I recently moved to Kochi in Kerala and it has been a wonderful experience exploring the places in and around the city. During my explorations, I realised that most of the beautiful places in Kerala (the entire state is beautiful tbh) are just a road trip away from Kochi.

Here's a list of 11 such destinations that you should not miss if you are in Kochi (also because it's one of the most busiest airports in Kerala). Many of these places are lesser explored and lesser-known.

1. Athirapally Waterfalls

Remember the waterfall we saw in the film Bahubali? It's Athirapally.

It is the largest waterfall in Kerala and is located just at a distance of around 60km from Kochi. The mighty waterfalls will blow your mind away. The drive leading up to the waterfall is heavenly. You will cross the river and forests on your way.

2. Alleppey

Also known as the 'Venice of East', Allepey is famous for houseboat experience amid the backwaters of Kerala. You get to see around the longest lake of India - Vembanad Lake.

It is located at a distance of around 55 km from Kochi. You can hire houseboats that take you around the backwaters while you appreciate the rich floral and bird biodiversity of the region.

3. Vaikom

Vaikom is one of the oldest townships in South India. It is just 40 km away from Kochi.

On the way to Vaikom, you can visit the Matsyafed Aqua Tourism Centre. It's a beautiful place amid the backwaters and offers paddle boat and rowing boat rides at affordable prices.

There's Shri Mahadev Temple in Vaikom. It is believed to be one of the oldest temples in Kerala where pooja has not been broken since inception.

You can also visit Vaikom Lake Beach. It's a sight to behold.

4. Vagamon

This is a hill station at a distance of around 100 km from Kochi. It shouldn't take you more than 3 hours by car. With rocky hills, meadows, and pine forests, this places seems to be a secret Kerala has been hiding from tourists.

You can indulge in all kinds of adventure activities here like, paragliding, rock climbing, zipling, kayaking, etc., and go for small hikes in the forests and hills.

5. Munnar

Who hasn't heard of Munnar? The popular honeymoon destination in Kerala that attracts a large number of tourists all year round. It is just around 120 km from Kochi.

The beautiful hill station is also called 'Kashmir of South India', just that there's snow. But you'll always be engulfed by clouds. There are tea gardens, huge water reservoirs and treks to do in Munnar.

Oh and while you are there, do not miss to visit Eravikulam National Park that is home to the rare Nilgiri Tahr.

6. Illikkal Kallu

It is one of the lesser-explored places in Kerala and is located at a distance of 90 km from Kochi.

The main attraction here is a majestic hill which has a part of its peak shorn off. This steep rock on the top of the hill is known as the Illikkal Kallu. The journey up to the hill is quite thrilling as you pass hirpin curves and forests.

Source: Kerala Tourism

7. Nelliyampathy Hills

This is also a lesser-known destination in Kerala. It is located at a distance of 150 km from Kochi.

The hill station is a delight for trekkers and people often ride their bikes to reach here from Kochi. It is also known as 'poor man's Ooty'. But it is in no way less than Ooty.

Known for its evergreen forests, Nelliyampathy gives you amazing views. On the way you can also see Pothundi dam, the first earthen dam in India.

8. Kumarakom

Just like Allepey, Kumarakom is also a bunch of islands on the other side of the Vembanad Lake. It is located at a distance of 50 km from Kochi.

The birdlife of this region is super diverse and rich, so you can indulge in bird watching while you enjoy the houseboat ride in the backwaters.

9. Mararikulam Beach

If you are looking forward to a slightly secluded (no, it's not a nude beach) beach experience in Kerala, this is the beach to go. It is located at a distance of around 40 km from Kochi and falls on the way between Kochi and Allepey.

The water is clean and you can plan a stay in beach cottages here.

10. Idukki

Idukki is one of the most nature rich areas of Kerala and remains untouched by commercial tourism. It is located at a distance of around 100 km from Kochi. 

The Idukki Arch dam, also known as Asia's first and the world’s second largest arch dam, is the major attraction here.

Then there's Idukki wildlife sanctuary and Thoommankuthu falls that you should not miss. 

11. Thrissur

From churches and temples to backwaters, Thrissur has it all. It is just at a distance of 84 km from Kochi.

One of its main attractions is the Chavakkad Beach which has pristine blue waters and is quite clean.

Are you planning a trip to Kerala anytime soon? If not, this post should be your inspiration.