Friends of mine sometimes ask me what they can do if they have just a day off in Kochi. Since there is an international airport in Kochi, most tourists get a layover here and I thought it was time people realise that 24 hours is enough to experience the feel of Kochi. So say you have 24 hours in Kochi. Let’s see what all you can do in just 24 hours.
1. Have a nice Kerala style breakfast
Remember your mom pestering you in your childhood to eat a good, proper breakfast? Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and it is more important if you intent to spend the whole day out, roaming around and exploring a city.
You’re in luck though. Kerala offers amazing food for every meal and it is no different in the case of breakfast either. Kerala offers a wide variety of breakfast options from the main South Indian dishes like Dosa, Uthappam, Idli etc to Kerala’s own specialties like Appam – Stew, Puttu – Kadala Curry, Noolappam – Egg Curry etc. For those extreme risk takers, even Kerala Parotta can act as a breakfast dish. Anything will work as long as you eat something and get ready for the day ahead.
2. Head on over to Fort Kochi and Mattancherry
Since you are in Kochi, there is no point spending 24 hours there without visiting Fort Kochi. This is the main tourist destination in Kochi and has the beach and the lovely streets with beautiful buildings. Most of these buildings are from the Portuguese era and most of them are maintained well even today. Take a walk through the streets, the beach walk way and even the busier and louder areas. It’s all going to add on to your memories of Kochi
3. Visit the Synagogue, Dutch Palace
The Synagogue at Mattancherry, called the Paradesi Synagogue is one must see sight if you are in Kochi. The big chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and the handmade blue tiles on the floor which gleam when sunlight from the windows falls on them are the reasons why you should visit this monument. It is also the oldest active synagogue in all the Commonwealth Countries.
The Dutch palace is a mere five minute walk from the synagogue. The palace is built in the traditional naalukettu style and houses many mural paintings, robes of the royals, swords, maps of old Kochi etc. and is worth visiting for its peaceful ambience in the midst of the city.
4. Go around Jew street, do some shopping
Jew Street is a beautiful street in Kochi with tiny shops selling Kerala clothes, footwear, handicrafts, curios, antiques, jewellery, spices etc. Since you are already in the area, why not be part of a shopping spree? You get really authentic Kerala stuff here. Some of the clothes sold are mostly handmade and they might even help with the heat. If you are visiting in the monsoon and are trying hard to not break your chappal, buy a new pair. You’ll need it for later.
5. Lunch by the beach
There are many hotels and shacks near the beach and they all sell really good food. You can try the famous Kayees Biryani. Ask an auto driver to take you there. Or you can eat at one of the shacks there. Just make sure the restaurant or the shack is hygienic and has a crowd flow in it. Also, try to get a place where you can stay in for a while. Maybe sip a drink and watch the sea or the backwater.
6. Stay indoors for a while – the sun is going to burn you otherwise
Even if the monsoon season is in progress, the sun might still come out at noon to deep fry you. If you are a brave heart who cannot be kept in by mere silly beings like the sun, get your bottle of water and get going. If you are like me and do not want to undermine the powers the sun will have on your health, stay in for a bit. You can try to stay at the restaurant or the shack where you had your lunch or find some other place where you can just chill in the shade. The park near the beach is a good option. Or just any building where it is safe for you to chill for a bit is fine.
If the sun isn’t out, then forget this Point Number 6 exists, and carry on with your little sightseeing.
7. Watch a Malayalam movie
Another great way to stay indoors during the very sunny or rainy hours is to catch a Malayalam movie. If you are not a malayali, you will not understand a word of the dialogues – mostly there are no subtitles in the movie. However, this is one experience to have. The Malayalam movie industry is huge with a very dedicated fan following. It is very different from the Bollywood movies in the sense that they are realistic. If you really want to enjoy the movie and not just kill some time, watch one of the well-rated ones. You might not understand anything, but it is still fun.
8. Go to marine drive walkway
Cover as many sights as you can in Kochi. But at about 4, get to the marine drive walkway. You can take the ferry ride back if you want and this will take you straight to the walkway. Just walk or roam around the place for a while and enjoy the breeze. The walkway has a shopping complex on one side and the backwater on the other. Music plays from some of the shops and so if you can find a seat from where you can hear the music, congrats! – you can have your own mini private party on the walkway.
9. Visit Broadway. See the crowd
Broadway is right in the middle of the city and is extremely crowded during the evenings. I want everyone to visit this place because this is where you see the actual crowd of Kochi. Everyday commuters running about to take a bus home, kids going home from school, ladies looking for that shop which sells the perfect spice, college students giggling, chit-chatting inside and outside restaurants etc.
If the crowd is calm, you too can do some shopping. The whole sale shops will sell you bags and footwear on retail also and they are quite cheap. Otherwise, just walk around. Feel the local culture, talk to some enthusiastic neighbourhood kid about how his day has been, bargain with the wholesaler about the “high” prices etc. Or just eat some food at one of the tiny restaurants there. It’s all up to you.
10. Finish off the day at one of the many beaches in Ernakulam – Vypin Beach, Fort Kochi beach, Cherai Beach etc
At this point you are probably really really tired. So, get to one of the many beaches in Kochi, you can go back to Fort Kochi or try a new beach. Cherai beach is a good option, so is Vypin beach. Decide a beach and find a good restaurant there where you can rewind and have dinner before you go back to your hotel. Sit on the sand for a bit and watch the waves. Do not enter the water if the guards tell you not to – I know the idea of a night swim would feel amazing at this point. But safety comes first.
Just sit at the beach and see all your photos from the day, share some memories with the people you travelled, talk to the locals there, take tiny naps on the beach or go to the restaurant and have a good dinner. Then, when you are really tired, go back to your hotel.
Your 24 hours in Kochi will be sort of over now. Sleep well, and carry on with your day the next morning. Come back to Kochi as soon as you get some time though. There’s soo much more here you can experience!