Kerala is a stunningly beautiful state in southern India that can be visited all year round. However, the best time to visit Kerala depends largely on what you want to see and do during your time there.
For some activities, certain times of year are better than others.
In this blog post, I’ll discuss the best time of year to visit Kerala and give you a comprehensive guide to the different seasons there. You’ll learn what to expect with the weather and climate, and how it might affect your travel plans.
Additionally, I’ll summarise some of the important cultural and religious festivals that take place throughout the year in Kerala, and give you a summary of the best places to visit.
Check out some of my other posts on India, including:
- 16 Unique Places to Visit in Kolkata: India’s Cultural Capital
- 6 Best Hill Stations Near Kolkata, India: A Helpful Guide
- Trekking In Sikkim: A Secret Himalayan Paradise
Seasons in Kerala
Kerala has three main seasons: summer, monsoon, and winter.
Summer (hottest season)
Summer in Kerala lasts from late March to May and is the hottest time of year.
Temperatures during Kerala summers can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius, and can be extremely oppressive. The summer heat is especially intense in the coastal areas, where humidity levels are also high.
Upland regions in the interior tend to be a bit cooler, but are still quite warm.
If you’re looking to escape the heat during the summer, then heading up into the hill stations is your best bet. Munnar, for example, has an average temperature of around 26 degrees Celsius during the summer season.
However, even in the hill stations, you should still expect some days to be hot. Summer is not the best time to visit Kerala if you’re looking for cool weather.
Monsoon (rainy season)
The monsoon season in Kerala begins in June and lasts until September. This is the wettest time of year and it normally rains most days.
The rains aren’t constant, but usually come in the form of heavy downpours that can last for a few hours at a time.
I think the best way to experience the southwest monsoon is to head out into the mountains, forests or tea plantations. Here, the waterfalls will be in full flow, and you can enjoy the lush greenery and cooler temperatures.
Monsoon is also a traditional time in Kerala to enjoy traditional Ayurvedic treatments, which are believed to help avoid and treat various forms of sickness and disease. Ayurvedic therapies are performed throughout the year in Kerala, although many local people choose to have them during the monsoon as part of an annual cleanse.
If you’re planning on spending time in Kerala during the monsoon, then it’s important to be aware of the increased risk of flooding. Roads can become impassable, and bridges are even washed away on occasion, so it’s best to check the conditions before you travel.
Additionally, due to the increased risk of diseases such as dengue during the monsoon, it’s important to take precautions against mosquito bites.
Winter (peak season)
Winter runs from December to early March and is the best time to visit Kerala if you’re looking for cooler, pleasant weather conditions.
Temperatures during this time are usually between 22-27 degrees Celsius, and it tends to be cooler in the hill stations.
This is also the busiest time of year in Kerala, as it’s peak tourist season. If you’re planning on visiting during this time, it’s best to book your accommodation and travel arrangements well in advance.
What to Expect with the Weather and Climate
The weather in Kerala is tropical and humid, with average temperatures between 22-30 degrees Celsius. The summer months are the hottest, and the monsoon season sees the most rainfall.
However, even during the monsoon, there are still many days of sunshine, so don’t let the rain deter you from visiting Kerala during this time if you don’t mind also getting wet!
Best Time to Visit Kerala’s Beaches
Kerala’s beaches are beautiful all year round, but the best time to visit them is from October to February. During these months, the weather is generally cooler and there is less chance of rain.
If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, the best time to visit Kerala’s beaches is during the shoulder seasons of October and March.
The beaches are also quiet during monsoon, although you’ll need to pack waterproofs and be prepared for localised flooding!
Best Time to Visit Kerala for Hiking
The best time for hiking in Kerala is generally from October to February. The temperatures will likely be pleasant, especially in the mountains, and you won’t get too hot.
However, if you are prepared for some wet weather, then the monsoon season can also be a great time for hiking in certain areas. Trails will be quieter and you’ll have the chance to see Kerala’s waterfalls at their best.
Just be sure to ask the staff at your hotel, or your hosts at your guesthouse or Airbnb, to ensure that the trails you plan to visit are open and safe to hike.
