Welcome to Fort Kochi – Also known as the Queen of the Arabian Sea, the charming port city was once the centre of the world’s spice trade. The most visited city in Gods Own Country – Kerala, it is famous for its Dutch – Portuguese architecture, fresh seafood and a vibrant cafe culture. Fort Kochi found a spot on CNN Travel’s 19 best places to visit in 2019 and is listed on Lonely Planets top 10 cities to visit in 2020. India’s most colonial and historic port town and the scenic houseboats of the backwaters of Kerala. So let’s discover the best things to do in Fort Kochi in 3 days.
As you set foot on the island you are welcomed by the waving palms and historic fishing nets that form the perfect backdrop to Fort Kochi. Just a short drive from Fort Kochi is Alleppey – another important tourist centre with a network of inland canals and home to the famous backwaters of Kerala.
About Fort Kochi
With roots in the 14thcentury and influenced by a flow of European, Arab and Chinese merchants it is diverse with 40% of the population following Christianity. Kochi is home to a number of churches and cathedrals but none more special than St. Francis Church. The original burial site for the famous explorer Vasco da Gama it is one of the main attractions of Fort Kochi.
You can find upscale eateries, chic arty cafes, and restaurants that serve Keralan specialties. If that’s not enough wander around the narrow lanes of the old town and admire the Heritage architecture. Stop by at the many quaint shops selling cotton clothing and souvenirs.
Kochi greets all its visitors with a warm open heart and multitude of colours. Kochi is a mix of small islands, the modern city of Ernakulam, the peaceful backwaters and the colonial cities of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. It is also home to Ayurveda. With so much on offer there is something for everyone.
There are 2 interesting sections to Kochi – Fort Kochi – primarily home to the Christians influenced by the European settlers and Mattancherry – the vibrant trade center and home to the Jews, Muslims and Hindus.
Best Time to Visit Fort Kochi
Kochi remains hot and humid all year round. Winters are by far the best time to visit Cochin as the weather is very pleasant. October to February is the best time and also peak season to visit Kochi. Summer in Cochin can get extremely hot and humid and temperatures begin to rise in March.
How much time do you need in Fort Kochi – Fort Kochi is a small town and can easily get the best out of Fort Kochi in 3 days.
How to Get to Fort Kochi
Cochin International Airport is about 30 km from Ernakulam and it will take you roughly 2 hrs to reach Fort Kochi. Fort Kochi is well connected to most parts of India and has a decent International connection as well. Keep plenty of time to travel between the airport and Fort Kochi as the traffic can be nasty. Bus and taxi service is available from the airport to Fort Kochi.
By rail: Ernakulam is connected by rail to all parts of India. There are two main railway stations in the city: Ernakulam Jn and Ernakulam Town. Fort Kochi is roughly 15 km from both these stations.
By road: Fort Kochi is connected by an extensive network of state and national highways. Fort Kochi is 15 km from the main bus station in Ernakulam.
Where to stay in Fort Kochi
When it comes to accommodation, Kochi has plenty of options with something to suit every budget. From high end heritage boutique hotels to homestays Kochi has it all. I would definitely suggest living in Fort Kochi and not towards the more new city side. A great way to experience local culture would be a homestay in one of the many converted homes in Fort Kochi.
If you have the cash to splash then the Colonial waterfront Brunton Boatyard Hotel or The Old Harbour Hotel is what I would suggest.
The best things to do in Fort Kochi in 3 days.
Churches and Cathedrals.
As you set foot in Fort Kochi you are instantly transported into a different time period. One of the things that stand out are the beautiful churches built during the Colonial period. 40% of Fort Kochi’s population is Christian and visit the church regularly. So be mindful as these are active places of worship. The most popular churches to visit in Fort Kochi are Saint Francis Church and Santa Cruz Basilica.
St. Francis Church was built in the 15th century by the Portuguese traders. It is believed to be the original burial place of the famous explorer, Vasco-da-Gama. His remains were later taken back to Portugal but to this day, the exact spot is clearly marked. It is one of the oldest Christian churches outside Europe.
