Discover the Magnificence of Chennai in 2023: 23 Must-Do Activities in India’s Southern Gem!

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When you think of the word ‘Chennai’, what comes to mind? Pristine coastlines, exquisite temples, and enjoyable activities, right? Well, Chennai embodies all of this and more. With numerous remarkable things to do in Chennai, you’ll find nothing less than an incredible experience. Chennai, formerly known as Madras, serves as the capital city of Tamil Nadu. It is also one of the most frequented cities in South India, attracting foreign tourists as well. Renowned for its religious sites, beaches, and status as an IT hub, Chennai extends a warm welcome and is a destination that should be on your must-visit list. Whether you’re here for a weekend getaway or an extended stay, be sure to explore the marvelous things to do in Chennai city and try them out. As a highly developed coastal city, Chennai offers plenty of fun and excitement.

23 Exceptional Activities to Experience in Chennai

If you’re curious about the enjoyable things to do in Chennai, we have all the details for you. From indulging in retail therapy to lazily lounging on the sandy shores, Chennai offers a wealth of options. So, take a look at the following activities and discover what adventures await you on your vacation.

  • Elliot’s Beach: Immerse Yourself in the Splendor of a Glorious Sunrise
  • Mahabalipuram: Marvel at the Exquisite Sculptures
  • Mylapore Musings Kapaleeshwar Temple: Behold its Beauty
  • Muttukadu: Dive into a World of Water Activities
  • Trekking: Embark on Exciting Hikes Around Chennai
  • Queens Land: Delight in Thrilling Rides
  • IIT-Madras: Take a Serene Stroll Amidst Nature
  • Pondy Bazaar: Indulge in a Shopping Spree
  • Birla Planetarium: Visit India’s Modern Planetarium
  • National Art Gallery: Be Enthralled by Remarkable Art
  • Ubbalamadugu Falls: Capture Nature’s Beauty Through Photography
  • Pulicat Lake: Admire the Synchronized Flight of Birds
  • Barracuda Bay: Engage in Fishing Adventures with Friends
  • Chennai Cuisine: Spoil Your Taste Buds with Local Delicacies
  • Scuba Diving: Prepare for an Exhilarating Underwater Adventure
  • Lion Safari: Explore the Vast Arignar Anna Zoological Park
  • Cultural Tour: Immerse Yourself in the Dakshinachitra Museum
  • Parasailing: Enjoy a Panoramic View of Chennai
  • Fun Day: Have a Blast at MGM Dizzee World
  • Beach Hopping: Paradise for Beach Enthusiasts
  • Camping: Get Grounded with Outdoor Experience
  • Rock Climbing: Conquer New Heights with This Thrilling Activity
  • Paintball: Have a Blast with Your Squad

1. Elliot’s Beach: Immerse Yourself in the Splendor of a Glorious Sunrise

You would be remiss to miss out on a breathtaking morning experience like catching the sunrise at Elliot’s Beach. It is considered one of the best things to do in Chennai with friends. Taking a leisurely stroll here is the ultimate way to start your day. You can bring your friends or even your beloved pet, as it is a perfect spot for socializing. Located at the renowned Beasant Nagar, it is one of the most sought-after places in Chennai. The beach boasts a well-maintained promenade with numerous local food outlets and stands in close proximity to the shoreline. The beach road is adorned with temples, churches, and monuments, making it an ideal destination for individuals of diverse interests. Even kids find joy in playing with their peers on the beach. Be sure to visit the iconic Karl Schmidt memorial, a famous landmark featured in many movies, situated on Elliot’s Beach.

