The enchanting city of Chennai boasts of many amazing places to see, each promising a unique experience. Whether you are looking for a relaxed vacation by the beach or a fun holiday with family or an education tour for school children, Chennai has ample of places to visit, catering to a varied range of interests.
From forts and ancient buildings to religious places, from museums and art galleries to beaches and parks, every visitor will find something of his or her interest in Chennai. Here are some of the sightseeing places in Chennai.
Beaches in Chennai
Very few places can boast of being a metropolitan city as well as a beach destination. Chennai presents its residents and visitors with the best of both the worlds. Shimmering golden beaches are an intrinsic part of the city that no one can miss when in Chennai.
01. Marina Beach Chennai
Marina Beach is undeniably one of the most popular beaches in Chennai. It boasts of being the second longest beach in the world. Marina Beach stretch is located opposite to many prominent buildings in the city such as Madras University, Presidency College, Swami Vivekananda Museum and House, AIR and various government offices.
The Marina beach runs from Fort St. George to Besant Nagar. Sunset and sunrise at the beach is worth seeing along with the view. The beach presents an active environment, filled with food stalls, pony rides, games, etc.
02. Elliot’s Beach/ Besant Nagar Beach Chennai
If you are looking for a less crowded beach, then visit Elliot’s Beach in Chennai. Now called Besant Nagar Beach, its shimmering stretch presents some calm moments with your loved ones. Another attraction of this beach is the Schmidt Memorial which was constructed in the memory of Karl Schmidt, a Dutch sailor.
03. Covelong Beach Chennai
Once a prominent port, It is situated 40 km away from Chennai. Covelong Beach can be reached on the way to Mahabalipuram. This beach is popular among tourists for the varied beach activities that it offers. Some of the activities that you can try at Covelong Beach are wind surfing, swimming and many more. You can also club visit to this beach with a visit to various monuments that are located close by.
04. Breezy Beach Chennai
Another beach that you can visit in Chennai is Breezy Beach, especially if you are looking for some peaceful time, away from the usual crowd. Located in Valmiki Nagar, this beach is around 10 km away from the Chennai Airport.
Visit this beach in the early morning for an exceptional sunrise. It is known to be one of the cleanest beaches of Chennai as well. Near the beach, Thiruvanmiyur market is located. There are also a few shacks and restaurants located nearby.
05. Golden Beach Chennai
As the name suggests, Golden beach greets its visitors with an impressive spread of golden sands that shimmers next to the blue waters of the sea. It is a private beach and can be visited on a trip to VGP Universal Kingdom. An ideal place to spend some relaxed time with family or even alone, it is a perfect hangout site.
What adds to the charm is the ample number of fun activities that are offered at the amusement park. So visitors can club walk and surf at the beach with exciting rides at the park. Located along the East Coast Road in Injambakkam, Golden Beach is about 20 km away from the Chennai Airport.
06. Akkarai Beach Chennai
Situated in Injambakkam, Akkarai Beach is undeniably one among the most peaceful and cleanest beaches of Chennai. Around 23 km away from Chennai Airport, this beach is the place to visit if you are looking for a place away from the common tourist destinations.
As not frequently visited by tourists, this beach presents you with a peaceful surrounding. Nestled amid lush greenery and the sparkling water of the ocean, it is sure to refresh everyone who visits.
Parks in Chennai
Chennai is blessed with many parks that one can visit during their Chennai tour. These parks are spread across the city and serve as lung spaces for you to breathe in fresh air and relax.
07. Semmozhi Poonga Park Chennai
Spread across 20 acres of land, Semmozhi Poonga Park is one of the most popular places to visit in Chennai. A botanical Garden that was established by the State Horticulture Department, it presents a refreshing environment amid the concrete jungles of the city.
It was opened to the public in the year of 2010 and is located in the centre of the city. This botanical garden presents a rich collection of flora including various varieties of rare medicinal herbs. The park complex consists of a water and rock garden, a fern garden, Butterfly Park and many other theme sections.
