25 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?

Being a metropolitan city, there are many fun-filled activities in the city on a wider scale. There are numerous activities to enjoy locally. Kolkata is a city where time stands still. While some parts of the city has gotten urbanized; the old charm is still not lost. A visit to the must-visit places in Kolkata is not enough to feel that charm of a 400 year old city.

Mandarmoni, Digha, Tajpur, Sankarpur beaches are near to each other and is a 3 hour drive from Kolkata. You can go for a 2 or 3 days stay and cover all of them. All of these beaches give different sort of vibe. things to do in Kolkata

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

1. Visit 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. And take all the time you need to feel the astounding architecture. Let your soul get ‘warm’ed by the cool breeze of the Ganges.

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.

2. Roam around Victoria Memorial

Victoria Memorial is a monument in Kolkata and is one of the best places to visit in Kolkata with your partner. 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. Roam about Victoria Memorial Hall, and get amazed by the history in and around this scintillating monument.

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.

5. Eden Gardens

It is the oldest and the largest cricket stadium in India and the second largest in Asia. The place itself is a legend. It is believed to have drawn its name from “Garden of Eden” based on Bible. Various such notions follow regarding its establishment. It has a capacity of 68,000. It was named as the venue to host the first ever day/night test match in India during second test between India and Bangladesh. Going by seating capacity, the Eden Gardens Cricket Ground is the third largest cricket stadium in the world.

6. Botanical Garden

This is commonly known as the Calcutta Botanical Garden. The gardens boasts of a colossal variety of rare plants and a total collection of over 12,000 specimens. The best-known landmark of the garden is The Great Banyan, enormous banyan tree that is reckoned to be the largest tree in the world, at more than 330 metres in circumference. Perfectly suited for nature lovers to wonder at its collection.

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. Alipore Zoological Garden

Calcutta's Alipur Zoo, or the Kolkata Zoo is India's oldest zoo! It is a popular tourist destination for animal lovers specially who come to explore their interests in the animal life that thrives here. It has over the years even proved a infamous picnic spot for families and friends. It is a domicile to some of the exotic animals and flamboyant birds with a melange of colours.

8. 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!

Renownedly known as Taramandal it has laboratories for design and fabrication of science equipments. Various science and 3-D shows are conducted in English, Bengali and Hindi. The shows are really informative and at the same time mesmerizing. It would be an enriching and knowledgeable visit.

9. 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. Spend an evening at the Princep Ghat, and see the sun set over the Ganges.

See the glittering banks in the darkness enveloping the banks. Then gradually head towards the glistening panorama the mighty Howrah Bridge that upholds itself like a grandeur exemplifying Kolkata. 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.

Amidst this magnificent and glorious city flows the turbulent placent Ganges enigma and charisma exemplified. On a complacent dawn, see the red sun gradually flourish its vibrant rays, see the world decking up in illumination from the darkness, feel the cool breeze, the merry waves on the banks, the tiny birds humming to proclaim the advent of dawn, the trees rustling their soft leaves to match the rhythm and the aspiring artists to apply colours on their canvas to record the slowly rising picturesque. It has its own eloquence and inexplicable charm.

Although Haridwar and Varanasi tops the list in Ganga Aarti charm, Kolkata even has a footing. Ganga Aarti at Bagbazar Ghat is the juxtaposition of day and evening, in the twillight of dusk has no less devotion and veneration of its participants. Although not a widely renowned event, its pomp is worth visit. Beauty and solace blended.

10. 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.

11. Jorasanko Thakur Bari

It would give old Calcuttan vibes as you step into the old Bengali architecture with looming balconies and wide veranda, the regal glory conserved till this date.

Not a typical tourist spot and some aren't even aware of Clive House. The mysterious building of Calcutta, known so as its origin has not been estimated till date. It was renovated by Robert Clive as his country house, but today it's in a dilapidated condition and is assumed to be the oldest building in Kolkata. Its vehement historical appeal can be perceived from outside only.

12. Dakshineswar Kali Temple

Located on the banks of River Hoogly, this siddhapith was built by Rani Raashmoni, when by traditional accounts, Goddess Kali instructed her in dreams to build a temple rather than going to pilgrimage in Benaras. The kachuri and ghoogni can't be missed if one goes there.