Perfect for: Early morning walk during sunrise. You can join with your relatives or companions or simply go alone to appreciate the serenity.Cost of Activities/Ticket Fee: No chargeOperating hours: Open all dayLocation: Beasant Nagar, Chennai

A Must-Read: 23 Exclusive New Year Parties in Chennai: A Comprehensive List of Events

2. Mahabalipuram: Be Amazed by the Sculptures

Ancient Monument

One of the most exciting activities to do in Chennai, particularly for young individuals, is to rent two-wheelers and head to Mahabalipuram early in the morning. You will travel along the East Coast Road, and the experience of the drive alone is so exhilarating that you will have an incredible day. You can go wild with a group of friends and still find it enjoyable! You can explore the architectural marvels of the Shore Temple, Arjuna’s Penance, Pancha Rathas, or Krishna’s Butterball. The entire town has a fascinating structure. This place has been designated as a UNESCO site due to its stone-carved wonders. You can also visit the remarkable Seashell Museum!

Perfect for: Friends who enjoy outdoor activities for fun. You can also visit with your family.Cost of Activities/Ticket Fee: No chargeOpening and closing hours: 6 AM- 6 PMLocation: Mahabalipuram

Recommended Read: 53 Tourist Spots Near Chennai for an Amazing Trip

3. Mylapore Musings Kapaleeshwar Temple: A Fascinating Visit

Ancient Temple

Visiting Kapaleeshwar Temple is one of the top activities to do in Chennai. The temple was constructed in the 7th century, making it a must-visit for history enthusiasts. This renowned temple in Chennai showcases authentic Dravidian architecture and boasts multiple gopurams and pavilions. The entire temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, represented in the form of a peacock, or Mayil in Tamil. Hence, the town derived its name from this temple- Mayilapura, or the Town of Peacocks. You will encounter “maamis” (married women) wearing vibrant sarees and “maamas” (married men) reciting shlokas. The ambiance is vibrant, and you will instantly fall in love with it. This town, Mylapore, is believed to be on par with Kailasa, the abode of Lord Shiva. The Arabathi-Muvar Festival is a special event celebrated here. Don’t forget to taste the delicious keerai vadai at Karpagambal Mess and enjoy some refreshing rose milk at the Kalathi stall.

Perfect for: Families or friends interested in historic sites.Cost of Activities/Ticket Fee: Free unless you desire a special darshanHours: 6 AM- 9 PM. Closed from 1 PM- 5 PM.Location: Kapaleesvarar, Kesava Perumal Sannathi St, Vinayaka Nagar Colony, Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600004

4. Muttukadu: Experience Water Activities

Muttukadu Boat House serves as a hub for water sports enthusiasts. Offering an exhilarating experience, it is one of the top attractions for those looking for things to do in Chennai with friends. Situated on the East Coast Road, this facility lies in the backwater region of the mighty Bay of Bengal, approximately 35 kilometers away from the city center. Boasting a fleet of 15 row boats, 27-speed boats, and pedal boats, it is a renowned boating spot that attracts over 4,000 visitors every weekend. 

Riverside

Ideal for: Spending quality time with friends and family. This place is perfect for a fun-filled Saturday or Sunday with your cousins.Activity cost/Ticket fee: Prices may vary, so it is recommended to check for details online. However, row boating is available at INR 130 for 30 minutes.Timings: Open from 9:30 AM to 6 PMLocation: East Coast Road, Muttukadu, Tamil Nadu 603103

5. Trekking: Embark on an Adventurous Journey around Chennai

Trekking

Are you seeking adventure? Try out the thrilling treks in Chennai! Located on the coast, Chennai offers a plethora of activities such as scenic drives, sightseeing tours, and adventure sports. Additionally, it boasts a number of trekking options suitable for all skill levels. The difficulty of the trek depends on the duration and location of the trip. No mountain is unconquerable, so put on your hiking boots and embark on an incredible trekking expedition near Chennai.

Ideal for: Adventure enthusiasts, as well as families and friends who are up for a challenge.Activity cost/Ticket fee: Costs may vary.Timings: Typically starts early in the morning around 6 AM.Location: East Coast Road, Chennai.Accommodation: Camping options available at the trek site.

