Ooty Travel Guide: From Places to Visit to What to Pack

Ooty Travel Guide: From Places to Visit to What to Pack

Ooty earned the title of “Queen of Hills” with its mesmerizing misty hills, lush meadows, and thriving tea plantations. Situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters (7,350 feet) above sea level, Ooty has many tourist  attractions to satiate your vacation cravings. In this Ooty Travel Guide, I cover everything from places to visit in Ooty to what to pack for Ooty.

Apart from the typical tourist attractions a hill station offers, Ooty is a favorite in southern India for its one-of-a-kind UNESCO Heritage Toy Train ride experience.

Ashley and son at Ooty botanical gardens, a place to visit in Ooty

Also Read:

Coonoor Travel Guide

Ooty Toy Train : Timings, Ticket Fare and What to Expect

Check out my Ooty travel blog here for all the information you need to plan your trip and make it awesome.

Places to Visit in Ooty

Whether you are looking for a honeymoon destination, or a family vacation, or an adventure travel, Ooty will not disappoint you.

Ooty Lake

Ooty Lake, a must-see in Ooty, is an artificial lake created over 200 years ago by damming water from streams through the mountains. The lake and the tourism facilities surrounding it offer a great deal for you to spend a couple of hours here. Here you can have different types of boating experiences, such as paddle boating, rowing, and motor boating.

Ooty Lake also has an in-house amusement park with games and activities. You can also take a horse ride here. The garden and the many eateries in the vicinity offers a great place to relax and chill with your dear ones.

The Tourism Department at Ooty Lake conducts a boat race for the tourists every year in the month of May. It is a fun and exciting time to visit Ooty.

Ashley’s Tip: While there are many boating spots in Ooty, Ooty Lake is the cheapest among them. 

Ooty lake is a famous place to visit in Ooty for boating and relaxing.
Ooty Lake

Thread Garden

If you are someone who appreciates art and handicraft, Thread Garden should be on your list of places to visit in Ooty.

Thread Garden houses a landscape, complete with flowers, lawn, and a Toda hut, entirely made of thread, wire, and glue. The artifacts are created using a technique called “four-dimensional hand wound embroidery.” The specialty of this technique is that no machine or even needle is used to make them.

Thread Garden is the brainchild of Mr. Antony Joseph that was executed with the support of skilled workers and took about twelve years to fruition. You will be amazed to know that Thread Garden finds a place in India Book of Records, Tamilnadu Book of Records, and Unique World Records as a unique and the first thread garden in the world.

If you want to explore Thread Garden, you can spot it right outside and opposite to the Ooty Lake entrance. You need to pay an entrance fee to enter the exhibition hall and can expect to spend about thirty minutes inside.

Ashley’s Tip: You can learn more about the craft from the in-house guide who will explain about the technique and importance of the place. Apart from the exhibits, they also sell the handicraft. You can take them home as souvenirs. 

Thread garden, showing handicrafts made with thread, a place to visit in Ooty
Thread Garden

Botanical Gardens

One of the most renowned and talked about places to visit in Ooty, the Government Botanical Gardens is a 55 acres expanse of plants, herbs, and trees of many indigenous and exotic varieties. It has been around for almost two hundred years now and has only gained in charms over these years.

The place houses brilliantly colored flowers all throughout the year, making it a year-round destination. Botanical Gardens is open from 7:00 am to 6:30 pm and you need to pay an entrance fee to visit the place. Expect to spend a good 2-3 hours in the Botanical Gardens.

Every year, the Tourism Department conducts a two-day flower show in the Botanical Gardens in the month of May. This is the time for you to flock to Ooty to behold the splendid sight.

Ashley’s Tip: Government Botanical Gardens is a must-see on an Ooty trip. This means that every tourist and students from schools and colleges come in large numbers to visit the garden. It is best to get there by 7:00 am or after 2:30 pm. Otherwise, chances are high that you will end up spending a considerable amount of time waiting in queue for your entry tickets.

Red flowers in fron of Italian garden in Ooty Botanical Garden.
A child infront of a tree in Ooty Botanical Garden.
A woman infront of a flower arrangement in Ooty Botanical Garden.

Doddabetta Peak

Doddabetta Peak, the highest peak in the Nilgiris, is 2637 meters from the sea level. This is a great place to visit in Ooty with family as it is accessible by road and does not require hiking. The view from the top is breathtaking with a view of the valley and mountain ranges through the mist.