How the Weather and Seasons Affect Travel Plans
The weather and seasons can affect your travel plans in a number of ways.
Kerala frequently experiences flooding during the monsoon season. Sometimes this flooding is minor and localised.
However, from time to time the state does experience severe flooding, which can lead to road closures, bridge collapses, and even fatalities. If you are planning on travelling during the monsoon, it’s important to be aware of this risk and check the conditions before you go.
The seasons can also affect which activities you’ll be able to do. For example, many of Kerala’s hiking trails and nature walks can become slippery and dangerous during the heaviest weeks of the monsoon (usually in June and July).
High Season and Low Season
The popular tourist spots in Kerala tend to be busiest during the winter months (December to early March). Accommodation can become fully booked, and prices also tend to be higher during these months too, due to the increased demand.
Conversely, during the summer and monsoon, when the state receives fewer tourists, prices are often lower and you can usually get off-season discounts.
The prices for travel to Kerala also vary depending on the time of year, with flights usually being most expensive from December to February.
So, if you’re looking to save money on your trip to Kerala, then visiting during the summer or monsoon may be the best option for you.
Important Cultural and Religious Festivals in Kerala
Several important cultural and religious festivals take place in Kerala throughout the year. There’s a good chance that, whenever you visit Kerala, you will experience some form of festival.
I’ve listed below some of the major ones. However, there are many other festivals held in Kerala throughout the year.
Many festival dates are calculated by reference to the Malayalam solar calendar, so take place on different dates each year.
The state festival of Kerala, Onam festival is celebrated in August or September. It marks the start of the harvest season, and is celebrated with feasts, music, dance, and boat races.
Vishu is a Hindu festival celebrated throughout southern India. It falls on either the 14th or 15th of April each year and is a time for family gatherings, gift-giving, and special meals.
One of the most popular and spectacular annual festivals in Kerala, Thrissur Pooram is held in April or May and features a procession of decorated elephants and other traditional performances.
Karthigai festival is another traditional Hindu festival that is celebrated in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and other states in south India. The festival is celebrated by lighting bonfires and oil lamps, singing songs, and performing traditional dances around the fire.
One of the most important festivals in Kerala, Navaratri is a nine-day celebration that usually takes place in September or October. In a practice known as Ayudha Pooja (or “worship of instruments”), workers celebrate their work tools, students their books, and musicians their instruments, with a series of rituals.
Theyyam is an ancient form of dance worship that takes place in certain parts of Kerala. There are roughly 400 different types of Theyyam, which take place on various occasions throughout the period from November until May.
Attukal Pongala is a 10-day Hindu festival that takes place in February or March and is celebrated by women throughout Kerala. Women prepare offerings of a sweet rice dish called pongala, and gather at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram in one of the largest gatherings of women anywhere in the world.
A famous snake boat race, Champakulam Moolam is held on the River Pamba in late June or early July. It’s a major event in Kerala, and attracts large numbers of spectators as well as tourists from all over the world.
Christmas takes on a special meaning in Kerala, where a sizeable minority (around 20%) of the population is Christian. Churches all over the state host special services and celebrations, and homes are decorated with lights and nativity scenes.
Best Places to Visit in Kerala
There are many fantastic and unique places to visit in Kerala. Some of the best are as follows – be sure to add them to your Kerala itinerary.
Munnar is a hill station located in the Western Ghats mountain range. It is known for its tea and spice plantations, lush green rolling hills, scenic views, waterfalls, stunning hiking trails, and abundance of wildflowers.
Alappuzha (formerly known as Alleppey) is a town known for its beautiful beaches, temples, rice paddies, lagoons, and its 150-year old lighthouse. It is also famous as a gateway to Kerala’s famous backwaters.
Kerala’s backwaters are a network of more than 900 kilometres (560 miles) of interconnected canals, rivers, and lakes that run parallel to the Arabian Sea. A unique and important natural habitat for a wide range of aquatic life, mammals and water birds, the backwaters are known for their tranquility and natural beauty.
Located in the Sholayar forest reserve, Athirapally Falls is the largest waterfall in Kerala. An impressive sight to behold at any time of year, the falls become particularly powerful and spectacular during the monsoon, when heavy rainfall in the Western Ghats transforms this waterfall into a raging torrent.
