Elephant stables

Top Tourist Places in Karnataka in 2024

Explore the vibrant tapestry of Karnataka’s tourist attractions with our comprehensive guide. From the lush greenery of Coorg to the historical wonders of Hampi, Karnataka boasts many captivating destinations waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re seeking adventure in the Western Ghats or serenity along the serene beaches of Gokarna, our curated list highlights the best places to visit in Karnataka. Plan your next getaway and immerse yourself in the rich culture, breathtaking landscapes, and fascinating history this diverse state offers.

As the tagline of Karnataka tourism boldly proclaims, “One State, Many Worlds,” Karnataka indeed presents a plethora of diverse experiences. Being my home state, I have developed a profound affection for Karnataka. There are numerous compelling reasons why I hold such deep admiration for this state. Below, I’ve outlined the top 10 reasons Karnataka deserves a coveted spot on every traveller’s bucket list.

Ranganatittu bird sanctuary
Ranganatittu bird sanctuary

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About Karnataka

Formerly recognized as the State of Mysore, Karnataka is a prominent state in southern India. Established on November 1, 1956, the state underwent a renaming to Karnataka in 1973. With 31 districts under its jurisdiction, Karnataka ranks as the sixth-largest state in India. The etymology of Karnataka’s name has sparked various theories, with the most widely accepted one suggesting its derivation from the words ‘karu’ and ‘nadu,’ signifying elevated land.

Karnataka boasts a diverse landscape, encompassing dense forests and hosting the world’s largest technology hub. Catering to every type of traveller, the state presents a wealth of experiences. Despite my extensive exploration within Karnataka, I continually unearth discoveries. Moreover, Karnataka stands out as one of the safest states in India for solo female travellers. In this article, I’ll unveil the top tourist destinations in Karnataka.

Fun fact: Did you know that approximately 16% of Karnataka’s land area is blanketed by forests?

Quick Fact Sheet of Karnataka

  • Official Language: Kannada.
  • Capital City: Bengaluru / Bangalore.
  • Kannada Rajyotsava (State Holiday): 1 November.
  • Best Time to Visit: October to March.
  • Days Required: Two to three weeks.
  • State Animal: Indian elephant.
  • State Bird: Indian roller.
  • State Flower: Lotus.
  • State Tree: Sandalwood.
  • Art Work: Chittara Painting.
Elephant at Nagarhole National Park

Best Time to Visit Karnataka

Karnataka experiences the full spectrum of seasons:

  • Winter: December to February.
  • Summer: March to May.
  • Monsoon: June to August.
  • Post-monsoon and Spring: September to November.

While travel is enjoyable year-round in Karnataka, the period between October and March typically offers pleasant and dry weather, making it ideal for exploration. However, visiting hill stations during the summer months can also be enchanting. I find travelling during the monsoon season, particularly to the Western Ghats, incredibly captivating as the mountains come alive with lush greenery and cascading waterfalls.

Bandaje Arbi Falls trek via Ballalarayana Durga Fort
Bandaje Arbi Falls Trek via Ballalarayana Durga Fort

Number of Days Required to Travel Around Karnataka

Karnataka is a substantial state, ranking as the eighth largest in India, with a total land area spanning approximately 191,791 square kilometres. Exploring this vast expanse and experiencing some of its spectacular sights requires a significant amount of time, ideally two to three weeks. However, even with this duration, you’ll only begin to scratch the surface of all that Karnataka has to offer.

Transportation in Karnataka

  • By Air – Karnataka boasts two international airports in Bengaluru and Mangaluru, along with eight domestic airports in Mangaluru, Belgaum, Hubli, Hampi, Bellary, Gulbarga, and Mysore.
  • By Public Transport (Buses and Trains) – Additionally, Karnataka boasts excellent connectivity via trains and buses throughout the state.
    • The railway network spans approximately 3000 kilometres, seamlessly linking significant cities and towns. For the latest train schedules and information, travellers can refer to the IRCTC website.
    • Buses, managed by the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) alongside private operators, offer convenient transportation options. Whether by driving or utilizing KSRTC-operated buses, exploring Karnataka is best facilitated through these reliable modes of travel.
Railway track, Bangalore

About Bangalore

Formally recognized as Bengaluru, Bangalore serves as the capital city of Karnataka state. Despite being the world’s largest technology hub, Bengaluru maintains its reputation as the Garden City and City of Lakes.

