Kochi Bucket List: 15 Best Things to do in Kochi, India

Kochi Tourist Attractions and Best Things to do in Kochi, India

Kathakali performer in Kochi India
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What is Kochi famous for?

Looking for Awesome Things To Do and See in Kochi, India? When one thinks of India, the first thing that comes to mind is their vibrant culture, the Taj Mahal, the colorful festivals, and the bountiful options of Indian cuisine with the signature spices.

Things to do in Kochi
Things to do in Kochi

But wait until you discovered India’s enchanting city called “Kochi” — one of the most populated cities in Kerala state, India. It is also hailed as the “Queen of the Arabian Sea as it’s surrounded by islands, lakes, rivers, and peninsulas — attracting tourists all around the world.

Kathakali performer in Kochi India
Kathakali performer in Kochi India

Kochi, also known as Cochin is part of the district of Ernakulam in the state of Kerala and has a typical tropical climate. They also have regular flights to almost all the cities in the Middle East and few destinations in Southeast Asia so there’s no worrying visiting here anytime.

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If you’re curious on what this exciting destination has to offer, we’ve listed down an exciting list of the best things to do in Kochi, India

Explore Fort Kochi

Fort Kochi Itinerary
Fort Kochi Itinerary

You’ll be awed with the striking architecture here at Fort Kochi. Make sure you’re recharged when you visit and try their much-anticipated activities in this area. It can be accessed through roadways and waterways. There are also private buses and transport buses that travel from different parts of the city to Fort Kochi.

Although this area may be a bit laid back amongst any other part of Kochi, here, you’ll never run out of great seafood options and fancy cafes. You can either choose your fish from a fishmonger and have it cooked the way you want it.

Other places to visit include the 16th century St Francis Church, some old European buildings, and the Mattancherry Palace housing Ramayana paintings. You can also go shopping at boutique shops, especially at Cinnamon where you can find an array of Indian designer fashion, jewelry, and homewares.

Take an exhilarating bus ride around Kochi

Warning: Not for the faint-hearted.

Bus Ride in Kochi by Najl Musthafa via Unsplash
Bus Ride in Kochi by Najl Musthafa via Unsplash

To best describe it, the “patok” jeep in the Philippines is somehow similar to the swift bus ride in Kochi. But despite the heart pumping bus ride, you get to see the serene view and colorful houses along the way. Their bus transport system is mainly dominated by private operators, known as Red-Buses.

Take a detour at Thrissur

Why not be spontaneous and have a detour at Thrissur where Kerala’s elephant temple festival is celebrated. Take the train and bring your fully charged phone and cameras so you won’t miss any exciting spots in one of Kerala’s oldest city.

Elephant Temple Festival in Thrissur
Elephant Temple Festival in Thrissur

Nature lovers will definitely love the bountiful temples, hillocks, beaches surrounding the city. In this district, you’ll see the famous Vadakkunnathan Temple, Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple, and the Shakthan Thampuran Palace which has been in Thrissur for 1000 year now. Expect to see lots of Hindu devotees in the complex.

There is also a kid-friendly place where you can bring the whole family, such as the Anakotta – Guruvayoor Elephant Sanctuary where you can see elephants of different sizes, and the Nehru Park where you can do picnics, which is open from 3pm-8pm.

Best time to visit would be in April where they celebrate the Thrissur Pooram, where various rum concerts, display of pyro-techniques, and public participation is expected.

Visit the Mattancherry Palace

Mattancherry Palace photo by Ranjith Siji via Wikipedia CC
Mattancherry Palace photo by Ranjith Siji via Wikipedia CC

Immerse into their rich culture and see some of India’s best art murals and paintings inside the Mattancherry Palace. It was originally a Portuguese palace – which later presented to the king of Cochin around 1555. In 1663, it has undergone renovations, and more enticing displays are to be seen inside, from paraphernalia owned the rajas, the king’s bedchamber or Palliyara, the traditional Kerala flooring, the old brass cups in the dining hall, and exhibits from local artists.

The palace is also surrounded with plenty of shops where you can buy some memorabilia. Getting around is also easy, the jetty and bus terminal are behind the place.

Watch a Kathakali performance

Kathakali performance
Kathakali performance

If given the chance, make sure to witness one of the nine classical dances in India called Kathakali where dancers are donned in colorful and fascinating costumes. This type of dance-drama originated from the south Indian state of Kerala and depicts some theme from the Hindu epics Ramayana, Mahabharata and more. You can catch a performance at Kochi’s Kerala Kathakali Centre which runs daily. As a matter of fact, you can also see how artists apply their makeup!

Go Street Shopping at Princess Street

princess street in Fort Kochi India photo via Wikipedia CC
princess street in Fort Kochi India photo via Wikipedia CC

There are lots to see and things to do in Kochi, and one of those is street shopping at café hopping at Princess Street. A lot of tourists tend to hang out at this vibrant avenue and check out European counterparts and a long stretch of shops, restaurants, cigar shops, art galleries, and kiosks offering various souvenirs, handicrafts, and artifacts.

Taste authentic Indian cuisine at Trilogi

Enjoy your downtime and have your dinner at Trilogi for a one-of-a-kind gastronomic experience, located at Crowne Plaza Kochi. Prepare your palates for a burst of flavors for their nostalgic specialties you can’t find anywhere in the world.

