Complete Travel Guide to Fort Kochi.

boat passing by fort kochi harbour lined with heritage buildings

Crafting a plan to travel to to Fort Kochi and curious about the adventures it offers? Believe me, we found ourselves in the same labyrinth of curiosity before our journey, and now we’re left pondering what took us so long to visit such a distinct and serene town in India’s God’s Own Country.

Our Fort Kochi Travel Guide helps you plan your trip better, wisely, with all practical information you need to know before you go.

Kathakali artist putting makeup in Fort Kochi
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Is Kochi Kerala worth visiting?

Absolutely. Kochi in Kerala’s rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty, gives a unique blend of ancient charm and modern allure. The word “modern” comes with a twist of tradition here.

Those clay tiled roof houses in Old Kochi belonged to some European officer is now a cafe that sells croissants and also crispy Kerala delicacy Pazhampori.

As you traverse one of the numerous bridges in Kochi to access different parts, you behold high-rise concrete structures against the backdrop of Chinese fishing nets that have been in use for centuries.

What makes Fort Kochi Travel Experience Unique?

The slender alleys, bustling market lanes, aromatic spice emporiums, the timeless drama of Kathakali dance, roadside gastronomic delights, and the sun’s gentle descent by the shore all intertwine seamlessly, much like the threads of Kasuvu in a Kerala saree.

The local folks have learned how to blend their tradition with both domestic and foreign tourists. Those shops selling Kasuvu sarees would also sell you skirts and dresses stitched in western style.

Travel to Fort Kochi for diversity

If I talk about who lives in Kochi, the list can become quite extensive. It is one of the most diverse places I have ever seen in India. Kochi is home to places of worship for all three Abrahamic religions. There is an active synagogue, dozens of mosques, and churches.

The multiculturalism doesn’t end here. There are several Hindu temples and even Jain temples!Just a kilometer away from the synagogue in Fort Kochi, one of the residential lanes houses a Gujarati college and temples for them in the land of Malayalis.

Is everything perfect in Fort Kochi?

Have you ever found a flaw-free place? Doubtful. Fort Kochi in August 2023 wasn’t exempt. Dust and poorly kept roads marred its charm, making walking a bit of a challenge. A kilometer’s stroll took over 10 minutes, with even the main streets, hosting the Kochi Biennale, resembling a pothole-ridden Swiss cheese.

Kochi’s beaches aren’t for sunbathing; they’re bustling with people and snack vendors. So, it’s not the ideal destination for a beach vacation.

Many tourists focus on charming doors and historic buildings for photos, but exploring Fort Kochi’s culture and history can enrich your perspective. It adds depth to voyages beyond the typical “Instagram-worthy” snapshots.

Is Kochi and Cochin same?

Yes, it’s the same city, but it underwent a stylish name makeover! Originally known as “Kochi,” it adopted “Cochin” during Portuguese and British rule. However, in 1996, it reverted to its faithful Malayalam name, “Kochi.”

Don’t be confused with Japan’s “Kochi.” India’s Kochi and Japan’s Kochi have no connection whatsoever.

Which is the best month to visit Kochi?

women wearing small umbrella over head in paddy field near fort KOchi

October to March is when Kochi adorns its finest holiday attire with cooler weather, making it the ideal time to visit and enjoy its charm. Summers, from March to June, can be quite hot.

I suggest experiencing Fort Kochi during the monsoon season from July to September. The landscape is lush, and you can witness stunning natural wonders near Kochi. Stay tuned for a surprise

A natural wonder near Kochi during monsoon!

Which month is wettest month in Kochi?

Travel outside Fort Kochi for nature retreats

Supposedly, the monsoon season from July to September, which used to require visitors like you and me to carry an umbrella.

Thanks to global warming and climate change – When we went to Kochi during the second week of August, there wasn’t even a drop of rain. It reminded me of what people used to talk about Austria – a place that never gets hot and was as hot as 35°C when I went there during August 2022.

How many days are enough for Kochi?

If you’re not planning day trips from Kochi to places like Kumarakom or Kuthampully, it’s best to spend at least two days exploring Kochi. Rushing a day trip might cause you to miss out on many cool experiences.

For a slower, more relaxed exploration, allocate about four days to Kochi. Some people even extend their stay to 10 days, enjoying leisurely activities like reading, yoga, or meditation classes.

How to reach Kochi?

Kochi is accessible by air, train, road, and even by sea. Personally, I recommend trains as my preferred mode of travel when journeying to Kochi from other cities within India.

By Air

Kochi is home to the Cochin International Airport (CIAL), located 45 km from Fort Kochi. This airport provides excellent connectivity to major Indian cities and international destinations in the Middle East, including the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Additionally, direct flights connect Kochi to Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

Check Flight connections to Kochi /Cochin here

Upon arrival at the airport, you can conveniently reach your destination in Kochi by hiring a taxi that awaits you in the taxi stand.