For those with just one day to explore Bangalore, consider referring to my comprehensive one-day itinerary in Bangalore.

High Court, Bangalore
High Court

How do you get to the Capital City, Bangalore?

By Air

  • Bengaluru, formerly known as Bangalore, boasts an international airport that offers connectivity to major cities within and outside India. Virtually all domestic airlines operate flights from Bengaluru.

By Road

  • Bengaluru enjoys excellent connectivity via national highways, featuring well-maintained roads that facilitate easy access into the city. However, it’s important to note that these roads typically require toll fees for usage. So, be prepared to pay toll fees when travelling on the national highways into Bengaluru.

By Public Transport

  • Bengaluru boasts robust connectivity through buses and trains, with key train stations like Majestic and Yelahanka serving as main transportation hubs. For the latest information on train schedules, IRCTC is the go-to website, while Redbus provides up-to-date information on bus routes and timings.

UNESCO Sites in Karnataka

Karnataka proudly houses two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the monuments at Hampi and Pattadakal. These destinations hold immense popularity, particularly among history and culture enthusiasts. The monuments and temples found here are nothing short of extraordinary, boasting stunning architectural marvels that captivate visitors with their beauty and historical significance.

A complete travel guide to Hampi

Regions and Districts in Karnataka

Geographical Regions

Three distinct regions predominantly characterize Karnataka’s geographical landscape:

  1. Coastal Karnataka, encompassing Karavali and Tulu Nadu.
  2. The Western Ghats, known as Malenadu.
  3. The Deccan Plateau is referred to as Bayaluseeme.

The Deccan Plateau, which includes Bengaluru, constitutes the most significant portion of the state.

Divisions and Districts

The state is administratively divided into four divisions comprising 31 districts. Each of these districts is home to numerous cities and towns with unique heritage and cultural identity. Governed by ziladars, these districts are subdivided into talukas, each overseen by talukdars.

Kitturu Karnataka or Belagavi Division

The Kitturu Karnataka, also known as the Belagavi division, consists of seven districts, with Belgaum serving as its capital:

  1. Bagalkote
  2. Belgaum
  3. Dharwad
  4. Gadag
  5. Haveri
  6. Uttara Karnataka
  7. Vijayapura

Bangalore and Surrounds

Over the years, Bangalore has experienced significant growth, including several outlying districts in the Bangalore division.

  • Bangalore Urban.
  • Bangalore Rural.
  • Chikkaballapura.
  • Chitradurga, previously known as Farkhabad during the Tipu Sultan era, is a city famous for its fort and is located on the valley of River Vedavati.
  • Davangere.
  • Kolar.
  • Ramanagara.
  • Shimogga.
  • Tumakuru.

Also, Read Isha Foundation in Chikkaballapura

Kalyana Karnataka

Previously recognized as the Gulbarga division, the Kalyana Karnataka division comprises seven districts.

  • Bellary.
  • Bidar.
  • Kalabuargi.
  • Koppal.
  • Raichur.
  • Yadagiri.
  • Vijayanagara, presently known as Hampi, stands as a fortified city that served as the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Renowned for its captivating ruins and monuments, Hampi draws visitors from far and wide to explore its rich historical heritage.

Mysore and Surrounds

The final division is the Mysore division, centered around the city and surrounding areas. This division encompasses eight districts in total.

