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If you only have 24 hours in Alappuzha in Kerala, then don’t fret. There are plenty of places to visit in Alleppey in 1 day!
Although the backwaters of Alleppey are humungous, most tourists choose explore the main canal areas and it’s also here where you should visit to make the most of your time.
The great thing about Alleppey is how diverse the area is. You’ll have historic temples, beautiful beaches, spectacular viewpoints, endless backwaters, delectable dishes and swaying palm trees (and even palm wine!) to enjoy.
It’s easiest, in my opinion, to take a houseboat, canoe or a shikara boat around the area so you can explore more. Although having a car is convenient, you’re in water country now.
So, here are all the beautiful places to visit in Alleppey in 1 day!
Heads up: my trip to Alleppey was sponsored by India Someday. Click here to read a review of their India trip planning service or my full itinerary here. As always, although I was a guest all opinions and photo are my own.
Table of Contents
- Top tips for visiting Kerala
- Where is Alleppey / Alappuzha in Kerala?
- How to reach Alleppey in Kerala
- Buses to Alleppey
- Trains to Alleppey
- Driving to Alleppey
- How to get around Alleppey and the backwaters in Kerala?
- House Boat
- Shikara Boat
- Public Ferries
- Tours of Alleppey
- 16 places to visit in Alleppey in 1 day
- 1. Climb up Alappuzha lighthouse
- 2. Watch the sunset from the shores of Alappuzha Beach
- 3. Sip a coconut and scrape out the jelly!
- 4. Take a day ride on an Alleppey House Boat
- 5. Explore the Kuttanad Backwaters
- 6. Go temple hopping!
- 7. Ride in a traditional canoe
- 8. Stay on the backwaters at Emerald Isle Heritage villa
- 9. Take a Shikara boat ride on the backwaters
- 10. Enjoy some Ayurveda!
- 11. Tuck into a delectable Keralan lunch
- 12. Watch the locals toddy tapping
- 13. Or, try some palm wine for yourself in a Toddy Shop!
- 14. Go fishing with the locals
- 15. Visit a spice farm
- 16. Watch the world go by in your hammock!
- Where are you headed next in Kerala?
- Fort Kochi
- Related articles:
- Related articles:
- Read more of my South India blog posts!
- Like it? Pin it!
Top tips for visiting Kerala
- I flew to Cochin Airport from Delhi via a 3-hour domestic Vistara flight for less than $50! Skyscanner is my go to for checking cheap flight prices.
- In Kerala the locals speak Malayalam, they even have their own songs and films that have been recorded in the language. As one of the most literate states, they speak excellent Hindi and English
- Kerala is a politically appointed Communist state, so you’ll see lots of communist flags and artwork around the area.
- Getting around Kerala can be quite a minefield with public transport. But, there are buses and trains. I would personally recommend a hire car for your time here.
- You’ll need travel insurance, I always choose World Nomad’s for their flexible policies.
- I stayed connected with my Keepgo WiFi Hotspot, these kept my mobile roaming charges capped! But, getting a SIM card in Delhi is also a great option that provides you with 1GB per day for 30 days.
- In Kerala they use the rupee, I always found that State Bank of India (SBI) was the best as they take foreign cards as they don’t charge you extra for withdrawals.
- Kerala is a little more conservative than its neighbour Goa, but not as conservative as Delhi, so make sure that you dress appropriately. But, it’s not uncommon for tourists to wear strappy tops, dresses that show your legs and shorts either.
Where is Alleppey / Alappuzha in Kerala?
Alappuzha is the current name for Alleppey in Kerala, just in case you’re confused. But, most people still call it Alleppey.
Alappuzha is a round 60 kilometres on NH66 (2 hour drive) from Fort Kochi and 83 kilometres (3 hour drive) from Cochin International airport.
If you’re winding down towards Alleppey from Munnar, then it will take around 5 hours to drive as you’re covering a whopping 170 kilometres on the journey!
How to reach Alleppey in Kerala
There are plenty of ways to get around Kerala. If you plan on relying on public transport then buses and trains will become your best friends.
Personally, if you have the extra budget, I think it’s a lot easier to rent cars while you’re here in Kerala to head around to the different areas.
That way you don’t have the headache of navigating local buses and you can cover a lot more ground!
It’s good to note there are no direct ferries from Cochin to Alleppey.
Buses to Alleppey
Buses will be your cheapest way to get from Fort Cochin to Alleppey if you’re heading from there.
