Exploring the Magical City of Mysore… this is your ultimate travel guide to Mysore.
If you are planning a trip around the South of India, then Mysore, officially known as Mysuru, should not be missed off of your itinerary. Situated in the state of Karnataka, Mysore is a culturally diverse city with a rich & colourful history. And stories of its royal heritage are sure to excite the imagination of any curious traveller.
Mysore is famous in the region for a number of things – high-quality sandalwood, exquisite silk, natural incense and mouth-watering food. As a result, walking the streets of the city is a show-stopping delight, bursting with colour, aroma and craftsmanship.
Encompassing an enchanting palace, majestical elephants, empowering temples and local artisans, Mysore transported us back in time watching one of our all-time favourite Disney films, Aladdin. It was like a fairy tale brought to life before our eyes. And in this article, we will share our recommendations and experiences for getting around this magical city.
So without further ado here is our travel guide and itinery for the wonderful city of Mysore, so let’s get to it!
Mysore Itinerary & Travel Guide
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ARRIVING INTO MYSORE
BY AIR – The closest airport to Mysore is Bangaluru Airport, around 170kms away. From there it is possible to take a bus directly to Mysore which cost us about 300 INR each.
BY BUS – Mysore is accessible by bus from a number of destinations across India. To check routes, timetables and ticket prices we recommend using redbus.com. In our experience, they are extremely reliable. They are one of the only companies who will accept payment with an International card, and if you have any problems with your journey they are contactable by phone.
BY TRAIN – Mysore is well 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 we are more the last minute types. You can book trains up to 6 months in advance using 12GO Asia.
WHERE TO STAY IN MYSORE
Hostel – Zostel Mysore – Rated one of the best-rated locations in Mysore, just 3.6 km from Mysore Palace.
Budget – Sonder – Just 4km from Mysore palace, this accommodation comes with breakfast and has a garden, lounge and library too.
Mid-range – OYO 22046 Apple Trees Inn – Rooms are air-conditioned with a peaceful terrace, breakfast is also included.
For more places to stay in Mysore, check the latest prices here.
BEST TIME TO VISIT MYSORE AND HOW LONG TO STAY
We visited Mysore at the end of September when monsoon season is fast-approaching autumn. Although we did experience some stormy weather, it was mostly in the evening and early morning, leaving the days clear and pleasant to walk around in.
There are many attractions in the Mysore area, however, to cover the main ones will take you no more than 2-3 days. Mysore is also a popular spot for yoga retreats, therefore many visitors stay for up to a month embracing their inner yogi.
THINGS TO DO IN MYSORE
Here are just some of the top things we enjoyed doing during our time in Mysore:
1. TAKE A TOUR OF MYSORE PALACE
Mysore Palace is one of our top Instagram spots in India. (Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here!) Being one of the most famous tourist attractions throughout India, and rightfully the number 1 thing to do in the city. The palace has served as a royal residence since the 1400s, although the current structure was built in the late 1800s after the Old Palace was burnt down. The extraordinary architecture is said to be inspired by a mix of Rajput, Hindi, Gothic and Islam styles. Serving as a true reflection of the diversity of religions living together harmoniously throughout the city.
The internal tour of the grandeur palace was an experience that left us speechless. The exquisite detail and captivating artistry that would have gone into constructing the cities landmark is simply inconceivable. There are 2 ways in which you can choose to explore the palace. The first option is to pay the entrance fee and walk around at your own leisure, or it is also possible to book a guided tour. To explore the flourishing gardens that adorn the palace grounds is free of charge.
TIPS – Be prepared to remove your shoes and socks. There is a safe area where you can leave your shoes for a small tip.
– Cameras are allowed to be used in all areas, however, you may be asked not to use your tripod. We entered the grounds on a number of occasions and only once were we asked not to use it.
Adults – 50INR
Children – 30INR
Gardens Only – Free
Opening Hours: The palace is open daily from 10.30pm to 5pm. Be aware that weekends get very busy.
MYSORE PALACE MAP LOCATION
2. VISIT CHAMUNDESHWARI TEMPLE
Chamundeshwari Temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples in the South of India. Situated on the top of Chamundi Hills, around 13km from the city centre, the original structure is thought to have been constructed in the 12th century. The remarkable architecture is truly awe-inspiring, and if you visit on a clear day, you can find panoramic views over Mysore.
We visited the temple early on a Saturday morning, which unknown to us at the time, is a religious day for Hinduism. Although we arrived before the temple had opened, there were already 100s of devotees awaiting to worship and make an offering to Shani. The god associated with bad luck. Despite the crowds, we were really grateful to have been a part of the spiritual ceremony. We made our offering of flowers, which you can buy outside of the temple for a small charge, and were even blessed by a Pujari – A Hindu Temple priest.
TIP – Cameras are NOT allowed to be used inside of the temple.
Entrance Fees: To enter the temple via the queue is free of charge, or you can pay 30INR for fast track entrance.
Opening Hours: Open daily from 10am – 5.30pm. Be aware that weekends are extremely busy.
CHAMUNDESHWARI TEMPLE MAP LOCATION
3. TAKE A TOUR OF THE OLD TOWN
As mentioned before, Mysore is famous for a number of things including silk, sandalwood and incense, therefore it would be a shame to visit without seeing where it all comes from. There are work shops situated throughout the old part of the city, where you can see the artisans at work with the aforementioned materials. It is a fascinating insight into the meticulous attention to detail and skilled craftsmanship required for such delicate materials.