13. Metcalfe Hall

Known as the hidden treasure of Kolkata, it houses a museum delineating the rich heritage of Kolkata and vivid account of diminishing charm of Bengali cinema. Situated at the junction of Strand Road and Hare Street, it is also a heritage building built in neo-classical form of architecture, it is indicative of Greek temples and reflective of 19th century British imperial architecture.

14. Marble Palace

A palatial mansion built for collecting works of art. The forgotten treasure. It is a testimony to the 19th century Calcutta’s grandeur and glory. Located in North Kolkata, it is one of the best preseved palaces.

15. Fort William

Built in a shape of irregular octagon, this star fort in design stands in Maidan with all its historic charm and enigma. Housing a huge collection of barrels and cannons, it will invariably gives the tourists, an mystic vibe of the erstwhile Calcutta and the British Raj.

16. Science City

Regarded as the largest science centre in the entire subcontinent, located at the crossing of Eastern Metropolitan Bypass and J. B. S. Haldane Avenue, it has amazingly striking galleries and science parks which would leave you spell-bound.

17. Sovabazar Rajbari

The palace of the royal family of ShobhaBazar located at 33 to 36 Raja Nabakrishna Street, was built by Raja Nabakrishna Deb. It has two buildings: One is the Baag -ola- bari - the palace with lions. Another one is the “Choto Rajbari”. It was actually a seven-storeyed building. But now the natmandap, a architectural marvel has gained prominence. The Durga Puja in the palace is a glorious festivity to watch.

18. Belur Math

It's the place where Shri Ram Krishna lived his last days. This mission is celebrated with its religious significance as Ramkrishna Dev became ‘kalpataru' here on 1st January, 1886. This day is celebrated ever since 1886 and pilgrims from distant corners visit on 1st January. It is believed that whatever you wish here on this day is granted by Lord if it is positive and does not harm others.

19. Rabindra Sarovar

Formerly known as Dhakuria Lake, it is an artificial lake, where in winter one can get sight of migratory birds. This place with its pristine ambience is a perfect place for long walks and pondering in solitude.

20. Eco Park

Located in New town it is the biggest urban park in India. As truly voyage around nature, Prakriti tirtha has wetlands, grasslands, open spaces, theme gardens, urban forests and recreational spaces. A replica of the seven wonders of the world was also created to suit interests of commoners. Various features are yet to be added. The park looks glorious and dazzling in evening.

21. Park Street Cemetery

Amalgamation of Gothic with the rich essence of Indo-Sarcenic style, built in a ‘panchaytana' manner, it contains 1600 tombs. It is considered to be one of the most earliest non- church cemeteries in the world. One feels of standing in the past 19th century with its old ambience.

22. St. Paul's Cathedral

It is presumed to be the largest cathedral in Kolkata and the first Episcopal Church in Asia. The cathedral complex has a library, situated over the western porch, and a display of plastic art forms and memorabilia. It’s design is revised in form of Indo Gothic architecture to suit the climatic conditions of India. During Christmas, this place is a visual treat to watch decked in illuminous and colourful jubilation.

St. Thomas Church is a Roman Catholic Latin rite church, reminiscent of the colonial buildings during the imperial rule. Mother Teresa was laid in state in this church one week prior to her funeral.

Nizam Palace, the antiquated architectural marvel was built by JC Gaulstan as a mark of his love for his wife. It is one of the most frequented places of Kolkata. With time, it has coherently coalesced with the socio-cultural landscape of Kolkata. One can visit this place to admire its architecture.

23. Maidan

Reach Maidan in early morning, and experience the city waking up from the sleep.

24. Ramakrishna Mission

This is the abode of the renowned patriotic saint which would give you insights into the childhood and upbringing of the person. There is even a brief video presentation of it. The articles by Swamiji are the main attractions. The place is so well maintained and pristine that one will have spiritual impression soothing his nerves. The aura is so positive and vibrant.

25. Kalighat Temple

If one has a religious and spiritual inclination or is out on a pilgrimage, this temple is indispensable. It is known as a shakti peeth alluded to mythology of daksha yajna where Devi Sati immolated herself. It is believed that the right toes of Devi Sati fell here.

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