20 Must-Visit Places in Chennai: A Comprehensive Guide to the City’s Best Attractions

Chennai, the bustling capital of Tamil Nadu, is a fascinating blend of tradition and modernity. Its rich cultural heritage, vibrant street life, and historic architecture make it one of India’s most interesting cities. Whether you’re an art lover, a history enthusiast, or a curious traveler, there’s something in Chennai for everyone.

Here’s a guide to the must-visit places in the city.

Santhome Cathedral Basilica

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Santhome Cathedral Basilica

The Santhome Cathedral Basilica is one of Chennai’s most significant historical landmarks. Built over the tomb of St. Thomas, one of Jesus’ apostles, the basilica stands as a symbol of Chennai’s Christian heritage. The current Neo-Gothic structure was completed in 1896 and features stunning stained-glass windows, a soaring spire, and a museum that chronicles the history of St. Thomas in India. The cathedral offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

  • Opening Hours: 6:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Location: Santhome High Road, Mylapore

Flower Bazar

The Flower Bazar, despite its name, is not just a market for flowers. It’s a sprawling marketplace where you can find everything from clothes and electronics to spices and local produce. The market is a sensory overload, with vendors shouting their wares, scooters and tuk-tuks squeezing through narrow lanes, and pedestrians navigating the crowded sidewalks. It’s a great place to observe local life in Chennai.

  • Opening Hours: 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM
  • Location: George Town

Flower Bazar in Chennai

Marina Beach

One of the longest urban beaches in the world, Marina Beach stretches over 13 kilometers and is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times to visit, as the heat is less intense and the crowds are lively yet manageable. You can enjoy a stroll along the promenade, sample delicious street food, and watch the fishermen bring in their daily catch.

  • Opening Hours: Open 24/7
  • Location: Besant Nagar

Kapaleeshwarar Temple

The Kapaleeshwarar Temple is a stunning example of Dravidian architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple’s towering gopuram (entrance tower) is adorned with intricate carvings and colorful statues depicting scenes from Hindu mythology. The temple is a hub of activity, with pilgrims and tourists alike visiting to offer prayers, admire the architecture, and experience the spiritual atmosphere.

  • Opening Hours: 5:30 AM – 12:00 PM, 4:00 PM – 9:00PM
  • Location: Mylapore

Fort St. George Museum

Built in 1644 by the British East India Company, Fort St. George is the oldest British fort in India. Today, it houses the Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu and a museum showcasing artifacts from the colonial period, including weapons, paintings, and documents. The fort complex also includes St. Mary’s Church, the oldest Anglican church in India, known for its simple yet elegant architecture.

  • Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Closed on Fridays)
  • Location: Rajaji Salai, George Town

Kalakshetra Foundation

Founded in 1936 by Rukmini Devi Arundale, the Kalakshetra Foundation is a cultural academy dedicated to the preservation of traditional Indian arts, particularly Bharatanatyam dance and Carnatic music. Visitors can attend performances, explore the beautiful campus, and learn about the rich artistic heritage of South India.

  • Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM( Saturday 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM, Closed on Sunday )
  • Location: Tiruvanmiyur

Dakshin, Crowne Plaza

Dakshin is one of Chennai’s most acclaimed restaurants, offering a culinary journey through the flavors of South India. The menu includes dishes from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, prepared with traditional spices and techniques. The restaurant’s elegant decor and live Carnatic music performances add to the dining experience.

  • Opening Hours: 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM, 7:00 PM – 10:30 PM
  • Location: Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park, TTK Road

Government Museum

The Government Museum, established in 1851, is one of India’s oldest museums and houses an impressive collection of South Indian bronzes, archaeological artifacts, and paintings. The Indo-Saracenic architecture of the museum complex itself is worth admiring, with its distinctive red facade and intricate detailing.

