Karnataka is a popular tourist destination in India due to its beautiful architecture and heritage, along with it’s unmatched scenic beauty. Karnataka offers beaches and hill stations which can be travelled using public and private transport. The state is also not bereft of historical significance since it has been the home to many ruling South Indian empires since the ancient times.
Here’s how you can reach Karnataka:
By Air: Karnataka has two important air links in India. The Bangalore International Airport is located in the capital of Karnataka and is a major connector with international cities and terminals. Additionally, the Mangalore Airport also has air links to cities located in India and abroad. Tourists can choose either of the two airports to travel to Karnataka.
By Rail: Karnataka is also well connected by railway routes and has an intricate system of rail links spread throughout the state. Mysore station and Bangalore station are the best railway connectors to other parts of India. People from all four corners of the country can easily travel to these stops by direct and connecting trains.
By Road: Karnataka has some breathtaking roads which take people through the majestic Western Ghats. People who prefer driving to the state can take the NH44, NH 75, and National Highway 66 highways to easily reach any part of the state.
15 best tourist places in Karnataka
Here are some of the best places to visit in Karnataka which should be on your itinerary if you are travelling to the state:
Mysore or Mysuru is one of the best tourist places to visit in Karnataka. Located at the foothills of Chamundi Hills, Mysore has a rich culture and heritage which attracts thousands of tourists from around the world. Mysore was the capital city of the Mysore kingdom in South India. The city still houses many old monuments and heritage buildings which are a special treat to the eyes. Historians and people who enjoy the ancient art of South India will find this city truly mesmerising. The Mysore Palace is a top attraction for tourists. On Sundays and public holidays, the palace is lit with yellow lights and the sight is truly heavenly. Other places of interest in Mysore include St. Philomena’s Church, Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, Keshava Temple Somnathapura, Regional Museum of Natural History, Folklore Museum, Krishnarajasagar Dam, Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna, and the Brindavan Gardens. The best way to reach Mysore would be by rail links which connect Mysore station with cities like Chennai, Delhi, and Kolkata.
Coorg is one of the most picturesque hill stations in Karnataka. This top Karnataka tourism place offers stunning views of the lush green hills around the area. During monsoons, Coorg offers breathtaking views of the hills with dense vegetation. A number of streams and waterfalls are located in Coorg and can be enjoyed by visiting tourists. Officially called Kodagu, Coorg is also called the Scotland of India. The place also contains a large number of coffee plantations that thrive in the cool climate of Coorg. You can select your stay among luxury hotels and homestays, which come at reasonable prices. Additionally, you need to visit Madikeri Fort, Omkareshwara Temple, Abbey Falls, Raja’s Tomb, Mercara Gold Estate Coffee Plantation, etc., in Coorg. You may choose to stay on the coffee plantations and enjoy the greenery around you. Coorg can be reached by road from Bangalore through the NH75 highway.
Bangalore is the capital city of Karnataka. This city is also called the Silicon valley of India due to the large number of industries and MNCs located here. Bangalore has its own airport and railway station, so people have multiple options to reach the city. Travel enthusiasts from all over India flock to these Karnataka tourist places to experience the cool weather and the beauty of the city. There are a large number of tourist places in Bangalore offering a glimpse into the modernised life in Karnataka. Some major places of interest are Bangalore Palace, Bannerghatta Zoo (Biological Park), Lalbagh Botanical Garden, Cubbon Park, Karnataka Vidhana Soudha, Sri Dodda Ganapathi Temple, etc. The ISKON Temple at Bangalore is a special attraction for devotees and receives thousands of foreign travellers every year. Bangalore also has some amazing restaurants which serve a wide variety of delectable cuisines.
Badami or Vatapi is located in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. This famous place in Karnataka served as the capital city of Badami Chalukyas in 500-700 BC. Badami is the perfect place for historians and enthusiasts for its ancient temples and relics. The Badami cave temples are rock-cut monuments that display the exceptional skills of the ancient Indian people. The temples at Badami are true marvels of architecture and are more or less well-preserved despite being centuries old. The sites to visit in Badami are Jambulingeshwara temple, Bhutanatha temples, Badami Shivalaya, Badami Fort, Bhootnath Temple, Agastya Lake, Chikka Mahaakuteshwara temple, and Mallikarjuna Temple. To reach Badami caves, you need to take a direct train to Badami Station from Bangalore station. Alternatively, you can also fly to Bangalore Airport and travel to the location by roadways.