08. Guindy National Park and Snake Park Chennai
Located in the middle of the city, Guindy National Park and Snake Park is a place to visit by every nature enthusiast. Its rich fauna and lush green landscapes attract many visitors each day.
When here you can see spotted deer, jackals, blackbucks, tortoise, cobra, pythons and avian fauna such as quail, partridge, fly catcher and buzzards. Its timings are from 9 AM to 5.30 PM. A minimal entry fee is charged as well as additional fees for still camera and video camera.
09. Arignar Anna Zoological Park Chennai
Established in the year 1855, Arignar Anna Zoological Park is the first public zoo of India. Located around 31 km away from the centre of the city, it is spread over 510 hectare of land and is home to around 1500 species of wild animals and birds.
This zoo consists of an aviary, aquarium and butterfly house. There is an option of lion safari, elephant safari and deer safari at the zoo. Arignar Anna Zoological Park timings are from 9 AM to 5 PM. It is open on all days of the week except on Tuesdays.
Historical buildings and Museums in Chennai
The city of Chennai is synonymous to culture and history. It played an important part in the journey of India as a country, its culture and the civilization. Along with being a home to many great scholars and saints, this city offers various monuments and buildings that one can visit. The museums in Chennai allow you to explore its historical background in depth.
10. St. George Museum Chennai
It is a place that should not be missed when on a Chennai tour. Now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, St. George Museum was first opened to the public in 1948.
Consisting of 3 floors, it presents a rich collection that is displayed in 10 galleries. Some of the items showcased at the museum are swords, rifles, pistols, cannon, daggers, various British army uniforms for different ranks, silverware and various other artefacts from St. Mary's Church and Tranquebar Zion Church.
11. Vivekananda House and Museum Chennai
Another sightseeing place that you cannot miss on your Chennai tour is the Vivekananda house and Museum, located at Kamaraj Salai on the Marina Beach Road. Initially, built in 1842 to store ice blocks, it was called the Ice House. Later, it was bought by a renowned lawyer, Bilagiri Iyengar, who named it Castle Kernan in the respect of his friend.
In February 1897, Swami Vivekananda had stayed at this Victorian style two-story home for a few days. In the honour of this, Vivekananda Navaratri was celebrated here every year, and eventually named as Vivekananda House.
It now presents an insight into the life of Swami Vivekananda through an exhibition on his life as well as on Indian Culture which is organised all around the year. It is now maintained by the Ramakrishna Math. Visitors can see the bedroom, dining area, kitchen and the garden, which is also known as Vivekananda Park. His teachings can also be learnt at the gallery and the meditation room.
12. Connemara Public Library Chennai
Established in 1896, Connemara Public Library is a historically rich place with an impressive architecture. This library is home to various rare and ancient publications that are more than 600,000. It is considered as one of the largest libraries of Asia. It is located in Museum Compound, Pantheon Road, Egmore. The entry timings of Connemara Public Library are from 9 AM to 7.30 PM.
13. National Art Gallery Chennai
National Art Gallery is another popular place to visit, especially for those who are interested in exploring various arts, belonging to different centuries. Established in 1907, it presents a brilliant example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. This art gallery consists of various sections, each presenting a rare collection, with some even dating back to the 11th century.
14. DakshinaChitra Museum Chennai
Located on ECR Highway, Muttukadu, DakshinaChitra Museum is one of the popular sightseeing places in Chennai. Living upto its name, which means “portrait of the South '', Dakshin Chitra presents a glimpse into the culture, architecture, crafts of the South India.
Founded and maintained by the Madras Craft Foundation, this museum was opened in the year of 1996. There are 18 houses in the museum that presents more than 4000 artefacts belonging to all the five states of Southern India (Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh). You will find displays including clothing, art forms, architecture and even farming.
15. Government Museum Chennai
One of the oldest public museums in the country, Government Museum Chennai is home to some of the rare artefacts. Visitors on their tour to the museum can get a detailed view of Tamil history.
