam
Places To Visit In Chennai For A Day: Temples and Religious Places
4. Sri Parthasarathy Temple
The oldest temple of Chennai, Sri Parthasarathy Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and is one of the most visited holy sites in the city. A temple reflecting the typical Dravidian style of architecture it is said to be built in the 8th century.
It is located among narrow lanes, so park your vehicle down the main road and walk to the temple. This is one of the rare temples which depicts Lord Krishna in a ‘mustache’, a unique South Indian interpretation of the Hindu god’s image, we’re sure.
- Location: Singarachari Street
5. Kapaleeshwar Temple
Touted as one of the highest rated sites in Chennai to visit, the Kapaleeshwar Temple is indeed a beauty to behold. The gopuram (tower) is so attractive that it overpowers the entire the facade of the temple due to its detailed stucco figures, colourful and magical.
The evening arti which takes place at around 5 pm along with the sun rays hitting the pyramid tower is a has been described as a heavenly experience by pilgrims and visitors.
- Location: Mylapore
6. Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam
A smaller version of the famous one in Tirupati, this temple attracts thousands of devotees on weekly basis. Those who can’t visit Tirumala, can pay their respects here instead. Advance booking is advisable since the temple lines are almost always crowded. Located on a hilly slope, the temple is surrounded in greenery.
- Location: No. 26 Venkatanarayana Road
7. ISKCON Temple
Serene and elegant, the ISKCON temple of Chennai is a must visit in the evening time when it is lit with attractive colourful lights. It is filled with well-disciplined Krishna devotees who quietly meditate and pray here. The ambience is captivating with soulful music playing in the background. A quiet retreat from the hush of the city.
- Location: Injambakkam, OFF ECR Road
8. San Thome Church
A towering white Colonial structure, San Thome Church is significant for Christians. The Roman Catholic Basilica was built by the Portuguese and then restored and rebuilt by the British. It was built over the tomb of St Thomas, one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus. The only two other known churches built over the tombs of apostles are in Vatican City and Spain. Indeed a peaceful and divine religious place with abundant historical significance.
- Location: San Thome High Road
Places To Visit In Chennai For A Day: Historical and Heritage Landmarks
9. Fort St. George
The first British fortress built in India, this megalith structure is home to St. Mary’s Church and Wellesley Museum. You can check out big portraits of important British figures during the Raj as well a good collection of weapons, coins and uniforms. The place pays homage to the British rule and its impact on the history of India.
- Location: St George Street
10. Government Museum
A museum of human history and culture, the building itself is constructed in Indo-Saracenic style. It has six buildings and fifty galleries. The place showcases some really great geological and zoological exhibits, including spectacular bronze statues. A good place to visit with children and family.
Location: Pantheon Road
11. Madras High Court
An exquisite masterpiece of Indo-Saracenic architectural style covered in aesthetic red terracotta stones, the Madras High Court is a heritage building open to tourists on Sundays. It is supposed to be the second largest judicial complex in the world.
- Location: Near Marina Beach
Places To Visit In Chennai For A Day: Nature and Wildlife
12. Crocodile Bank
It was built to promote the study of herpetology. The Madras Crocodile Bank is a fascinating place to observe various types of crocodiles, snakes and turtles. Preferable to not visit during afternoons as the crocs are resting lazily underwater at such hours.
Another attraction here is the snake venom extraction centre. The administration gives detailed information on the maintenance and habits of crocodiles. An informative and highly entertaining visit.
- Location: Vadanemmeli Village
13. Semmozhi Poonga
A bio-park and a botanical garden, Semmozhi Poonga is a great place for botany enthusiasts. It has a good variety of flowers, plants and shrubs, indigenous and exotic. It is a well-maintained and lush park where you can spend time with your family. It has a playground and a small canteen for refreshments.
- Location: Teynampet
14. Arignar Anna Zoological Park
This is a large zoological garden located in Vandalur, also known as Vandalur Zoo. It is located around 35 kilometers from the city centre. It has 2553 species of flora and fauna, along with deer, jackal, hyena, elephants, llama, chimpanzees, lemur and Bengal Tiger. It also has a butterfly house. You can take an elephant safari at the park to enjoy its many sights.
- Location: Vandalur
Places To Visit In Chennai For A Day: Art and Culture
15. Cholamandal Artist Village
Understand and appreciate the local art and craft of the region by visiting this charming place which is an artist commune. It has an art gallery, amphitheatre and a museum which houses a permanent exhibit. You can check out contemporary paintings and abstract sculptures at the village. This is a peaceful, self-sustaining artist residency. Must-visit for art aficionados.
- Location: Injambakkam
16. The Faraway Tree Gallery
A great place to enjoy the contemporary Indian art. The place exhibits interesting paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures. Get an appointment in advance to get a guided informative tour of all the artwork displayed here.
- Location: Nungambakkam
Places To Visit In Chennai For A Day: Market
17. T. Nagar
Our top pick to go street shopping in Chennai, a thriving local bazaar where absolutely everything is available at great prices. Silk sarees are a specialty item here. The Flower Lane is amazing too. The market will be crowded and noisy. Don’t take your own vehicle here. A great place for taking instagrammable photos, souvenir shopping and bargain hunting.
- Location: Ranganathan Street