If you are planning a trip to Hampi and seek the perfect Hampi Itinerary & Guide, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will share all the information you need to have a truly awesome time. From all the best things to do in Hampi, where to stay, where to eat, and all of our top tips.
Hampi is without a doubt one of the most compelling places we’ve visited. Not only in India but throughout our travels. In contrast to the relentless fast pace of other Indian cities, Hampi is incredibly laidback. It is, therefore, a nice addition to your India itinerary if you need to catch your breath. This being said, there is an abundance of things to do in Hampi, that guarantees even the most intrepid traveller an awesome time.
We arrived in Hampi early in the morning after a bumpy bus ride from Goa. A blood-red sun was rising from the cryptic shadows of what turned out to be the ancient ruins of fallen Hampi. Immediately we felt as if we were in a scene from Indiana Jones. The towering piles of boulders and prehistoric landscapes screamed adventure. It was clear from the get-go that Hampi was going to be a special place.
… And a special place it turned out to be.
You see, Hampi is a significant place in India for a number of reasons. Not only is the city said to be the birthplace of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god, it also served as capital to one of the most powerful empires in Indian history. We explain how it came to be the fallen kingdom it is today a little later on; However, the combination of religious and cultural history appears to have earned Hampi undeniable spiritual energy.
I know what you’re thinking. Does that mean that Hampi is bursting with hippie backpackers all lounging around smoking weed? Partly yes. It has in recent years become somewhat of a backpacker enclave; however, there is a specific area that this crowd stick to (more on this later)!
Need more Inspiration to visit Hampi? Check out our Hampi Photo Gallery to inspire your travels.
Anyhow, we have a lot to cover in this article. So let’s get to explaining why Hampi is one of our favourite places in all of India.
The Perfect Hampi Itinerary & Travel Guide
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How Long to Spend on a Hampi Itinerary
Many choose to spend 3-4 days in Hampi. And while it is certainly possible to cover most of the highlights during that time, we recommend spending a little longer.
The perfect Hampi itinerary consists of 3-4 days of exploring and 2-3 days of relaxation. It’s not often you get to experience somewhere as laidback as Hampi when backpacking India. Take advantage of the serenity while you can.
All things considered, 1 week would be an ideal amount of time to stay in Hampi.
Hampi Itinerary Highlights
For those who don’t have time to read through the entire itinerary, here are some of the highlights you can enjoy during your Hampi Itinerary.
- Explore the Fascinating Hampi Ruins
- Watch the sunrise on Matanga Hill
- Take a day trip to the other side of the river, Hippie Island
- Go for a dip in the local waterfall in Hampi
- Experience world-class bouldering
Top Things to do in Hampi
From exploring ancient ruins, taking part in bouldering, and visiting the secret waterfall – there is a ton of cool things to do in Hampi. Let’s look at some of our favourites!
1. Explore the Ruins
The city of Hampi is a labyrinth of ancient ruins, and exploring Tomb Raider style was our favourite thing to do during our visit. The remains of sacred temples, shrines and monuments stand proudly among unexplainable rock formations, creating a landscape that is almost other-worldly. For this reason, the ruins of Hampi are becoming an Instagram hot spot. (Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here!)
Adorned with intricate carvings of Hindu gods & demons the forsaken ruins are a product of exquisite artistry. And it is quite remarkable to see how the remains have been spared from the unforgiving forces of nature.
Although exploring the ruins is one of the essential things to do in Hampi, it can also be an overwhelming task. There are approximately 1600 surviving ruins spread across an area of 16 square miles. The first question we asked upon arrival was ‘which are the most important to see’?
You can be sure that the local rickshaw drivers will make it sound a lot more complicated than it actually is. This is so they can charge you a premium for a guided tour. For this reason, we have put together a separate article detailing what the most important ruins to visit, where you can find them, and how you can get there.
2. Watch the Sunrise on Mathanga Hill
Watching the sunrise & fall over the mystical landscapes was one of our favourite things to do in Hampi. We always envisioned Indian sunsets to be like a perfect ball of fire, transforming the sky into a cloak of red & orange flame. In Hampi, we were never disappointed.
