With three days in Kochi, you'll have plenty of time to visit colonial Fort Cochin, take a houseboat trip through Kerala's picturesque backwaters, and still have time left over to either explore the tea plantations of Munnar or the archaeological ruins of Pattanam. Here's how to make the most of your time.
Day 1: Historic Fort Cochin
Spend your first day in Kochi exploring the adjacent historic areas of Fort Cochin and Mattancherry. Mattancherry is best-known for 16th-century Mattancherry Palace, aka the Dutch Palace, which houses frescoes and regal art and artifacts. From here it’s a short walk to the Paradesi Synagogue, also dating to the 16th century and the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth. Next, head to Fort Cochin to visit the oldest church in India, St. Francis Church, and the nearby Dutch Cemetery, believed to be the oldest graveyard in the country. Make a stop at the beautiful Santa Cruz Basilica before making your way over to the shore for a photo op with the city’s famous Chinese fishing nets as the sun sets into the sea. Top off your first evening with a traditional Kathakali dance performance, or opt for a package that also includes a Keralan dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 2: Beautiful Backwaters
Devote your second day to a quintessential Kerala experience: a cruise on the backwaters. Most cruises depart from the town of Alleppey, an easy drive from Kochi, and are often staged on kettuvallam, traditional houseboats made of coir (coconut fiber). These cruises often go deep into the state’s extensive network of waterways, passing jungles, rice paddies, and traditional villages along the way. Lunch is often included and is generally typical of the region, with rice, coconut-based curries, and fish. While some backwaters cruises span a few days, half- and full-day packages that include transportation from Kochi are also available.
Day 3: Hill Stations or History
If you managed to see all you want to in Kochi on your first day, spend your final day participating in another day trip. Get up early to visit to the tea-plantation town of Munnar, where high elevation results in lower temperatures. Most tours include tea-factory visits, and some stop at the tea museum. Another popular option—and closer to town—is Pattanam, which many archaeologists believe was once the ancient port town of Muziris. Recent excavations show evidence of settlements as early as 1000 BC. Either way, return to Kochi in time to top off your trip with a South Indian dinner in the food-centric Fort Cochin neighborhood.