By Train

Kochi features two major railway stations: Ernakulam Junction (also known as Ernakulam South) and Ernakulam Town (Ernakulam North). These stations enjoy robust connections to significant cities all over India. Autorickshaws and local taxis are BFFs to get you to your desired location from railway station.

By Sea

Kochi has a significant seaport, and several cruise ships also berth at the city’s port. If you’re arriving by cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the waterfront and attractions of the city. Cruises to Lakshadweep commence from here, and there are even cruises originating from the Maldives to Kochi.

By Road:

Kochi is well-connected by road to various cities and towns in Kerala and neighboring states.

There are plenty of night buses to Kochi and ensure you choose sleeper coach with AC.

You can use national highways and state highways to reach Kochi by private vehicle. If you’re coming from nearby cities like Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, or Bengaluru, you can find regular bus services to Kochi. You can also consider using taxi services or driving your own vehicle if you prefer.

How is the road from Bangalore to Kochi?

We drove 550 km from Bengaluru to Kochi, enjoying day trips along the route. On the way there, we passed through Coimbatore, Palakkad, and Thrissur. Traffic got hectic in Angamaly and Aluva, known for notorious jams.

a tusker elephant by the road side at Madhumalai forest

On the return journey, we opted for the Nilambur-Mudumalai-Bandipur-Mysore road, and it was a fantastic choice. The routes were incredibly scenic throughout the journey, and we even had the chance to witness some wildlife along the way.

Therefore, if you’re traveling from Bangalore to Kochi, I recommend taking the Mysore-Mudumalai-Nilambur road for a more enjoyable drive.

How to travel in Kochi city?

screenshot of kochi map showing vypin island and fort kochi island connection

Fort Kochi is one among the many islands of Kochi city. Most of the tourist attractions are located on this island.

How is public transport in Kochi?

ferry carrying cars and humans on lake vembanad at fort kochi

Kochi’s public transport is impressive! It features India’s first water metro, connecting various islands. The “Junkars” or ferries transport both people and vehicles to nearby islands like Vypin to Kochi.

water metro station, fort kochi

Once you arrive on the island, auto-rickshaws and rental bicycles are the preferred transportation choices. The auto-rickshaw usually costing between 50 to 80 Rs depending on the distance.

Buses are also an option to connect different islands, although they tend to take longer compared to ferries or water metros.

Is there uber in Fort Kochi?

white building with louvered windows on the streets of fort kochi

Yes, Uber exists in Kochi. But I recommend taking local taxis with the help of your hosts. Or you can book certain specific day trips here.

Heads Up:Traveling 30 km in the outskirts of Kochi usually takes about 1 hour due to the captivating rural landscape and well-maintained but single-lane roads. However, covering the 53 km distance to Kumarakom in just 50 minutes isn’t realistic. Expect a journey lasting more than 1.5 hours.

Is it safe to travel to Kochi today?

Generally, the question of whether a place is safe for travellers to visit is commonly asked. However, due to the horrific floods that occurred in Kerala in 2018, the entire nation was left terrified. As a result, many people now check disaster forecasts before heading to any location in Kerala.

scary man mannequin in an ancient street of fort kochi

Fort Kochi, which endured significant challenges during the 2018 floods, is now considered safe for all travelers. Life has returned to normal.

Fort Kochi boasts a relatively high level of overall safety compared to many other Indian cities. However, it’s prudent to avoid poorly lit areas after dark, moderate alcohol consumption to maintain clear judgment, and strictly avoid any involvement with drugs while in Kochi.

Tourist traps in Fort Kochi

different spices kept in a gunny bag at fort Kochi

Being a port city, Kochi has unfortunately become a gateway for drug trafficking. While it charms both locals and international visitors with its culture, it has, regrettably, become a hotspot for drug-related issues in India. It’s crucial not to be drawn into that scene.

Rickshaw drivers in the area are notably courteous and typically don’t spring unexpected “extra charges” on passengers. Likewise, shop owners display a refreshing lack of pushiness. They are exceptionally polite and eager to introduce you to their shops, even if you opt not to make a purchase.

Is Kochi cheap or expensive?

kids on cycle at the doorway of fort kochi

It’s affordablity is a reason why many long term travellers travel and stay in Fort Kochi for weeks together.

It is a budget-friendly destination for tourists compared to many other places in India. Unless you’re indulging in high-end heritage hotels or dining at upscale cafes, you’ll discover that accommodation is pocket-friendly.

Fort Kochi offers plenty of hostels and homestays that won’t strain your budget. Street food is affordable, and entrance fees to monuments won’t make you cringe. Additionally, their metro, ferries, and rickshaw charges are all reasonably priced.

