Kozhikode (Calicut), India

The busy coastal city of Kozhikode (Calicut), 225 km north of Kochi, is one of Asia’s most prosperous trading capitals. It occupies an essential place in Kerala's legends and history. It’s also significant in the chronicles of European involvement on the Subcontinent, as Vasco da Gama landed at nearby Kappad beach in 1498. After centuries of decline following the Portuguese destruction of the city, Kozhikode is once again prospering thanks to the flow of remittance cheques from the Gulf.

The best travel tips for visiting Kozhikode

This is a legacy of its powerful, Moppila-Muslim merchant community, who ran the local ruler’s (Zamorin’s) navy and trade.

The recent building boom has swept aside most monuments dating from the golden age, but a few survive, notably a handful of splendid Mappila mosques, distinguished by their typically Keralan, multi-tiered roofs.

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Mishkal Mosque is a medieval mosque located in Calicut © Shutterstock

Mithqalpalli Masjid - Mishkal Mosque is a medieval mosque located in Calicut © Shutterstock

Best things to do in Kozhikode

People visit Kozhikode to see the Moppila mosques. Three of the most impressive of them lie off a backroad running through the Muslim quarter of Thekkepuram, 2 km southwest of the maidan.

#1 Be wowed by Mithqalpalli Masjid

The most magnificent of the trio of mosques is the Mithqalpalli (aka Jama’atpalli) Masjid, hidden down a lane behind Kuttichira tank.

Resting on 24 wooden pillars, its four-tier roof and turquoise walls were built more than seven hundred years ago.

#2 Admire the polychrome stucco ceilings of Macchandipalli Masjid

The ceilings of the 1100-year-old Macchandipalli Masjid, between Francis Road and the Kuttichira Tank, are covered in beautiful polychrome stucco and intricate Koranic script.

#3 Take in the huge prayer hall at Jama Masjid

A couple of hundred metres further north, the eleventh-century Jama Masjid’s main prayer hall, large enough for a congregation of 1200 worshippers, holds another elaborately carved ceiling.

Best areas to stay in Kozhikode

Hotels in Kozhikode are plentiful, except at the bottom end of the range, where decent places are few and far between. This is one city where travellers on tighter budgets might be tempted to upgrade.

Kappad Beach

The beach is a great place to stay, though you’ll need to head into town for the best places to eat. Kozhikode Beach Resort and Vasco Dagama Beach Resort both offer tranquil escapes.

Downtown Kozhikode

This bustling area with easy access to major attractions is filled with a range of hotels, from budget-friendly options to mid-range and luxury accommodations.

Around Calicut Railway Station

This area is well-connected to other parts of the city and provides a variety of cheaper hotel options to suit smaller budgets.

Browse the best hotels in Kozhikode.

Kapad beach located in Calicut © Shutterstock

Kappad beach located in Calicut © Shutterstock

Best restaurants and bars

Kozhikode is famous for its Moppila cuisine, which has its roots in the culinary traditions of the city’s former Arab traders.

Fragrant chicken biryanis and seafood curries with distinctive Malabari blends of spices crop up on most non-veg restaurant menus.

SM Street

Sweet Meat Street is renowned for its vibrant food scene, with numerous restaurants, cafes, and food stalls lining its lanes. Here, you can explore a wide range of local delicacies and international cuisines, indulging in authentic Malabar dishes.

Mavoor Road

Another popular area for travellers, Mavoor Road is home to a variety of restaurants specialising in North Indian and Chinese food as well as trendy coffee shops and juice bars.

Kappad Beach

With fewer places to eat than in the centre of town, a number of the resorts near the beach serve fresh seafood with great views of the water.

How to get around

Whilst buses run along most of the major routes in Kozhikode, travellers are most likely to either walk or take an auto-rickshaw. Taxis are plentiful too. Here’s how to get around.

By auto-rickshaw

Cheap, popular and convenient, tuk-tuks should be your go to for exploring Kozhikode. Drivers will be able to take you directly to the mosques as well.

By taxi

Helpful for longer runs across town and to the airport, Kozhikode has both pre-booked taxi services and ride-hailing apps available.

By bus

Less used by visitors, the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operates regular bus services within the city and to nearby towns and attractions.

Calicut from the top of Wynade, Kerala © Shutterstock

Calicut from the top of Wynade, Kerala © Shutterstock

What is the best time to visit Kozhikode?

The ideal time to plan your visit to Kozhikode is during the winter months, spanning from November to February. This period offers pleasant and mild weather conditions, with temperatures ranging from approximately 22°C to 32°C. The comfortable climate is perfect for exploring the mosques and hitting the sandy sunbed.

Kozhikode's winter is characterised by lower humidity levels and minimal rainfall, providing an excellent opportunity to enjoy the city's beaches, backwaters, and historical sites without the discomfort of excessive heat or monsoon showers.

Visiting in December? Make sure to read our article about visiting Kerala in December

Additionally, the post-monsoon season, from September to October, is another great time to visit Kozhikode. During this period, the rainfall subsides, and the landscape becomes lush and green, creating a scenic backdrop for your travels.

Find out more about the best time to visit India.

How many days do you need in Kozhikode?

For a comprehensive experience of the Kozhikode, you should only need 2 to 3 days. During this time, you can explore the historical sites such as the Kozhikode Beach, Mananchira Square, and the Tali Temple. You can also visit Kappad Beach, where Vasco da Gama first set foot in India. Additionally, take some time to explore the vibrant markets like SM Street and indulge in the delicious local cuisine that Kozhikode is famous for.

If you wish to delve deeper into the city's cultural heritage and spend more time enjoying the serene backwaters and natural beauty, you may want to extend your stay by a couple of days. This will allow you to take leisurely boat rides along the backwaters and explore nearby attractions such as the Beypore Fort and Thusharagiri Waterfalls.

Rough Guides tip: Planning a trip to India? Perhaps our local experts in India can help you!

How to get here

By plane

Kozhikode’s international airport, at Karippur, 23km south of the city, is primarily a gateway for emigrant workers flying to and from the Gulf, but also has direct flights to many other Indian cities.

By train

The railway station, near the centre of town, is served by coastal expresses, slower passenger trains and superfast express trains to and from Goa, Mumbai, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.

By bus

There are three bus stands. Government-run services pull in at the KSRTC bus stand, on Mavoor Rd (aka Indira Gandhi Rd).

Private long-distance – mainly overnight – buses stop at the New Moffussil private stand, 500m away on the other side of Mavoor Rd.

The Palayam bus stand, off MM Ali Road, just serves the city.

Find out the best ways to get to India.

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Andy Turner

written by
Andy Turner

updated 21.06.2023

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