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Sri Radha Krishna Temple
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 19 best things to do in Bangalore

From beautiful national parks to a breathtaking palace, here's our guide to India's tech innovation capital

Written by
Poonam Binayak

India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ might be known for its incredible inventions in tech, but there’s a hell of a lot more to the city than that. Bangalore now has a name for itself as not only a technology innovator but as a place full of rich culture, beautiful green spaces and some breathtaking architecture. 

So if you’re headed out on a trip to Bangalore, make sure you’ve got a comprehensive list to keep you going. You’ll find everything from modern art collections and national parks to street food markets and beautiful bookstores, as well as scenic hills to get lost in for a day (and get access to some seriously nice panoramic views). 

📍 The best things to do in Chennai
🌳 The best things to do in Pondicherry
🏖 The best things to do in Goa
🇮🇳 Ultimate guide to India

Best things to do in Bangalore

Bangalore Palace
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Brian Evans

1. Bangalore Palace

What is it? A palace inspired by Windsor Castle in England, with distinct Tudor style. 

Why go? The Bangalore Palace is one of Bangalore’s most well-known landmarks. It was built in 1878 by Maharaja Chamarajendra Wadiyar, and looks like something straight out of a fairytale, features stunning Gothic-style stained glass windows, Victorian furniture, tall turrets and towers, and intricate carvings. Inside, you’ll find art from the nineteenth and twentieth century as well as old family portraits. As well as being beautiful to visit all times of year, the palace hosts shows, concerts and more. 

Ulsoor Lake
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Gagan Moorthy

2. Ulsoor Lake

What is it? Located in the heart of the city, Ulsoor Lake is one of the largest lakes in Bangalore spanning an area of over 120 acres. 

Why go? If you want to relax in peace and quiet, Ulsoor offers just that. With several islands that offer plenty of space to relax and take in the serenity of the lake, it also has boating facilities for those looking to get active. There’s also a walking track around the lake, perfect for a quiet stroll amidst the bustling city life.

Government Museum
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Bikash Das

3. Government Museum

What is it? Established in 1865, the Government Museum is one of the oldest museums in India.

Why go? The Government Museum showcases historically significant and rare archaeological and geological artefacts. Whether you're interested in Neolithic pottery, jewellery, coins and paintings from ancient Indian kingdoms or sculptures and inscriptions, something at the museum will likely pique your interest. Situated right along the Government Museum is the Venkatappa Art Gallery, dedicated to showcasing the artwork by the famous artisan of Karnataka, K. Venkatappa.

Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Mike Prince

4. Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace

What is it? The summer abode of the former ruler of Mysore, Tipu Sultan.

Why go? The palace is worth visiting for its amazing architecture. The palace as it stands today, in Indo-Islamic architecture, was completed in 1791. Predominantly made of teakwood, the most eye-catching feature is its sturdy pillars and floral motifs adorning the walls and ceilings of the palace.

Photograph: Shutterstock

5. ISKCON Temple

What is it? Perched on Hare Krishna Hill, this is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.

Why go? It is said to be one of the largest ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) temples in the world, which makes it worthy of a visit. The temple has four gopurams (towers), each connected to the other by a glazed-glass canopy. The main shrine, called Rajagopuram, is known for its beautifully decorated idols of Sri Radha-Krishna; plus the ceilings are adorned with magnificent paintings that depict Lord Krishna’s pastimes. Prayers and recitals along with spiritual workshops are held regularly, and visitors are welcome to attend. There’s also an ISKCON Vedic theatre, exhibit areas, a Vedic museum, an open-air amphitheatre and beautifully landscaped gardens within the premises.

KR Market
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/John Hoey

6. KR Market

What is it? One of the largest flower markets in Asia.

Why go? To experience the heart of Bangalore, head to the KR Market. Here you’ll find a variety of wares including copper goods, spices, fruits, fresh produces, utensils, flowers and food stalls. The crowds and congestion can make the experience a little overwhelming, so we recommend taking a guided tour, which will not only help you get around and grab great deals but will tell you about the market’s history.

Bull Temple
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Marc Smith

7. Bull Temple

What is it? A sixteenth-century Hindu temple dedicated to Nandi, the bull.

Why go? Constructed in Dravidian architectural style, this stunning building (which is also known as Nandi Temple) is the city’s most popular religious sanctuary. Besides the religious significance, the dominant feature of the temple is the immense idol of Nandi. Carved out of a single granite rock, this sculpture is four-and-a-half metres tall and six metres long and is always decorated with flower garlands.

Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Christine und Hagen Graf

8. Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum

What is it? A science and technology museum, located just metres away from the Government Museum.

Why go? Spread over five floors, the museum features an array of interactive exhibits that cover everything from mechanical devices and electronics to old-world locomotives, outer space, dinosaurs, the human body and biotechnology. There's also an auditorium, telemedicine facility and a 3D theatre, along with science demonstrations and taramandal shows held here throughout the year.

Janapada Loka
Photograph: Courtesy Janapada Loka - Ramanagar

9. Janapada Loka

What is it? A folk museum where you’ll learn about Bangalore’s fascinating history.

