Have you ever thought of visiting Kolkata, located in the east of India?
A vibrant city that has a great historical significance, cultural and intellectual awakening, British architectural beauty, and popularly known for its street food.
Well, the ‘city of Joy’ is my hometown. I am born and brought up in Kolkata and today I will provide a complete travel guide for the city. So, those who are or who will plan to visit the city find it comfortable and safe to travel.
From the tourism perspective, Kolkata has always remained a hot-spot for foreign tourists. There are tons of things to explore around the city and you will find it amusing to taste, especially ‘the street food.’
So, if you are planning for a tour in Kolkata, do read my complete travel guide I am sure you will find it helpful and informative. Being a native of Kolkata, I can tell many things that you won’t find anywhere else.
In my complete travel guide to Kolkata, the following are the topics that I am going to talk about.
- Places to visit in Kolkata
- The food you can taste
- Travel tips
(If I may ask for how many days you are in Kolkata? Is it 2 days, 3 days or 5 days?
Based on your stay duration, I can recommend places to visit and other day trips.)
Best Places to Visit in Kolkata
There are tons of beautiful places that you can visit on your journey to Kolkata but I will share with you a few best local destinations/spots where you can stop by and explore.
Victoria Memorial is a heritage in Kolkata and one of the most popular tourist spots in the city.
It is one of the historical landmarks that was built to commemorate Queen Victoria. Today, it serves as a major tourist spot that generates revenue for the state.
It is well-maintained, there is a big garden in front of the memorial with fountains and lakes. If not visiting the palace, it is also a great friendly place to enjoy a picnic.
The Memorial is home to tons of artifacts and paintings that represents the glory of the era of Queen Victoria.
You can spend two hours of the tour at just 200 INR ($2.8) only for foreign travelers.
If you are in Kolkata, you must visit ‘Esplanade’ – a hustling market for shopping.
This particular place has a lot to offer. You can spend an entire evening shopping, wandering around the area, dining in a good restaurant. You will get everything on earth in the Esplanade market.
There are stalls lined up selling pieces of jewelry, bags, watches, shoes, clothes, and every other thing.
(Tips: You have to bargain to get the right price for your product. The shopkeepers always quote the higher price, so you must negotiate if you are willing to buy something. If you don’t, you will end up paying way higher than its actual cost.
Also, keep your belongings close to you as stealing is a thing in the Esplanade market.)
Howrah Bridge is a connecting bridge to Central Kolkata to Howrah Station. The bridge is built above the Hoogly river.
The specialty about walking down the bridge in the early morning is you will get to see a lot and a lot of different people.
They are the daily commuters, travelers, and workers of all class, caste, and religion.
If you want to explore the beauty of this place, you can get an auto or bus that stops at ‘Mullick Ghat Flower Market.’ It takes only 10 minutes to reach from the Howrah Bridge.
It is a visual delight to see such a big flower market. Wherever you turn, you will only see flowers, and your nose will catch the aromas that spread in the air.
(Tips: You need to reach at around 4:30 am to get the view of this market. Also, let me tell you this before that the market is a bit dirty. There is an absolute lack of hygiene in the surroundings.
So, if you can ignore that, then I am sure you will love this place.)
Kumortuli represents the rich artistic and tradition of Kolkata. It is an alley of potters who create the idols of God and Goddess with their skillful hands.
These idols are made of clay, and for generations, these potters are in this holy business of making deities.
So, the name ‘Kumortoli’ means ‘potters locality.’ To explore this area of the city, you have to walk around the narrow lanes and you will see unfinished clay idols on the side of the paths.
You can also interact with the potters. They are the locals and very grounded people who find solace in their profession.
If you request them, they may let you show how a clay idol is being made and the stories of their generations.
Photographers love coming to this place often to capture the inspiring moment of the artist’s work.
College Street in Kolkata is the world’s largest book market where you will get all types of books available.
College Street is not only lined with tons of bookshops but also there are several reputed institutions like the University of Calcutta, Presidency University, Medical College of Kolkata and several others.
You will find technical, engineering, medical, literature, banking fiction, non-fiction, and many other genres of books. From big bookshops to small, you will find it all in one area.
(Tips: Don’t forget to stop by at the famous Kolkata’s oldest ‘Indian Coffee House’)
Dakhineshwar Kali Temple
Well, you must also visit the Dakhineshwar Kali Temple which is located on the banks of Hoogly river. People say it is a very holy place to visit for everyone.
We, the natives of Kolkata, often visit the Dakhineshwar Temple to seek blessings for any good things happening in our life.
Even if you aren’t a religious person, I would say if you have time left, do visit the temple and seek blessings.
The Food You Must Try – Travel Guide to Kolkata
Golgappas is one of the most scrumptious street foods of India. People of all ages love to eat Golgappas in the evening when they go out. Phuchka is what we call the Golgappas in Kolkata.
