Here’s our travel guide for Hampi in Karnataka, India. This post has information about how to reach Hampi, how to travel internally, where to stay and top places to visit in Hampi.
A unique destination which is a pilgrim’s delight, a backpacker’s haven, a historian’s riddle and a geologist’s venture – Hampi in Karnataka has it all! Except for one thing. We did not see a single resort and we hope it remains this way.
Hampi is a small town in Karnataka, India. We arrived here by catching a train from Goa to Hospet. From Hospet, we rented a tuk tuk from to Hampi. None of the guidebooks or pictures had prepared us for the strange beauty of this place.
Hampi is known for its ruins, temples and many spectacular viewpoints but there’s so much more than that. For us, the best thing about Hampi was its natural beauty.
There are many amazing places to visit in Hampi but most of the people just come here for a day or two, visit the temples and then head to their next destination. Yes, Hampi has amazing temples but please don’t miss so many other things it has to offer.
If you’re visiting Hampi for the first time, then I’d recommend you stay here for at least four days or even longer. Don’t stay in the main Hampi town next to the temples but stay on the other side of the river on Hippie Island. Yes, there is a river island that you can reach very easily within minutes on a public boat.
The real name of this Hippie Island is actually Virupapur Gaddi. The public boat doesn’t run at night, which is ok because there is nothing to do in the main Hampi town at night. However there’s always something fun to do on the Hippie Island.
Hampi Travel Video
Want to join San and I on a virtual trip to Hampi? If you don’t want to read the whole post about things to do in Hampi, then you can just watch this video that was filmed there. It starts with our train journey with Indian Railways, our entry into Hampi’s Hippie Island, sunset point, many viewpoints, heritage landmarks and cliff jumping.
Things to do and Places to Visit in Hampi
01) Visit Hampi’s Temples and Ruins
A walk around Hampi’s main town will leave you awestruck. Every turn has a monument and every single one of them has a story to tell. Heard of the Hindu epic Ramayana? Well, Hampi is believed to be the setting for various parts of it.
The ruins are a UNESCO world heritage site. Hampi was the ancient capital of Vijayanagara, also known as “A Forgotten Empire”. It was one of the richest and largest cities in the world during its prime. What’s more, the first historical settlement in Hampi dates back to 1 CE!
If you’re looking for places to visit in Hampi in one day, then your first stop should be these temples and ruins.
02) Climb Hampi’s Giant Boulders and Try Bouldering
Most who know about Hampi, know it because of its ruins and the mythology associated with this picturesque village. However, not many know about Hampi’s fascinating geology.
Those that have visited have been charmed by numerous boulders which form hills, valleys, riverbeds… practically everything here.
Nature has placed Hampi’s boulders in such a way that they appear to be arranged in different structures. It is said that these rocks have one of the oldest surfaces on the planet.
The ancient city of Vijayanagara had a distinctive style of architecture by utilizing and cutting the boulders. For us, this was the most interesting aspect of this place.
03) Visit the Hippie Island in Hampi (+ Stay in a Hut)
Hippie Island – wow, doesn’t the name sound awesome? This is the nickname of the tiny island which is across the river, also known as Virupapur Gaddi.
While the pilgrims stay in the main Hampi town, the backpackers generally choose this little river island. Let’s get one thing right – this is NOT the place for you if you like luxury. You can enhance the experience of your visit tremendously if you’re open to staying in a simple hut here.
Our cute little hut with a hammock was in a place called Top Secret River View, which we could only reach by walking through a trail that started from the ferry drop point. Too bad this place doesn’t exist anymore but you can try try Hema Guest House or Murali Homestay, Hampi. Both of them are in the same area.
04) Climb Matanga Hill – Hampi’s Best Viewpoint
Hampi has many different hills that you can climb for some stunning views of the entire area! Many of these viewpoints are well known and some even have a story to tell!
Our favorite was Matanga Hill which is at the center of Hampi and is the highest point. On top of the hill is an ancient Veerabhadra Temple and there are steps that lead to the roof of that temple.
At the time we visited, we were the only ones on top and got to enjoy a few hours in savoring in the breathtaking view. Do not carry a lot of things with you because at several points, you will need to use your hands and legs to climb like a monkey.
There is a massive monolith Nandi statue at the entry point of the hike that goes on top of Matangal Hill. Nandi is a bull that is associated with Hindu God Shiva.
Apart from Matanga hill, there are many other viewpoints that you can access by climbing on the hills. They are easy to spot because you will see some people around. Out of everything, this was one of my favorite things to do in Hampi.
05) Visit Anjaneya Hill – the birthplace of Lord Hanuman a.k.a. Monkey Temple
Although not technically Hampi, this place is in the nearby village Anegondi which is easy to reach from Hippie Island. It is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. Unlike the Matanga hill, this place is easy to climb because of the presence of proper steps.
