If you are traveling to India, make sure not to skip MUMBAI. It is the most populous city in India with over 12 million people living in it. It’s a huge city that offers a lot to discover and it reflects all the aspects of life in India – from the biggest slums in the world to the some of world´s richest families – all of that is to be seen in Mumbai.
In this text we will give a short city-guide on the best places to visit in Mumbai and tips and advises from the first hand.
As a multicultural metropolis the city landscape combines variety of architectural styles and different influences – Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, British inheritance etc… all well composed in a beautiful Indian frame.
No matter how many days you plan to stay in Mumbai, it will not be enough to see everything that the city has to show – there will always be something new, that you haven’t seen yet…and equally unique that you will regret for not staying longer.
However, certain things and places are definitely not to be missed and you should save enough time at least for these:
1. Gateway of India
The Gateway of India is a 26 m high triumphal arch overlooking the Arabian Sea. It is considered as a symbol of Mumbai representing the city as one of the most remarkable sights.
The monument was built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai in 1911. However, they have never actually seen the monument since the construction begun only after their visit.
This monument is highly appreciated not only for the historical value, moreover for his symbolic sense as an entrance Gate to the city.
Particularly on this place we were asked by many locals to take selfies with them. Since there is no much foreigners around seems like they find it amusing to get a photo with a foreigners. For us it was really fun to meet the locals, have a little chat and take a photo for a memory. You can feel like a superstar too if you visit this interesting place.
Cost → Free
Time → 30 minutes – 2hrs
Location →Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India
Open → 8AM – 6PM (possible to see it from the distance all day)
2. Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
On the opposite side of square where lays the GATEWAY OF INDIA, stands the impressive TAJ MAHAL PALACE HOTEL. The hotel is unique architectural masterpiece that has intellectual property rights protection for its unique design.
Impressive cultural monument and one of the most recognizable pictures of Mumbai from outside, 5 STAR LUXURY HOTEL from inside – at least one of those two will be always reachable by sight and free of charge.
For getting to know it from inside, you would need to pay a small fortune for staying in some of it`s luxury rooms.
Both Gateway of India and Taj Mahal Palace are located in the quite centric area of the city, in the COLABA neighborhood.
Normally, you would need around an hour or so, to make nice walk around both of these, take some nice photos and enjoy the view of Arabian sea in the background.
Not to forget, be prepared for spontaneous chats with locals who would be happy to take a selfie with you.
As the most recognizable landmarks of Mumbai, these (Gateway of India and Taj Majal Palace Hotel) should definitely be on the top of your list of the places to visit in Mumbai.
Cost → Free
Time → 15 minutes – 1 hour
Location → Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India
3. Elephanta Island
This is a 16km2 big (or better said 16m2 SMALL) island, reachable by ferry from the Gateway of India port.
The island is very specific for its CAVE TEMPLES that are predominantly dedicated to Hindu god Shiva.
Upon reaching the island, the path will lead you through the long row of stalls with food and drinks, souvenirs sellers, monkeys, cows, goats and loads of people all the way up to the caves.
Interesting thing about the caves is that they also have several Buddhist stupa mounds but are predominantly dedicated to Hindu god Shiva and, as such, represent syncretism of Hindu and Buddhist ideas and iconography.
ELEPHANTA CAVES are UNESCO World Heritage Site and an impressive archaeological treasure.
Unfortunately, it is unavoidable to feel a lack of appreciation and ecological conscience for this magnificent historical heritage by the visitors who seem not to care much about where they will throw empty plastic bottles or the paper from their snacks.
Garbage is thrown all around and nobody seems to see a problem in it.
Even though the site is beautiful in all its historical, natural and spiritual value, as a paradox of humanity, exactly human touch is what is gradually ruining it.
The whole island is basically like a big park where you can walk and explore around the ancient caves, make some friendships with monkeys and cows or have a picnic (although picnic might attract the monkeys who will steal your food).
*Booking a boat (round trip) can be done on the tourist desks located nearby the entrance to the Gateway of India. You cannot miss it as the tours to the island are offered all around the area by different tourist agencies.
Cost → 200 rupees for the boat (both ways) + 500 rupees fee to visit the caves complex on the island
Time → 3 hours
Location → Island is reachable by boat that departures from the Gateway of India (1 hour boat trip)
Open → 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Closed on Mondays!
4. Sanjay Gandhi National Park & Kanheri Caves
This is one of the biggest NATIONAL PARKS in the world that is located WITHIN THE CITY ITSELF.
The forest area of the park is home to over 1000 plant species and many kinds of wild animals – including lions, tigers and leopards.
One of the most fascinating attractions of the park is a flowering plant called KARVY, which blooms once every seven or eight years. Last time the flower of this plant was seen in 2016.
The flowering of Karvy is a big attraction of the park so nature lovers from all around the world are coming to the park specifically targeting the date when this flower is expected to be seen. We were not that lucky this time.
