Honestly, we aren’t too fond of Ooty as a hill station and that is because of n number of reasons. But mainly because it has become too crowded and commercialized and has essentially lost its original charm and simplicity. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make a good weekend getaway for most southern cities.
We have traveled to Ooty twice in the last 4 years and while Ooty itself hasn’t been much fun, all the nearby lakes and towns have certainly been amazing and completely worth the visit. Both the times we stayed here for 4 days and had a completely different experience of the Nilgiri Hills.
So, if you are planning a trip to Ooty anytime soon and aren’t sure what to do around here, then we have jotted down all the details for you. From things to do in Ooty to places to visit nearby, we have covered it all in our Ooty Travel Guide.
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Ooty Travel Guide
How to reach Ooty
One of the best things about Ooty and the other towns in Nilgiri Mountain range is that they have plenty of transportation options for you to choose from. Depending on your budget and schedule, you can find a bus, train or even a cab to reach Ooty from most major cities in South India.
Looking for a new hill station to explore in South? Then, check out these other hill stations in India.
Here is a breakdown of how to reach Ooty using all the possible modes of transportation.
The first thing that you need to remember is that Coimbatore is the major city near Ooty and offers a lot of easy and convenient options to reach Ooty, Kotagiri, and Coonoor.
So, if you are wondering how to reach Ooty, your first step should be to plan on how to reach Coimbatore.
Coimbatore International Airport is the best way to reach Coimbatore and then make your way to Ooty. There are several flights throughout the day connecting Coimbatore to other popular cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, etc.
However, flights to Coimbatore can be slightly expensive so if you are on a budget trip then this might not be the most effective way of reaching Ooty. But for people short on time, taking a flight is the quickest way to reach Ooty and make the most of their holiday.
Coimbatore Railway Station is your best chance to reach Coimbatore from most parts of India and has train connectivity to cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and so on.
So, you can easily get a train for your dates and reach Coimbatore. However, keep in mind that there are fewer long-route trains from the North side so you will need to book your tickets as soon as the dates open up for the train. If you don’t, you will have to rely on Tatkal or choose a flight for reaching Coimbatore.
You can check the train seat availability at IRCTC website when you are planning the trip.
If you stay in nearby cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, etc. then you can also rent a car or take your own car for a road trip to Coimbatore.
Coimbatore is situated at a distance of 930 km from Hyderabad, 509 km from Chennai, 364 km from Bengaluru, and so on. Plus, the road is pretty good to Coimbatore so a road trip could actually turn out to be fun.
Finally, you also have the option of taking a bus from major Southern cities like Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, etc. It will take you anywhere between 6 to 18 hours to reach and you will also find it easier to get a bus to Ooty from the bus station.
You will find both public and private buses to Coimbatore and it is definitely one of the most cost-effective ways to reach this city.
How to Reach Ooty from Coimbatore
After reaching Coimbatore, you have to choose how will you reach Ooty. There are several options available which can take anywhere between 3 to 8 hours to cover the 86 km distance between the two destinations.
Although there is no direct train between Coimbatore and Ooty, you can still take a train to reach this hill station. Udhagamandalam Railway Station is the nearest railway station to Ooty which is a meter gauge railway connecting Ooty to Mettupalayam.
You can take a passenger train to Mettupalayam from Coimbatore. And then from Mettupalayam, you can take the Nilgiri Hill Mountain Railway which was built by the British in 1908.
This is a popular train ride which takes around 5 hours from Mettupalayam to Coimbatore. The first class will cost you about 205 INR one way while the second class costs around 30 INR one way. They also have unreserved general tickets available for 15 INR but these usually get taken in 15 minutes of the opening of the counter.
So, if you want to enjoy the views and save some extra bucks then taking a train is the best way to reach Ooty.
Another option is to rent a cab from Coimbatore to Ooty which will take around 2-3 hours to reach. However, renting a cab is an expensive affair and can easily set you back by 4000-5000 INR.
If you are on a road trip then you will be able to enjoy the views between Coimbatore and Ooty and will also be able to stop at will to take some photographs.
For budget travelers who are short on time, buses are the safest and most convenient way to reach Ooty. There is a local bus leaving for Ooty in every 30 minutes which will take around 3 hours to reach.
The bus costs around 85 INR per person and can be slightly rickety with several twists and turns on the road to Ooty.
You can get the bus to Ooty from just outside the railway station or from the Gandhipuram Bus Stand which is just 3 km from the station.
Best Time to Visit Ooty
There is no single best time to visit Ooty as this is a year-round destination. However, each season offers something different to the travelers so depending on what you are interested, you can choose the best time to visit Ooty.
Monsoon Season (July – September)
Personally, we find monsoon season to be the best time to visit Ooty as the region is covered with lush greenery at this time. Yes, there is daily rainfall which can hinder your travel plans but we love to visit places during the monsoon.
So, if you don’t mind a bit of rainfall like us then monsoon could be a good time to visit. Also, since this is the off-season, you will be able to get low prices for sightseeing, stay, etc.
