what to do in mumbai

What to Do in Mumbai, India – A Comprehensive Travel Guide

Mumbai is India’s most dynamic and cosmopolitan city. As the country’s financial hub, Mumbai offers visitors an invigorating blend of history, culture, cuisine, arts, and entertainment.

From iconic landmarks to serene beaches, Mumbai caters to all sorts of travelers. This complete Mumbai travel guide covers the top attractions, activities, sights, and experiences that make a visit to Mumbai truly unforgettable.

What to Do in Mumbai, India – Key Takeaways

Category Attractions/Information
Iconic Mumbai Landmarks Gateway of India, Marine Drive, Elephanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus
Fascinating Mumbai Museums Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mani Bhavan Gandhi Museum, Jehangir Art Gallery, Dhanraj Mahal
Vibrant Neighborhoods Colaba Causeway, Chor Bazaar, Kala Ghoda Arts Precinct
Amazing Religious Sites Siddhivinayak Temple, Haji Ali Dargah, Mahalaxmi Temple, Banganga Tank
Best Beaches Juhu Beach, Aksa Beach, Gorai Beach, Versova Beach
Activities and Attractions Dharavi Slum Tour, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Sailing from Gateway of India, Bollywood Studio Tour
Eclectic Food Experiences Mumbai Street Food Tour, Parsi Cafes, Indian Fusion Restaurants
Shopping Colaba Causeway, Chor Bazaar, Crawford Market
Nightlife Marine Drive, Bars and Pubs, Live Music
Getting Around Public transportation network of trains, buses, taxis and rickshaws

Introduction

Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is India’s most populous city and the center of the world’s largest film industry, Bollywood.

Situated on the west coast of India, Mumbai is built on a peninsular landmass jutting into the Arabian Sea. The natural harbors provided by this geography led to Mumbai emerging as a major port city and trading center during British colonial rule.

Today, Mumbai is India’s financial capital and the nerve center of business and commerce. Some iconic attractions that Mumbai is renowned for include:

  • Gateway of India – An arch monument built in the 20th century overlooking the Arabian Sea
  • Marine Drive – A scenic 3-mile boulevard with Art Deco buildings known as the “Queen’s Necklace”
  • Elephanta Caves – Ancient rock-cut cave temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, accessible by ferry
  • Dharavi Slum – One of Asia’s largest slums and a fascinating maze-like place to explore Mumbai’s contrasts
  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park – A protected tropical forest area right within Mumbai city limits
  • Siddhivinayak Temple – A revered and frequented Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha

From bustling bazaars to serene seasides, this Mumbai travel guide takes you through the must-see attractions and top things to do during your visit.

Iconic Mumbai Landmarks

Gateway of India

what to do in mumbai

The Gateway of India is a striking 26m arch monument facing the Arabian Sea. Built in 1924 to welcome King George V and Queen Mary, it is a renowned Mumbai landmark. Local ferries depart from the Gateway of India, taking visitors to the UNESCO-listed Elephanta Caves on Elephanta Island. It’s also a popular spot to enjoy the seaside promenade and buy snacks from hawkers.

Marine Drive

Marine Drive is a curving 3-mile long boulevard that hugs Mumbai’s western shoreline. Its glittering streetlights at night have earned it the nickname “Queen’s Necklace.” Spend an evening strolling or sitting on the seaside promenade watching the sunset over the Arabian Sea.

Elephanta Caves

Accessed by ferry from the Gateway of India, the UNESCO-listed Elephanta Caves contain remarkable 7th-8th century Hindu cave temples with intricate sculptures of deities, including a towering 6m-high statue of Lord Shiva.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus

This UNESCO World Heritage railway station, opened in 1887, is a remarkable example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India. Its elaborate domes, turrets, arches and adornments make it as much a historic architectural landmark as a functioning commuter rail hub.

Fascinating Mumbai Museums

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum, this vast museum has impressive collections of ancient Indian art, artifacts, and archeological relics including Hindu and Buddhist sculpture, terracotta figurines, miniature paintings, and more.

Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya

Discover the life of Mahatma Gandhi through photographs, letters, and memorabilia at this museum located in the house where Gandhi once lived and led India’s freedom movement.

Since its opening in 1952, the Jehangir Art Gallery has been an important showcase for contemporary Indian art. Changing exhibitions regularly highlight up and coming local artists.

Dhanraj Mahal

Within the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, the Dhanraj Mahal art gallery houses a premier collection of Indian miniature paintings from the Mughal era and various regional schools.

Exploring Mumbai’s Vibrant Neighborhoods

Colaba Causeway

Colaba Causeway is a bustling market street lined with shops selling jewelry, clothes, crafts, and street food stalls. It’s a hub of activity and the gateway to South Mumbai’s colonial architecture and attractions.

Chor Bazaar

Search for antiques and bargain for vintage Bollywood posters, furniture, and oddities at Chor Bazaar, a lively flea market area operating since the 19th century. It’s a fascinating place for exploratory wanderings.

Kala Ghoda Arts Precinct

This vibrant arts district contains art galleries, cafes, design boutiques, and Mumbai’s premier museums all clustered together. It hosts a two-week long art festival each February.

Amazing Mumbai Religious Sites

Siddhivinayak Temple

Dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Mumbai’s most beloved deity, the Siddhivinayak Temple is visited by over 25,000 devotees daily. Observe intricate temple carvings and the main shrine’s imposing silver-domed sanctum.

Haji Ali Dargah

This striking Islamic shrine and mosque juts out into the Arabian Sea and can only be accessed by a causeway at low tide. It attracts faithful pilgrims who come to pray at the tomb of the Muslim saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari.

Mahalaxmi Temple

This temple is dedicated to goddess Mahalaxmi, the Hindu deity representing wealth and good fortune. It’s located by the shores of the Arabian Sea and attracts massive crowds during the Navratri festival celebrating the victory of good over evil.

Banganga Tank

Concealed amidst residential blocks in South Mumbai, the Banganga Tank is an ancient water tank with special significance in Hinduism. Stairs lead down to the tank, which has a central shrine. It’s set amidst temples, pilgrim accommodation and bathing ghats.

Mumbai’s Best Beaches

Juhu Beach

This lively beach is a favorite getaway for locals who come here on weekends to swim, play cricket, and snack on tasty bites from the beachside food stalls. Stay until sunset to join in the festive atmosphere.

Aksa Beach

Located on the far northern outskirts of Mumbai, Aksa Beach is popular for its clean sands, water sports, and serene views. It has a pristine, peaceful ambiance.

Gorai Beach

Lined with lush mangroves, Gorai Beach offers a quieter, less crowded seaside experience than Mumbai’s more famous beaches. Essel World amusement park is also located near Gorai Beach.

Versova Beach

Watch local fishermen haul in their daily catch as the sun rises over Versova Beach in the quiet fishing village of Versova. It’s a nice spot for an early morning walk when Mumbai is still sleepy.

Mumbai Activities and Attractions

Dharavi Slum Tour

A tour through the massive Dharavi slums provides eye-opening insight into how over 1 million people live and work in this incredibly industrious and entrepreneurial neighborhood. Multistory homes and thriving small-scale industries exist side-by-side within Dharavi’s dense spaces.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Escape Mumbai’s concrete jungle at Sanjay Gandhi National Park – a surprising 103 sq km protected tropical forest right within city limits! Spot deer, birds, and butterflies on nature trails. Lion and tiger safaris are also offered.

Sailing near Gateway of India

Set sail into the Arabian Sea near the Gateway of India for postcard-perfect views of Mumbai’s skyline and coastline. You’ll get a serene perspective of the iconic Gateway monument from the water.

Bollywood Studio Tour

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the illustrious Hindi film industry on a Bollywood studio tour. See shooting locations, sets, editing rooms, and learn insider tidbits about the world’s most prolific film city from expert guides.