6. Queens Land: Thrilling Rides for All Ages

Swings

If you are a fan of amusement parks, you should definitely consider enjoying the exciting rides at Queens Land. This attraction, which is perfect for youngsters but has no age limitations, is one of the top things to do in Chennai. Sprawling across 70 acres of land, this expansive theme park offers a total of 51 rides, including both water and land-based attractions. Experience an adrenaline rush as you freefall from a height of 150 feet, crash into cars, and zoom through twisters and slides. It is an ideal destination for group outings, allowing you to have a memorable day of fun with your family and friends. Queens Land is open every day except for Mondays.

Perfect for: Enjoyment, you can plan a day with your family or friends, etc.

Cost of Activity/Ticket: INR 550 for adults, INR 450 for children, and free for children below 2 ft.

Operating Hours: 10 AM – 6 PM. It is closed on Mondays.

Location: Chennai-Bengaluru Highway, Palanjur, Sembarambakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600123

7. IIT-Madras: Embark on a Tranquil Stroll in Nature

IIT Institute

Do you enjoy leisurely walks in nature? Do you find it calming to hear the melodious chirping of birds early in the morning? It truly is therapeutic, isn’t it? One of the finest activities to partake in while in Chennai is taking an early morning nature walk at IIT Madras. Despite being home to brilliant minds, this institute also emphasizes the conservation and maintenance of a vast park within its premises. Interestingly, the campus was once a part of the Guindy National Park, characterized by tropical dry evergreen forests where the trees never shed their leaves. Additionally, the campus boasts of a deer park, home to numerous spotted deer that have been introduced into the park. The diversity of avian species and other flying insects is truly remarkable, making it a paradise for birdwatching enthusiasts. The college’s nature club actively contributes to the preservation of the park and the conservation of biodiversity. They even organize nature walks, bird watching sessions, and thrilling trekking expeditions.

Perfect for: A peaceful activity or a delightful outing.

Cost of Activity/Ticket: Free.

Operating Hours: As per the university’s schedule.

Location: IIT Madras, Chennai

8. Pondy Bazaar: Indulge in a Shopping Extravaganza

Ravi Chandar for Wikimedia Commons

pondy bazaar

If you believe that you have exhausted all the thrilling activities in Chennai, think again! You deserve to enjoy and have a great time. So, why not go on a shopping spree at Pondy Bazaar? Here, you can find everything ranging from traditional jimikki kammal to cozy slippers. For avid shoppers, there are numerous stores to explore including Naidu Hall, Poonam, and many more. Delight in the purchase of ethnic goodies like bangles, bindis, hair clips, or that perfect dupatta to complement your outfit. Pondy Bazaar caters to all age groups and offers an extensive range of products that cater to everyone’s needs. And, be sure not to miss out on the richly brewed cup of coffee at Geetha Café. It’s an absolute delight! Moreover, you can also enjoy shopping at night, making it one of the most enjoyable things to do in Chennai after the sun sets.

Perfect for: A fun-filled day out.

Cost of Activity/Ticket: No activity cost.

Operating Hours: 10 AM- 8 PM (although the market opens at 8 AM, the real buzz begins around 10 AM).

Location: Parthasarathi Puram, T. Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600017

9. Birla Planetarium: Discover India’s Contemporary Planetarium

Science Museum

One of the most remarkable activities for youth in Chennai is a visit to Birla Planetarium, which happens to be India’s state-of-the-art planetarium. Housing a completely computerized projector, the planetarium displays celestial objects on a hemispherical dome. The captivating programs at the planetarium offer audiovisual presentations on various astronomical themes. Adjacent to the planetarium, the Periyar Science and Technology Museum draws the attention of students and science enthusiasts alike.

Suitable for: Visiting with friends and family.Entrance Fee: INR 45 for adults and INR 25 for children. This includes access to the Science Center, Planetarium, 3D Science Movie, and Science Park.Opening Hours: 10 AM-5 PM, only closed on national holidays.Location: Gandhi Mandapam Road, Duraisamy Nagar, Kotturpuram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600025

Art_Gallery

Constructed with sandstone in 1907 by T. Namberumal Chetty, the National Art Gallery, previously known as Victoria Memorial Hall, was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Showcasing the Indo Saracenic architectural style, the gallery displays portraits of several British officers, including Lord William Bentinck. Exploring this gallery is often regarded as one of the top attractions in Chennai.

