27 Best Things to Do in Kolkata, India

Kolkata is the city of joy with vivid food aromas and Kaleidoscopic lights. Kolkata, the city that rests on the east bank of Hooghly river is a place where culture resides in heart and soul. Calcutta is the second-largest city in India, after New Delhi. That's right! Not Mumbai, not Hyderabad, not even Chennai! Kolkata is one of the four metropolitan cities in the country that provides home to people from various classes in its heart.

Kolkata is most popular in the country for its peculiar sweets and fish and rice. A hub of culture, birthplace of famous Bengali sweets like Rasgulla and Sandesh – Kolkata with its tram lines running across the old city in the north and the modernity in the south is a bundle of joy. Kolkata is a culturally rich city with eccentric colonial architecture.

Back in the day, Calcutta used to be British India's capital city and it was the Empire's second most important city after London. Kolkata served as the capital of British Raj in India for about 140 years as the traders, East India Company had its headquarters located in the city with most of its operations carrying out from the Calcutta port, the oldest functioning port in the country today.

Kolkata is a perfect place for a family vacation or a solo trip who adore culture, good food, and historic architecture. For art lovers, Kolkata is a paradise with numerous art galleries and cultural festivals that portray various kinds of arts like sculpturing, paintings, poetry recitations and more. Kolkata has everything that a culture lover could ask for.

Being one of the metropolitan cities, Kolkata has a lot to offer to its citizens and tourists. A city where the language is as sweet as Rosogolla; the tourism never fails to give everything it owns. Known as the City of Joy, Kolkata is known for being the city with a soul! Calcutta had other nicknames besides City of Joy? For instance, it is also called the City of Palaces, and the cultural capital of India. Now doesn't it make you want to pack your stuff and head over?

things to do in Kolkata

Here are the best places to visit and things to do in Kolkata:

1. Howrah Bridge


Howrah Bridge is the roadway commute between the city of Kolkata and Howrah and is one of the world's largest cantilever bridge. An iconic piece of infrastructure in the city that is an old-world charm. The bridge is constructed using the suspended span technology that depicts modern architecture techniques for the later stages of the Industrial Revolution in India.

The bridge is 705 meters in length that serve as one of the busiest connections between Kolkata and Howrah. The Howrah Bridge is an iconic infrastructure as it resembles the city of Kolkata in pop culture. A must-visit in Kolkata.

2. Victoria Memorial


Victoria Memorial is a monument in Kolkata and is one of the best places to visit in Kolkata with girlfriend. The construction took approximately 15 years using white marble. The monument was built in the memory of Queen Victoria which now serves as a museum and tourist attraction.

The design of this gigantic monument is Indo-Saracenic which consists of elements and inspirations from Egyptian, Deccani and Islamic architecture. Every year thousands of tourists visit this museum to observe the collection of rich cultural history that still holds the old-world charm.

3. Writers' Building


A significant monument designed by architect Luke Thomas in 1777, Writers’ Building used to serve as a workplace for the writers of East India Co. Limited, hence, the name. Currently, this monument serves as the secretariat building of the State Government of West Bengal. Writers’ Building is built on the Lal Dighi, a waterfront covering the lakes entire northern stretch.

The design of the monument was influenced by various styles which include Roman, Greek, British and Indian. The building stretches on the 128-foot long veranda which provides a wide serene of Lal Dighi. A sheer pleasure to visit this place, nature, man-made beauty, and peace of mind, everything can be experienced to the fullest.

4. Indian Museum


Among best places to travel in Kolkata, a museum built in 1814 by English during the British Raj, is a famous tourist spot in the City of Joy. Indian Museum or Imperial Museum is the largest and oldest museum in India. This museum holds the widest collection of rare antics, arms, ammunition, armours and ornaments, fossils, skeletons, mummies and iconic Mughal paintings as well.

With a collection of over 100,000 antiques and artifacts, a good, 3-4 hours tour is required in this museum.

Fun Fact – Indian Museum is the largest museum in the Asia – Pacific region.

Being a metropolitan city, there are many fun-filled activities in the city on a wider scale. There are numerous activities to enjoy locally.