Experience Mumbai’s Eclectic Food

Mumbai Street Food Tour

Dig into Mumbai’s flavorful street food like pani puri, bhel puri, pav bhaji, vada pav, and kande pohe on an expert-led street food walking tour of the city’s best mobile food stalls and hole-in-the-wall eateries.

Parsi Cafes

Visit one of Mumbai’s old-school Irani cafes for a taste of the city’s colonial past. Savor Parsi comfort foods like mawa cakes, berry pulao, and Irani chai while soaking in the nostalgic atmosphere. Popular vintage cafes include Britannia, Kyani & Co., and Yazdani Bakery.

Modern Indian Fusion Cuisine

Mumbai’s contemporary dining scene includes world-class restaurants serving innovative Indian fusion cuisine that puts creative spins on traditional dishes and ingredients. Top picks include Bombay Canteen, Bastian, and The Table.

Shopping in Mumbai

Colaba Causeway

Find endless options for street shopping at bazaars and stalls selling clothes, jewelry, shoes, and handicrafts around Colaba Causeway near the Gateway of India. Hone your haggling skills for deals on souvenirs and accessories.

Chor Bazaar

Unearth antique treasures, vintage Bollywood posters, furniture, clocks, and all kinds of odds and ends at Chor Bazaar’s fascinating flea market. The 350-year-old bazaar operates daily except Fridays.

Crawford Market

Dating back to the British Raj era, Crawford Market is a bustling wholesale market where you can buy fresh produce, spices, dry fruits, jewelry, pets, and more at bargained prices. It’s a sensory overload!

Mumbai Nightlife

Marine Drive

One of the most popular things to do in Mumbai at night is stroll along Marine Drive. Its arc of glittering Art Deco buildings has earned it the nickname “Queen’s Necklace.” The carnival-like atmosphere, seaside stalls, and cool breeze draw locals and visitors alike.

Mumbai Bars and Pubs

Mumbai is home to some of India’s coolest nightlife. Hip bars and pubs like Aer, The Boston Butt, The Quarter, Woodside Inn, and AntiSocial provide lively settings to experience Mumbai’s after-dark energy over craft beers and innovative cocktails.

Live Music Performances

Catch live music shows at venues like antiSOCIAL Khar, Fandom at Gilly’s Redefined, The Habitat, and BlueFrog. You may get to discover the next Indian indie music star before they hit international acclaim.

Practical Tips for Visiting Mumbai

Getting Around

Mumbai has an efficient public transportation network making it easy to get around. The metro, local trains, buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws connect you to all corners of the sprawling city.

Where to Stay

Mumbai has accommodation options ranging from backpacker dorms to 5-star hotels. The hip suburb Bandra is a trendy area with boutique hotels. For seaside stays, consider Colaba, Juhu or Marine Drive.

When to Visit

Winter months from November to February are ideal with relatively cool, dry weather. Monsoon season from June to September brings heavy rain. October-November is busy with festivals like Navratri and Diwali.

Day Trips from Mumbai

Lonavala

Escape to the green Sahyadri hills at this peaceful hill station known for its Buddhist caves and scenic trekking trails. It’s about 2.5 hours from Mumbai.

Matheran

Matheran is a car-free hill station surrounded by forested cliffs and lookout points. Ride the narrow-gauge train up to this laidback getaway offering respite from Mumbai’s hustle.

Alibag

Alibag’s beaches and historic seaside forts like Murud-Janjira and Korlai make it a favorite beach retreat for Mumbai residents. It’s accessible via ferry or a 3-hour drive.

Nashik

Nashik is nestled along the sacred Godavari River and surrounded by vineyards. Sample wines or relax at scenic temples like Potla Devi Mandir. It is located about 4 hours from Mumbai.

Conclusion

what to do in mumbai

The welcoming spirit of Mumbaikars, the city’s resilient residents, leaves a lasting impression. A visit to Mumbai provides the quintessential Indian experience, making it a must-visit destination.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

Articles: 1227

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.