The intellectual and artistic capital of India, Kolkata has gradually become synonymous with art and culture. Known for its siestas and slow way of life, the capital city is popular for its architectural sites, art galleries and plays. But, what most people miss out on is the fun side of Kolkata! With a number of adventurous and fun things to do in Kolkata, travelers can have a great time exploring this vibrant city. What makes it easier is that most of these activities and spots are situated close to the prime hotels in Kolkata.
Let’s take a look at my personal list of fun things to do in Kolkata.
1. Go Boating at Princep Ghat on Hoogly
I know this is one of the most popular spots in Kolkata and for absolutely the right reasons. Located near the banks of the popular Hooghly River, Princep Ghat, built during the British era is a delight to discover for tourists. It’s also a favorite among locals since the charm of the place is untouched. Offering you stunning views of the river, the bustling Princep Ghat is the perfect place to enjoy everything Kolkata is popular for – great food, shopping and boating!
You may have to wait a bit longer for a boat ride since the place is thronged by tourists but it’s absolutely worth it.
- Timings: Open 24 hours but it’s best to visit during the sunrise or sunset
2. Discover the Wonders of Science City
An unusual choice but definitely one that promises a fun-filled time, Science City in Kolkata is a beautifully designed space which has taken into account sustainable and eco-friendly construction options. This ensures that visitors especially children here have an exceptionally wonderful time. It is one of the largest science centers in India under the National Council of Science Museums. There is much to keep you busy here along with brushing your knowledge of scientific principles and experiments.
- Location: J.B.S Haldane Avenue, Kolkata
- Timings: 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
- Entry Fees: INR 50/- per person
3. Enjoy Music & Light Show at the Victoria Memorial Palace
Victoria Memorial is to Kolkata what India Gate is to Delhi and what Gateway of India is to Mumbai and hence it just CAN’T be missed. The overwhelming structure which was built as a tribute to Queen Victoria, the erstwhile empress of the British Empire, is enthralling to explore. There is a music and light show (also known as Son-et-Lumiere) every evening and besides the museum, this is the high point of your visit here.
- Timings: 6:15 pm onwards (closed on Mondays & National Holidays)
- Entry Fees: INR 10/- and 20/- per person
4. Spend an Afternoon at the Botanical Gardens
Between long busy days, take a break and head to the Botanical Gardens for a relaxed, rejuvenating afternoon. The best way to reach the gardens is by a taking ferry from Babughat to Howrah and then board a bus. The Garden is home to one of the oldest Banyan Trees which is now over 200 years old and makes for a picturesque view; in fact, it is one of the main reasons to visit the Gardens.
- Timings: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
- Entry Fee: Indian Nationals: INR 10,
- Foreigners: INR 100,
- Camera: INR 20
5. Go on a Tram Ride
It might be old school and a little cheesy, but if you visit Kolkata and don’t go for a tram ride, did you really visit Kolkata? Let’s be honest, just the idea of hopping on a tram and discovering the old-world charms of the city is a traveller’s delight. You can take a tram from Esplanade and go till the last stop or decide to hop off mid-way for another destination.
The tram can tend to get a little crowded so ensure you choose the afternoon for this trip lest you miss the experience in the morning rush.
6. Count the stars at Birla Planetarium
It could be said that Birla Planetarium is similar to planetariums across India; however, the shows here are exceptional and are offered in multiple languages. If you are travelling with children, this might be a great idea and if you are travelling solo, this is a great way of breaking the monotony that vacations bring with them.
- Location: Cathedral Road, near Victoria Memorial, Kolkata
- Timings: 12:30 AM to 6:30 PM
- Entry Fees: INR 40/- per person
7. Head into the Wild at Sundarbans
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, perhaps the largest littoral mangrove belt in the world, and definitely on the bucket list of every wildlife enthusiast, Sundarbans are NOT to be missed if you are anywhere close to a 200 km radius! Located close to 110 odd km from Kolkata, you can reach Sundarbans by train or road.
Home to the largest number of Sundari trees, the largest number of Bengal Tigers and unparalleled beauty, you need at least 2 to 3 days to explore the entire region. It is strongly recommended that when you are on an exploratory tour of Sundarbans, you need to be careful and follow all the rules laid down by the locals. Unlike other wildlife reserves, Sundarbans is still quite unpredictable. Besides the rules that one MUST follow, the Sundarbans experience is always going to remain with you.
- Best time to visit: September to March
8. Relive your childhood at Nicco Park
If you happen to be travelling with children, they will shower all their love on you if you take them here. But if you are travelling by yourself or with friends, Nicco Park still doesn’t disappoint. Touted as the Disneyland of Kolkata, Nicco Park is a vast eco-friendly space with numerous amusement rides. The rides are quite amazing and instantly take you back to the carefree days of childhood.
- Location: Salt Lake Bypass Jheel Meel, Salt Lake City
- Time: 10:30 am to 7:30 pm
- Entry ticket fees: Rs. 200 onwards
9. Shopping at Park Street, New Market and Barra Bazaar
A trip cannot be complete without a visit to local markets. Park Street is one of the most famous thoroughfares of Kolkata. It is popularly known as the street that never sleeps, owing to its nightlife during the 70s. Nowadays, it is a foodie’s delight, as it offers the best Bengali cuisine and bakery delicacies (read about Flurys).
New Market on the other hand is a shopaholic’s delight. From clothes to electronics, the market has it all. Although a number of contemporary shops have come up, the real experience is to be had at the old shops that have been here for ages.
As the name suggests, Barra Bazaar has it all. It is one of the biggest wholesale markets in India. There are around 25 different markets in Barra Bazaar, each specializing in a specific item. From clothes to spices to sweets, one cannot ask for something here and not get it.
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