Matanga Hill is formed from a mound of towering boulders. Being one of the highest points in Hampi, it is a popular lookout for sunrise and sunset. The base of Mathanga Hill is just a 10-minute walk from Hampi Bazaar, but don’t make the same mistake we did and attempt to climb the boulders!
There is a carefully engineered stairway leads you to the peak in around 20-minutes. From the peak, expect to find awe-inspiring panoramic views over the lost kingdom of Hampi.
*Tip – Mathanga Hill is a popular spot for camping in Hampi.
MATHANGA HILL MAP LOCATION
3. Experience World-Class Bouldering
What was once an activity for experienced climbers, can now be enjoyed by all visitors seeking adventurous things to do in Hampi. Bouldering is a form of rock climbing, and with the Hampi landscapes littered in boulders, it’s the perfect place to do it. It seems to be popular on the far side of the river, where a number of tour operators advertise the activity.
If you are experienced or perhaps on a budget, it could be tempting to attempt this activity without a tour guide. We would strongly advise against this. The guides have all the necessary knowledge & equipment to help keep you safe. Should you choose not to take this advice, at least be sure to follow these safety guidelines for bouldering in Hampi.
DON’T FORGET TRAVEL INSURANCE!
You will want to check your travel insurance policy to ensure you are covered for adventurous activities such as bouldering. World Nomads is great if you want to make any changes to your policy during your travels and offer add ons for such activities. Complete the form below to retrieve a quick quote.
4. Go For a Dip in the Waterfall
To cool down after a long day exploring, ask one of the locals to point you in the direction of the waterfall. Although it isn’t much of a waterfall, the journey to get there is quite the adventure. We felt like Lara Croft rock climbing, trekking through banana plantations, and crossing wild rapids!
When you get the near the waterfall, expect to be approached by a guide. Although it is possible to find the way yourself; we recommend you go with them as they will know the safest route. They don’t ask for much in terms of a tip, and it’s nice to give something back.
Once you get there, you can expect to find a nice spot for swimming as well as some pretty bold cliff jumps.
See full blog post: Chasing a Secret Waterfall in Hampi
5. Visit the Virupaksha Temple
The exquisite Virupaksha Temple towers over Hampi Bazaar, dominating the town with its captivating beauty. The original structure is said to date back as far as the 7th century and was dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the principal deities of Hinduism.
Virupaksha remains the only place of worship still in use by the residents of mainland Hampi and attracts huge crowds of visitors every day. An essential addition to any Hampi Itinerary.
VIRUPAKSHA TEMPLE MAP LOCATION
6. Watch Lakshmi the Elephant Take a Bath
OK, we know this one is a controversial subject and we are by no means advocates for the use of wild animals to entertain. Nor do we believe in holding them in captivity. However, Lakshmi, the temple elephant plays a big part in the cities tradition and is one of the top Hampi attractions.
Lakshmi is the Temple Elephant of Virupaksha. Each day around 8 am, you can watch her taking a morning bath in the river. Lakshmi is quite the local celebrity and bathes in the river among the locals.
It was quite amusing to watch them having to swerve the ginormous poos she was depositing!
7. Camp Under the Stars
Although we didn’t have the necessary equipment to camp ourselves on this occasion, we learnt that camping is very popular in Hampi. Thanks to little light pollution in the area, you can expect a pretty epic view of the stars on a clear evening.
There are a number of spots in the city where it is possible to camp, such as the peak of Mathanga Hill or down by the river; however, some areas are privately owned so be sure to check with the locals before you pitch up.
8. Explore Hampi Bazaar by Bicycle
There are a fair number of attractions and ruins dotted around the area of Hampi Bazaar, and renting a bicycle for the day is a fun way to explore them all. You can rent bicycles all over town for 150 rupees per day.
9. Try a Bhang Lassi
If you are going to experiment with bhang in India, there is no better place for it than Hampi. There is something about the prehistoric landscapes combined with an air of mystical energy, that makes for a beautiful and spiritual experience.
