Located on the Bay of Bengal in India, Chennai is a vibrant city that’s home to an array of unique attractions. Even if you only have a weekend in Chennai, take a look at this itinerary and ideas for spending 2 or 3 days in Chennai to see how you can enjoy all the city has to offer.

Women in red walk as a group in the surf along Mamallapuram Beach in Chennai

Mamallapuram Beach

Friday Evening

Friday evening starts your 72 hours in Chennai. Start with dinner at Pan Asian, a delicious Asian fusion restaurant with fine decor and rich, spicy dishes. You’ll also like Southern Spice at the Taj Coromandel Hotel, a classic Indian restaurant with traditional meals in a lavish setting with temple influences.

After dinner, start your weekend off right with a night out at Vivekananda House, an iconic building that’s illuminated by lights in the evening. It’s a great place to take photos of your trip and see some of India’s famed architecture. You could also cool down with a walk along the beach at Marina Beach to enjoy the breeze and snack on local street food.

If you prefer a livelier evening, visit Gatsby 2000 for DJ tunes and disco lights. The energetic club is known for its exciting music and dancing that goes until the early hours of the night, as well as its wide selection of specialty brews and cocktails.

People visiting the MGR Memorial at Marina Beach in Chennai, a white marble sculpture shaped like an open flower

Marina Beach

Saturday Morning

On Saturday morning, you’ll have 48 hours to explore Chennai. Start with breakfast at Hotel Saravana Bhavan, a traditional restaurant with excellent coffee and healthy morning staples. You’ll also like Madras Pavilion at ITC Grand Chola, which boasts upscale international breakfast options like muesli and berry brûlée with amaranth and brittle.

There’s a lot to see and do in Chennai. Stop at Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar, a temple to Shiva built in a Dravidian style, or explore the Government Museum, a fascinating museum with bronze artwork, Indian masterpieces and a children’s area with games and activities. You could also see Fort St George, a historic fort with a museum and a church on-site.

For lunch, enjoy some kebabs at Barbeque Nation, a unique restaurant with vegetarian and non-vegetarian grill options in a communal setting. You could also try Murugan Idli Shop, an idli restaurant that serves the popular savoury cake of lentils and rice with rich spices.

Saturday Afternoon and Evening

After lunch, take some time to relax on Edward Elliot’s Beach and enjoy the scenery before you continue sightseeing. One of Chennai’s must-see landmarks is the Santhome Cathedral Basilica, a basilica and shrine of St Thomas the Apostle. If you have time, be sure to see Arulmigu Sri Parthasarathyswam, a gorgeous Hindu temple that was constructed in the eighth century.

Saturday night in Chennai is when things really heat up. Have dinner at Dakshin, a spectacular restaurant that fuses the culinary traditions of southern India with Chettinad cuisine and its fiery flavours. The immersive experience includes dishes like chutneys, rasam, dosai and Andhra-style chicken.

After dinner, work off your meal with a stroll along Besant Beach, a popular beach with food carts and stalls by the water and crowds of people. The Open Air Theatre often hosts theatrical movie screenings and musical or theatrical performances, so it’s a great place to unwind under the stars and enjoy some entertainment.

The San Thome cathedral, a white cathedral built in the Neo-Gothic style, with many spires and Gothic windows stands amid a stone plaza in Chennai

San Thome Cathedral

Sunday Morning

On Sunday morning in Chennai, you’ll have 24 hours left to explore the city. If you want to sleep in a little, you can get a late breakfast at Chamiers Café, a fine English tea room in colonial Madras with full English breakfasts. If you prefer South Indian food, you can visit ID for traditional cuisine like vadai, vada curry and sweet Pongal.

You can work off your meal and see local wildlife at Guindy National Park, a vast green space with a children’s playground. You can find plenty of other things to do with the kids, such as VGP Universal Kingdom, a lively amusement park with rides and shows.

For lunch, stop in Annalakshmi for Tamil Nadu vegetarian food topped off with payasam and ice cream. The restaurant also has a varied a la carte menu in addition to its regular menu items, so you can experience something different each time.

Sunday Afternoon and Evening

After lunch, take some time to see the exotic Asian animals in the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, or stop by DakshinaChitra to see artefacts and exhibits of the local culture. If you want to bring back a traditional memento, you can visit Nalli, a shop that’s famed for its wide selection of high-quality sarees.

On Sunday night in Chennai, begin with dinner at Italia at the Park Pod for a different mix of flavours. The fantastic Italian-inspired restaurant features an outdoor courtyard lounge with a glass patio for a romantic evening.

Before you go, be sure to stop at the Phoenix Market City to pick up some unique gifts and souvenirs to bring home. The mall has pubs and a cinema inside for some additional fun. You could also visit the Prarthana Beach Drive-In Theatre to see the latest movies, and if you’re bringing the kids, it’s a great place to let them play at the nearby park while you enjoy some relaxation time.

Intricate blue, pink, and rose sculptures on the outside of the Kapalishvara Temple in Chennai

Kapalishvara Temple

Ready for the perfect weekend getaway?

Chennai is a vibrant city with a lot of attractions and activities, but there’s still plenty you can experience with just a few days. If you’re planning a break for a long weekend, visit Expedia to check out Chennai holiday rentals and prepare for your fun-filled trip to India!