Why go? If you're interested in the region of Karnataka’s folk art and culture, extend your stay in Bangalore to visit Janapada Loka, located about 35 miles from the city. It is divided into different wings, displaying a collection of more than 5,000 folk objects. Expect to see rural household items, folk instruments, agricultural tools, 500-year old shadow puppets, ancient stone sculptures and a traditional village replica. There’s also an open-air theatre, an artificial lake with a pedal boating facility and a library.

Lalbagh Botanical Garden
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Groundhopping Merseburg

10. Lalbagh Botanical Garden

What is it? A pristine, green oasis right in the midst of the city.

Why go? If you want to connect with nature, the Lalbagh Botanical Garden is the place to be. It is dotted with a wide variety of plants from across the globe. The major attraction of the garden, however, is the nineteenth-century glasshouse, built along the lines of London’s Crystal Palace.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Silver Blue

11. Wonderla

What is it? An amusement park worth the drive from the city centre.

Why go? If you’re looking for a day (or more) of family fun, a visit to Wonderla is a must. It has plenty of rides for kids and families, plus high-thrill coasters. There are more than 50 land and water-based rides, along with other attractions, including musical fountains, laser shows and a virtual reality show. If you love the combination of music and rain, don’t miss the Rain Disco – an indoor dance floor with showers of warm water and psychedelic laser lights.

Indian Music Experience
Photograph: Courtesy Indian Music Experience

12. Indian Music Experience

What is it? India's first interactive museum draws its inspiration from Seattle's Museum of Pop Culture.

Why go? Love making music? Then you might want to visit the Indian Music Experience, a one-of-a-kind museum dedicated to the thriving Indian music scene. Stretching four storeys, the museum comprises eight thematic galleries, a sound garden, a café, musical sculptures and a learning centre for music enthusiasts. You can even play instruments, record and create your own music.

Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath
Photograph: Courtesy Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath

13. Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath

What is it? A fine art gallery and educational institution for budding artists.

Why go? The Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath is a must for lovers of visual art. Opened in 1960, it comprises five galleries and 13 museums, containing an eclectic collection of Indian and international modern, contemporary, traditional, folk and tribal art. Among the exhibits are Mysore-style paintings, Gond tribal paintings, leather puppets of Karnataka and folk paintings of Tamil Nadu. If you have time, you can sign-up for a short-term painting course.

National Gallery of Modern Art
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Faiz Tajuddin

14. National Gallery of Modern Art

What is it? A treasure trove of modern art in a historic setting.

Why go? You’ll get to enjoy artwork from the eighteenth century to present times, including works by legendary Indian artists like Rabindranath Tagore, Amrita Sher-Gil and Raja Ravi Verma. There are also regular film screenings here and a café.

Cubbon Park
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/VictoriaEckert

15. Cubbon Park

What is it? Nestled in Bangalore’s business district, Cubbon Park is the green lungs of the city.

Why go? With well-cut walkways and pristine natural surroundings, Cubbon Park is the best place to go for jogging, walking and cycling. Also, there are a variety of flowering and ornamental trees, an aquarium and a play area for kids. While you’re here, be sure to check out the city’s two most important buildings surrounding the park – the Attara Kacheri (home of the state’s High Court) and the Vidhana Soudha (the seat of the state legislature of Karnataka).

VV Puram Street Food
Photograph: Shutterstock

16. VV Puram Street Food

What is it? A street food hub renowned for its huge selection of Indian snacks.

Why go? Street food lovers shouldn’t miss this street out. It is dotted with numerous food joints offering everything from south Indian food to north India street delights. The tastiest options include bhajia (fritters), bath masala dosa, jalebi (sweet pretzel) and chaats (savoury snacks).  

Atta Galatta
Photograph: Courtesy Atta Galatta

17. Atta Galatta

What is it? A bookstore with a café.

Why go? If you’re a book lover, Atta Galatta is your kind of place. Here, you will find over 10,000 titles in English, Kannada, Bengali and many other languages. In addition to that, book reading sessions, poetry interpretations, book launches and art exhibits are held here regularly (some events are free to attend). To amp your reading experience, there’s a café within the bookstore serving great coffee and munchies.

Bannerghatta National Park
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Natesh Ramasamy

18. Bannerghatta National Park

What is it? A sprawling nature park and zoo, home to India’s first butterfly park.

Why go? Covering over 100 square kilometres and home to an incredible array of flora and fauna, the Bannerghatta National Park is a nature-lover’s dream. It features ten forest reserves, a butterfly park, a zoo, a snake park, an aquarium, a children’s park, a museum, a crocodile park, an elephant sanctuary and a safari park. You can explore it all by a guided bus tour or jeep safari.

Nandi Hills
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/NikhilVerma

19. Nandi Hills

What is it? A detour en-route to the Bangalore airport will lead you to scenic Nandi Hills, an ancient hill fortress.

Why go? If you’re looking to get some Instagram-worthy panoramic views of the city, this is the spot to do it. The journey to the peak is challenging because of the winding roads and sharp bends. But once you reach the summit and see the spectacular views of the surrounding landscape, you’ll know that it was worth it. Aim to be there for sunrise or sunset as the views are unbeatable. Don’t miss the Yoga Nandeeshwara temple, located atop the hill and guarded by the statue of Nandi (the bull); the Bhoga Nandeeshwar temple at the base of Nandi hills; and the Tipu’s Drop, a 600-metre cliff. One side note, a stretch of the route to the summit was closed in late summer 2021 following a landslide, so best to check for the latest updates. 

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