Having a ton of money sure helps you have fun no matter where you are, but the true mark of a great city is just how much fun you can have when you don’t have any money at all! And if you’re a penniless adventurer, you definitely won’t be disappointed with what Chennai has to offer. From the best parks and nature experiences to even free delectable food, here are some of the best things you can do in Chennai for free.
Watch the sunrise at the Marina
This activity is a staple pick-me-up experience for every Chennaiite – rich and poor alike. Walk past the yoga practitioners, frisbee champs, and seniors practising laughter therapy, and all the way to the edge of the beach at the Marina to witness a sunrise unlike any other. From fishermen getting ready to set out into the blue to morning walkers and other sunrise lovers, the Marina is never empty at dawn and makes for a scintillating experience that’s perfect to start your day.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Get in time for prasadam at a city temple
Prasadams are offerings of food prepared for God and given out to devotees almost every day at temples all across the city. While most just make for a small appetiser, there are some temples where the prasadams are legendary for their taste and are an experience in themselves. Some of the most popular prasadam items are the tamarind rice at Mylapore’s Kapaleeswarar Temple or the vada malai at Nanganallur Anjaneyar Temple. Although you will have to wait in line for a while to get yours, the taste of these offerings makes it worth it.
Visit the Government Museum
This museum of human history and culture has been one of Chennai’s best-known tourist destinations for more than 150 years and continues to attract a large number of people on a daily basis. With artefacts, sculptures and other items dating back up to 2,000 years, the museum is a treat for any history lover. And to add to its collection, the museum complex also houses the age-old Connemara Library, which is one of the oldest libraries in the country.
Chennai’s art scene is picking up at an unprecedented pace, with several new art galleries popping up across the town. For anyone with a taste for art, spaces such as The Faraway Tree, Focus Art Gallery, and the famous Apparao Galleries present an opportunity to witness the city’s vibrant art culture first-hand. The city is also home to Cholamandal Artists’ Village, one of the largest art residencies and repositories of its kind that boasts an enviable collection of artworks.
Anna Centenary Library
Built at the cost of nearly Rs. 172 cr, the Anna Library is, without doubt, one of the most state-of-the-art libraries in not just the country but all of South Asia. The new library, which boasts more than 1.2 million books on its shelves across seven floors, has succeeded largely in bringing to the common person the facilities associated with a high-end university education. From a full-fledged braille section and massive collection of regional language works to even a children’s and digital library section, the Anna Library is a centre of education unlike any other. And the best part is that all facilities in the library are free of cost!
Forest bathing at Huddleston Gardens / Theosophical Society
For the most part, Chennai might be as much of an urban jungle as any other city. However, one of the unique aspects of this city is that it is home to several green areas that are free to visit. While the largest of these is the Guindy National Park, if you want to experience being amidst nature for no cost at all, the best option is the Theosophical Society Campus and the adjacent Huddleston Gardens in Adyar, both of which are natural forest areas formed around the pristine ecosystem of the Adyar Estuary. The Theosophical Society Campus boasts unfiltered natural greenery and is also home to the Adyar Banyan Tree, one of the largest banyans in the region.
Midnight drive along East Coast Road
Long drives on East Coast Road has been Chennai’s go-to stress-buster activity for a long time now. The highway hugs the coast of Chennai for nearly 20 kilometres (12 miles) within the Greater Chennai limits and boasts some of the best tourist attractions in the city, including some nearly secluded beaches, several resorts, parks and even a medium zoo in the Madras Crocodile Bank. However, even without visiting any of these attractions, a simple drive along East Coast Road is an amazing experience in itself, especially during the night when the road has far less traffic.
Sunset at Broken Bridge
The only experience comparable to sunrise at Marina Beach is witnessing the sunset at the Broken Bridge in Adyar. While the Marina offers just as good a view of the sun sinking into the horizon, it is more often than not heavily crowded during the evenings, as are other popular beaches in the city. The Broken Bridge, a sort of makeshift modern cultural monument, on the other hand, offers a better experience, coupled with the pleasure of solitude since it doesn’t attract nearly as many people as other sunset points. Located at the mouth of the Adyar Estuary, the Broken Bridge is also at the centre of a pristine and untouched ecosystem, meaning that you’ll have plenty of nature and birds to keep you company and sweeten the experience.
Rent a cycle for free
Chennai’s public transport system has often been lauded for providing an excellent end-to-end commute, but this aspect received a major fillip recently after the Chennai Metro Rail Limited partnered with a cycling club to offer cycles for rent at no cost at its main stations. Under the plan, a Kochi-based club known as Athi’s Cycle Club will make up to 10 bikes available at all major metro stations; people can rent them for up to 24 hours at no cost, although it involves a refundable deposit. At the moment, only three stations are covered, but plans are on to expand coverage to all locations. Currently, the only ones with free bicycle renting are the Ekaduthangal, Tower Park and Nehru Park stations.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.