Laze on the beach all day, visit an art museum or one of the country’s most well-maintained zoos, check out a 16th century palace, these are just some of the things you could do in Thiruvananthapuram. A major hub for tourism in the South of India, it’s got scores of temples, pristine beaches, rich architecture and a buzzing nightlife, thanks to the major IT community that has taken shape over the past decade. We’ve chalked out the best of what Thiruvananthapuram has to offer, from the Napier Museum to the Neyyar Dam.
Quick Facts about Thiruvananthapuram
- Best time to visit: Throughout the year, but inflow is at its peak during the cooler months of December to February.
- Travel recommendation: At least a three-day visit to check out its most famous attractions, but you could even spend a couple of weeks here.
- Nearest Railway station: Trivandrum Central Railway station
- Nearest Airport: Trivandrum International Airport
- Public Transport: Relatively easy, with taxis, private and public transport, as well as a high concentration of sights to see in the area keep it especially interesting on foot.
Best Cultural Places to Visit In Thiruvananthapuram
1. Napier Museum
Built-in 1880 and considered an architectural masterpiece, Napier Museum is home to many ancient ornaments and bronze idols, among other historic artefacts. Napier Museum of Natural History and Art is located approximately 4 kilometres from Thiruvananthapuram Central. The Sree Chitra Art Gallery is also contained within its premises.
- Address: Palayam, Thiruvananthapuram
- Timings: Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun & Tue 10 am to 4.30pm, Wed 1 pm to 5 pm, Monday closed.
- Best for: History buffs
- Entry Fee: Rs. 5 to Rs. 20
2. Puthe Maliga Palace Museum
The beautiful paintings and valuable collections of the royal family of Travancore are just some of the ancient art to see at The Puthe Maliga Palace Museum. The awe-inspiring structure, once home to the royals of Travancore, is a sight to behold in itself.
The museum, located in the heart of the city and very close to Padmanabhaswamy Temple (another must-see), is also a hub for cultural events and hosts the Classical Musical Festival in January and February every year with artists from all over the country.
- Address: Pazhavangadi, Thiruvananthapuram
- Timings: Tue to Sun 9 am-1 pm and 3 pm-5 pm
- Best for: A glimpse of royal life
- Entry Fee: Rs. 15 to Rs. 50
3. Kerala Science and Technology Museum
Both children and adults can enjoy more than 300 items on exhibit pertaining to every discipline of science in over 10 galleries. The museum’s planetarium has an 11-inch fully-automatic telescope and offers night sky observation on certain days.
There’s also a special gallery dedicated to astronomy. The dome-shaped planetarium has daily shows and a special workshop for children is held every summer. You can visit it right after the nearby Napier Museum.
- Address: PMG Junction, Thiruvananthapuram
- Timings: 10 am to 5 pm (Closed on Monday)
- Best for: Fun for the whole family
- Entry Fee: Rs10 –Rs15
4. Anjengo Fort
Located at Varkala (which, by the way, has an amazing beach), about an hour from the Trivandrum main city, this 17th-century fort is a National Heritage monument. At the entrance is a cemetery, the final resting grounds for the original inhabitants of the fort, while the stunning view of the lighthouse and beach from the top makes for a great photo opportunity as it doesn’t get too much of a crowd.
- Address: Varkala, Kerala
- Timings: 10 am to 5 pm every day
- Best for: Photo op
Best Religious Places to Visit In Thiruvananthapuram
5. Sivagiri Mutt
The pilgrimage town of Varkala, Sivagiri is the final resting place of Sree Narayana Guru who also attained enlightenment at the Sivagiri Mutt. Spanning 200 acres around the temple, the tranquil surroundings of this over 100-year-old structure will not only take your breath away but also offers a calming spiritual experience.
Catch the birthday celebrations of the Guru marked with colourful processions, community feasts and group weddings all during August and September.
- Address: Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram
- Timings: 5:30 am to 12 noon; 4:30 pm to 6 pm daily
6. Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
Probably the most iconic attraction in Thiruvananthapuram, the Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is synonymous with the city itself. The amazing architecture and its proximity to the main city centre make it a sight you cannot miss.
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, only Hindus may enter, with the correct attire (appropriate clothes are available for hire outside the temple). Just five minutes away from the central station, there is also much to see around for any visitor.