Hampi is one of the best tourist places in Karnataka due to its ancient monuments. To reach Hampi, tourists can travel to Hospet railway station from Bangalore and Mysore railway stations. Like Badami, Hampi is known for its elaborate display of ancient Indian architecture and culture. The temples at Hampi have been recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. The town is located in the Vijayanagara district of Karnataka. The beautiful and mesmerising rock temples of the 14th century. It was indeed the seat of the Vijayanagara empire till the 16th century. The ruins of Hampi are still well-preserved and offer some insight into the cultures of Southern India. It is also mentioned in the Puranas and Ramayana, which are old Hindu mythology texts predating the Vijayanagara empire. The places to see in Hampi are Sree Virupaksha Temple, Vijaya Vittala Temple, Vijaya Vittala Temple, Hemakuta Hill Temple, Achyutaraya Temple, Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, and Kadalekalu Ganesha.
Gokarna is a seaside town in the Uttara Kannada district of the state of Karnataka. Tourists can reach this quaint town by travelling to the nearest railway station at Ankola from any major city in India. This seaside town is pretty popular among tourists and residents of Bangalore. Locals come here to enjoy the cool sea breeze and take a dip in the water after months of office pressure. The town is a tourist spot frequented by the youth. The town is also an important Hindu pilgrimage site in India, and devotees crowd the town to offer their worship to Lord Shiva. The town is the perfect meeting point for ancient and modern times. You can visit the famous Sri Mahabaleshwara Swami Temple to offer your respect as well. The beaches of Gokarna like Om Beach, Half Moon Beach, Kudle Beach Road, Paradise Beach, and Gokarna Beach Road can be enjoyed by tourists. The local cuisine is also delicious and deserves special mention.
Chikmagalur or Chikkamagaluru is another popular hill station in Karnataka. Chikmagalur is famous for its quaint hills and peaceful setting. Kadur is the nearest railway station to Chikmagalur, and a short ride of 45 minutes will take you to this hill station. The town offers some breathtaking views of the Western Ghats which surround Chikmagalur. The tropical rainforest of Chikmagalur is a special attraction for nature and wildlife photographers who want to work in peace. This town is away from the busy city life and offers repose amongst the green pastures. A huge number of homestays and hotels are available for tourists who come to enjoy the Western Ghats. You can reach Chikmagalur very easily by public and private transport. The coffee plantations here are a must-visit along with Chikmagalur Gandhi Park, Mullayanagiri Peak, Hirekolale lake, Coffee Museum, Hebbe Waterfalls, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, and Baba Budangiri.
Udupi is a famous temple city and one of the best tourist places in Karnataka. The city is also a popular destination for beachgoers in the country. The famous Hindu Temples are sites of pilgrimage and offer insight into the Hindu architecture of South India. The beaches here are perfect for the younger population who want to enjoy their vacation and spend their days in peace and quiet. The places to visit near Udupi are Udupi Sri Krishna Mutt, Corporation Bank Heritage Museum, Anantheshwara, Sri Indrani Panchadurga Parameshwari Temple, Anantha Padmanabha Temple, Sri Chandramouleshwara temple, and Udupi temple. The beach attractions of Udupi are St. Mary’s Islands, Pithrody Udyavara Beach, Mattu Beach, Padukere Beach, and Manipal Lake. Tourists can easily reach Udupi by a short cab ride from Mangalore airport.
Bandipur National Park
Bandipur National Park is home to a variety of wildlife species from the Western Ghats. Located within 75 km from Mysore, the reserve is accessible via NH766 highway. This tiger reserve in Karnataka is one of the top places to visit because of its flora and fauna. You can take safaris in the Park which are arranged by the officials. The various animals found here are tigers, leopards, reptiles, elephants, bears, and a variety of bird species. Bandipur National Park deserves a special place in your itinerary because it is one of the most famous places in Karnataka. This part is also the perfect spot for picnics and day tours without travelling or trekking too much. You can also stay at nearby hotels to relax and recover from the day’s safari. Remember to avoid going here during winters. Nature lovers can also note the exotic trees of the Park, which include rosewood, sandalwood, teak, Indian kino tree, giant clumping bamboo, and Indian gooseberry.
Jog falls deserves a special mention separately because it is actually the second highest waterfall in India after the one in Meghalaya. It is also on every Karnataka places to visit list. Jog falls is as breathtaking as its title suggests. This beautiful system of waterfalls falls from an incredible height of 253 metres. Located in Shivamogga, this popular waterfall is a must-visit for all tourists. Nature photographers will enjoy photographing these waterfalls as the surroundings are serene and relatively free from crowds. This place is perfect for picnics and a day of relaxation. People can take a short trip to Jog falls from Sagara to reach the place. You can also opt to stay back here for a day or two to completely soak in the beauty of the Jog Falls. You can also opt to visit during the rainy season when the falls are at their full capacity. The best way to reach Jog Falls would be to travel to Talguppa, which is the nearest railway station, and then take a short cab ride to the spot.
