With an area expanding around 2 lakh sq km and a population of over 6 crore residents, the South Indian state of Karnataka is rightfully one state made up of many worlds. The 31 districts of the state include some of India’s most prominent historical, natural, adventurous, and religious tourist attractions. Here is a list of 50 famous places in Karnataka for you to explore on your next visit. 

Historical Places to Visit in Karnataka

1. Hampi

Hampi

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hampi is described famously as an open-air museum. Why? Because here you will come across magnificent temples, palaces, markets, pavilions, pillars, all remnants of the mighty Vijayanagara Empire. 

  • Best Time to Visit: July-September; January-February
  • Things to do: Hire a bicycle and visit the temples of Hampi, Go trekking or bouldering

2. Badami

Famous for its exquisitely carved cave temples, Badami unlocks the rich heritage of Karnataka. Filled with striking images and sculptures of prominent Hindu Gods like Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva and even Jain Gods like Lord Mahavira, this is a popular tourist attraction in Karnataka.

  • Best Time to Visit: October-March 
  • Things to do: Explore the Archaeological Museum, Relax by the man-made reservoir- Agasthya Thirtha

3. Mysore

Mysore Maharaja Palace

The ‘City of Palaces’ is among the top tourist places in Karnataka owing to the presence of architectural marvels such as grand palaces, expansive gardens, and enchanting temples. Beautifully blending modernity with heritage, Mysuru’s rich history and culture will leave you transfixed. 

4. Aihole

Situated on the banks of the river Malaprabha, Aihole is a site of historical significance as it was the capital of the Chaluka Dynasty. The many significant Buddhist, Hindu and Jain heritage sites such as temples, caves and monuments draw thousands of tourists to Aihole. 

  • Best Time to Visit: October-March
  • Things to do: Visit the famous Durga Temple, Explore the Ravana Phadi Cave artwork

5. Bidar

Bidar

Bidar has been ruled by many dynasties ranging from Tuglaqs to Nizams and all of these rulers have contributed to its rich and unique culture. It is home to one of the most prominent tourist attractions in Karnataka, particularly for Sikhs- Nanak Jhira Sahib.

  • Best Time to Visit: October-February
  • Things to do: Visit the gran Bidar Fort, Shop for local Bidri handicrafts

6. Pattadakal

A true history buff would not want to miss a visit to Pattadakal that is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you will find 9 impressive Hindu Temples and even a Jain Sanctuary, dating back to the 7th and 8th centuries during the Chalukya dynasty. 

  • Best Time to Visit: July-September, October-March
  • Things to do: Explore and discover the famous Group of Monuments of Pattadakal

 7. Bijapur

Vijayapura (previously known as Bijapur) was established in the 10th-11th centuries under the Chalukyas. Later, the Adil Shahi rulers also ruled the city and hence its landmarks reflect the influence that these dynasties had on the region. 

  • Best Time to Visit: September-February
  • Things to do: Listen to the sound of echoes at the Gol Gumbaz, Immerse yourself in the sanctity of the Jamia Masjid

EcoTourism Places to Visit in Karnataka

8. St. Mary Islands

A set of four inter-connected islands- Coconut Island, Darya Bahadurgarh Island, North Island, and South Island are best known for their geological, volcanic formations. A short ferry from Malpe Beach will transport you to this natural paradise. 

  • Best Time to Visit: October-January
  • Things to do: Take photographs with the swaying coconut trees and pristine Arabian Sea as a backdrop

 9. Nandi Hills

Nandi Hills bangalore

A popular tourist attraction in Karnataka, Nandi Hills stands tall at 4850-feet elevation. This peaceful, natural destination doubled as a summer retreat for Tipu Sultan and the Britishers. Today, the pleasant weather and opportunity for adventure sports draws crowds from near and far.

  • Best Time to Visit: September-May
  • Things to do: Camp under the stars, Trek to the famous Tipu’s Drop

10. Nilakandi Falls

If you are in Coorg, then you must not miss this stunning waterfall, situated in the Honey Valley. The Nilakandi Falls cascade from 50-feet and is surrounded by dense vegetation. This is one of the most visited places in Karnataka.

  • Best Time to Visit: All year round (except monsoons)
  • Things to do: Trek to the waterfall for a grand view, Host a picnic near the waterfalls

11. Bandipur National Park

A haven for wildlife and nature lovers, Bandipur in South Karnataka is one of the identified habitats for tiger conservation in India. Apart from tiger, you can spot the Asiatic wild elephant, leopards, sloth bears, jackals, four-horned antelopes, and about 200 bird species. 

