Travel Guide to Mumbai | India
Previously known as Bombay, Mumbai—aside from being the country’s most populous city—is India’s center of financial and commercial activities. Founded on an ancient settlement, its name was derived from the local goddess Mumba, a type of Parvati, the consort of Shiva, and one of Hinduism’s main deities.
The city of Mumbai dishes a unique charm, thanks to a wonderful paradox of modernity and tradition, chaos and beauty, squalor, and glamor. Dubbed as the “City of Dreams,” it offers a lot more than what most people saw in the film “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Boasting a bevy of attractions from ancient temples, historic streets, rows of magnificent Art Deco buildings to a myriad of cultural activities, Mumbai definitely lives up to its moniker of abundant aspirations.
For all the hidden gems that can be discovered in the many nook and crannies of this city, it makes sense why travelers see Mumbai as the ideal city to start their journey to India.
When is the best time to visit Mumbai?
- Most travelers prefer the winter months from November to February as the best time to visit Mumbai. During this period, the climate falls into a pleasant average of 17-28 degrees Celsius.
- The summer months from March to May is also an ideal season, although the weather is a bit warmer averaging from the mid-20s to high 30s.
- The months from June to October are the wet season, where Mumbai’s city experiences heavy rains most days and gets flooded several times every season.
How to get to Mumbai?
Mumbai boast of a modern airport that offers connectivity to many major cities all over the globe. Direct flights from New York, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, and more can be available here.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport is India’s second-busiest airport and has two terminals: Terminal 1 (divided to 1A and 1B) and Terminal 2 (for international flights).
Mumbai is well-connected to other cities in India by bus. There are numerous bus operators in the city that travels to and from many major cities such as Bangalore, Trichur, Udaipur, Ajmer, Ahmedabad, Indore, Hyderabad, Indore, Mangalore, and even as far as Delhi, just to name a few.
Mumbai’s Central line connects to all most parts of India: Southern, Eastern, and Northern. Hundreds or even thousands of trains arrive daily at Mumbai’s foremost train station: Chattrapati Shivaji Terminus and other key stations like the Kurla Terminus and the Dadar Terminus.
Getting around Mumbai
By Metro Train and Rail Network
Mumbai’s Suburban Rail Network comprises three main lines: The Western Line, The Harbour Line, and the Central Line. These three basically covers all areas of the city. Trains start operations at 4am and closes at 1am.
Mumbai’s Metro Line spans 12 stations and starts operations at 5:35 AM and closes at 11:45 PM.
By Public and Government Bus
Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) provides a comprehensive and round the clock bus services connecting all Mumbai’s suburbs and districts’ routes. There are several bus stops found all over the city; you just need to memorize the bus stops and bus number of the buses going to your destination—this can get tricky for first-time visitors, but you can always ask the locals for directions.
By Taxicabs / Uber and Ola
Taxicabs come aplenty in black and yellow in Hyundai Santro and Suzuki Altos, which replaced the outdated but classic Premier Padmini cars of yesteryears. It is easy to flag a cab on the street but negotiates with the driver to use the taxi meter instead of agreeing to a contracted fare. Uber and Ola passenger sharing apps are also widely available in Mumbai. You can easily book a ride by using these applications on your mobile phone.
By Auto and Cycle Rickshaws
Auto-rickshaws are not allowed in the downtown area since it is only permitted in Bandra and Sion’s western and central suburbs. Slower than taxicabs but cheaper, it is only recommended for a shorter length of trips as a ride aboard an auto-rickshaw can be bumpy and less safe because it involves rash driving through the busy streets Mumbai.
Places to See in Mumbai
The Gateway of India
Constructed as a welcoming gesture to King George V and Queen Mary in 1911, this 26-meter basalt archway charms visitors with its beautiful fusion of Indo-Saracenic and Muslim architecture.
Situated on the banks of the Arabian Sea, it is a popular destination among locals and tourists in Mumbai. The best time to come is before and during sunset.
Marine Drive Baywalk
Fancy a walking exploration of Mumbai? Then start off at the 3.6-kilometer-long boulevard known as the Marine Drive. You can witness the Arabian Sea’s spectacular sunset and the ageless magnificence of Art Deco Buildings on the other site.
The best time to come is also during sunset and cap your visit with a feast of Mumbai’s street food.
Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
You can either stay here if you have extra travel money to spend or just take a wonderful snap as the hotel’s Renaissance Architecture is a photogenic subject. The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel’s windowed facade’s pattern and design make it a popular tourist destination. Afterward, you can also check the hotel’s colonial-style restaurant or enjoy an afternoon tea at Sea Lounge.
Mani Bhavan Gandhi Museum
The beautiful house where Gandhi used as his local headquarters from 1917 until the 1930s, is now transformed into an interesting museum. Today, it displays various Gandhi-related mementos such as old photographs, documents, paintings depicting Gandhi’s life, and other historical items.
