Cochin Cruises, Kerala
- Take a look at the Mattancherry Palace. This place was originally given as a gift from Portugal to the king of Kochi. Now, it’s a gallery which features lots of portraits, alongside a big collection of myth-themed murals.
- Visit Fort Kochi beach to see the remains of Fort Emmanuel. In its heyday, this Portuguese-built structure was key to the defence of the port.
- Wander round the Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary. You’ll find this reserve on the shores of Ernakulam City – it’s full to the brim with exotic birds, like brahminy kites, redshanks and marsh sandpipers.
SHORE EXCURSIONS View all excursions
This half-day tour of the city will give you an idea of how years of visiting explorers and traders have made Cochin into the cultural melting pot that it is today. You’ll head to Mattancherry by coach and stop at the Dutch Palace. It’s home to Hindu murals that cover entire walls. You’ll then move on to Asia’s best preserved synagogue, which is paved with hand-painted blue-and-white porcelain tiles, before perusing the shops in Jew Town. Next, it’s on to Fort Cochin – the first European settlement in India. This region has changed hands between the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British, each of which have left their mark on the architecture. Your guide will point out the traditional Chinese fishing nets dotted along the shoreline that are still used in the Kerala backwaters today. The final stop is at St Francis Church, which was built by General Alfonso de Albuquerque in 1500. He arrived from Portugal with half a dozen ships to build the first European church in India.
This half-day trip will see you swapping cruise ship for motorboat to explore Cochin’s natural harbour, which is home to a cluster of islands connected by ferries and bridges. You’ll pass the islands of Vypeen, Gundu, Vallarpadam and Bolgatty along the way. Once you’ve disembarked at Fort Cochin, you'll be able to wander around. Here, look out for the influence of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British – all of which have been in power in this region over the centuries. Pay a visit to St Francis Church, the first European church in India, which was built back in 1500, before moving on to check out the traditional Chinese fishing nets along the region’s waterfront. At this point, you’ll be picked up by a coach to travel to Mattancherry, where you’ll get a panoramic tour of Old Cochin. The final stops cover two of Cochin’s most important buildings. The Dutch Palace houses wall-sized Hindu murals, while the Jewish Synagogue, the best preserved building of its kind, is paved with hand-painted blue-and-white porcelain tiles.
On this full-day tour, you’ll hop on a coach and take the scenic coastal road towards the city of Alleppey. These serene waterways are fringed by palm groves and paddy fields and offer a view of traditional life – they were the main mode of transport before bridges were built between the islands. The most important town in this stretch is Alleppey, famous for its boat races, houseboats and lakes. It’s also known as the "Venice of the East", as it was here that traders came in search of black gold. You’ll board a modern version of the old rice barges, which were once used to transport goods around Kerala, for a cruise through the canals. You’ll pass green landscapes peppered with pocket-sized villages and traditional temples while you tuck into a Keralan lunch. The menu covers off local favourites, like Kerala-style chicken, vegetable and lentil curries, and fried fish. It’s finished off with ‘semiya payasam’, a southern Indian dessert of vermicelli noodles cooked in condensed milk, topped with bananas or pineapple. After lunch, you’ll disembark at Alleppey and take the coach back to Cochin.