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Whether you refer to it as Kochi or Cochin, this port city offers a picturesque, seaside stop on an India cruise unlike any other. With influences from British, Dutch, and Portuguese settlement over the past 500 or so years, Kochi feels especially global, whether you’re stopping for coffee at the local Kashi Art Cafe or touring Fort Kochi on your own.
See the famous Chinese fishing nets, one of the most photographable spots in Kochi, and peruse the catches of the day with the local fishermen. Or, take an excursion beyond Kochi to Alappuzha during your Cochin cruise, indulging in thali and kebabs after a day’s boat ride on the Arabian Sea. Luckily, Kochi itself is pretty walkable, and most sights are close to one another. Less bustling than Mumbai, Cochin retains a small town charm ideal for unhurried exploration.
Travelers come from all over the world to see Kochi’s biggest sight, the Chinese fishing nets, which are giant relics from the 14th century and still in use today. The nets dangle over the beautiful sea below and serve as a reminder of how Kochi’s fishing industry drove the town into economic prosperity. Stroll the waterfront, take photos of the nets, or watch as teams of 20 odd fishermen operate them effortlessly.
Within Fort Kochi is the one of the oldest European churches in all of India, and it’s the sight where Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was originally buried. Take a walk through the church’s ornate interior, a testament to European architecture unlike anything else in Kochi. Today, locals in Kochi revere the church for the story it tells about Kochi’s past.
Once a gift to the Portuguese colonizers who came to Kochi, the Mattancherry Palace was later dubbed “The Dutch Palace”. Tour the grounds of the palace and don’t miss the beautifully preserved Hindu murals painted all over the palace walls. They’re a colorful piece of history in Cochin.
For those who want to learn about Kochi’s rich history of occupations, including switching hands between the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British, head to the Indo-Portuguese Museum within Fort Kochi. You’ll learn about the history of Catholicism here and how these settlers impacted the area for years to come. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday.
A tour of Fort Kochi is how you’ll be able to see historic places like St. Francis Church, or interact with local fishermen near the famous Chinese Fishing Nets. While you’re walking around Fort Kochi, you’ll be transported back in time to the humble beginnings of this quaint port city. It’s an ideal activity for a laid-back day during your cruise.
Only a half hour from Kochi is the town of Alappuzha, which is affectionately nicknamed the “Venice of the East” for its elaborate network of canals and its famous houseboat cruises through them. Walk the pier, which is nearly 150 years old, and enjoy a kettuvallam, a thatched roof boat ride which is like a house on the water. Relax and float on before returning to your Cochin cruise ship.
The Kathakali dance tradition is over 300 years old and is a hallmark of the state of Kerala. Becoming a skilled dancer in this style takes years of rigorous training. Head to Kathakali Club in Kochi for a chance to see incredible performers in action, dressed in elaborate costumes and full makeup. It’s a must-see cultural experience during your time here.
Specializing in North Indian cuisine, Dal Roti is a favorite among locals and tourists in Kochi. The menu is massive, featuring different delicacies and combinations of kati rolls, and thali, which are must-try dishes at Dal Roti. Inside, it is minimally decorated and unpretentious, so the food really is the star here.
Kashi Art Cafe
Sit under one of the red umbrellas on the patio and sip a cold drink at Kashi Art Cafe, where sandwiches and salads rule the menu. Art from local artists line the walls of the cafe. The entire place has a local flavor to it that’ll make you feel right at home. Try the veggie burger with a cold lemonade.
Head here for a strong cup of coffee while stopped on your Kochi cruise. There’s often live music and entertainment during the evenings. In the mornings, it’s the perfect spot for a pick-me-up, whether you’re looking for espresso drinks or a sweet treat thanks to their selection of breakfast foods, including omelettes and French toast.
Kochi, otherwise known as Cochin, is a major port city in India that has a rich history of occupations, trading hands, and trading goods. During the 15th century, the Portuguese took control of Kochi, building a major factory there and a fort to guard their growing trade and industry presence. Then, the Dutch invaded and brought economic prosperity to the region by exporting Kochi’s spices and everything from coconut to cardamom. Because of Kochi’s strategic position on the Arabian Sea, it grew in allure and colonizers scrambled to claim it. In 1795, the British took ownership of Cochin and facilitated building the port. The area didn’t claim independence for nearly 200 years until 1945. Since its independence, Kochi has blossomed as both a trade and tourism destination for visitors from all over the world
Celebrity Cruise ships dock in nearby Willingdon Island, which was artificially made in the 1930s and used by British military before becoming a hub for cruisers exploring Cochin. You’ll find souvenir shops, cafes, and wifi in local shops near here, or you can quickly hop on a ferry to get to Cochin proper once you’re off the ship.
Once your Cochin cruise ship docks, look for the local ferry located near the ship that will take you to various stops. Rickshaws and taxis are two of the most popular ways to navigate around Cochin, and it’s recommended you haggle on your fare before taking off with a taxi driver. Uber and rickshaw-hailing app Ola are two popular ride-sharing alternatives to the traditional yellow taxi system. If you’re feeling daring on the streets of Cochin, bikes and scooters are available for rent for short periods, too.
Check out the street markets in Cochin for spices, Indian fabrics, and vintage clothing items. A lot of the newer shopping, specifically for electronics and clothing, can be found in malls around Edappally, which has become known for its sheer variety of options for shoppers. The vendors near the terminal won’t typically sell high-end items, but they’ll hawk the standard trinkets and tourist fare.
You’ll use the Indian rupee as the official currency while on your Kochi cruise. Currency exchanges are found at the cruise port and around the city at various banks. Tipping isn’t always expected, but it is appreciated as a mark of quality service. While you’re shopping in India, haggling and bargaining is always encouraged to ensure you get a fair deal. In food service, like for your server or bartender, a 15-20% tip is highly recommended.