City Guide: All About Kolkata, The City Of Joy

Step into the cultural kaleidoscope of Kolkata, where the echoes of history blend seamlessly with the vibrant spirit of the city, inviting you to explore its colonial charm, artistic fervor, and delectable culinary traditions
Kolkata is an intriguing blend of heritage and modernity
Kolkata is an intriguing blend of heritage and modernityArijeet Bannerjee/Shutterstock

Kolkata, the City of Joy, radiates an indomitable spirit that intertwines history, art, and literature. The capital of West Bengal beckons with its colonial-era architecture, bustling markets, and a cultural landscape that has nurtured Nobel laureates and literary giants. From the iconic Howrah Bridge to the intellectual haven of College Street, every corner of Kolkata tells a story, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of Bengal's capital.


Kolkata's history unfolds as a saga of trade, colonisation, and cultural renaissance. Established by the British East India Company, Kolkata became the capital of British India until 1911. The city played a pivotal role in India's struggle for independence and later emerged as a center for arts and literature during the Bengal Renaissance. The legacy of luminaries like Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda is embedded in Kolkata's heritage, visible in its colonial-era edifices, vibrant festivals, and the cultural ethos that continues to thrive.


The majestic white marble structure pays homage to Queen Victoria
The majestic white marble structure pays homage to Queen VictoriaManab Das/Shutterstock

Victoria Memorial: A symbol of Kolkata's grandeur, the Victoria Memorial is a majestic white marble structure that pays homage to Queen Victoria. Surrounded by lush gardens, the memorial houses a museum showcasing the city's colonial history. More info on the website here.

Address: Victoria Memorial Hall, 1, Queens Way, Maidan, Kolkata


Victoria Memorial Gallery: 10 am to 6 pm (closed on Mondays and designated national holidays

Entry: Admission fees are INR 50 for Indians, INR 100 for foreign nationals from SAARC countries, and INR 500 for nationals of all other countries.

The Gardens: 5:30 am to 6 pm on all days.

  • Howrah Bridge: Connecting Kolkata to Howrah, this iconic cantilever bridge is a marvel of engineering. The bridge, adorned with city lights at night, is a symbol of Kolkata's bustling connectivity.

  • Indian Museum: Established in 1814, the Indian Museum is one of the oldest in Asia. It houses a vast collection of artifacts, including fossils, sculptures, and Mughal paintings, offering a glimpse into India's diverse history. More info on the website here.

    Address: 27, Jawaharlal Nehru Rd, Fire Brigade Head Quarter, New Market Area, Dharmatala, Taltala, Kolkata

    Timings: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am ‒ 6 pm (Mondays closed)

    Entry: The entrance fees are INR 75 for adults, INR 20 for individuals below 18 years, and INR 500 for foreign nationals.


Kolkata is known as a hub of good food, a result of the many culinary influences of different communities over centuries. The city made it to the list of great global food destinations compiled by Eater, the award-winning digital media brand that publishes a list of the world's best culinary destinations every year. Some popular restaurants to try in Kolkata are:

A Bengali food thali at a restaurant
A Bengali food thali at a restaurantSubhankar Chakraborty/Shutterstock

6 Ballygunge Place: This is a chain now but the original is nestled in a heritage house, and serves authentic Bengali cuisine in a nostalgic setting. The restaurant is known for its traditional thalis and seafood delicacies. More info on their website here.

Address: 6, Dr Amiya Bose Sarani Rd, near Patha Bhavan School, Ballygunge Place, Ballygunge, Kolkata

Royal Indian Hotel: Kolkata is known for its Awadhi-style biryani. Royal Indian Hotel serves up a saffron hued plate. Have it with a side of their famous mutton chaap. Though the original outlet is in North Kolkata, the one near Park Circus crossing is the one to go to.

Address: 24 A, Syed Amir Ali Ave, Lower Range, Park Circus, Ballygunge, Kolkata

Flurys: A Kolkata institution, Flurys is a vintage tearoom known for its English breakfast, delectable pastries, and a charming ambiance reminiscent of the city's colonial era. Flurys has expanded and has several outlets, however, the OG is the one on Park Street.

Address: 18A, Mother Teresa Sarani, Park Street area, Kolkata

Eau Chew: This family-run eating house is considered to be one of the oldest Chinese eateries in the city. The dishes here have been created with secret family recipes passed down through generations.