Suitable for: Art enthusiasts visiting with friends or family.Entrance Fee: INR 15 for adults and INR 10 for children.Opening Hours: 9 AM-5 PM, closed only on national holidays and Fridays.Location: Inside the Government Museum Complex

11. Ubbalamadugu Falls: A Paradise for Nature Photography

Ubbalamadugu Falls

One of the unconventional activities in Chennai is capturing the beauty of nature through photography at the renowned Ubbalamadugu Falls. If you are a water enthusiast, this location presents the ideal opportunity to unleash your inner child. The majestic falls gracefully navigate through vast canyons, a sight worth beholding. For a family getaway, this spot is a must-visit to appreciate the wonders of nature, making it one of the top family-friendly activities in Chennai.

Perfect for: Families, friends, children, nature enthusiastsCost of activity/Ticket fee: Not applicableOpening hours: AnytimeLocation: Andhra Pradesh 517541

12. Pulicat Lake: Marvel at the Spectacle of Synchronized Bird Flight

McKay Savage for Wikimedia Commons

Pulicat Lake

Among the top activities in Chennai is bird watching at Pulicat Lake. The area is teeming with birds, especially during migration season. For nature enthusiasts, there is no better place in Chennai to behold stunning natural landscapes than Pulicat Lake. Early mornings and evenings attract numerous photographers who seek to capture the beauty of this natural haven.

Perfect for: Nature lovers, animal loversCost of activity/Ticket fee: FreeOpening hours: AnytimeLocation: Coromandel Coast, Andhra Pradesh

13. Barracuda Bay: Embark on a Fishing Adventure with Friends

Pixabay

If you are on a trip with friends and seeking exciting activities in Chennai, make sure to visit the popular Barracuda Bay which offers a chance to reconnect with nature. Adventure enthusiasts flock to this place due to its diverse range of activities, including fishing. The Barracuda Bay Sport Fishing Club provides the opportunity to learn three different fishing techniques: popping, jigging, and trolling.

fishing1

Perfect for: Adventure seekers and friendsCost of activity/Ticket fee: FreeOpening hours: AnytimeLocation: Chennai, India

Recommended Read: Discover the 10 Best Churches in Chennai for a Spiritual Experience

14. Chennai Cuisine: Indulge Your Palate

Pratheepps for Wikimedia Commons

No visit to any destination is complete without sampling its local cuisine. If you are planning a trip to Chennai, be sure to savor the traditional dishes of the region. Some must-try delicacies include Dosa, Idli Sambhar, Vada, Chili Parotha, Paniyaram, Uttapam, Idiyappam, Biryani, and more. For those with a sweet tooth, there are various flavors of kulfi to choose from, such as saffron, pista, rose, cardamom, mango, and many others.

chennai food

Perfect for: Food enthusiastsCost/Price: Not applicableHours of operation: AnytimeLocation: Anywhere in Chennai.

15. Discover Scuba Diving: Embark on an Exciting Adventure

Pixabay

Disclaimer: The image is only for illustrative purposes.

As the temperature rises, a refreshing dip in the cool waters of Chennai becomes irresistible. If you seek thrilling water activities, Covelong Beach is the perfect destination for diving adventures in Chennai. Explore shipwrecks and breathtaking underwater landscapes, making this activity an unparalleled experience. To top off your day, relax on the beach and bask in the beauty of clear waters against a stunning sunset. It is undeniably one of the most extraordinary activities for couples in Chennai.

scuba-diving3

Perfect for: Adventure enthusiastsCost/Price: INR 6,000 per person (approximately)Hours of operation: Not applicableLocation: Covelong Beach, Chennai

16. Lion Safari: Explore Arignar Anna Zoological Park

Thiyagarajan Dayalan for Wikimedia Commons

If you have a passion for the wilderness and a deep love for exploring a place’s flora and fauna, your ideal destination is the Arignar Anna Zoological Park. Situated in Vandalur, this renowned park is an exceptional picnic spot perfect for families with children. Spanning an impressive 1,260 acres, this remarkable zoo is home to 138 species of exotic and indigenous animals. Embark on a thrilling safari that offers glimpses of lions, elephants, Indian civet cats, and tigers. In addition to the safari, enjoy elephant rides and let your little ones explore the children’s park.

