Things to do in Chennai

Sightseeing

Top things to do in Chennai

Chennai is one of the most vibrant cities of the country. With a plethora of beaches, art galleries, museums, monuments, parks and historic places, there is no dearth of things to do in Chennai. You can paraglide, parasail, scuba dive, hike, trek, camp and try your hand at the most fun and outrageous adventure sports. Besides the number of lakes in Chennai ensures that you have a pleasant boating experience as well. In addition to these innumerable things to do in Chennai, you can hop the several pristine beaches, chill in the cafes, party away the night or visit the art museums. All in all, Chennai boasts of a wonderful amalgamation of several touristy things one can think of. Have a look at the number of fun things to do in Chennai while you are visiting.

Here is the list of 45 Things to do in Chennai

1. Spend a Day at Marina Beach

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Situated in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Marina Beach is a natural urban beach along the Bay of Bengal. The beach is stretched out to a distance of 13 kilometres making it the longest natural urban beach in the country, second largest in the world and also the most crowded beach in India with almost 30,000 visitors a day. It is one of the most sought after beaches and spending a day here sun-soaking, is one of the most essential things to do in Chennai.

2. Sunbathe at Breezy Beach

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Breezy Beach lays in the remote and serene neighbourhood of Valmiki Nagar in Chennai. Being smaller and less polluted, its a perfect getaway for anyone looking for a peaceful evening. This beach is not as popular and known as the Elliots beach, and is hence more quiet and peaceful. Evenings are very pleasant and breezy here, and in the recent years, lots of tourists have been attracted towards this beach for its beauty. Sunbathing at the pristine beach is among the top things to do in Chennai for every tourist.

3. Take a Tour of MGR Film City

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Having been established in the year 1994, a considerably new structure, the MGR Film city is managed by the Government of Tamil Nadu in loving memory of MG Ramachandran who was not only a crowd-pleasing tamil actor but also a longtime CM of Tamil Nadu. It is unacceptable if you are in town and you do not visit the Film City as it tops the charts when it comes to the best things to do in Chennai.

4. Trek the Koli Hills

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With an ominous name which means 'Mountain of Death', Koli Hills are a mountain range located in the Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu. It is relatively untouched by commercial tourism and therefore has retained most of its natural magnificence. This is one of the most thrilling things to do in Chennai.

5. Relish the Delicious South Indian Cuisine

Chennai is popular for its mouth watering, finger licking, sumptuous South Indian cuisine. You can try authentic South Indian food- dosa, idli, vada, sambar etc at both the fine dine restaurants and the local streets. Idli-Sambar is served both as breakfast and dinner. And no matter where you eat it, the staple food of Chennai is sure to taste extremely delicious. Along with the long list of things to do in Chennai, this is one of the topmost.

6. Seek Blessings at Marundeeswarar Temple

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The magnificent Marundeeswarar Temple, in Tiruvanmiyur, near Chennai has the temple deity Shiva in the form of Marundeeswar or Aushadeeswarar, the God of Medicines. A fine specimen of Dravidian architecture, this temple is a must visit for anyone visiting Chennai or nearby cities. Glorified in the 7th-8th century by Nayanars (Saivite Saints), Tirugnana Sambandar, and Appar, the temple was expanded by the Chola Kingdom in the 11th century. Moreover, given the name, Marundeeswarar Temple has been a place of worship especially for people with diseases and those facing various problems with their health.

7. Fun & Games at VGP Golden Beach

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Considered as one of the cleanest and beautiful beaches in Chennai, VGP Golden beach is one of the most sought-after destinations in the area by family and friends. This beach is a part of the VGP Universal Kingdom, which is a famous amusement park and lies on the East Coast Road. This mesmerising beach is an appealing part of the Bay of Bengal, with its smooth and silver sand situated on Marina, the second longest beach in the world. The surging waves of the beach and the swaying wind are like music to ears adding to the charm and beauty of this place.

8. Experience the Surreal Scuba Diving

Chennai could get quite hot in the summer and beating the heat would be the top priority in summers. Then why not dive into the Bay of Bengal somewhere off the coast of Chennai. Discovering a totally different world under the surface of the sea and cooling yourself at the same time is the best deal about Chennai. Make sure this one activity is definitely there in your list of things to do in Chennai when you are in town.

