Kochi (or Cochin), the Queen of the Arabian Sea, became the favourite destination for exploration among the Medieval Era explorers and traders. Fast forward some 600 years, and the city continues to cast the spell, now on the avid travellers and tourists. Natural harbours, scenic riverbanks and beaches and serene backwaters craft the incredible backdrop for Kerala’s busy commercial hub. Colonial heritage, cultural and eco-tourism establishments and the never-ending festive mood brew the intriguing cocktail of fun things to do in Kochi with pleasure.
The Best Things to Do in Kochi
Together, the natural and manmade wonders initiate some great things to do in Kochi. Here we compile a reference guide of the best activities to make your Kochi trip absolutely fascinating.
Watching the sun eloping into the waters of the Arabian Sea is truly hypnotic. Join sunset cruise in Kochi and you are in for a dramatic evening unfolding in front of your eyes. The iconic Chinese Fishing Nets and the charming Bolgatty Palace greet the cruisers on the way. Ultimately, the sun sets down, creating rainbows of multiple hues as the enticing visual treats for the spectators.
Details: Go for a 2-hour cruise that begins at Marine Drive (usually around 05:00 p.m.) and costs INR 200-300 per head. The trip also includes tea and snacks, along with dance and music performances by professional groups.
Fort Kochi Walking Tour
The colonial and trade expeditions of the English, Dutch and the Portuguese blessed Fort Kochi with the glorious heritage wealth. Go for a fort Kochi walking tour to discover the likes of St. Francis Church, Fort Immanuel, Santa Cruz Basilica and Dutch Cemetery among many other attractions. The tour is one of the top things to do in Kochi to explore the fishing villages, lush paddy fields, and entertaining local life.
Details: The 3-hour tour may cost INR 2,000-2,500 for solo traveller and around INR 750 per person in a group of 5-10. Be careful in choosing a guide proficient in speaking your language.
Muziris Spice Tour
St. Thomas the Apostle brought Christianity to India way back in 52 AD when he landed at Muziris. The place later became a globally recognized port to export spices, silk, diamonds, ivory and more. A trip through the historic port introduces one to the very first churches, like Kottakavu Church, established in India. It is also home to the first mosque in India, Cheraman Juma Masjid, and other attractions like colourful markets, palaces, museums and more.
Details: The tour begins at Kodungallur (about 30 km. from Kochi) and takes a half day. The costs usually start from INR 2,500 per person but may vary according to the group size. Tourists may have to pay additionally to access different monuments.
Fun with Elephants
Nestled amidst the densely forested hills of the Western Ghats, the picturesque elephant training spot on the banks of River Periyar is a must-visit destination. The visitors indulge in the activities like elephant bathing and playing football with the tuskers. Elephant rides and jungle safaris are extremely thrilling and among the most popular things to do in Kochi. You can also enjoy the opportunities to explore deer, butterflies and other forms of life.
Details: Kodanad Elephant Training College located around 45 km. from Kochi. Please note that it has been recently shifted to a new location at Kaprikkad, around 3 km. away. The entry fee is INR 20/100 per head for Indians/foreigners. Elephant ride costs additionally.
Freshwater snorkeling and scuba diving at Thiruvankulam are meant for even the first time adventurers. Get mesmerized by the magical world of colourful corals, sea urchins and a variety of fishes as you dive into the adrenaline-spiking quarries of the region. Make it a cherished memory for the life with underwater photos and videos as well as the certificates of participation. The best part is that you don’t need to be a swimmer to enjoy the activities.
Details: Thiruvankulam is about 17 km. from Kochi. The 45 min. Adventure trips are available between 09:00 a.m. and 04:30 p.m. The costs start from INR 1,300.
Visiting Kerala Kathakali Centre is one of the most memorable things to do in Kochi. The center hosts multiple shows and performances in the categories like Indian classical music and dance and yoga and meditation. The most outstanding one indeed is Kathakali, the story-telling dance form featuring artists with elaborate costumes and face masks and stupendous facial expressions. Apart from watching the dance, you may also witness the makeup sessions, which is absolutely intriguing.
Details: The show is hosted between 06:00-07:30 p.m. and the ticket costs INR 350 per head. Sunday to Friday host other forms of classical dances like Bharatnatyam and Kuchipudi.