You’ll need to get the Ferry to Ernakulam and from there, head to Ernakulam bus station. From here, you can get a bus straight to Alleppey.
The journey will take around 2-3 hours depending on ferry and bus timings and will cost around 150 rupees max!
Trains to Alleppey
There are direct trains from Ernakulam to Alleppey. So, you will need to get on the ferry from Fort Cochin to Ernakulam and take a train from Ernakulam station. It will take around 1 hour to reach there.
You will need to register on the IRCTC website in order to book trains yourself in India. These will need to be at least a few days in advance of travel to guarantee seats and you may be put on a waiting list.
Alternatively, you can visit the train station for Taktal tickets (ones you can book at the counter) a day in advance of travel.
This will be from 10am – 12pm the day BEFORE you leave on the train. For on the day tickets I would recommend Cleartrip (but you do still need an IRCTC account to book).
Driving to Alleppey
The easiest way would be to have your own transport or hire a car or taxi to Alleppey. This will take around 2 hours to reach from Cochin.
If you’re thinking of getting a private taxi from Cochin/Fort Kochi to Alleppey, I would recommend shopping around for a good deal. You’ll usually pay around 1600 – 1800 rupees ($25) for the journey.
You can always get dropped off in Alleppey to a boat cruise and then start your day off exploring from there! More details on how to get around Alleppey below.
How to get around Alleppey and the backwaters in Kerala?
Most of the time, tourists visit Alleppey to explore the labyrinth of backwaters and see the way of life down here. So, you won’t need a car for this.
The best way to see and experience Alleppey is cruising down the backwaters on a boat, to see the local villages, temples, toddy shops and more!
If there is a group of you, or you’re planning to spend a night here. You may want to consider hiring a house boat.
These can range from budget, to super luxury boats and usually have double rooms with comfy beds, bathrooms with a shower, a kitchen on board to prepare meals and a deck area to lounge on and enjoy the views of Alappuzha.
The houseboats usually come in a package with a room for the night and includes hot drinks, snacks and meals.
Here are some options for your trip;
- 7 hour cruise on a houseboat in Alleppey
- Private tour on a houseboat
- Fort Kochi and House boat tour
- Private backwaters tour with transfers
- Backwaters private tour on a houseboat from Cochin
As I was travelling alone, India Someday booked me a night in a hotel in the backwaters themselves on Emerald Isle Heritage Villa! I mean, it doesn’t make much sense me being on a boat alone haha!
But, I still wanted to have that amazing experience of cruising down the backwaters. My homestay owner recommended I take a Shikara Boat as the main canals get super over crowded with house boats and a smaller boat meant we could cruise down lesser known areas of the backwaters.
It ended up being an incredible experience that is a lot less money than a houseboat. We got to see some lesser known areas here and avoid the congestion of the bigger boats in the main canal routes.
If you’re on a budget, it is possible to travel like the locals do and catch the local ferries that travel around the backwaters.
These will make various stops on the water, but it will stop off at temples, restaurants and even toddy shops!
Although you won’t be able to stop at your leisure and enjoy the privacy of the boat charter, the prices are next to nothing to travel this way and you’ll get a more local experience.
Tours of Alleppey
If you’re looking to experience the backwaters in a different way, you can explore the area by Kayak, trekking and even bicycle riding in the area.
Take a look at the below tours;
16 places to visit in Alleppey in 1 day
1. Climb up Alappuzha lighthouse
If you want to get some great views of Alleppey, then your first stop should be the Alappuzha Lighthouse.
In the 18/19th century, Alleppey was one of the biggest trading ports in the Kerala. The lighthouse then was built in 1862 as a navigational aid for those sailors bringing their boats into harbour.
Today, the Alappuzha Lighthouse is a major tourist attraction where you can climb up the spiral staircase and get fantastic 360 degree views of the whole area.
But, you have to work for those views by climbing up a lot of steps and then finishing off the journey with a climb up a dodgy step ladder.
I was able to climb up to the top at a quiet time of the day, but getting back down was a real challenge. The heat in October was stifling and people were queueing the whole way down the lighthouse. It was a sweat box inside.
The ladder had little control who was going up or down and so it caused a build up. People were going a big crazy in the heat and pushing etc.
I soon figured out that there is a discount on the entry price from 3-5pm! So, if you don’t want to be part of the rush, I would go earlier or later than those times.