The easiest way to get to Athirappilly Falls is to take a guided tour from Kochi.
An important port city spread across many islands, and with hundreds of years of history, there are enough things to see and do in Kochi to easily justify spending at least a couple of days there.
Kochi is known for its enormous natural harbour, colonial architecture (especially in the Fort Kochi district), and traditional Chinese fishing nets strung from bamboo poles.
For a long time, Kochi (formerly known as Cochin) was the centre of the global spice trade. The city has been inhabited by Chinese, Arab, and European traders for centuries.
For a fun and easy way to take in the main sights of Kochi, check out this excellent tuk-tuk tour.
Varkala is a picturesque coastal town in southern Kerala that’s famous for its stunning beach (one of the best in the state) framed by dramatic cliffs, as well as its 2,000-year-old Janardhanaswamy Temple, and natural springs that are believed to have healing qualities.
The town is a popular destination for yoga retreats, ayurvedic treatments, and is something of a Kerala backpacking hotspot.
If you do visit Varkala, I can highly recommend staying at the wonderful Villa Jacaranda.
Periyar National Park
Periyar National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Idukki district of Kerala, close to the border with Tamil Nadu. It’s one of the best national parks to visit in southern India, known for its large population of elephants, as well as tigers, leopards, lion-tailed macaques, sambar deer, and Indian bison.
Where To Visit When
Some places in Kerala are best visited during certain times of year. Here are a few examples.
Best time to visit Munnar
Due to its mountainous location, situated at 1,500 metres above sea level, Munnar is usually much cooler than the coastal and other low-lying parts of the state. This means that it’s much more pleasant here for a longer portion of the year, even during the summer season.
However, if you are keen to do a spot of hiking in the hills around the town, the best time to come is between November and April. March and April are particularly pretty months, when a blanket of spring flowers covers the hillsides.
Best time to visit Alappuzha and the Backwaters
Alappuzha is best visited between November and February, when the weather is dry and pleasant. This is also the best time to experience the famous backwaters, as the water level is higher and there are fewer mosquitoes.
However, prices tend to be highest from mid December to February, so I’d recommend coming in November if you want to avoid paying top-dollar for accommodation.
Best time to visit Varkala
The beach town of Varkala is also best visited during the winter season. The weather will be sunny and dry, but not too hot.
Bear in mind that, as noted above, December to February is also peak tourist season, when prices tend to be at their highest. Kerala’s beaches are usually the busiest during these months, although Varkala beach is big enough that it rarely feels overcrowded.
Best Time to Visit Kerala Overall
If you don’t mind slightly higher prices and more crowded attractions, the best time to visit Kerala overall is during the winter season, between November and early March.
In these months, the weather is cooler and less humid, and there’s usually very little rain, making it more comfortable to explore all that Kerala has to offer.
However, if you’d prefer to avoid the crowds, but still enjoy a pleasant climate, I think the best time to visit Kerala is either in October or March (i.e. shoulder season). It shouldn’t rain too much then, although it would still be a good idea to pack waterproofs, especially if you’re planning to do lots of outdoor activities.
The southwest monsoon lasts from June until September and is a unique and special time in Kerala. However, during these months, there is often a significant risk of flooding, which does have the potential to severely impact your travel plans.
Also, many activities (such as hiking and visiting the beach) can become difficult, and sometimes impossible, during the monsoon. There’s also an increased risk of dengue too. (I’ve had dengue and, trust me, it sucks.)
For many people, especially those unused to very warm climates, the summer season – especially late April and May – may be too hot to explore Kerala properly and enjoy sightseeing. Although it is much cheaper to visit then, due to it being off season.
Final Thoughts on When to Visit Kerala
No matter when you come to Kerala, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience in this beautiful and unique state.
There isn’t really a wrong time to visit Kerala, although for many people the winter season will be the most enjoyable. That said, it’s an amazing place to visit throughout the year.
I hope this guide has helped you to understand a little bit more about what Kerala is like at different times of year, and the advantages and disadvantages of visiting during each season.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. I would love to hear from you!