Other must-see museums in Mumbai include the National Gallery of Modern Art, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Shri Yogendra Museum of Classical Yoga, and Archdiocesan Heritage Museum.
Haji Ali Dargah Mosque
Haji Ali is one of the most renowned Muslim pilgrimage sites in India. Situated a thousand meters from the Arabian Sea shoreline and connected only by a narrow footpath, its Indo-Islamic Architecture will instantly arrest your attention.
You can also witness how the Muslims gather and pray inside the mosque, where it also houses the tomb of Muslim Saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. Non-Muslims are allowed entrance to the mosque.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station is one of the few train stations with a UNESCO World Heritage Site distinction. Said to be the world’s busiest railway station, be awed not only by its voluminous crowd of commuters but also by its impressive Italian-Gothic Architecture. Since its construction in 1888, it has since become the city’s foremost symbol.
The Art Deco Buildings of Mumbai
Mumbai’s hidden charm can be seen in the many rows of Art Deco buildings in several streets facing the Arabian Sea. Other than Art Deco, you can also see other structures designed with Victorian, Gothic, and Indo-Saracenic architectural styles. For lovers of Architecture, a stroll in Mumbai’s streets will definitely bring an uncanny visual pleasure.
The Outdoor Laundromat of Dhobi Ghat
If you want to get a glimpse of a local way of life, you must visit the Dhobi Ghat. Known as the world’s largest open-air laundromat, this is where more than 8,000 residents belonging to Dhobi families can be seen washing clothes, bed sheets and linens, pillowcases, hospital uniforms, and more, and hanging them all out in the open air.
The Dhobis have been earning from this form of livelihood for many decades, dating back to the British rule.
One hour by sea travel from Mumbai, Elephanta Island, you can find the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Buddhist and Hindu caves dating back to the second century. Inside the complex are rock-cut cave openings dedicated to Lord Shiva and a vast ruin adorned with intricate carvings and columns. Mischievous monkeys frolicking in the surrounding garden elevates your experience into a memorable one.
Ferry boats are available near the Gateway of India, where you can also buy your tickets.
The Artsy Neighborhood of Bandra West
Boasting several of the city’s coziest bars, savory restaurants, and fanciful architecture and art scene, Bandra West is a perfect place to explore and experience Mumbai’s dose of modern life.
Day Trips from Mumbai
Make a quick escape from Mumbai’s bustle to this quaint seaside destination located only two hours by ferry from the Gateway of India. A stretch of white sandy shoreline called Varsoli Beach is the perfect place to unwind and get some tan under the sun.
Surrounding the beach are interesting places such as the 300-year old Kolaba Fort, the Revdanda Fort, and a fish market where you can witness a splice of everyday life.
Experience wildlife near Mumbai by taking a train ride from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and get off at Neral Junction and transfer to a mini-train (they call it a toy train) heading to Matheran.
Here, you’ll enjoy a pollution-free environment as all you can see are thick forests and lush greenery as far as the eyes can see. Hiking and bird-watching are two of the most popular activities here.
Experience a feel of Italy in the scenic countryside three hours from Mumbai. The Sula Vineyards offers a wine-tasting tour lavish with tasty Italian dishes. You can find many Zen spots in this vineyard perfect for meditating and yoga after your wine drinking spree.
Best Places to Shop in Mumbai
A busy marketplace since the late 1860s, Crawford Market—in South Mumbai—possesses a Gothic character laden with stalls that sells almost anything under the sun.
Also known by its post-Indian Independence name of Jyotiba Phule Mandai Market, this is the best place to shop for fruits, vegetables, and nuts at a lower price.
Also known as the “Thieves Market,” not because marketgoers get often mugged here. On the contrary, it is safe to spend a few hours looking for interesting items from antiques to houseware to art pieces to colorful textiles and modern gadgets. It is also a good place to score some Bollywood memorabilia.
This is another popular market frequented by both the locals and visitors to the city. Colaba Causeway is where you can find stalls selling sparkling jewelry, branded and imitation clothes, antique pieces, and almost anything that counts as a fascinating item to buy, all at a good price.
There are also several cafes and bars located here where you can relax and have a drink while you rest from a day of shopping and bargaining.
Situated in the Bandra neighborhood in Mumbai, the younger ones come to shop for fancy stuff. It is a favorite hipster hangout place where you can also find artisanal food places, organic cafes, galleries, and vegetable stalls.
Oshiwara Antique Market
This market is where you will find heaps of antique items from wooden furniture to trinkets dating back to the British rule. Located in Jogeshwari’s neighborhood, the Oshiwara Antique Market is a haven of stalls selling yesteryears’ hidden treasures.