5. Eden Gardens


Going by seating capacity, the Eden Gardens Cricket Ground is the third largest cricket stadium in the world.

6. Botanical Garden


The botanical garden of Kolkata has been the house of the world’s largest tree: An enormous banyan tree whose circumference is more than 330 meters! Now that's a lot of shade on a hot and humid summer day! The Great Banyan Tree in the Botanical Garden is the largest tree in the world in terms of area covered.

7. Howrah Station


In terms of frequency of trains originating or passing through, Howrah station is the busiest station in India. It also has biggest station complex and is the second oldest railway station in India.

8. Alipur Zoo


Calcutta's Alipur Zoo, or the Kolkata Zoo is India's oldest zoo!

9. Calcutta Polo Club


Calcutta might not have been the city of princes, but the Calcutta Polo Club is the oldest one in the world!

10. Royal Calcutta Golf Club


The Royal Calcutta Golf Club is the first ever golf club to be set up outside the United Kingdom!

11. Calcutta Cricket and Football Club


When talking about cricket, there’s one fact which even many cricket buffs do not know. Founded in 1792, the Calcutta Cricket and Football Club is the second oldest cricket club in the world after MCC: the Mecca of Cricket. Well, when it comes to sports, Calcuttans are crazy about their football!

Founded in 1898, did you know the Calcutta Football League is the oldest football tournament in the country, and the second oldest in the world?

12. Salt Lake Stadium


In terms of seating, Salt Lake Stadium is the second largest football stadium in the world with a staggering capacity of 120,000.

13. Birla Planetarium


Did you know the Birla Planetarium in Kolkata is the largest planetarium in Asia, and the second largest in the world? Well, for first timers, visit the planetarium and experience any one of their daily shows. The enormity of the screen will blow you away!

14. Kolkata Port


The Kidderpore Port is the oldest port in India besides being the only riverine port in the country. Besides, the replica of the Hooghly River Port is the only representative of India at the Asian Cities Sector in the Metropolitan Museum (MET), New York.

15. Visit Academy of Fine Arts in Kolkata


Academy of Fine Arts is a cultural spot in the heart of the city, where various types of cultural and artists portray their work with flair. A must-visit for all the art lovers. Academy of Fine Arts screens cinema, displays dramas, local and international painters, poets and more. A show not to miss as it is one of the unique places to visit in Kolkata.

16. Shopping in New Market in Kolkata


Kolkata is a shopping hub. With various industries having its feet planted on the streets and various markets, the options are limitless. New Market is a bazaar which is equivalent to Crawford Market in Mumbai and Karol Bagh in Delhi. Every bit of all the tiny products produced in the world is available in these markets. The quality of the product depends on the shop and the goodwill the name has in the market.

Being a local market and not an industry, this market favours the businessman’s name or surname over the business name. Gariahat is another delight to shop at with clothes available for as cheap as a hundred bucks.

17. Kolkata Metro


The Kolkata Metro is India’s first underground Metro railway. Kolkata Metro is an excellent ride to save your time, to avoid traffic jams it's a comfortable and safe journey also. Nowadays it's extended to the North Noapara and to the South five to six stoppage more after Tollygunge.

18. Tram ride in Kolkata


Kolkata is the only city in the country which has a fully operational tram service. A lost gem in the wide field of commute and transportation. The tram services are quite frequent and give an air of nostalgia.

If you have time and want to feel the original essence of Calcutta, then tram ride is a must. However, the speed is slow compared to other forms of transportation in the city.

19. Board the Hand-Driven Rickshaw in Kolkata


Kolkata still runs on hand-driven rickshaw where a muscular man, pulls the rickshaw with maximum 2 passengers. The rickshaw is useful only for short distances. This experience can be tried when in Kolkata.

20. Boating at Prinsep Ghat in Kolkata


Prinsep Ghat is situated on the banks of the Hooghly river and is one of the best places to visit in Kolkata for couples. A beautiful serene which is an eye-catcher for all the tourists in Kolkata. Prinsep Ghat was built in 1841. The European styled, Palladian porch gives a serene unlike any other. Prinsep Ghat offers an old-world boating experience, a rower rows the boat while singing soulful melodies of yesteryears. An experience worth gathering.