Kerala Kathakali Centre
A trip to the Kathakali centre is highly recommended. It showcases traditional dance and martial arts every day. Tickets can be purchased at the premises but try and book ahead if you are visiting during the peak season. Enjoy an evening in the wood-lined theatre with an introduction to Kathakali, one of the most famous forms of dance in South India.
Jew Town and Mattancherry.
The historic Jew Town was once home to a thriving Jewish community. Unfortunately there are only a handful left here now. It is believed they were the oldest Jewish community in India with roots dating back to King Solomon. Fondly known as the The Paradesi Jews, they settled in Kochi in the 16th century. This must form part of your itinerary of Fort Kochi in 3 days.
The Pardesi Synagogue – A visit to the 16th-century Paradesi Synagogue is a must. The Synagogue attracts many visitors from around the world till date. Check timings before you visit as it is shut for prayers and religious functions. The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth dating back to 1568. The interiors of the synagogue are stunning, with hand carved timber work, crystal lamps and blue and white tiled floor.
The lanes leading up to the synagogue is lined with quaint shops selling antiques and vintage collectibles. From shops selling Kashmiri shawls and artefacts to Keralan handicrafts and aromatic spices this is a great place for shopaholics. There are a few cafes and eateries dotted around this area that are perfect to refuel yourself.
Visit the Ginger House Museum and Hotel. You can shop here for exquisitely embroidered vintage fabrics or simply marvel at antiques and relics from historic South India.
One of the oldest Portuguese residences in Fort Kochi built in the early sixteenth century. It is believed to have been the residence of the famous traveller Vasco da Gama whilst in India. Built in a typical colonial style with ornate woodwork and glass paned windows it is a must visit when in Kochi.
The Chinese Fishing nets of Fort Kochi.
The Chinese fishing nets are one of the most iconic sites of Fort Kochi. Introduced by the Chinese explorers in the 14th century they have not changed much. The best time to visit the nets are at sunset. You can get some stunning photos as the sun sets behind these nets. These are active fishing grounds and you can buy a catch here and have it grilled at one of the nearby stalls with chilli and garlic. The main beach of Fort Kochi is also around this area so it is lively with locals and tourists.
Cafes Culture of Fort Kochi
South India is famous for its coffee and this goes hand in hand with hip coffee and art culture of Kochi. There are several coffee shops and cafes dotted around Fort Kochi and spending time in of these is the best way to experience this port city.
Kashi Art Café is by far the most popular café in Fort Kochi and your visit to this port town would be incomplete without visiting it. I did hear a lot of noise about it so decided to visit it and was not disappointed. It is a great place to relax and soak in the chilled out life of Fort Kochi. It houses some great contemporary art work and is the perfect balance of Colonial and modern Fort Kochi.
The other interesting cafes to visit are Pepper House, Qissa Café, Café Papaya and Mocha Art Café.
Ayurveda in Fort Kochi.
Kerala is home to the ancient tradition of Ayurveda. You can either book in a treatment in one of the many Spas or shop for some of the finest Ayurveda products. Pamper yourself in one of the many boutique hotel spas. The most popular Ayurveda treatment is Sirodhara (the pouring of oil on the forehead) and a must do on your trip to Fort Kochi. I managed to get my share of pure Ayurveda products to carry home.
Where to shop in Fort Kochi.
A walk along Napier Street, home to some of the chicest boutiques in Kochi. Kochi is famous for its spices, cotton garments and local souvenirs. There are plenty of shops dotted around the city where you can buy local products. It is home to the more popular Indian chain Fab India as well. There are also some great bookstores in Fort Kochi. Another popular place to get your shopping done is Princess Street.
Best places to eat in Fort Kochi.
When it comes to food, this city has some serious gastronomy to offer its visitors. With a mix of different communities which include Jews, Konkinis, Gujaratis and its Colonial influence, the food scene of Kochi is as diverse. Fresh seafood cooked in Keralan spice is what you must experience here but don’t worry there are plenty of vegetarian option on offer.
My list of Must eat places in Fort Kochi in 3 days.
