From the temples of Tamil Nadu to the backwaters of Appaluzha, this two-week trip to Kerala is perfect for families seeking the scenic highlights of this relaxed southern Indian state. Create tea in the foothills of Aanamudi, tour spice plantations, and get up close and personal with the wildlife on Periyar Lake. You'll make a lifetime's worth of memories as you and the kids spot elephants and tigers, spend the night on a traditional houseboat, and take a yoga lesson on Kovalam's sandy shores.


  • Immerse yourselves in traditional Keralan village life 
  • Discover the history of tea in the lush Western Ghats 
  • Visit the colorful Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai
  • Cruise Kerala's enchanting backwaters
  • Take a relaxing yoga lesson on the golden beaches of Kovalam 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kochi, Transfer to Cochin, Sunset Boat Cruise Cochin
Day 2 Guided Village Walk, Cooking Class with a Local Family Cochin
Day 3 Transfer to Munnar & Explore Munnar
Day 4 Munnar Tea History Trail Munnar
Day 5 Transfer to Madurai Madurai
Day 6 Madurai Temples & Street Food Tour  Madurai
Day 7 Transfer to Periyar, Spice Plantation Tour Periyar
Day 8 Periyar National Park Game Safari, Lake Cruise Periyar
Day 9 Transfer to Alappuzha, Evening Stay on a Traditional Houseboat Alappuzha
Day 10 Cruise Kerala's Backwaters Alappuzha
Day 11 Transfer to Kovalam, Beach Afternoon Kovalam
Day 12 Free Morning in Kovalam, Temples & Palaces in Kanyakumari Kovalam
Day 13 Yoga Session & Relaxation on Kovalam Beach  Kovalam
Day 14 Transfer to Trivandrum, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Kochi, Transfer to Cochin, Sunset Boat Cruise

Cochin sunset
See Cochin's giant fishing nets with a sunset cruise around the backwaters

Welcome to India! Upon arrival at Kochi airport, transfer to your hotel in Cochin. Lying on Kerala's southwest coast, Cochin's history stretches back to the time of King Solomon. Known as the "Queen of the Arabian Sea," this port city attracted Arab, Chinese, and European merchants enticed by Cochin's trade in spices, silks, and sandalwood. The settlement of Fort Kochi retains these influences with its tiled colonial bungalows and diverse houses of worship, giving the town a serene, laidback, and intriguing feel—perfect for families. 

Settle in at your hotel and enjoy a relaxed afternoon with the kids as you get your bearings in this delightful town before exploring Cochin's enchanting backwaters with a two-hour sunset cruise. Glide along the calm waters as you and your family settle into your India experience and see landmarks, including Fort Kochi, the giant Chinese Fishing Nets, the islands of Bolgatty and Willingdon, and the Cochin Shipyard. It's a sight to behold as the sun sinks beneath the horizon and the sky's myriad colors are reflected across the water. 

Day 2: Guided Village Walk, Cooking Class with a Local Family

Children in Kerala
Experience local village life in Kumbalangi

Spend the morning immersing yourselves in local life as you and your family meet your guide and drive to the island village of Kumbalangi. You'll receive the warmest of welcomes as you and the kids stroll the area, engage with the locals, watch the artisans at work, and observe Keralan life. There's plenty to entertain the children with a buzz of local activity, including coir making, toddy tapping, and watching the local fishermen. If the kids are keen to get out on the water, enjoy a short canoe ride around the island as you look out across the serene backwaters of Lake Vembanad.

Feast on delicately spiced local fare as you enjoy a mouthwatering selection of traditional Keralan dishes, then hop back in the car and head for a sightseeing tour of Cochin. Visit Fort Kochi in the heart of the Old Town, resplendent with its compelling Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonial architecture. Then it's on to the 16th century Mattanchery Palace—a gift to the former King of Kochi from the Portuguese—with its beautiful central courtyard and tranquil temples. Stop at the historic Dhobi Khana laundry station before a visit to the local spice market.

Kids of all ages will enjoy this evening's fun activity as your guide accompanies you to an Indian cooking class with a local Keralan family. Savor the experience of great family food cooked from scratch as you learn all the essentials of Indian cuisine and spices. This is an opportunity for the whole family to enjoy an enriching cultural experience you will never forget. 

Day 3: Transfer to Munnar, Explore

Tea garden of Munnar
The verdant tea gardens of Munnar

Get ready for the next leg of your family adventure this morning as you take a private transfer east to the hilly town of Munnar, 5,249 feet (1,600 m) above sea level in the Western Ghats. Famous for its tea plantations, the town's enviable position made it the summer resort of the British administration in South India. Settle into your accommodation and stroll the colorful streets as the kids enjoy exploring the fascinating bazaars. 