Arignar Anna Zoological Park

Perfect for: Friends, families, nature enthusiastsCost/Price: INR 50 (Adults), INR 20 (Children under 12 years)Hours of operation: 9 am – 5 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)Location: Grand Southern Trunk Rd, Vandalur, Tamil Nadu 600048

17. Cultural Exploration: Discover the Dakshinachitra Museum

Discover the captivating allure of Chennai by immersing yourself in the rich history and culture at the Dakshinachitra Museum. This remarkable institution offers a glimpse into the vibrant lifestyle of South India through its vast collection of over 4,000 artifacts and one million captivating images, all meticulously curated to showcase the local culture. The museum is ingeniously designed as a captivating village, complete with 18 authentic houses that provide an immersive experience of how people once lived. For those with a deep appreciation for culture, a visit to the Dakshinachitra Museum is an absolute must.

Dakshinachitra Museum

Recommended for: Enthusiasts of history and culture.

Admission Fee: INR 110 for adults, INR 50 for students aged 13-18.

Opening Hours: 10 am – 6 pm (Mon-Fri), 10 am – 7 pm (Sat-Sun), Closed on Tuesday.

Location: SH 49, Muthukadu, Tamil Nadu 603118.

If you want to explore more: Don’t miss the chance to witness the untamed beauty of wildlife in the top five wildlife sanctuaries near Chennai. Find out more here.

18. Take in the Awe-Inspiring Panoramic View of Chennai through Parasailing

Ben Kerckx for Pixabay

Please note: The image is for representational purposes only.

Beyond its famous temples and pristine beaches, Chennai offers thrilling activities like parasailing for those willing to delve deeper. In this exhilarating adventure, you are harnessed to a parachute connected to a motor speed boat. As the boat accelerates, the parachute effortlessly lifts you towards the heavens, providing a breathtaking view of the mesmerizing turquoise ocean. It’s an activity best shared with friends and guarantees an unforgettable experience.

parasailing1

Recommended for: Adventurous souls seeking excitement.

Cost: Approximately INR 2,000 per person.

Opening Hours: Not applicable.

Location: Covelong Beach, Chennai.

If you’re a beach lover: Discover 14 stunning beaches near Chennai that are perfect for water enthusiasts. Learn more here.

19. Create Lasting Memories at MGM Dizzee World

Sankar Pandian for Wikimedia Commons

Looking for an entertaining getaway with friends or family? Look no further than MGM Dizzee World, Chennai’s oldest and largest amusement park that never fails to captivate visitors of all ages. Experience an adrenaline rush with a wide array of thrilling rides specially designed to cater to the adventurous spirits. Previously, the park also offered hot air balloon rides, which were a major attraction during its early days. With its extensive selection of exciting rides, MGM Dizzee World guarantees an unforgettable experience for both kids and adults alike.

MGM Dizzee World

Recommended for: Friends, family, or couples seeking fun and excitement.

Admission Fee: INR 549 for children, INR 699 for adults.

Opening Hours: 10:30 am – 6:30 pm (Mon-Fri), 10:30 am – 7:30 pm (Sat-Sun).

Location: 1/74, SH 49, Muthukadu, Tamil Nadu 600112.