Bhang Lassis are often easy to find in Hampi. Just look for ‘special Lassi’ on the menu, or don’t be afraid to ask around. If it’s your first time, you should read these 15 tips for experimenting with Bhang in India.
10. Explore The Other Side (aka Hippie Island) by Scooter
If you plan to spend most of your time on mainland Hampi, a day trip to the far side of the river known as Hippie Island, is an essential addition to your Hampi Itinerary. Here you can enjoy world-class bouldering, visit the birthplace of Hanuman the monkey god, or simply soak in the tranquil vibes.
One of the best things to do in Hampi is to disconnect from the world and immerse yourself in the beautiful nature. It’s not often you can escape the madness in India, so embrace this chance while you have it.
See Full Blog Post: Hippie Island, Hampi – A Reliable Guide
Hampi Itinerary – Where to Eat
For a small town, we were pleasantly surprised to find a number of nice restaurants in Hampi. Our favourite of them all, however, is Mango Tree. The appetisers are especially delicious, as well as the Indian Thali and Israeli meals. And as a finale, you would be doing yourself an injustice not to try the delectable banoffee pie!
How to Get to Hampi
By Air: The closest airport to Hampi is Hubli Airport situated 144km away.
By Train: The closest railway station to Hampi is Hospet Junction situated 10km away. Hospet is connected via train from across the region, however, booking trains in India can be tricky. It is advised to book at least 3 days in advance and even then you aren’t always guaranteed a ticket.
For this reason, we always used the bus network in India. You can book trains up to 6 months in advance using 12go Asia.
By Bus: Hampi is accessible by bus from a number of destinations across India. Although, most will drop you in Hospet, located 10km away. From Hospet you can take a local bus or pay for a rickshaw to take you to Hampi.
To check routes, timetables and ticket prices we recommend using Redbus. In our experience, they are extremely reliable. They are one of the few companies who will accept payment with an International card, and they are contactable by phone should you have any issues with your journey.
Hampi Itinerary – Where to Stay
Budget Private – Rashmitha Guesthouse – Conveniently located in Hampi Bazaar, Rashmitha Guesthouse is a great budget option in Hampi. While the rooms are basic, they come with all the necessary facilities for a comfortable stay.
Mid-Range – Heritage Resort Hampi – Boasting a swimming pool, spa, and wellness area, this place is amazing value for money. Perfect for that extra bit of comfort in Hampi.
Luxury – Evolve Back Hampi – We don’t often talk about luxury hotels on this blog, but this place looks phenomenal. If you have the budget, you won’t regret splurging on a night at this palace hotel.
For more places to stay in Hampi, you can check the latest prices here.
Alcohol, Drugs & Parties in Hampi
One of the reasons that Hampi remains a favourite among the backpacker crowd, is the illicit world of alcohol and drugs that exists here. Although it remains a taboo in the holy city, alcohol, weed & other psychedelics are readily available on this side of the river.
Alcohol is sold under the radar in many of the bars. And if you’re looking to participate in something stronger, you only have to discreetly ask around to find it. If you’re lucky, your stay might even coincide with a secret party under the stars!
*Warning – LSA seeds are a cheap & popular psychedelic available in Hampi. When taken in a large enough quantity they can produce similar effects to magic mushrooms & LSD; however, avoid taking with alcohol as they can make you violently ill – So I heard from a friend anyway!
Hampi Itinerary – Top Tips
Alcohol in Hampi
Buying alcohol in Hampi can be very expensive, however just 3kms out-of-town is a bar where you can buy anything from local beer to imported vodka at a reasonable price. Just ask any rickshaw driver and they will take you there & back for around 200 IDR.
It’s worth noting that there are no ATMs in Hampi. The closest is located 3km away in the town of Kamalapuram. Although, you will sometimes find it out of service or out of cash.
It’s worth carrying enough cash to see you through in Hampi. Which isn’t much, as everything is pretty cheap here.
