Kolkata is one of those places that I knew I wanted to visit someday, but it was never actually on the very top of my bucket list. You see, while I had seen many pictures of its magnificent Howrah Bridge and Victoria Memorial online, little did I know about the magic that was waiting to be uncovered in its historic neighbourhoods (Spoiler alert: they are so Instagrammable!!!).
From catching my very first glance at Kolkata’s iconic bright yellow taxis to getting lost discovering its hidden alleys and chaotic markets, every second in the city made me fall in love with its unique personality. Its indefinite charisma also made Kolkata a place where I could find an indisputable grace even in its most rusted grandeur. Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s something I am all here for.
So, if you are looking for an Instagrammable destination in India that is not Rajasthan or Goa, then you my friend, have come to the right place. Being one of those places that wows you in every way possible, Kolkata continuously made me want to press that shutter button on my camera. I have compiled a list of my best Instagrammable spots in Kolkata, so that all you have to do now is get yourself there and just explore.
1. VICTORIA MEMORIAL
Like any other person who visits Kolkata, Victoria Memorial is the sight that was on the very top of my to-see list. Built in the early 20th century, this architectural marvel dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria is a true embodiment of Kolkata and its colonial heritage, if you ask me.
Being a grand monument made entirely of white Makrana marble (the same as Taj Mahal in Agra) that is situated amidst lush green gardens, Victoria memorial is a photographer’s dream that keeps on delivering one Instagrammable spot after the other. I mean, it really isn’t everyday that you come across a place whose every angle leaves you spellbound, right?
CG’s tip: The entrance to the museum inside the memorial opens at 10am, but you can still go and visit the grounds any time before that. If you love empty monuments and sunrises as much as I do, then head there early to take pictures without heaps of tourists in them. I personally reached the memorial at 06:30 am and honestly speaking, it was the perfect time with no one else in sight (and great lighting too)!
Opening hours: The gardens are open from 06:00 am – 06:00 pm throughout the year (even on holidays). And the Victoria Memorial Gallery is open from 10:00 am – 06:00, everyday except Monday and national holidays.
Entrance fee: For just the gardens, the ticket costs Rs. 10 per person. For the memorial, the entry is Rs. 20 for Indian nationals and Rs. 200 for foreign nationals.
2. St. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL
Situated only a few minutes away from Victoria Memorial, St. Paul’s Cathedral is another place that I really wanted to capture. But even though you can enter the outer area of the cathedral whenever you like and take a walk, the security there doesn’t let you take any pictures before opening time. Not being aware of this, I actually went here on my way to Victoria memorial for sunrise and was unfortunately turned down even after requesting quite a lot. Nonetheless, the cathedral’s Gothic architecture is so beautiful that I was glad to at least see it in person.
CG’s tip: If you want soft light for photos then your best bet is to come here before closing time at 18:00 since sunrise isn’t an option. Being short on time, I couldn’t return to take photos later so keep in mind that I have no idea about how crowded it might be.
Opening hours: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, 03:00 pm – 06:00 pm on all weekdays except Sunday. On Sundays, it is open from 07:30 am – 06:00 pm.
Entrance fee: Free.
3. PRINSEP GHAT
If you have been here for a while, then you know that I attract bad weather on most of my trips. Going boating on the Hooghly river at sunset and taking a billion photos at Prinsep Ghat is something that I have always pictured my Kolkata trip to be all about, but as usual mother nature had different plans for me.
It was raining in the evening both the days that I was in Kolkata and there was nothing but grey skies staring right back at me. After a lot of pep talk, I decided to skip Prinsep Ghat altogether and explore the bazaars of Kolkata instead. But if you are in Kolkata on a bright sunny day, when the sunset is going to be mind blowing, then this is exactly where you need to be at.
CG’s tip: You can combine your visit to Prinsep Ghat for sunset boating with a visit to St. Paul’s cathedral as both these Instagrammable spots in Kolkata are not far apart from each other.
4. HOWRAH BRIDGE
There really is nothing more quintessential about Kolkata than the Howrah Bridge itself. You can either cover the length of the bridge by foot or hail a cab and enjoy the experience that is crossing one of the busiest cantilever bridges in the world, if not the most. I personally wanted to do both, but since it was pouring heavy rain that morning I went with the latter.
Driving under this iconic bridge in the well-known vintage taxi of Kolkata was an overwhelming feeling that I can barely put into words today. Constructed without any nuts and bolts, Howrah Bridge is so unique in its design that I felt like every perspective of it is one of the best Instagrammable spots in Kolkata.
CG’s tip: Make sure to keep a few hours aside to fully take in the beauty of Howrah Bridge from all its different viewpoints. And don’t forget to take a stroll through the Mullick Ghat Flower Market that is near the southeast end of the bridge as it is very visually fascinating to say the least.
