The journey from Chalakudy to the Athirappilly Falls passes through a landscape of winding roads, small villages and lush green trees. Visitors can reach the top of the waterfall via a paved path that leads through thick bamboo clusters. A steep narrow path also leads to the bottom of the falls. The falls attract visitors from across India, especially during the monsoon months (June--September). About 7 million tourists visit the falls and the Vazhachal picnic spot each year.

The railway station nearest Athirappilly Falls is 30 kilometres (19 mi) to the west in Chalakudy, and the nearest airport is Kochi International Airport, about 55 kilometers (34 mi) southwest of the waterfall and 58 kilometres (36 mi) south of Thrissur. Athirappilly is easily reachable from Chalakudy by taxi or by bus from the Chalakudy private bus terminal. Athirappilly is situated on the highways connecting Tamil Nadu and Kerala, amidst thick forest, so night riding is not advised.

Forest wildlife in the area includes the Asiatic elephant, tiger, leopard, bison, sambar, and lion-tailed macaque. The unique 180 metres (590 ft) elevation riparian forest in the Athirappilly-Vazhachal area is the only location where all four South Indian species of hornbills the Great Hornbill (the State Bird of Kerala), Malabar Pied Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill, and the Indian Grey Hornbill are found living together. Plantations in the area contain teak, bamboo, and eucalyptus.
The river provides habitat for 85 species of fresh water fishes. Among these, 35 are endemic species.

The scenic beauty of Athirappilly falls has always been attractive to filmmakers. This falls is used as a location for several Indian Films.