Top Things to Do and Places to Visit in Mumbai, India

(Last Updated On: October 13, 2018)

Mumbai the bustling city in the Maharashtra state of India may be known for the chaotic traffic and humid summers but this wonderful city within it has some unique gems of history, culture, and heritage. There is no dearth of places to visit in Mumbai, the dream city of opportunities. You will easily need a weeks time if you want to explore them all. So here is what you need to add to your list of must-do on a Mumbai visit.

How to Get to Mumbai

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport is the primary international airport in Mumbai connecting the Mumbai City with all the major international cities and some of the Indian cities as well. From the airport, there are plenty of options to get to your destination or hotel in Mumbai. Ola or Uber which can be booked through the app and prepaid taxis which can be booked on your arrival in the airport taxi booking kiosk.

If you getting to Mumbai from other major cities in India then Mumbai has a well-connected train network connecting all the major railway stations in India and regular private as well as government bus services.

Getting Around in Mumbai

The cheapest available option with an extensive network to getting around in Mumbai are the local trains and Best buses (red color government-run buses). There is a very good frequency of local trains which are always on time. But the trains can get very crowded which would be a challenge for the people new to Mumbai get into the trains. Buses are a better option but you can expect inevitably delays due to heavy traffics.

Yellow and Black Taxis and Autos are options if you want to avoid the crowded trains and buses. The Autos are available only in the North and Central Mumbai while in South Mumbai Taxis can be found predominantly. Both the taxis and the autos run on meter system (99% of them) with a minimum fare. Uber and Ola are also popular where you can book a cab through an app.

Historical Landmarks in Mumbai

Gateway of India

Gateway of India is one of the top tourist places in Mumbai and is located on the waterfront in Apollo Bunder area of South Mumbai. The triumphal arch monument was erected to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai (then, Bombay) in 1911. It was designed by George Wittet and completed in 1924.

Top Things to do in Mumbai - Gateway of India

The grandiose basalt structure is built in Indo-Saracenic style, a beautiful blend of Victorian Gothic and Mughal architecture. The edifice features intricate latticework and a central dome flanked by 4 turrets. The structure is said to be inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Later Gateway of India also served as a ceremonial entrance to Viceroys and the new Governors of Bombay. And interestingly it was the point from where the last of the British ships left for England in 1947 when the colonial rule ended.

It has also been a popular venue for concerts, shows and the popular ‘Elephanta Festival of Music and Dance’.

There are steps on one side of the Gateway that leads to the sea and from where several boats and ferries ply to the Elephanta Caves. Gateway of India overlooks the Arabian Sea and stands opposite another popular tourist attraction of Mumbai ‘The Taj Mahal Palace’.

There is no entry fee for the monument and it is open 24 hours a day.

Taj Mahal Palace

Just across the street from the Gateway of India is the magnificent Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, one of the iconic landmarks of Mumbai. The five-star luxury hotel also built in Indo-Saracenic style features a huge red central Moorish dome along with Victorian Gothic and Romanesque design features.

Top Things to do in Mumbai - Taj Mahal Palace

Just across the street from the Gateway of India is the magnificent Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, one of the iconic landmarks of Mumbai. The five-star luxury hotel also built in Indo-Saracenic style features a huge red central Moorish dome along with Victorian Gothic and Romanesque design features.

The hotel has over 500 rooms and suites, 11 Fine-dining restaurants and Spa. The hotel opened for the first time in 1903 and has since hosted some of the famous and eminent personalities from all over the world. Next to the Taj Mahal Palace hotel is the Taj Mahal Tower hotel built in the location of the Hotel Greens which is said to be very popular with the sailors during its time.

Both Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Palace Hotel look spectacular after dusk when they are illuminated with colorful lights. It is a popular hangout place so expect the crowd.

The best way to reach Gateway of India is to take a local train to either of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station or the Churchgate station and then take a taxi to the Gateway of India.

Tip: Try some delicious kebabs, rolls, and biryanis from the iconic Mumbai eatery Bademiya Seekh Kebab Stall and a small hotel which is located right behind the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The eatery is open from 12 pm until 3 am midnight. Please note parking can be an issue here any time of the day.