The Alappuzha ticket prices are 25 rupees for foreign tourists and 10 rupees for Indians. There is a fee of 25 rupees for a camera. This includes a small museum about the lighthouse history.
2. Watch the sunset from the shores of Alappuzha Beach
Alappuzha beach is pretty clean by Indian standards, so I would highly recommend visiting while you’re in the area. Although note that there will still be rubbish on the beach. Plus, cows which is also a cool sight.
Although, usually in the West we bring out towels and suncream to relax around 10 feet apart from another party for a sunbathe. Indian beaches are not like that at all.
Most of the time, you’ll see everyone crowded together standing on the shoreline, taking in the sunset or paddling in the waves that come crashing in. There are also lifeguards who will constantly blow whistles at people taking any risks!
So, if you want any chance of seeing the ocean, you’ll have to join the crowd.
Here, you can also see the remains on an old pier that used to be in Alleppey. But, by the looks it was destroyed decades ago.
There are some coconut stalls and drink stands in the area if you’re feeling thirsty.
3. Sip a coconut and scrape out the jelly!
One of my favourite things to do in South India is drink the fresh coconuts that grow in the area.
These are quite literally hacked from the palm trees and sold that day, so you’ll be getting it completely fresh with all the flavour in tact. Such a blessing compared to UK where we have to import them.
What I love doing after you’ve sucked all the coconut water out is passing the nut back to the seller so they can cut it in half. They also cut a little makeshift spoon out of the nut shell!
Then, you can use the spoon to scrape out all the fresh coconut jelly that’s inside it. It’s honestly the best and if you haven’t tried fresh coconut before, now is your chance.
Look out for coconut sellers in Alleppey on the road side, in the backwaters and on the beaches too! It’s the perfect refreshment on a hot day.
4. Take a day ride on an Alleppey House Boat
Just because you’re travelling to Alleppey in one day, doesn’t mean you can’t hire a houseboat!
Many people decide to rent a private charter for the day so that they can cruise along the backwaters, have lunch onboard and have a nap if they want to as well.
It’s really popular and some say a better option than staying overnight in a houseboat too (it’s crowded with geckos and other bugs).
You can spend a whole day cruising and stop off where you like, if you want to stop at all. Make sure you let the tour company know where you would like to stop off before you go.
Just note that as the houseboats are big, you’re restricted to the main waterways which can get busy. If you want to go on a more off the beaten track adventure, rent a Shikara boat like me (see below)!
5. Explore the Kuttanad Backwaters
Did you know that the Alleppey backwaters spread over 300 sq km!! It’s a phenomenon and a way of life for most people.
You’ll see many houses on little islands around here where people need to ride a boat just to enter their house.
If you’re only here for one day, I would recommend concentrating on the Kuttanad Backwaters. This has lot’s of pretty palm trees either side, churches, temples, Toddy shops and villages to look at while you explore.
If you’re not getting a private charter, this is also the perfect place to catch the local ferries too as there is more infrastructure and ferry stops.
6. Go temple hopping!
The South of India has a colourful history of colonisation and the legacy is a plethora of cultures and religions. Kerala is no exception to that.
If you’ve already been to Fort Kochi, you may have been temple hopping already to places like the Santa Cruz Basilica.
Well, Alappuzha doesn’t have churches as grand as all that, but it does have quaint temples of worship tucked away in the backwaters.
You can visit synagogues, mosques, churches and Hindu temples that go back centuries. On my stay at Emerald Isle Village we made some stops at St Joseph’s Church near the The Sunset Point at Vattakkayal.
We also made a stop at the ancient Hindu Madathil Bhagavathi temple, although I was not allowed to enter being a foreign tourist.
7. Ride in a traditional canoe
Before house boats, engines, or even cars, the locals used to travel by traditional country canoe boats.
These country roads were used to transport people, rice, coconuts amongst other things and it takes you back to a different age. They are still used by many farmers today!
If you’re up for a wild ride and a bit more of a local adventure, you can row down the backwaters yourself in one of these canoes.
Some of them do have a motorised engine too, if you weren’t up for a work out of your arms!
But, as this boat ride is a bit more close to the water it requires a bit of a balancing act. So, no sudden movements lol. I took one of these to be transported to my homestay and it was awesome but not entirely waterproof on the floor.
8. Stay on the backwaters at Emerald Isle Heritage villa
As I was alone, India Someday booked me into a heritage homestay on the backwaters!