  • Best Time to Visit: March-May
  • Things to do: Take an elephant, jeep or bus safari to explore the park

12. Nagarhole National Park

Nagarhole National Park

Also known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, Nagarhole National Park is another Tiger Reserve in Karnataka. This sanctuary spans 640 sq.km. and is home to Bengal tigers, Asiatic elephants,  wild dogs, sambar deer, leopards and a wide variety of bird species. Teak and rosewood trees are another attraction in this park. 

  • Best Time to Visit: April-May
  • Things to do: Go on a wildlife safari to spot the elusive Bengal Tiger

13. Jog Falls

Jog Falls

Situated in Shimoga district, Jog Falls comes under the category of the popular tourist attractions in Karnataka. The magnificent falls created by the river Sharavathi is at its peak during the monsoons. Falling from 253 metres above sea level, it is one of the highest waterfalls in India.

  • Best Time to Visit: August-December
  • Things to do: Climb down 1400 steps to reach the base of the Jog Falls

Adventurous Places to Visit in Karnataka

14. Kodachadri Hills

About 78 km from Shimoga, Kodachadri Hills is a nature lover’s paradise and the 13th highest peak in Karnataka. Many adventure activities are conducted in and around the hills. Trekking trails to Kodachadri Hills start from the base of Nittur or Nagodi village.

  • Best time to visit: September-January
  • Things to do: Trekking, Visit Sri Mookambika Temple, Explore Kalyani Chowka

15. Dandeli

Dandeli

Dandeli is called the Adventure Capital of Southern India. This beautiful little town is located in the Western Ghats and is surrounded by lush greenery and the Kali River. 

  • Best time to visit: October-May
  • Things to do: Visit the Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary, enjoy zip-lining, trekking, rock climbing, rafting, and kayaking

16. Netrani

Netrani is a beautiful little island located about 19 km away from Murudeshwara and is one of the most unique places to visit in Karnataka. This island is a haven for those who love the sea and all water sports. 

  • Best time to visit: December and January
  • Things to do: Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Diving 

17. Kumara Parvatha Trek

This is one of the most challenging treks in the Western Ghats of Karnataka. The peak is also called Pushpagiri and is the second-highest in the Kodagu district. 

  • Best time to visit: October-January
  • Things to do: Visit the Pushpagiri Wildlife sanctuary, Try the Kumara Parvatha trek

Beaches to Visit in Karnataka

18. Black Sand Beach

Located in Uttara Karnataka, the Black Sand Beach gets its name from the grey-black coloured sand along the coast. This unexplored beach is also locally known as Tilmati and is known for its calm and serene vibe. 

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: High-speed boating, kayaking, and dolphin watching during the right season

19. Om Beach

Part of Gokarna, Om Beach is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Karnataka. The beach is calm and serene and is shaped like the symbol ‘OM’. 

  • Best time to visit: October-March
  • Things to do: Boating, parasailing, jet-skiing, surfing

20. Kapu Beach

Kapu is a coastal village in Udupi and offers panoramic views of the Arabian Sea. The quaint lighthouse at one end of the beach adds a lot of charm to the place.

  • Best time to visit: October-March
  • Things to do: Visit the lighthouse, relax on the shores of the beach, visit Sri Hale Mariamma Temple

21. Panambur Beach

Panambur Beach

Located in Mangalore, Panambur Beach is one of the best-maintained beaches in the country. The beach is 10 km from Mangalore city centre and is well crowded during the peak season.

  • Best time to visit: October-March
  • Things to do: Boat rides, parasailing, camel and horse rides along the beach, jet-skiing

22. Someshwara Beach

Situated in Mangalore’s in the region Ullal, this beautiful rocky beach is untouched by the city crowd and is a great place to relax. The River Netravati and the Arabian Sea come together near this beach.

  • Best time to visit: October-March
  • Things to do: Visit the Someshwara Temple and the Ullal Delta

23. Tannirbhavi Beach

Tannirbhavi Beach is among the famous places in Karnataka, frequented by tourists regularly. This beach is well-maintained and perfect for families to enjoy because of the presence of lifeguards.