There are various modern bronze items along with a few displays dating back to the 10th to 13th century. Marble sculptures in its Amaravathi Gallery are specially mesmerising. It is situated on Pantheon Road, Egmore and opens on every day except Friday and national holidays. The entry timings are from 9.30 AM to 5.30 PM. The complex also has a Museum Theatre and Connemara Public Library.
16. Chennai Rail Museum
Another place to visit if you love to explore the bygone, or historical facts is the Chennai Rail Museum. Located on the New Avadi Road in Lakshmipuram, this museum is spread over an area of 6.25 acres. Here visitors can explore technical as well as heritage aspects of a locomotive or engines.
There are steam engines dating back to Colonial times, as well as vintage coaches for you to explore and admire. A toy train ride is another attraction if you are visiting with children. The Chennai Rail Museum timings are from 5 AM to 8 PM. The entry is free for all.
17. Fort St. George Chennai
Built in 1653 by the British East India Company, Fort St. George is a prominent landmark of Chennai. Along with high historical significance, this place still holds immense importance as many state legislature and secretariat buildings are located within its complex. Along with these, it also houses two ancient buildings namely St. George museum and St. Mary’s Church.
18. Ripon Building Chennai
Known for its impressive Roman style of architecture, Ripon building beholds everyone’s attention with its sparkling white structure. Named after Lord Ripon, the then Governor-General of British India, it is located on the Raja Muthiah Road, Periyamet.
It opens from 10 in morning to 6 in the evening so you can visit Ripon Building at any time of the week, except Sundays and Saturdays. One of the attractive features of this building is the Westminster Quarter chiming clock.
19. Madras High Court
Madras High court, one of the most prestigious courts in the country, is a place to visit even if you are not inclined towards learning the judicial processes that this court handles. It is a place to visit by every architecture lover.
The red building with its towering height is sure to draw your admiration as soon as you see it. Its magnificent structure adorned with stained glasses and carved ceilings is a sight worth remembering. It is located at N Fort Road, Parrys, George Town, Chennai.
Popular places of worship in Chennai
The historical city of Chennai boasts of many ancient and historically significant places of worship as well. Centuries old temples, churches from colonial times and mosques have become an integral part of the city which every visitor must experience.
20. Ashtalakshmi Temple/ Ashtalakshmi Kovil Chennai
Situated just a few kilometres away from Elliot's Beach, this temple is a popular site among Hindu devotees. Built in the similar way as the Sundhararaja Perumal Temple of Uthiramerur, it was built to honour the wish of Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati Mahaswamigal of Kanchi Mutt, who is popularly referred as Sage of Kanchi.
Dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, Ashtalakshmi Temple gives devotees the opportunity to worship eight primary forms of the Goddess. With the Bay of Bengal in its close proximity one can hear the soothing lull of waves along with the chanted mantras at this temple. It is open for visitors from 6.30 AM to 12 PM and 4 PM to 9 PM.
21. Marundeeswarar Temple Chennai
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is located at Lalitha Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur. Temple’s impressive structure in Dravidian style and historical importance is another reason to plan a visit here. Constructed during the Chola Dynasty in the 9th century and then expanded during the reign of Vijayanagar rulers, Marundeeswarar Temple is now maintained by the Govt. of Tamil Nadu.
As per the legend, Lord Marundeeswarar had taught the great Sage Agastya about the medicinal importance of various herbs. Hence, many people come here to seek blessings and cure their ailments. The prasad of the temple is also believed to cure illnesses.
22. Parthasarathy Temple Chennai
Another temple that attracts not only devotees but also history and architecture enthusiasts is the Parthasarathy Perumal Temple. One among the 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu, this temple dates back to the 6th Century. It was built during the Pallavas' reign and later expanded by the rulers of Chola Dynasty and the Vijayanagara Dynasty.
