The stunning capital of Tamil Nadu has a lot to offer tourists. Apart from the buzz of the city, there are also a number of places you can relax, get in touch with nature, go fishing and for walks. There are a lot of museums you can check out to learn about Chennai’s rich heritage.
And make sure to try out the local South Indian fare. No matter if you’re on your honeymoon, travelling with family, or having fun with friends, Chennai has a lot of options for everyone. Take a look at the list below to help you plan your itinerary.
What to Do in Chennai
1. Cycle along Marina Beach
Nestled within the city, a walk down the beautiful coast along Marina Bay is the perfect getaway from the hustle of the city. The coastline stretches out for 13 kilometres, which makes it the second largest urban beach in the world.
Here you can enjoy the surroundings, rolling waves, clean and salty air as you jog or walk. You can also bring your cycle here and ride up to the lighthouse. Picnics on the beach at sunset is also a great way to spend an evening.
2. Indulge in a South Indian breakfast
When visiting Chennai, you just have to try their amazing range of South Indian food, the best of which is served up for breakfast and washed down with some steaming hot cups of filter coffee.
Some of the most authentic food includes fluffy ghee podi idlis, crispy dosas and hot Pongal. Some of the nice places to check out in Chennai for breakfast is Ratna Café and the popular Saravana Bhavan.
3. Discover natural history at Government Museum
This is the second oldest museum in India and boasts of a lot of historical information. The place includes six buildings which have almost 50 galleries that showcase everything from artefacts from diverse fields including archaeology, numismatics, zoology, natural history, sculptures, palm-leaf manuscripts and Amravati paintings.
Here you will also find some rare works from artists such as Raja Ravi Varma. The museum timings are from 9.30 am to 5 pm but note that it is closed on Friday.
4. Shop for sarees at T Nagar
If you’re looking for beautiful Kanchipuram silk sarees and matching temple jewellery then this is the place to visit. Here you will find a number of shops selling saris, Indian attire, bangles, rings, anklets and other accessories.
If you’re up for it, then why not get some Mehendi done from the artists seated near the stores. When visiting, you can also check out Pondy Bazaar that’s located nearby for some more street shopping.
5. Walk down Thalankuppam Pier
Even though Chennai is a very happening place, you will find a few places that offer a whole lot of peace and quiet, with Thalankuppam Pier being one of them. Here you can just escape from the noise and enjoy the expansive views.
The best time to visit is obviously sunrise and sunset. This is also a very popular area for South Indian movie shoots, so who knows, you may get lucky and see a movie being shot!
6. Watch the sunset at Elliot’s Beach
This lovely beach is named after Edward Elliot, the then Governor of Madras. This is another popular beach to visit in Chennai and on the weekends, tourists and locals throng here to enjoy a day by the sea.
If you prefer a quieter time, then try to visit on a weekday. A walk along the stretch leads up to the Schmidt Memorial a popular landmark in Chennai.
7. Enjoy the opulent beauty of St Thomas Church
St Thomas Church is located atop a small hill and is one of the most peaceful and stunning places to visit in Chennai. It is a stunning church with intricate and extravagant architecture.
According to the devotees who frequent this church, it was apparently the place where St Thomas (a disciple of Jesus) lived. Do carry your camera as the view from the hilltop is amazing.
8. Stare into space at Birla Planetarium
This is a great place for the whole family to learn about our universe. The Birla Planetarium opened in 1988 and since then they have launched a number of exciting programs for science enthusiasts.
Here you will learn about the movement of the stars, earth, comets, moon and other elements of the universe. This is one of the most fun and educative places to visit in Chennai.
9. Take in old Madras at Fort St George
This is historically known as White Town and was built by the East Indian Company way back in 1644. This is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of what architecture was like in Madras during the Colonial era.
As of now the fort currently houses the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly and there is also a museum that exhibits several items from the colonial period. This is a good place for history enthusiasts.
10. Feel an adrenaline rush at Queens Land
This amusement park is great fun for the whole family. You can spend an entire day here so make sure to get here early to enjoy all the 52 rides available – which include land as well as water rides.
This park is located a little away from the city centre but it is surely worth a visit. There are dashing cars, water slides, mirror rooms and lots more. It gets crowded on the weekend so it’s best to try to visit on a weekday.
11. Take a heritage trip at Royapuram Fishing Harbour
Thanks to its beautiful coastline, Chennai has a lot to offer those who love the sea and seafood. Enjoy the bustling fish market at the Royapuram Fishing Harbour. Here you can take a peek into the life of the local fisherman and experience a different side to this city.
The best time to visit is around dusk. A few places organise tours in the area for a more comprehensive understanding of life here.
12. A Rajasthani night at Chokhi Dhani
This is a park with a strong Rajasthani theme bang in the middle of Chennai. The park shows of the culture, heritage and unique traditions of Rajasthan and gives tourists a glimpse of life in Rajasthan.
Activities you can enjoy here include camel ride, bullock cart ride, head massage and boating. Though it takes some time to get to the place, you can easily enjoy half a day here.
13. Enjoy the structures of Valluvar Kottam
Valluvar Kottam is a popular memorial that was built in memory of the famous Tamil poet and philosopher named Thiruvalluvar.
This is a popular spot for tourists and here you will see a 35-meter chariot that depicts the poet’s work as well as several inscriptions of his work. The place is green and well-maintained.
14. Go fishing at Barracuda Bay
If you’re up for a little adventure during your stay in Chennai, then try your hand at fishing. This is a great way to spend a day in Chennai and one of the best places to try this out is at the Barracuda Bay Sports Fishing club.
Here you will need to register and once done they will provide you with the equipment needed, the distance you need to head to and what you’re likely to catch.
15. Get lost in books at Anna Centenary Library
The Anna Centenary Library is an established state library of the Government of Tamil Nadu and is located at Kotturpuram, Chennai.
If you’re a book lover, then you must visit this vast library. This is also one of largest libraries in the entire of Asia, and it offers a wide range of fiction and educational books as well as many journals.
16. Enjoy an evening out at Kipling Café
This is a great place for couples as well as larger groups of friends. The place is very popular and hence it is best to book a cabana in advance, even on the weekdays.
Some of the best things to try off the menu include the Balinese and Malaysian satays. They also have a range of continental food – a must try is their toffee pudding! This café is located in Panaiyur.
If you’re looking for leisure, learning and relaxation, Chennai is a great place to visit. So, make sure to add these places to your list of things to do when you visit Tamil Nadu’s capital. Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below.