Mumbai, the bustling financial capital of India, is a city that never sleeps, known for its fast-paced lifestyle, iconic landmarks, and diverse culture. For those pondering things to do in Mumbai, visiting the Gateway of India, an arch-monument built in the early 20th century, and exploring the Elephanta Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage site located on an island in Mumbai Harbor, are top activities.
The city’s Marine Drive, a 3.6-kilometer-long boulevard along the Arabian Sea, offers a picturesque setting for an evening stroll, with the lights from the surrounding buildings reflecting on the water, creating a sight famously known as the “Queen’s Necklace.” Nearby, the bustling markets of Colaba Causeway provide a shopping paradise, with vendors selling everything from fashion accessories to home decor.
Beyond its urban attractions, Mumbai is also known for its vibrant street food culture, with stalls serving local delicacies such as vada pav, pav bhaji, and pani puri. For those seeking the best places to visit in India, Mumbai’s blend of historical landmarks, cultural richness, and culinary delights makes it a captivating destination.
Table of Contents
Attractions & Things to Do in Mumbai, India
1. Gateway of India
The Gateway of India, built in the early 20th century in honor of King George V and Queen Mary’s visit, stands as an iconic symbol of Mumbai. Overlooking the Arabian Sea, this majestic archway offers striking views and is a starting point for ferries heading towards Elephanta Island.
Travel Tip: Early morning or late afternoon visits offer fewer crowds and cooler temperatures, ideal for photography and leisurely strolls.
2. Elephanta Caves
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Elephanta Caves are located on an island about 10 kilometers from the Mumbai shoreline, housing rock-cut temples dating back to the 5th century. The intricate carvings and sculptures here are a testament to ancient Indian art and spirituality.
Travel Tip: Catch the first ferry of the day to avoid the crowds and the heat, and be prepared for a walk up to the cave entrance.
3. Marine Drive
Marine Drive is a 3.6-kilometer-long boulevard in South Mumbai, often bustling with people enjoying the sea breeze and the panoramic view of the bay. This curved promenade, also known as the Queen’s Necklace because of its streetlights’ string of pearls appearance at night, is a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
Travel Tip: Visit at sunset for a spectacular view and then enjoy the illuminated cityscape after dark.
4. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
Formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum, this museum boasts a significant collection of art, sculpture, ancient artifacts, and a natural history section. The building itself is an architectural marvel, blending Indo-Saracenic, Mughal, and Jain designs.
Travel Tip: Set aside several hours for your visit; there is much to see, and the museum offers audio guides in multiple languages.
5. Colaba Causeway Market
For shopping enthusiasts, Colaba Causeway is a paradise. You can find everything from fashionable clothing to antiques and classic Indian tea. The street stalls and boutiques cater to all tastes and budgets.
Travel Tip: Bargaining is common here, so don’t be shy to negotiate for a better deal on your purchases.
6. Siddhivinayak Temple
Dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the Siddhivinayak Temple is one of Mumbai’s most revered Hindu shrines. The temple’s inner roof, plated with gold, and the wooden doors carved with images of the Lord are particularly notable.
Travel Tip: The temple can get very crowded, especially on Tuesdays, so plan your visit accordingly and dress conservatively.
7. Juhu Beach
Juhu Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Mumbai, known for its street food stalls, lively atmosphere, and sunset views. It’s a favorite relaxation spot for Mumbai’s residents and tourists alike.
Travel Tip: Try the local street food delicacies such as ‘bhel puri’ and ‘pav bhaji’ from the beachside vendors.
8. Haji Ali Dargah
Situated on an islet off the coast of Worli, Haji Ali Dargah is both a mosque and a tomb. It’s a striking example of Indo-Islamic architecture and is accessible via a long walkway that gets submerged during high tide.
Travel Tip: Plan your visit according to the tide timings, as the walkway is only accessible during low tide.
9. Sanjay Gandhi National Park
This national park, set within the city limits, is a unique wilderness with a rich variety of wildlife, including leopards. It also encloses the ancient Kanheri Caves carved out of rocky cliffs.
Travel Tip: Morning visits are best for bird watching and cooler hikes to the Kanheri Caves.
10. Dharavi Slum
For those interested in the socio-economic diversity of Mumbai, a guided tour of Dharavi, one of the largest slums in Asia, can be eye-opening. It bustles with small-scale industries and is a testament to the industriousness of the city.
Travel Tip: Choose a reputable tour company that operates with respect for the community and contributes to its economy.
11. Bandra-Worli Sea Link
The Bandra-Worli Sea Link, officially known as Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link, is an engineering marvel stretching over the Arabian Sea. This cable-stayed bridge has become an iconic landmark and offers a faster route between the suburbs of Bandra and Worli.