CST or Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus

CST or Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus formerly known as Victoria Terminus is a Mumbai Heritage Buildings and a historic railway station in Mumbai. The magnificent CST building is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in Victorian Gothic Revival architectural style and classical Indian architectural elements.

The architectural design features turrets, pointed arches, stained-glass windows, intricate carvings and railings, grand staircases and elegant balustrades. The building is built in a C-shape with the side wings enclosing the courtyard.

It was designed by Frederick William Stevens and completed in 1887 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

Top Things to do in Mumbai - Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station

The stunning and majestic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station is one of the busiest railway stations in India. It serves as a terminal for local trains in Mumbai City Central Line and the Harbour line as well as for the long-distance trains.

Haji Ali Mosque

The Haji Ali Dargah is a mosque located off the coast of Worli connected by a narrow causeway. Haji Ali Dargah built in 1431 in Indo-Islamic Architecture is one of the popular landmarks of the city of Mumbai. The Dargah was built to honor Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari a wealthy Muslim merchant turned saint who renounced the world to head on a pilgrimage to Mecca. The Dargah features marble pillars with colorful mirrorwork.

Places to visit in Mumbai - Haji Ali Mosque

Tip: When you are here do try some refreshing juices from Haji Ali Juice Center which is popular for exotic fruit juices, milkshakes, and icecreams.

Elephanta Caves

A popular day trip from Mumbai Elephanta Caves has 5th-century Hindu and Buddhist cave temples. Located on Elephanta Island the ancient caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site with remarkable rock-cut architectural style sculptures and carvings depicting stories of Hindu mythology. Some of the caves design and the sculptures are said to resemble the magnificent caves of Ellora in Aurangabad city of India.

Several ferries run from the Gateway of India to Elephanta Caves daily which takes around an hour. You can even choose to drive all the way to the caves on your own, hire a taxi or book one of the half day tours to the caves.

Also Read: The Incredible Rock Cave Temples of Badami in Karnataka, India

Popular Hangout Spots in Mumbai

Band Stand

The Bandstand is a 1.2 km long promenade located in Bandra offering amazing views of the of the sea on the western coast of Mumbai.

While it is a popular hangout mostly flocked by couples it is also an important historical landmark for the location of the Bandra Fort or the Castella de Aguada. The fort was built by the Portuguese in the 17th century as a watchtower overlooking Mahim Bay, the Arabian Sea and the southern island of Mahim.

On one end of the promenade is an amphitheater which is a popular venue for festivals, concerts, musical and drama events, and other performances.

The promenade offers a magnificent view of the Bandra–Worli Sea Link also known as the Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link. Bandra–Worli Sea Link is a cable-stayed bridge connecting Bandra in West Mumbai with Worli and Nariman Point and which reduces travel time between Bandra and Worli from around an hour to mere 7 minutes. Bandstand Promenade garden area and the fort is open to the public from 6 AM to 7.30 PM. To reach Bandstand take a bus/taxi from the Bandra Station.

Marine Drives

Popularly known as the ‘Queen’s Necklace’ Marine Drive is a 3.6-kilometre-long C-shaped six-lane boulevard forming a natural bay. It is a bustling hangout place where you will people from every walk of life enjoying the city skyline along the shores. Especially at night a common sight is of families who come here to relax and take in the gleaming city lights, the kids frolicking and the hawkers selling snacks and toys.

Top Things to do in Mumbai - Marine Drives

Tip: Before starting you drive or walk along the shimmering Marine Drive stop and try some delicious ice creams at the Bachelorr’s Ice cream Shop especially the spicy chilly Green Chilli Icecream. The stall also sells juices, smoothies, and milkshakes.

Powai Lake

Powai Lake is an artificial lake situated in the Powai valley in the vicinity of Mumbai city-suburb called Powai. The Powai Lake was built by the British in the year 1799. Visitors can take a stroll along the lake promenade or relax in the lake garden and take in the peaceful views of the lake and the surrounding hills. The promenade dotted with ice creams, snacks, and balloon vendors make it one of the fun places to visit in Mumbai with kids.

The nearest local train station to Powai Lake is Kanjurmarg on the Central Line, from the station there are plenty of buses with stops at the lake or you can also take an auto.

