Bangalore is one of South India’s most cosmopolitan cities, it’s easy to get around, has great restaurants and nightlife and has great links to other places, like Gokarna and Hampi. Here are 11 fun and cheap things to do during your visit to Bangalore in Karnataka.
Bangalore is now known as Bengaluru but I’ve called it Bangalore as many people still call it that and search under that name.
Bengaluru means ‘town of boiled beans’ but I can assure you that there is much more on offer here for travellers of every budget!
Bangalore is aimed more at business travellers than backpackers but it does have some funky cheap hotels in the city centre. We stayed at an OYO 1175 UNO Inn which was next to a foul-smelling polluted river but had a bar with free drinks for women and good WiFi. It was near the botanical gardens but not any other sights.
If you position yourself close to the metro, then you can get to most places in Bangalore that you want to visit. The metro is really good and a journey of a few stops costs about 20-25 rupees. It’s similar to the Delhi metro but with less harassment and fewer people.
I recommend starting your trip around the Krishna Rajendra market as it has a metro stop and it’s close to a cluster of sights. We started our trip at the Tipi Sultan Palace near the market.
1. Tipi Sultan Palace
This palace was the summer residence of the Tipi Sultan. To get here, go left out of Krishnarajendra Market metro and see the bull temple, fort and market while you’re here as they’re all close by. The palace is full of teenagers taking selfies and you can see it all in about 10 minutes, if you’re on a tight budget I would miss this and go to the bull temple instead to save money. The bull (Nandi) temple is about 1km further down the road, but if you’ve been to the one in Mysore then I wouldn’t bother and I’d head to the market instead.
Cost: 300 rupees for foreigners.
2. Bangalore Palace
Bangalore’s most famous tourist attraction is Bangalore Palace and it’s also the furthest away. You can get here by tuk-tuk or you can walk from the Cantt station. The palace is extremely popular with middle-class tourists and there was a very opulent wedding on when we visited. If it looks familiar to you as a Brit, then that may be because it was modelled on Windsor Castle. The royal family live here and if you don’t want to see the fancy interiors then you can still poke around outside for free.
Cost: 500 rupees for foreigners. Open 10-5.30pm.
3. Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath
The Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath is a display at an arts college that is much cheaper than the National Gallery and about a 20-minute walk away. It has a decent art collection over several floors which really demonstrates the breadth of traditional artwork that can be found all over India. Students also exhibit on the bottom floor for free, often on quite emotive subjects like female oppression, rape and homophobia. If you look out of the window you can see students carving stone sculptures in the outdoor workshop.
Cost: 100 rupees. Open Mon-Sat, 10-6pm. Metro: Sampige Road (1.1km).
4. National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore
You can walk to the National Gallery from the Bangalore Palace but it is about 30 minutes, or you can get a tuk-tuk from the palace, depending on how hot it is! The gallery is considered to be a world-class modern art collection but it is quite expensive for foreign tourists. Delhi and Mumbai also have art galleries of this ilk, so Bangalore is the smallest city to be bestowed with such an impressive collection.
Cost: 500 rupees for foreigners. Open 10-5pm. Closed Mondays.
5. Krishna Rajendra Market
Krishna Rajendra Market is a sprawling market based around a square building between the KR Market stop and Chikkapete. The outdoor section sells mainly fruit and veg whereas indoors is the flower market as well as household goods. It’s a nice place to experience the hustle and bustle as well as wonder how on earth they manage to sell so much food and so many flowers in one day.
Cost: Free (unless you buy something!)
6. Bangalore Fort
If you’re close to the market then you may as well have a wander into the fort for free, as it’s so close. There isn’t too much to see but it is a nice place to escape the crowds as well as to combine with the market, bull temple, and the Tipi Sultan Palace.
7. Sri Chamarajendra Park aka Cubbon Park
Cubbon Park is partially under construction next to the metro station, but it does have rose gardens, pavilions and some nice buildings and monuments including the library. Opposite the park is the huge Vidana Soudha government building and a Mahatma Gandhi statue, you can’t go inside but it is an iconic Bangalore building. You can find it opposite the Dr. B R Ambedkar metro station.
8. Museums and architecture near Cubbon Park
The most important museum next to Cubbon Park is the red Government Museum which has an overview of the Karnataka area, including some relics from Hampi. Next to it is the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum and the Venkatappa Art Gallery. Cubbon park is definitely a spot to walk around as it is has a few attractions nearby and it is a great area for people-watching.
Cost: Government Museum – 20 rupees
9. Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens
Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens is a really lovely park, full of plants, artwork and even a small lake. It’s a good place to watch wildlife as you can see kingfishers, cormorants, egrets and swamphens in the lake as well as the alarmingly obese bonnet macaques. The macaques ‘mug’ people with fizzy drinks and people hand them over which is how the monkeys got so big. Bangalore has a large population of overweight dogs as well. If you’re a foreigner then you may well get asked for selfies in the park. It is easy to access from the Lal Bagh metro station.
Cost: Free or 20 rupees depending on which gate you go through!
10. Eat delicious food
There is a wealth of fantastic food on offer in Bangalore, for all tastes and budgets. Even for faddy vegetarians like me! My top recommendation is the Bangalore Cafe on the Richmond Circle Flyover which has great milkshakes and bao buns. Bangalore has some of the best international food of the whole of South India so get involved!
11. Drink delicious beer
If you like beer, then a trip to Bangalore wouldn’t be complete without a trip to 100 Feet Road where you can go on an actual bar crawl. Bangalore is one of the few cities in India with a big open drinking culture and its own craft beer. I would start at the famous Toit Pub and work your way from there, depending on what appeals to you. There are also some great fast food places on this road to soak up the beer.
Booze tours: The Bangalore whiskey tour is currently not running with no indication of whether it will start again.
I enjoyed being in such a cosmopolitan Indian city and its also quite walkable and organised compared to other cities we’d visited. It isn’t too busy and has lots of green spaces, although it rained while we were there which completely flooded the roads! So while it isn’t perfect, it is friendly, easy, has a great metro, fabulous food and drink and a lovely arts culture. I’d heard good things before I came and it certainly lived up to that. In Lal Bagh park I saw some men feeding a sick palm squirrel with water and that was one of the nicest things I witnessed in South India.
Have you been to Bangalore? What were your favourite things to do and places to eat while you were there? If you have any questions then let me know in the comments below!
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