Opening hours: Howrah bridge is open all day, but the Mullick Ghat Flower Market near it is best visited early morning.
Entrance Fee: Free.
5. COLLEGE STREET
Home to India’s largest book market, Kolkata’s oldest coffee house and numerous universities, College street is a 1.5 km long street in central Kolkata that has a lot to offer. What enticed me to stay here for longer were its hidden alleys right off the main road that were full of colonial era buildings, decades old shops and a burst of colour in general. You can literally enter any lane of your choice and go in the direction that your feet take you, and an Instagrammable spot in Kolkata will be waiting for you just around the corner.
CG’s tip: Head to the Indian Coffee House on College Street (google maps location here) and then continue walking in small adjacent lanes to find some of these picturesque nooks.
Opening hours: All day.
Entrance Fee: Free.
6. SHOBHA BAZAAR
I had read many blogs about how Kolkata lives in its streets and that’s exactly what I wanted to experience during my short time there. So, after asking every local that I had a chance to speak with, I decided to visit Shobha Bazaar in search of colourful heritage houses in the city.
I kid you not, but as soon as our taxi dropped us in one of the lanes here, my friend and I were welcomed by an abundance of Instagrammable spots everywhere we looked. Being short on time, we could only explore one street in this neighbourhood, which was luckily enough to make me fall more in love with Kolkata and its rareness. I think it’s safe to say that I will definitely be returning there to discover more of it.
CG’s tip: If you only have the time to explore one neighbourhood of Kolkata, then by all means go here. But, if you can, then combine a visit here with Shyam Bazaar to get the best of both my favourites in Kolkata.
7. SHYAM BAZAAR
Exploring Shyam Bazaar’s area on foot is a must, if you ask me. Just like every other bazaar in India, you can expect to find utmost chaos on the main market streets that consist of non-stop traffic, yesteryear trams and heaps of people passing by. But once you go away from the typical tourist route and set out to explore some old-world backstreets instead, you are destined to find one of the most magical areas of Kolkata, as I remember it.
CG’s tip: Although every corner there feels picturesque, be sure to wear comfortable shoes as the best spots are sometimes tucked inside. It is also true that the more inside you go in smaller alleys, the less likely are you going to be surrounded by other tourists.
8. CALCUTTA BUNGALOW
Probably the most alluring hotel that I came across in Kolkata. Calcutta Bungalow is nothing but a treat for the eyes. Restored from a 1920 townhouse, this hotel speaks volumes in visually pleasing aesthetics that are perfect for Instagram.
After finding a picture from here on Pinterest a few days before my trip, I immediately decided that I had to go and shoot here for sure. How on earth could I ever miss the opportunity to take pictures with a pink hotel that is an astonishing Instagrammable spot in Kolkata, right?
CG’s tip: The interiors of this hotel are even prettier than the outside display, so if you do get a chance to stay here, then by all means do! Non-guests aren’t allowed to click any photos inside and since they only have 6 rooms available, it does get fully booked in no time!
Famous for being a traditional porter’s quarter, Kumortuli is a go to destination for any art lover visiting Kolkata. You can expect to find a variety of artisans making clay idols for both the city’s festivals, and for export purposes. And while the sculptures are Instagrammable in their own way, there are many hidden pictorial alleys that are tucked away in this part of Kolkata too.
CG’s tip: If you find a spot that you think looks nice but aren’t sure how visually appealing it could be, then please still go ahead and click your photos. There are so many Instagrammable spots in Kolkata that look amazing at first glance and then photos turn out to be average but when you go back home and edit that same average shot, you realise you had a banger all along.
10. ARTSY COFFEE AND CULTURE
Yes, it’s true that I would love any place that serves a good avocado toast. But, what makes cafes like Artsy even better are the photogenic walls that seem to attract us Instagrammers without fail. Hidden away in a small lane off a busy street, Artsy coffee and culture is one of my favourite Instagrammable spots in Kolkata. I mean, have you seen a wall with such colourful windows before?
CG’s tip: Try going here during the day as the wall with all the colourful windows is actually outside on the street, so you will need good natural light to take photos with it.
I hope you found this list about aesthetic places in Kolkata useful. I had an incredible time shooting in the capital of West Bengal during my short trip to the city, of which all the pictures and stories are up on my Instagram as well. As always, feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions about Kolkata. I would love to help you out!
Want to keep reading? You might like “A Local’s Guide to Best Instagrammable Spots in Jaipur” and “Staying at The Belgadia Palace: A boutique homestay in Odisha” too.
LIKE THIS POST? PIN IT FOR LATER ⤸