The best things to do in Fort Kochi, Kerala

Ten years ago, we were walking on a bustling street in Fort Kochi, having hard times keeping our sight on one thing for more than a second. It was an overwhelming experience made of bright colors of spices, hundreds of faces, alluring aromas, and all sorts of sounds from sellers offering their products through rickshaw horns to music coming from everywhere. We were so absorbed in this atmosphere that we couldn’t even bring our memories in order. So during this visit to Kerala, we knew we had to do a proper tour and admire all the best things to do in Fort Kochi. And we were blessed with the best guide, fewer crowds, and much more time to enjoy this magical corner of the Earth.

Fort Kochi, Kerala, India

Things to do in Fort Kochi on a half-day tour

Here’s our itinerary in Fort Kochi, crafted and done by the best guide in Kerala – Satish. We spent about 4 hours enjoying Fort Kochi, including a must-do ginger lemonade break, of course.

On the way to Fort Kochi, we passed the world’s biggest living Christmas tree, dated 200 years old. It must look like a miracle when it’s decorated for Christmas. Our heritage walk took us to Mahatma Gandhi beach, and the Dutch cemetery, we saw colonial houses, St. Francis church, some pretty old avenue rain trees, spice trees, gorgeous bungalows, heritage hotels, boutique hotels, and colonial clubs. We walked by the parade ground, Fort Kochi square, the house of Vasco da Gama, the Dutch soldier hospital, and the fort. We stopped at the Chinese fishing nets dated 1350 and observed the ancient fishing method which is still done today.

We saw some honeycombs on trees, passed by the famous Koder House, and headed to Burgher street to quench our thirst with ginger-lime soda at the Kashi art cafe near Princess Street. The area is considered a ‘backpackers area’ and it features “you buy – we cook” restaurants.

Then we drove to an area where an orthodox Hindu religion community and Tamil brahmins are situated, we learned about Konkani brahmins, and Jain, and walked a local residential street. We visited a pappad-making area and a flour mill-crushing shop and got a taste (and aroma) of all Kerala spices and different grains. It was lovely to observe the mastery of papadum making, done by the mighty hands of smiling people. It was a quiet and authentic part of Fort Kochi we hadn’t known before.

We heard Asia’s biggest ringing bell in Thirumala Devaswom Temple. There was the oldest English medium school, vegetable, flower, and fruit market on Palace road. We continued our heritage walk to the Dutch palace from 1555, a Hindu temple, and the Jewish quarter, where there are currently only two Jewish people living. The area is also known for its antiquity shops and gorgeous views of the backwater and the manmade Wellington island. We had a chance to visit the world’s oldest synagogue which comes under British Commonwealth, from 1568. But there were more records to witness – the world’s longest canoe boat, the world’s largest cooking vessel varpu, the tallest incense stick. We smelled some traditional essential fragrance oils and saw incense sticks in the making. We ended our tour passing by the Jewish cemetery. 

You can also do a mini-tour to Fort Kochi once you’ve enjoyed the highlights. We came back for some quiet time and a ginger-lime soda at a cafe, to walk the streets and feel the aromas once more, to get more views from the ferry. Some people are back to do shopping, for events, or for the simple reason that the place attracts you like a magnet with its charms!

How to do the Fort Kochi tour

You can do the tour by yourself or with a professional guide. Or you can do a hybrid version where you rent some rickshaws with drivers who are also guides but also do your own sightseeing. We’ve done all three options and we highly recommend the guided option, especially for your first visit to Fort Kochi. Here’s how to get in touch with Satish, the best guide in Fort Kochi @sathishinkerala.

Where to stay in Kochi and Fort Kochi

For staying in Kochi, we can recommend the Abad Atrium hotel in Ernakulam. They have spacious rooms, a delicious restaurant, and of course – a gorgeous atrium for you to enjoy. If you want to absorb more of the Fort Kochi atmosphere, we suggest staying at one of the majestic bungalows – like Tea Bungalow.

After exploring Fort Kochi, we recommend continuing your trip around Kerala. Exploring Munnar with its beautiful landscapes and tea gardens is a great idea, as well as visiting Kumarakom and Kerala backwaters.

*This experience and our trip to Central Kerala were courtesy of Kerala Travel Mart and Kerala Tourism. As always, all opinions, thoughts, and views of the magical places and people we meet are our own!

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