Cost of living for tourists in Kochi, Kerala.

wall graffiti in fort kochi showing women in saree playing skating

If you’re staying at a homestay about a kilometer from the bustling old town, dining out three times a day, attending a couple of cultural shows, and using rickshaws for transportation, you can expect to spend around 4,000 Rs a day for a party of two.

Regarding rickshaws, they typically charge a flat 50 Rs for a 2-km ride, although it’s technically meant to be 35 Rs. For a 3-km ride, they often quote around 80 Rs. Keep in mind that these prices can increase during the Christmas frenzy, Onam celebrations, and India’s long weekends.

Places to stay in Kochi.

Kochi is the kind of place where your accommodation itself turns into an attraction. This is because the city is dotted with stunning heritage hotels that once belonged to the Kochi kings, as well as the colonial powers like the British and Portuguese. The amazing thing about these heritage buildings is that they beautifully blend local traditions with Western influences.

You don’t need to splurge because many of these places also serve as hostels. However, it’s essential to choose the right neighborhood before deciding where to stay. Kochi isn’t just a compact tourist hotspot; it includes a business district near the port and serves as a starting point for various pilgrimage journeys. Each neighborhood caters to different types of visitors.

Best Neighbourhoods for tourists to stay in Kochi are

Fort Kochi is the epicenter of historical and cultural experiences in Kochi, making it an excellent choice for visitors to stay. However, if you have your eye on Jew Town, be prepared for higher prices.

For a more budget-friendly option, consider going about 3 km from Jew Town to Bishop Garden, where prices drop a bit, and you can stay in homestays alongside the locals.

Another neighborhood to consider is Willingdon Island, though it has fewer hotels than Fort Kochi, they tend to be pricier. Marine Drive in Ernakulam offers some more affordable heritage hotels. Just remember, if you choose a neighborhood other than Fort Kochi, you’ll be a bit farther from the historic heart of the city.

Accommodation recommendations in Kochi

fort kochi road with trees

Why trust our recommendations? Let’s put it this way: we’re both quite discerning when it comes to selecting our accommodations, and we invest the effort to thoroughly research and discover the ideal spots. Plus, we always consider the icing on the cake: ensuring there’s a private parking spot available.

Luxury heritage hotels options in Fort Kochi

Forte Kochi – Located on Princess Street, this 1860s Dutch-built spot houses charming shops and cafes. While we didn’t opt for fancy rooms, we had an incredible dinner at the Jetty restaurant. Trust me, their veggie food is amazing, and the ambiance exudes class.

Brunton Boatyard – CGH Earth: Situated on a boatyard and constructed in the 1890s, this is the go-to place for panoramic sea views from every room.

Ginger House Museum: This heritage gem offers ocean views from your balcony and budget-friendly dining options. Staying here feels like residing in an antique-filled royal mansion.

The Postcard Mandalay Hall: Nestled on Synagogue Lane, this beautiful hotel, once a Jewish house, boasts an upscale café and a small pool surrounded by street art-covered walls.

Affordable Homestay options in Fort Kochi are

homestay with green creeper on wall beside a clay tile roofed old building in fort kochi
Local houses at The Bishop Garden Neighbourhood

Mother’s Inn Homestay: We stayed here at 3000 Rs/night for 2 adults. Cozy, heritage property with modern touches, friendly hosts, lovely garden with parking, and a fireplace. This place is in Bishop Garden, about 3 km away from the main attractions of Fort Kochi. To reach the homestay, you’ll wind through narrow lanes flanked by the residences of the locals in Fort Kochi.

Niyati – Boutique Stay on Quiros Street offers tranquility and charm, ideal for extended stays in Fort Kochi.

Vasco Home stay – A 500-year-old house rumored to be Vasco Da Gama’s home until the 1520s, but parking is a hassle.

Super economical hostels options in Fort Kochi

What are the best things to do in Kochi?

From checking out a synagogue to meandering through Fort Kochi’s heritage streets, exploring its residential alleys, and savoring meals beyond the Fort’s limits, I’ve compiled a massive list of incredible experiences that you absolutely should include in your Fort Kochi travel plans.

a couple sitting on the boat at Malarikkal lake full of pink water lillies

We’ve embarked on numerous day trips, some of which were absolutely the best, while there were others that didn’t quite live up to the buzz. So dive into our post titled “Awesome Things to Do in Kochi” for an in-depth look at how breathtaking this place truly is, as well as some spots you might want to give a miss.

Found our Fort Kochi Travel Guide useful? Let us know in the comment section below.

Chinese fishing nets in Fort Kochi
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Published by Sahana Kulur

Traveller | Blogger | Architecture and history

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