Just mention the name “Alleppey” and images of vast meandering backwaters, swaying coconut trees, and cosy houseboats come to mind. Lovingly called the ‘Venice of the East’, Alleppey will mesmerise you with its friendly locals, delicious food, and lush environs. Take a chance to float along the coconut lined backwaters and head west to discover this city’s enchanting shoreline. If you’re planning a visit to this city, there’s plenty to do to keep you occupied. Every one of these activities will show you the city in a new light and will make you feel refreshed once you’re done.
20 Things to do in Alleppey on your next Vacation
1. Embark Upon A Boat Cruise
The backwaters of Alleppey are one of the biggest attractions in India and no trip to the city is complete with a tour of these beautiful canals. One of the best things to do in Alleppey is to take a boat cruise along the tranquil waters. You can choose to take a tour in a canoe, a motorboat or a shikkara boat abd get the chance to visit some quaint villages along the banks of the canals. This is also a great way to interact with the locals. A few cruises also organise parties on board, so that the guests can have an absolutely enjoyable time.
2. Go Kayaking
If you love adventure and want an up close and personal look at the backwaters, one of the top things to do in Alleppey would be kayaking. You can choose to paddle along in single or double kayaks and enjoy an entire guided tour through the narrow canals. If you’re interested in this exciting activity, remember to book a professional kayaking operator in advance, as this is a pretty popular choice in Alleppey.
You can choose packages, depending on how extensive you would like the tour to be. A typical session takes around 6 hours, but you can also arrange for ten-hour trips or even multiple days to different villages.
3. Tour in a Houseboat during the Night
The backwaters are a stunning feature of Alleppey, but have you ever wanted to experience them at night? Staying overnight on a houseboat is an experience you can’t miss out on. Imagine being gently rocked to sleep by the currents, while you look up at the starry sky with the sounds of chirping crickets in the distance. Clearly, a night on a houseboat is an excellent way to feel as one with nature.
You can also enjoy a traditional meal on board. Remember to book a night on board in advance, so you can have the best experience. Also, make sure you carry mosquito repellant with you.
4. Take A Night Walk
Several resorts and hotels in Alleppey organise walks around the town after dark and they’re nothing short of good fun. The backwaters and surrounding greenery have a wonderful appeal to them once the sun goes down and you can night walks give you the chance to experience that. After the walk, there’s normally a bonfire lit, where you can enjoy a night of storytelling and singing.
5. Enjoy the Sunset at Marari Beach
Set in the peaceful fishing village of Mararikulam, the Marari beach is one of the most picturesque places to visit in Alleppey. With white sand, coconut palms swaying in the ocean breeze, and smaller tourist crowds, this is the best place to watch a sunset. A number of water activities like surfing, jet skiing, parasailing, and deep sea fishing are offered here. There are also a number of tourist attractions like the Thumpolly Beach, Mararikulam Shiva Temple, and Aroor located close to the beach.
6. Rejuvenate With An Ayurvedic Massage
Kerala is known for its ayurvedic therapy and Alleppey is home to numerous masseurs trained in the art of Ayurvedic massages. Opting for an Ayurvedic massage is easily one of the top things to do in Alleppey while on vacation. You can choose a relaxing, detoxification session and you will come out feeling like a new person.
While you ayurvedic massages are a great stress-busting activity any time of the year, they feel particularly spectacular during the monsoon and winter seasons. Experts use medicinal plants sourced from nearby hills and forests for these massages. The process is totally natural, comfortable and effective. Many resorts and hotels in Alleppey have spas with trained masseurs, so you don’t have to take the trouble of booking them yourself.
7. Night Aarti Of Lord Krishna
One of the most popular and ancient temples in Alappuzha is the Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna. The temple is located a few kilometres away from the heart of the city and is famous for its delicious paal payasam, which is handed out to devotees who visit the temple. One of the most stunning traditions to watch is the night aarti, which begins at around 6:30 in the evening.
8. Learn The Basics of Kalaripayattu
If you’ve never heard of Kalaripayattu before, it is an ancient martial arts technique that originated in Kerala. This technique is one of the oldest in the world and quite captivating to watch. There are numerous little training centres that put on shows displaying this art. The best part is you can also learn the basics of this ancient art at these centres. You can also enjoy a Kalaripayat treatment, which is a rejuvenating whole-body massage given to warriors.
9. Visit the Krishnapuram Palace
If you’re a history enthusiast, you must absolutely visit the Krishnapuram Palace, one of the most important architectural structures in the city. The palace was built in the 18th Century by the king of the Travancore Kingdom historical palace has several murals that depict the Indian mythology like Mahabharata. If you are an art and history lover, then you will find one excuse or the other to visit this very interesting place.
10. Experience The Famous Snake Boat Festival
The snake boat festival or Nehru Trophy Boat Race is one of the most iconic traditions in Alleppey. This popular event takes place on the second Saturday of August every year around Onam and is held at the Punnamada Lake. You can go watch this stunning festival for yourself, though you must know that the festival gets quite crowded. If you travel here in June, you can watch the participants of the race practice for the big day.
