With a population of over 18 million people, Mumbai is a huge city in India that is where many travelers find themselves during their exploration of the country. This top-rated Asian city is a chaotic and hectic place, but also one that is exciting, vibrant, and less touristy than many other places in India. This is a great place to get to know the real India and how the locals live their daily lives. To help you plan your trip to this massive metropolis, here are some of the best ways to spend your days.
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Photograph the Gateway of India
One of the most recognizable sights in Mumbai is the Gateway of India, which is a monument that has been here since 1924. It is historically significant because this is where the last British troops departed and British rule ceased when India gained independence. This is the first sight that many people see when they reach Mumbai by boat, and it is a great starting place to explore the city on foot too. You’ll often see vendors around the recognizable arch and lots of people taking photos in front of it.
Taste Delicious Street Food
The amazing street food is a great reason to visit Mumbai because there are so many fascinating main dishes, snacks, beverages, and deserts to learn about. It’s fun to simply wander the streets and soak up all the sounds, smells, and sights as you walk by the vendors. But if this sounds a bit overwhelming, consider booking a local guide to take you on a street food tour and explain exactly what all these foods are and make recommendations. For example, a four-hour street food tour of Mumbai will give you an enhanced perspective about Indian cuisine as you explore Mohammed Ali Road, Chowpatty Beach, and Bhendi Bazaar.
See Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
One of the most striking sights in all of Mumbai is a railway station, especially when viewed at night. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is a historic rail station and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built starting in 1878 and is a great launching point to get to other places in the city. It’s an example of Gothic Revival architecture and also blends in traditional aspects of Indian architecture. Therefore, it’s a symbol of the meeting of two worlds and two cultures.
Watch a Bollywood Performance
Mumbai is the center of the film industry in India and a wonderful place to learn about Bollywood films and actors. To really immerse yourself into Bollywood culture, one idea is to take a half-day tour with a local actor who can give you industry insights and take you to see a live Bollywood-style dance show. You might see some filming going on at the studio sets you’ll tour and get to enjoy a tasty lunch too. Don’t miss out on visiting the Bollywood museum while you’re here to learn even more about the industry. The Eros Cinema is by the Churchgate railway station and a fun place to see a Bollywood movie. Meanwhile, Film City is in the western suburbs of Mumbai in Goregaon.
See Haji Ali Dargah
Haji Ali Dargah is a mosque and tomb that was built in the 1400s and located in Central Mumbai. When you’re out sightseeing, it is near the Mahalaxmi railway station and off the coast of Worli. This site is actually situated in the ocean and only reachable during low tide via a walkway. Not only is the Haji Ali Dargah an iconic and unique landmark, but it is also a pilgrimage site that draws in thousands of pilgrims from around the world. Check the local tide schedule to see when you can visit this holy place. There are separate rooms for males and females to pray, as well as separate entrances and areas for men and women inside.
Relax at Juhu Beach
Thanks to its location along the coast, Mumbai is also home to some nice beaches where you can relax and enjoy a lovely sunset. Juhu Beach is north of the city and a popular place among locals and visitors. This beach is a popular place for street food in the evenings, and it gets quite crowded here because of the wide variety of dishes being offered. Another popular beach is Versova Beach, which offers watersport opportunities, golden sand, and lovely sunrises and sunsets.
Explore Elephanta Island
Elephanta Caves is an amazing place to see when you’re in Mumbai to learn about the area’s pre-colonial days. Guided tour groups ride ferries to this Mumbai Harbor island to check out the caves and rock art that date back to around the 500s. This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features multiple fascinating caves that have connections to Hindu and Buddhist traditions. This island is only about six miles east of Mumbai, and the ferry ride from the city takes about an hour. You’ll climb a few hundred steps to reach the caves, and most people spend at least a couple hours here.
Browse the Local Markets and Bazaars
You can also spend entire days just wandering around Mumbai’s markets and bazaars while doing some street shopping. The Colaba Causeway is a popular place to shop for souvenirs because this is where a huge market is. It’s a perfect place to shop for women’s clothing and accessories. Meanwhile, Linking Road in Bandra and Crawford Market near Churchgate are colorful places to visit with lots of vendors to check out.
Check Out Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Sanjay Gandhi National Park is less than an hour from Mumbai and a great day trip to get outdoors and enjoy the surrounding environment. At this park, you can check out the Kanheri Caves, butterfly garden, nature trails, and a miniature train. Other popular activities here are boating, biking, and stargazing. The park is home to 274 species of birds, 35 species of mammals, 170 species of butterflies, and over 1,300 species of trees. You can even stay overnight here in a tent, pine hut, or guest house to enable you to spend more time out in the wilderness.