With its colourful flower markets, mouthwatering street food and friendly atmosphere, it’s no wonder Kolkata is nicknamed India’s City of Joy. There’s also a wonderfully chaotic side to the city, with beeping rickshaws and busy roads adding to its charm. You’ll find lots of attractions among its streets, from colonial-style architecture to Chinese temples, thanks to its rich cultural and historical heritage. The city, formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of India's West Bengal state.
Most hostels in Kolkata are based in the city centre, though a number are on the outskirts. You can stay in a boutique guesthouse with a zen garden and a fountain, or a hostel with meditation and yoga classes. Wherever you chose to stay, you’ll usually get free Wi-Fi, while many Kolkata hostels have a choice of female-only dorms or private rooms. If you want to try authentic local dishes, it’s worth looking out for a Kolkata hostel with free Asian-style breakfasts or restaurants.
Kolkata has several neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct character. The busiest parts are Burrabazar, home to one of India’s largest wholesale markets, and Dharmatala, where most of the city’s historic buildings are. Head out of the city centre towards Kumortuli to see Kolkata’s fascinating and distinctive art scene. And for the best cocktails in town? You'll find these in the urban district of Salt Lake City, also known as Bidhannagar.
Most travellers fall in love with Kolkata when they stumble upon its hidden gems. One example is the Terreti Morning Market, offering delicious street food and local delicacies. You’ll have to wake up early though, as it finishes at 9am! The city’s finest example of colonial architecture is the marble Victoria Memorial. You can easily spend a day here looking around its gallery and large gardens. Also well worth visiting is South Park Street Cemetery. As strange as it sounds, this place makes for a fascinating walk with its eerie Gothic-style tombs and overgrown trees.
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport is a 40-minute taxi ride from the city centre. You can also get to the city by train, or there's a bus stop 15 minutes' walk from the airport. There are fast trains such as the Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express, which connect Kolkata to Delhi and other cities across the country. In Kolkata, you can get around by rickshaw or by taking an iconic yellow Ambassador Classic taxi.