9. Visit the Ancient Royapuram Fishing Harbour

Under the administration of Chennai Port Trust, Royapuram Fishing Harbour is one of the most popular fishing grounds in Chennai. Located in a region which is famous for seafood, this harbour surely has its name among the busiest fishing hubs of Tamil Nadu. If you visit the Royapuram Fishing Harbour, you will almost always find the place crowded with different types of fishing vessels. From the full length, 45 feet boats to the smallest of catamarans, you will see them all.

10. Visit the Magnificent Valluvar Kottam

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Situated in the beautiful city of Chennai, Valluvar Kottam is a temple chariot like-monument built to honour the renowned classical Tamil poet and saint, Thiruvalluvar. It is known for its great architecture, built with innovative layouts and well-thought execution. The sublime beauty of Valluvar Kottam is best experienced during the morning hours when the city is just waking up to the day, or you can make a visit to this destination during the evening hours when the sun is just setting over the horizon.

11. Lion Safari at Arignar Anna Zoological Park

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Perhaps one of the most popular picnic spots in Vandalur, Kanchipuram District, the Arignar Zoological Park is an amazing place to discover the flora and fauna of the region. A favourite weekend spot with both children and adults alike, the Arignar Zoo is situated at a distance of 32 kilometres from Chennai city. It is the largest zoo of its kind, one of the most visited places and spotting lions and tigers here is among the topmost things to do in Chennai.

12. Visit the Divine Ashtalakshmi Temple

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Ashtalakshmi Temple, a delightful and soft coloured temple complex, is located in Besant Nagar, in the South Indian state of Chennai. The temple complex is built a few meters away from the Besant beach on the coast of the gorgeous Bay of Bengal. Ashtalakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Knowledge resides here and blesses everyone who visits the temple to offer their prayers with a clean soul. Soak in the divine ambience of the temple on the scenic coast of Bay of Bengal and observe the colourful and intricate tiers on the shrines. The serenity is unquestionable and sure to calm jittery nerves of the pilgrims and devotees.

13. Read Some Books at Connemara Library

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The year 1896 witnessed the inauguration of a new and remarkable landmark in the city of Chennai- the Connemara Library, which is a treasure trove of books, newspapers, periodicals and other related texts. The library is a place where you will unquestionably find every text that you can look for. In fact, the Connemara Public Library is one of the four national depository libraries of the country and hence, it receives copies of all books and other texts that published in India. Its history dates back to over hundred years, and till date, the library remains a repository of century-old publications.

14. Shopping in T Nagar

T Nagar is one of the busiest neighbourhoods in Chennai, and also the most crowded one. It serves as a commercial and economic hub, as well as a residential area. T Nagar is essentially a complete commercial crux within Chennai in itself. Browsing the retail stores is one of the most exciting things to do in Chennai, especially for women, as the market offers goods, apparels and accessories at throwaway prices.

15. Rejuvenate at the Serene Elliot's Beach

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Elliot's Beach aka "Besant Nagar Beach" or "Bessie" is located in Besant Nagar, Chennai. It forms the end-point of the Marina Beach shore and is named after Edward Elliot (who was once the Chief Magistrate, Superintendent of Madras and Governor of Chennai during the British times). It has the Velankanni Church and the Ashtalakshmi Kovil in the vicinity. The mesmerising beach is one of the cleanest beaches in the city of Chennai. Located towards the south of Marina Beach, an incredibly calm and tranquil place, it does not offer much activity hence, is an ideal spot for long walks. Moreover, the site is perfect for the ones who want to soak their feet in the splashing sea water and lose themselves entirely in the arms of nature.

16. Explore the Vivekananda House

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Vivekananda House also popularly known as The Ice House, is a shrine and pilgrimage centre for the admirers and followers of Swami Vivekananda. It is in this house that Swami Vivekananda stayed for six weeks in 1900. Built way back in 1877 or much earlier, the two-story house is a chef d'oeuvre of Victorian architecture with its distinctive designs of sunburst and saddleback roofs. Visiting the ancient house is one of the best things to do in Chennai.