  • Best time to visit: October-March
  • Things to do: Swim when the tide is low, visit the Tree Park near the beach

Museums to Visit in Karnataka

24. HAL Heritage Centre and Aerospace Museum

HAL Heritage Centre and Aerospace Museum

Located at the Airport-Varthur Road in Bangalore, this is India’s first aerospace museum. You can enjoy various kinds of helicopters, aircraft, and flight simulators here. 

  • Best time to visit: All through the year between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM
  • Things to do: Check out the mock Air Traffic Control tower, enjoy the flight simulators
  • B00k Hotels: Hotels in Bangalore

25. Sandalwood Museum

This is one of the first of its kind museum now located at Aranya Bhavan Sandalwood Depot. You can check all kinds of pure sandalwood products here. The museum will soon shift inside the Mysore Palace premises.

  • Best time to visit: All through the year
  • Things to do: Buy sandalwood products

26. Government Museum, Bangalore

Government Museum

Located in Sampangi Rama Nagar, the Government Museum was established in 1865 and is one of the oldest museums in India. The rare collections of archaeological artefacts here are the speciality.

  • Best time to visit: All through the year, between Tuesdays and Sundays (10:00 AM to 5:00 PM)
  • Things to do: Check out the rare archaeological artefacts, scriptures, and jewellery

27. INS Chapal Warship Museum

Situated in Karwar, this is a warship converted into a museum. The INS Chapal was a missile launcher that was in operation since 1976.

  • Best time to visit: All through the year from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM and 4:30 PM to 6:00 PM
  • Things to do: Check out the external guns, engine rooms, barracks, and watch a 15-minute documentary

28. Jayachamarajendra Art Gallery

It is an art gallery/cum palace located in the city of Mysore. This beautifully built palace is filled with rare and beautiful paintings and art pieces and is a must-visit place in Mysore.

  • Best time to visit: All through the year from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM
  • Things to do: Have a look at more than 2000 paintings depicted from around the world

Theme Parks to Visit in Karnataka

29. Lumbini Gardens

Lumbini Gardens

Located in the Outer Ring Road, Bangalore, Lumbini Gardens is a small public park complete with boating, joy rides, and lots of food stalls to eat from. This place is pleasant and crowded in the evenings.

  • Best time to visit: September to March
  • Things to do: Take a boat ride, enjoy the wave pools and the artificial beach, take part in joy rides

30. Wonderla

Wonderla

Wonderla is one of the country’s most well-known theme parks, located in Bangalore. An hour from the city centre, the theme park has hundreds of activities and rides to choose from. 

  • Best time to visit: September to March
  • Things to do: Enjoy water rides and adventure rides, watch out for laser shows and musical fountains

31. Snow City

Snow City

Spread across 12,500 square feet, the Snow City is an amazing place to take your kids to. Located in Jayamahal, Bangalore, Snow City has a lot of rides and shows to keep you entertained. 

  • Best time to visit: All through the year between 10:00 AM and 8:00 PM
  • Things to do: Enjoy the 9D cinema, participate in laser tag and shooting, snow sliding

Gardens and Parks to Visit in Karnataka

32. Brindavan Gardens

Brindavan Gardens is one of the most frequented tourist places in Karnataka. Located in Mysore, the Garden is excellently maintained and is a great spot to relax and take photos.

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Take a stroll around the garden, Enjoy the musical fountain between 7:00 PM and 8:00 PM

33. Cubbon Park

Cubbon Park

Cubbon Park is in the centre of Bangalore City and is officially called Sri Chamarajendra Park. The park covers about 300 acres of land and has some of the rarest species of plants and trees.

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Visit the Seshadri Iyer Memorial Park and Bangalore Aquarium, take a stroll around the park

34. Lalbagh Botanical Garden

Another very popular park in Bangalore you should not miss is the Lalbagh Gardens. This is a very popular spot for the locals of the city and is always crowded in the evenings. 

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Visit the lotus pond, check out the Peninsular Gneiss Rock

35. Ramohalli Big Banyan Tree

The Big Banyan Tree is located in Ramohalli and is also called Dodda Alada Mara in Kannada. About 30 km from Bangalore, this is a small public park with a 400-year-old Banyan tree in the centre. The banyan tree has a circumference of about 250 metres.

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Stand under the shade of the massive Banyan Tree, enjoy splendid South Indian breakfast in one of the eateries on the highways

Hill Stations to Visit in Karnataka

36. Coorg

Coorg

Coorg or Kodagu is one of the best places to visit in Karnataka. Coorg is a small hill station that is surrounded by the Western Ghats. Coorg is known as the Scotland of Southern India. 

