In South India, one of the most popular spots for travel enthusiasts is the paradise on the peaks – Ooty in Tamil Nadu. Be it a solo traveler, bunch of friends, couples, or even families – Ooty makes up a perfect vacation spot for all! Here’s everything you need to know about Ooty before you visit – the ultimate travel guide to Ooty.
All that hype when most people speak of Ooty? The credit goes to the ever-soothing crisp weather and its views over the plantations, cottages, and colorful structures. The dampness makes the buildings stand up even more beautifully.
I visited Ooty in early November with my batchmates for a 3-day vacation. We toured the village in a rented car during the day and sat by the campfire to warm ourselves at night.
Anyway, here goes the complete guide to packing, places to stay, where to eat and shop. Even the sweet little spots to drink coffee and chocolate in the evenings – the complete travel guide to Ooty.
Things to Know Before You visit
Visiting from Bangalore, things like managing drinking water supply, the cold, and waste disposal were all foreign to us. Here are some things to know beforehand.
Travel Guide to Ooty: When to Visit
The best time to visit Ooty is all-year-round. With Ooty located on the hill peaks of the Nilgiri district, the weather remains chilly most of the year. But here’s something I found out.
While the months from March to May are said to be the best months to visit Ooty, it’s also the peak season during this time. Added to it the rainy season in Ooty is between June to September.
So I’d recommend visiting Ooty between the other remaining months – including summer.
Thus, the best months to visit Ooty are between October to March during the non-peak season and pleasant weather. The summers in Ooty, unlike tropical places, are pretty comfortable to tour the hill station.
Is Ooty Safe to Visit now? (Covid-19 precautions)
Yes, Ooty is safe to visit now. Towards the end of 2021, the tourist spot is pretty safe for its tourists in the post-pandemic state. There aren’t many Ooty travel restrictions now.
Most locals and restaurants take precautions and keep their masks on. However, street vendors and the marketplaces get crowded during the evenings and people bother less with distancing here.
With respect to the destinations, the places we visited were open for tourists all over Ooty. So it’s safe to say Ooty is open for tourists now :)
How to Get to Ooty?
You can get to Ooty by road or the Ooty train. For flights, the closest airport to Ooty is the Coimbatore Airport (100 km away).
The Best (and Cheapest) Way to Get to Ooty
The cheapest way to get to Ooty is – Take a train or bus to Coimbatore. Then from Mettupalayam train station, take the 5-hour NMR (Nilgiri Mountain railway) express directly to Ooty (Udhagamandalam).
This way, you’ll cover the main attraction. The Ooty toy train (NMR) is one of the 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites in India and is definitely a must-visit.
Note: When opting for the toy train route, it’s best to prebook your reservation. The train ticket fare from Mettupalayam to Ooty is Rs. 205 for first-class and Rs.30 for second class. With the rates reasonable, it’s hard to get hold of them. After all, hundreds and thousands of tourists visit just to get on this train!
How to get to Ooty by road
The fastest way to get to Ooty is by car. Also, traveling by car makes it easy to get around Ooty with ease. However, with the road curves and fuel costs sky high, traveling by taxi or car is expensive. In fact, we spent half our trip budget just to get there!
How to get to Ooty from Bangalore: Driving to Ooty, the two best routes are from the Mysore route through the Bandipur tiger reserve and the Coimbatore route.
- From the Coimbatore route, you can take the toy train to Ooty.
- From the Bandipur tiger reserve route through Mysore, you’ll land straight in Ooty.
Both routes have their own perks – driving through the Bandipur tiger reserve, we got to see two elephants and tons of deers grazing!
From Mysore to Ooty, the road via NH766 is the best way to get to Ooty. This route is most preferred when getting from Mysore as you pass through the infamous Bandipur Tiger Reserve and the Mudumalai National park. You also get to drive through the narrow curvy pins up the mountains to Ooty.
Hyderabad to Ooty travel guide – The best way to get from Hyderabad is by flight to Coimbatore. From there, take a cab up to Ooty or via the Nilgiri Toy Train. Another option is to drive to Coonoor and take the train to Ooty.
How to Get to Ooty by Air?
There are no airports in Ooty. The nearest airport is 100km away from the tourist city in Coimbatore. You can get a domestic flight to Coimbatore International Airport (CJB). Upon landing, driving or hiring a taxi from the airport to Ooty (2 hr 45-minute drive) is a comfortable choice.