11. Bird Watching On The Backwaters
Located a little over 30 km from the heart of the city, the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is one of the best getaways for people who love avian creatures. Set in Kerala’s beautiful backwaters, this sanctuary is home to local birds like cuckoos, owls, egrets, herons, cormorant, moorhen, brahminy kite, and darters. A number of migratory birds, such as the Siberian crane, flycatcher, teal, and larks, make their way to this sanctuary during migratory seasons.
12. Experience The Charms Of Rural Life At Kuttanad
Popularly called the Rice Bowl of Kerala, Kuttanad is an idyllic village located 21 km from the heart of Alleppey. This popular village is riddled with paddy fields, rivers, canals and greenery, making it one of the most picturesque locations in the state. Another interesting feature of the fields here is they are 4 to 10 feet below sea level, making it the lowest agricultural point in the country. You can take a tour of the village and discover its unique agriculture system, go canoeing along the backwaters, enjoy a traditional Keralite meal on a banana leaf, and watch the art of Toddy tapping.
13. Elephant Training Camp
Located about 10km north of Alleppey, lies an unspoiled village, Kattoor that keeps a pleasant secret. This village is home to an elephant training camp near the Punnamadda Lake. Visit this lovely camp and get the chance to feed, bathe and even play with these gentle giants. You can also get the chance to ride one of them. One thing to keep in mind though is that the mahouts (trainers) who run the camp only speak Malayalam, so it’s wise to take a local along with you to the camp.
14. Enjoy A Stunning View From The Lighthouse
Built in 1862, the Alappuzha Lighthouse is one of the oldest and most spectacular lighthouses on the South Western coast of India. This red and white striped icon is only about 300 m away from the Alleppey Beach and is a major tourist attraction in the area. The lighthouse is open from 3:00 p.m. to around 16:30 p.m., the perfect time to watch the sun sink into the Arabian Sea.
The lighthouse also has a museum that houses the original oil lamp. You can also climb to the top of the lighthouse for an incredible view of the city.
15. Shop At The Floating Triveni
One of the most unique experiences you can have in Alappuzha is shopping at Triveni Supermarket. The most interesting feature of this market is that it floats in the backwaters of Alleppey. The brainchild of the Kerala State Cooperative Consumers Federation Limited, these red and white checked boats sell everything from rice and vegetables to refrigerators and televisions, all at subsidised prices. Today, there are over 230 outlets in Alappuzha district that are open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
16. Visit The Coir Museum
Coir crafts and Kerala go hand in hand and this is especially true in Alleppey. The International Coir Museum is an excellent place to visit to understand how creative Kerala can get with dried coconut husks. The museum displays all sorts of interesting pieces, including bags, ornaments, birds, animals, a model of the Taj Mahal, wall art and more. You’ll also get to see how the coir is processed and the creative procedure for certain pieces in the museum. The museum also has a souvenir shop, where you can shop for coir mats, handicrafts, knick-knacks and more.
17. Get High On Toddy
No trip to Kerala is complete without a glass of acidic toddy and spicy crab roast. This alcoholic drink is made in from fermented palm tree sap and can really give you a kick. One of the best shops to visit is Kaisalam Toddy Shop located in a village called Chambakkulam in Alappuzha district. This little shop is a popular stop for local farmers and tourists alike for its strong toddy and fresh seafood. A few dishes to try here are the koondal roast (squid roast), chilly beef, fish tala curry, and duck curry.
18. Go Fishing
Alappuzha’s backwaters are teeming with fish, prawns, crabs, clams and oysters, making it the best place to go fishing. You can take a ride on a houseboat and learn how to fish with rods and nets. Just give it a shot and any fish you catch will be prepared into a delicious meal by the cooks on board the houseboat. It certainly is one of the most fun activities to do while in Alleppey.
19. Watch A Kathakali Performance
Kathakali is a stunning, 300-year old dance form that boasts of certain facets of pantomime, ballet and opera that is put together to enact mythological stories and legends. This vivid dance is performed by men and women with brightly painted faces, extravagant costumes and loud expressions. A number of tiny shows are put up around the city, where you can enjoy live performances. The performances will go on for an hour at least, but there’ll never be a dull moment.
20. Savour The Freshest Seafood
Alleppey is home to some of the most delicious food in Kerala and its seafood stands out the most here. There are a number of shacks on the beach or little joints around the backwaters serving authentic seafood at surprisingly reasonable prices. A few dishes you must try are Fish Molly, Chicken Roast, Puttu and Kadala, Chilli beef, Fish curry meals, Crab Roast, Duck curry, and Ela Ada. You can always end your meal by washing it all down with some strong toddy.
A small and quiet town, Alleppey offers the perfect opportunity to relax and rejuvenate in exotic surroundings. Everything from the rich culture, tranquil backwaters, and delicious food will keep you coming back for more. Have you been to this exciting city yet? If you have, feel free to tell us your story!