17. Visit the Santhome Cathedral Basilica

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Santhome Cathedral is a historical and ancient pilgrim centre, which was built during the 14th to the 15th century A D by the then reigning, Portuguese. The cathedral, near Chennai beach, got its name from St Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ. A museum is located in the grounds nearby. It was designed in Neo-Gothic style, favoured by British architects in the late 19th century.

18. Walk by the Ancient Thousand Lights Mosque

The Thousand Lights Mosque of Royapettah, Chennai is among the most esteemed mosques of the city as well as the state of Tamil Nadu. Built in the early 19th century by the Wallajah family of the Carnatic rulers, it is till date a popular gathering place for the daily prayers and festive occasions like Muharram. The site gets its name from the legend that to illuminate the entire prayer hall, right about a thousand oil lamps used to be lit back in the days. One can only imagine how beautiful that outline must have looked against the dark black sky.

19. Cultural Tour at Dakshinachitra Museum

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Dakshinachitra Museum, located in Chennai, is one of the living-history museums in India. It stores in itself great works of architecture, crafts, performing arts, and lifestyles that belong to South India. The museum has its vision and mission to promote the cultures of South Indian states by making them more engaging and enjoyable for its viewers. Visiting here will give you an in-depth knowledge of south Indian heritage and you are going to leave with the most magnificent treasures of learning. Make sure you put it on your bucket list of things to do in Chennai.

20. Pay Your Respect at Madras War Cemetery

The Madras War Cemetery, right in the heart of the city of Chennai, is a recognition of the glory as well as horrors of the war our ancestors have fought to make this world a more peaceful place. In short, it houses the last remains of around 855 martyrs who laid down their precious lives at the battlefronts in the devastating Second World War and also a Memorial stone for 1000 more who died fighting in the Great War before that. In 1952, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Indian Government together established this cemetery to commemorate those who died to save our lives.

21. Soak in the Serenity of Nettukuppam

Nettukuppam is the northernmost tip of Chennai and has a beach which is yet not tarnished by encroaching crowds. It is a solitary retreat for those who seek to enjoy the raging sea up close but in a peaceful environment. The saltwater creek of Ennore joins the sea here forming an estuary of sorts. The place is ideal to spend a peaceful time as it is still not on the radar of the maddening tourist crowd. Among the several things to do in Chennai, visiting this serene spot tops the list.

22. Visit the Beautiful Anjaneyar Temple Nanganallur

Viswaroopa Adhivyadhihara Sri Bhaktha Anjaneyaswami Temple is located around 10 kilometres away from the heart of the city, in a locality called Nanganallur. Commonly called the Anjaneya Temple in short, it gets its name from its principal deity, Lord Hanuman. He is also called Anjaneya, because he is the son of Anjana, the young Vanara (monkey) woman, and after him, the temple is named. The cornerstone of the temple was laid around 1989 by a group of devout Anjaneya followers - Sri Maruti Bhakta Samajan. It was finally open for the public in 1995. The most important aspect of the temple is its 32 feet idol. Lord Hanuman has been shaped out of single granite stone and then given shape.

23. Take a Stroll at Akkarai Beach

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The sandy coastline begins from Ennore in the north extending south into Uthandi, leaving one to choose from more than just Marina and Elliot's beach. With nicely constructed walkers' paths,convenient seats, adequate lighting, lush green areas and children's playgrounds proposed for select beaches initially, there is more to look forward to when you clock in some time for fitness.

24. Get a Glimpse of Tamil Culture at Kapaleeswarar Temple

Kapaleeshwarar temple is a holy shrine of Shiva in Mylapore, Chennai. Originally built by the mighty Pallavas, Portuguese explorers destroyed the temple and rebuilt it in around the 16th century once again by the Vijayanagar kings. A visit to this temple will be an experience enriched with a glimpse into Tamil religious culture and the lovely architectural combination of the two styles - Dravidian and Vijaynagari, complete with towering Gopurams. There is also a sacred tank on the western side.

25. Visit the Magnificent Santhome Church

The significance of San Thome Church is unparalleled in the history of Christianity in India. The church, which was once constructed as a mausoleum in memory of Saint Thomas, has now grown to be a Basilica, as stated by the then Pope in 1956. San Thome Church is among the only three in the world that house the tombs of one of Christ's original disciples. The other two are St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City and Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia, Spain.