  • Chamarajangara.
  • Chikkamangaluru is known for its mountains, national parks and coffee. The city of Chikkamangaluru within the district is located on the foothills of the Western Ghats.
  • Dakshina Kannada.
  • Hassan.
  • Coorg or Kodagu.
  • Mandya.
  • Mysore, nestled at the foothills of Chamundi Hills, is renowned for its iconic Mysore Palace and the Krishna Raja Sagara (KRS) Dam.
  • Udupi.

Also, Read Satyamangalam Wildlife Sanctuary

Top Tourist Places in Karnataka

Bangalore or Bengaluru

Renowned by various monikers like the City of Lakes and the Information Technology (IT) capital, Bengaluru, or Bangalore, it serves as the capital city of Karnataka. This bustling metropolis is highly favoured, with over 50% of its population as immigrants. Offering a diverse array of attractions, Bangalore is a vibrant and inclusive city, catering to all tastes and preferences.

Top 3 places to see:

  1. Bangalore Fort
  2. Tipu Sultan Palace
  3. Bangalore Palace

Number of days required: 3 to 4 days

Best time to visit: November to March

Lalbagh, one of the oldest parks in Bangalore

Mysore and Srirangapatna

Srirangapatna and Mysore are situated a mere 150 kilometres from Bangalore. Mysore, famed for its majestic Mysore Palace and vibrant Dasara festival, rests at the base of Chamundi Hill. Adjacent to Mysore, Srirangapatna, once a natural island, exudes historical charm.

Top 3 places to see:

  1. Mysore Palace
  2. Tipu Sultan’s Fort
  3. Sri Nimishamba Temple

Number of days required: 3 to 4 days

Best time to visit: July to February


Formerly the capital city of the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi was a fortified city renowned for its grandeur. Today, its monuments stand as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, albeit in ruins, following destruction by the Mughals.

Top 3 places to see:

  1. Sri Virupaksha Temple
  2. Hazara Rama Temple
  3. Anjanadri Betta

Number of days required: 3 days

Best time to visit: November to February

Hampi temple - sculpture

Coorg and Madikeri

Often referred to as the “Scotland of India,” Coorg or Kodagu is a picturesque district nestled amidst the slopes of the Western Ghats. This region’s breathtaking landscapes and scenery captivate visitors with its natural beauty. Madikeri, a popular tourist destination, is situated within the Coorg district.

Stay at Coorg? You can consider one of the beautiful homestays in Coorg – PK Ponnappa’s Court.

Reputable travel agencies offer reliable options for travellers seeking tours to Coorg from Bangalore. Opting for established agencies is remarkably advisable for solo female travellers, ensuring safety and peace of mind.

Top 3 places to see:

  1. Omkareshwara Temple
  2. Abbey Falls
  3. Namdroling Monastery Golden Temple

Number of days required: 3 to 4 days. Check out the places that can be covered in Coorg in just two days.

Best time to visit: September to June


Renowned for its lush tea and coffee estates, Sakleshpura is a charming hill station within the Western Ghats region. Personally, Sakleshpura holds a special place in my heart as one of my favourite destinations in Karnataka, with its enchanting landscapes and delightful weather.

Top 3 places to see:

  1. Manjarabad Fort
  2. Bisile Ghat Viewpoint
  3. Sri Bettada Bhairaveshwara Temple

Number of days required: 2 to 3 days

Best time to visit: November to February

Coastal Karnataka

Blessed with stunning beaches and picturesque landscapes, Coastal Karnataka stretches along the scenic coastline of the Arabian Sea. Also known as Tulunadu, this region is renowned for its vibrant cultural heritage, including traditional dances such as Yakshagana and Bhoota Kola.

Best time to visit: November to February


Mangalore, or Mangaluru, stands as a prominent port city along the shores of the Arabian Sea, serving as a vital commercial hub in Karnataka. Renowned for its abundance of coconut trees and delectable cuisine, Mangalore also prides itself on being one of the safest cities in India.

