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21 Things To Know Before You Go To Kolkata


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Rafaela Montoya


Planning a trip to Kolkata? Get ready to immerse yourself in a city known for its rich cultural heritage, bustling markets, mouthwatering street food, and warm-hearted people. Kolkata, also known as the “City of Joy,” is the capital city of West Bengal in India and is a captivating destination that offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern vibrancy. Before you embark on your Kolkata adventure, it’s essential to be well-prepared and aware of some key aspects of the city. From navigating the bustling streets to exploring historical landmarks and indulging in local delicacies, this guide will provide you with 21 valuable insights that will help you make the most of your time in Kolkata. So, grab a cup of tea and let’s dive into the enchanting world of Kolkata!

Rich Cultural Heritage

Kolkata boasts a rich cultural heritage, evident in its historic architecture, diverse festivals, and love for arts, literature, and theater. Make sure to explore iconic landmarks like the Victoria Memorial and Indian Museum to immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant history.

Warm and Welcoming Locals

Kolkata is known for its warm and welcoming locals who are always ready to assist visitors. Don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation and interact with the people to experience the true essence of Kolkata’s hospitality.

Delicious Street Food

Kolkata is a food lover’s paradise, particularly renowned for its mouthwatering street food. Indulge in popular delights such as puchkas, kathi rolls, and jhalmuri, and savor the unique flavors that define the culinary landscape of this city.

Historical Landmarks

Explore Kolkata’s captivating history by visiting iconic landmarks like the Howrah Bridge, Marble Palace, and Dakshineswar Kali Temple. Each monument has a story to tell and offers glimpses into Kolkata’s past.

Cultural Festivals

Kolkata is famous for its grand celebrations of cultural festivals, including Durga Puja, Kali Puja, and the Kolkata International Film Festival. Join in the revelry and witness the city come alive with music, dance, and colorful processions.

Tram Rides

Take a nostalgic tram ride through the streets of Kolkata and experience the old-world charm of the city. Trams are an integral part of Kolkata’s transportation system and provide a unique way to explore the city at a leisurely pace.

Victoria Memorial

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the stunning Victoria Memorial, a majestic white marble structure built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s reign. Explore its lush gardens and immerse yourself in Kolkata’s colonial-era history.

Literary Haven

Kolkata has been a hub for intellectuals and is renowned for its literary contributions. Visit the famous Indian Coffee House and College Street Boi Para (Book Market) to experience the city’s love affair with books and literature.

The Gateway to the Himalayas

Kolkata serves as the gateway to the beautiful Himalayan regions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Gangtok. Plan a trip to these picturesque hill stations for breathtaking views, tea plantations, and serene landscapes.

Festive Spirit

Kolkata truly comes alive during festivals. Experience the fervor and enthusiasm of the locals during Durga Puja, when the city transforms into a dazzling spectacle of lights, colors, and intricate decorations.

Art and Culture

Kolkata has a thriving art and culture scene, with numerous art galleries and theaters showcasing the works of talented artists. Attend performances, exhibitions, and film screenings to delve into the city’s artistic offerings.

Science and Innovation

Kolkata is home to prestigious research institutes and scientific organizations. Explore the Science City and Birla Industrial and Technological Museum for a fascinating glimpse into the world of science and innovation.

Iconic Hand-pulled Rickshaws

Take a ride on one of Kolkata’s iconic hand-pulled rickshaws, a mode of transportation unique to the city. This eco-friendly way of getting around allows you to soak in the sights and sounds of Kolkata’s bustling streets.

Rabindra Sangeet

Kolkata is the birthplace of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, and his music, known as Rabindra Sangeet, resonates throughout the city. Attend a musical performance to experience the soul-stirring melodies of Tagore’s compositions.

Coffee Culture

Kolkata has a vibrant coffee culture with numerous cafes and coffee houses where you can relax, unwind, and savor a cup of aromatic coffee. Adda, the local term for intellectual conversations, often takes place in these cozy establishments.