Although you may be lucky to stumble across these workshops on your own, it is recommended that you have a guide with you. We were very fortunate to meet a friendly rickshaw driver one evening, who also happened to hold an abundance of knowledge about the city. He offered to take us on a tour of the old town where we visited local markets, an incense manufacturer, a wood workshop, and a silk factory. It was a taste of the real Indian culture, and we loved every minute of it!
Fees: Price will depend on where you want to go but for a good price, you can contact our friend Mustafa on: (+91) 9845237691, our tour was approx 500 INR.
4. WATCH THE SOUND & LIGHT SHOW AT THE PALACE
This grand spectacle only happens once a week, however, if it works with your itinerary it is well worth sticking around for. Every Sunday & national holiday from 7pm, locals and tourists unite inside the gates of Mysore Palace for a magical show of light, sound & celebration.
The main event of the evening is the full illumination of the grounds. 98,000 balls of golden light, transforming the royal residence into a palace of hopes & dreams. The crowds cheer and dance as the alluring sound of Indian music radiates from a band on the forecourt, while a convoy of vintage cars and guards on elephants make a way to the front of the stage. The event only lasts an hour, but is sure to captivate you eternally.
Entrance Fees: It is free of charge to enjoy the light show.
Opening Times: Sundays and Public Holidays from 7pm – 8pm.
MYSORE PALACE MAP LOCATION
5. EXPLORE THE MYSORE BAZAARS (MARKETS)
Exploring the bazaars is one of the most cultural things to do in Mysore. Every day of the week, the streets of Mysore come alive with the hustle and bustle of the daily markets. Aromas, colours, tastes and textures are in abundance, attacking your senses in the most enticing way.
The most exciting markets are usually stumbled on by accident, hidden down mysterious alleyways, however, the most popular choice for tourists is Devaraja Market. Although this market is open every day of the week, we found it to be far better on a weekend, however, that also means it is far busier. Here you can buy a wide range of local produce from fruit & veg to streamed flowers and incense sticks to essential oils.
Opening Times: Open daily from 6.30AM to 9.30PM
6. WATCH THE MYSORE PALACE ELEPHANT MARCH
OK, we know this one is a sensitive subject, and we’d like to point out that we are by no means advocates for the use of wild animals to entertain. We are huge animal lovers, and the thought of anybody causing harm to these majestical creatures breaks our heart. However the Mysore Palace elephants play a huge part in the cities tradition and history, therefore how could we be the culture hungry travellers that we are without acknowledging this part of it.
As it happens, we actually stumbled upon the march by accident, as we hadn’t heard of it’s existence & just happened to be there at the right time. Every evening at 6pm, the palace guards line up with the elephants outside of the palace grounds, before stopping traffic with a march around the city centre. I’d like to point out that there is no charge for this, it is simply a tradition of the city, and a bloody beautiful one at that. The elephants that we saw looked far happier & healthier than any we’ve seen in so called sanctuary’s in SE Asia. And we were happy to have been in the right place at the right time to witness the occasion.
MYSORE PALACE MAP LOCATION
7. WATCH THE SUNSET ON CHAMUNDI HILL
If you like to chase sunsets, then the best place in the city to catch them is at the top of Chamundi hill. Here you can find panoramic views over the whole of Mysore, and when the weather is good, the majestical Indian sunsets are breath taking.
Another popular time for visiting Chamundi Hill is after 7pm, when the city of Mysore transforms into a sea of light. Just be sure you have a means of transport for getting back down the hill once it’s dark.
CHAMUNDESHWARI TEMPLE MAP LOCATION
WHERE TO EAT IN MYSORE
Mysore is bursting at the seams with good restaurants, and we were fortunate enough to enjoy an abundance of delicious food during our stay there. Whether you’re Vegan, vegetarian, carnivore etc. you will have no problem satisfying your culinary desires.
Some of our favourite restaurants include Hotel RRR, Depth and Green and Pakva, you do not want to miss these restaurants!
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Please be sure to dress appropriately, no matter where you are in India. The rule of thumb is to keep shoulders, legs (below the knee is fine) and cleavage covered up. The shoulders and legs goes for men too, and in some circumstances cleavage as well!
- Getting around the city is easy. Rickshaws (Tuk Tuks) are usually gathered around the tourist attractions, or easily flagged down on the street. Just be sure to agree on a price in advance to avoid any conflict at the end. Alternatively, you can rent a bicycle to get around the city. Check out this bike rental comparison site to find the best deal.
- In all busy areas, be sure to be aware of pick pockets. There are known to be some professional scammers operating in the area. We use either a small padlock or protective cover on our backpack.
- It’s useful to have a downloaded map of the area on your phone in case you find yourself in any tricky situations. We use MAPS ME and find it very reliable.
WHAT TO PACK FOR MYSORE
Unsure of what you might need to pack for your adventures in India? 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.
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 India. 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
- The Best Rajasthan Itinerary for 5 Days or More
- THE ULTIMATE HAMPI ITINERARY & TRAVEL GUIDE
- TOP 5 BEACHES IN SOUTH GOA, INDIA
- 24 HOURS IN BANGALORE – THINGS TO DO
- TOP 15 INSTAGRAM SPOTS OF INDIA
Did you enjoy our Ultimate Mysore Itinerary & Travel Guide?
Well, that concludes Ultimate Mysore 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 & Happy Travels,
Charlotte & Natalie x
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