Summer Season (March – June)
For people who are trying to escape the summer heat in the South, visiting Ooty during summer months can be quite relaxing. The place is still covered with greenery and the temperature remains quite cool so you can really enjoy yourself here.
However, this is the peak season in Ooty so you can experience increased rates as well. So, make sure that you do your bookings in advance before coming to Ooty.
Winter Season (October – February)
If you like the cold then the best time to visit Ooty is definitely during the winter months, just after the monsoon. The place is lush green at this time and most of the lakes have water so you have an amazing view to admire.
Also, during the winters, fewer people visit Ooty so you can enjoy a peaceful vacation here at this time.
Note that the nights during January and February are the coldest. Carry some warm clothes to protect yourself from the cold.
ATM and Network Availability in Ooty
Let’s discuss one of the most crucial aspects of traveling, ATM and Phone Network availability.
ATMs in Ooty
Since Ooty has developed a lot in the past few years, more ATM options have cropped up all over the hill station. So, you will easily find an ATM for IDBI, Indian Bank, SBI, etc. in Ooty.
However, during the long weekends, the cash could be low in these ATMs so it is always a good idea to withdraw cash from Coimbatore or your native place before reaching Ooty. Also, if you don’t have your own vehicle then reaching these ATMs can be a pain if you don’t live near the main market area.
Always carry a decent amount of cash when traveling to Ooty.
Network Available in Ooty
Most major mobile networks work in Ooty including Vodafone, Airtel, JIO, BSNL, etc. However, in some areas, you will get only BSNL or JIO network. Even Airtel’s 4G service is patchy in Ooty and there are a lot of spots where there is literally no signal in both Airtel or Vodafone network.
So, if you are in dire need of Internet network then carry a BSNL or JIO sim with you to Ooty.
Places to Visit in and Around Ooty
Do not visit clichéd places.
Frankly, there isn’t much to see in Ooty unless you are interested in gardens, but you can easily walk through Ooty and discover new people to talk to.
This is a good place to visit but as it is not in Ooty and some 25 km away, you will need a taxi to go there as no buses take you there. Just make sure to bargain well before hiring a taxi, because they do tend to quote high prices like 1800-2200 INR.
We convinced our cab driver for 1600 INR. Also, if you aren’t sure about a taxi, do not take them to your hotel because if you try to cancel then, they ask you 500 INR for driving through that small distance. (Like seriously! Can you even believe this?).
You could also hire Scooty if you have a driving license and are good at driving in hills. On the way to Avalanche, you will see many tea plantation sites which are a sight to behold. Once you reach, you will need to pay an entry charge and a vehicle charge of 150 INR per person. There are Sumos and buses which take you around the forest and stop at a few chosen points.
This is a must-visit place, as it is surrounded by blue mountains and you can visit other points from here too. You can take a bus from Ooty bus stand which leaves at every hour for Kotagiri and costs around 15 rupees per person.
It will take you an hour to reach Kotagiri. You can eat around here and just enjoy the view from here for some time. Trust us, it is really blissful as you can see from the below picture.
Kodanad View Point
Next on the list is Kodanad viewpoint. To reach this point, you can get a bus from Kotagiri which costs around 10 INR to Kodanad viewpoint.
You can start walking a little from the viewpoint and you will come across many locations which give a better view, some 1 km away from the viewpoint. You get buses from here back to Kotagiri at every half an hour’s interval.
Kodanad Tea Estate is a nice place to stroll. You can just get down from your bus and enjoy some time here and catch the next bus to Kotagiri.
It is a small village lying between Kodanad and Kotagiri. It provides an amazing view and you can walk for some time at your own pace and appreciate your surroundings.
Once you reach Kotagiri, you can take a bus to either Catherine falls or head back to Ooty. Buses to Ooty leave after every 1 hour and are usually a little jam-packed.
Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary
On the other hand, you can still visit Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary but you would require a permit from the Forest Reserve Department which is easy to obtain in Ooty itself. Just visit the Forest Reserve office there and get your permit. But make sure you don’t arrive there on a weekend for a permit because, on weekends, the office is closed so it will be difficult for you to get the permit. If you are going on a weekend, you can opt for prior permission by visiting Chennai.
You can contact here for more information about Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary
Reception Range Officer,Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary & National
Please Note: Mukurthi National Park has been closed for tourists and travellers now and so it is not possible to get a permit for this place.
Do stop near this gorgeous place which lies between Ooty and Kotagiri and provides an awesome view of tea estates and sunset.
Upper Bhavani Lake
Things to Do in Ooty
Ride the Nilgiri Mountain Railway between Mettupalayam and Ooty
This is surely must-do activity in Nilgiri Hills. The ticket costs just 30 INR and takes you from Ooty to Mettupalayam or you can choose to stop at Coonoor. This ride is pretty high in demand so the seats get sold out pretty fast. You can try advance booking 4-5 months before or you can reach the station an hour before departure.
Only limited seats are available so do make sure you turn up before and wait in the queue. (We had to wait for 45 minutes in the queue before the ticket counter even opened!!!). But it’s all worth it, especially the evening train at 6 as you get to see the sunset too. You can take a bus back from Coonoor to Ooty, so no worries there.