Dadar Flower Market
Come here in the morning and start your day smelling the sweet scent of the flowers sold here. Name the flowers you know, you’ll find it here: purple and pink orchids, orange daisies, red roses, tuberoses, gladioli, and many more.
The flower stalls seem to spread as far as the eyes can see, creating a spectacular photogenic scene. Hurry because every flower shop folds up after 9am.
Best Places to Eat in Mumbai
Address: 123 Nagindas Master Road, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai
Serving a wide-ranging menu of elevated California cuisine fused with Indian flavors and representing the favorite dishes of Chef Alex Sanchez—who won countless following after his stint at The Table in Mumbai—Americano also presents a classy vibe thanks to its stylish design and high-ceiling interior.
Located in a contemporary neighborhood, this place is an ideal place to experience an enjoyable meal.
Address: Ground Floor, Kalapesi Trust Building, Opposite Dhanraj Mahal, Below Hotel Suba Palace, Apollo Bunder Marg, Colaba, Mumbai
One of the forerunners of Mumbai’s farm-to-table movement, the Table adopted international culinary leanings and fused it with Indian mouth-watering gastronomic culture, to come up with a menu that is considered as a must-eat when in Mumbai.
Serving food with fresh ingredients sourced from its farm, the Table truly serves its guests with one memorable dining experience.
Wasabi by Morimoto
Address: Taj Hotel, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India
A world-class restaurant branch of legendary and award-winning chef Masaharu Morimoto, Wasabi by Morimoto justify its famous name with its menu of sumptuous traditional Japanese food cooked with ingredients flown in from Japan.
Offering one of the best meals in the city also comes with a picturesque view of India’s Gateway. Classy interiors and vibrant Japanese art complete your wonderful meal experience here.
The Bombay Canteen
Address: Unit-1, Process House, S.B. Road, Kamala Mills, Near Radio Mirchi Office Lower, Parel, Mumbai
An old colonial home turned into a quirky dining place is what The Bombay Canteen looks like now. Serving a bevy of Indian regional cuisines—prepared with a contemporary twist—and adorned with a homey vibe, this place is a perfect option to dine with the family or a group of friends or better yet, a casual romantic dinner.
Britannia & Co.
Address: Wakefield House, 16, 11, Sport Rd, opp. New Custom House, Ballard Estate, Fort, Mumbai
Serving a heritage cuisine from the Parsi culture of its founders—the Zorotanians from Iran in the 19th century—this vintage eatery is a local favorite and is also gaining popularity among the city’s visitors, thanks to its savory menu and colonial atmosphere that dishes a memorable dining experience.
Address: Kamakshi Building, no. 391/B, Bhaudaji Rd, Matunga, Mumbai
The go-to place for everything South Indian cuisine, Cafe Madras, is a long-standing local favorite that provides a humble setting typical of a traditional Indian eatery.
Mostly buzzing with a crowd of all ages enjoying crunchy dosas and a medley of South Indian favorite food, this is the place where you can experience what it’s like to be a local foodie in Mumbai.
Address: Kamal Building, B/1 New, Linking Rd, next to Burger King, Bandra West, Mumbai
A double-dose of appeal courtesy of its mouth-watering food—vegetarian and seafood options—and Instragrammable corners, make Bastian a favorite hangout place of the city’s younger crowd and even Bollywood celebrities.
Must-tries include lobster roll, black pepper crab, snapper carpaccio, and butter-poached lobster.
Best Areas to Eat in Mumbai
This public beach, located along with Queen’s Necklace and Marine Drive in the neighborhood of Girgaon, is not only an ideal place to relax by sitting over a sandy shore, but it is also a good place to experience Mumbai’s street food culture.
It is said that here, one can have a taste of Mumbai’s “sand, sea, and lip-smacking chaat experience.”
Mohammed Ali Road
A rich street food experience awaits you in this neighborhood lined up with rows of stalls serving an array of delightful spreads from naan bread to spicy mutton curry to mouth-watering kebabs.
This is also a popular place to witness the iftar, where Muslims would gather to eat after Ramadan.
Have a taste of Bombay sandwich, shawarma, and other popular Indian snacks sold at the many roadside stalls at this neighborhood teeming with the city’s gastronomic delight.
The scene here gets super busy starting from lunchtime until deep into the night, so plan your visit during this period.
If you ask a local where to sample Mumbai’s street food, chances are they will recommend heading out to Dadar in the suburb neighborhood of Shivaji Nagar. This is where you can try out various vegetarian Indian food, including the must-try misal pav, a tasty spicy bean curry.
Zaveri Bazaar Street
Mix shopping and food tripping adventure in this neighborhood situated in Mumbai’s jewelry center. Rows of food stalls and jewelry stores interchanging with each other give you an option to try out famous Indian snack meals such as samosas, chaats, papad, chai, and kachoris in between shopping for diamonds and other gemstones.