In the afternoon, you have several options. Visit the Tata Tea Museum and discover how the tea industry has played an integral part in the area's history and how fresh green tea leaves are transformed and packaged into the final product, ready to be enjoyed by tea lovers worldwide. The nearby Eravikulam National Park in the Kannan Devan hills is perfect for young adventurers and wildlife enthusiasts to let off steam, with trails that track the Nilgiri tahr (the region's endangered mountain goat) and lead to the refreshing Lakkom waterfalls. 

Day 4: Munnar Tea History Trail

Tea garden of Munnar
A woman picks tea leaves in a tea plantation in Munnar

Today is worth the early start as you and your family take a private transfer to a hundred-year-old tea plantation in the stunning foothills of Aanamudi, South India's highest peak. Your tour starts with a guided walk through the vast gardens as you embark on a "From Plant to Packet" tea history trail, learning how to pick the tea leaves before you and the kids pick your own, ready to be made into tea later. 

After a tea break (what else!), experience the tea production process as you tour the factory. Watch the kids' faces as they get the opportunity to turn the leaves they collected earlier into their very own special brand of tea. Enjoy lunch in the Colonial Bungalow, once used by British planters, before heading outside for a guided walk. There's plenty for the little ones to enjoy as you explore the gardens and discover the plentiful wildlife and bird species amid the verdant scenery. Return to the factory in time to pick up your freshly packaged tea before returning to your hotel. 

Day 5: Transfer to Madurai

Family in Madurai
A family takes a stroll through the colorful streets of Madurai

It's an early start this morning as you swap the green gardens and plantations of Munnar for the bustling city of Madurai, one of India's oldest cities and nicknamed "Athens of the East," thanks to its rich, ancient history. Take in the beautiful scenery as you drive across the plains of Tamil Nadu. Arrive at your hotel and settle the kids before heading out to explore. The city is known for its vibrant Meenakshi Amman Temple and is famous as a pilgrim town and cultural hotspot.

Wander the bustling bazaars, admire the intricate architecture, and browse the numerous markets and stalls. Treat the kids to jigarthanda (a cool, refreshing, sweet drink) while deciding which of the city's many restaurants to dine at—food here is considered among the best in Kerala. 

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Day 6: Madurai Temples & Street Food Tour

Sri Meenakshi Amman Temple detail
Extraordinary detail on the Meenakshi Amman Temple

After breakfast at your hotel, it's time to visit the extraordinary Meenakshi Amman Temple, one of the largest and most vibrant temples in South India; it's a stunning sight that overlooks the southern bank of the holy Vaigai River. Keep the kids occupied by seeing how many different types of animals, gods, and goddesses they can spot on the twelve huge gopurams (towers) covered in colorful stucco creatures and figures of all shapes and sizes.

Explore the temple's courtyards and shrine before heading to the Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal, a palace built in the Indo-Mughal style by the Nayaka Dynasty in 1636; it was once considered one of the great wonders of the South. After a day of exploring, there's a culinary treat in store this afternoon as you take a guided food tour of the city's best eating places and experience delicious authentic Indian street food. You'll get to try everything from crispy fried mutton dosas topped with egg to the child-friendly adirasam, a deep-fried doughnut-shaped sweet treat.

If the kids aren't too tired, don't miss the evening "Shiva Suinset" ceremony at the Meenakshi Temple; it's the perfect way to end a day you and your family will remember for years to come. 

Day 7: Transfer to Periyar, Spice Plantation Tour

Drive through the stunning Western Ghats
Marvel at the stunning views of the Western Ghats

Pack snacks for the kids and get ready for the next leg of your family adventure as you take a private transfer to the small town of Thekkady, near the Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. It's a stunning drive as the route winds through the towering Western Ghats mountain range. There'll be plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs as you stop at various local markets and grape plantations.

Thekkady is famous for its many spice plantations, and after settling in at your accommodation and a break for lunch, you and the kids will take a guided walk in a fragrant spice garden. It's an excellent opportunity for kids to encounter cardamom, vanilla, turmeric, and various other spices in their natural state. Later, enjoy a fun evening as you discover the art of sari-wrapping and see how the spices you saw earlier are used to make delicious dishes, with a cooking demonstration followed by a sumptuous dinner. 