20. Embarking on a Beach-Hopping Adventure: Perfect for All Beach Enthusiasts

Nikhil B via Wikimedia Commons

Chennai is peppered with numerous captivating shores, serving as its prime allure for beach lovers. Beach hopping is an absolute must-do for couples seeking unforgettable experiences in Chennai. Start off with thrilling water activities at Covelong Beach, then proceed to admire the scenic beauty at Eliot’s Beach and Marina Beach. For those in search of a serene and less-crowded escape, Pebble Beach, Kasimedu Beach, Neelankarai Beach, and Santhome Beach are excellent choices. The list doesn’t end there! Other beaches worth exploring include Breezy Beach, Akkarai Beach, Nettukuppam Beach, VGP Golden Beach, and Thiruvanmiyur Beach. These breathtaking coastal spots offer opportunities to unwind, explore, partake in exciting activities, laze around, and marvel at stunning sunsets.

beach hopping

Ideal for: Beach enthusiasts, couples, families, friendsActivity cost/Ticket fee: Not applicableTimings: Not applicableLocation: Throughout Chennai

21. Camping: Getting Grounded in Nature’s Embrace

Chulmin via Wikimedia Commons

Disclaimer: The image is used for representational purposes only.

camping

Chennai and its surrounding areas host a plethora of picturesque locations ideal for camping and immersing oneself in nature’s tranquility. If you yearn for a camping trip amidst pristine natural surroundings, fret not, for you won’t be disappointed by these magnificent spots. Tada Falls, Pulicat Lake, Chembarambakkam Lake, Mamandur, Nagalapuram, Peermade Waterfalls, and more await your presence. Featuring lush foliage and cascading waterfalls in close proximity, these places provide the perfect setting to pitch your tent.

Ideal for: Friends, nature enthusiastsActivity cost/Ticket fee: Approximately INR 2,000 per personTimings: AnytimeLocation: Various locations in and around Chennai

22. Rock Climbing: Embrace the Thrills of this Adventure

Pixabay

Disclaimer: The image is used for representational purposes only.

indoor rock climbing

One of the most daring endeavors to undertake during a day in Chennai is rock climbing. Not only does climbing test your physical strength and core abilities, but it also serves as a gratifying alternative to traditional gym workouts. The best part? You can engage in this thrilling activity at Fit Rock Arena, an indoor facility that offers the same benefits minus the scorching sun. Therefore, if you seek strength-related activities, indoor rock climbing is an excellent choice.

Ideal for: Adventurous individualsActivity cost/Ticket fee: Approximately INR 700 for a 2-hour sessionTimings: Not applicableLocation: 73, Venkatakrishna Rd, Perumal Koil Thottam, Ramakrishna Nagar, Raja Annamalai Puram, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600028

23. Paintball: Have a Blast with Your Squad

John Miller via Wikimedia Commons

Disclaimer: The image is used for representational purposes only.

Engaging in a paintball session with friends is undeniably one of the coolest activities to partake in while in Chennai. If you and your gang are passionate about combat games in reality, then this enthralling option is perfect for you. Don your combat suit and wielding your trusty weapon, embark on a mission to paint the opposition. So, if you’re planning to explore Chennai with your friends, be sure to include this exciting activity in your itinerary.

paintball

Ideal for: FriendsActivity cost/Ticket fee: Approximately INR 400 per personTimings: 10 am – 8:30 pm (Mon-Thurs), 10 am – 9 pm (Fri), 9 am – 9 pm (Sat-Sun)Location: 168/3D, Pattipulam, East Coast Road, 2kms from Dolphin city, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 603104

Thus, even if you have just 48 hours in Chennai, do not miss out on these fantastic experiences. Learning a few local phrases can be helpful, although most people in the city understand and speak English. Be sure to relish the delectable local cuisine, with a random tiffin center in the morning serving a mouthwatering breakfast that you must try. Plan your Chennai trip and indulge in unforgettable adventures.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Experiences in Chennai

What are the must-visit attractions in Chennai (Madras)?

The top attractions to explore in Chennai include Marina Beach, Government Museum Chennai, San Thome Cathedral Basilica, Fort St. George Museum, and Guindy National Park.

Where can I spend a day in Chennai?

There are ten popular destinations you can explore in Chennai in just one day. These include: 1. Sri Parthasarathi Temple 2. Valluvar Kottam 3. Government Museum 4. San Thome Cathedral Basilica 5. Kapaleeshwarar Temple 6. Semmozhi Poonga 7. Marina Beach 8. T. Nagar 9. Vivekananda House

10. MGR Film City

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