Top 3 places to see:

  1. Kadri Manjunatha Temple
  2. Mangaladevi Temple
  3. St. Aloysious Chapel

Number of days required: 3 days

Best time to visit: October to February

Udupi and Manipal

Renowned for its 13th-century Krishna Temple, Udupi holds significant religious importance for Hindus, boasting a plethora of ancient temples. The coastal city’s name, “Udupi,” translates to “the land of the lord of the stars,” referring to the moon. Adjacent to Udupi lies Manipal, a vibrant university town just 5 kilometres away.

Top 3 places to see:

  1. Sri Krishna Temple
  2. Corporation Bank Heritage Museum
  3. Hasta Shilpa Heritage Village Museum

Number of days required: 2 days

Best time to visit: June to September


Renowned for hosting the world’s second tallest Lord Shiva statue, Murdeshwara is a picturesque coastal town nestled along the Arabian Sea, earning the title of Karnataka’s scuba diving capital. While in Murdeshwara, travellers can also explore the offbeat destination of Honnavar, adding depth to their journey.

Top 3 places to see/do:

  1. Murdeshwara Temple with Lord Shiva Statue
  2. Scuba Diving at Netrani Island
  3. Water Sports at Murdeshwara Beach

Number of days required: 3 days

Best time to visit: October to February

Murdeshwara temple


Gokarna, another serene coastal town, offers an ideal setting for a relaxing getaway. The name “Gokarna” translates to “cow’s ear,” stemming from a folktale in which Lord Shiva, the town’s main deity, is said to have emerged from the ear of a cow. Known for its offbeat charm and laid-back atmosphere, Gokarna is a favourite among youngsters and backpackers.

Top 3 places to see:

  1. Sri Mahabaleshwara Swamy Temple
  2. Om Beach
  3. Mirjan Fort

Number of days required: 2 days in Gokarna.

Best time to visit: October to March.

Also, Read Jayamangali Blackbuck Reserve

Forests of Karnataka

Bandipur National Park

Bandipur National Park, doubling as a tiger reserve, boasts Karnataka’s second-highest population of tigers. This sprawling park is also a proud member of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.

Number of days required: 2 days

Best time to visit: March to September

Bandipur National Park
Bandipur National Park

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

Boasting abundant wildlife, including the elusive black panthers, Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is a must-visit destination. With its dense forests and thrilling activities like white water rafting, Dandeli is a town that promises an unforgettable experience.

Number of days required: 2 days

Best time to visit: October to May

Hornbills at Dandeli

Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary

Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary, nestled in the Chikkamagaluru district, is a tiger reserve and offers the highest probability of encountering tigers and leopards in their natural habitat. This sanctuary is a haven for diverse wildlife, including sloth bears, langurs, barking deer, civet cats, giant squirrels, and many others.

Number of days required: 2 days

Best time to visit: October to May

The Western Ghats

Also referred to as Sahyadri, the Western Ghats are a majestic mountain range that runs along the edge of the Deccan Plateau and the Malabar coast of the Arabian Sea. In Karnataka, these mountains stretch from Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary to Mangalore. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Western Ghats are renowned for their scenic trekking trails and rich biodiversity.

Best time to visit: October to March

Looking for some easy one-day treks? Here are 14 Best One-Day Treks from Bangalore.

Gangadikal trek
Gangadikal trek

Beaches and Waterfalls of Karnataka


Among the eight blue flag-certified beaches in India, Karnataka proudly hosts two. Kasarkod Beach in Honnavar and Padubidri Beach in Udupi hold this prestigious certification. Karnataka boasts approximately 30 beaches, with Panambur Beach in Mangalore ranking among the top 10 beaches in the state. Renowned for its cleanliness and safety measures, Panambur Beach stands out as a favourite destination for beach enthusiasts.


Karnataka boasts an abundance of waterfalls, with over 500 cascades standing at least 10 meters tall. These majestic waterfalls offer a mesmerizing sight, especially during the monsoon season. Jog Falls in Shimoga district stands out as the most renowned. Other notable waterfalls include Shivanasamudra, Iruppu, and Abbey Falls.