There is a Hanuman mandir on the top of the hill – temple hat is dedicated to the monkey warrior God. Be sure to keep your belongings in your pockets or bags because this hill is full of monkeys who like “borrowing” things from humans. The view from the top is breathtaking with several paddy farms, banana trees and Hampi’s ruins.
06) Join the Sunset Jam Session at Sunset Point on Hippie Island
When in Hampi, you can catch a stunning sunset view from almost everywhere. Whether you’re sitting by the ghat next to the river, or climb on one of the hills, or visit Jain Temple near Hemkuta hill – it’s beautiful to see how the rocks emit a reddish hue when the sun sets.
When we visited Hampi, our best sunset experience was from a little hill on Hippie Island known as “Sunset Point”. It is away from the main area. An hour before the sunset, it’s usually buzzing with the sounds of percussion, strings and a few other hand held musical instruments. There are usually no parties in Hampi but the sunset jam session will satisfy your “party” craving.
07) Cliff jumping in Hampi – Jump off a cliff to swim with a crocodile
Wait, what? Cliff jumping in Hampi? We did not believe when we heard it. We rode around the hippie island and came across many water bodies – river, reservoir and a lake! We saw many painted signs that said it’s unsafe to swim in the water because of a crocodile. We did not want to be a crocodile’s meal. We spoke to a lot of locals and they mentioned that they have never seen a crocodile all these years while living there.
However, we reached Sanapur Lake and asked around for the cliff jumping point just out of curiosity. Upon reaching the jumping point, we couldn’t hold back and JUMPED.
The water was in an enclosed area so it didn’t make sense for a crocodile to hang around that area.
Two jumps and a few hours later, we felt revitalized because the water appeared to be clean. Do this at your own risk!
A little chat with a few locals revealed that there probably isn’t really a crocodile in the reservoir but the signs were put after many visitors often made this area their “party spot”. The weather in Hampi is extremely hot, even during the winter months so most likely you will want to swim here to cool off.
08) Ride a Scooter Around Hampi and See Rice Paddies
What better way to enjoy sprawling lush landscapes than riding a moped (or bike) through them? This was the highlight of our trip.
Believe it or not, I’m terrible with motorized two wheelers but riding a rented moped on Hampi’s empty roads was simpler I thought! A moped is easier to ride as compared to a scooter.
You have to experience it understand how amazing it feels. The roads in Hampi and around are narrow. If you stay on Hippie Island, you can drive to the other areas such as Sanapur Lake (where we cliff jumped), Anjaneya Hill (monkey temple), the nearby village Anegundi and around. The best part is that the road is usually empty and there is natural beauty on both side of the road. You will see lush green paddy fields (see my video), forgotten temples and little children playing with no care in the world.
This is exactly why I noticed everyone riding a moped had an ear to ear smile on their faces! This is a must! Also, we discovered some places to see around Hampi which were not mentioned in many guidebooks while riding around aimlessly.
09) Ride a ferry on Tungabhadra River – Hampi’s RED river with statutes on the rocks
Yes, the river does have red water! What’s more, every rock peeking out of the river had some statue or the other. This is the same river that you cross to reach Hippie Island from Hampi by ferry. This ride lasts for only 5 minutes. Please keep in mind that the ferry schedule keeps changing. On our visit, we were informed that the ferry only runs from 6 am to 6 pm.
Talking about the ferry ride, you should read this travelers bad experience in Hampi – specially the second point.
10) Hampi Has Cute Cafes – Make the Most of Them
With the abundance of colorful cafes, we never got to eat at the same place twice. The best cafes were on the Hippie Island. We loved our meals in Top Secret River View, Laughing Buddha and Hema’s café.
Most of them have board games that can keep you occupied for hours. We ended up meeting a bunch of interesting travelers in these places. Hampi’s main area has only a few of them out of which Chill Out Café and Mango Tree stood out.
11) Meet Hampi’s Lovely locals
The locals of Hampi charmed us with their hospitality and warmth. After living in a city, the friendliness of the simple minded residents here was a refreshing experience. The grownups appeared to be shy but the children approached us many times to introduce themselves. Strangely, the teenage boys were notoriously flirtatious! Most of them spoke excellent English.
BONUS: See some crazy sights!
We can’t predict what you will see but we can assure you will witness some crazy sights like we did.
We saw this cheeky monkey who was totally in love with its own reflection!
We saw a few locals riding a round boat in Hampi that resembled a basket. It is a coracle and we later found out that these boats are very common in Karnataka. You should totally try to ride one in Hampi if you’re there.
Hampi’s unique round boats – don’t they look like baskets? These boats are a common sight all over Karnataka.
We saw this shiny green bug on our walk from the ferry point to our hut! Does anyone know what it’s called?
