Fertility in West Bengal is one of the lowest in India, and this relies heavily on the use of traditional methods of contraception. Social scientists and demographers have pointed to the historical role of the diffusion process of adhering to a small family size. The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) in Kolkata district, the state capital, is the lowest in the country, and has been a centre of low fertility historically. However, stark differences in rural–urban fertility rates have existed over the last few decades in West Bengal, but these have now started to narrow. This study aimed to capture the macro-level rural–urban differences in fertility levels and preferences in the West Bengal, and understand how socioeconomic factors affect these. Data were drawn from the Census of India (2011) and NFHS-4 (2015–16). Using census data and the Reverse-Surviving Method, the TFR of West Bengal was estimated to be 1.9, varying between 2.1 and 1.7 in rural and urban areas. The rural–urban gap in the district-level fertility rates was prominent, specifically in districts with higher levels of fertility. Kolkata, Hugli and North Twenty-Four Parganas had the lowest-low fertility (TFR = <1.5). Fewer than half of women with only one living child wanted further children, and this was somewhat higher in rural areas. Around 40% of women had achieved their desired number of children. However, a substantial proportion (43.1%) had a lower number of children than desired, varying between 45.9% and 41.7% in urban and rural areas, respectively. Contraception use, female education and age at marriage, along with the other socioeconomic factors, had a greater influence on rural fertility rates than on urban counterparts in the districts of West Bengal. Further research should be directed at understanding the contemporary fertility decline as well as the gap between ideal and desired number of children, specifically in those districts with very low fertility rates.