Mumbai, the fashion and financial capital of India, is truly the land where dreams attain fruition for many. A lot of people move to Mumbai with hopes of making it big or simply visit to enjoy a slice of city life. Mumbai definitely has something to offer for everyone and is highly charming with its cosmopolitan culture.
Despite its hot and humid weather, the mesmerizing city of Mumbai attracts tourists from all around the globe. From beaches to Bollywood, Mumbai has a tonne of exciting things to offer.
40 Quirky Things to do in Mumbai
The conventional itinerary of a first-time visitor to Mumbai generally includes trips to the famous tourist destinations in Mumbai like the Gateway of India, Marine Drive, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and elephant islands. Here is a list of exciting things to do in Mumbai featuring a mix of cliche and offbeat experiences in the city.
1. Bollywood Hopping
Being the ‘Land of Bollywood’, the Mumbai is home to many renowned actors and actresses. If you are a fan of Hindi movies, then you must tour the locations associated with Bollywood. Explore the renowned studios and catch a glimpse of the celebrity mansions.
If you are lucky, you could even get to see your favorite actor in action! Also get a first-hand experience in the art of filmmaking, and witness one-line ideas translate beautifully onto the silver screen. Don’t forget to buy an old Bollywood poster at the Mini Market or Lamington Road as a souvenir.
2. Go for a ‘Retail Therapy’ session
Shopping is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Mumbai. From procuring branded merchandise to computer hardware to trinkets, almost everything can be found in the busy lanes of Mumbai. Wear your bargaining hat and pick treasures at throwaway prices.
The Hill Road in Bandra, Mira Road in Shanthi Nagar, the Lokhandwala market, Crawford market, and Fashion street are excellent spots for street shopping in Mumbai. Stick to the latest trends while on a shoe-string budget at any of these locations.
3. Take a Stroll along the Promenade
A visit to Mumbai is not complete without a relaxing walk at the Marine Drive promenade. Unwind at the walkway after a busy day, enjoying the cool sea breeze and observing passerby. As the sun goes down, the place is absolutely wonderful to look at.
Lights from the city’s tall skyscrapers cast magical reflections on the calm waters, creating an ethereal effect. Popularly known as the ‘Queen’s necklace’, the view is sure to leave you transfixed. You can also combine your evening stroll with some delicious street-food halts.
4. Visit India’s largest Laundromat
When in Mumbai, do not miss the opportunity to visit India’s largest open-air Laundromat, known as the ‘Dhobi Ghat’. As you descend the never-ending lanes of the ghat, expect to see a vibrant strewing of colors as dhobis go about their business of washing clothes (in thousands). If you have an eye for the unconventional, you get to capture candid moments on your DSLR as well.
5. Soak in a little Sufi mysticism
The Haji Ali Dargah is a celebrated tomb and mosque located off the coast of Worli. The way to the Dargah is fascinating as you travel the road laid on the Arabian Sea to reach the shrine. During high tides, the road gets submerged, and the mosque becomes inaccessible.
The shrine is a great piece of architecture with an interesting blend of Indian and Islamic styles. Sink into divinity with the Sufi music performed regularly in the Dargah.
6. Savor some amazing street food
As Mumbai is a gourmet paradise, experiencing the street food is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Mumbai. The famous local delicacies of Mumbai include the Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji, Bread Pakora, and Bhelpuri.
Make your way to the streets and sample the roadside food at the Chowpatty overlooking the sea, the Marine Drive or the Mohammad Ali road.
7. Go for a Long Drive
The Mumbai-Worli driveway is a relatively new addition to the glory of the city and driving along this road is certainly one of the best things to do while in Mumbai. It is built over the Arabian Sea and stretches for about five and a half kilometers.
The bridge provides a panoramic view of the city over the beautiful waters. Driving through the cable cones of the bridge makes you admire it as an architectural marvel.
8. Cruise through the Sea
Next time when you are at the monumental Gateway of India, do not forget to go aboard the yacht that takes you to the nearby areas like Mandwa, Alibaug, Elephanta Islands, Khandheri Island and Murud Janjira.