Kochi is home to some of the finest cafes and restaurants serving both traditional Kerala and international cuisine. I have listed some of my favourite places in the city both for the ambiance and the delicious food.
1788 Restaurant @ The Old Harbour Hotel –
Both for the food and perfect ambience. Enjoy the seafood barbecue and South Indian vegetarian delicacies by the candle light poolside.
Brunton Boatyard –
Try the First Class Railway Mutton curry in the colonial style building right by the harbour. Great views of the waterways and perfect to enjoy a drink in the evening.The Brunton Boatyard in Fort Kochi is inspired from its colonial history. A former shipyard in British times takes you back in time.
Fort House Hotel –
Treat yourself to authentic Keralan cuisine at its waterfront restaurant. The location is absolutely stunning, as you walk towards your table perched on the jetty. A family run hotel perfect for travellers looking for a comfortable stay surrounded by lush gardens and gives a very rustic and homely feel. Must try – Ginger-garlic prawns with appams (rice pancakes) or a parotta and the fish with green mango curry.
The Asian Kitchen by Tokyo Bay –
Located in the grounds of the famous Kochi Club this is your fix for Dim Sums and oriental cuisine.
Rasoi – North Indian cuisine.
If you are looking for North Indian food in Kochi then this is where you need to go. Why visit Raoi – Great food, pleasant atmosphere and helpful staff.
Ginger House & Hotel –
Another interesting open air restaurant based in the historic Jew Town in Mattancherry. It is hidden behind the massive antique shop that’s fronts this property. A waterfront restaurant perfect for lunch after your tour of Jew Town.
The Jetty Restaurant at the Forte Hotel –
Enjoy the Fresh catch of the day cooked to perfection in a marinade of your choice. Located in the Heritage property on Princess Street the hotel is absolutely stunning. Dinner is served at the Jetty Restaurant which is by the poolside and forms the perfect backdrop to your candle light dinner.
Tuk Tuk Ride around Fort Kochi.
One of the most popular transport in this part of India a tuktuk ride a great way to travel in Fort Kochi. Enjoy the narrow lanes of the city in one of the many beautifully decorated windowless rides. A bit of bargaining and you can get a ride to most of the tourist attraction for a few $.They will wait outside the attractions for you and cover most of top spots in a few hrs.
Volunteering in Fort Kochi.
A new and sustainable way of discovering new places. Enroll in one of the volunteering programs that gives you the opportunity of living like a local, learning and adding value to your life and those you meet along the way. I came across this company called Volunteering Journeys which provides this experience in Fort Kochi and other destinations around the world.
Day trip to the Kerala Backwaters Houseboat in Alleppey.
One of the most popular activities in Gods Own Country is a houseboat experience in the backwaters of Kerala. Alleppey is around 50kms from Fort Kochi and takes you roughly 2 hours to get there by road. Also known as the Venice of the East, Alleppey has a large network of inland canals and lakes.
Alleppey the ideal place to experience the houseboats of the backwaters and is also famous for its spectacular snake boat race held annually. The snake boat race attracts hundreds of locals and tourists from around the world and is a major event in the Kerala tourism calendar.
Locally known as a Kettuvallam – the houseboat is primarily made of a wooden hull and thatched roof of coir. You can hire a houseboat for a day trip or for spend a few days relaxing and sailing around the beautiful backwaters of Alleppey. This is also where you can experience the local life as the boat moors in the local villages from time to time.
The cost of the houseboats vary depending on the size, quality and time of the year you decide to visit. Starting from a small 1 bedroom to a more luxurious 4 bedroom houseboat most of them come with air conditioning and all the necessities to make it a comfortable stay.
All houseboats come well staffed including cooks who will prepare authentic Keralan cuisine. A standard menu will include, fresh fish cooked in spices, steamed rice, curries with locally grown organic vegetables and friend banana fritters.
It is a great way of experiencing the beautiful backwaters of Kerala and would highly recommend a trip on a houseboat. One advice – do carry along Mosquito repellents.
Overall experience of the best things to do in Fort Kochi in 3 days.
