Karnataka has a temperate climate, making it suitable all year round. There's a monsoon from June to September, but it's mild compared to the monsoon in other parts of India and brings beautifully verdant landscapes. For most of the year temperatures range between 20-30 degrees, rising up to 35 degrees in April and May.
Note: flight, boat, train and bus timetables change constantly, and airlines come and go, so please do not rely solely on this information for your travel planning. Check with relevant companies, or a flight search engine like Skyscanner, first.
Bengaluru (Bangalore) International Airport is Karnataka's main hub.
From the UK and the rest of Europe:
British Airways has direct flights from London Heathrow to Bangalore. There are also services via the Middle East with Emirates, Oman Air, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. Alternatively, fly via Delhi or Mumbai and catch a domestic flight to Bangalore.
Both Air France and Lufthansa operate direct flights to Bangalore. Alternatively, you can fly to Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai with Finnair, Alitalia, KLM and Swiss International Airlines and change onto a domestic flight to Bangalore.
From North America:
There are no direct flights to Bangalore. Take a flight via London with one of the airlines mentioned above, or fly to Delhi with Air India, which has services from New York (JFK and Newark), Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto and Montreal, then catch a domestic flight to Bangalore.
From Australia and New Zealand:
You can fly to Bangalore via major Asian hubs with Singapore Airlines, Air Asia, Thai Airways and Malaysia Airlines.
From within India:
Air India, Jet Airways, Kingfisher, IndiGo, SpiceJet and JetLite (previously known as Sahara Airlines) fly to Bangalore from various Indian hubs.
Via Goa or Kerala:
Many people visit Karnataka by way of Goa or Kerala. Click for further information on:
> Getting to Goa
> Getting to Kerala
India has a good rail network - check out Indian Rail for timetables or visit Seat 61 for a beginner's guide. There are old-fashioned but reasonably efficient trains connecting Bangalore and Mysore (around 10 services per day, taking 2.5 hours), as well as trains to Trivandrum in Kerala. First-class cabins sell out quickly, so book in advance if you want more privacy than the flimsy second-class curtains offer. But both classes have air conditioning. Booking train tickets can sometimes be subject to a complicated wait-listing process.
Travelling by bus is a cheap way to get around, but they can be very overcrowded and uncomfortable. They link all towns and cities, and you can always pick up a rickshaw at the bus stop for short hops to your hotel. There are private and state buses, each with various categories of speed (from 'superfast', which is slow, to 'superexpress', which is quite fast) and of comfort (from 'semi-luxe', which is cramped and hard, to 'deluxe', which has 1 fewer seat per row, seat padding and air conditioning).
There are taxi-cars, with or without air conditioning, and a large number of auto-rickshaws (noisy but nippy three-wheelers) on the roads. Agree to a rate before starting your journey and make sure the driver has a clear idea of your destination. Fares are cheap with various small extras. Some drivers try to stop off at shops where they get commissions on your purchases, while others fend off all touts and take you straight to your destination.
Almost every non-Indian needs a tourist visa from their embassy or consulate. There are 3- and 6-month multiple-entry and single-entry visas (the cost is the same), and they can no longer be issued the same day - so plan ahead! Note you may need a permit and a guide to visit nature reserves and national parks; these are normally available locally.
The most common health problems for visitors are diarrhoea and sun-related problems. It's important to drink a lot of bottled water (tap water isn't safe to drink) and protect yourself from the sun. Also be aware of what, and where, you are eating. Choose fruits that you can peel and avoid fresh salads (or wash them yourself with purified water) and ice made from tap water. Be cautious of ice cream, cold milk and undercooked fish or meat. If you experience diarrhoea it's very important to replace lost fluids and, in the case of severe diarrhoea, lost minerals and salts (it’s a good idea to go prepared with some oral rehydration salts). If you become ill your hotel should be able to recommend a good local doctor or clinic. You may want to consider carrying an emergency treatment pack including needles and syringes.
It's important to seek medical advice at least 6 weeks before departure as some vaccinations may require more than one injection. Make sure you're up to date with vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus and polio. Vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid are also advisable (note that the current vaccine against cholera offers very low protection and isn't usually recommended). Consider vaccinations against rabies and Japanese B encephalitis if you're planning to stay longer than a couple of weeks. Malaria is present in some areas - your doctor will be able to advise you on the risks of malaria and appropriate medication. Insect repellent is essential; use one containing DEET.
Many staff are paid very low salaries and expect to be tipped. In hotels and restaurants, 10% is normal. In other situations, where there is no bill, a few rupees will suffice.