Located in Thiruvallikeni or Triplicane, Parthasarathy Temple boasts of a captivating structure which is dotted with exquisitely carved pillars and decorated gopurams. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and the presiding deity of the temple is Sri Parthasarathy Swamy.
There are shrines of Sri Mannadha Swamy, Sri Vedavalli Thayar, Sri Thellia-Singa-Perumal (Sri Narasimha Swamy), Sri Gajendra Varadaraja Swamy, and Sri Andal. As per the legend, seven sages, the Saptarishis worshiped five deities here.
23. Kapaleeswarar Temple Chennai
One of the oldest temples in the city, Kapaleeswarar Temple is said to be built in the 7th century during the reign of Pallava Kings. However, it is said that the original temple was destroyed by the Portuguese and the present structure of the temple was built in the 16th century. Traditional songs of Nayanmars mention this. Dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Karpagambal, it has been built in the Dravidian style of architecture.
24. Annai Vailankanni Shrine Chennai
Located close to Elliot's beach, Annai Vailankanni Shrine is another place to visit. Its captivating white structure, standing by the side of Bay of Bengal, attracts hordes of visitors every day. It is often visited by those who wish to have some peaceful time. Its opening timings are from 5 AM to 9 PM.
25. Thousand Lights Mosque Chennai
Other places that showcase a beautiful architecture is the Thousand Lights Mosque. There are multiple domes with two minarets that enclose the main hall of the mosque. It consists of a separate prayer hall for men and women.
26. San Thome Church Chennai
An ancient building, Santhome Church is one of the most prominent churches in Chennai. It is said to be one of the few churches in the world which stand over the tomb of a direct Apostle of Jesus Christ.
San Thome Church has an attractive architecture as well. Built in 1523, the structure of the church was built in the architectural style of neo-gothic. In the year of 1956, it was given the status of minor basilica. This church is dedicated to Saint Thomas. Within the church premises, there is a museum, a shop for prayer related materials and a library.
27. St. Mary’s Church Chennai
Another religious site in Chennai that one can visit is the St. Mary’s Church. Boasting of being the first Anglican Church in the country, it is situated within the complex of Fort St. George. Apart from its religious relevance, this church attracts visitors with the rare painting of Last Supper which adorns the altar.
28. Wallajah Mosque Chennai
Popularly known as the Triplicane Big Mosque, Wallajah Mosque presents you with a glimpse of Mughal architectural style. Built only in granite, this mosque is said to be the oldest mosque in the city. It was constructed in the year of 1795 by Muhammad Ali Khan Wallajah’s family. It opens at 5 in the morning and closes at 8 in the night.
Other places to see in Chennai
There are many other places in Chennai that one can explore if staying for longer. These are a few more sightseeing places that you can add to your Chennai Itinerary.
29. Crocodile Bank Chennai
Started with the motive of preserving various species of reptile, Crocodile Bank now houses more than 2500 creatures. Once you visit you can spot snakes, sea turtles, alligators and water birds. Timing of Crocodile Bank is from 9.00 AM to 5.30 PM. It is open on all days except on Mondays. There is a minimal entry fee and extra charges if you are taking a still camera or video camera.
30. Birla Planetarium Chennai
Located near Anna University, Birla Planetarium is another place to visit in Chennai. A part of Periyar Science and Technology Museum, planetarium not only includes an interesting range of exhibits on various subjects including solar system, sky and seasons, etc., but also conducts various audio-visual programs on astronomy. Timings of Birla Planetarium are from 10 AM to 5.45 PM. There is a minimal entry fee of Rs.40 for adults and Rs.25 for kids.
31. Royapuram Fishing Harbour Chennai
Also known by the name of Chennai Fishing Harbour or Kasimedu fishing harbour, it is indeed a place to visit if you have a few hours extra to yourself. This harbour is located toward the north of the Chennai port and is mainly inhabited by the fishing communities.
Visiting here will give you first-hand experience about the intricacies of fishing. You can witness the process of catching fish, unloading them and their auctioning to the various buyers. The view of the sunrise in the morning is an added bonus if you plan to visit.
