With the thoroughly modern metropolis of Bangalore in its eastern corner, the swaying palms of the Arabian Sea shore to the west, the vast Deccan plateau inland and ancient temples dotted absolutely everywhere, Karnataka is a state with something for every Smith. Head to the Kodagu highlands for elephant-trampled plantations, feel as regal as a maharaja at Mysore’s impressive royal palace or marvel at the lush landscapes surrounding the ruins of Vijayanagara, a city once said to rival Rome in size and beauty…
And, if it's in-depth exploring you're after: See our Indian itineraries
Areas in Karnataka
When to go
Monsoon season – typically June to September – brings humidity and storms, while April and May tend to be uncomfortably dry, particularly inland. September to February, temperatures are more comfortable (although rain is a risk from October to December).
PlanesTouch down in Bangalore, the state’s biggest city (and the technology capital of India). Bengaluru International Airport, is 40km from the city center and has direct flights to Paris, London, Frankfurt, Bangkok, Dubai, Riyadh an Hong Kong, as well as from other Indian cities (www.bengaluruairport.com). Karnataka’s second airport is in Mangalore, on the coast. Mangalore Airport has direct flights throughout India as well as to Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait and Muscat (www.airportsindia.org.in). If you’re travelling to the northern part of the coast, landing in Goa is easier: Dabolim Airport is 170km north the state line, and has direct flights from London, Manchester, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Oslo, Moscow, Bangkok, Dubai and a host of Indian cities (www.aai.aero).
TrainsBangalore’s major rail hubs – Bangalore City Railway Station and Yesvantpur Junction – connect the city to other destinations in Karnataka, as well as throughout India (www.indianrailways.gov.in).
AutomobilesDriving in Karnataka can be challenging, in both city and countryside. Hiring a car with a driver lets you explore the state’s diverse terrain with far less stress; most hotels will be pleased to offer a recommendation. From the capital, Bangalore, the coast’s untouched beaches are a 7–9-hour drive.