Soak up the laidback vibe and multicultural heritage of Kerala on a journey through Kochi by backwater houseboat or on a stroll along the Fort Cochin waterfront. Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial influences merge with the legendary spice trade, Arab merchants and Jewish traders, making Kerala a great place to taste multicultural flavors. Beach shacks cook up freshly caught seafood, and street cafes serve stand-out South Indian dishes like spicy coconut prawns, fish cooked in banana leaves, roast crab, baked mussels and chili-infused fish curries.
Day 1: Fort Cochin Churches
Get to know the historic heart of Fort Cochin by watching a game of cricket played on the old Parade Ground. Visit the oldest church in India, St Francis, and seek out the gravestone of Vasca da Gama and tombstones revealing stories from the Dutch occupation. By day or dusk, strolls along the waterfront promenade take in views of Kerala’s unique Chinese fishing nets, busy port and boat-studded harbor.
Day 2: Mattancherry Meander
Next day, head for the east coast of the peninsula to step inside one of the world’s oldest synagogues in Jew Town. Then browse the quaint curio shops lining old Jew Town Road, selling relics from days gone by, colored glass lamps and Kerala souvenirs. Next door, see how royalty once lived in the Dutch Palace, with its racy mythological murals, hushed courtyard temple and ceremonial chambers.
Day 3: Kerala Backwaters Cruise
It’s all about the journey when you step aboard a traditional houseboat to set sail on a Kerala Backwaters cruise. Luxuriously kitted out for relaxing sailing, the boats built from woven coconut coir navigate Kerala’s network of canals, lagoons, lakes and rivers. Step aboard in Alappuzha, the Venice of the east, and cruise the canals to Lake Vambanad or the island villages of Kottayam.