Ashley’s Tips: Doddabetta Peak may be closed during the monsoon season due to heavy rain, slippery roads, and occasional tree fall that can block the road. Always check with the locals before heading to the place.

Wenlock Downs

Famously known as “shooting point,” Wenlock Downs is a favorite spot among the Bollywood filmmakers. Wenlock Downs is a meadow on a vast expanse of land and a sight to behold. The summer camp you see in the Bollywood movie, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, was shot here. You can also take horse rides here.

Ashley’s Tips: Two things you need to watch out for in Wenlock Downs are horse droppings and slippery grass. So, inspect the area before sitting down and avoid uncomfortable footwear when visiting the place.

Wenlock Downs, a meadow, a place to visit in Ooty.
Wenlock Downs

Pykara Waterfalls

Pykara Waterfalls and Pykara Lake are two attractions in Ooty that are  just 3 km apart. These are on the same route as Wenlock Downs and can be easily clubbed together. Pykara Lake offers boating facility but can be pricey compared to Ooty Lake.

The entry to the Pykara Waterfalls viewing area is through a village. After paying the nominal entry fee, you have to walk down on a concrete lane for about 700 meters to react the viewing area. You can also hire a battery car operated from the ticket office area for a per person charge to reach the waterfall.

Do note that you cannot enter the falls as it is dangerous and hence properly barricade. It is safe to take children to view the waterfalls.

A view of Pykara waterfalls, a place to visit in Ooty
Pykara Waterfalls

Ashley’s Tip: You can skip Pykara Falls if you are travelling with young children or elderly persons, as there is some walking up and down stairs involved.

Avalanche Lake

Avalanche Lake, situated about 25 km from the town center, is part of the Nilgiris Forest Reserve. Here you will find nothing but nature in its wild and raw state. A splendid lake, a safari to the forest reserve, and an opportunity for fishing in the lake are the main attractions of the place. Avalanche Lake is a must-see in Ooty for nature lovers.

You can reach Avalanche Lake checkpoint by private vehicle, which is a one-hour drive. From here you need to get permits for the bus or jeep safari. Try to reach early in the morning to avoid wasting your time standing in queue for the permits.

The drive to Avalanche Lake checkpoint can be a bumpy one as the roads are not in their best state for the most part of the year.

Ashley’s Tip: If you are visiting Ooty between July and September, do visit Avalanche Lake for some trout fishing.

Avalanche Lake, a beautiful lake to visit in Ooty in Nilgiris

Other Places to Visit in Ooty

  1. Emerald lake
  2. Needle Rock Viewpoint
  3. Rose Garden
  4. Tribal Research Centre
  5. Wax World

Famous Temples to Visit in Ooty

  1. Elk Hill Murugan Temple
  2. Mariamman Temple
  3. Toda Temple
A handicraft at Ooty Thread Garden showing a Toda Hut

Famous Churches to Visit in Ooty

  1. St Stephen’s Church
  2. Holy Trinity Church
  3. Sacred Heart Cathedral

If you have a day or two to spare, make sure you visit Coonoor to make the most out of your trip.

A view of Ketti Valley from Ooty, a place to visit in Ooty

Things to Do in Ooty

Ooty is for the nature lovers and tea lovers!

Nilgiri Mountain Railway

Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a meter gauge rack railway that runs from Metupalayam to Udagamandalam (Ooty railway station). In 2005 UNESCO declared Nilgiri mountain railway a World Heritage Site.

You can book the ticket on the IRCTC website and head on an out-of-the-world journey through the valleys and hills in the Nilgiri mountain range.

 The Railway Museum at Metupalayam station can give you a good idea about the history and evolution of the Nilgiri mountain railway. You can also get down at Coonoor and explore the place.

The train ride is, according to me, the best tourist attraction in Ooty.

Ashley’s Tip: The journey uphill from Metupalayam to Ooty is 5 hours long. There are no toilets in the train. Make use of the station toilets before you get on.

Ooty toy train ticket fare and timing details in a table.

Read my detailed article on Nilgiri Mountain Railway for all the information you need.

The entrance toNilgiri Mountain railway, a major attraction in Ooty

The Tea Factory and the Tea Museum

The Tea Factory and the Tea Museum is a great place for you to learn about the history and evolution of tea. Did you know that The Tea Factory and Tea Museum in Ooty is the highest elevated tea factory in southern India? 