Aikoora Puliyanam or Quilon style seer fish curry
Aikoora Puliyanam or Quilon style seer fish curry

Must-tries include the paratha and curry. The menu includes Seafood, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options. They also serve an English buffet breakfast if you want to take a break from the usual local dishes.

Take Cooking Lessons at Nimmy Paul’s Cooking School

Nimmy Paul's Cooking School photo via Facebook Page
Nimmy Paul’s Cooking School photo via Facebook Page

If you’re feeling creative and wanted to learn how they cook local cuisine in Kochi, check out this cooking school located at the Beach Road, Kattiparambu.

Meet Nimmy, the teacher who is also a consultant to magazine and chefs. She teaches guests of traditional Kerala recipes, such as the Inji Kari, Meen Molee, Moppilah Biriyani, and Meen Pattichatu to name a few.

Buy Spices at the Jew Town

Souvenir Shop in Jew Town
Souvenir Shop in Jew Town

Feeling inspired from the cooking lessons at Nimmy Paul’s? Why not head towards the famous Jew Town and check out some signature spices to remake the dishes you’ve learned. Get to know the locals and ask for other cuisines you can do with those spices!

Here at Jew Town, there are also various souvenir places where you can buy your pasalubong.

Chill at Vypeen Island

Nedungad Village in Vypeen Island by Varkey Parakkal via Wikipedia CC
Nedungad Village in Vypeen Island by Varkey Parakkal via Wikipedia CC

Everyone deserves a relaxing getaway, and you’ll be in a surefire treat when you visit the Vypeen Island, which can be visited via ferry from Fort Kochi. It’s quiet, uncrowded, and a popular place where you can get luxurious massages and traditional healing.

But of course, let’s not forget to have those curry cravings at The Rice Boat where banana steamed fish is also a bestseller!

Relax at Kashi Art Café

Kashi Art Cafe in Kochi photo via Facebook Page
Kashi Art Cafe in Kochi photo via Facebook Page

From stylish wood tables to alluring interiors and contemporary artworks made by local artists, one will truly enjoy dining here at Kashi Art Café, located at Burgher St., Fort Cochin. They’re very well known with their strong and organic coffee.

Make sure to have a taste of their nice western breakfast, home-baked cakes, salads, and French toast.

Birdwatching at Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

Double-crested (Phalacrocorax auritus) Cormorant, a matte black fishing bird in Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
Double-crested (Phalacrocorax auritus) Cormorant, a matte black fishing bird in Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary

Learn more about the beautiful species of migratory birds in this sanctuary located at Kumarakom, Kerala.

In these 14 acres lies 20-30 species of birds, which includes the Siberian stork, paraide fly-catchers, lone golden-backed woodpeckers, egret, darter, heron, and teal. Spend time and take pictures of these migratory birds, which are best visited in the months of June to August. Houseboats and motorboats are available to hire for bird watching cruises on the lake. It is open from 6am to 5pm.

To go here, you can either hire local taxis from Kottayam which is around 13km from the sanctuary.

Snorkel at one of Kochi’s Best Beaches

Cherai Beach photo by Sabincp via Wikipedia CC
Cherai Beach photo by Sabincp via Wikipedia CC

Want to go on a water adventure in Kochi? Why not try snorkeling at one of its pristine beaches, and swim along with dolphins, and see how rich their marine biodiversity is. Don’t worry for first-timers. There are a lot of tour guides who will teach you the basics and tell you where to rent some snorkeling equipment. Other activities include paragliding, boating, and dolphin watching at Cherai Beach.

Visit the Folklore Museum

Another exciting thing to do in Kochi is to visit the Folklore Museum, which aims to promote and preserve their contemporary and modern artists. Inside the museum are ethnic collections of more than 6000 artworks and exquisite sculptures.

Kerala Folklore Museum by muffinn @mwf2005 via Flickr CC
Kerala Folklore Museum by muffinn @mwf2005 via Flickr CC

The museum in itself is a destination itself, with its impeccable architecture. Other things to see include musical instruments, old school Indian paintings, artifacts, woodworks, and bronze sculptures. Not to mention, there’s also a theatre inside where stage performances representing the authentic South Indian culture are put up.

If you plan on buying some souvenirs, there is an antique store and a Jewelry store inside which sells Kerala Saris and handloom products. There is also a theater in the Museum where stage performances representing the authentic South Indian culture are put up.

To go here, you can take an uber or a local taxi from Fort Cochin. However, if you’re on a budget, you can take any bus including the Fort Cochin–Vytilla–Airport bus going to Thevara.

Visit the Pallipuram Fort

Pallipuram Fort photo by Challiyan via Wikipedia CC
Pallipuram Fort photo By Challiyan at Malayalam Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 2.5

Consider yourself lucky if you get to see the oldest existing European fort in India which is the Pallipuram Fort, located at the Vypeen Island. It’s built in 1503 by the Portuguese and is also known by the name Ayikotta or Alikotta. It is hexagonal in shape, and the lower floor has a height of 5 feet (1.5 m).

To visit, take the nearest railway station which is the Ernakulam Junction, near from the main boat jetty to Vypeen Island.

Check out our complete list of affordable hotels and resorts in Kochi, India via Agoda or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

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