The lake is also a bird-watchers paradise with the commonly spotted birds like kingfisher, spot-billed duck, spotted dove, sunbirds, jacanas, kite, bulbuls, cormorants, herons, egrets, falcons, and parakeets.

Top Things to do in Mumbai City

Join a Mumbai Heritage Walk Tour

The colonial rule has left Mumbai with some of the magnificent and remarkable heritage buildings and monuments. A Mumbai Heritage Walk will walk you through the some of the imposing historical buildings accompanied by some interesting facts and stories of the past.

The bustling Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station is the most stunning and majestic of them all. The UNESCO World Heritage Site built in Gothic Revival architectural style features dome, turrets, sculptures, and intricate carvings.

 

Other important heritage buildings are Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya and the Gateway of India built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, the majestic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and the neo-gothic Mumbai Police Headquarters.

Elphinstone building

There are some exemplary architectural buildings dating back to the 19th century opposite the Asiatic Library. These buildings house some of the high-end branded shops great for shopaholic or you can just stroll through buildings and explore bygone charm. Nearby is the Bombay Samachar established in 1822, the beautiful Elphinstone building and the 300-year-old of St. Thomas Cathedral.

Visit the Museums

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya is one of the popular museums in Mumbai and part of Heritage buildings in Mumbai. The three-story Indo-Saracenic style building houses over 50,000 exhibits of ancient Indian history from Art, Archaeology and Natural History including some of the artifacts related to the Indus Valley Civilization.Book a guided tour and explore the wonderful collection of various artworks.

Top Things to do in Mumbai - Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad is another important and the oldest museum established in 1855. The museum houses collection comprising of decorative artworks, history, and evolution of the city of Mumbai through maps and models, archaeological findings and paintings.

Go on a Shopping Spree

The bustling metropolitan home of Bollywood has no dearth for large lavish shopping malls in Mumbai. One can find some of the world-class designer brands and high-end boutiques.

But the best way to indulge in some shopping spree is to go to one of the shopping streets in Mumbai which sell the latest fashion trends, seconds and are great for bargaining and grabbing some great deals. The wholesale markets offer almost anything to everything from traditional and western wear to accessories and antiques, leather, home decor.

Fashionistas head to Fashion Street, Linking Road or Hill road for a wide range of options from seconds and latest fashion trends in clothing, kids dresses, bags, shoes, sandals and jewelry accessories.

Top Things to do in Mumbai - Shopping in Mumbai

Top Things to do in Mumbai - Shopping Streets in Mumbai

Book lovers do miss the pavement opposite the Flora Fountain. The pavement is lined with piles of books from every niche and genre, thrillers, academic or encyclopedias at dirt cheap prices.

Some popular wholesale markets are Crawford Market selling fresh fruits, vegetables, spices and more, Mangaldas Market for clothing options, Dadar Flower Market for flowers for all occasions and Chor Bazaar for antiques.

Relax at the Beaches

The location of the city of Mumbai on the western coast of India endows the city with some of the pristine beaches. These beaches make a for a great respite from the chaotic city traffic and hustle-bustle. These beaches are a perfect spot to behold the magical sunset over the magnificent Arabian Sea. Most of these beaches also have carts selling chaats, corns, sandwiches and other the popular Mumbai street foods which are a must try.

Girgaum Chowpatty is the most popular beach of Mumbai well known for the Ganesh idol immersion during the Ganesh festival every year. Every evening at Girgaum Chowpatty is like a carnival with a large number of street food stalls, hawkers selling toys and offering ferry-ride. Gorai beach is another popular beach known as the starting point of ferries to the popular amusement parks Essel World and the Water Kingdom. Also worth a visit is the Aksa Beach which relatively less packed, clean and with a decent crowd. You will also find a variety of stalls here selling snacks, corn, chaats, pav bhaji, and cold drinks.

Visit Dhobi Ghat

The Guinness World Record Holder Dhobi Ghat is a 140-year-old open-air laundromat where the washers clean the clothes in a traditional way. The daily routine work revolves collecting clothes from around the corner of the city, washing, dyeing or bleaching the clothes, drying and iron pressing them. The clothes are then returned back to the owner.

