The capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, is perhaps one of the most beautiful cities to visit down south and though it has so much to offer the resident as well as the visitor, it can get crowded.
Not to worry as there are many places surrounding Chennai that are equally alluring and easily accessible offering a whole lot of adventure, exploration, sightseeing and food.
So if you are in Chennai and looking for some fun and exciting destinations nearby take a look at our list of 15-weekend getaways from Chennai.
Weekend Getaways from Chennai (Under 100 kilometres)
Less than two hours north of Chennai by road will lead you to Pulicat, a sleepy little seaside town in the Thiruvallur district. Best known for its saltwater lagoon, the second largest in the country, the place is also a haven for weekenders looking for some adventure in the local wildlife sanctuary or even those out for a romantic weekend or day trip with family and friends.
Distance from Chennai: 54 kilometres by road
Places to visit in Pulicat: Pulicat Lake, Pulicat Sanctuary, Dutch Fort, Dutch Cemetery
Approximately 60 kilometres from Chennai, Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram, is an ancient town steeped in ancient history, culture and architecture.
Having seen much glory during the Pallava Dynasty of the 7th century, the entire town is a museum of historic temples, monolithic statues and ancient artefacts. The under two-hour drive along the East Coast Road is a great route too with much to see along the way.
Distance from Chennai: 57 kilometres via East Coast Road
Best places to visit in Mahabalipuram: Shore Temple, Pancha Ratha, Varaha, Mahishasurmardini and Krishna Cave Temples
A great place to visit to just get away and also a major trekking destination for adventurers from around India, Nagalapuram is located in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh no more than two hours by road from Chennai.
Trek through lush green hills, take a dip in one of the dozens of waterfalls and natural pools, or camp overnight atop the hills – these are just some of the adventure activities available. Or relax a bit with sightseeing, pilgrimage and, of course, some excellent and spicy Andhra food.
Distance from Chennai: 70 kilometres via the NH16
Places to visit in Nagalapuram: Sri Veda Narayana Perumal Temple, Nagalapuram Falls
Merely two hours from Chennai via the NH48, Kanchipuram is known as the City Of A Thousand Temples for good reason. Dense in religious architecture and culture, the city has been a hub for pilgrims since the Pallava Dynasty.
Thousands of temples, shrines, statues and structures make this a must visit location if you happen to be in Chennai; also hundreds of street food vendors around every corner, serving locals and visitors authentic south Indian cuisine, makes for some fun city exploration.
Distance from Chennai: 74 kilometres via NH48
Places to visit in Kanchipuram: Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple, Ekambareshwar Temple, Vaikuntha Perumal Temple, Kanchi Kudil Museum, Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary
A city of great religious significance, Thiruthani is approximately 80 kilometres from Chennai. Abundant in ancient religious sites to visit like the 2000-year-old Thiruthani Murugan Temple, as well as natural beauty all around.
The area is a well known and visited destination for devotees of Murugan as well as tourists from neighbouring states looking to spend a couple of days away from the city madness.
Distance from Chennai: 90 kilometres via the NH716 and Salai Street
Places to visit in Thiruthani: Thiruthani Murugan Temple, Thiruthani Hill, Shantipuri Shrine
Weekend Trips from Chennai (Under 200 kilometres away)
Considered one of the holiest cities in the South, Tirupati is known to not only attract thousands of pilgrims but also tourists wanting to discover the culture, heritage and amazing ancient temples in this city.
Home to some of the world’s wealthiest religious institutions, Tirupati is also full of fun things to entertain visitors; nature parks, waterfalls, camping, trekking and great food all make for a perfect weekend away.
Distance from Chennai: 133 kilometres via the NH716
Places to visit in Tirupati: Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple, Swami Pushkarini Lake, Akash Ganga Waterfalls, Sri Venkateswara Dhyana Vignan Mandiram, Govindaraja Swamy Temple, Deer Park, TTD Gardens, Sri Venkateshwara National Park, Talakona Waterfalls
One of the most cultural and historic cities in the South of India, Vellore is an amalgamation of the numerous dynasties that have ruled it over the centuries. Influences from these erstwhile rulers such as the Pandyas, Cholas, Vijayanagara kings, Carnatic Nawabs and British Raj can be seen all over the city in its rich architecture, culture and cuisine. About 3 hours west of Chennai, Vellore is a must visit weekend destination for anyone nearby.
Distance from Chennai: 139 kilometres via the NH48
Places to visit in Vellore: Palar River, Vellore Fort, Jalakanteshwara Temple, St. John’s Church, Golden Temple
Less than a four-hour drive from Chennai, Chandragiri is often overlooked as a weekend destination due to its proximity to Tirupati. However, if you happen to be in the Tamil Nadu capital, then be sure to spend a weekend here as Chandragiri too has a lot to offer; forts, palaces, lakes, waterfalls, museums and good food all make this as exciting and interesting a place as any down south.