At first, I was a little confused as I thought that everyone booked onto houseboats but I found that this particular homestay was indeed very special. Plus, it didn’t make much sense for me to be alone on a boat in the middle of Alleppey haha.
If you are interested in staying the night, Emerald Isle Heritage Villa is a farmstay that is over 150 years old! I know as I saw the original deed carved into a banana leaf.
It’s located over the backwaters and has a a few boutique rooms, a spice farm with hammocks, Ayurvedic spa and restaurant too.
As part of my stay, we organised some in resort activities like taking a tour of the island by rickshaw where we explored the beautiful area, meeting locals in villages and watching the days fishing catch!
They are also able to book a boat ride for you to explore the backwaters and I took a Shikara boat. This way, we were able to go inside the smaller canals and go a little off the beaten path.
As you’re tucked away, Emerald Isle will prepare meals for you throughout your stay. The breakfast, lunch and dinner had a great mix of Western and Local options. I always go for local food when I can and the fish curries were out of this world.
9. Take a Shikara boat ride on the backwaters
If you wanted to go deep into the backwaters, I would opt for a smaller Shikara boat to take you around. The bigger houseboats are restricted to the main river ways.
It’s kind of like the canoe boats, but they are much bigger with a roof top to keep you dry and a motor engine. It even had a sunbed so you could relax onboard too!
The reason why I loved it so much is that we could veer off into the little canal routes. We sailed under photogenic bridges, met the locals fishing, saw women washing their clothes and actually got to see some of the real life that goes on in Kerala.
We stopped off in Toddy shops and learned how Palm Wine was made and we could explore so much more this way.
I would highly recommend finding a Shikara boat tour if you want to really explore Alleppey and escape the masses of houseboats and tourists!
10. Enjoy some Ayurveda!
Kerala is the home of Ayurveda, discovered 3000 years ago and it would be crazy not to try out some of the local treatments while you’re here.
They are also a fraction of the price of Western spas and the West learned all they knew from India! So, go get ‘em.
My homestay at Emerald Isle provided some Ayurvedic massages and treatments in their spa and I enjoyed a full hour long body massage.
My masseuse, as well as providing spa treatments, was a local chiropractor at a clinic in the area! So, she asked me about any tension I was feeling. As a blogger, I do get pains in my shoulder and so she worked on that for me, easing out the knots! It was incredible and it did feel so much looser after.
As well as treatments in resorts, there a plenty of Ayruvedic centres where people check in for a while for natural healing.
11. Tuck into a delectable Keralan lunch
The food in South India is some of the tastiest you’ll get in the whole country. That’s why they serve classics like Dosa, Idli and Vada on the menus all over.
The fish here is the local specialty and you know you’re getting it fresh as it’s caught in the rivers and in the sea! So, unless you’re strictly vegetarian, a fish curry has to be on your list of foods to try!
A lot of the food that was cooked for me in my homestay was fish based. Fried, grilled or curried, it was absolutely delicious and I couldn’t get enough of it.
But, if you are more inclined to eat vegetarian foods, India is perfect for that. As many Hindus refrain from eating meat, you’ll find that most curries and chutney’s are veg and packed with flavour!
Although super touristy, a bucket list thing to do here is to eat curry on a banana leaf! It’s like a Thali and you can try a range of local dishes.
You usually buy the basic Thali which is veg and buy extra meat dishes if you fancy!
12. Watch the locals toddy tapping
One of the things you have to try here in Alleppey is Toddy. It’s a type of wine that is sourced from Palm trees.
But before you do, you should definitely learn where it comes from and how the locals source it!
Toddy tapping has been a profession here for centuries and now boasts around 50,000 labourers in the trade. It’s also licensed by the government and so it’s completely above board, not like Moonshine.
A toddy drawer will climb a palm tree and make a whole in the palm flower at the top of the tree. They will then attached a pot, to collect the sap from the palm tree.
The sap will naturally ferment with the yeast in the air and within a few hours you’ll have a sweet alcohol that is around 4-6%. It’s then ready to be sold off to Toddy shops, or used in the home to make bread!
There are many opportunities to see toddy tapping and even have a go yourself! Enquire on your houseboat or hotel for more information.
13. Or, try some palm wine for yourself in a Toddy Shop!
If you’re looking for where to sample some Toddy, then you only need look on the backwaters. While on your tour, make sure you ask your guide to stop off at a Toddy shop.
