The enchanting city of Chennai boasts of many amazing places to see, each promising a unique experience. Whether you are looking for a relaxed vacation by the beach or a fun holiday with family or an education tour for school children, Chennai has ample of places to visit, catering to a varied range of interests.
From forts and ancient buildings to religious places, from museums and art galleries to beaches and parks, every visitor will find something of his or her interest in Chennai. Here are some of the sightseeing places in Chennai.
Formerly known as Madras, Chennai is the capital city of the state of Tamil Nadu, in the southern part of India. Located on the Coromandel coast of Bay of Bengal, Chennai is as dynamic as it is immersed in tradition. This 'capital of the south', is one among the four metropolitan siblings of India, having a rich cultural history which it perfectly balances with its metropolis lifestyle.
Amid its chaos of traffic and sweltering humid climate, Chennai is worth visiting for its temples steeped in south-Indian culture, British-era museums and monuments, culinary delights, and Marina Beach (Second largest urban beach in the world). Chennai's skyline is famous for its towering skyscrapers, but the heart of Chennai has an old-world charm to it that refuses to be overshadowed.
Chennai is well connected with major cities in the country through rail, air, and road. Chennai is also well connected to both national and international cities via the Chennai International Airport. From the airport, the cheapest way to the city is by taking the suburban train into the city which only costs Rs 12. The suburban train connects you to Chennai Central and Egmore, the two main passenger train stations.
The Chennai international airport is only 7 km away from the city centre. It has two terminals, Anna International Airport, and the Kamaraj Domestic Terminal. Most domestic and international airline carriers have direct flights to the Anna International Airport while all Domestic airlines operate at the Kamaraj Domestic Terminal. From the airport, the cheapest way to the city is by taking the suburban train into the city which only costs Rs 12. The suburban train connects you to Chennai Central and Egmore, the two main passenger train stations.
There are pre-paid Taxi booths, from where you can hire a Taxi to commute to the city from the Airport. If you are looking for a cheaper alternative, then there are Rickshaws.
Nearest Airport: Chennai Airport
This city has it all- cabs, buses, an extensive suburban rail system, taxis. You can even walk around the city If you've got the time, patience, and strength. The city also has Ola and Uber services.
October to February during the winters and the pre-monsoons season is the best time to visit Chennai. This time of the year is considered as the best time to explore the metropolitan city as summers are scorching and monsoons bring torrential downpours and cyclones. Its geographical location on the beautiful coastline mostly keeps the city's weather hot and humid.
Chennai in Winters (November - February)
Winters, the best time to visit Chennai, begin in November and last till February. Even the transitional month of October is quite good for exploring the city. The weather is quite pleasant with the maximum temperature hovering around 30°C and the minimum around 22°C. Its proximity to the coastline also results in occasional rains, but it will not be something that will hamper travel plans to a great extent. Kapaleeshwarar temple, Government Museum, Fort St George, St. Andrews Church, Fort Museum, Nalli Silks, Kalakshetra Foundation, Vivekananda House etc. are some of the attractions that can be seen when in Chennai. The season is also famous for the array of festivals organised in the city like the Dance and Music Festival in December, Travel & Tourism Fair and Pongal in January and the Natyanjali Dance Festival held in February/ March. These events are traditional and important celebrations of Chennai and its culture and must not be missed when there.
Chennai in Monsoons (July - September)
Chennai is susceptible to heavy downpours and cyclones between the months of July and September. These months mark the monsoon season in the region and is considered off-season as tourism does not really thrive here. The extreme rainfalls and strong winds could prove to be a hindrance to sightseeing and, therefore, the monsoon season is not recommended to tourists. The hotel tariffs, however, drop drastically during the season, making it a decent option for budget travellers. In case one has to visit Chennai, they may want to plan a trip at the onset of the season when the showers are moderate and allow travelling through the city.