Where to stay in Mumbai
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
Address: Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai
Of course, the iconic hotel of Mumbai tops every “where to stay in Mumbai” list. The Taj Mahal Palace is an architectural marvel boasting of heritage structure adorned with a mixture of Renaissance, Moorish, Oriental, and Rajput architecture influences.
If you can splurge on your trip, then consider staying here so you can also experience world-renowned figures such as William Somerset Maugham, Lord Mountbatten, Duke Ellington, and Bill Clinton have experienced here.
The Orchid Mumbai
Address: 70-C, Nehru Rd, near Mumbai Domestic airport, Navpada, Vile Parle East, Vile Parle, Mumbai
Known as Asia’s first ecotel-certified hotel because of its environment-friendly use of solar energy, recycled products, and other green practices, The Orchid Mumbai also boasts a stylish interior, interactive art exhibits, and elaborate architecture.
Taj Lands End
Address: Bandstand, BJ Road, Mount Mary, Bandra West, Mumbai
This 5-star hotel’s 493 rooms offer a sweeping view of the Arabian Sea and an array of lavish amenities that guarantee a cozy and relaxing stay.
Le Sutra Hotel
Address: 14, Union Park, Next to Olive Restaurant, Khar West, Mumbai
Bursting with heritage and culture, Le Sutra Hotel not only possesses a classic architecture style, but it also houses several Indian artworks that make this hotel doubles as an art gallery.
Four Seasons Mumbai
Address: 114, Dr. E Moses Rd, Gandhi Nagar, Upper Worli, Worli, Mumbai
Housing the city’s highest rooftop bar, Four Seasons Hotel carries its renowned brand name to Mumbai by dishing an array of luxury amenities and top-notch hospitality service coupled with stylish architecture.
Address: Urban Pod Pvt. Ltd Opus Park, F-21, 1st-floor Midc Central Road, Opposite Seepz Gate Number One, Andheri East, Mumbai
For budget travelers and backpackers, this capsule hotel provides affordable accommodation and appealing amenities such as a common area perfect for socializing with other travelers and spacious dorm rooms with spacious pod beds.
Address: 1, Uttam Jeevan, Opp Equinox Business Park, LBS Road, off BKC, Kurla West, Mumbai
Check Rates and Availability via Agoda
Bursting with popping colors, this hipster hostel is popular among backpackers in Mumbai. It has decent rooms that feature teak-wood bunk beds, common areas, and a nice location just a walking distance from Kurla Railway Station.
Festivals in Mumbai
Mumbai celebrates several festivals that highlight the city’s colorful history and fascinating culture. Here are the main festivals that you can include in your planned visit to the city.
- Kala Ghoda Arts Festival – held every late January to early February
- Ganesh Chaturthi – it’s a 10-day festival from late August to early September.
- Bandra Fair – it is held every September 8, the Virgin Mary’s birthday.
- Mumbai Film Festival – this is an 8-day film festival that shows more than 200 Bollywood films in cinemas around the city.
- Elephanta Festival – held from late January to early February in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Elephanta Island.
- Maharashtra Day – This is held every May 1 to celebrate the Maharashtra statehood.
Sample 2-Day Itinerary in Mumbai
Day 1: City Center Loop
Morning: You can take your breakfast at your hotel or go straight to trying out Mumbai’s street food by having a plate of bhelpuri, an order of vada pav, and a hot cup of chai tea.
After that, you can go to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and, from there, walk to the nearby neighborhood to check out the many Art Deco buildings of Mumbai and make your way to the Gateway of India, the Taj Mahal Hotel, and to Colaba Causeway. Late lunch.
Afternoon: Take a short cab ride to Dhobi Ghat Laundromat and walk to Haji Ali Dargah Mosque before visiting Mani Bhavan Gandhi Museum. Afterward, take a cab to Marine Line, passing by Malabar Hill and towards Chowpatty Beach for some relaxation and a majestic sunset of the Arabian Sea.
Evening: After sunset, you can have dinner at one of the restaurants mentioned in this article and take a walk in the city to see more art deco buildings light up at night.
Day 2: Nature and Elephanta Caves
Morning: Breakfast and a half-day trip to Elephanta Caves, which is an hour away from the Gateway of India.
Afternoon: You can either go to Matheran Hill for some nature tripping or go to Alibag Beach for some fun in the sun.
Evening: Shopping and more shopping.
Mumbai Travel and Tour Packages
To help you plan out your visit to Mumbai, we listed places to visit and other amazing activities in Mumbai, India. We also listed some of the best travel deals and tour packages and excellent flight deals and accommodation.
Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable Mumbai hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.