If you want to see wildlife of the park the best moment to visit will be during the monsoon season.
The park offers 4 walking paths of different intensity and length, possibility to rent a bike or hire a rickshaw for moving around.
The site consists of over 100 old BUDDHIST CAVE TEMPLES, from which, some were discovered relatively recently.
This park is really nice place for the whole-day walk so you should make sure you have sun protection, comfortable shoes, water and enough time to see it all.
It is important to stress out the significance of this park for the city itself considering that MUMBAI IS ONE OF THE MOST POLLUTED CITIES IN THE WORLD and this green peace of nature is of vital significance for the air of Mumbai.
Again, here, we can see the bad example of human nature – or rather example of HUMANS AGAINST NATURE.
City government is planning big infrastructure projects that would go through the park itself, harming the big part of the biodiversity of the park.
Another threats that park is facing constantly are connected to POACHING.
Usually, leopards are subjects of attacks – the animals are being poisoned and “valuable” parts of their bodies are being removed for the selling purposes on the black market.
Hopefully, the nature activist will win these battles and the park will be saved and preserved as it deserves.
The park is located quite far from the center so it’s good to plan the arrival out of the rush hours in order to avoid huge traffic congestion.
In case you have enough time and visiting Mumbai with no hurry, Sanjay Gandhi park is a really good choice for a full-day escape from the chaotic city atmosphere and a relaxed day outdoors.
Cost → 45 rupees park access fee + 200 rupees Kanheri Caves entrance fee
Time → 5 hours/full day
Location → Gujarat Road, Borivali East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400066, India
Open → 07:30AM – 06:30PM
5. Marine Drive
This is that mandatory walking path in any city that has access to the sea – in Mumbai that is MARINE DRIVE – long street down the sea cost with a small beach at the end.
The coast is wide and long, perfect for an evening walk and escape from the city traffic.
Cost → Free
Time → 1 hour
Location → South-west of Mumbai;Mumbai, Maharashtra 400020
Open → 24/7
6. Global Vypassana Pagoda
For all the seekers of spirituality or just curious ones, this pagoda will not leave you disappointed. The pagoda serves as a Buddhist monument of peace and harmony.
It is relatively new, built in 2009 in traditional Burmese style.
It consists of a big MEDITATION HALL and the smaller one in which a ten-day Vipassana meditation courses are held FREE OF CHARGE. For any person to be allowed to meditate in the big (main) pagoda he or she would need to pass successfully the course held in the small one.
For arriving to the pagoda you will need to take ferry from the port called Gorai Creek. Just a short ride will bring you to the place very close to the Pagoda. Thanks to its size, it is possible to see it from a big distance so you will not miss the direction.
Cost → Pagoda entrance is free. Boat ride cost is 50 rupees for both ways
Time → 1h 30min
Location → North-west side of Mumbai;Next to Esselworld, Borivali West, Gorai Village, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400091
Open → 09AM – 07PM
7. Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat
This is the largest unmechanized laundry facility in the world. Yes, such a thing still exists.
DHOBI GHAT is one of a kind place, I would say, in the world.
Laundryman workers (called dhobis), wash, dry and iron clothes and linens from homes, hotels and restaurants of their customers. All the work is done in the open-air laundromats where they WASH CLOTHES BY HAND and dry them in the sun.
This practice is hundreds years old but still exists in Mumbai. Clothes that is being washed here comes mostly from hotels, bars but also from individual people.
The picture of people washing clothes by hand will shock you for sure, but also, make you appreciate the facilities that are available to you, as well as to honor the hard work of the dhobis.
Not less important to mention is the logistics and distribution system, considering that is not an automated process – looking from aside it gives an impression of a perfect organization – clothes is being collected, washed, dried, ironed and delivered back to the customer.
Cost → Free. The whole place is possible to be seen for free from the small bridge that goes above the place (the view from where the photo was taken)
Time → 1 hour
Location → Muncipal Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat Office, Dr. E. Moses Road, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400011
Open → 24/7
*Certain agencies are offering tours that bring tourists inside the place with possibility to come closer to the workers and take photos. We do not support these kind of tours as we believe they are disrespectful and might bother workers in their activities.
8. Crawford Market
If you want to experience India like a local you should definitely go to one of the street markets.
Our recommendation is Crawford market – noisy, packed, pulsating knot of streets where people sell and buy all kind of things that you can possibly imagine.
You will be offered food, drinks, sweets, clothes, shoes, kitchen stuff and all kinds of stuff actually.
Do dare to try some of the amazing street foods that are being sold right there on the street. Don`t think too much and just do it, you will not regret it – it’s a promise.
There is no a real direction to follow – just walk around where your instinct is bringing you. Besides great local food, you can buy fresh fruit and some interesting souvenirs.