Distance from Chennai: 145 kilometres via the NH716
Places to visit in Chandragiri: Chandragiri Fort, Chandragiri Lake, Raja Mahal Palace and Museum, Rani Mahal
Aptly named the French Riviera of the East, Pondicherry is a must-visit destination for anyone visiting the South. If you happen to be in Chennai then there is no excuse as getting there by road is a mere 3 and a half hours drive.
With French influences in everything from the architecture, language and cuisine, Pondicherry is truly an extraordinary experience. Adventure sport and exploration are some great activities you can participate in or just enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and delicious food, both French as well as typically South Indian in both respects.
Distance from Chennai: 169 kilometres via the NH32
Places to visit in Pondicherry: Auroville, Ousteri Lake, Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Seaside Promenade
Abundant with natural beauty, Nellore is a dream destination for wildlife, especially bird lovers. There are a number of nature parks and sanctuaries that take you on guided tours and trekking through the woods in search of hundreds of species of local and migratory birds.
Also famous around these parts are the forts scattered all over the city, making for some great sightseeing and exploration. The Paturu Village within is noted for its handicrafts and makes for some great shopping.
Distance from Chennai: 175 kilometres via the NH16
Places to visit in Nellore: Udayagiri Fort, Venkatagiri Fort, Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary, Mypadu Beach, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple
Weekend Destinations near Chennai: Over 200 kilometres
Less than three and a half hours from Chennai by road, Yelagiri is a small hill town famous for its beautiful scenery and adventure sport. Head here for a weekend of fun filled activities such as trekking, paragliding and boating.
A great time to visit is during the Yelagiri Summer Festival when the entire town is in a festive mood and the place is buzzing with activities including food shows, musical performances and many more cultural events.
Distance from Chennai: 229 kilometres via the NH48
Places to visit in Yelagiri: Punganoor Lake, Jalagamparai Waterfalls, Jalagandeeswarar Temple, Velavan Temple, Swamimalai Hill
Having been ruled under the Danish for nearly 200 years, it is little wonder that Tharangambadi is a village that is unlike any in the Nation; the influences of the erstwhile rulers is evident everywhere, including the architecture and cuisine.
Along the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal, this fishing village is a hot spot for visitors coming from nearby areas, especially those living in or visiting Chennai. Historic structures, museums, religious sites, great food and much more make this an ideal weekend getaway.
Distance from Chennai: 284 kilometres via the NH32
Places to visit in Tharangambadi: Town Gate, King Street, Rehlings House, Fort Dansborg, Masilamani Temple
13. Horsley Hills
Amidst the tranquil Eastern Andhra Pradesh Ghats, at an altitude of 41000 feet, Horsley Hills is a paradise for nature lovers; lush greenery, rolling hills and great weather make this a wonderful weekend destination.
Roughly 6 and a half hours from Chennai, the hill station offers plenty of activities like trekking and camping as well as has a number of cosy resorts to stay at. The local wildlife sanctuary is a must visit place too.
Distance from Chennai: 289 kilometres via the NH71
Places to visit in Horsley Hills: Mallamma Temple, Kaundinya Wildlife Sanctuary, Horsley Hills Zoo, Gangotri Lake, Gali Bandalu
Yercaud, meaning Lake Forest is not only a hot spot for nature lovers but a great weekend destination for anyone looking for some peace and quiet. This hill station is an economical way to spend a few days away from home and offers quite a few fun activities.
You can go boating in the beautiful Yercaud Lake, trek through the lush forest and try plenty of the amazing local food. Under a 7 hour drive from Chennai, the town has a number of budget hotels catering to weekenders from the surrounding districts.
Distance from Chennai: 366 kilometres via the NH79
Places to visit in Yercaud: Yercaud Lake, Shevaroy Temple, Shevaroy Hills, Silk Farm
One of the cleanest cities in the country, Mysore has a rich and glorious history. Seven centuries of being ruled by the opulent Wodeyar Dynasty has left the city covered with magnificent palaces, exquisite gardens, amazing temples and delicious food.
Attracting tourists from all over the world, if you are in Chennai then count yourself lucky as visiting means nothing more than half a day’s drive to get to this spectacular city.
Distance from Chennai: 482 kilometres via the NH48
Places to visit in Mysore: Mysore Palace, Chamundeshwari Temple
With so much to see around the capital of Tamil Nadu, making a weekend trip out of Chennai is a must for anyone staying there or visiting.