Day 8: Periyar National Park Game Safari, Lake Cruise

Elephant in Periyar Lake
You'll see plenty of elephants in the Periyar National Park 

Plenty of extraordinary family memories will be made this morning as you wake early to venture deep into the wilderness of the Periyar National Park, one of India's oldest and largest wildlife sanctuaries, for a game tour with a local ranger. As the jungle wakes, task the kids with spotting the black monkeys, sambar deer, giant squirrels, and the impressive birdlife. Explore the dense evergreen forests with your guide, and keep your camera close at hand as you encounter creatures, including elephants, tigers, wild buffalo, and the rare dhole (Indian wild dog).

In the afternoon, relax with the kids and take in the sights and sounds of the park as you enjoy a leisurely boat ride on  Periyar Lake, where you'll likely get up close and personal with the park's wildlife. Cruise past families of wild elephants as they wash and spot the resident otters and wild boars enjoying their natural habitat. Afterward, transfer back to your hotel, where the rest of the evening is yours to spend at leisure. 

Day 9: Transfer to Alappuzha, Evening Stay on a Traditional Houseboat

Stay on a traditional houseboat
Spend the night on a traditionally-furnished houseboat

It's time to hit the road this morning as you and your family venture west to the backwaters of Alappuzha, known as the "Venetian Capital" of Kerala, thanks to its important network of canals. You'll get to explore the astonishing scenery the traditional way as you and the kids board a comfortable cruise boat and meander the backwaters, watching local life unfold in the tiny fishing villages dotted around Vembanad Lake. Take in the tropical greenery, swaying palms, and endless paddy fields as your crew prepare a delicious lunch.

If the kids are enthralled by life on the water, there's a treat in store this evening, as you'll spend the night on a fully-furnished houseboat. Watch the sunset over the lake as the boat staff takes care of dinner, leaving you and your family to relax and enjoy the unique charms of life on the water.

Day 10: Cruise Kerala's Backwaters

Cruise Aleppey's backwaters
Cruise the palm-fringed backwaters of Alappuzha
Don't miss the opportunity to see the sunrise over Kerala's backwaters this morning as you and the kids listen to the croaks and chirps of the frogs, kingfishers, and other wildlife that lives on the water and surrounding banks. It's another day of relaxation as you continue to cruise the backwaters and canals while tasking the kids to keep a beady eye out for the otters and turtles that can be seen swimming along the shores. As the sun starts to dip, toast your holidays with a refreshing sundowner as your houseboat crew prepares dinner for you and your family.

Day 11: Transfer to Kovalam, Beach Afternoon

Spend the day at the beach in Kovalam
Spend the day at the beach in Kovalam
Wake to the tranquil sounds of the lake this morning as you enjoy a freshly prepared breakfast on your houseboat. Then, it's time to journey south to Kovalam, a small resort town famous for its golden sands lined with lush coconut palms. Check in to your hotel and settle in before hitting the beach with the kids and taking a refreshing dip in the beautiful bay of calm water created by Kovalam's vast rocky promontory.

Day 12: Free Morning in Kovalam, Temples & Palaces in Kanyakumari

Thanumalayan Temple
Admire the exquisite quality of the Thanumalayan Temple

Spend the morning playing with the kids on Kovalam's beaches (there are three to explore) as you enjoy plenty of quality time and relaxation together. Then, it's time for one last adventure as you travel to Kanyakumari, home to the breathtaking Padmanabhapuram Palace and its wonderful woodcarvings. Along the way, stop at the town of Suchindram to see the famous 17th-century Thanumalayan Temple, an important Hindu pilgrimage site with a 22-foot (7 m) statue carved of a single granite block. 

Afterward, head back to Kovalam in time to catch the sunset as you search out one of the sea-view restaurants and recount the highlights of your trip. 

Day 13: Yoga Session & Relaxation on Kovalam Beach 

Mother and daughter do yoga on the beach
Try a spot of yoga on Kovalam's beaches
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast overlooking the ocean before starting the day with a relaxing one-hour family yoga class. Calm and energized, the rest of the day is yours to do as you wish. Continue the relaxed vibe with a traditional Ayurvedic massage or sunbathe on Kovalam's golden sands. Active kids will be in their element with various watersports available, while little ones can play in the shallows. In the evening, browse the town's markets for some last-minute souvenirs and dine on delicious seafood as the sun sets on your Indian adventure. 

Day 14: Transfer to Trivandrum & Depart

Goodbye India
Farewell India

Sadly your family trip has come to an end. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and one last walk along Kovalam's golden sands before a private transfer to Trivandrum to catch your flight home. Safe travels! 

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Map of Family Fun in Kerala: South India's Backwaters, Beaches, Tea Plantations & Temples - 14 Days
Map of Family Fun in Kerala: South India's Backwaters, Beaches, Tea Plantations & Temples - 14 Days