Flights to Kochi (COK)

Whilst Kochi is imbued with historical significance, there’s a modern side too – including one of the finest modern art scenes in India.
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Kochi (Cochin), India

What to do in Kochi (Cochin)

Watch Kathakali performances

In Kochi, you’re pretty much guaranteed to see a live performance of Kathakali – a form of Keralan dance-drama – either in tourist venues, such as the Folklore Museum or the Kerala Kathakali Centre, or at a temple festival. Arrive an hour early for a backstage peek of the performers applying their makeup.

Kerala Kathakali Centre
Near Santa Cruz Basilica
KB Jacob Road
Fort Kochi
682001
+91 484 221 5827
kathakalicentre.com

Visit Kerala Folklore Museum

This private architectural museum south-east of Ernakulam reflects the lifelong passion of its owner, an avid antiques dealer. Crafted in Keralan style, using old houses and ancient temples as inspiration, it houses more than 4,000 cultural and ethnic artefacts dating back 1,000 years. Upstairs, a theatre with a 17th century timber ceiling hosts nightly cultural shows during the winter months.

Folklore Junction
Thevara
682013
+91 484 266 5452
keralafolkloremuseum.org

Tour Fort Kochi and Mattancherry

This is one of the most culturally diverse neighbourhoods in Kochi to explore. In Fort Kochi you’ll find St Francis Church – India’s oldest European-built church – and the imposing Santa Cruz Basilica. Just north of here stands the Hindu mural-adorned Mattancherry Palace (known as the Dutch Palace).

Mattancherry Palace
Mattancherry
682002
+91 484 236 7334
keralatourism.org/dutch-palace-mattancherry

Take Maria’s South Indian cooking class

Learn about Keralan cuisine at Maria’s South Indian Cooking Class. Maria is highly regarded throughout Kochi for her knowledge of the region’s spices and the authenticity of her food. If you’re interested in touring Kochi’s fish markets as well, check out TravSpire’s home cooking experience.

Maria’s South Indian Cooking Class
Burgher Street
Fort Kochi
682001
+91 974 688 7454
travspire.com/kerala-home-cooking

Go on a water valley tour

Kerala’s star attraction is its multi-day houseboat cruises, which navigate the state’s idyllic rural backwaters. However, if you’re short on time, try Tourist Desk’s seven-hour Water Valley Tour instead. It explores Vembanad Lake’s tributaries by rice barge and canoe, and includes visits to producers of coir, a material used for rope and matting.

Tourist Desk
Marine Drive Walkway
Marine Drive
Ernakulam
682011
+91 484 237 1761
touristdesk.in/watervalleytour

Explore Kochi’s art galleries

The inaugural Kochi-Muziris Biennale welcomed more than 80 artists from India and overseas, and set the stage for Kochi to become South India’s hot new art district. If you love art, the David Hall Gallery and Kashi Art Gallery are the go-to places for exhibitions of contemporary local talent, performing artists and live music.

David Hall Gallery
St Francis Church Road
Opposite Parade Ground
Fort Kochi
682001
+91 484 221 8298
davidhall.in

Where to eat in Kochi (Cochin)

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The Rice Boat (Indian)

Housed in a mock Keralan kettuvallam (rice boat), this teak-and-glass restaurant has jaw-dropping harbour views and its consistently good Indian fusion food is prepared in an open kitchen. Seafood and freshwater fish feature prominently – try the prawns with crushed coconut and smoked local tamarind.

Vivanta by Taj – Malabar
Willingdon Island
682009
+91 484 661 3000
vivantabytaj.com/the-rice-boat-restaurant

The Malabar Junction (Mediterranean/Keralan)

East meets West at the Malabar Junction, a hugely popular restaurant that serves Mediterranean-Keralan fusion cuisine. If Kochi has one place to see and be seen, this is it – so it's advisable to book ahead. Be sure to try the seafood platter, and round off your meal with the chocolate samosas.

1/268-269 Parade Road
682001
+91 484 221 6666
malabarhouse.com

The History & Terrace Grill (International)

Kochi is a melting pot of cultures, and the menu at this restaurant inside The Brunton Boatyard Hotel reflects this. You’ll find a diverse mix of food, from Syrian roast duck to Keralan fish curry, and the intriguingly named ‘First Class Railway Curry’. Time your visit for sunset, when the views from the harbour-side terrace are fabulous.