- Address: Margi, Near Fort, Trivandrum
- Timings: 10 am to 6 pm (varies with seasons)
7. Madavoorpara Siva Temple
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Madavoorpara Temple is unique. The cave temple, merely 17 km from Thiruvananthapuram’s main city, is covered in beautiful and ancient carvings of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi.
Access is from two sides where you can choose to either walk up a spectacularly scenic and ancient path carved by priests of the temple or opt for a car ride up that eliminates climbing (recommended for the elderly and small children).
- Address: Attukal, Manacaud, Thiruvananthapuram
- Timings: 9 am to 8 pm
- Entry Fee: Rs4 to Rs6
Best Beaches to Visit In Thiruvananthapuram
8. Kovalam Beach
The 17km coastline that has been naturally divided into 3 amazing beaches is a paradise on earth. Lighthouse, Hawah and Samudra beches are all pristine with shallow safe waters ideal for swimming and having fun.
Great food with an abundance of restaurants serving local and other cuisines, water sports, and host to many festivals, Kovalam makes for a great day at the beach.
- Address: Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram
- Timings: Mornings are usually less crowded.
- Best for: Water sports (but remember to bargain)
9. Shanghumugham Beach
Want to sample the local street cuisine? Head to Shanghumugham Beach. Close to the airport and bustling with activity every evening, the Shanghumugham beach is a must visit while in Thiruvananthapuram. Well known for its 35-meter mermaid statue and starfish restaurant, the proximity of the beach to many spas, restaurants and clubs makes for a full day of excitement!
- Address: Shanghumugham beach, Thiruvananthapuram
- Timings: Always open
- Best for: Shallow waters
10. Puthenthope Beach
The coastal fishing village of Puthenhope has exactly what you need to just relax and take it slow. With its strong Portuguese influences in everything from the cuisine to the heritage buildings, there are a lot of ways to relax in this sleepy and relatively quiet town. But don’t be fooled, the area is steeped in history with quite a few monuments worth visiting such as the St. Ignatius Church.
- Address: Puthenthope, Thiruvananthapuram
- Timings: All day but enjoy the sunset at the beach.
- Best for: Portuguese food
Other Places To Check Out When You Visit Thiruvananthapuram
11. Chalai Bazaar
Opened officially sometime in the late 18th century, there is nothing you cannot find at Chalai Market. This two-kilometre-long road that is home to one of the oldest markets in Trivandrum sells everything from groceries to gold and has plenty of little restaurants and street vendors. If you are on the look for gifts and souvenir this place is a must.
- Address: Chala, Thiruvananthapuram
- Timings: 9 am to 8 pm except for Sunday
- Best for: Buying souvenirs for family and friends back home
12. Neyyar Dam
About 30 kilometres from Thiruvananthapuram, at the foot of the western ghats, lies Neyyar dam. Access is relatively easy with a regular bus service to this popular sight.
Apart from boating, there are many other activities such as safaris and elephant riding at the wildlife sanctuary nearby. Visitors can even hire a speedboat to take them further to see the surrounding forests.
- Address: Kallikkad Panchayath, Thiruvananthapuram
- Timings: Noon to midnight
- Best for: Spotting wildlife
- Entry Fee: Rs. 125 to Rs. 250; speedboat charges Rs. 250 to Rs. 400
13. Kerala Ayurvedic Massage
Renowned the world over, Kerala Ayurvedic Massage can be experienced at many hotels, resorts and spas all over Thiruvananthapuram. However, if you want the real deal, head to Kovalam.
This area has many of these spas situated on the beach and even specialized centres dedicated to very traditional and therapeutic variations of this science such as the Amritha Ayurvedic Centre and Vydyashala Ayurveda.
- Address: Kovalam, Thiruvananthapuram
- Timings: By appointment
- Best for: A day off from a hectic holiday
Boasting some of the finest beaches along the 17 kilometre Kovalam coastline and rich in culture and heritage with dozens of temples and museums, teeming with life and an abundance of exciting and exotic cuisines Thiruvananthapuram has enough to offer any visitor an experience of a lifetime. Let us know how your trip went in the comments section! And don’t forget to share.