Places to Stay in Hampi and Hippie Island:
The pilgrims stay in the main town where as the backpackers head to the Hippie island. I highly recommend Hema Guest House, where you can stay in a cute hut for around INR 500 per day with hammocks in the balcony. I love the food and the garden area at Hema Guest House. You can also try Murali Homestay, Hampi on Hostelworld – where a room costs around INR 800 per night for two. Or, you can try looking for deals for both Hema guest house and Murali homestay on Agoda.
If you want to treat yourself to a fancy place, you can check out Shiva Vilas by Welcome Heritage on Agoda. A lavish room here costs just about $100 and can go up to $250 depending on your choice. I usually end up finding the cheapest prices on Agoda but I prefer booking.com because they offer free cancellation on most of the bookings, while Agoda offers it only on some of them. This has saved my life (and money) many times.
Check deals for Shiva Vilas: Agoda.com for Shiva Vilas
How to Reach Hampi
I’m going to give you information about how to reach Hampi from the below two major destinations in India. In case you’re traveling from Delhi, then the easiest way to reach Hampi is to fly to Bangalore and then do the remaining journey by train.
Bangalore to Hampi
If you’re traveling from Bangalore to Hampi, then you can do most of this journey on a train to either Hospet or Toranagallu. From any of these train stations, you need to take a tuk tuk to Hampi. The name of the station in Bangalore from where you can take the train is Yelahanka Junction and the station code is YNK.
The fastest train for this journey is Mysore Sainagar Express, train number 16217 that goes from many stations in Bangalore including Bangalore city junction (SBC), Bangalore Cant (BNC) and Yelahanka (YNK). It leaves Yelahanka at 8:56 am and reaches Hospet at 4:55 pm.
The best option for Bangalore to Hampi train journey is Hampi Express, which takes just 35 minutes longer than the fastest train but you will end up saving so much time because it is an overnight journey. It leaves Bangalore’s main train station (SBC) at 10 pm and reaches Hospet at 7:10 am the next day.
Goa to Hampi
We did our journey to Hampi from Goa, once by train and once by bus. I will give you both the options.
For train, you first have to do the journey from Goa to Hospet and then reach Hampi on a tuk tuk from Hospet. If you’re searching for a train ticket, you need to look from Madgaon, station code MAO (one of the train stations in Goa) to Hosapete Junction, station code HPT.
The fastest train is VSG Howrah Express, train code 18048 that leaves Madgaon at 7:50 am and reaches Hospet at 2:48 pm on the same day. Alternatively, you can also try train number 17420 and 17022 – WSG Tirupati express and WSG Hyderabad express. Both these trains leave Madgaon at 9:35 am and reach Hospet at 5:50 pm. If possible, please take the earlier train because you will end up wasting your entire day in the journey if you take the second one.
From Hospet, the easiest way to reach Hampi is on a tuk tuk (or auto rickshaw as they’re called in India). I have traveled a lot on Indian trains but it was the first time that the tuk tuk driver was inside the train 2 stations before Hospet to negotiate with us. He first came to us and said he can drop us to Hampi for 500, then after a few minutes he said 300 but at the station when he saw I was going to ask the price from the other tuk tuk drivers, he said 250 and drove us there. (You can see him in the video).
The bus journey from Goa to Hampi or Hampi to Goa was really good because it was an overnight journey. This service is run by Paulo Coaches and you will have to visit a local travel agent to book it.
Places to visit near Hampi
Goa is unlike any other place in India because it was isolated by rest of the India for many years. It was under the Portuguese rule while most of the India was under Mughal and British rule, hence Goa is very liberal. I consider myself a Goa expert because I have visited more than 20 times and even lived here with San. You can find all our blog posts about Goa on this page.
Gokarna is in Karnataka and is just below Goa. While Goa is facing over-tourism, most of the Goa afficianados are now heading to Gokarna. It is famous for its Om Beach, yup a beach that’s shaped like ॐ Om.
I have never been to Mysore but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. It is one of the biggest cities in Karnataka and is along the Chamundi Hills. It is supposed to be one of India’s cleanest and best planned cities. Growing up in India, we often heard stories about Tipu Sultan’s bravery. He was Mysore’s beloved ruler who fought and lost a battle with the British in 1799.
Bangalore is Karnataka’s capital and the most prominent city of this state. As per me, it is also India’s beer capital because United Breweries Group’s is headquartered here. India’s most famous beer – Kingfisher is brewed by the United Breweries Group. The affluent Vijay Mallya (India’s Richard Branson) once had his empire here. Bangalore has a lot of gardens, lovely locals, an amazing coffee culture and mindblowing food but the traffic situation is hideous.
Have you been to this land of mystery already? If so, let me know what are YOUR places to visit in Hampi and top things to do. I would love to hear what you think about this beautiful village! If you liked this article, please share!
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