At a nominal fee of ₹10 you can take a peek into the tea making process of “cut, twist, and curl,” and taste a few varieties of teas.

Ashley Tips: There are a couple of tea factories in Ooty, but there is only one tea museum situated at the highest elevation. So, take a long look at the photo of The Tea Factory and the Tea Museum, and save it on your phone so that you can show it to your driver and ask him to take you to that exact place, if you are particular about it.

Ooty Tea factory is a must visit place in Ooty.

Mudumalai National Park

Mudumalai National Park is a part of the Nilgiri biosphere with hundreds of species of animals, birds and fauna. You can have jungle safari, elephant safari, or hiking in the National Park. Here, you can even spend a night as there are various accommodation options available.

Mudumalai National Park is more accessible to someone taking the Mysuru-Ooty road. And while you are there you can visit, Masinagudi, a small and beautiful hill station that is a part of Mudumalai National Park.

Ashley’s Tip: If you want to spot animals, the best time to visit is during the summer months of February to May when animals and birds frequent the lakes to cool themselves down. This is also a great time to sport migratory birds

Where to Stay in Ooty:

Budget Hotels in Ooty

Best Homestays in Ooty

Budget Resorts in Ooty

Luxury Resorts in Ooty

How to Reach Ooty

One of the reasons why Ooty gets so many tourists is its accessibility. I explain here how you can reach the place by road, rail, and air.

By Road

If you are traveling from north of Ooty, such as Mysuru (Mysore) or Bengaluru (Bangalore), the Mysuru-Ooty Road is the way. Ooty is about 7 hours from Bengaluru by road.  Masinagudi and Needle Rock Viewpoint are bonuses on the way to Ooty, in this route.

If visiting Ooty from Mangalore or north Kerala, it is best to travel via Mananthavady. However, from anywhere else in Kerala, Ooty can be reached via Coimbatore-Metupalayam Road. 

You need to reach Mettupalayam to go to Ooty by road, if you are traveling to Ooty from anywhere in Tamil Nadu. State bus services ply from major cities across Tamil Nadu to Ooty.

By Train

This is my favorite mode of transportation as Ooty has its own railway station, named Udagamandalam. The famous UNESCO heritage toy train runs between Mettupalaym and Udagamandalam. 

If you want to reach Udagamandalam railway station, you need to reach Mettupalayam railway station.

You can reach Mettupalayam by train from Chennai on the Nilgiri Superfast Express. Similarly, from Tirunelveli or Madurai, you can reach Mettupalayam by Tirunelveli Mettupalayam Express, which starts from Tirunelveli every Thursday. There are also many passenger trains running between Mettupalayam and Coimbatore.

Ashley on Ooty Toy train at Coonoor railway station.

By Air

Coimbatore is the nearest airport to Ooty. You can catch flights to Coimbatore from any major cities in India. Coimbatore airport is 87 km from Ooty.

Best Time to Visit Ooty

While Ooty is considered a year-round tourist destination, April to June and September to November are considered the best time to visit Ooty. Depending on the time you plan your trip, the Nilgiris can give you different experiences.

April to June

April, May, and June are the summer months when the average temperature is about 25 °C. It is cool, the view up on the mountains is spectacular, and it is a great time for hiking. The major attractions in Ooty like Botanical Gardens and Rose Garden look their best in the summer season.

This is also the time for summer vacation in schools, so brace yourself for peak season hotel charges, large crowds, and heavy traffic.

July and August

These are the monsoon months when the Nilgiris can get quite drenched. If you want to avoid the crowd or intent to spent most of your trip in a tea plantation or a resort with in-house activities, this might be the best time as hotel charges are the cheapest at this time.

September to November

September to November is the time when the rains start making way for a chilly and misty weather in the Nilgiri hills. You can see nature bloom in front of your eyes with new fauna of different colors and shape. 

The valleys look beautiful and green. The lakes and waterfalls are at their fullest and mightiest. There could be occasional drizzle here and there

This is the second peak season in Ooty, which definitely brings in the crowd. You can cover most of the tourist places in Ooty, however, this may not be the best time for hiking or visiting places like Doddabetta Peak as the roads may get too slippery.

