With a centuries-long history of the spice trade, rich colonial heritage, vibrant cosmopolitan culture, and a thriving art scene; Kochi (formerly Cochin) is one of the most fascinating places to visit in Kerala. Although a small port city on the Malabar Coast of India, Kochi is chock-full of intriguing attractions that range from the backwaters, palm-lined beaches, tea gardens, and spice estates (which the God’s Own Country is famously known for) to Portuguese and Dutch houses, ancient temples and churches, Chinese fishing nets, folk museums, eclectic art cafes etc. Here are some of the most popular tourist places to visit in Kochi during your trip.
An idyllic fishing hamlet dotted with fine Dutch, Portuguese, and British colonial buildings; Fort Kochi’s lanes are a treat for history buffs. The best way to experience its old-world charm is by strolling through its streets; marveling at the legacy left behind by the Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, and British traders. You can also take a guided heritage tour to delve deeper into its colonial past. Check out landmarks like St. Francis Church (the oldest European church in India), Vasco House (where Vasco Da Gama is said to have lived for some time), Indo-Portuguese Museum, Fort Immanuel, and Fort Kochi Beach.
It is at this beach that you can spot the signature Chinese Fishing Nets that have come to symbolize Kochi in a way, because nowhere else outside China can you find these fishing nets except in Kochi. You can catch a glimpse of around 10-11 fishing nets along the shoreline of Fort Kochi, whereas the number was more than 20 about a decade ago.
A potpourri of different cultures, Mattancherry is one of the most vibrant places to visit in Kochi. This neighborhood is named after the famous Mattancherry Palace, originally called ‘Ancherry Mattam’ but eventually became Mattancherry because of the mispronunciation by the Britishers. Now, the palace functions as a museum where different weapons and other paraphernalia possessed by the rajas (kings) of Kochi are exhibited. Rare art, including colorful paintings, frescoes, and mythological murals, adorns the inner walls of this palace. The courtyard in the center houses a temple dedicated to Pazhayannur Bhagavati, the Goddess worshiped chiefly by the royal family.
Apart from Mattancherry Palace, several Hindu and Jain temples, mosques, churches, and Jewish Synagogue or Paradesi Synagogue – India’s oldest functioning synagogue – are extremely popular with travelers, locals and foreigners alike.
Situated off the coast of the Vypeen Island, about 25 km from Kochi, Cherai Beach is one of the most beautiful and cleanest beaches in Kerala. The unagitated waters and their slow waves are ideal for swimming. Love sunbathing? Grab a coconut from the beach shack and enjoy the fresh coconut water as you lie down on the soft golden sands; basking in the warmth of the sun. For someone who enjoys walking on the beach, Cherai offers a 15-km long stretch with lush coconuts and palms on one side and calm waters on the other side. The serenity of this beach makes it a preferred choice for locals, who come here in the early morning hours to practice meditation and yoga in peace.
Kochi’s Marine Drive is a scenic seaside walkway that overlooks the backwaters of Kerala. Go to this promenade for a refreshing evening walk; taking in the beauty and tranquility of backwaters and enjoying the sunsets while filling your lungs with fresh air. Marine Drive also features three beautiful bridges – the Houseboat Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge, and the Chinese Fishing Net Bridge.
Hourly cruises that start from Marine Drive in the evening take tourists on a boat tour to Cochin Harbour, Mattancherry, Bolgatty, and other popular places to visit in Kochi. After a sunset cruise, walk into the GCDA Shopping Complex (the first mall in Kochi) for shopping. End your day with a great dining experience offered by the restaurants sprinkled along the walkway.
Kerala Folklore Museum
One of the most popular places to visit in Kochi, Kerala Folklore Museum is a one-of-a-kind museum, where you not only get to explore the exhibits of history, art, and culture, but also watch live shows and performances (like that of Kathakali dances and traditional martial arts) and buy interesting souvenirs at its handicraft shop. The three-storied museum is built in the traditional Kerala style of architecture and boasts of a vast collection of historical relics, tribal objects, ancient manuscripts, sculptures, Kathakali masks, costumes, handmade textiles, musical instruments, ornaments, Stone Age utensils etc. A visit to this museum may offer you a deeper understanding of the rich cultural heritage of South India.
Along with the above, Bolgatty Island, Andhakaranazhi Beach, Kodanad Elephant Training Centre, Veeranpuzha Lake, Willingdon Island, Ernakulam Mahadeva Temple, Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary, and Kalady are some other best places to visit in and around Kochi. Have you been to the ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’ before? If not, plan your trip soon and book flights to Kochi with us!