Also, Read Sree Someshwara Temple near Shivanasamudra

Picture with Shivanasamudra falls
Shivanasamudra falls

Bucket List Accommodation in Karnataka

Cintacor Island Resort, Karwar

Did you know that Karnataka is home to its very own island resort? That’s right! You don’t need to travel to the Maldives to experience the luxury of staying at an island resort or swimming in an infinity pool. Right here in Karnataka, in the beautiful town of Karwar, lies the Cintacor Island Resort.

Click here to book your stay at Cintacor Island Resort on Agoda

This magical place offers breathtaking views of the ocean and unforgettable sunsets. Having enjoyed staying there, I can attest that it’s a standout destination. I highly recommend adding a stay at Cintacor Island Resort to your bucket list of experiences in Karnataka.

Cintacor Island Resort

Jungle Lodges Resort (JLR)

Managed by the Government of Karnataka, Jungle Lodge Resorts (JLR) offers an unparalleled experience for nature and wildlife enthusiasts. Nestled amidst sanctuaries and national parks, these resorts provide an extraordinary opportunity to immerse oneself in the beauty of Karnataka’s natural landscapes.

Click here to book your stay at Jungle Lodges Resort on Agoda

Orange County, Kabini

One of my personal favourite properties is Orange County in Kabini. Exuding luxury and opulence, Orange County is situated on the picturesque banks of the River Kabini near Nagarhole National Park.

Click here to book your stay at Orange County in Kabini on Agoda

This 5-star hotel offers visitors an experience transcending expectations, transporting them to unparalleled indulgence and tranquillity.

Red Earth Kabini

Nestled in the serene village of Begur, Red Earth Kabini stands as a charming retreat along the picturesque Kabini backwaters. This delightful 3-star resort promises a cozy and inviting haven for its guests, ensuring a memorable stay amidst nature’s tranquility.

Click here to book your stay at Red Earth Kabini on Agoda

Farms To Visit Near Bangalore
Chiguri Farm in Kanakpura
Akshayakalpa Farm
Chukki Mane Farm

Strelitzia Villas, Luxury Homestay in Chikkamagaluru

If you seek a fairy tale setting and luxurious accommodations, look no further than Sterlitzia Villas in Chikkamagaluru. Offering spacious villas adorned with beautiful décor, this homestay stands out as a haven of comfort and elegance.

Click here to book your stay at Strelitzia Villas in Chikkamagaluru on Agoda

Strelitzia Villas, Best Homestay in Chikmagalur Chikkamagaluru

Karnataka’s Dance Form

Yakshagana, originating in Udupi, is a distinctive dance form of Karnataka, particularly prominent in Coastal Karnataka. This art form combines elements of dance, drama, elaborate costumes, and music to create a captivating performance. Typically, 15 to 20 artists participate in the act, showcasing their skills and talents. Throughout Karnataka, there are numerous venues where one can witness the spectacular display of this traditional dance.

Yakshagana Dance Performance
Yakshagana Performance at Karnataka Chitra Kala Parishad

Is Karnataka Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

Karnataka is one of the safest states for travellers in India, with its friendly and hospitable people who readily assist female travellers in need. However, it’s essential to exercise caution and remain aware of your surroundings, especially during nighttime. Avoid venturing out after dark, as Karnataka is home to a significant wildlife population, including tigers and leopards, which may pose potential risks.

Closing Notes

Karnataka is a diverse state that offers something for every traveller, from picturesque beaches to majestic mountains. Its natural beauty and cultural richness make it a must-visit destination in India. I highly recommend exploring Karnataka at least once in the southern part of India to experience its charm and allure firsthand.

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Top Tourist Places in Karnataka in 2024
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    PIN for later reference – Top Tourist Places in Karnataka

    PIN for later reference - Tourist places in Karnataka
    PIN for later reference – Top Tourist Places in Karnataka