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Fort Kochi is a small but picturesque area in the city of Kochi, Kerala. This small region is surrounded by water, making it a favourable tourist spot. Moreover, the rich culture and history found here along with the many places to visit in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry make this a famous place among all the places to visit in Kerala.
Kochi or Cochin will most likely be the first place you start your trip to Kerala and most likely the place where you end your trip as well (thanks to the many cheap flights to and from the Kochi airport). Thus you can spare at least 1 or 2 days to explore this region. You can easily find lots of things to do in Fort Kochi in 2 days or even 1 day, in case you have time constraints.
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Places to Visit in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry
When you think of a relaxing vacation in India, what place comes to your mind? Goa? Manali? Pondicherry? Fort Kochi is an alternative that is just as appealing but with a lesser crowd and tons of places to visit within the city. Why, you ask? Observing lungi-clad fishermen get to work at the break of dawn, wandering around the Jewish synagogue window shopping for antiquities, having a hearty meal at one of the many art cafes and finally watching the sun go down from the Fort Kochi beach is nothing short of mesmerising. This blog post is a list of all the places to visit in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry that will convince you to pack your bags for a trip to Fort Kochi. Also included is this ultimate Kerala travel guide.
How to Reach Fort Kochi
Whether it's flights, trains, buses or cabs, there are ample ways to reach Fort Kochi. Take a look at some of them below:
Kochi or Cochin Airport is located 37 km from Fort Kochi. There's an AC direct bus that runs between Fort Kochi and the airport. This is the cheapest and best way to go to or come from the Kochi airport. Enquire at the airport help center to find out the timings of this bus. Another option is to take a pre-paid cab from the airport. The trip will cost roughly INR 1000. Keep in mind to never use Uber in Kochi. The drivers are flaky and will try to rip you off.
There are lots of trains that ply to Kochi. Ernakulam Junction train station is the main railway station here. It's located bang in the middle of Kochi city. Fort Kochi is a mere 10 km from the train station. You can take a local bus from the bus stand located close to the station or a tuk tuk to get there.
Best Time to Visit Fort Kochi
Fort Kochi is an all-year-round tourist destination, except for the monsoon months. Kochi experiences monsoon from June to September, which is when you should avoid visiting Kochi. On the other hand, May-June are the summer months in Kochi. This is when the weather gets really hot and humid. That being said, Kochi, being a coastal city, is humid throughout the year. The winter months from November to February bring a relief to the heat with pleasant temperatures. This is the best time of the year to visit Fort Kochi.
Where to Stay in Fort Kochi
One of the best parts of enjoying the Fort Kochi tourist places is the ability to get back to a nice hotel, grab a fresh coconut drink and just relax. Fortunately, Fort Kochi has some great budget as well as luxury hotels.
Zostel Fort Kochi
I've heard rave reviews about the backpacker hostel Zostel Fort Kochi. Zostel is India's largest chain of hostels and I couldn't recommend them enough! Zostel Fort Kochi is located right in the heart of Fort Kochi, located close to the Fort Kochi beach and the Chinese fishing nets. Moreover, they have both male and female dorms as well as private rooms, common area and a cafe. The place is full of travellers who are eager to talk and get to know each other so you'll always find company, even if you're travelling to Kochi alone.
Neemrana's The Tower House Kochi
I’m a sucker for boutique hotels. Although I’m an advocate of staying at hostels, once in a while, I don’t shy away from spoiling myself a little bit. In Fort Kochi, I stayed at Neemrama’s The Tower House. The hotel had a sparkling pool, a library, wood paneled floors, a colonial vibe and spacious, cozy rooms. What was even better was the widespread breakfast buffet serving items ranging from South Indian delicacies, eggs, toast, bounty of jams, fruits and drinks. Another plus point of staying at this hotel was that it was situated right near the Chinese fishing nets. The price for this hotel is mid-range which makes it even more appealing.
Le Meridien Kochi
If you want to spluge and enjoy a more luxurious hotel in Kochi then go for Le Meridien by Marriot. The hotel faces the backwaters of Kerala, has top-notch rooms complete with bath tubs in the washrooms. What's more fascinating is the lavish lobby complete with exquisite artwork and an inviting bar. As much as I can praise this hotel, there's nothing that can describe the feeling of watching a sunset in the jacuzzi while sipping a drink from their pool bar.
Other Hotels and Hostels in Fort Kochi
While there are many boutique hotels and resorts in Fort Kochi, the Old Harbour Hotel is one of the most popular hotels in Fort Kochi. The exterior is quite charming and I've heard great reviews of this place. What's more, the hotel is located right near the Fort Kochi beach and the Chinese fishing nets, making it a priceless accommodation in Fort Kochi.
Places to Visit in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry
Whether its Chinese fishing nets, churches, a cemetery, the beach, a palace or Jewish Synagogue, there are plenty of places to visit in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. If you stay close to the fishing nets you can catch fishermen at work early in the morning. Then, grab a hearty breakfast at any nearby art café (there’s a plethora of those and I have an article on the topic). Next, head to Mattancherry which is a 5 min tuk-tuk ride or 20 min walk away. There you can explore Mattancherry palace and finally walk around the Jewish Synagogue area.