Ooty Travel Guide Map
When you visit an attraction, save more time on your trip by visiting the attractions closest to it. The places mentioned below are clustered based on their locations along with their distances from the main attraction.
- Government Botanical Garden: 2.7 km from Udhagamandalam Bus Stand. It’s a must-visit here. Some places close to it are:
- Tibetan Market (Walkable distance)
- Rose Garden (1.5 km)
- Ketti Valley View Point (2.9 km)
- Thoda Villa (3km)
- Ooty Boat House (4 km)
- Doddabetta Peak: Another major attraction in Ooty is this peak (8 km from bus stand). Some places to visit on the way to the peak are:
- Telescope House (On Doddabetta)
- Tea Park (2.9 km)
- Eagles Dare Adventures (3.4 km)
- The Tea Factory & The Tea Museum (3.4 km)
- Benchmark Tea Factory (3.4 km)
- Pykara Falls: This is the furthest from all the places in Ooty on the Coimbatore-Ooty-Gundlupet Highway and close to 30 km from the Udhagamandalam. With the falls, river, and lake spread across, here are some places to check around:
- Pykara Dam and Power House (1.5 km)
- Pykara Lake Boating (2.5 km)
- Wenlock Downs 9th Mile Shooting (6.9 km)
Ooty Travel Guide Packages
Ooty is one of the most popular hill spots in South India and boasts its colorful views of hills and calm weather all year round. Tourists flock to Ooty most during the holiday seasons. With families looking to step away from their busy lives, Ooty is a hot spot for package trips. Here are some things to consider before you pick one.
- Plan a 3-5 day trip: 3 days is sufficient to get around Ooty provided your itinerary is well-organized and everything goes well. But to visit the nearby districts of Coonoor and Kotagiri, you’ll need at least 5 days.
- Don’t miss the Ooty Toy Train: The Nilgiris Mountain Railway line is a World Heritage Site and is a rare opportunity – so don’t compromise. If you’re visiting Ooty from far, make sure it’s included on the package.
- Make sure transport is included: Typically most package trips have transport included, but it wouldn’t hurt to confirm it. Getting an accommodation in Ooty isn’t a problem, getting around is.
- Check on the location of your stay: It isn’t worth it if your 3-star hotel is placed in the ditch of valleys. Look for accommodation built on higher elevations for better views. When the prices don’t vary much, don’t compromise on an Ooty view.
To recommend, there are tons of Ooty package trips offered by various travel sites and agencies out there. Moreover, people have different expectations from their trips. Some look for a short visit and others long deeper experiences. It’s impossible to say which package is the best out there.
But to pick your package trip, some of the sites that I’d book from are Thrilliophilia.com, Yatra.in, and Klook.com. They’re trusted sites and provide exactly what they mention on their descriptions and itineraries.
How to Get around Ooty
The easiest way to get around Ooty is no doubt by a private vehicle. For a solo traveler or just two, a bike is great for touring the city. But a car is more preferred for comfort.
Here’s the tricky part – After asking around, many local rental agencies informed that self-drive car rentals are banned here as driving in Ooty by tourists can get risky. Vehicle rental sites like Zoomcar and Expedia don’t have car availabilities here. Most services have availabilities from Coimbatore. But when you rent a car from Coimbatore, then you also miss out on the 5-hour Ooty train ride. When traveling in a group, one will have to miss on the train journey to drive the car from or to Ooty.
Most local agencies only offer chauffeured vehicles where they take you to places around Ooty on a fixed schedule – basically a package tour. This itinerary is usually planned out by the agencies and the number of places and time slot for each is limited. But if you’re unsure about how to go about your itinerary, here’s one such local travel agency to check out.
Though there are tons of one-day trips to choose from various agencies that offer different attractions, here’s an open secret – it’s impossible to visit all of Ooty in one day.
How many days are required for the Ooty trip? A good 3 days should be enough to cover Ooty if you plan out your itinerary well and everything goes well. For a deeper and slower trip, 6-7 days is sufficient where you visit the outskirts of Ooty such as the infamous Pykara falls, Thoda tribe community, and even the nearby town – Coonoor.
Travel Guide to Ooty: Essentials to Pack
Making a one-day trip to Ooty shouldn’t be a problem with only warm clothing, but staying nights on vacation here needs a bit extra.