26. Museum Touring at Fort St. George

The origin of the great white structure of Fort St. George is inextricable from the history of the city of Chennai itself. Popularly called the 'White Town', the sole purpose of establishing the massive fort compound was to establish a British stronghold in the Coromandel Coast and the rest of south India. With Fort St. George as a British headquarter, it was easier to develop the many small towns and villages in Tamil Nadu. The now bustling city of Chennai grew up around this fort during this time, under the British-conferred name Madras.

27. Roam the Express Avenue

Express Avenue is a mall in Royapettah of Chennai, owned, developed and promoted by Express Infrastructure. Inaugurated in 2010, the mall stands on a total land area of around 10 acres. Visiting the beautiful mall is one of the topmost things to do in Chennai. The premise includes commercial and hospitality sectors as well. Along with numerous retail outlets and around ten anchor shops like H&M, Pantaloons, Lifestyle and Big Bazaar, on different floors of the mall, Express Avenue also has the largest gaming arcade of south India - Games The Shop and the city's largest cinema multiplex Escape.

28. Soak in the Sea Vibe at Thiruvanmiyur Beach

Located in the neighbourhood of Thiruvanmiyur in Chennai, Thiruvanmiyur Beach is one of the isolated and peaceful beaches of the city. Popular for beautiful sunrise and sunset views, the beach is mostly frequented by nature lovers, romantic couples or solitude seekers.

29. Get Thrilled at Parasailing

If you think the city of Chennai is all about glitzy temples and serene beaches, look deeper cause the uber city is home to one of the most adventurous sports of all times - Parasailing. Unlike several other water sports, this one is not for the faint hearted. And like several other exciting things to do in Chennai, this is sure to take your breath away.

30. Pay Reverence at Vadapalani Murugan Temple

Vadapalani Murugan Temple is one of the most frequented places of worship for Hindus in Chennai. It has its roots fixed in numerous legends and myths, especially about its founder and first priest Annaswamy Naikar. He had a dream about this deed he must do for his good as well as the benefit of the society, and thus he started worshipping Lord Murugan at his home instead of trying to find him elsewhere. This small shrine was later transformed into the colossal premise with multiple deities that you can see today. The temple is known for helping devotees finding solutions to life's problems.

31. Explore the Cholamandalam Artists' Village

Cholamandalam Artists? Village is situated in Injambakkam in Chennai. The gallery is spread over 10 acres and was established by the brilliant artist KCS Paniker in 1966. The gallery exhibits and displays works of artists who contributed for the "Madras Movement". You should definitely take this opportunity and put this on your list of top things to do in Chennai.

32. Visit the Apparao Art Gallery

Apparao is one of the oldest and the most popular privately owned art galleries situated in Nungambakkam, Chennai. The gallery promotes the art, skilled and talented works of the budding contemporary artists.

33. Ride and Surf

Getting in the water and riding the waves on a surfboard is not a thing that everyone can do. But some hours of practice can make that joy possible. There are a number of surfing schools that offer courses and help you tame the waves under your feet. There might be several other adventurous things to do in Chennai, but there is nothing like surfing the clear indigo waters.

34. Have a Fun Day Out at MGM Dizzee World

MGM Dizzee World is one of the largest and oldest amusement parks in India. It boasts of having had given its visitors some unique experiences, many of which were first-timers. It brought Jurong's Bird Show from Singapore to India way back in 1999. It also had a hot air balloon ride in 1998, and even though it sounds unbelievable, there were arrangements for picking up and dropping visitors on a helicopter back in 2000 - probably the first time in the history of entertainment park business.

35. Natural Retreat at Guindy National Park

Guindy National Park in Chennai is the dominant factor in contributing to the lush green cover of the city. Known to be the 8th smallest national park in the country, the land is blessed with dense forest area, scrub lands, lakes and streams etc. Boating of varied flora and fauna, and a rich wildlife, the park receives a large tourist influx throughout the year.

36. Boat Your Way Through the Lakes

Having the advantage of being a coastal city, Chennai also has a number of lakes and thus opening up the waters for water sports. So make the full use of it, choose from several water activities and things to do in Chennai and go all out. One of them is boating. Boating has a charm that can fit any occasion, let that be a romantic boathouse date or a casual hangout with friends on a yacht, an exciting racing event of rowboats or just a fun race of pedal boats between family and friends.