Kerala is the celebrated host of Ayurveda and Kochi testifies the fact well. There are many reputed Ayurveda spas and wellness centers where expert therapists offer preventive and curative treatments for the entire body. Rejuvenation Ayurveda is excellent in stress-busting and can be the best bet to return home with the new mind, body, and soul. Skin restoration and achievement of wellness for head, shoulders, foot, and joints are the miraculous advantages of this traditional science.
Details: Cochin Ayurveda Centre is among the most famous venues you can choose from. Full body massage therapy may cost up to INR 1,500. Other popular spas include Ayurville, Cherai Ayurvedic Palace, and Agastya Ayurvedic Massage Centre.
Learn South Indian Culinary
South India is the land of aromatic spices. Do not enjoy the rich platters, but learn to cook the regional cuisines with one of the top cooking classes in the city. Start with the special masala tea and advance to the delicacies like karimeen pollichathu, appam, chattipathiri, Kerala style chicken and fish stews and more. The exciting part of picking up the fresh vegetable produce and spices directly from the gardens or from the market makes it one of the must-experience things to do in Kochi.
Details: Neema’s Kitchen, Leelu’s Homestay Cooking Classes, and Freeda Cooking Classes are some of the best ones. The fee starts from INR 4,000.
If you never rode a go-kart, Kochi offers some of the best go-karting tracks for even the first-timers. You would be thrilled to have the car racing-like experience with this fun-filled activity. For having a moderate difficulty level, the 6-laps and 8-laps go-kart adventures in the city are apt for all age groups. Infopark Highway in Kakkanad and the Cochin International Airport promises the best experiences with safe tracks and safety equipment.
Details: The general cost for go-karting in Kochi is INR 300. You can enjoy the adventure for up to 1 hour.
Village Backwater Tour
Backwater cruising is among those things to do in Kochi that you won’t ever forget. Apart from savouring the pictorial beauty of verdant paddy fields, swaying coconut trees and calm waters, peep into the invigorating village life. Enjoy the hospitality of a rural family as they prepare delicious tea and snacks. Watch them indulged in handcrafting beautiful items with coir and other materials. Admire the traditional architecture of the decades-old Kerala houses and roam through the spice plantations.
Details: The tour may cost around INR 2,000 per person for a group. For a private tour, you may have to shell out INR 5,000 or above. Make sure you carry mosquito protection.
Buy Spices and More
Kochi does not disappoint at all when it comes to shopping. From the aromatic spices (carefully vacuum packed) and antiques and artifacts to Kathakali masks and lovely traditional clothes, the city markets are abuzz with some interesting stuff you would love to take back as souvenirs. Visit Kairali Government Emporium on MG Road for clothes and crafts, Broadway and Bazaar Road for fresh spices and Jewel Junction for huge varieties of jewellery items.
Details: Be smart and strong while bargaining and you would be surprised to see how they lower the prices. For example, the small packets of spices like cinnamon and nutmeg may cost you around 150. Enquire about the prices from the friendly local residents.
Watch or Learn Kalaripayattu
Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art, dates back to the 3rd century BC. One of the most recommended things to do in Kochi is to watch a Kalaripayattu performance that would leave you amazed. If you plan an extended stay in the city, you can actually learn some steps and postures of the art by joining a short course. Kerala Kathakali Centre hosts a daily show at 04:00 p.m. The center, as well as the reputed establishments like ENS Kalari, offer training classes to learn the art form.
Details: You can watch Kalaripayattu show by paying INR 300 per person. The training courses are of durations as short as one week and as long as one year.
Imagine gliding over the tranquil backwaters with nature at its glorious best on both the sides. Backwater kayaking in Kochi mixes adventure with sightseeing and throws a bit of countryside exploration in the mix. Watch local people ferrying in small boats or angling in the deep waters. Don’t miss the opportunity to watch herons, darters, kingfishers, and scores of other birds offering company to the kayakers. The companies offering the adventure allow capturing some great photos and videos.
Details: Make sure to follow the safety instructions fully. The cost for backwater kayaking starts from INR 1,100.
Visit Kumbalangi Integrated Tourism Village
India’s very first eco-tourism village, Kumbalangi hosts some of the most stimulating things to do in Kochi. From demos on coconut harvesting, basket making and coir rope making to fishing and crab farming, there are many entertaining activities you can take part in. You would stay near the backwaters and Chinese Fishing Nets and watch birds like ibis and storks. Other popular activities include cycling and backwater boating. You would love to watch the simple yet inspiring lives of the villagers while breathing in clean air.
