The political hub of the region, Bangalore is a world apart from the rest of the state and in many ways India’s most Westernised urban centre. The charming, verdant “Garden City'' of just over 600,0000 people at Independence has been completely transformed by the technology boom into both a trendy business hub and a bustling, smog-choked megalopolis of nearly twelve million. Signs of the West are thick on the ground: big-brand fashion stores and branches of CCD or Barista on nearly every corner; an international airport and ultramodern metro (still far from completion); and legions of hard-working, free-spending young adults.
The best travel tips for visiting Bangalore
Despite its lush environs and cosmopolitan air, Bengaluru’s few attractions are no match for those elsewhere in the state.
That said, it’s an efficient transport hub, well served by plane and bus, and paired with first-rate shopping, dining and nightlife. It has a calendar packed with big-ticket events in music, dance, art, literature, theatre or folk arts, this vibrant city can still deliver a few days’ respite from south India’s more taxing inconveniences.
The centre of modern Bengaluru lies about 4 km east of Kempe Gowda Circle (and the bus and railway stations), where you’ll find most of the midrange accommodation, restaurants, shops, tourist information and banks, although Indiranagar further east is the up and coming area for leisure.
Leafy Cubbon Park, and its less than exciting museums, lie on its eastern edge, while the oldest, most “Indian” part of the city extends south from the railway station, a warren of winding streets at their most dynamic in the hubbub of the City and Gandhi markets.
Bengaluru’s tourist attractions are spread out: monuments such as Tipu’s Summer Palace and the Bull Temple are some way south of the centre.
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Best things to do in Bangalore
From Cubbon Park, a well-maintained 120-hectare garden in the heart of the city, to the world-class National Gallery of Modern Art and atmospheric temples, here are the best things to do in Bangalore.
#1 Chill out at Cubbon Park
A welcome green space in the heart of the city, shaded by massive clumps of bamboo, Cubbon Park is entered from the western end of MG Road, presided over by a statue of Queen Victoria.
Several prominent historic landmarks are located within its sprawling expanse, including the State Central Library, one of the oldest and largest in the country, housed in the impressive red Sheshadri Iyer Memorial Hall, and the colonnaded, red-brick High Court of Karnataka (Attara Kacheri), while the famous Chinnaswamy cricket stadium and domed St Mark’s Cathedral sit nearby.
#2 Delve into the prehistoric artefacts of the Government Museum
The poorly labelled and maintained Government Museum features prehistoric artefacts, Vijayanagar, Hoysala and Chalukya sculptures, musical instruments, paintings and Deccani and Rajasthani miniatures.
It includes the adjacent Venkatappa Art Gallery, which exhibits twentieth-century landscapes, portraits, abstract art, wood sculpture and occasional temporary art shows.
#3 Visit Vidhana Soudha, India’s largest civic structure
Built in 1956, Bengaluru’s vast State Secretariat, Vidhana Soudha, is the largest civic structure of its kind in the country.
Kengal Hanumanthaiah, chief minister at the time, wanted a “people’s palace” that, following the transfer of power from the royal Wadiyar dynasty to a legislature, would “reflect the power and dignity of the people”. In theory its design is entirely Indian, but its overall effect is not unlike the bombastic colonial architecture built in the so-called Indo-Saracenic style.
#4 Wander the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens
Inspired by the splendid gardens of the Mughals and the French botanical gardens at Puducherry in Tamil Nadu, Sultan Haider Ali set to work in 1760 laying out the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, 4km south of the centre.
Originally covering forty acres, just beyond his fort – where one of Kempe Gowda’s original watchtowers can still be seen – the gardens were expanded under Ali’s son Tipu, who introduced numerous exotic species of plants, and today they house an extensive horticultural seedling centre.
The British brought in gardeners from Kew in 1856 and built a military bandstand and a glasshouse, based on London’s Crystal Palace, which hosts wonderful flower shows. Now spreading over 240 acres, the gardens are pleasant to visit during the day, but tend to attract unsavoury characters after around 6pm.
Great sunsets and city views can be had from the central hill, which is topped by a small shrine.
#5 Check out Tipu’s Summer Palace
Just southwest of the crowded City Market (aka KR Market), near the fairytale like Jama Masjid – whitewashed and rambling and still in regular use – lies Tipu’s Summer Palace, a two-storey, mostly wooden structure built in 1791.