Essentials to pack for Ooty:
- Warm clothing: This is obvious. Pack your sweaters depending on the length of your stay.
- Socks: Keep pairs of socks handy! Some cottages and hotels don’t have heaters installed. The floors can get chilly at nights – especially if they’re ceramic tiled.
- Sports shoes: With the cold weather and a lot of walking to do, it’s perfect to bring a pair sports shoes.
- Crocs/Flip flops: This is optional. When walking in or around your stay, this is quicker to slip into. Crocs are preferrable as you can slide into them along with socks to keep your feet warm.
- Water bottles and dispenser: Plastic is banned in Ooty. There isn’t a shop I came across that sold bottled water. Only large 5-litre plastic jar are available here. It’s best to bring along personal bottles or even a mini-dispenser if you’re traveling with a group.
- Moisturizer: When walking out in the open, one’s skin can get rough with the cold.
- Head cap: Another option to beat the cold is with a beanie. You can also buy them from the Ooty markets where they have a tons of varieties – I went crazy over them!
Ooty Trip Budget
Here’s a table below to sum up and give a clear picture of the trip budget:
|Average Daily Budget|
|Budget Traveler||Rs. 600-800||Rs. 150-300||Rs. 200-250||Rs. 70-150||Rs. 1000-1300|
|Mid-range Budget||Rs. 800-1000||Rs. 400-500||Rs. 400-600||Rs. 100-300||Rs. 1700-2000|
|Luxury Travel||Rs. 1000+||Rs. 700-1500||Rs. 900-1400||Rs. 1000-3000||Rs. 3600+|
With Ooty being one of India’s most popular spots for vacations, there are accommodation, places to eat and shop, and facilities for all price ranges.
For a budget traveler, it should cost anywhere between 1000 – 1300 rupees per day in Ooty for one person. This includes dormitory-type accommodation (Rs. 600-800 per night), food (Rs. 200-250), transport, and activities. The transport and activities vary on your choices.
It’s possible to tour Ooty on a budget when you make use of local transport such as buses and autorickshaws, eat at local restaurants, and stay at hostels meant for budget travelers. Another way to save more is to travel with more people – this way you can save up on accommodation and transport.
For a middle-range trip, Rs. 1800-2000 per day is reasonable. With this range, you can eat at better restaurants, stay in private rooms, and hire a taxi or rent a car for your transport. More activities like boating (costing Rs. 250 for two) fall under this category.
A luxury trip budget can go much higher, depending on the comfort you opt for. As I said, Ooty has facilities for all price ranges. You can spend much over Rs. 3000 – 6000 per day on luxurious hotels and villas, extravagant adventure activities like hang gliding and rafting, and eating at fancy restaurants.
Note: Keep in mind these are estimated values. Depending on how you travel, some days you’ll spend more and some days less!
Where to Stay in Ooty?
As I brought up earlier, there are accommodation facilities of all ranges in Ooty. Whether you’re booking online or finding stays offline, it shouldn’t be a problem. With the place heavily relying on tourism, you’ll find many people holding accommodation signboards by the busy streets here!
But to recommend, the best spots to stay by in Ooty is either by the Ooty lake or on a hill slope overlooking the view below. In contrast to the location, some luxury hotels have well-planned out cozy stays with their private garden spaces. Some of them are Two Seas Residence, Beverly Villa, and Kluney Manor.
But we were looking for a budget stay, and here’s something learned: For better views, make sure the stay is located on higher grounds. It also shouldn’t be too isolated from the city – request for accommodation closer to other people.
On our trip, unsatisfied with the initial stay we’d booked, we requested a change of accommodation. The first stay was deep into valley pits where parking our car seemed impossible with the steep. So we paid a bit extra and moved to a villa on Ooty Tiger Hills – and it was perfect.
Travel guide to Ooty: Best Booking Resources
Here are my favorite go-to accommodation sites when I visit Ooty the next time. For Ooty, most agencies are best to deal with over a call or through mutual connections. But I trust these sites for booking, great customer support and even refund policy:
Booking.com: For accommodation, this is the first site to check out. With tons of stays to choose from and options to filter, get accommodation according to your needs. You don’t need to pay upfront here – book first and pay upon arrival.
