Kochi, or Cochin as you probably know it, is one of the most beautiful coastal cities of India; a city that will steal your heart away with its breathtaking landscapes. Set along the Arabian Sea shoreline, this port city is a collection of tiny islands and peninsulas. Kochi is a city that takes you through a journey into colonial India through its culture that still has traces of the Dutch, Portuguese and British. The city is a perfectly harmonious confluence of many cultures and it is well reflected in its tourist attractions. But, apart from sightseeing, there are loads of other things to do in Kochi that ensure you don’t get bored even for a millisecond. Here these are: 

Popular Things to Do in Kochi

Popular things to in Kochi

1. Seeing the Architecture of Mattancherry Palace

Built-in 1555 by the Portuguese and gifted to the then Raja of Kochi, Veera Kerala Varma, this double-storey fort is an amalgamation of the Portuguese and Kerala temple architectures. Round-headed windows and masonry walls correspond to the former, whereas wooden balconies and sloping roofs are distinct features of the latter style. Several additions were made to this palace in 1663 by the Dutch that gave the palace its other name, Dutch palace. As of today, the palace has been transformed into an art gallery, which is home to some amazing murals and paintings, showcasing scenes from Ramayana and other Hindu religious texts. There is also a temple inside the palace which is equally splendid.

Entry Fees: ₹ 2 per person; free entry for kids under 15 years

Timings: 10 AM to 5 PM; closed on Fridays

2. Learning about Judaism at Paradesi Synagogue

Paradesi Synagogue or Jewish synagogue is one of the oldest and most famous tourist places in Kochi. The place got its name ‘Pardesi’ meaning foreigner in Hindi after the exiled Jews from Europe and the Middle East. This synagogue still holds services that are open to one and all just like way back in 1568, when it was built. Though photography is prohibited inside the synagogue, you don’t mind the restriction, as you tend to soak in the beauty of the place with your eyes. The elegant interiors are enhanced by antiques like chandeliers made with Belgian glass, magnificent arks carved out of teak, a pulpit, gold crowns and a majestic clock tower.

Entry Fees: Free

Timings: 10 AM to 12 Noon and 3 PM to 5 PM 

3. Finding Peace at St. Francis Church

With the city’s culture having its roots deep in Portuguese times, Kochi has a number of churches that are flocked by people not only for religious reasons, but also to admire their architectural elegance and finesse. St. Francis Church is one landmark in the city that is the oldest European-style church in India. Visiting this church is one of the key things to do in Fort Kochi area, which itself has quite a number of tourist attractions. From when it was built in 1516 by the Portuguese, the church has been subject to several additions and modifications and changes in religious allegiance. It was a Roman Catholic Church at its inception, becoming a Dutch Reformed Church in 1664, and eventually aligning with the Anglican Church in 1804. The church is also associated with Vasco de Gama, the famous explorer whose remains were buried here before being moved to Lisbon.

Entry Fees: Free

Timings: 

7 Am to 6.30 PM (Monday to Saturday)

8.30 PM to 6.30 PM (Sunday) 

4. Exploring Santa Cruz Basilica

If you wish to see one of the finest cathedrals in India, then Santa Cruz Basilica is where your quest will end. Apart from an active church, it is also a famous tourist attraction known for its architectural magnificence. Built by the Portuguese, it was bestowed the status of a cathedral in 1558 by Pope Paul IV. It was only much later in 1984 when Santa Cruz was proclaimed a Basilica by Pope John Paul II. The Gothic architectural finesse of this church, with the fascinating paintings that adorn its walls, is worth seeing. Also remember to pay attention to the incredibly carved carvings and stained glass windows. You can even attend a mass prayer service at the church if you are seeking some serenity.

Entry Fees: Free

Timings:  9 AM to 1 PM and 3 PM to 5 PM 

5. Attending a Kathakali Performance

If you want to understand and feel the cultural vibe of a city, the best way to do that is through its food and music. Nothing reflects the culture of Kochi or rather Kerala better than a Kathakali performance. Dancers adorned with vibrant and colorful costumes, complete with makeup and headgear, depict scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and other Hindu epics. If you have time, you can even go backstage and witness the hard work put in by the dancers in getting ready for their performances (with prior permission, of course). One of the best places to see a Kathakali performance is at the Kerala Kathakali Centre.

Entry Fees: ₹ 350

Timings: 6 PM to 7.30 PM 

6. Having a Good Time at the Chinese Fishing Nets

One of the best things to do in Kochi is visiting these unique and spectacular Chinese fishing. Legend has it that these nets were brought to Kochi from the court of the famous Mongol emperor, Kublai Khan or renowned Chinese explorer, Zheng He. The entire experience of visiting these nets becomes more enriching when you learn the unique fishing method used by the local fishermen. You can buy the morning catch of from the fishmongers if you wish to do some cooking yourself. And that is not all, for you can get your bounty cooked in the shacks in the area. So, you can catch your fish and eat it too!

Entry Fees: Free

Timings: Dawn to Dusk

7. Having Sea Fun at Kochi Fort Beach

Beaches offer you the much-need break from a hectic sightseeing schedule. And, you can visit one without much planning too when you are looking for things to do in Kochi today. Soaking your toes in the water, enjoying the pleasant air rife with the scent of the sea, building sand castles and admiring the breathtaking surroundings are just some of the things you can do at Kochi Fort Beach. It is the perfect place to unwind and sample some authentic seafood at local shacks.