Similar in style to the Daria Daulat Bagh at Srirangapatna, the palace is in a far worse state, with most of its painted decoration destroyed.
Next door, the Kote Venkataramana Swamy Temple, dating from the early eighteenth century, was built by the Wadiyar rajas.
#6 Be wowed by the Bull Temple
Lying 6 km south of the Kempegowda Bus Station, in the Basavanagudi area, Kempe Gowda’s sixteenth-century Bull Temple houses a massive monolithic Nandi bull, its grey granite made black by the application of charcoal and oil.
The temple is approached along a path lined with mendicants and snake charmers; inside, for a small donation, the priest will offer you a string of fragrant jasmine flowers.
Don’t miss the Dodda Ganesha Temple, featuring a mammoth monolith of Ganesha, 5.5m tall and 5m wide, below the Bull Temple.
#7 See the gold-plated dome of Sri Radha Krishna Mandir
Some 8 km north of the centre lies ISKCON’s (International Society of Krishna Consciousness) gleaming temple, a hybrid of ultramodern glass and vernacular south Indian architecture.
Also known as Sri Radha Krishna Mandir, it’s a huge, lavish showpiece crowned by a gold-plated dome.
Barriers guide visitors on a one-way journey through the well-organised complex to the inner sanctum, an octagonal hall resplendent with colourfully painted ceilings and golden images of the god Krishna and his consort Radha.
Collection points throughout and inescapable merchandising on the way out are evidence of the organisation’s highly successful commercialisation.
#8 National Gallery of Modern Art
Set in a former Wadiyar mansion, the beautifully designed and laid out National Gallery of Modern Art (one of three in India – the others are in Delhi and Mumbai) is a fabulous repository of 17,000 paintings, sculptures and graphic prints capturing Indian art from the early eighteenth century to present times.
Best areas to stay in Bangalore
From the upscale and cosmopolitan vibes of Indiranagar and Koramangala to the serene and green surroundings of Jayanagar and Malleshwaram, Bangalore offers a range of options for a comfortable and enjoyable stay in the city.
Around Central Bus Stand
Due to the great number of business visitors it receives, Bengaluru offers a wealth of upmarket lodgings, as well as serviced apartments. Decent budget accommodation is also available, mostly concentrated around the Central Bus Stand and railway station.
Subedar Chatram Road
There are few good cheap digs, but most hostels can be found along Subedar Chatram Road.
This upscale neighbourhood is known for its vibrant nightlife, trendy cafes, and boutiques. It offers a wide range of accommodations and is centrally located, making it convenient for exploring other parts of the city.
Another popular residential and commercial area, Koramangala is known for its bustling food scene, shopping malls, and entertainment options. It has a mix of budget and luxury accommodations and is well-connected to other parts of the city.
MG Road/Brigade Road
Located in the heart of the city, MG Road and Brigade Road are bustling commercial areas with a variety of hotels and guesthouses.
Known for its tree-lined streets and quiet residential areas, Jayanagar is a peaceful neighbourhood with a range of accommodation options.
Browse the best hotels in Bangalore.
Best restaurants and bars
Bengaluru’s profusion of cafés and restaurants makes up for its deficit of tourist sights with a gastronomic variety unparalleled in south India.
Drinking alcohol does not have the seedy connotations it does elsewhere in India; you’ll even see young Indian women enjoying a beer with their mates.
While some prefer an elegant tipple in five-star hotels, it’s the latest crop of microbreweries serving craft beer that are now all the rage. Here’s where to go.
MG Rd, Indiranagar and Koramangala
Around MG Rd, and in Indiranagar (east of the centre) and the southeastern suburb of Koramangala, pizzerias, burger chains, ritzy ice-cream parlours and gourmet restaurants stand cheek by jowl with regional cuisine from cuisine from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Bengal and Punjab, besides Mumbai chaat cafés and snack bars.
Stand-up local eateries called darshinis are popular for a quick bite.
Brigade Rd, Residency Rd and Church St
A night on the town generally kicks off with a bar crawl along the old colonial quarter of Brigade Rd, Residency Rd and Church St, which are lined with scores of swish pubs.
How to get around
While Bangalore's traffic can be challenging, there are multiple transportation options available to help you get around the city. From utilising the metro or ride-hailing services, here’s how to do it.