One can get a majestic view of the Dhobi Ghat from Mahalaxmi Railway station. And the best time to behold the washers in action is in the morning and early afternoon.

Places to Visit in Mumbai with Kids

Essel World

Essel World is a popular and one of the largest amusement theme parks in India. The rides range from adult rides to family and kids ride with a promise of maximum fun and adrenaline rushing moments. Apart from rides the amusement park also hosts several entertainment activities through bowling alley, dance floor, skating rink and has several restaurants and eateries peppered across the park. The amusement park also features an exotic and interactive bird park which is first of its kind in India. The Water Kingdom next to the Essel world has some of the amazing and thrilling water games and activities.

Places to visit in Mumbai - Essel World Mumbai

To reach Essel World you can take one of the ferries running from Gorai Creek (nearest stations are Malad and Borivali), drive on your own or hire one of the taxis.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Sanjay Gandhi National Park formerly known as Borivali National Park is one of the popular national parks in India. The rich flora and fauna of the park comprise of over 1000 plant species and fauna comprising of birds, insects, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. There are several walking trails to explore the park, you can go book a guided tour or interested ones can also go on lion safari or a tiger safari to watch lions and tigers in their natural habitat.

Another important draw of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park is the Kanheri Caves which was an important pilgrimage site. The caves house some important sculptures dating from the period between 9th and the 1st centuries BCE. Another famous attraction is Trimurti Digambar Jain Mandir, a famous Jain temple housing three huge idols of Lord Adinath and his two sons, Lord Bahubali and Lord Bharata.

Day Trips from Mumbai

There are plenty of trekking places in and around Mumbai that make for a great respite from the city hustle bustle. These places can easily be visited on day trips from Mumbai.

Places to visit in Mumbai - Lohagad Fort Mumbai Trekking

Places to visit in Mumbai - Pandavkada waterfalls Mumbai Trekking

These places are at their best during the monsoons (the rainy seasons from June to September) when the earth is sheathed in green carpet and the mountains dotted with gorgeous cascades. Some trekking spots also have historical forts and temples to explore.

Explore Places Near Mumbai on a Weekend Getaway

Alibaug

The coastal town of Alibaug is a popular weekend getaway for the Mumbaikars from the hustle bustle of the city. Alibaug has plenty of untouched pristine beaches and homestays where you can devour on some local delicacies and delicious seafood. Alibaug is located at a distance of 120 km from Mumbai, there are regular ferries from Gateway of India to Alibaug or you can drive on your own.

Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar is a beautiful hill station and yet another popular weekend getaway from Mumbai. Mahabaleshwar bound by lush forest area and valleys has several breathtaking vantage points. Mahabaleshwar is well known for the cultivation of strawberries. Mahabaleshwar is located at a distance of 280 km from Mumbai well-connected by the public and private buses running from Mumbai to Mahabaleshwar.

Read More: The Best Places to Visit in Mahabaleshwar on a weekend Getaway from Mumbai.

Aurangabad

The city of Aurangabad is a popular base to visit the famous ancient cave temples of Ajanta and Ellora. The city also has several historical landmarks like the Daulatabad Fort, Bibi ka Maqbara which is a copy of the iconic Taj Mahal, ancient temples, and tombs, no wonder the Aurangabad City is called the tourist capital of Maharashtra state of India.

Best Time to Visit Mumbai

The best time to visit Mumbai is from September and from November to March when the weather is pleasant which makes it convenient to get around. April, May the summer months and October are hot and humid. The rainy season lasts from June until August when it pours heavily which is inconvenient to get around.

Rainy Seasons are the time when the trekking and hiking around Mumbai like hills and forts are beautiful with lush green surroundings and bounty of waterfalls. So visit during monsoons if you are interested in exploring these amazing places around Mumbai.

Have you visited Mumbai? What has been your favorite part of visiting this dream city? Do share with us in comments.

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One thought on “Top Things to Do and Places to Visit in Mumbai, India

  • May 17, 2018 at 2:37 pm
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    Nice post. It will surely help me to travel Mumbai as I have never been there. Nicely written content. Keep up the good work.

    Reply

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