37. Kudremukh

Kudremukh

Located in the Chikmagalur District, Kudremukh is a small hill station that has become quite popular for its challenging trekking trail. The peak is green, luscious, and calm all through the year.

  • Best time to visit: September-June
  • Things to do: Attempt the Kudhremukh Trail, visit the Kudremukh National Park, stroll around the Janta Market

38. Sakleshpur

Sakleshpur

Sakleshpur is one of the famous places in Karnataka that is loved for its amazing weather and green slopes and valleys. Sakleshpur is surrounded by tea and coffee plantations and is quite close to Bangalore.

  • Best time to visit: September-June
  • Things to do: Camping, trekking, sightseeing

39. Agumbe

Agumbe

Located in the Shimoga District, Agumbe is a village set on top of a peak. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is called the ‘Çobra Capital’ because of the number of cobras in this region.

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Visit the Agumbe RainForest Research Station

40. Chikmagalur

Chikmagalur

Chikmagalur is another of the top tourist attractions in Karnataka. The hill station is a part of the Western Ghats and has beautiful hotels and homestays you can stay in. The hill station has no dearth of tourist spots too.

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Sightseeing, visit the coffee plantations

41. Kemmanagundi or KR Hills

Kemmanagudi was the summer retreat of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and is hence also called KR hills. The hill is about 250 km from Bangalore and one of the best weekend destinations to relax in. 

  • Best time to visit: September to June
  • Things to do: Attempt the KR trekking trail, visit the various waterfalls around the hills

Spiritual Places to Visit in Karnataka

42. Kadri Manjunatha Temple

Located in Mangalore, this historic temple was built sometime during the 10th century. The main deity here is Lord Shiva. The temple has a natural spring called Gomukha on its premises.

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Pay your respects at the Manjunatha Temple

43. Murudeshwara

In the list of best tourist places in Karnataka, one cannot forget Murudeshwara. Along the shores of Karnataka, this temple is situated on a small hill and the gigantic Shiva Shrine is visible from far. 

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Visit the temple and Murudeshwar Beach, Check out the Murudeshwar Fort

44. Udupi Sri Krishna Temple

Amongst Hindus in India, the Udupi Sri Krishna Temple is very sacred. The house of Lord Krishna, the temple is crowded all through the year and the streets around the temple are lined with shopping streets and eateries.

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Get the blessings of Lord Krishna, Stroll in the beaches in Udupi, enjoy authentic South Indian food from eateries around

45. Omkareshwara Temple

Omkareshwara Temple

This very old temple in Coorg was built in the year 1820 and is a very popular sightseeing place in Coorg. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is situated in the middle of a pond.

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Enjoy a visit to the temple, check out the various sightseeing spots in Coorg

46. St Philomena’s Cathedral

St Philomena’s Cathedral is a Catholic Church located in Mysore. This phenomenal structure is one of the tallest churches in Asia and was built in 1936. This is a much-frequented tourist spot in the city.

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Enjoy the Neo-Gothic architecture of the place, Shop for handcrafted goods and sandalwoods in shops around the church

47. Jamia Masjid, Bijapur

Jamia Masjid in Bijapur is a very old mosque built-in 1578. This is one of the largest mosques in South India and is a large and beautiful structure you will be awed by.

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Get your dose of spirituality in the mosque, visit the Gol Gumbaz, and the 85-feet Shivagiri monument

48. Gomatagiri

Gomatagiri or Bahubali houses the 6-metre tall Gomatigiri statue that is more than 700 years old. Gomatagiri is an important place of worship for Jains.

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Trek to the Gomatagiri Hill

49. Dharmasthala

Dharmasthala is a town in Karnataka and houses the popular Manjunatheshwara Temple (dedicated to Lord Shiva). The town is also home to various other small and large places of worship.

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Visit the Manjunatheshwara Temple and the Bahubali Statue, take a bath in the Netravathi River Barrage

50. Saavira Kambada Basadi

This Jain temple is located in Moodabidri, Karnataka, and is known for its 1000-pillared structure. The temple houses the Chandraprabha, the eighth spiritual leader of the Jain Community.

  • Best time to visit: September-March
  • Things to do: Visit this world-renowned Jain temple, watch traditional plays called Yakshagana that run all through the night

Phew! Quite a long list isn’t it. But these are only just a few of the landmarks that make Karnataka a paradise for tourists and explorers. On your next trip to this state, try to tick-off some of these destinations and share with us your experience.