in my years living in bangalore i have written a number of posts about places to see, eat, and drink in the city, but i don’t have one post with everything someone can do if they only have a weekend in the city. below are my personal best-of-the-best in the city, a combination of old school bangalore and the newly popular.
a few caveats before we begin:
- i am acting on the premise of a two-day weekend. things can be cut if you only have one or one-and-a-half days.
- these are my personal recommendations, the things i suggest the most often to friends or strangers who are visiting. i in no way pretend to speak for everyone or suggest that this is a comprehensive list of everything to do in bangalore.
- i tried to keep it as centralized as possible, with a few things that might require a short commute. i know there are great things in other parts of the city, but i wanted to keep the travel to a minimum. we all know what bangalore traffic is like, and the less a visitor has to deal with it, the better.
so let’s get to it.
first up, where to stay?
my forever recommendation is st mark’s hotel on st mark’s road. the hotel is bang in the middle of the city, and the room rates are very reasonable. add to that friendly staff, beautiful rooms, and a delicious – inclusive – breakfast, and you are all set. this is always where my family stays when they come to visit, and we have had nothing but positive experiences over a 10-year span.
other options: casa piccola cottages in richmond town; the oberoi on mg road if you’re looking to splash out a little.
next, what sights should i see?
if you’re an early riser, head over to kr market to see it in all its glory. if you can get there before 6am, you’ll be able to see the flower market in full flow as well as all the other vendors as they set up for the day. you’ll see locals out to purchase fish and vegetables and other provisions, and you’ll see the city as it wakes up. it’s a sight to see for sure.
another great spot is lalbagh botanical gardens. once a southern border of the city, lalbagh is now smack in the middle of bangalore and is home to an impressive mix of flora and fauna. there are paths all around, there is a beautiful lake, and there is plenty of space for a picnic breakfast or lunch. if you are in town around republic day or independence day, be sure to check out their impressive flower show as well.
if it’s history that you’re after, check out the bangalore palace. the summer home of the royal family of mysore, bangalore’s palace holds an incredible amount of history. you’ll learn about the wodeyars and their children, and you will have ample opportunity to take pretty photos.
if you’re feeling cultural, check out a play at ranga shankara. they have a great range of hindi, english, and kannada plays, and i have never been disappointed by a performance in their space. an added bonus: the cafe serves up some delicious treats before, during, and after performances.
i’m hungry. where should i eat?
let’s break this one down a little.
if you want to try my favourite masala dosa in bangalore, check out ctr – also known as shri sagar – in malleshwaram. their dosa is pretty nearly perfect, and the two chutneys they serve with it are downright delicious.
if you want more options, check out church street social. they have a variety of indian and continental breakfast plates, and it’s a great place to chill out in the morning and observe some of bangalore’s younger, hipper crowd. my recommendations are kiran’s big apple breakfast or sid’s very posh breakfast. they also have good wifi, if you need to get some work done before exploring.
another favourite is hole in the wall cafe in koramangala. i’ve not been there in a while, but theirs is some of the best food in the city.
a personal favourite of mine is koshy’s. it is one of bangalore’s oldest restaurants, and i love going to observe the older indian men who gather to drink tea and gossip all day. besides all that, i really like the smileys and the pork vindaloo and looking at all the old bangalore photos on the walls. and if you are looking to have a drink with lunch, their prices are very reasonable.
if you want a traditional south indian meal [thali] served on a banana leaf, you’ve got two great options in the heart of the city: nandini hotel on st mark’s road and nagarjuna on residency road. both specialize in andhra fare – nice and spicy! – and the food is delicious. they both have extensive menus, but if you’re there for lunch, do yourself a favour and just order the south indian meal — it’s unlimited, it gives you a chance to try a lot of different items, and you will leave completely satisfied and probably ready for a nap.
for indian, check out coast ii coast off mg road. they specialize in coastal fare, and theirs is the best ghee roast i’ve found in the city. with reasonable prices and big portions, it’s the perfect place to get the most bang for your buck.
if you’re craving asian, check out nasi & mee in koramangala. with a great mix of asian cuisines, you can get everything from thai curries to mee goreng to beef rendang there, and you’ll love the eclectic interior of the space.
and if you want to really spice things up, head to chinita in indiranagar. it remains the best mexican food i have found in india.
my number one selection will always be natural. a branch of the famous bombay ice cream franchise, natural has a few locations throughout the city, including in indiranagar and on st mark’s road. they are famous for their fresh fruit ice creams, with my favourites being tender coconut, choco almond, kesar pista, and mango when they are in season.
corner house tops the list for most bangaloreans and is famous for their hot chocolate fudge. they’re generous with portions and with chocolate sauce, so if you’re after a big sundae, this is your go-to.
and lastly, i’m thirsty. where do i go for a drink?
you’re in luck, as bangalore is not called the pub city for nothing. with more pubs, bars, and clubs than any other city in india [not joking], you never have to look far for a watering hole.
traditional bangalore haunts.
guzzlers and pecos are my all-time favourites. they are right across from one another on rest house road, and both are fantastic stops if you are in the mood for a drink. both are old-school bangalore drinking haunts, and they both play a lot of classic rock, so you know why i like them.
what about good beer?
i am admittedly not a beer drinker, but lucky for you i have many friends who are. there are a number of great local breweries in town, and you can’t go wrong with toit, arbor brewing company, or the biere club. all three have full bars as well, in case you have friends like me.
if it’s live music you’re after.
bangalore loves its live music, and there are always plenty of places showcasing new and well-known bands on the weekends. the best venues i have visited are hard rock cafe and the humming tree, and i have heard good things about blue frog as well. but be warned: most places with live music on the weekend will charge an entry or cover fee.
other things to keep in mind.
the traffic. bangalore has become infamous for its terrible traffic, so getting around can be a bit of a nightmare at times. if you are travelling by car, give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. and if you don’t want to contribute to the existing traffic, uber is an affordable way to get around.
phew. i hope if you are planning a visit to bangalore some of these notes can come in handy for you. and i hope you enjoy the garden city as much as i have.
have you ever been to bangalore? what was your favourite thing to do in the city?