Mumbai is the largest city in India, with a population of more than 20 million people. It started as a fishing village and started exploding once India was colonized by the British. Since then, it has grown to be one of the best tourist destinations. It is now home to Bollywood, the third largest film industry in the world! From my India trip, here are our top things to do in Mumbai.
Visit the Gateway of India
The Gateway of India is the starting point for anyone who really wants to explore the beautiful city of Mumbai. Apparently, it is the city’s most important monument. It was built during the era of British in India as an arch to commemorate the country’s visit by King Gorge V and Queen Mary.
You must see the Gateway of India during the day and at night when it is lit up! If you are taking a ferry to any of the nearby islands, this is where you will grab your ferry. It’s always crowded as every first-time visitor to Mumbai heads straight here!
Colaba Causeway Market
Colaba causeway market is among the best shopping joints that you should visit while in Mumbai. It is located near Mumbai police headquarters, southern Mumbai in Maharashtra. The market is known for its wide selection of ladies’ outfits and accessories, and it’s always flocked with shopping enthusiasts
Colaba Causeway Market is a popular shopping joint for both local and foreign tourist, earning itself the name, “Culture Square of Mumbai.” Alongside other authentic and fancy cultural items, you can grab for yourself original Rajasthani Silk Paintings at very competitive prices. This is the best place to look for souvenirs such as bracelets, clothing, jewelry, and hats.
Try Kebabs at Bademiya
This small eatery is famous in Mumbai for having some of the most delicious Seek Kebabs in the city! From Lamb to Mutton to delicious Chicken, each kebab here is out of this world! The kitchen is on the street, and you’ll get to see them making the bread and cooking up the kebabs.
All you have to do is order, then eat while standing up with dozens of other hungry eaters! This is a true authentic experience that you don’t want to miss while in Mumbai, and these are probably the best Kebabs I have ever eaten
Visit Elephanta Island
If there is a one day trip, you have to do while in Mumbai, it has to be a visit to the Elephanta Island. The island is known for its rock cut Basalt stone structures that were built several centuries ago, it’s one the oldest surviving cave carvings in India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and homes Idols of Lord Shiva and other Hindu sculptures.
This island is a 1-hour ferry ride from Mumbai (starting at the Gateway of India) It takes around 2+ hours from when you arrive to climb a few hundred steps through a market to get to the caves. Once your there you can hire a guide. They were charging us 700 rupees for a 1-2 hour tour.
See the CST Railway Station at Night
Formally referred to as Victoria Terminus (VT), Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) is one of the most historic railway stations in India, and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the year 1888, the station is located in the heart of Mumbai city, and therefore you can access it from any point.
CST is a grand reminder of the British Raj in India and remains one of India’s historical landmarks in Mumbai CBD. It has been there since the flourishing of Mumbai city, the development of the country’s film industry and has also witnessed that transition of Bombay to Mumbai. The structure looks very magnificent when its dark, and you must visit it at night!
Eat Food at Juhu Beach at Night
If you are a foodie looking to experience some lively night street food (small restaurants) tour in Mumbai, then you must go up to Juhu Beach and eat a ton of different dishes. Though the beach is a bit crowded, you will still get to enjoy the best of Indian street foods.
Tourists normally flock here to have a view of the Bungalow of cine actor Amitabh Bachchan, which is located on the road on your way to Juhu beach. However, the food here is actually a better attraction than the beach itself. I tried a bunch of dishes from Indo-Chinese to Dosas and even Faluudas, and they were fantastic!
Enjoy Versova Beach
Versova Beach is a very popular hangout within the city of Mumbai. It used to be one of the dirtiest beaches in India but today is a stunning beach frequented by both local and foreign tourists. Located in Suburbs of Anderi, Mumbai, Versova Beach features unmatched natural beauty. There are lots of beach activities you can get yourself into. Enjoy sunrise and sunset, tread through Versova’s golden sands, indulge in watersport activities and just sit and enjoy the fantastic view of the beach’s beauty.
The beach is a perfect place for a day out with family or friends. Near Versova beach is Kolaba Fort. There are number of Hollywood movie stars that stay near this beach and also a number of eateries where you can enjoy snacks such as Chana Masala, Bhel Puri, Pav Bhaji and Chana Masala.
Explore the Bandra Neighborhoods
Spending time at Mumbai’s Bandra neighborhood is really rewarding. Bandra is home to a lot of trendy venues. It is a historic town that is immersed in an old-world charm yet featuring a dynamic lifestyle. Start your day by taking an early morning walk in the Bandra’s Bandstand Promenade that stretches down the historic Bandra Port, located at the Southern tip of this neighborhood. You’ll enjoy gentle breezes originating from the Arabian Sea and fantastic views of Bandra-Worli Sea Link and Worli’s skyline.