Nagarhole National Park
Nagarhole National Park is another famous tiger reserve in Karnataka. Nagarhole National Park is perfect for nature lovers and tourists. A short drive from Mysore via Mananthavady Road will take you to the reverse in under 3 hours. The tiger reserve is home to several animal species and a large variety of flora. People travel from all over the country to reach this national park and enjoy the beauty of wildlife and nature. Wildlife photographers will love this place for its scenic beauty and host rare animal species. You can opt for local safaris through the national park. The safaris here will easily take up an entire day so prepare well in advance. The sunsets at Nagarhole National Park are a show stealer among the beauty of wildlife and nature. The reserve also holds many protected trees and flowering plants, which can be enjoyed by tourists.
Among the best places in Karnataka is Bijapur, which holds historical significance. Established in the 10th century, the city is home to many architectural marvels. Many Mughal architectures like the Gol Gumbaz, Jamiya Masjid, Bara Kaman, Malik-E-Maidan, and Ibrahim Roza Road offer tourists some famous heritage buildings. Located in the plainlands, Bijapur is relatively easy to reach via road and railways. Tourists can also explore other sites in the city like Fort Bijapur, Shivgiri Shiva Temple, Gagan Mahal, Bhutnal Lake, Mehtar Mahal, Sath Khabar, and many more. You can choose to stay at Bijapur in local hotels or simply visit for the day. The rich historical heritage of Bijapur will definitely wow all tourists and earn their admiration. Travellers can take the NH50 highway from Hampi to reach Bijapur easily.
Mangalore is a famous port city in Karnataka. The city has some breathtaking sea beaches which attract a lot of tourists every year. Mangalore also contains an airport which makes it easy to access for all tourists. This city has been a major export hub of India and is still an active port that exports coffee and handicraft items from the Western Ghats. Tourists can come here to enjoy the beaches like Panambur, Tannirbhavi, NITK beach, Sasihithlu beach, Someshwara beach, Ullal beach, Kotekar beach, and Batapady beach. People can also visit the various religious sites in Mangalore like Mangaladevi Temple, Kadri Manjunath Temple, St Aloysius Chapel, the Rosario Cathedral, Zeenath Baksh Jumma Masjid in Bunder, Milagres Church, and Dargah of Hazrat Shareef ul Madni at Ullal. The best way to reach Mangalore would be via air as Mangalore has both domestic and international air links with major cities of the world.
Shravanabelagola is an important Jain pilgrimage in the Hassan district in the Indian state of Karnataka. The NH275 and SH47 highways from Bangalore will take you to this holy place in Karnataka. This amazing city is a tirtha spot for Jains and a popular tourist attraction for travellers in and around India. People from all states come to this holy city to offer worship or seek blessings. The spectacular statue of Mahavira at Shravanabelagola is a special attraction for tourists. The city is also known for being the final resting place for Chandragupta Maurya, the famous ancient Indian king. The other popular places of interest are Akkana Basadi, Chandragupta basadi, Chamundaraya Basadi, Parshvanath Basadi, Adarsh Smarak Monument, etc. Plenty of hotels and resorts are available around the city, which can be used by tourists to spend the night and take a rest after the day’s tour.
Shimoga is located in the Shimoga district of Karnataka. This spot finds its place among the best tourist places in Karnataka due to its beautiful waterfalls and scenic beauty. Located on the Tunga River, the city is also called the Gateway of Malnad. The scenic beauty of the place is truly unmatched. If you want to spend a day away from the crowds and in the lap of nature, you need to include Shimoga in your Karnataka itinerary. The top things to do and see in Shimoga include Shimoga Zoo & Safari, Sakrebyle Elephant Camp, Mattur Lake, Gajanur Dam, Shivappa Nayaka Palace, Onake Abbi Falls, Kunchikal Falls, and Dabbe Falls. Shimoga Falls can be reached via NH 48 and SH 24 from Bangalore city.
Is Karnataka worth visiting?
Karnataka is a beautiful state with several torus attractions ranging from temples, and sanctuaries to hill stations. Therefore, it is definitely a state worth visiting.
What is the best time to visit Karnataka?
The best time to visit Karnataka is during the months of March-May. Additionally, you can also visit here during the rainy season to have a unique experience of the Western Ghats.
What are the best places to visit in Karnataka?
Some of the best places to visit in Karnataka include Mysore, Hampi, Coorg, Bangalore, and Bandipur.