  • Opening Hours: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM (Closed on Fridays)
  • Location: Pantheon Road, Egmore

Cholamandal Artists’ Village

Established in 1966, the Cholamandal Artists’ Village is one of India’s largest artists’ communities. It showcases contemporary art from local artists, including paintings, sculptures, and installations. Visitors can explore galleries, attend workshops, and purchase unique artworks directly from the artists.

  • Opening Hours: 9:30 AM – 6:30 PM
  • Location: Injambakkam

St. Thomas Mount

Thomas Mount is a hilltop shrine commemorating St. Thomas, who is believed to have been martyred here. The ancient church atop the hill offers stunning panoramic views of Chennai, and the peaceful atmosphere provides a welcome escape from the city’s chaos.

  • Opening Hours: 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Location: Parangi Malai

Valluvar Kottam

A monument dedicated to the Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar. The centerpiece is a giant chariot-like structure with a life-sized statue of the poet. The monument’s intricate carvings depict verses from his work, Tirukkural.

  • Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
  • Location: Kodambakkam High Road, Nungambakkam

Elliot’s Beach

Located in the upscale neighborhood of Besant Nagar, Elliot’s Beach is known for its calm and clean environment, making it ideal for a peaceful evening stroll. The nearby Schmidt Memorial is a prominent landmark.

  • Opening Hours: Open 24/7
  • Location: Besant Nagar

Theosophical Society

Spread over 100 acres along the Adyar River, the Theosophical Society’s headquarters features a vast botanical garden with rare trees, including a 450-year-old Banyan tree. The society promotes universal brotherhood and comparative religion.

  • Opening Hours: 8:30 AM – 10:00 AM, 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM (Closed on Saturday and Sunday)
  • Location: Adyar

Birla Planetarium

A part of the Periyar Science and Technology Centre, the Birla Planetarium offers an immersive journey through the cosmos with its engaging sky shows and interactive exhibits about astronomy and space science.

  • Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:45 PM
  • Location: Gandhi Mandapam Road, Kotturpuram

Arignar Anna Zoological Park (Vandalur Zoo)

One of India’s largest zoos, Arignar Anna Zoological Park is home to over 2,500 animals across 1,265 acres. The zoo focuses on conservation and has specific safari zones where visitors can spot lions and deer.

  • Opening Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Closed on Tuesdays)
  • Location: Vandalur

Thousand Lights Mosque

A prominent Shia mosque in Chennai, famous for its architectural beauty and historical significance. The mosque gets its name from the thousands of oil lamps that were once used to light it up.

  • Opening Hours: 5:30 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Location: Anna Salai, Royapettah

MGR Film City

Named after the famous actor-politician M. G. Ramachandran, MGR Film City provides a glimpse into the Tamil film industry. It has various film sets, replicas, and museums that attract cinema enthusiasts.

  • Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Location: Tharamani

Dakshina Chitra Heritage Museum

A heritage museum showcasing the art, architecture, lifestyle, and culture of South Indian states. Visitors can explore traditional homes, watch cultural performances, and participate in craft workshops.

  • Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Closed on Tuesdays)
  • Location: East Coast Road, Muthukadu

Connemara Public Library

Established in 1896, this historic library holds a vast collection of rare books, manuscripts, and periodicals. The Indo-Saracenic architecture of the building is also a draw for architecture enthusiasts.

  • Opening Hours: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Location: Pantheon Road, Egmore

Mahabalipuram (Day Trip)

Just a 1.5-hour drive from Chennai, Mahabalipuram is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its ancient rock-cut temples and monuments dating back to the Pallava dynasty. Key attractions include the Shore Temple, Arjuna’s Penance, and the Five Rathas.

  • Opening Hours: 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM
  • Location: Mahabalipuram

Chennai is a treasure trove of history, culture, and natural beauty. Beyond the popular sites, the city offers lesser-known gems that give visitors a deeper insight into its vibrant life. Whether you’re exploring ancient temples, relaxing on sandy beaches, or diving into the region’s cinematic history, Chennai has something for everyone.

Street Art in Chennai

Hindu Temple

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