Alternatively, you can withdraw money at one of the moneychangers in Hampi; however, be prepared to pay a 3% fee.
Wherever you go in India, it is important that you dress appropriately. It is recommended that female travellers respect the local tradition of covering shoulders and legs from the knee upwards. Not only is it respectful, but it will help to avoid unwanted attention.
The dress code for men is a little more relaxed; however, it is recommended to avoid revealing vests or tank top.
Be Aware of Scams
In all touristy areas there are travel scams you should be aware of so consequently, you can avoid them. There are also known to be skilled pick pockets operating in Hampi so be sure to keep your valuables secured at all time. We use either a small padlock or compartmental bag to keep our valuables safe when out exploring.
We recommend educating yourself on Travel Safety in India to help you avoid any sticky situations.
Best Time to Visit Hampi
The best time to visit Hampi is from October to February when the weather is dry and not too hot. We visited Hampi in October, and while there was some rain, most of the time it was clear and pleasant for sightseeing. Although midday until around 3 pm could get quite hot, it was just about bearable for us pale-skinned folk. It’s best to avoid Hampi during the months of Summer or Monsoon.
A Brief History of Hampi
Hampi is considered a sacred city since it is said to be the birthplace of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey-god. And up until the 1500s, Hampi was rich and prosperous, serving as the capital of the almighty Hindu Vijayanagara Empire. However, in 1565 the capital was abruptly bought to its knees, when the city was ambushed by a coalition of Muslim Kings, conquering the empire and leaving Hampi to perish.
Despite this basic understanding of how Hampi came to be the lost kingdom that it is today, there is an air of untold history that consumes the city. The unexplainable rock formations and skilfully carved ruins are sure to leave you with an abundance of unanswered questions. But it is these mysteries that give Hampi the charm that we fell hopelessly in love with.
Hampi Itinerary – What to Pack
Unsure of what you might need to pack for your adventures in Hampi? Don’t worry, we have got you covered. Check out our backpacker essentials, for a packing list of items that we carry with us on every adventure.
Here are some items that we recommend taking to make your visit to the lakes & waterfalls more comfortable:
- Comfortable shoes for the hike down
- Water shoes to wear in the water – We Recommend: 2 in 1 Water/Hiking Shoes.
- Waterproof Bag to protect valuables – We Recommend: Waterproof Dry Bag-10L/20L/30L
- Bathing suit & towel for the obvious – We Recommend: Microfiber Travel Towel
As travellers, it should always be a top priority to travel responsibly. We already leave a substantial carbon footprint just by flying to our travel destinations, so that’s even more reason to make a positive impact when we get there.
There are many small steps you can take to becoming a responsible traveller, and we highly encourage you to educate yourself before travelling to Hampi. Here are some things you can do to minimise your footprint:
1. Do not leave any rubbish on the ground: You will see a lot of rubbish on the ground in India, but that doesn’t make it ok to add to it. Bin your trash!
2. Limit your single-use plastic consumption: This is tough in India as we wouldn’t recommend drinking tap water even if it has been treated/sterilised. However, you can say no to straws and plastic bags. Take a reusable bag with you everywhere.
3. Respect the local culture: Be courteous of the local culture and act in such a way that leaves a good impression. Learn a little of the local language (hello and thank you is the minimum), greet the locals in a polite manner, and respect dress codes & traditions. We recommend carrying a Sarong with you to cover up where needed
More on India
Are you planning a trip to India? Check out our other articles to help plan your trip.
- One month in India – Ultimate itinerary & guide
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- 18 AMAZING PLACES TO VISIT IN UDAIPUR IN 2 DAYS
- TOP 5 BEACHES IN SOUTH GOA, INDIA
- 17 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN THE SOUTH OF MUMBAI
- TOP 15 INSTAGRAM SPOTS OF INDIA
Did you enjoy our Ultimate Hampi Itinerary & Travel Guide?
Well, that concludes Ultimate Hampi Itinerary & Travel Guide. We hope you enjoy your time in this magical country. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here where we share further travel advice & inspiration.
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.
Charlotte & Natalie x
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