Cochin, officially known as Kochi, is a characterful coastal city in central Kerala that has been drawing traders and explorers for over 600 years. The result is a magnificent and eclectic city made up of a series of very different islands. Commercial Ernakulam is more convenient for the airport, however the overwhelming majority head to Fort Cochin, the historic and prettier part of town. This thumb shaped peninsula is home to glorious tea brokers’ bungalows, spice traders’ mansions, India’s oldest church, the Dutch Palace, as well as village greens that wouldn’t look out of place in the Home Counties. Its crop of colonial architecture is arguably the best in India, and for a reasonable price you can stay in one of the converted 18th or 19th century buildings, as many have been turned into glorious boutique hotels. Cochin’s 400-year-old synagogue is, in our opinion, one of the highlights as it’s still enjoyed by the local Jewish population today. Its elaborate decor with fine chandeliers and hand painted floor tiles is not to be missed. Of course the most photographed site of this quirky coastal location is the Chinese Fishing Nets; these huge cantilevered structures were introduced to the Malabar Coast by Chinese explorer Zheng He, and they are still in use to this day. Cochin has a fantastic range of historic hotels, small shops and restaurants and is also home to a diverse range of sights that can be explored with a guide or independently. Cochin is often the entry point into south India, working perfectly for the first two nights of an itinerary before heading to Munnar or Periyar. We are big fans.