You will see a stall of Phuchkas at every corner of the street in Kolkata.
(Tip: If you are a hygiene freak, then most likely you won’t like it because the roadside stalls use their bare hand in smashing the potato mix. But in the food court of malls, they use gloves and keep it clean. So, you can try a plate of Phuchkas from there.)
At every household in Kolkata on a Sunday morning breakfast, ‘Luchi Aloo’ is a must-have thing. Even at the roadside food stalls, you will find freshly made ‘Luchi Aloo’ that daily commuters are eating at a minimal cost.
Kolkata Kathi Roll has earned its name because of its delectable taste. There are roll stalls at every corner of the city. You will find a huge variety of Kathi rolls, including veg and non-veg, at every stall.
(Tip: If you are wandering around the Gariahat area, then try Kolkata Special Kathi Rolls there.)
Biryani is a Mughlai cuisine that is made of rice with special herbs and meat. There are popular types of Biryanis in India like Awadh Biryani, Hyderabadi Biryani, Malabar Biryani, Sindhi Biryani, and a few more.
Kolkata Biryani is among the many that is too popular countrywide for its unique taste.
You can get to taste the true essence of Kolkata Biryani at Aminia, Shiraz, and Arsalan restaurant.
Best Restaurants in Kolkata
- Flurys – 18A, Park St, Park Street area, Kolkata, 700018
- OH! Calcutta – 4th, Forum Mall, 10/3, Elgin Rd, Sreepally, Bhowanipore, Kolkata, 700020,
- Coffee House – 15, Bankim Chatterjee Street, College Street, Kolkata
- 6 Ballygaunge Place – 6, Dr. Amiya Bose Sarani Rd, Ballygunge Place, Ballygunge, Kolkata, 700019,
- Bhojohori Manna – 18/1A, Hindusthan Rd, Dover Terrace, Ballygunge, Kolkata, 700029,
Best Weekend Trips Near Kolkata
If you are new in Kolkata and want to explore more, then I would suggest you step outside the city and go for a weekend trip.
You can check out another blog post where I have mentioned all the 21 best places to travel in West Bengal.
But for a weekend trip near Kolkata, I would recommend you to visit these places.
Sundarban National Park
The Sundarban National Park is a biosphere Reserve and a Tiger Reserve. The National Park is unique for its vibrant mangrove ecosystem. It is famous for the Sundari trees as well.
The Sundarban Tourism Department only offers boat safari to the visitors. If you are fortunate, then you will encounter Royal Bengal Tigers on the edge of the river.
Shantiniketan is a peaceful and culturally rich ideal destination for them who seeks tranquility. The town has a historical significance and has been developed by the legend Rabindranath Tagore.
How to reach: The best way to reach Shantiniketan is by train, if you want to explore. There is Sealdah-Bolpur train that takes around 3 hours of journey.
Or you can go by road by hiring a car.
Mandarmoni Sea Beach
Mandarmani is the new emerging beach destination near Kolkata and best for a weekend trip. Thankfully it is a less exploited place and has untamed beauty that you can care to visit.
If you have much time left in your hand, then definitely you should visit one of the best hill stations in India ‘Darjeeling’. Situated at the foothills of Himalayas, Darjeeling is a beautiful place to visit for the backpackers.
Alluring Himalayan beauty, tea plantations, a joy ride on the Himalayan Railway, delicious thupka and momos, and many more activities to do and places to visit if you come down here in Darjeeling.
How to reach:
By train, New Jalpaiguri is the closest station to Darjeeling. From there, you can hire a car to get to Darjeeling and it takes around 3 and a half hours of journey.
Travel Tips and Safety in Kolkata
- The climate of Kolkata remains pleasant during winter days. It becomes almost unbearable during the summer and rainy seasons. The temperature shoots up to more than 36-38 Celcius degrees with high humidity. Whereas during the rainy season, half of the city gets severely affected due to waterlogging. So, the right time to visit Kolkata is between October – February.
- The transportation system is very frequent and widely available. You will get train, bus, car, and tram. If you are new in the city, try traveling in Tram. It is cheap and quite enjoyable. Something new I would say for you to experience.
- If you are a solo female traveler, make sure you stay inside the hotel after 8 pm. During the night, the city isn’t very welcoming, especially for ‘foreign female travelers.’ Otherwise, the people are generous and friendly.
- If you want to visit something extraordinary, then try your travel planning during the ‘Durga Puja’ festival. It gets frenzy and you will get to experience the vibrancy, ecstasy and people’s level of excitement during this festival.
- Carry a Lonely Planet travel guide book, it will help you in a lot in finding some places and details.
I hope you all find this guide helpful. If you ever plan to visit my city ‘Kolkata,’ you can ask me anything I would be glad to help you in planning your travel.
You can connect me Paulomidutta89@gmail.com