You’ll often be floating down the river and see a shack with a sign saying ‘Toddy’ or a photo of a terracotta pot spilling out palm wine. That’s your cue.
These aren’t the cleanest places or the most fancy, but they will be packed with local men who are playing cards, watching TV or chatting after a hard days work.
On my visit, it was festival time, so there weren’t many open for business. But, luckily we found one that was open to try some Toddy!
You must be careful with how much you consume as they often mix with local water. Plus, if you’re not used to drinking it, it can irritate your stomach.
However, it’s a must try and was one of the highlights of my trip to Alleppey!
14. Go fishing with the locals
Fishing is a big part of the trade in the area and you will see it everywhere you go. Boats out on the sea, men with their nets or fishing rods, or on a canoe boat. Everyone is trying to catch fish for their dinner!
As part of your tour, you can stop on your boat to see the fishermen reeling in their catch during the day, or the best time is at sunset once they’re on their way home.
On my rickshaw tour we saw men laying a net in the backwaters in the Lilypads. Although it was mucky work, it paid off as they were able to catch quite a few big fish there.
15. Visit a spice farm
The whole reason why settlers came to Kerala from foreign lands to begin with was for the wealth of spices that were here to trade.
From the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, they all traded spices back home and with the world. Kerala is famous for it.
Today, a popular thing to do in Kerala is to visit one of the spice farms, gardens or plantations in the area.
My homestay had their own farm which the owners family had owned for more than 150 years! They stored grain, coconuts, rice and also grew their own spices for dishes.
16. Watch the world go by in your hammock!
I really feel that Fort Kochi is for hopping around historical buildings, Munnar is for exploring the hilltops and Alleppey is the spot where you can chill out for a while.
Alappuzha has a completely different mood to the rest of Kerala. One where you escape the stresses of the modern world.
So, as well as all the places you can visit in Alleppey in 1 day, you can also use that 24 hours to chill out and relax.
Many houseboats give you the option to lie down and just sail, watching the world go by. Or, you can find a homestay that provides a place to completely relax and read a book.
Emerald Isle had a whole farm area where you could walk around a lake, see the spices and also relax in a hammock by the backwaters.
It was almost opposite the Sunset Point, so you had a spectacular view from there. All I will say though is bring some bug spray, as lying still can make you a good target for mosquitos and other insects too!
Where are you headed next in Kerala?
So, that’s all the places you can visit in Alleppey in 1 day. But, there is so much more to Kerala then the backwaters.
I explored Kerala for a week and loved every minute of it! We explored Fort Kochi, Munnar and Alleppey on my tour which gave a great mix of history, culture, viewpoints and relaxation.
If you want to see my whole Itinerary, then steal it by clicking here! Or, see my related articles below;
Fort Kochi is a cultural hub here in Kerala and has such a diverse range of historical and cultural attractions to enjoy.
You can hop around Portuguese churches, Dutch palaces, Paradesi Synagogues and Indo-Catholic Cathedrals!
Or, you can see some of the ‘real’ Kerala by visiting the locals at Dhobi Khana laundry house or climb aboard the Chinese Fishing nets to help the fishermen to reel in the catch of the day. It’s also a great place to watch a traditional Kathakali performance too.
- Chinese Fishing nets: tips to avoid getting scammed
Munnar is one of the most popular stops here in Kerala and is a hill Station located 1,500 metres above sea level. As you wind your way up the highway you’ll escape the heat and enter an emerald paradise with thousands of acres of jungle and tea plantations!
There is so much to do in Munnar you’ll need to allow travel time to get here and reach attractions.
The most popular stops are Top Station, Lockhart Tea Plantation, Echo Point, Eravikulam National Park and Lakkam falls!
Read more of my South India blog posts!
I have travelled to every Southern state in India, so make sure you read my informative guides to learn more about it!
A staple place if you want to go and enjoy some of the best tropical beaches in India! But, there is a lot of stuff to do here that isn’t just lying on a beach for a week. Churches, spice farms, markets and historic buildings are everywhere too.
So, if you are the adventurous type like me, here’s a list of things to do that aren’t the beaches in Goa.
I LOVED Pondicherry in India. It’s a French colony so you’ll find freshly baked baguettes, French on the signs and White Town painted in all different colours!
You can also visit some of the many beaches, temples and Auroville an experimental township that is home to the Matrimander.
Another place that travellers rave about in South India is Hampi.
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