37. Try Your Hand at Fishing

Fishing was a way of survival until it got challenging and adventurous. Fishing has become a common way of bonding with friends and family. The sport seems easy but takes a lot of dedication and patience to lure and catch the biggest of all the fishes. As the Aquatic Adventure has gained popularity many Sport Fishing Facilities have opened up and are busy providing the experiences.

38. Take a Tour of Mylapore

Mylapore is one of the oldest and culturally enriched neighbourhoods, located in the southern part of Chennai. However, the area precedes the birth of Chennai or Madras, as the British named it, by at least some 1500 years. The city had already seen a lot of eventful history pass by even before the British stepped on this land. Mylapore is also very much traditionalist to its core and boasts of many temples, churches and historical monuments. Touring the city is one among the most exciting things to do in Chennai.

39. Spot the Crocodiles at Madras Crocodile Bank Trust

The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust is the brainchild of revered herpetologist and wildlife activist Romulus 'Rom' Whitaker - an initiative to keep the fading species of crocs in subcontinent safe. Initially, the Croc Bank was built to keep the crocodiles safe and help them breed and multiply until they were fit enough to be returned to their natural habitat, and thus replenish the nature's stock. However, due to lessening wilderness, this practice has been stopped. They are now given home in the Crocodile Bank itself and are open for the public six days of the week. It is one of the most unique things to do in Chennai.

40. Art Galleries for the Art Connoisseurs

Chennai is known to be a cultural destination where a lot of art forms have flourished. The amazing art galleries in Chennai are a haven for the art connoisseurs from all over the country owing to their rich collection of paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photographs etc. All of these art galleries in Chennai are unique from each other, some focus on contemporary artists while some other on moderns; some are even among the oldest in the country. This activity should absolutely be on your itinerary or things to do in Chennai, if you are visiting.

41. Beach Hopping

The scintillating beaches in Chennai pretty much define the metro city. Boasting of a lengthy coastline, the city is replete with gorgeous beaches, lush green vegetation and heritage monuments. Away from the din and chaos of the cities, the beautiful beaches in Chennai provide the much needed respite to the city folks to take a break from the monotonous routine and soak in the beauty of nature. Equally popular among the domestic and international tourists, the beaches also encourage several water sports like paragliding, parasailing, water volleyball, banana rides, swimming etc. This is one of the most essential things to do in Chennai both as a tourist and a city dweller.

42. Jungle Safaris

The tropical climate of Chennai has blessed the land with ample amount of lush greenery and equally rich wildlife. Safari in Chennai's wildlife parks award the visitors with some amazing experiences around our neighbours of nature. Interacting with the wild animals makes us realize the true nature of wilderness. So when in the city, experience the jungle safari along with several other things to do in Chennai.

43. Hike and Camp

Surrounded by a number of hills around it, Chennai neighbours to some amazing places that offer nearness to Nature. Every soul in any metro city craves for something new every now and then, and Chennai doesn't lack in fulfilling this need for its people. There are a number of places to camp in Chennai for a twist out of the normal. Boasting of being one of the most exciting things to do in Chennai, you should definitely try this one out.

44. Have fun at Paintball

If you are into playing combat games but all the games lack the touch of reality and the feeling of getting hit, then Paintball is for you. Chennai has a bunch of such Arenas to help you get in action. And among the several other exciting things to do in Chennai, this one definitely tops the charts. So get outdoors, get some Paintball Guns in your hand and challenge your friends to some real action. Keep your skills on the check and your friends in sight; you never know when you might get hit.

45. Get an Adrenaline Rush at Rock Climbing

The fitness aspect for the people of Chennai has been taken up by Rock Climbing and Bouldering, rather than regular gyms. Climbing is the coolest way of being fit as well as getting a regular dose of adrenaline. But Rock Climbing doesn't mean you put yourself under the raging sun all the time! You can opt for Indoor Climbing too and get into the daily chores after the session. Rock Climbing is one of the topmost things to do in Chennai.

This post was published by Aqsa Aleem

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