32. Broken Bridge Chennai
If in case you are looking for something unique to explore, then the Broken bridge is the apt sightseeing place. Located at the start of the Adyar River, this bridge as the name suggests is broken. It broke in 1977 and has remained unrepaired since then.
Currently used as a shooting location, it is often sought by those who are looking for some peace. The view of the river during sunrise is a huge pull for nature lovers and photographers. However, it is advisable to visit this place in a group and in the daylight only, owing to its seclusion from the hustle bustle of the city, and lack of streetlight and vehicle access.
33. Theosophical Society Chennai
Located in Adyar, Theosophical Society is one of the oldest organisations in Chennai. Theosophical Society is a worldwide organisation that preaches the power of truth and all-inclusion, into a universal brotherhood.
The Theosophical Society was founded in the year of 1875. This place boasts of a bewitching lush green campus which houses a well-stacked library and an impressive banyan tree which is more than 450 years old. A number of events and seminars are organised here every month.
34. Victory War Memorial Chennai
Earlier known as Cupid’s Bow, Victory War Memorial was built to honour the martyrs of WWI and then those from the Madras Residency, who sacrificed their lives in the Second World War. It is built in white marble. One can see inscriptions of the martyrs’ names on the structure. Names of the martyrs from the 1948 Kashmir Aggression, 1962 Indo- China War and the Indo-Pakistan War are also inscribed here.
The Remembrance and Cross-of the Sacrifice is not to be missed once you are at the War Memorial. On important national days such as Army Day and Vijay Diwas, a special tribute is conducted by the defence forces. Around 5 km away from the Chennai Airport, It is located within the complex of Madras War Cemetery in Nandambakkam. It can be visited from 8 AM to 6 PM every day of the week.
35. Valluvar Kottam Chennai
Highly revered saint, poet and philosopher from Tamil Nadu, Thiruvalluvar is known to almost every Indian, especially by the seekers of literature. Valluvar Kottam is a chariot that was built in the honour of the poet. This monument comprises Kural Mani mandapam, an intricately carved arch and an auditorium.
The kottam was conceptualised and constructed under the leadership of the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M. Karunanidhi and was inaugurated in the year of 1976 by Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, the then President of India. Located on the Nungambakkam Lake Area Main Road, it is easily accessible. It can be visited from 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM.
36. Cholamandal Artists Village Chennai
A must visit for art lovers, the Cholamandal Artists Village is the place where one can witness the best of art and cultural performances. Comprising an open air theatre, two galleries and a bookstore, this place is well equipped with everything an artist or art lover might need.
The craft shop within the complex lets you take some souvenirs back too. Located in Injambakkam, it is open for visitors from 9 in the morning till 6.30 in the evening. A minimal entry fee of Rs.20 per adult and Rs.5 per child is charged here.
37. Muttukadu Lake Chennai
The Muttukadu Lake situated on the East Coast Road is a beautiful lake with boat trips which tourists love. You can do rowing, windsurfing, water skiing, Aqua scooters and explore all other water sports during your trip to Chennai. There are beautiful bamboo boathouses and floating boat jetty here. The best time to visit Chennai is between October and February and during this time you can take a boat trip here in Muttukadu Lake.
38. Mylapore Chennai
A visit to Mylapore is also something that will add in making your Chennai tour memorable. Also known as Thirumayilai, it is also considered to be the birthplace of renowned philosopher Valluvar. This cultural hub of the city has many places to see such as Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Ramakrishna Math, San Thome Basilica, etc. One can find equally exciting options for shopping and eating here at Mylapore. The vibrancy of this place is contagious and is sure to leave visitors with a sense of happiness.