Details: The families in the villages run homestays where you can stay and interact with the local people. The highlight is the mouth-watering food they cook for their guests. The package may cost around INR 2,500 per person.
Eat Like a King at a Thattukada
Their extensive presence across Kerala encouraged the Oxford Dictionary to list the word ‘Thattukada’ that means ‘roadside eatery’. When it comes to the menu, these street food points can give tough competition to the 5-star restaurants in Kochi. From idli, dosa, and appam to tapioca, porotta and even beef and fish curries, these serve authentic South India flavours. No wonder they have become an inseparable part of the city’s nightlife. The best part is that you can enjoy a plate full of a meal at an unbelievable price.
Details: You can locate them in all parts of the city. Be careful in choosing a hygienic eatery. The cost can be as low as INR 50 per person.
Go Birding at Kumarakom
Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary attracts migratory birds from places as far as Siberia. Some of the popular attractions of the sanctuary include storks, kingfishers, Siberian cranes, teaks, wood beetles, cormorants, darters, herons and many more. It also enjoys the reputation of being Kerala’s largest waterbird breeding area. The beautiful Vembanad Lake lends unique beauty to this bird paradise. Motorboats, as well as houseboats, are available for rent to explore the sanctuary, making it one of the exclusive things to do in Kochi.
Details: The sanctuary located about 50 km. from Kochi. Visitor timings are 06:30 a.m. to 05:00 p.m. Entry fee is INR 50/100 for Indians/foreigners.
Visit Paniyeli Poru
River Periyar forms multiple cascades due to rock formations at Paniyeli Poru, an upcoming tourist destination near Kochi. Surrounded by dense green forests, the place is still a hidden gem and this works in favour of those looking for solace. During summers, it is possible to cross the river up to a large extent, which indeed is a thrilling experience. However, it is better to enjoy the place’s beauty from the riverbank during monsoons. Some fascinating forest trekking routes also begin here.
Details: The entry fee is INR 10. Additional fees include INR 100 for a video camera and INR 5/10/20 as parking fee for two-wheelers/cars/buses.
Stay Near or On Ashtamudi Lake
Popularly known as ‘the gateway to the Kerala Backwaters’, Ashtamudi Lake gets its name from its ashta (eight) channels. Palms, coconuts, and mangroves bless its bank with enchanting greenery, while the presence of scores of birds and butterflies add bliss to its beauty. One of the best things to do in Kochi is to stay in a houseboat on the lake. Tourists also like to stay in the luxury resorts resting on the banks of this pretty lake.
Details: The Lake located about 130 km. from Kochi and the convenient way to reach it is by road. There are plenty of attractions like lighthouses, beaches, forts and temples near the lake.
Be a Part of a Festive Celebration
Kochi is famous for the year-round celebrations, the two popular ones being the Cochin Carnival and Fireworks Festival. Cochin Carnival keeps the city alive with events like rallies and parades, night beach parties, races and competitions and a variety of sports. The Fireworks Festival boasts of one of the longest fireworks across the world, lasting up to one and a half hour. People from all parts of the world come flocking to the city to attend these exclusive galas.
Details: Cochin Carnival is organized from December 20 to January 02, coinciding with the New Year celebrations. Fireworks Festival held during March-April.
Explore the Museums
The list of the popular things to do in Kochi is definitely incomplete without including visits to the interesting museums of the city. The Museum of Kerala History is at the top of the list as it exhibits mind-blowing collections of paintings and sculptures as well as dolls. Do not miss the Light and Sound Show about the alluring history of the state.
Another popular place is Pareekshith Thampuran Durbar Hall Art Gallery. It is famous for the rich exhibits in the categories like temple models, royal coins, oil paintings and more. You may also like to visit other museums like Indian Naval Maritime Museum and Indian Folklore Museum.
A different kind of experience is possible with a visit to the Hill Palace Museum, which houses the extremely charming Cochin Royal Crown embellished with jewels worth million dollars. The then ruler of the city received it as a gift from the Portuguese.
Details: The entry fee to the famous museums include INR 20/100 (Indians/foreigners) for Hill Palace Museum, INR 100 for Museum of Kerala History and INR 200 for Kerala Folklore Museum.
No wonder Kochi has always been on the top of the charts among the most visited tourist destinations in India. The city caters to all holiday moods and leaves its visitors fully entertained as equal to the experiences in wayanad. Be sure to enjoy most of these things to do in Kochi and count it among the best experiences of your travel life.