As India’s tech-buzzing capital, Bangalore is always on-the-go. The crazy traffic and fast pace of life can often feel overwhelming, but luckily, the city is perfectly placed for weekend getaways to lush hillsides or relaxed beaches. You can escape into the lap of nature on an exciting wildlife safari in a tiger reserve, get your dose of history and culture at a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with ruins of five-hundred-year-old temples and palaces, unwind in a coffee plantation in the mountains, or chill out on the beach while catching sunsets. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, there’s something for every kind of traveler in the vicinity of Bangalore
Here are our top five picks for weekend getaways within easy reach by road or rail.
READ MORE: Bangalore Digital Nomad Travel Guide
A short train ride or a six-hour drive from Bangalore will take you to the stunning city of Hampi. The ancient capital of the Hindu Vijayanagar Kingdom is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important center of history and religion. Hampi sits beside the River Tungabhadra and is filled with jaw-dropping architecture amid lush paddy fields and barren, boulder-strewn expanses. Explore the elaborate stone ruins of centuries-old palaces, temples, and stepwells.
Sites like the Queen’s Bath and Mahanabami Dibba are well preserved, and guided tours reveal many fascinating stories of the royals who once lived here. With its towering gateway and ornate façade, the Virupaksha Temple is a good place to start your explorations for the day. As the sun begins to lower, hike to the top of Hemakuta Hill for a spectacular sunset with views of temple towers, stone architecture, the Tungabhadra River, and the lush greenery beyond it.
Nagarhole National Park
On the banks of the River Kabini stretches a vast forest of teak and sandalwood, providing safe habitat to stealthy big cats and a plentitude of herbivores like Asian elephants, bison, and deer. This wilderness was once the hunting ground of the Maharajas of Mysore, but today Nagarhole National Park, often simply called ‘Kabini’, is a lush, protected tiger reserve. Explore these wooded tracts on an expert-led jeep safari for the chance to spot tigers sashaying down jungle paths and elusive leopards slung across tree branches.
Early morning drives into the forests are gorgeous when golden sunshine illuminates the trees and the myriad calls of birds fill the air. Kabini is a birding hotspot, with over 200 species of avian life. Boat cruises along the river offer an up-close look at resident and migratory waterbirds going about their day—you might even spot a herd of wild elephants grazing on the riverbank. The best part is that Kabini is just a four-hour drive away from Bangalore.
Lush green hills carpeted in spice and coffee plantations, meandering hikes to waterfalls, lazy riverside picnics, and expansive mountain views: what’s not to love about Coorg? A five-and-a-half-hour drive from Bangalore takes you to the cool climes of this charming hill town on the slopes of the Western Ghats, a mountain range known for its wealth of plant and animal life. Coorg offers the perfect antidote to hectic city life. Misty mornings nursing a cup of locally-grown coffee, followed by long walks in nature and delicious local food.
Nature buffs can go on birding trails led by naturalists who help you identify species like Grey hornbills and Malabar barbets. Many privately-owned plantations offer accommodation options and guided tours to see how coffee and spices like pepper and cardamom are grown. You can explore waterfalls like Abbey or Iruppu Falls, or visit Raja’s Seat for beautiful sunset views. For a more active morning, hike up to Talacauvery, a serene, sacred spot where the River Kaveri originates. After all the sightseeing, feast on local Kodava cuisine, which includes spice-laden dishes like pandi curry (pork curry) and kadambuttu (rice dumplings).
When you want to completely switch off and just eat, swim, laze, and repeat, Gokarna is the place to be. An overnight train or bus ride will take you to this holy temple town by the Arabian Sea. With gorgeous white-sand beaches on one side and rocky red hills on the other, Gokarna draws pilgrims and beach bums in equal measure. The latter usually head to the string of beaches separated by rocky escarpments: Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Half-Moon Beach, and Paradise Beach.
Waterfront shacks offer fresh seafood meals and refreshing drinks, while basic huts mere steps from the sea offer simple accommodation. Wide sandy stretches and the usually calm waters make Gokarna ideal for sea swims and gorgeous sunsets on the beach. For a more active pursuit, embark on the beach hike that takes you to all four beaches on a path across hills and scrub forests.
An easy drive along the scenic East Coast Road or an overnight train ride from Bengaluru takes you to Pondicherry (or Puducherry), a charming waterfront town filled with mansions and cobblestones. As a former French colony, the city is home to a unique Franco-Tamil culture. While you stroll through the sunshine-yellow colonial-style buildings lining the streets, you’ll also hear a mix of French and Tamil being spoken. Similarly, the cuisine is a blend of European and South Indian flavors, with plenty of cozy cafes and chic fine dining restaurants to choose from.
The best thing to do in Pondicherry is to grab a bicycle and explore the French Quarter’s leafy boulevards on two wheels, taking in the sea breeze along the Promenade, stopping in at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Notre Dame des Anges church. Explore the intricate Hindu temples, and then head out to nearby Serenity Beach for a relaxing evening by the water.