Travel Tip: For a stunning view of the bridge, try to visit during the evening when it is beautifully lit up.
12. Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum
As Mumbai’s oldest museum, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum showcases the city’s cultural heritage and history through a rare collection of decorative and fine arts. The museum building is a restored Victorian structure with exquisite interiors.
Travel Tip: Check out the museum’s calendar for temporary exhibitions and cultural events that are often held in its premises.
13. Global Vipassana Pagoda
This grand meditation hall near Gorai, North-west of Mumbai, serves as a monument of peace and harmony. The Global Vipassana Pagoda has been built as a tribute to the Vipassana teacher, S.N. Goenka.
Travel Tip: Entry to the pagoda is free, and guided tours are available; it’s a place for quiet contemplation, so plan to spend some peaceful time here.
14. Crawford Market
Renamed Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai, Crawford Market is an old-style bazaar where you can find everything from fresh produce to pets and gifts. The historic building, featuring a blend of Flemish and Norman architecture, is a visual treat.
Travel Tip: Visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds and experience the market’s vibrant energy.
15. Kala Ghoda Art Precinct
This crescent-shaped art district in Mumbai is famous for its galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and street installations. It’s a cultural hub that hosts the annual Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, attracting artists and performers from across the world.
Travel Tip: Even if you miss the festival, the area is still worth exploring for its eclectic mix of shops and historic architecture.
16. Chor Bazaar
Chor Bazaar, which literally means ‘thieves market’, has a fascinating assortment of antiques, vintage items, and hardware. It’s one of the oldest markets in Mumbai and is a place where bargaining skills are essential.
Travel Tip: Keep an eye out for unique finds but also be wary of replicas and fakes, which are common in the market.
17. Hanging Gardens (Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens)
Perched on the western slope of Malabar Hill, these terraced gardens provide splendid sunset views over the Arabian Sea. The park is also famous for its animal-shaped hedges and the Old Woman’s Shoe.
Travel Tip: Visit in the late afternoon to enjoy the cooler temperatures and picturesque sunset.
18. ISKCON Temple Mumbai
The ISKCON Temple, located in the Juhu area, is a serene spiritual oasis in the bustling city. This temple complex is dedicated to Lord Krishna and is active with educational and cultural activities.
Travel Tip: Try to visit during the evening aarti (prayer ceremony) for an immersive experience.
19. Bombay High Court
One of the oldest High Courts in India, this building is an exquisite example of Gothic Revival architecture. While it is a functioning court, parts of the building are open to the public.
Travel Tip: Visitors are allowed on weekdays during working hours, and you can observe a court session if you’re interested in the legal history and proceedings.
20. Fashion Street
For the latest trends at bargain prices, Fashion Street is a cluster of over 150 shops. It’s a go-to spot for budget shoppers and those looking to haggle for clothes, accessories, and more.
Travel Tip: Start with a higher number of items to get better discounts when negotiating the final price.
FAQ About Things to Do in Mumbai, India
What are the must-visit places in Mumbai for a first-time visitor?
First-time visitors should not miss the Gateway of India, the historic Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Marine Drive for a sunset stroll, and the Elephanta Caves located off the coast.
Can I explore Bollywood in Mumbai?
Yes, you can visit Film City, take a Bollywood tour to see behind the scenes of movie-making, or even catch a live shooting if you’re lucky.
Is there a place for spiritual experiences in Mumbai?
Mumbai is home to several spiritual sites such as the Haji Ali Dargah, Siddhivinayak Temple, and the Global Vipassana Pagoda for those seeking peace and contemplation.
Are there any local markets in Mumbai worth visiting?
Definitely. The bustling Crawford Market for spices and fruits, Chor Bazaar for antiques, and Colaba Causeway for street shopping are some of the vibrant markets to explore.
What are some outdoor activities to do in Mumbai?
You can enjoy a range of outdoor activities like jogging at the Juhu Beach, sailing off the Gateway of India, and trekking in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
Where can I find the best street food in Mumbai?
Head to Girgaum Chowpatty for a variety of street food like Pav Bhaji and Bhelpuri, or Mohammed Ali Road for kebabs and sweet treats especially during Ramadan.
Is there any place to witness the nightlife of Mumbai?
Mumbai’s nightlife is vibrant with numerous options such as live music at Bandra, upscale bars in Lower Parel, and the famous nightclubs in Andheri.
Are there any cultural or heritage tours available in Mumbai?
Yes, you can take heritage walks in South Mumbai covering the Gothic architecture, explore the Kala Ghoda art precinct, or visit the various museums like Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum.