15 Best Things to do in Kochi and Ernakulam

Kathakali

On the picturesque Malabar Coast of Kerala, India, Kochi and Ernakulam blend rich history, diverse culture, and natural beauty seamlessly.

From historical landmarks to serene backwaters, explore the 15 best things to do in this captivating region, often hailed as the Queen of the Arabian Sea.

Also read: 10 Reasons Why is Kerala a Perfect Holiday destination in 2024?

Discover iconic sites like the Dutch Palace and the unique Chinese Fishing Nets, savor local flavors at spice markets, and immerse yourself in cultural gems such as the Kerala Folklore Museum.

With a perfect mix of old-world charm and modern vibrancy, Kochi and Ernakulam promise an unforgettable journey through Kerala's captivating heritage.

1. Fort Kochi and Mattancherry:

Fort Kochi and Mattancherry

Start your journey in the heart of Kochi by exploring the historic neighborhoods of Fort Kochi and Mattancherry.

Wander through the narrow streets adorned with colorful colonial-style buildings and street art that tells tales of a bygone era.

Don't miss the enchanting sight of the Chinese fishing nets along the waterfront, a testament to the region's maritime history.

  • Must-Try Activities: Take a guided walking tour to fully appreciate the history and street art. Attend a cultural performance or art exhibition at the local galleries.

  • Local Foods to Try: Taste the local seafood at waterfront cafes. Don't miss the Kerala-style fish curry with appam.

  • Prices: Guided tours may range from ₹500 to ₹1000. Seafood meals can cost around ₹300 to ₹600 per person.

2. Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace):

Dutch Palace (Mattancherry Palace)Step into the Dutch Palace, also known as Mattancherry Palace, to witness a fascinating blend of Dutch and Kerala architecture.

Marvel at the intricate Hindu temple art and murals that narrate stories from the epics. The palace offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Kochi Maharajas.

  • Must-Try Activities: Engage with the knowledgeable guides to understand the historical significance of the palace. Attend any cultural events, if available.

  • Local Foods to Try: Head to nearby local eateries for a taste of Malabar biryani or traditional Kerala sadhya.

  • Prices: Entrance fees for the palace are around ₹10 for Indians and ₹100 for foreigners. Local meals may range from ₹200 to ₹500.

3. St. Francis Church:

St. Francis Church

Take a moment of reflection at St. Francis Church, a living testament to Kochi's colonial past. Built in the 16th century, the church exudes a tranquil ambiance and houses the final resting place of the famous explorer Vasco da Gama.

  • Must-Try Activities: Attend a Sunday mass to experience the church's spiritual ambiance. Take a moment to enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.

  • Local Foods to Try: Explore nearby cafes for a cup of traditional Kerala chai and banana fritters.

  • Prices: Entrance to the church is usually free. Snacks can cost around ₹50 to ₹100.

4. Paradesi Synagogue:

Paradesi Synagogue

Immerse yourself in the rich history of Kochi's Jewish community at the Paradesi Synagogue. Admire the intricate architecture, including the hand-painted Chinese tiles, and explore the nearby Jew Town, known for its antique shops and spice markets.

  • Must-Try Activities: Engage in conversations with the caretakers to learn about the Jewish history of Kochi. Visit the nearby spice shops and antique stores.

  • Local Foods to Try: Savor Jewish-influenced local dishes like beef and potato curry.

  • Prices: Entrance to the synagogue is around ₹5. Meals can cost approximately ₹200 to ₹400.

5. Jew Town and Spice Market:

Spice Market

Stroll through Jew Town's charming lanes, filled with antique shops and cozy cafes. The Spice Market is a sensory delight, with the aroma of exotic spices filling the air.

Engage with local vendors to learn about the significance of spices in Kerala's culinary and cultural heritage.

  • Must-Try Activities: Bargain for spices and souvenirs in the bustling market. Take a spice tour to understand the various herbs and their uses.

  • Local Foods to Try: Taste the traditional Kerala snack, banana chips, and indulge in a variety of spice-infused delicacies.

  • Prices: Spice tours may range from ₹200 to ₹500. Snacks can cost around ₹50 to ₹100.

6. Kerala Folklore Museum:

Kerala Folklore MuseumDelve into Kerala's vibrant cultural tapestry at the Kerala Folklore Museum. This museum is a treasure trove of traditional artifacts, art, and folklore performances that offer a deep insight into the state's rich heritage.

  • Must-Try Activities: Attend live folklore performances showcasing traditional dance and music. Engage with the artisans and craftsmen.

  • Local Foods to Try: Explore the on-site cafe for authentic Kerala snacks like pazhampori (banana fritters).

  • Prices: Museum entry fees are approximately ₹100 to ₹200. Snacks can cost around ₹50 to ₹100.

7. Marine Drive:

Marine Drive in ErnakulamExperience the bustling city life at Marine Drive in Ernakulam. This picturesque promenade offers stunning views of the backwaters and the skyline of Kochi.

Enjoy a leisurely walk, indulge in street food, or simply sit and absorb the beauty of the surroundings.

  • Must-Try Activities: Take a boat ride in the evening for panoramic views of the sunset. Try street food vendors for local snacks.

  • Local Foods to Try: Sample the local street food like kappa (tapioca) and meen curry (fish curry).

  • Prices: Boat rides may range from ₹200 to ₹500. Street food snacks can cost around ₹50 to ₹100.

Also read: Discover the Best Restaurants in Kochi India

8. Bolgatty Palace:

Bolgatty PalaceEscape to the tranquil Bolgatty Island, home to the Bolgatty Palace. This Dutch palace, surrounded by lush greenery, has been transformed into a heritage hotel.

Explore the well-maintained gardens and enjoy the serenity of this island retreat.

  • Must-Try Activities: Stay overnight for a regal experience. Enjoy a round of golf on the palace grounds.

  • Local Foods to Try: Savor a traditional Kerala thali at the palace restaurant.

  • Prices: Overnight stays can range from ₹3000 to ₹8000. Meals may cost around ₹500 to ₹1000 per person.

9. Cherai Beach:

Cherai BeachUnwind at Cherai Beach, a golden stretch of sand along the Arabian Sea. Enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, take a dip in the calm waters, and witness a mesmerizing sunset.

The beach is lined with coconut groves and is a perfect spot for relaxation.

  • Must-Try Activities: Participate in water sports like parasailing or take a dolphin-watching boat tour.

  • Local Foods to Try: Taste local seafood delicacies like Karimeen Pollichathu (fish wrapped in banana leaves).

  • Prices: Water sports may range from ₹500 to ₹1500. Beachside meals can cost around ₹300 to ₹800.

10. Willingdon Island:

Willingdon IslandEmbark on a boat cruise from Willingdon Island to soak in the scenic beauty of the backwaters. Marvel at the blend of industrial and leisure facilities on this man-made island, offering a unique perspective of Kochi's landscape.

  • Must-Try Activities: Take a scenic boat cruise around the island. Explore the local market for handmade crafts.

  • Local Foods to Try: Try local snacks like achappam and banana halwa.

  • Prices: Boat cruises may range from ₹500 to ₹1000. Snacks can cost around ₹50 to ₹100.

11. Kerala Kathakali Centre:

Kerala Kathakali CentreImmerse yourself in the vibrant cultural scene by attending a Kathakali performance at the Kerala Kathakali Centre.

This traditional dance form, characterized by elaborate costumes and expressive makeup, narrates stories from Indian mythology.

  • Must-Try Activities: Attend a Kathakali makeup and costume demonstration before the performance. Engage with the artists after the show.

  • Local Foods to Try: Explore nearby restaurants for a traditional Kerala sadya (feast).

  • Prices: Kathakali performances may range from ₹300 to ₹1000. Meals can cost around ₹200 to ₹500.

12. Hill Palace Museum:

Hill Palace MuseumStep into the royal history of Kerala at the Hill Palace Museum. Explore the well-preserved artifacts, paintings, and sculptures that showcase the opulence of the region's erstwhile rulers. The museum offers a captivating journey through Kerala's royal past.

  • Must-Try Activities: Participate in any ongoing workshops or cultural events. Visit the well-maintained Deer Park nearby.

  • Local Foods to Try: Explore local eateries for a taste of Kerala's unique breakfast dish, appam with stew.

  • Prices: Museum entry fees are around ₹30 to ₹150. Meals may cost approximately ₹200 to ₹400.

13. Ernakulam Shiva Temple:

Ernakulam Shiva TempleExperience the spiritual ambiance of Kochi by visiting the Ernakulam Shiva Temple. Admire the intricate architecture and witness the religious rituals that have been carried out for centuries, contributing to the cultural richness of the region.

  • Must-Try Activities: Attend the temple's annual festival if your visit coincides. Participate in the traditional rituals.

  • Local Foods to Try: Visit nearby street vendors for a taste of puttu and kadala curry.

  • Prices: Temple visits are usually free. Street food can cost around ₹50 to ₹100.

14. Kodanad Elephant Training Center:

Kodanad Elephant Training CenterFor a unique and heartwarming experience, visit the Kodanad Elephant Training Center. Witness the playful interactions between elephants and their mahouts, and learn about the conservation efforts to protect these majestic creatures.

  • Must-Try Activities: Volunteer for the day or opt for a guided tour to learn about elephant conservation efforts.

  • Local Foods to Try: Taste local delicacies like Kappa and beef curry.

  • Prices: Guided tours may range from ₹200 to ₹500. Local meals can cost around ₹200 to ₹400.

15. Backwater Cruise:

Backwater CruiseConclude your exploration with a tranquil backwaters cruise. Drift along the serene waterways of Kochi, surrounded by lush greenery and traditional village life.

This serene experience provides a perfect finale to your journey, leaving you with memories of the enchanting beauty of Kochi and Ernakulam.

  • Must-Try Activities: Opt for a houseboat stay for an immersive experience. Engage with local fishermen and experience traditional village life.

  • Local Foods to Try: Enjoy freshly prepared karimeen fry (pearl spot fish) on the houseboat.

  • Prices: Houseboat stays may range from ₹5000 to ₹15000 per night. Local meals can cost approximately ₹500 to ₹1000 per person.

Also read: Is Kerala really worth the hype? Travel insights and more!

The allure of Kochi and Ernakulam lies in their seamless fusion of historical richness, cultural diversity, and breathtaking natural landscapes.

For history enthusiasts, the colonial architecture of Fort Kochi and the ancient artifacts at the Dutch Palace beckon, while nature lovers can find solace in the serene backwaters and pristine beaches.

For those yearning for tranquility, the region's inviting atmosphere provides the perfect escape.

Whether strolling through vibrant markets or unwinding on the shores of Cherai Beach, every corner of Kochi and Ernakulam is a canvas of experiences waiting to be painted with memories that linger long after the journey ends.

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