I must admit I was looking forward to my trip to Fort Kochi and it did not disappoint. There is something special about this small laid back city which transports you back in time. The relaxed lifestyle, streets lined with blue and yellow buildings and terracotta roofs reflecting the colonial era and the mouthwatering Keralan cuisine. All these make Fort Kochi one of the most popular holiday destinations in India. It is not surprising why Kerala, Fort Kochi was on CNN Travel’s 19 best places to visit in 2019.
Must See and Do in Fort Kochi in 3 days.
- Visit the historic Pardesi Synagogue in Mattancherry.
- Sip a coffee at the Kaashi Art Café.
- Watch the sunset over the Chinese fishing nets.
- Enjoy the traditional Kathakali dance performance at the Katahkali Centre.
- Visit the home and resting place of Vasco da Gama.
- Pamper yourself to an authentic Ayurveda treatment.
- Sample a glass of toddy (local alcoholic drink) at Mulapanthal.
- Shop for Keralan souvenirs at Princess Street.
- Breakfast at Mocha Art café, located in a 300 year old spice warehouse.
- Admire the Colonial architecture at Saint Francis Church and Santa Cruz Basilica.
- Wander the lanes of Jew Town and marvel at the antique shops.
- Shop at one of India largest mall – Lulu International Mall.
- Relax and enjoy the café culture.
- Relish the fried fish at Sri Muruga Café.
- Shop for Art in one of the many small art galleries.
- Candle light dinner at the Old Harbour Hotel.
- Wander along Princess Street the heart of Fort Kochi.
- Don’t miss the First Class Railway Mutton Curry at the Brunton Boatyard Hotel.
- Wizz through Fort Kochi on a tuk-tuk ride.
- Sample the fresh catch of the day along the Marine Drive.
If you enjoyed reading about Fort Kochi why not discover some of the other hidden gems of India like the lake city of Udaipur, Jaipur and the Taj Mahal
I visited India around 5 years ago now but unfortunately didn’t make it to Fort Kochi. When I get round to visiting I think this post has all of the information I need! I think taking a city tour in a Tuk Tuk would be a cool experience
I hope you get the Oporto visit it some day. It is a great city and one you would love on a tuktuk for sure.
I have heard of Fort Kochi before and as I am preparing my plan for India, it looks like I want to hit up this place now. The town looks like its got amble of things to do but for me, its checking out the sea especially at sunset and chilling out on a Kettuvallam. I always wanted to check them out and could spend all day on one, moving or not moving. 😀 Fort Kochi also looks like family friendly (which is good as I got two young daughters). 🙂
It’s a great place with the family as well. Try and add Fort Kochi to your list on your INDIA travels.
We are sorry we had only a short day visit to Fort Kochi. Good to know we will need a few days to see it all. Your list of things to see was quite long. Always interesting to see the wide variety of churches in India. But I do have vivid memories from our visit of the fishing nets. And the wonderful seafood we found for sale.
How you can revisit someday. There is a lot on offer and you definitely need more than a day.
A very interesting destination in India , don’t think it is promoted as much as some of the other more popular ones we normally come across. Would surely add to my list of places to visit in India. Thanks for sharing.
Yes it’s not as popular as some of the other knows destinations in India. Do try and visit.
It seems like there is such a mix of cultures and influences there. I’ve actually never heard of it, but I haven’t traveled to India at all. I’d love to visit there and test out that food – so delicious!!
Hope you can visit someday and experience it yourself
Your post made me nostalgic as I visited Kochi during my college days and that too two times. The neighborhoods of Fort Kochi was my favorite, especially the Mattancherry part as it really influence of European settlers with Indian culture. Chinese fishing nets with sunset is really a wonderful sight here. Taking backwaters tour from here to Allepey was my also favorite day trip here. And cherry on the cake is the ayurveda center here as I love and believe lots in Ayurveda from Kerala.
It’s a great destination in India with so much on offer. Happy to bring back memories of Kochi to you.
Fort Kochi is so far away from Europe, yet it has so many European influences. I’ve never visited India and I am amazed to see how much I’ve been missing! Will definitely add this place to my list. I’d love to hire one of those houseboats for a few days. It must be so relaxing!