Address: 12, Ganesh Chandra Ave, Esplanade, Chowringhee North, Bowbazar, Kolkata

Popular Street Foods

The kathi roll is a Kolkata invention
The kathi roll is a Kolkata inventionAlex Reynolds/Shutterstock

Known for having one of the richest street food culture in India, Kolkata is a treasure trove for gastronomes from around the world. Here are some top picks from the vibrant gullies of the City of Joy:

  • Jhalmuri At The Maidan: Experience the quintessential Kolkata street snack, jhalmuri, at the stalls near Maidan and Victoria Memorial. The spicy puffed rice dish is a favorite among locals.

  • Kathi Rolls In New Market And Park Street: The Kolkata kathi roll is legendary. The meat for the stuffing is mostly charcoal grilled or shallow fried on a griddle. Ketchup and chilly sauce made by old Chinese-owned brands are added with slices of onion and green chillies. This is rolled up in a fried maida roti, or flatbread. Nizam's behind New Market, known to be the inventor of the kathi roll, is a popular joint as is Kusum Rolls on Park Street.

  • Telebhaja In College Street: Telebhaja (vegetable fritters) with muri (puffed rice) is a quintessential evening snack in Kolkata. Though you will find them on most street corners, it is the stalls around College Street that are known for this savoury indulgence. Choose from a variety, including beguni or eggplants, pyaaji or onion fritters, alu or potato, and even capsicum.

  • Mishti In North Kolkata: If you could float around above Kolkata on any given evening you would see thousands of Bengali sweet shops thronged with Kolkatans getting their daily dose of mishti, or sweets. Of these shops, there are a handful that were part of the original wave, mostly centred in the old part of town or North Kolkata. Check here for a list of places to visit.


Indian Museum
Indian Museum Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock
  • Indian Museum: The Indian Museum not only houses historical artifacts but also features art galleries showcasing traditional and contemporary Indian art.

  • Dover Lane Music Conference: One of the oldest classical music conferences in the country, the Dover Lane Music Conference brings together maestros and enthusiasts for a celebration of Indian classical music. More about it here.

  • CIMA Gallery:  A mecca for art lovers in Kolkata, CIMA gallery organises shows and exhibitions throughout the year in collaboration with international museums and art institutions. Every year, the gallery hosts an annual Art Mela where you canpick up pieces at discounted prices.

    Address: One Sunny Park Block-B, One Sunny Park, Sunny Towers, 2nd Floor, 43, Ashutosh Chowdhury Avenue, 43, Ashutosh Chowdary Ave, Ballygunge, Kolkata

    Timings: 11 am to 7 pm (Sundays closed, Monday 3 pm to 7pm)


A Bengal Tiger at a waterhole in Sunderban National Park
A Bengal Tiger at a waterhole in Sunderban National ParkRoop_Dey/Shutterstock
  • Sundarbans Tours: Embark on a journey to the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, known for its diverse wildlife, including the Bengal tiger. Boat safaris, cruises, and nature walks offer an adventurous exploration.

  • Eco Park: At Kolkata's Eco Park, daredevils can enjoy a zip-lining adventure, soaring over the park's landscapes and water bodies for an adrenaline-pumping experience.

  • Hoogly River Cruise: Take a leisurely cruise on the Hooghly River, exploring the city's riverside landmarks and enjoying the serene landscapes along the way. You can also sign up for a longer cruise exploring the European settlements along the river.

  • Birding: Kolkata has several birding hotspots where one can spot rare and migrant birds. A popular place for birdwatching is Santragachi Jheel, only a 20-minute drive from Kolkata. According to reports, the lake attracted over 7,000 winged visitors in 2023 winter.

  • Cycling: Cycling around a city is a great way to discover hidden gems. There are several cycling tours in Kolkata that let you explore the city's hidden gems and nearby towns. Check here for a list.


Kolkata's markets are a treasure trove of traditional crafts, textiles, and innovative artistic creations. From the distinctive leather work of Shantiniketan to terracotta from Bishnupur, there are many unique gifts to pick up when you are in Kolkata. Some places to hit up for shopping in Kolkata are: 

  • New Market: Established in 1874, New Market was formerly known as Sir Stuart Hogg Market. Situated on Lindsay Street, it is a bustling shopping destination offering a variety of goods in different sections, including all kinds of food items, clothing, accessories, and handicrafts. Some things to pick up from here is the distinctive Bandel cheese, silver from the Tibetan silver stores, Shantiniketan leather goods, and hand embroidered bed and table linen.