Try Out the Homemade Chocolates at Moddy’s Confectionery
These are a must try for all chocolates and beverages fans. You can take any combination of chocolates but they have a minimum selling weight of 250g which costs around 100 INR on an average. So, I would suggest Crunchy chocolate, as that was our favorite.
Also, try Chocolate cookies sold here, they are to die for and you can find unlimited number of shops for these so, don’t worry. You can also get coffee beans, flavoured tea powders, and coffee powders from here so, make the most of this opportunity.
Purchase Ooty Tea or Coffee as a Souvenir
Head to the Viewpoints for an Amazing Mountain View
Learn About the Process of Tea Making
Take a Boat Ride at the Pykara Lake
Spend a Day Chilling at the Lakes Around Ooty
Go For a Walk in the Pine Forest
Where to Stay in Ooty
Ooty is a popular tourist destination so there are many stay options available here for people traveling on all kinds of budget. If you happen to plan a trip during the peak season then make sure that you book your stay in advance.
Although there weren’t any hostels in Ooty a couple of years, it is not the case anymore. There are 2-3 backpacker hostels which are perfect for solo travelers and budget backpackers. In fact, there is also a Zostel franchise here which you can choose for your stay in Ooty.
Most of the hostels range between 400 – 600 INR and are a good way to meet other solo travelers and backpackers. You can book your stay in one of these hostels by clicking here.
Hotels and Resorts
In case you are traveling with a group or need your privacy then there are several good hotels and resorts here as well. You can easily find a good hotel room for 2 people costing you about 600 – 1500 per night. You can book a hotel in Ooty by clicking here.
And if you want to avoid the city area and want to stay in a quieter area in Ooty then Delightz Inn Resort is certainly a good place to stay at. You can book your stay here by click on this link.
Read our review about the Delightz Inn Resort to learn more about this hotel.
Food Options Available in Ooty
One of the best things about Ooty is that there are lots of amazing places here where you can eat a decent meal at a reasonable price. And you get all kinds of cuisines here as well. But if you traveling to Ooty then make sure you try the South Indian cuisine because their sambhar is freaking delicious!
There are many local food joints and restaurants that you can try out when hungry in Ooty. Make sure you try Idli and Dosa here as they will be cheap and extremely appetizing. In fact, you can easily get a good dosai or Idli plate for just 50 – 70 INR. And the varieties that you get in dosa will completely blow your mind and will make you want to try out all kinds of dosas available here.
Apart from the delicious South Indian dishes, Ooty is also quite famous for its chocolates. And Moddy’s is one of the most popular chocolate brands to check out in Ooty. They have an assortment of chocolate flavors that you can try and select from. But that’s not all, they also offer snacks like patties, pizzas, etc. for people who are hungry after selecting chocolates for themselves.
They also have some other commercial establishments like CCD, Dominos, etc. So, if you are craving some coffee or pizza you can always head out to them. Although we would suggest you to stick to the local cuisine so that you get a real feel of Ooty.
How to Travel In and Around Ooty
When you are staying in Ooty, then it is quite obvious that you will go for sightseeing at some point. It may be to the places residing inside Ooty or places which are near Ooty. Thankfully, there are many ways for you to travel around Ooty and make the most of your stay here.
Personally, I feel the best way to explore real Ooty and other Nilgiri Hills destinations is by taking a bus. There is a good bus network here so you will find a bus for each place near Ooty like Kotagiri, Kodanadu, Coonoor, and so on. Also, the buses are cheap and quite convenient if you know where you are heading.
The only problem with taking a bus is that you have to plan your day in advance. Most of the buses are available at a particular timing and often result in waiting so you can end up wasting a lot of time here. A bus from Ooty bus stand to Dodabetta will cost around 10 INR while a bus to Kotagiri will be around 25 INR.
If you don’t have a lot of time with you then the best and most convenient way to explore Ooty is by hiring a cab here. It can be expensive if you are traveling solo or with just 1 friend but it can be really useful when traveling in a group.
A tour to the Avalanche lake, Emerald Lake, etc. will cost you around 2,000 INR and will take at least 6-7 hours. And a tour of Kotagiri side will also take 2,000 INR and will take almost the entire day. So, if you do take a cab make sure that you have a few people to share the costs with else it can become really expensive for you.
If you are traveling inside Ooty itself then the best way to explore the place is by walking. Most of the places are nearby and can easily be reached after an hour of walking. Also, you get to admire the tea plantations and the mountain views and can stop wherever you like on the way.
For people traveling inside Ooty, another convenient and quick mode of transportation is taking an auto. It is great for short distances but it can cost you a lot as well. But if you don’t want to spend a lot of time walking then taking an auto is the best way to explore Ooty.
Ooty might not be as peaceful and serene as it was at one time but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t charming or beautiful places to visit here anymore. Honestly, there are so many amazing things to do in Ooty that you can easily spend a couple of days here and still be short on time.
So, make sure that you do visit Ooty and enjoy the offbeat places here and enjoy the Queen of hills in South India. Trust me, a visit to Ooty can end up being really refreshing and can help you take a break from your fast-paced life for a better result.