Ooty Botanical Gardens in November blooming with flowers.
Government Botanical Garden in November

December to March

The winters in Nilgiri can be between 5 °C to 18 °C. If you are planning to visit mostly the top tourist spots in Ooty and not planning for any adventure, this is a great time. As visibility is quite low during the winter season, driving may get challenging during early morning and evening.

Ashley’s Tip: If planning to spend most of the time in a resort and not planning on touring the famous spots, choose off-season months to get cheapest deals on your stay.

How to Get Around in Ooty

Hiring a private car is the best way to get around and visit all major attractions in Ooty. You can contact your hotel to arrange a vehicle for you. For places like Botanical Gardens and Ooty Lake, an autorickshaw or even the SETC buses (Tamil Nadu state-run buses) are affordable options.

Where to Eat in Ooty

Chocolate: King Star, Moddy’s Chocolates

Tea: High Hill Tea

Café: Earl’s Secret, Cocoapods, Willy’s Coffee Pub

South Indian: Hotel Junior Kuppanna (non-vegetarian), Adayar Ananda Bhavan (vegetarian)

North Indian: Kailash Parbat (vegetarian), Pankaj Bhojanalaya (Jain options available)

Continental: Earl’s Secret, Place To Bee, Angaara

For a more detailed review of the best restaurants in Ooty, check this blog.

Where to Shop in Ooty

Whatever you need to buy in Ooty, you can find it in the two-and-a-half kilometers stretching from Udagamandalam railway station to Botanical Garden. The street is rightly called Commercial Road.

Here you can get anything from woolen (Tibetan Market), to handicrafts, spices, homemade chocolates, essential oils, and the famous Ooty varky. An evening stroll through Commercial Road is all you need to complete your Ooty shopping.

What to Pack for Ooty

Clothing: If traveling in the winter months from November to February, carry heavy woolens; at any other time of the year, light woolens will do.

Footwear: Some of the major tourist attractions in Ooty require you to walk on uneven terrain. Carry your comfortable walking shoes.

Umbrella or Raincoat: If visiting in the monsoon months from July to September, a raincoat is a must. Nilgiris receive rain 9 months a year, so it is best to carry an umbrella with you for any unanticipated rain.

Lifestyle: Carry sunscreens and use them even if it is not so sunny, as you are exposed to a higher level of UV rays on hill stations due to their altitude. Don’t forget to add your moisturizer and lip care cream to your toiletries bag during the winter months to avoid dry skin and chapped lips.

Wrapping Up Ooty Travel Guide

To conclude, the best places to visit in Ooty are Ooty Lake, Thread Garden, Botanical Gardens, Doddabetta Peak, Wenlock Downs, Pykara Lake, and Avalanche Lake. If you are visiting Ooty from Bangalore or Mysore, do add Masinagudi and Needle Rock Viewpoint to your Ooty itinerary.

The best things to do in Ooty are experiencing Ooty Toy Train, visiting a tea factory, and exploring nature at Mudumalai National Park. Taking a cab is the best way to get around in Ooty.

Ooty Travel Guide. a view of Ketti Valley and Ooty Pine Fores lake.

Did you find this Ooty Travel Guide useful in planning your trip? How was your Ooty trip? Did you find or experience anything that I should mention here? Let me know in the comments section below. I would love to hear from you.

Related Posts:

Kochi Travel Guide

Pondicherry Travel Guide

Coonoor Travel Guide

Image Credits: Ooty Lake, Avalanche Lake, Ooty Tea Factory  and Tea Museum

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20 thoughts on “Ooty Travel Guide: From Places to Visit to What to Pack”

  1. Thanks for sharing. I love to see parts of the world through another person’s eyes. And, it looks as though there are lots of things to do in Ooty to keep you busy.

    1. Ooty is a very touristy place with lots of activities and nature at its best. The top attractions are Botanical Gardens, Avalanche lake, and a ride on Ooty Toy train.

  2. Ooty seems a great place to visit for all the family. I would particularly like to see the botanical gardens and the waterfalls as that is where my interests lie. Did you have a favourite activity while you were there?

    1. Yes, Ooty is one of the most visited hill stations in South India. You will love spending quality family time in the botanical gardens. Ooty Toy Train, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is my favorite activit to do in Ooty.

  3. Very informative, well structured and organized.I agree that the research and planning is the the real icing ..keep them coming ..

  4. Great research work. I wish I could get these information few years back when I went Ooty. I think I need to visit Ooty again!!!

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