Prinsep Ghat offers an old-school boating experience where you sit back and relax whilst the rower drives the boat through the beautiful Hooghly River. A must-try soothing experience at the time of sunset and is one of the best places to visit in Kolkata with friends.

21. Party at Park Street in Kolkata


One can say what Colaba Causeway is to Mumbai, Park Street is to Kolkata, shopping, food, and entertainment, this locality has everything locked under its belt. A thoroughfare covering all the aspects a tourist requires in the open air and is one of the places to visit in Kolkata at night.

Park Street in Kolkata is the hub of food and entertainment; with a vivid choice for different food items and restaurant styles. Park Street has a huge concentration of eating out places where the youth is attracted to along with their parents. There are specifically two eateries which are must-try Barbeque Nation and Peter Cat.

Yes, Barbeque Nation is a restaurant that is available across the entire country. The thing that makes this one a special is the typical Bengali flavours infused in the food along with a modern twist to it. Whereas Peter Cat is a casual-dining in Park Street Area of Kolkata that serves delicious North-Indian and Continental cuisines.

22. Buy books in College Street in Kolkata


Kolkata is a book lover’s paradise. In fact, College Street is widely referred to as the second largest second-hand book market in the world where, if you search properly, you’ll be able to find the first edition of even the rarest of the rare books! Regarding College Street, there’s a saying that if you didn’t find a book in College Street, that book probably never existed!

It is the place to find any book in this world, with hundreds of book shops. The lane is heaven for book lovers and readers and is one of the best places to visit in Kolkata for youngsters. The dealers don't just sell new books, but also purchase old ones and resell them, making each and every piece of paper a treasure.

23. Food in Kolkata


Kolkata is a place where things to eat has its own place in the people's heart as well as streets with numerous restaurants with private rooms. Kolkata is famous for traditional Bengali food which majorly consists of fish and rice. This cuisine can be found in many places across the city. Well, fish and rasgulla are the one of the favorite food of the people.

But it isn't necessary that everyone likes eating fish, some are interested in Kosher Mangso too. Also the Ilish maach is just awesome. One of the most interesting fact in Bengali Vegetarian food is that majority of them are made without onions and garlic. Aloo dom is a spicy curry of potatoes and is a perfect combination with korai shutir kochuri.

Luchi and aloo chorchori with lightly spiced potatoes is a Sunday affair. Potol Dolma is stuffed pointed gourd stuffed with chhena, nuts, potatoes and spices, in a gravy made in ghee. Cholar dal prepared with Bengal gram and coconut is a perfect combination in any get together and is also served with Luchi or Kachuri or Radhaballavi.

Alu posto is a potato curry with poppy seeds. Bengalis love affair with poppy seeds is versatile. Rice with Alu Posto is perfect for a warm, humid summer day to keep the body cool. Jhinge posto is a ridge gourd curry with poppy seeds. Phulkopir dalna is cauliflower curry with potatoes and is a Bengali favourite item for cool winter months. It is served with roti, rice, Pulao etc.

Dhokar Dalna is prepared with steamed Bengal gram, and are chunky pieces in rich gravy. Peper dalna is a light papaya gravy with chunky pieces eaten with rice, roti, paratha etc. Pepe ghonto is a dry, grated, green papaya curry with little grains of rice. It's an everyday item fit for breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Chanar kofta is cottage cheese balls in rich gravy and is a must have with pulao. Echorer torkari is a raw Jackfruit curry. Echorer Dalna or raw jackfruit curry is also a top favourite, sumptuous dish. Radha ballavi is specially served in parties and occasions with Aloo dom.

The key taste profile of Bengali food is a complex yet delicate mix of bitter, sweet, and pungent. The dish that represents this profile in its entirety is - shukto. Traditionally, shukto is the starter to an elaborate Bengali meal, to cleanse the palate. It's little bitter due to bitter gourd. It also has other vegetables like drumsticks, brinjal, raw banana, potatoes and other seasonal vegetables and cooked in very little oil and spices.