There are a few parts of India that have a lot of European influence till this date. Hope you can experience this one day. Try and visit India. It is absolutely stunning.
Great post!! Many people don’t know much about Kochi in India, maybe a part of it has to do with the fact that tourism hasn’t been portrayed has much as other Indian destination. I have been to Kochi a few years ago and it nothing like I was used to of seeing in India. I didn’t try out the boat house and would love to do it in the future.
As you said it’s not as promoted as some of the other popular tourism spots in India.
What an interesting city! I’ve never heard of Fort Kochi, but it seems like such an interesting mix of culture and tradition. I would love to visit it one day to experience it first hand! The Ginger House Museum looks really interesting and would be at the top of my list of do-dos when visiting. The food looks incredible, and I have no doubt I would eat way to much every day I was there.
It’s a very interesting city and less promoted than it deserves. Hope you can experience it first hand someday.
What a charming town. I haven’t been to India yet but will make sure to allow for time to visit Fort Kochi. I love a water view so may have to splurge and stay at the Brunton Boatyard hotel. Although, staying in a houseboat would be fun.
It’s a great place to spend a few days and the Brunton Boatyard is a great property to enjoy the water view for sure.
I’ve been to Cochin, but on work, long back, and haven’t really explored it at all! My bad. But then, whole of Kerala is so incredibly beautiful, that it would take a lifetime to explore just Kerala!!!
I just visited Vasco da Gama’s current burial site, it would interesting to go visit St.Francis church as well.
Visiting Pardesi Synagogue would be my top thing to do, followed by Chinese fishing nets. I’ve seen so many photos of those, but not once in reality!
Truly you need a lot of time to discover Kerala. Wow how nice that you had the chance to visit the final resting place of the great explorer.
Fort Kochi looks like somewhere I would want to visit. It gives me a sense there is so much mixed and exotic culture to explore. Although I have not heard of Fort Kochi, but I have definitely experienced Keralan cuisine in my home country of Malaysia. I have no idea if it is authentic but I loved it! I would definitely love to be tasting the original taste for myself. That houseboat would definitely be on my list of things to rent – how awesome that would be!
Hope you can visit and experience both the food and city one day. It is a great experience on the houseboat.
Great post on Kochi. I have been to Kochi once before but unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to visit the fort kochi and it looks like something I would have enjoyed. Kochi looked so different from the rest of Indian cities I have visited and it seems like they have pretty mild winter too. I think it is a prefect destination for summer and I love the food they served. Looking forward to travel in Kochi soon in the future.
the weather is warm during the summer as well. Sad you couldn’t see Fort Kochi after being so close to it.
Hi, thanks for the lovely blog on Kochi, I love Kochi because of its rich diverse natural beauty. In your blog, you describe very nicely how to travel and must-visit places in Kochi like Kochi fort in just 3 days. I am quite interested in the historical places and Kochi is one of my favorite places.
Great city with history so you would love it. Happy it helped
I have always wanted to travel around India and never thought of adding Fort Kochi to my list for some reason but now reading your post I would surely add it on my list pf places to travel in India. Thanks for the the detailed post
You must include Fort Kochi on your trip to India
how have i never heard of this place?! I love cities that blend cultures and architecture through the ages, plus I love India so certainly I would love Fort Kochi. thanks for tipping me off to this!
It’s a great destination and one you should definitely visit once
I have always wanted to travel to India And finally going to visit this year but never thought visiting Kochi. After reading this post I want to surely include it on my visit. Thanks for sharing.
It is a great place to visit in India and lesser known. You must try and visit it.
A great city to visit in India and must say did not know much about it when planning out India trip later this year. Would definitely try and add to my list of places to visit. Thanks for sharing.
It’s a great city to include within your itinerary of India. Happy to help with any further information you may require
What a great destination and a very helpful post. I have got India on my bucket list but did not consider Fort Kochi ever for some reason. Reading this post surely will add it ti my list. THANKS
Thanks. It is a beautiful city and would suggest you should add this to your itinerary when you travel to India.