The Brunton Boatyard
1/498 Calvetty Road
Fort Kochi
682001
+91 484 221 5461
cghearth.com/brunton-boatyard/cuisine-bb

The Grand Hotel Restaurant (Indian/International)

For a more traditional Indian dining experience, head across the water to The Grand Hotel, whose South Indian restaurant is one of the oldest and best in town. Try the chef’s specialty, which is masala pearl spot fish wrapped in a banana leaf. Malay biryani dishes and Syrian delicacies are on the menu too.

Mahatma Gandhi Road
Ernakulam
682011
+91 484 238 2061
grandhotelkerala.com

Kashi Art Café (Cafe)

You’ll know when you’re getting close to Kashi Art Café – the excellent coffee is so aromatic, you can smell it from the street. Part art gallery, part cafe, this is a welcome stop-off point on the Fort Kochi sightseeing trail. Drop in for the all-day breakfasts or their wickedly good cakes.

1/440 Burgher Street
Fort Kochi
+91 484 221 5769
kashiartgallery.com/cafe

Ginger House Restaurant (International)

This evocative waterfront cafe and restaurant forms part of the antique-filled Heritage Arts Museum, in the heart of Mattancherry. As its name suggests, the menu champions ginger, which plays a starring role in lassis and ice creams, as well as glazes for various fish and seafood dishes.

Jew Town Road
Kappalandimukku
Mattancherry
682002
+91 484 221 2123
gingerhousecochin.com

Places to stay in Kochi (Cochin)

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Vivanta by Taj – Malabar

Topping Willingdon Island, a ferry hop from downtown Ernakulum, Vivanta by Taj is a five-star hotel with stunning rooms and beautiful views of Kochi Harbour. The rooms are split between two contrasting wings – heritage and modern – and the top-notch facilities include a spa and gym, boardroom and business centre.

Willingdon Island
682009
+91 484 661 3000
vivantabytaj.com/malabar-cochin

Trinity

If you’re looking for luxury and privacy, check out Trinity, a contemporary art deco, all-suite hotel housed in the former headquarters of the Dutch East India Company. Located near Fort Kochi’s Parade Ground, Trinity’s quirky art-centric suites have huge outdoor ‘garden’ bathrooms.

1/658 Ridsdale Road
Parade Ground
Fort Kochi
682001
+91 484 221 6669
malabarhouse.com/trinity-fort-cochin

The Malabar House

This Kochi institution has attracted a cult following since opening as one of India’s first boutique hotels in 1996. Join the hip crowd and book a room – this pair of charming 18th century colonial villas has just 17 rooms and suites.

1/268-269 Parade Road
Fort Kochi
682001
+91 484 221 6666
malabarhouse.com/malabar-house

The Brunton Boatyard

Standing on the former site of a Victorian shipbuilding yard, The Brunton Boatyard is perfect if you're looking for peace and quiet in a sophisticated setting. Located on a stunning stretch of Fort Kochi waterfront, the hotel’s 26 luxurious rooms, swimming pool and gourmet in-house restaurant all have amazing views of the sea.

1/498 Calvetty Road
Fort Kochi
682001
+91 484 221 5461
cghearth.com/brunton-boatyard

Spice Harbour Hotel

This boutique hotel makes the most of its enviable waterfront locale overlooking Willingdon Island. Home to 16 contemporary rooms, including a glass-fronted harbour-view suite, facilities include an infinity pool and a restaurant in a stylishly converted spice warehouse.

V/40 Bazar Road
Mattancherry
682002
+91 484 650 3044
raxacollective.com/spice-harbour

Le Colonial

Even by Kochi’s standards, few houses are as historically rich as Le Colonial. Built in 1506, it’s been home to Vasco da Gama, Ian Vas Spall and many Dutch governors. Sensitively restored by the Neemrana Group, this seven-suite property has all the facilities of a boutique hotel, but with the warm welcome of a homestay.

1/315 Church Road
Vasco da Gama Square
Fort Kochi
682001
+91 484 221 7181
le-colonial.neemranahotels.com