Kanchkolar kofta is prepared with raw banana for cooking is a different variety than that for eating. Its a dumpling made with spices, boiled raw banana and potatoes. It's a rich gravy eaten traditionally with rice. It's also served in feasts.

Mochar ghonto is prepared with banana flowers and are made into dry curry with very little oil and spices. Labra is morning breakfast sabzi with ruti in many households and tastes divine with Khichuri. Sona muger Khichuri with moong dal is eaten with ghee and fries like brinjal and potatoes and is an item reserved for a rainy day.

Kumro chechki is made with ripe pumpkin and very little oil and spices. It's a common item to be eaten with rice, paratha, roti. Sim Paturi is prepared with broad beans wrapped in banana leaf with spices and mustard oil. It's pan fried in gas oven. Bandhakopir torkari is cabbage curry with peas with a hint of spice.

Pui Shak is added in a light curry with Malabar Spinach made with dal dumplings and vegetables. Kolmi shak or water spinach is a vegetable that grows in watery areas in Eastern States and North Eastern States of India. A Kolmi shak stir fry is a summer dish cooked with little oil, a clove of garlic and dry chilli. Bottle gourd leaves strew or lau shak curry is an everyday food in summer very little prepared with oil and spices.

Lau pata bata is very tasty and very few people know exactly how to make it. Thankuni pata bata or Indian Penny wort or Thankuni is an invasive species of herb found densely in Eastern and North Eastern States of India. It's eaten as a paste and has little minty flavour. People love Data Chorchori or drumsticks curry with mustard paste along with some other vegetables like potatoes, tomato, pumpkin etc.

Ash groud curry better known as chalkumror torkari is an everyday curry best to eat with rice or roti. Bengali tomato chutney is made with reasonable amount of dates and raisins. The list is endless.

Now comes Biryani. Though Hyderabadi Biryani maybe tasty and popular, but the Kolkata Biryani is pure love. The essence is the aloo present in the biryani and they also offer gravy along with the biryani.

The beauty of the city is the variety of street foods available at a pocket friendly price and satisfies your taste buds. From veg to Non veg, from familiar gully to high streets you will find a plethora of street foods.

Some of the other popular things to eat in Kolkata amongst bongs are Rolls at Kusum Rolls, biryani at Arsalan, phuchka (Bengali name for panipuri), club kachori and kullad wali chai (tea served in a clay cup) that can be found at various locations. Dim toast and baapuji cake is one of the most preferred breakfast of the people.

Commonly known as golgappa in other states, Kolkata has its own uniqueness. Here it is not gol gappa, it is Phuchka. With smashed aloo masala inside the crunchy maida ball and tok-jol (lemon and tamarind water) it is irresistible to have one. You atleast need a dozen to stop.

You can find most of the office-goers, college students and locals having chop and muri. Chop (deep fried veggies with besan) which is available as beguni, aloor chop, vegetable chop, dimer devil are like heavenly combination with puffed rice (muri).

How can one miss sweets when you are in Kolkata? Every gully has a sweet shop and everyone has to offer unique and tastiest sweets starting from 5 Rs to 20 Rs each.

Also not only rasgulla but pantua and sondesh are also awesome. The variety of sweets and their prices are also lower than most of the states. Along with Rosogolla, Kolkata also homes the sweetest delicacy named Sandesh. The best Sandesh is available at Girish Chandra and Nakur Chandra sweet shops, being one of the oldest Halwais in Kolkata, they have mastered the art of Sandesh and other Bengali sweets.

During winters, a specialty marks the board, Gurer Sandesh which has liquid jaggery as its core.

Do not miss out on the Calcutta Meetha Pan, a mouth freshener that has its roots dug deep in the soil of Kolkata. As it’s a local specialty, it can be found at every corner.

Luchi and Cholar Dal: Cholar Dal is Bengali breakfast dish. Bengal gram lentils cooked in coconut and spices that is served with hot and fluffy luchi.

Jhalmuri and Tea: Jhalmuri is a street snack in Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent, made of puffed rice and an assortment of spices, vegetables, chanachur and bhujia. Often had with tea for breakfast.

