Mumbai! A colourful, lively, busy, densely populated and captivating place. If you’re coming to India, make sure you visit this city which is the largest city in India.
Whether you’re here for an hour, a day, week or longer, there will always be something to do here. Check out 7 of the best things we recommend doing when in Mumbai. As well as places to see, we include experience opportunities and foods to try.
If you arrive at the airport, you can get a prepaid taxi for around 480 INR to the south of Mumbai where all the attractions lie. Once you exit the airport, there will be prepaid taxi booth (for the black and yellow taxis) and depending on the amount of luggage and people there are, they will give you a price. You can either take an AC Taxi or a non-AC taxi. The AC taxi will cost more. The taxis are a safe and convenient way to get to your accommodation. We did think about taking a bus or train but after looking at the logistics we opted for the taxi.
Okay. So now let’s dive into the good stuff. Starting off with the iconic landmark…
1. Visit The Gateway of India
There’s no missing this. If you’re headed to Mumbai, this should be at the top of your list. A magnificent construction, this attracts visitors in great numbers every day. With an open courtyard, there is enough room to walk around and take your pictures.
The Gateway was built to to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai in December 1911 making it over 100 years old.
- Getting Here: Depends on where you are. You can walk here, take a bus or even a taxi. We took a taxi from Chatrapati Shivaji Train Station which costed us around 100 INR. This works out to around £1.10. If you are to take a train, ensure you arrive at Churchgate Station. From here it is a 20-30 min walk to the Gateway. Otherwise jump in a taxi which’ll take you 10 mins.
- Hours: No closing time. Come throughout the day or evening. Online it is advertised as closing at 12AM. People usually come in throughout the morning, afternoon or evening and spend around 2 hours here.
- Entry Fee: Free
2. Take a Boat To The Elephanta Caves
This was one place we so badly wanted to visit but unfortunately did not get to because of the extremely long queues and our time restrictions. Look at picture above of the Gateway of India and you’ll see what we were up against. Nevertheless, I’ll share some details.
Elephanta is an island off the Mumbai (Bombay) coast. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a collection of historical cave temples; a must see!
If you’re already at the Mumbai Gateway of India, perfect! Because from here you can take a ferry to Elephanta Caves. There are usually long queues so be prepared to wait. The experience is definitely worth the wait.
When you walk towards the Gateway of India, on your left hand side there should be a ticket booth. From here you can buy your ticket which should cost you around 120 INR for a return ticket. Once on the ferry, you can pay an extra 10 INR to sit on the upper deck to get an awesome panaromic view. Boats leave every 30 mins.
There are two types of boat/ferry journeys. One is a local sight seeing boat and the other takes you to Elephanta; make sure you ask for the location of the Elephanta boat.
- Getting Here: Get to Gateway of India and buy your tickets from the left side of the gate.
- Hours: 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM – closed on Mondays
- Entry Fee: 120 INR for return boat ticket. A further 250 INR for entry to the caves for foreigners and 10 INR for Indian nationals.
3. See The Haji Ali Dargah From a Distance
I’ll be honest with you; in our opinion this place is more beautiful from a distance. It is a shrine of Haji Ali (Dargah means shrine) and is visited by many devout worshippers. The place is extremely packed by many devotees and so therefore to avoid rampage, sit back, enjoy a juice and admire the view from a distance.
To get a good view, head over to Haji Ali Juice Centre then walk down a few minutes until you can get a good view of the Haji Ali Dargah on your left.
By the way, there is a Masjid close by called Kinnara Masjid from where you can get a really nice view. The Masjid is open throughout prayer times and I think even beyond that.
- Getting Here: Get a taxi to Haji Ali Juice Centre and find a good spot near the coast.
- Hours: If you’re coming to get a view, you can come at anytime.
- Entry Fee: Free
4. Chowpatty Beach & Marine Drive
There are only a few beaches that stand out in Mumbai and one of them is definitely the Chowpatty Beach.
Possessing a relaxed atmosphere, friendly environment and places to eat and drink close by, this is a great place to come, sit and unwind. Also a great place to take some really good photos.
Marine Drive is also a great place to take a relaxing walk and enjoy the ambience of the coast. Located not far from the Chowpatty Beach, Marine Drive is actually a 3.6-kilometre-long Boulevard. You can get here by taking a local train to Marine Lines Station.
- Getting Here: Get a taxi to the beach or take a local train to Charni Road Station. Once you exit the station, the beach will be right in front of you. We took a train from Churchgate to Charni Road and it costed us around 10 INR.
- Hours: Open all hours
- Entry Fee: Free
5. Try Local Street Food
This is a must if you’re anywhere in India. Indians are known to snack and a good way to immerse yourself, try snacking on some authentic local street food.
Food snack vendors can be found almost everywhere you go in Mumbai and they usually cost close to nothing for quality satiating snacks.
We tried some amazing Vada Pav from a small street food vendor called Jai Javan just at the exit of Charni Road Station. They costed 12 INR which is about 13 Pence. Tasty, full of flavour and satiating. Close by to that stall was a small setup of Pani Puris which had just been setup when we got there, so we ended up being the first customers to try their fresh Pani Puris. Read more about what foods to try when in India.
6. Take a Ride On The Local Trains
Mumbai is a very well connected city with fantastic services for transportation.
As well as taking taxis and/or walking I usually love taking the train. It’s cheaper, can be quicker and also a great way to experience local life.
You have probably noticed that above I mention taking a train here and there. Taking a train in Mumbai is pretty simple. On Google Maps it is easy to locate nearby train stations and they are a super conveninet traffic-free way to get to your next destination. There are peak times when they can be busy such as early morning, lunch time and around 5-7; however, anytime other than that, you can find the trains virtually empty.
Above we have recommended taking a train to get to some of the places in Mumbai.
7. Dhobi Ghat
I know what you’re thinking – what is this place!
Well, this is what I like to call the world’s largest commercial open air laundromat catering for almost all the hotels in Mumbai. Not only that, but it is 140 years old.
It may seem very chaotic to you at first, but the cleaners actually have a systematical process which they all follow to get the job done. Also, you may see some machinery, but actually a lot of the work is still done by hand.
Also known as the Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat, it can be viewed easily from the Mahalaxmi Railway station. The best time to visit Dhobi Ghat is early morning and early afternoon.
If clothes need washing on a commercial scale, they get brought here.
It’s amazing to see clothes being washed as it is, but on this scale, it’s something else.
Dhobi Ghat has been featured in the Guinness Book of World Records entry under ‘most people hand-washing clothes at a single location’ in 2011!
- Getting Here: Get a taxi to Mahalaxmi Railway Station and walk down a little until you notice Dhobi Ghat.
- Hours: Best to come early morning or early afternoon.
- Entry Fee: Free
If there’s places that you’ve visited that you think should be added to this list please comment and share below. Enjoy your trip and I hope you have a great time if you’re going to Mumbai!