Bandra is one of the poshest areas in Mumbai and is home to many of the famous Bollywood superstars. The neighborhood is one of the most pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods in the city so that you can take a walking tour of its street art and the historic sub-villages. To do so, use Chapel road as it boasts some of the city’s best art works, inspired by different topics. Being home to some of Mumbai’s coolest nightlife venues including high-class bars, Bandra neighborhood offers plenty of options that you can unwind after a long day trip in the city.
Visit the Global Vipassana Pagoda
You definitely don’t want to leave Vipassana Pagoda out your travel itinerary at Mumbai. Located in the northwestern part of the city, this is a meditation hall that features impressive spire with real gold coverings. Even if you don’t usually mediate, the grand architecture of this particular attraction warrants it a visit from people from all over the world.
When you visit the pagoda, look for the large crystals featured on the pinnacle, covering the largest stone dome built without any supporting pillars. Also, look for a pagoda dome with Buddha relics, study rooms, library and a museum that is dedicated to the life of Buddha. You can also enroll in meditation courses at the complex. You need to check the pagoda’s website before you visit, as entry for guests is only allowed during strict periods. It takes over 90 minutes to get there, so plan it as a day trip.
Eat Street Food Everywhere
Mumbai boasts of mouthwatering street foods. You can find street foods almost everywhere, from Fort area all the way to Juhu Beach. There are a variety of dishes that you may want to try while staying at this Indian city, and these include Elco’s Pani Puri in Bandra, Ice gola, dosa, kalidas masala vada pave, chicken lollipop among others.
Elco’s Pani Puri in Bandra is a small piece of delicious bread with a watery sauce. Ice gola is very slushy street food, available in any beach within Mumbai. You can order ice gola from a vendor and asks him to mix it with your favorite flour. Most vendors have mango, rose and blueberry flavors.
If you’re familiar with Southern Indian cuisine, then you definitely know about Dosas, common in Matunga area. It is a crepe-like dish with different veggie ingredients and comes with two different sauces. Kalidas masala Vada Pay is basically an Indian burger, a bread mixed with bam and sauce. Available in Muhammad Ali Road, Chicken lollipop is among the most delicious fried chicken you’ll ever have. The chicken is fried with some kind of curry, and it is called chicken lollipop since it is basically a drum stick.
Getting Around Mumbai
Mumbai’s traffic and overpopulation can be a daunting to navigate, especially for independent travelers like myself. Getting around Mumbai doesn’t have to be a nightmare if you use uberX, which is the mode of transport I primarily use when I travel. uberX is available in over 750 cities worldwide! I especially like that it’s the same app to use it anywhere, and Mumbai was no exception. I just opened my app and requested an Uber ride, which are inexpensive and I didn’t have to worry about a taxi trying to scam me. All the Indian uberX drivers have safety ratings and customer reviews, which you can check out directly on the app. Oftentimes, if they spoke English, I would ask them for recommendations about attractions and street food. It’s always nice to connect with locals anytime I travel, and some of the best suggestions came from Uber drivers.
Another awesome feature about this app is I can share my ETA and Trip Status with family and friends back home. I just use the “Share Status” option to send them my status. Click here to sign up for uberX.
Here are some other trips for traveling safely in Mumbai (and other places in India):
- To enter India, you need a valid passport and an Indian visa, which grants you 30 days if you are a tourist. You can apply online here: India Visa
- Stay healthy! I unfortunately got a nasty stomach bug while in Delhi, but thankfully I had been to a travel clinic before I left so I had plenty of medicine on hand. Be sure to take diarrhea medication with you and get all your necessary shot before your trip. Also, a large bottle of hand sanitizer will go a long way.
- Dress modestly to avoid any unwanted attention.
- Make a photocopy of your passport and carry it with you in case of an emergency.
- Always have cash on hand, but be careful not to have all of your money on your person when out and about.
- Purchasing travel insurance may be a good idea, especially if you’re traveling with expensive equipment or if you’re prone to getting sick while traveling. I like the World Nomads
- Be polite and kind – learning a few basic words like please and thank you in the local language is always a good idea!
- If you are planning to work while in Mumbai, it is advisable you get a PAN card. A PAN card is used by India for tax purposes and you can find out more by visiting https://www.pan-card.org.in
Those were my top 10 things to do in Mumbai. This city is huge, and things take time, so I would recommend a minimum of 72 hours if you want to try to see and do everything I listed here. My personal favorite thing about Mumbai was the food! It’s really out of the world next level delicious!
Big thanks to Uber for sponsoring this article!