One of the best ways to explore Kolkata – the City of Joy – is like a local. Just ticking off the sightseeing list is not enough to get an essence of the city that exudes an unmistakable old world charm. You must do what the residents do on a daily basis to truly capture the ethos of the city. Here’s how you can do it.

Walk around old neighbourhoods

Be it Shyam Bazaar, Hindustan Park or Gariahat, a walk through the narrow bylanes of Kolkata’s most loved neighbourhoods is a must. You never know what eating or shopping gems you may come across. Remember to slow down and get a cup of tea from the street side stall and strike up a conversation with fellow customers to truly indulge in adda.

Catch a play

For a city that’s steeped deeply into art, culture and theatre, there’s no better way to experience it than by catching a play by the local artistes at Kala Mandir, Padatik, Girish Manch (mostly famous for Bengali plays) and the Academy of Fine Arts.

Sample street food and Bengali cuisine

The residents of Kolkata literally thrive on street food. Be it the rolls at Kusum, puchkas outside Theatre AC Market, pav bhaji at Lord Sinha Road, or the chillas outside Vardan Market, you’ve got to stop and taste these and more. Even the ubiquitous jhal muri found at every nook and cranny is a must-try. For authentic Bengali fare, head to city’s most loved 6 Ballygunge Place or Bhojohori Manna.

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A boat ride at Princep Ghat

Situated on the banks of river Hooghly, Princep Ghat is one of the oldest ghats built by the British that offers the best views of the Ganges. An evening boat ride on it is bound to be one of your best experiences. You can spot the new Hooghly Bridge called the Vidyasagar Setu against the setting sun from here.

Shopping at New Market

Almost all of Kolkata heads to New Market for most of their shopping needs. It’s especially crowded during festivals such as Durga Puja, Christmas or New Year when the streets are lit up and the vendors dole out stuff at exciting prices. From clothes and accessories, to bakery products and home decor, there’s nothing you won’t find here.