Chennai is famous for its delicious food and historic temples. While there are lots of things to see and do in Chennai, there are also many places around the city to explore on weekend road trips from Chennai.
A getaway with friends or family is an excellent way to wind down over the weekend. There are lots of places around the city that make for thrilling road trips from Chennai.
Mahabalipuram is famous for its amazing temples and is located just 52 km from Chennai. The windswept Shore Temple, the Five Rathas, and the Arjuna’s Penance rock carvings are quite majestic and have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The popular beach town is also famous for its surfing.
Distance from Chennai: 52 km
Just 55 km from Chennai and on the border between Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Pulicat is a town known for both its amazing history, and its stunning natural beauty. Overlooking the beautiful brackish Pulicat Lake, it is home to the first Dutch fort in India, Fort Geldria, as well as the Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary. This is the perfect place to relax with nature.
Distance from Chennai: 55 km
Another site of historical and religious significance is Kanchipuram, set 72 km away from Chennai. It was once the capital of the Pallava dynasty. Though most well-known for its famous traditionally crafted silk sarees, it is also full of temples and traditional ancestral homes. Be sure to explore its ancient culture and the silk-weaver towns.
Distance from Chennai: 72 km
Just a short distance form Chennai is a popular destination for trekking and hiking. Nagalapuram is 80 km to the north of Chennai. It’s stunning views and serene surrounds make it an excellent spot for camping. You can also take a day trip to visit the Nagalapuram Falls and the Vedanarayana Swamy Temple.
Distance from Chennai: 80 km
5. Vedanthangar Bird Sanctuary
This Bird Sanctuary is located on the Vedanthangal Lake just 86 km from Chennai. It is home to over 40,000 species of migratory birds, including many rare species. They come from all over the world, including as far away as Australia, Siberia and Myanmar. The best time to visit is between November and March, which is the peak migratory season.
Distance from Chennai: 86 km
Located 135 km north of Chennai in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, the temple town of Tirupati is one of the most visited pilgrim sites in India. The spectacular mountain-top Venkateswara Temple topped with a gold roof is said to have been built around 300 AD in the Tirumala Hills. There are many legends associated with the temple. Apart from the temples, the region is also known for its natural beauty.
Distance from Chennai: 135 km
Vellore is a historical town, located 136 km from Chennai. Set along the Chennai-Bangalore National Highway, it is most famous for the Vellore Fort, one of the largest forts in Tamil Nadu. With high ramparts and wide moats, the fort also contains the ancient Jalakanteswara Temple and a State Government Museum. Vellore is also known for its delicious food, such as Ambur Biryani, and its picturesque scenery.
Distance from Chennai: 136 km
Pondicherry is a former French colony located just 160 km from Chennai. This beach town, with its cobbled streets, colonial townhouses, quiet beaches, and amazing restaurants is one of the most popular weekend getaways from Chennai. There are also some beautiful churches, as well as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, and the nearby township of Auroville to see.
Distance from Chennai: 160 km
Located in the state of Andhra Pradesh, Nellore is an ancient town that dates all the way back to the Mauryan Empire. Here you can visit the majestic Udaygiri Fort and the fascinating Satish Dhawan Space Centre. If you want to explore its natural surroundings, be sure to check out the Nelapattu Bird Sanctuary and Somasila Dam.
Distance from Chennai: 177 km
Another well-known temple town is Tiruvannamalai. Located 200 km to the southwest of Chennai in the foothills of the Anamalai Hills, this town if full of temples and ashrams that are frequented by devotees and pilgrims. Don’t miss the vast and ancient Arulmigu Arunachaleswarar Temple, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. You can also explore the nearby Arunachala mountain.
Distance from Chennai: 200 km
Located 230 km away from Chennai, Yelagiri, in the Vellore district, is its closest hill station. Known for its winding roads, steep hills, and natural beauty, it is the perfect escape from the sultry humidity of Chennai. The picturesque Swamimalai Hills and the Punganoor Lake are a must see.
Distance from Chennai: 230 km
12. Tharangambadi (or Tranquebar)
The small windswept town on the east coast of Tamil Nadu was once a major Danish colony, and still retains much of this Scandinavian charm. It is full of heritage buildings, and old churches. There is also the Danish Museum and many wonderful beaches to explore.
Distance from Chennai: 273 kms
Also located on Tamil Nadu’s East Coast Road is the port town of Karaikal. It is known for its amazing secluded beaches and a unique French Heritage. It was a part of the Kingdom of Thanjavur and later acquired by the French. The town was also the birthplace of the Nayanmar saint Karaikal Ammaiyar.
Distance from Chennai: 290 km
The port town is known for its rich culture and heritage. It came to prominence during the period of Medieval Cholas and was an important port. It was later settled by the Portuguese and the Dutch, and also has many spectacular churches. Be sure to check out the Chudamani Vihara, the Soundararajaperumal Temple and the many serene beaches.
Distance from Chennai: 315 km
This ancient port town has a long history, and once traded with the Greeks and Romans. Today it is home to one of the best-known Catholic shrines in the country, the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health. Also known as “Lourdes of the East” this shrine is visited by millions each year. It was built by Portuguese sailors in the 17th century. The area is said to see many occurances of apparitios of Mary and the Christ Child.
Distance from Chennai: 320 km
Another popular hill station is Yercaud. It also has pleasant weather and charming attractions and is located 360 km away from Chennai. Nestled in the lush green Eastern Ghats in the Salem district of Tamil Nadu, amidst coffee plantations and aroma of spices that blankets the region of the Shivaroy Hills are a number of fascinating attractions, such as Anna Park and Lady’s Seat.
Distance from Chennai: 358 km
One of the top hill stations in South India, Kodaikanal is known for its scenic beauty. Set amidst dense forests and enchanting waterfalls in the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu, it surrounds the beautiful (man-made) Kodaikanal Lake. Visit the vibrant gardens of Bryant’s Park, the massive Pillar Rocks, and the many picturesque churches in the city.
Distance from Chennai: 518 Kms
Ooty has been one of the most popular hill stations in India since British times. Near the dense forests of Bandipur it is filled with heritage homes, churches, beautiful lakes, botanical gardens, and pine forests, the most popular attraction is nonetheless the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Distance from Chennai: 547 km
Best known for its connection with the ancient epic, the Ramayana, this town is a popular pilgrimage destination from Chennai. Visit the Ramanathaswamy Temple with its amazing long corridors and the many charming fishing villages nearby. Also, be sure to stop on Pamban Bridge to enjoy the spectacular views of the ocean.
Distance from Chennai: 553 Kms
Located near the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala, Thekkady is known for its many picturesque coffee and spice plantations and herds of elephants. The area is also famous for its diverse flora and fauna. Be sure to take a boat ride on Periyar Lake to glimpse the wildlife around it.
Distance from Chennai: 561 km
Located just beyond Bandipur, at the foothills of the Nilgiris the wild beauty of Masinagudi in Tamil Nadu is known for its excellent safaris. Here, you can catch a glimpse of tigers, elephants, bears, deer and boars roaming through the jungle. You can also visit the Elephant Camp to see how the elephants are trained and cared for.
Distance from Chennai: 562 kms
Nestled in the Anamalai Hills, the jaw-dropping landscapes of Valparai make it a popular weekend destination from Chennai. You can take a safari through the Anamalai Tiger Reserve or explore some of the many waterfalls nearby. Also be sure to check out the many tea plantations in and around the town.
Distance from Chennai: 573 kms