Chennai in Summers (March - June)
March marks the onset of the summer season in Chennai. It lasts till June and visiting the city during this time is not for the faint-hearted, some say. The days are blazing hot with the temperatures soaring as high as 39°C and the nights are equally warm with the minimum hovering around 27°C. Exploring the cityscape during this time of the year is an extremely exhausting affair and is, therefore, not advised to tourists.
Impeccable kitchen and flavoured thalis served in plantain leaves is their speciality. Junior Kuppanna is frenzied chennai mess that has so many branches across the city. Try their traditional tamilian cuisine.
At Chap Chay, a reasonable price buys you unlimited bowls of stir fry. It is a pan asian restaurant that's a bit pricey, yet a favourite among Thai curry lovers. Don't forget to try their Zingy Thai.
A cycle shop-cum cafe is a popular food chain that's known for it's extensive international menu and funky interiors. They serve everything from exotic scottish salmon to smoothies and cold beverages.
With limited menu of homestyled south indian dishes, Rayars Mess is a crowded eatery at most times during the day. The family run restaurant has everything from idlis for breakfast to Thalis for lunch at reasonable prices.
Located across from the Chepauk Stadium, Nair Mess pulls in large daily crowds with its scrumptuous south indian seafood dishes. The meals here are served piping hot on banana leaves and are quite affordable. The crispy fish fries and spicy masala prawn are highly recommended.
Chennai’s local cuisine consists of traditional South Indian food such as sambar, dosas and idlis. Ranging from street side stalls to upscale restaurants, you can enjoy a complete gourmet experience in Chennai.
Chennai like any sparkling city that is constantly growing and expanding in all its spheres, fosters a cuisine that provides countless options. The city has a vibrant street food culture as well as well laid out and flattering fine dining experiences. While you can try a few cuisines and foods here, one must not miss what Chennai is known for- traditional and authentic South-Indian cuisine. Hence do not miss the filter coffee as well as items like Idli, Dosa, Appam, Vada, Upma, Sambhar, Parotha, Chettinad Chicken, Pepper Chicken, Chicken Stew, Sweet Pongal, Kesari, Payasam and much more.
1. ITC Grand Chola, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Chennai
Facilites: Parking, Wifi, Bar , Pool , Food
An ideal getaway to pamper yourself is the ITC Grand Chola, a luxurious collection hotel. The Hotel features an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. The Kayakalp - The Royal Spa is the on-site spa & wellness centre with 12 treatment rooms offering a broad range of massages and therapies. There are ten dining options at this property and a bar. ITC Grand Chola has a 24-hour front desk for assisting the guests with luggage storage, laundry, and tour arrangement services. A luxurious & delightful stay is guaranteed.
5-star hotel with 7 room options
? 10,030 onwards
2. The Leela Palace Chennai
Facilites: Parking, Wifi , Bar , Pool
Sprawled over 4.8 acres of tropical landscape along the beach, Leela Palace is a regal property with majestic suites featuring living rooms, dedicated entertainment sections and garden views. Relish authentic South Indian dishes and flavours of Chennai at their restaurant and trendy bar. A swimming pool, spa, wellness centre and meeting facilities are also available.
5-star hotel with 8 room options
? 10,028 onwards
3. Citadines OMR Chennai
Facilites: Parking, Wifi , Bar , Pool , Food
Situated in Chennai, Citadines OMR Chennai features a fitness centre and a garden. Popular points of interest around the property include Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and Anna University.
Book without credit card
5-star aparthotel with 6 room options
? 3,540 onwards
4. Taj Club House
Central Chennai (1.6 kms from city centre)
Facilites: Parking, Wifi , Bar , Food
Housed within a neon-blue building with glass facades, Taj Club is well-suited for embassies, executives and leisure travellers. Smart designs, marble flooring and distinctive furnishing can be found in their 220 rooms and suites. Other amenities include 10 ultra-chic restaurants like Machan, Wasabi and Masala Craft, Blue Ginger Bar, a spa, gym and event spaces.