Among the other amazing places to visit in Mumbai, going to a street market, if possible this specific one, is the top choice and the best of the best things to do in Mumbai – it’s a world itself and, if you are in Mumbai, you just must go there! You will love it or you will hate it but it will certainly not leave you indifferent.
Cost → Free
Time → 2h
Location → South Mumbai; Dhobi Talao, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Area, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001
Open → 10AM – 9PM
9. Chatrapati Shivaji Train St. & Municipal Corporation Building
These are two of the most impressive buildings in Mumbai. Make sure to visit them both during the day and during the night as well.
To be able to take closer look into this majestic buildings and their architecture go by day when you will be able to walk inside the complex.
However, going there by night as well is more than a good idea because of the amazing LIGHTENING of the buildings. The lightning is changing (colors and patterns) based on the time of the year or different national holidays.
There is a kind of visitor`s platform in the middle of the crossroad where you can safely enjoy the view of the buildings and also view of a crazy night traffic of Mumbai city center.
The picture of these huge buildings in all their shine and colorful lights, mixed with traffic lights of what seems like literally millions of motorbikes, cars and rickshaws, noisy sounds of their horns and pedestrians running all around – it’s like a symphony of chaos that looks and sounds kind of beautiful and crazy…at the same time.
Cost → Free
Time → between 15 min and 1 hour
Location → Fort, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Area, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, Mumbai
Open → 24/7
10. Hanging Gardens
This is a nice park in the center of Mumbai and a place to get some fresh air and relax from running around the city.
After a not that long UPHILL walk, you will enjoy the GREEN OASIS and calm atmosphere of the park.
Don’t expect anything spectacular – it has trees, palms, flowers, little green areas with walking paths and benches to sit under the shadow where you can even take a nap.
What it makes it a good choice for a visit is that is one of the rare quiet places in Mumbai – great if you need some relaxation time in peace.
The park is located in the center and it will not take you long to reach it on foot.
Cost → Free Time → 1h Location → Ridge Road , Malabar Hill, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400006 Open→ 5AM – 9PM
11. Mani Bhavan Gandhi – Mahatma Gandhi’s House/Museum
Nowadays works as a museum, between 1917 and 1934 it used to be the central point of MAHATMA GANDHI‘s political activities and work in Mumbai.
The house belonged to Gandhi`s friend who hosted him in this house during 17 years – Gandhi was working and also LIVING in this house during that period.
Nowadays, the house is open for visitors as a MUSEUM and a library dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi`s work and influence in the Indian history.
You can learn about Gandhi’s life from childhood till his assassination, purchase some of the UNIQUE BOOKS that can be found only here, and you can also see a room with his personal belongings that he was using during the time he spent in this house.
This place is definitely our high recommendation to visit and learn something that you might didn’t know before.
Cost → Donation based entrance (donation box is placed at the entrance and visitors are instructed that entrance is free of charge and donation is desirable but optional)
Time → 1 – 2 hrs
Location → 19, Laburnum Road, Gamdevi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, 400007
Open→ 09:30 AM – 5:30 PM
12. Haji Ali Dargah Mosque
There is an interesting legend behind the place of construction of this mosque so we were curious to see it. The mosque has a great significance among Muslim population in Mumbai being one of the most popular Islamic Pilgrimage sites in India.
I wouldn’t say that it is
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL of its kind, not even close to it, and the path to reach it is not quite cool neither – between tons of GARBAGE on a dead part of the sea, MOSQUITOES, mud, beggars and loads of people heading to the mosque, you can easily find yourself in a
I leave up to you the decision on this one – definitely not our favorite place in Mumbai but interesting for the experience itself and hence we put it on our list.
Even though we were overwhelmed by the crowds of people, garbage and awful smell caused by the loads of garbage floating in the mud around the mosque, followed by constant mosquito bites, loud voices and general sense of collapse – now we have a lot to tell about (and some tragi-comic situations to remember) so we are glad we went there.
Therefore, we would recommend and not recommend it at the same time. If you are adventurous go for it. In case the above described is not making you curious, skip this one.
In case of any kind of phobias or panic attacks tendencies – better avoid it.
Cost → Free
Time → 30min
Location → Dargah Rd, Haji Ali, Mumbai, Maharashtra
Open → 05:30AM – 10 PM
These are some of the places we visited during our one week visit to Mumbai and the ones we recommend to anyone traveling there.
India has a huge variety of things to offer to a visitor and we believe Mumbai sums it all up – it’s a city where you can find it all – temples, cultural monuments, archeological sites, nature, sea, markets, incredible food and even more incredible people.
Even though India is usually referred as a country that you either love or hate, we think you don´t necessarily need to take side – in India you can find plenty of things – beautiful, ugly and controversial – and some of them you will love while absolutely hating some others.
At the end of the day not only beautiful things are valuable. Sometimes there is more value in seeing the things as they are, without makeup and filters. India explains the best that theory.
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