Mother Teresa’s Legacy

Kolkata is deeply associated with the humanitarian work of Mother Teresa. Visit the Mother House, her former residence, and the Missionaries of Charity to learn more about her inspiring life and legacy.

Bengali Cuisine

Bengali cuisine is renowned for its delectable flavors and unique preparations. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor traditional Bengali dishes like macher jhol (fish curry), shorshe ilish (hilsa fish in mustard sauce), and mishti doi (sweet yogurt).

College Street Boi Para

College Street Boi Para, also known as the “Book Market,” is a paradise for book lovers. Explore the numerous bookstores lining the street that cater to diverse reading interests, and indulge in finding literary gems at affordable prices.

Kolkata’s Love for Cricket

Cricket holds a special place in Kolkata’s heart. Witness the city’s passion for the sport by catching a match at the iconic Eden Gardens Stadium, one of the largest cricket stadiums in the world.

Cultural Melting Pot

Kolkata is a melting pot of different cultures and communities, resulting in a vibrant and diverse social fabric. Embrace the cosmopolitan nature of the city and explore its multicultural influences.

The Charm of Kolkata’s Streets

The streets of Kolkata have a charm of their own. Take leisurely walks through iconic neighborhoods like Park Street, South Kolkata, and New Market to soak in the bustling atmosphere and vibrant street life.

Experience the Magic of Kolkata!

Kolkata, with its rich history, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality, has so much to offer for every traveler. Whether you’re exploring the historic landmarks, indulging in delicious street food, or immersing yourself in the artistic and literary scene, Kolkata will captivate your senses and leave you with unforgettable memories. So pack your bags, and get ready to embark on an incredible adventure in the “City of Joy”!


Kolkata, known as the “City of Joy,” is a vibrant and culturally rich destination waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a foodie, history enthusiast, or simply seeking a unique travel experience, Kolkata has something for everyone. From indulging in delectable street food to immersing yourself in the city’s rich history and architectural marvels, Kolkata offers an array of experiences that will leave you enchanted.

Before you embark on your journey to Kolkata, it’s essential to have some knowledge about the city’s customs, traditions, and practicalities. Ensuring you have a seamless trip and can make the most of your time in Kolkata. Here are 21 things to know before you go:

  1. Language: The official language is Bengali, but English is widely spoken, especially in tourist areas.
  2. Weather: Kolkata experiences a hot and humid climate. It’s best to visit during the winter months from October to March.
  3. Currency: The currency used in Kolkata is the Indian Rupee (INR). Exchange currency before arrival or use ATMs in the city.
  4. Transportation: Kolkata has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, taxis, trams, and the iconic yellow Ambassador cabs.
  5. Food: Kolkata is famous for its street food, especially puchkas (pani puri) and rosogollas (sweet syrupy balls).
  6. Festivals: Kolkata celebrates numerous festivals, with Durga Puja being the most significant and vibrant cultural event.


Q: What is the best time to visit Kolkata?

A: The best time to visit Kolkata is during the winter months from October to March when the weather is pleasant.

Q: Is it safe to drink tap water in Kolkata?

A: It is advisable to drink bottled or filtered water to avoid any potential health issues.

Q: What is the local mode of transport in Kolkata?

A: Kolkata has an efficient public transportation system including buses, taxis, trams, and the iconic yellow Ambassador cabs.

Q: Are credit cards widely accepted in Kolkata?

A: While most hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls accept credit cards, it is advisable to carry cash for smaller establishments and street vendors.

Q: What are some must-try dishes in Kolkata?

A: Don’t miss trying puchkas (pani puri), kathi rolls, macher jhol (fish curry), and the famous rosogollas.

Q: What are the famous attractions in Kolkata?

A: Some popular attractions in Kolkata include Victoria Memorial, Howrah Bridge, Indian Museum, and the vibrant alleys of Kumartuli.

Q: Is it necessary to tip in Kolkata?

A: Tipping is appreciated but not mandatory. It is recommended to tip around 10% of the total amount at restaurants and for good service.