Bengaluru’s extensive bus system radiates from the Kempegowda Bus Station near City railway station. Most buses from platform 17 travel past MG Rd.
Along with regular buses, BMTC also operates a deluxe express service, Pushpak, on a number of set routes as well as a handful of night buses.
Other important city bus stands include the City Market Bus Stand at Kalasipalayam near the railway station, and Shivaji Nagar to the northeast of Cubbon Park.
In June 2017, the first phase of Bengaluru’s Namma Metro was completed. The east– west Purple Line links the main train and bus stations (via City Railway and Majestic stations) with points east including Cubbon Park, MG Road and Indiranagar.
The north–south Green Line travels south via Yeshwantpur before intersecting with the Purple Line at Majestic and continuing south via Chikpete, KR Market and Lalbagh.
Payment is by single-use tokens or Varshik smart cards, which give a slight discount.
The easiest way of getting around is by metered auto-rickshaw, which can now even be summoned by app (mgaadi.com).
Most meters do work and drivers are usually willing to use them, although you will occasionally be asked for a flat fare, especially during rush hour.
You can book chauffeur-driven cars and taxis through several agencies including EZI Drive or Carzonrent or use Ola or Uber.
What is the best time to visit Bangalore?
The best time to visit Bangalore is winter (October to February). Due to its elevation, Bangalore enjoys a moderate climate throughout the year, but these months offer cooler temperatures and lower humidity, creating a more pleasant environment for exploring.
During this period, the weather in Bangalore is comfortable, with average temperatures ranging from around 15°C (59°F) to 28°C (82°F). This makes it an excellent time to venture out and discover the city's parks, gardens, and outdoor attractions without feeling overly hot or sweaty. While occasional drizzles may occur, the overall weather remains enjoyable.
Summer (March to May) can be hot as temperatures soar to 36°C (97°F) or higher. This can make outdoor activities uncomfortable, and the city tends to be crowded during the summer vacation period.
Bangalore also experiences the monsoon season from June to September, characterised by heavy rainfall.
Find out more about the best time to visit India.
How many days do you need in Bangalore?
Most, if not all, can be seen on a half-day tour, but if you explore on foot, be warned that Bengaluru has some of the worst pavements in India. To fully immerse yourself in the city, allocate 3 days for exploration.
On day 1, begin with the magnificent Bangalore Palace and then head to Lalbagh Botanical Garden. Lastly, explore Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace. Wander the bustling markets of Chickpet and Commercial Street for delicious street food at night.
Dedicate day 2 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, where you can learn about astronomy and marvel at the wonders of the universe. For a hands-on experience, head to the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, which offers interactive exhibits on science and technology. Afterward, find solace in the serene surroundings of Cubbon Park, a verdant oasis in the heart of the city.
On Day 3, escape to the tranquil Nandi Hills, a scenic hill station that offers breathtaking views and a serene atmosphere. Alternatively, explore the historic town of Srirangapatna, known for its ancient temples and palaces that reflect the region's rich cultural heritage.
Rough Guides tip: Planning a trip to India? Perhaps our local experts in India can help you!
How to get here
With the busiest airport in south India, some travellers will fly into Bangalore but most arrive by train.
Bengaluru International Airport is 35 km northeast of the city in Devanahalli. It’s the busiest in south India and the most spacious in the country, with top-notch facilities.
Until the much-discussed high-speed rail link is up and running, you can get into the city by Meru Airport Taxi or efficient a/c Vayu Vajra bus.
Bangalore is well connected by train to all parts of India. Bangalore City railway station is west of the centre, near Kempe Gowda Circle, opposite the main bus stands; for the north of the city, it’s better to board or disembark at Bangalore Cantonment station north of the centre.
Bangalore City has prepaid auto-rickshaw and taxi booths in the forecourt, and is connected (via Majestic station) to MG Road and points east in the city by Namma Metro’s Purple Line.
Long-distance government buses, including those from other states like Goa and Maharashtra, arrive at the busy Central Bus Stand, opposite the railway station.
There is a comprehensive timetable in English in the centre of the Central Bus Stand concourse. Most services can be booked in advance at the computerised counters near Bay 13.
By private buses
Tickets for the numerous private bus companies can be bought from the agencies on Tank Bund Rd, on the opposite side of the bus stand from the train station.
Find out the best ways to get to India.