39. MGR Film City Chennai
MGR Film City is an ideal place to visit for movie buffs. Spread in an area of 70 acres, this film city is sure to transport you to at least one of your favourite movies. It is home to many captivating movie sets, consisting of famous temples and monument’s replicas, well-kept gardens and vast lawns along with varying city and rural landscapes, offering ample photo opportunities to visitors. Located in Tharamani, it is open from 8 AM to 8 PM. If lucky, you can get sight of one or two film actors as well.
40. VGP Universal Kingdom Chennai
Another fun place to visit in Chennai is the VGP Universal Kingdom. This amusement park is spread over an area of 45 acres, comprising various kinds of rides and slides such as Tornado, Wave Swinger and Viking. What makes this amusement cum theme park unique is the adjacent beach. It has a private beach which one can access via the park. This is in addition to a petting zoo. It is located on the East Coast Road and opens every day from 11 AM to 7.30 PM.
41. MGM Dizzee World Chennai
Located on SH 49, Muttukadu, Dizzee World is another amusement park that the city of Chennai offers everyone. A visit to this fun park is sure to add a touch of fun to your Chennai tour, especially if you are travelling with kids. Exciting rides such as roller coasters, spider spin, and funny mountain promises a few entertaining moments.
There are water slides and a wave pool as well to beat the summer heat of the city. An amphitheatre which is located within the compound of the amusement park holds varied and interesting performances. It opens at 9.30 AM till 5.30 PM on weekdays while on weekends and national holidays, it opens at 11.30 AM till 7.30 PM.
Shopping in Chennai
Can you call a visit an accomplished tour unless you take away a few souvenirs from the destination you are visiting? The sense of the place through its various aspects, a symbol of its culture and traditions, is what shopping in Chennai will offer you.
42. T Nagar Shopping District Chennai
One of the most popular Chennai shopping places is the T Nagar Shopping district. Thyagaraya Nagar, also known as T Nagar has unanimously emerged as the commercial hub of the city. It offers almost everything, ranging from designer boutiques to jewellery emporiums, trend relevant fashion clothing to wedding wear.
This shopping district has various prominent shopping streets. North Usman Road and Ranganathan Street are two prominent places where many popular shopping complexes are located. In addition to these two, you will also find many more smaller shopping markets and ample restaurants as well. Pothys, Saravana Stores, Shivani Stores, One Style, Instore, NAC Jewellers, Lalithaa Jewellery, Prince Jewellery are just a few of the most visited shops here.
For eating, Hot Chips, Woodlands and The Crown, Residency Towers are quite popular. If you are looking for a fun time, then trying rooftop football at Tiki Taka is a good choice.
43. Burma Bazaar Chennai
One of the oldest markets in Chennai, Burma Bazaar has almost everything that one can think of. Located near the Chennai beach railway station, this place offers shoppers with ample of choices. From pre-owned books and refurbished electronics to brand new items of clothing and gadgets, from in-fashion clothing to ethnic wear, this place is nothing less than a heaven for shopping lovers.
In the 1960s, when Tamil refugees had fled from Myanmar, the government of Tamil Nadu assigned this area for them. Set in 1969, this market is now run by Burma Tamizhar Marumalarchi Sangam.
44. Express Avenue Chennai
Located in Express Estate, Royapettah, Express Avenue is the place to visit if you want to shop for branded and designer products. Open from 10.30 AM to 9.30 PM on weekdays and from 10 AM TO 10 PM on weekends, it is ideal for shopping popular brands. There are apparel, electrics, departmental as well as automobile stores. Fine dining options and movie halls make shopping here all the more fun.
Some of the other popular places to shop in Chennai are Sowcarpet, Pondy Bazaar (Soundarapandianar Angadi), Parry's Corner, Cotton Street and Ritchie Street.
Along with these, there are many other tourist attractions in Chennai that you can visit if time permits. Nettukuppam Beach, Del Monte Colony, Panagal Park, Tada Falls, Kolavai Lake and Pulicat Lake are a few other places that are worth exploring. You will also come across captivating memorials of Kamarajar, Rajaji, Mahatma Gandhi and Bakthavatsalam near the stretch of Raj Bhavan.