Entry Fees: Free

Timings: Always open 

Offbeat Things to Do in Kochi

Offbeat Things to Do in Kochi

8. Taking History Lessons at Kerala Folklore Museum

You cannot but feel impressed at the first look of this museum itself. The architecture of the museum is a brilliant mélange of three different styles. The museum has three floors, with each sporting a different architectural style; Malabar style is reflected in the ground floor, Kochi style in the first floor and Travancore style is showcased on the second floor. There are almost four thousand artifacts here, which were once part of temples or houses in South India. Traditional musical instruments, utensils, ornaments, and Kathakali masks are a visual delight to visitors. One of the highlights of this museum is the traditional door lock Manichitratazhu. The museum is a haven for history lovers and those wishing to gain some insights into Jewish culture, which was once very much a part of Kochi. For theatre aficionados, the museum also hosts plays that you can attend for a deeper understanding of Kerala’s traditions.

Entry Fees: ₹ 50 (students); ₹ 100 (adults)

Timings: 9.30 AM to 7 PM 

9. Spending Time at Abhayaranyam

If you are an animal lover, then this place needs to be added to your travel list pronto, for it offers you a chance to be in the wild and see it being tamed. We are talking about Abhayaranyam, a zoo-cum-elephant training center in Kodanad, which is a small riverside village in the Ernakulam district of Kerala. Stranded and baby elephants are trained in this village, which is still untainted by urbanization. Savor the rustic surroundings and get yourself wet when you help the trainers bathe the baby elephants, who are sure to splash in as much water as they can. This sanctuary offers you the chance to experience one of those rare calm moments where you can just smile continuously.

Entry Fees: Free

Timings:  8 AM to 5 PM

Elephant Bathing Time: 8 AM to 9.30 AM 

10. Watching Dolphins at Cherai Beach

Cherai beach is one of the most popular beaches near Kochi, and for good reason. Low tides, gentle waves, and dolphin sightings attract tourists to this beach. This picturesque beach, also known as Princess of the Arabian Sea, has the sea on one side and backwaters on the other. Apart from dolphin lovers, it is the perfect spot for those wanting to take a swim or sunbathe on a sandy beach.

Entry Fees: Free

Timings: Always open 

11. Strolling on Princess Street

There is one lane or one street in each city that warrants a leisurely stroll. Not only does it give you a chance to know about the culture of the city, but it also to indulge in a little souvenir shopping. Princess Road or Loafer’s Corner in Kochi is just that place which reflects both its traditional as well as the modern facet. The street is lined on both sides with colonial style houses with European, British, Portuguese and Dutch being the dominating styles, reminiscent of the colonial era in Kochi. While exploring the street, you can shop or books, artifacts, handicrafts and souvenirs from the roadside stores.

Entry Fees: Free

Timings: Always open 

Things to Do in Kochi at Night

Kochi is not one of those cities, where fun can be had only during the day. If you are a night owl, then there are loads of stuff you can engage in after sundown. Here are the best things to do at night in Kochi. 

12. Late-night Binging

Savoring local food and food at the top restaurants in the city are part of the travel experience. Dal Roti in Kochi offers some lip-smacking north Indian delicacies. Diners are greeted with a simple and laid-back ambiance, which is endearing in a way, when you enjoy the homely food here. Regulars to this place swear by their Kathi rolls and paranthas. 

If you are not one of those to shy away from eating delicious food even when not served in a swanky and upscale setting, then Thattukadas are your friend. Someone, who does not sample the food doled out by these street-side food stalls in Kochi, hasn’t seen the real city at all.  Yummy snacks that don’t burn a hole in your pocket are the specialties of Thattukadas.  From Kappa Biryani and Chicken Fry to Parotta and beef, there is something to suit every kind of palate. Most parking areas in the city transform magically into Thattukadas once night falls. Some Thattukadas take the street food dining experience a few notches higher by offering seating and lively music; some even have live screening of sports matches. You will find them all around the city in the evening. Adipoli Thattukada near Medical Trust Hospital is one of the famous Thattukadas of Kochi. A meal for two costs around ₹ 150, which makes it one of the best budget eats in the city. Most of these stalls open at 5 PM and close after 10 PM. 

13. Partying Non-stop at Pubs

Pubbing is arguably the best thing to do in Kochi at night. Be it watching late night soccer matches or playing Jenga or scrabble with your partners in crime, the pubs keep the spirit of nightlife alive in Kochi. However, if you are looking for a more full-blown party, Glow Discotheque is where you must go. It is one of the few places in Kochi to visit at night that are open beyond 10 PM. A wide choice of liquors, lip-smacking food from the coast and other parts of India and the world, electrifying tunes and multi-colored lights give revelers a wonderful time. 

14. Walk on Marine Drive                         

Unlike its counterpart of the same name in Mumbai, this one dons a sleepy look when night falls. The blinking and flickering lights of the vessels in water will keep you company while you admire the night sky and breathe the fresh air that flows over the Kochi backwaters. The 140 m walkway stretching from Jankar Jetty to Ernakulam Boat Jetty is lined with many wooden benches where you can sit and relax. There are two bridges on the walkway from where you can admire the tranquil waters. Marine Drive also has boat services to tourist spots like Vallarpadam Terminal, Bolgatty Palace and Jewish Synagogue.

Entry Fees: Free

Timings: Always open

The city might be small but the list of things to do in Kochi in a day or at night is endless. So, even if you are on a business trip, which, you think, will only involving shunting between your office and hotel in Kochi, you are sure to have unlimited fun if you step out.