  • Dakshinapan Shopping Complex: Dakshinapan is a government-run shopping complex showcasing traditional handicrafts, textiles, and artifacts from different regions of India.

    Address: Off Dhakuria Bridge, Kolkata, West Bengal 700068

  • Gariahat: Bengal is known for its gorgeous handwoven saris, from the lightweight tangail and dhaniakhali cottons to intricate jamdanis, kantha, Baluchari, and Murshidabad silks. There are many shops in and around Gariahat where you can pick up a variety of Bengal saris.

    Some of the popular ones are:

    Balaram Saha

    Address: 1st Floor, 14/6, Gariahat Rd, Falguni Sangha, Ekdalia, Ballygunge, Kolkata. Check out their website here.

    RMCG Basak

    Address: 1/1, Nandy St, behind Ballygunge, New Market Area, Dover Terrace, Ballygunge, Kolkata


    Address: 58 B Hindusthan Park. Check out their website here.


  • Botanical Gardens: Established in 1787, the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden is one of the oldest botanical gardens in South Asia. It features a vast collection of plants, including the iconic Great Banyan Tree. Know more about the variety of plants you can see at the gardens here.

  • Prinsep Ghat: Along the banks of the Hoogly River, Prinsep Ghat offers a peaceful escape with its riverside promenade, gardens, and stunning views of the Vidyasagar Setu.

  • The Lakes: Take a walk around the Lakes (also known as Rabindra Sorobor). Located in the heart of south Kolkata, this is a multifunctional area with tree-shaded paths around water bodies. The lakes also have a rowing club. Read about it here.

    Timings: 5am to 7pm

Rowers at the Lakes
Rowers at the Lakes Roop_Dey/Shutterstock


Explore a variety of accommodation options, each offering a unique glimpse into Kolkata's hospitality.

  • Luxury:

    • The Oberoi Grand: A colonial-era masterpiece, The Oberoi Grand offers luxurious rooms, fine dining experiences, and a central location in the heart of Kolkata. More about the property and prices here.

      Address: 15, Jawaharlal Nehru Rd, New Market Area, Dharmatala, Taltala, Kolkata

    • ITC Sonar: Nestled amidst acres of greenery, ITC Sonar is a luxury hotel with modern amenities, spacious rooms, and a tranquil ambiance. More about the property and prices here.

      Address: 1, JBS Haldane Ave, Tangra, Kolkata

  • Budget:

    • Metropole: Located in South Kolkata off Deshopriyo Park crossing, Metropole is ideal for leisure and business travellers alike. The multi-cuisine restaurant-bar and cafe at Metropole attracts local residents regularly. More about the property and prices here.

      Address: 174 Sarat Bose Road, Kolkata

    • Hotel VIP International: Situated near Park Street, Hotel VIP International is a budget hotel providing essential amenities and a convenient location. More about the property here.

      Address: 51, Mirza Ghalib St, Esplanade, Taltala, Kolkata

  • Boutique:

    • Calcutta Bungalow: Several colonial era bungalows have been restored and transformed into atmospheric boutique stays. One such is the Calcutta Bungalow, a popular B&B in a characteristic 1920s building. More about the property and prices here. Check here for a list of similar heritage stays in Kolkata.

      Address: 5, Radha Kanta Jew St, Fariapukur, Shyam Bazar, Kolkata

    • Raajkutir: This boutique hote spread over a 13-acre campus, has been built around a fictional representation of 19th century Bengal. More about the property and prices here. Read more about it in our article here.

      Address: 89C, Narkeldanga Main Rd, Kadapara, Phool Bagan, Kankurgachi, Kolkata, West Bengal 700054

    • Elgin Fairlawn: A budget-friendly heritage hotel, Fairlawn Hotel in Sudder Street offers comfortable accommodations with a touch of old-world charm. More about the property and prices here.

      Address: 13A, Sudder St, Fire Brigade Head Quarter, Esplanade, Dharmatala, Taltala, Kolkata

Getting There

If you're flying, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport is the primary gateway. Alternatively, the city is well-connected by rail, with Howrah and Sealdah major railway stations. Bus services and private vehicles also ply on well-maintained roads.

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