Roll: You can find any type of roll from the simple egg roll to chicken roll. The cheapest is usually the vegetable roll and the most expensive is double egg, double chicken roll. The spices are customisable, free of charge of course.

Momo: Momos are the lifeline of northeastern India. They range from simple steamed veg momos to the Afghani Tandoori ones. Whichever you choose, each one will be able to delight you to the maximum. Chicken momo is usually the most in demand, but who can forget the soup?

Nariyal ke laddu refers to Narkoler Naru. Simple and delicious, this dish is a winter season must have for Bengali households.

Taler Bora or Palm Fruit fritter is another legendary Bengali sweet. Made with pulp of ripe Palm, Coconut, Jaggery, Wheat Flour, Rice Flour and Kalonji, this heavenly deep fried sweet dish is relished by young and old alike.

Shor Bhaja is so uncommon, that even in Bengali community it is not that well known. This mouth melting sweet is made by collecting and layering the Malai or fat from top of hot milk, then pressing, shaping and dipping in flavoured syrup.

Pati Shapta looks suspiciously like a Dosa, but tastes nothing like it. Another winter season speciality, the entire family looks forward to the ceremonious making of this Rice Batter roll with Coconut and Jaggery filling.

24. Durga Puja in Kolkata


The best time to visit Kolkata is during the festive season. Kolkata is considered as the cultural capital of the country, where major festivals are celebrated with intense devotion and heartfulness. Major festivals celebrated are Durga Puja and Christmas in Kolkata. Durga Puja in Kolkata is the most vividly celebrated festival in Kolkata, the streets are filled with people, lights are always shining bright and the eateries are open throughout the night.

The countdown begins 100 days prior to the festival and Pujo Shopping is a must for locals. Mahasashti, Mahasaptami, Mahaasthami and Mahanavmi are most awaited days for people. The best thing to do during Durga Puja is to go pandal hopping to experience various themes and fascinating decors.

Also Saraswati Puja is a Bengali Valentines Day. One can see the community members dressed in traditional dresses.

25. Christmas in Kolkata


Among the best places to visit in kolkata during Christmas, midnight mass at the St. Peter's Church is a must-go. A week-long carnival is set up on the roadside at Par Street.

26. Adda at the Cha Bar at Crossword in Kolkata


One of the most unusual places on the list, yet the perfect location to sip on a cup of tea. This tea-spot is located inside a crossword on Park Street. The electric feeling of sipping on different flavours of tea while sitting in the middle of a room full of books is the happiest place in the world.

27. Kolkata Book fair


After the Frankfurt Book Fair and the London Book Fair, Kolkata Book fair is recognized as the world’s largest conglomeration of books! Besides, it’s one of a kind and Asia’s largest book fair—it is also the most-attended book fair in the world! It is also the world's largest non trade Book fair! It's usually around the month of January and goes on for a week to 10 days!

Best Time to Visit Kolkata


The weather around February is pleasantly cold with moderately sunny mornings and cozy cool nights. Take a walk around the historic parts of the city, go on food tours and photography tours in Kolkata and discover the city of joy.

How To Reach Kolkata

  • Kolkata has all the sorts of communication facilities, an international airport within the metropolitan area, multiple railway stations are built to make the transport easier. Kolkata serves as the headquarters of Eastern Railways of Indian Railways.
  • For the local commute, Kolkata has many forms of transportations like trams, metros, government buses and cab service. The cab service is the most iconic in the country as it still uses the classic, Ambassador. Along with local and government authorized transportations, cab services like Ola and Uber are widely used.
  • Kolkata is a part of the Golden Quadrilateral Roadways Project which connects the four metropolitan cities of India, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and Chennai. So, the extensive roadway connection caters to commercial as well as non-commercial vehicles.

Where to Stay in Kolkata


There are infinite hotels and motels in Kolkata. However, if you are planning to travel during the festive season, it is highly recommended to pre-book.

These were the basic details about Kolkata, for more, you actually need to get up from your chair, book the tickets and travel. See the rest for yourself.
Kalyan Panja

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