1. Chinese Fishing Nets
The Chinese fishing nets are the defining landmarks of Fort Kochi. The entire Fort Kochi beach area comes alive in the evenings. Lots of street food stalls are set-up in the vicinity. Moreover, locals, as well as tourists, come here to enjoy the breeze. Any visit to Kochi would be incomplete without seeing one of the most popular places to see in Fort Kochi. However, it is pertinent that I warn you not to listen to the fishermen when they call you onto the nets. First, they'll show you how they work then they'll ask you for "donations" and mind you, they can be very aggressive.
2. Dutch Cemetery
Fort Kochi was one of the first places in India to come under European colonization. While the Portuguese ruled here first, the Dutch came in a few years later. 1724, the year of the consecration of the cemetery is marked on the gate of this cemetery. The Dutch cemetery lies on the road parallel to the Fort Kochi beach. Even though the official timings to visit this place are from 7.30 am onwards, the cemetery remains closed indefinitely. You can only view this place from the outside.
3. St Francis Church
St Francis Church, that was built in 1503 is historically significant as the oldest European church built in India. The church is located on a quaint street, close to both - the Dutch cemetery as well as the Bishop's palace. While the official timings of St Franci church are from 10 am to 5 pm, I noticed that the gates of the church were open prior to that.
4. Fort Kochi Beach
One cannot talk about the best places to visit in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry and skip Fort Kochi beach. While the Fort Kochi beach isn't one of the most impressive beaches you'll see, it is extremely popular among the locals. Here you'll see locals gathered with their friends or family during sunset, eating snacks bought from the local vendors along the pathway. The sunset from the Fort Kochi beach is truly impressive and it makes sense why this is one of the most popular places to visit in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry.
5. Jewish Synagogue
The Jewish or Paradesi Synagogue is a Jewish house of worship that is located in the Jew Town area of Fort Kochi. This Jew Town area is one of the top places to visit in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry simply because of the nice shops, cafes, and the synagogue. The synagogue has several ancient relics stored inside. What's interesting to note is that men and women have separate areas for worshipping here.
6. Jew Town Kochi
Jew Town has named because of a former thriving Jewish community that was based here. Now, this area is home to shops selling antiquities and other boutique stores. Beware of the haggling that goes on in this area though. It can get quite persistent and annoying. There's a great cafe called Mocha Art Cafe, located in this area. Apart from that, even the Jewish Synagogue is located here.
7. Dutch Palace or Mattancherry Palace
While the Dutch Palace or the Mattancherry Palace isn't all that impress in terms of architecture, it's a must-visit spot among the places to visit in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. This is due to the reason that this palace museum contains a history of Kochi - how it was ruled by various Kings, how the Portuguese came here with the guide of protecting the kingdom and how they ended up colonizing Fort Kochi. It's very interesting to learn about the history of how Fort Kochi came to be under colonization, at the museum.
8. Street Art of Fort Kochi
Once every 2 years, the Kochi-Muziris Biennale is held in Fort Kochi that encourages and showcases a wide range of art and art forms. Thus you'll see tons of beautiful street art in Fort Kochi. These funky walls are great photogenic places in Fort Kochi and they're even great instagrammable places in Fort Kochi, for the iger in you. These photo-worthy places in Kochi can be found all across Fort Kochi and Mattancherry.
9. Kochi Backwaters
While of course, the Alleppey backwaters are the most famous place in Kerala to experience the backwaters, you'll find a little bit of the backwaters in Kochi too. However, it is nothing compared to the beauty of Alleppey and I highly recommend taking a day trip to Alleppey from Kochi or at least spending a day or two there. If you need more convincing, take a look at my travel guide to exploring the Alleppey backwaters on a budget.
10. Ernakulam to Fort Kochi Ferry
Ernakulam is the main area in Kochi that has the railway stations, bus depots, and markets. While the bus from Ernakulam to Fort Kochi and vice-versa takes about 40 minutes, the Ernakulam-Fort Kochi ferry is a faster, cheaper and more fun way to get around. Just head over to the ferry terminal, buy a ticket and hop on to the next ferry between Ernakulam and Fort Kochi.
Places to Eat in Fort Kochi - Art Cafes in Fort Kochi
Having brunch while looking at some fabulous art displays? Count me in! it’s mind-boggling how many cafes in Fort Kochi double up as art galleries. The amount of culture present in that tiny region had me stunned. Whether it was the ambiance of these cafes or the delectable food, I couldn’t help myself from wanting to spend all my days just sitting at one of the other cafes. Some popular cafes in Fort Kochi are Mocha Art Cafe, Kashi Art Cafe, Teapot Cafe, and Loafer's Corner. Take a look at my list of the best cafes in Fort Kochi to know where to have the perfect meal during your Kochi trip.
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