5-star hotel with 7 room options
? 5,321 onwards
5. ibis Chennai OMR
Sholinganallur (17.4 kms from city centre)
Facilites: Parking , Bar , Wifi , Pool , Food
Ideally placed in the heart of the IT corridor while also in the vicinity of the serene ECR beaches, this luxurious hotel offers a convenient stay. The rooms are tastefully appointed with stylish beds and furniture to recline after tiring meetings or all-day exploring. The hotel also offers a fitness centre, terrace, well-equipped event spaces, recreational restaurant with contactless dining serving local and Chinese cuisines paired with lip-smacking drinks and verdant gardens with barbecue facilities.
4 star hotel with 4 room options
? 2,535 onwards
South Chennai (10.1 kms from city centre)
Facilites: Parking , Wifi , Bar , Pool , Food
Trident Chennai is a 5-star hotel with indulgent amenities like an outdoor pool, well-manicured gardens, a plush spa and comfortable accommodations. Equipped with French windows and wooden furniture, their suites with living rooms are spacious for families and business travellers. The Cinnamon restaurant serves Asian cuisines while Samudra restaurant specializes in seafood and indigenous dishes.
1. Spend a Day at Marina Beach
Situated in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Marina Beach is a natural urban beach along the Bay of Bengal. The beach is stretched out to 13 kilometres making it the longest natural urban beach in the country, second largest in the world and also the most crowded beach in India with almost 30,000 visitors a day. It is one of the most sought-after beaches and spending a day here sun-soaking, is one of the most essential things to do in Chennai.
Breezy Beach lays in the remote and serene neighbourhood of Valmiki Nagar in Chennai. Being smaller and less polluted, it’s a perfect getaway for anyone looking for a peaceful evening. This beach is not as popular and known as the Elliots beach and is hence quieter and more peaceful. Evenings are very pleasant and breezy here, and in the recent years, lots of tourists have been attracted towards this beach for its beauty. Sunbathing at the pristine beach is among the top things to do in Chennai for every tourist.
Having been established in the year 1994, a considerably new structure, the MGR Film city is managed by the Government of Tamil Nadu in loving memory of MG Ramachandran who was not only a crowd-pleasing tamil actor but also a longtime CM of Tamil Nadu. It is unacceptable if you are in town, and you do not visit the Film City as it tops the charts when it comes to the best things to do in Chennai.
4. Trek the Koli Hills
With an ominous name which means 'Mountain of Death', Koli Hills are a mountain range located in the Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu. It is relatively untouched by commercial tourism and therefore has retained most of its natural magnificence. This is one of the most thrilling things to do in Chennai.
Chennai is popular for its mouth-watering, finger-licking, sumptuous South Indian cuisine. You can try authentic South Indian food- dosa, idli, vada, sambar etc at both the fine dine restaurants and the local streets. Idli-Sambar is served both as breakfast and dinner. And no matter where you eat it, the staple food of Chennai is sure to taste extremely delicious. Along with the long list of things to do in Chennai, this is one of the topmost.
6. Bird watching at Pulicat Lake
Quite near to Chennai there exists this haven for birds that goes by the name the Pulicat Lake. This lake is the second largest saline water lake in India and proves to be quite a sight. Nestled between the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, this lake is surely an exciting visit when in Chennai. Being blessed with extensive flora and fauna, this lake is also known as the Pulicat Lake Wildlife Sanctuary globally.
The best places to visit with family in Chennai are Marina Beach, temples, Semmozhi Poonga, Government Museum, Alamparai fort, Valluvar Kottam, Forum Vijaya Mall, Queens Land, MGM Dizzee World, Express Avenue Mall, VGP Universal Kingdom, Pulicat Lake etc.
Chennai is generally considered relatively safe for tourists. However, petty crimes like pickpocketing or bag snatching are common. It’s advisable to always be cautious of your surroundings and avoid visiting isolated areas.
Chennai is famous for its cuisines, rich heritage cultures, history, beautiful beaches, ancient temples, wildlife sanctuary, art, natural beauty, scenic and picturesque spots, forests, etc. The destination is blessed with all and it also called a peaceful place to travel.