HostelWorld.com: This site is meant for budget and solo travelers for dormitory-type stays. Though only 2-3 stays are available in Ooty on this site, it’s been in the business for a long time and they provide high-quality assistance to their customers and maintain their accommodation well.
MakeMyTrip: This is one of India’s most trusted sites for flight bookings, accommodation, and even car rentals. Be it for domestic or international flights to Coimbatore, use this site for planning your itinerary for the best deals.
Ooty Taxi: This is a local Ooty travel site. With many tour packages, I thought this should be up here on this list. Before you book online, it’s best to enquire about the itinerary and pricing on call.
Best Things to Do in Ooty
1. Check out the Botanical Garden
One thing that Ooty is known for is its nature views. With the Botanical garden at the heart of the Ooty, it’s the first go-to spot through the bustles of the market. The 55-hectare spread garden boasts its lush well-maintained shrubs and pretty glasshouse inside.
The government-run attraction ticket costs Rs. 30 per person (and Rs. 15 for children).
2. Go boating at the Ooty lake
Ooty lake itself is a beautiful spot to walk around unless it’s crowded and noisy during the peak season. The boating is so much talked of here as it’s the most affordable (and relaxing) water activity compared to the rest.
I’m not going to lie, it was pretty fun too! It cost around Rs. 250 for a two-seater boat. The other activities were on land. It didn’t seem worth the rates as these were something we’d find anywhere else.
3. Zip Line (and more activities) at the Eagles Dare Adventure!
The Eagles Dare Adventure, located right by the Tea Factory Museum on the way up to Doddabetta Peak, is for adventurous tourists. It’s great for families but seemed overpriced for us, budget travelers. While the spot targets most luxury travelers, the bridge viewpoint here is incredible!
4. Breathe in the view from DoddaBetta Peak
Seen those perfect picturesque pictures (or reels) of Ooty on Instagram? There’s a good chance it’s all shot here – Doddabetta Peak. While the main tourist point charges for the ticket fare (Rs. 6) and extra for taking pictures (Rs.10), the way to the peak itself is beautiful.
In fact, we never made it to the peak. As the point can get crowded with people, it’s better to park nearby the spot.
5. Sit by a campfire at night
This isn’t an activity that’s separately offered anywhere, but if you get a chance – don’t miss it out! For us, where we don’t see campfires every day, it was a whole different experience with flames and warmth at the center and chilly everywhere else.
The best way to experience this is to choose camping accommodation for a night. Depending on your stay, some stays offer campfire facilities for free and others charge extra. The campfire we made lasted for 3-4 hours. We stayed up well over midnight talking by the burning sticks.
6. Shop at the Ooty local market
Shopping at the local Ooty market was unlike any street shopping experience I had in India. It was simply wonderful! With the plastic ban in Ooty, the markets are effortlessly clean here. The best products that sell here are cute winter beanies, scarfs, warm jackets, socks, and tiny plants!
Even the street food stalls are clean here. They give you the delicacies in paper wraps and drinks in large mugs. The plastic-free place seemed a world away from ours and much much better!
7. Taste Chocolate and Tea at its Factory and museum
Ooty is a beautiful destination. But to those who love tea, coffee, and chocolates, it’s heaven.
With the soils of the hilltop region fertile, it grows cacao trees and tea plantations. Thus explaining the cheap rates of chocolates here. With it, there are many chocolate and tea factory outlets around the place. Many of them also invite tourists to check out their processes and give samples to taste!
8. Visit the Pykara Falls and Lake
This lies more on the outskirts of Ooty, but it’s worth the drive. Pykara itself is a village close to Ooty, hence its name. Regarding waterfalls, this is the most majestic one here and makes up for a perfect picnic spot.
The flow strength depends on which time of the year you visit. Here too, boating facilities like speedboating have been developed to attract more tourists.
Travel Guide to Ooty: More Places to Visit
People visit Ooty not just to tour the town, but the places nearby it. The lake, botanical garden, Dodabetta Peak, and chocolate and tea factories are all within the city’s range. But the other spots like the Pykara falls, Thoda tribe, and Heritage train are all in towns and villages nearby Ooty.
The Pykara falls and lake come by the Pykara village and the Heritage train is in Coonoor – 20 km from Ooty. Even the pine forest here is 15 km away from the city’s center. Thus there’s a lot more to the hill station than being just one tourist peak. But for the travel guide to Ooty, that suffices everything you need to know for planning your trip :)