You can choose between enjoying a romantic dinner with your special one or watching the magnificent sight of the sun sinking into the horizon. You can also customize your trip package to include an overnight stay at one of these islands.
9. Explore Wildlife
If you happen to be a wildlife and nature enthusiast, it is recommended to visit the Sanjay Gandhi national park. Located in Borivali East, this park boasts a variety of flora and fauna. It is famous for housing a decent population of leopards.
Do not miss the small natural waterfall situated inside the Kanheri caves. The nature trail and the fascinating train ride in the national park are popular draws too. Best visited during the monsoons, the national park is a great place to rest in the lap of nature.
10. Crank up Your Creativity
If you are an art enthusiast, then we’d suggest you visit Mumbai in the month of February, as this is when the city hosts the famous annual art event – the Kala Ghoda art festival.
The festival attracts experts pertaining to a myriad of art forms such as cinema, dance, literature, music, theatre, visual arts and much more. It is indeed the best way to learn about the authentic art forms that bear great historical significance in the evolution of Mumbai.
11. Fishing at Powai Lake
Even though the lake has now become the habitat for a large number of crocodiles, don’t let that bog you down from throwing a fishing line. Managed by The Maharashtra State Angling Association, the lake has undergone several attempts at restoration. A number of kingfisher species can also be spotted here. The sunrise/sunset views at the lake are equally amazing.
12. Bet on horses at the Racecourse
Depending on the season for horse races (mostly between November and April), you should visit the Mahalaxmi Racecourse two to four times a week to wager your lot. There are on-site guides as well who give you an expert opinion on who the favorites for each event are. Featuring the only civilian helipad in Mumbai, the opening acts for major events that take place here often feature Bollywood and international artistes. The lawns here are rented out for weddings and social gatherings.
13. Jet Skiing (and other Water Sports activities) at Chowpatty
The watersports center H20 (which is co-owned by actor Suniel Shetty) oversees plenty of fun activities such as platform parasailing, yachting, cruise, flying fish, banana-boat rides and of course, jet skiing. The activities, however, depend on external weather conditions and calmness quotient of the seas. You can also club a visit to Taraporewala Aquarium which is situated right next to the adventure center.
14. Run the Mumbai Marathon
An international marathon held annually in the city of Mumbai, it happens on the third Sunday in the month of January. With a massive bounty of USD 405,000 the race features six categories – Marathon, Half Marathon, Dream Run, Senior Citizens’ Run, Champions with Disability and a Timed 10K. You get to witness people from all strata of the society such as businessmen, celebrities, and athletes coming together for a unified purpose.
15. Play a game of Cricket at Azad Maidan
A playground in the shape of a triangle situated next to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Railway Station, Azad Maidan is a common venue for inter-school and university cricket leagues. Currently hosting around twenty-two cricket pitches, Azad Maidan has given birth to many famous international cricketers such as Prithvi Shaw, Vinod Kambli and the ‘master blaster’ Sachin Tendulkar. Part of the ground has been shut as part of the Mumbai metro line expansion.
16. Check out Butterflies at Bombay Natural History Society
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) currently holds entomologist Naresh Chaturvedi’s exquisite collection of butterflies, moths and winged insects. Covering about 650 species which include Kaiser-i-Hind butterflies, 11-inch atlas moths, and turquoise-tipped butterflies, the man himself conducts guided sessions that span a little over a couple of hours. An entry charge of INR 100/- is applicable per person.
17. Watch a live play/performance at the Prithvi Theatre
Even though plays are a widely underrated form of art, watching actors perform live is hugely satisfying. It takes extra effort and skill to get scenes right in a single take (as retakes only apply to films). Acknowledge the endeavor by being the audience for one of the many events that take place at the venue. In fact, this has been the breeding ground for a number of leading actors in Bollywood.
18. Meditate at Banganga
Forming a part of the Walkeshwar Temple Complex, the Banganga Tank was constructed in 1127 AD, by Lakshman Prabhu, a Shilahara dynasty minister. The temple here has undergone renovations over the years. Presently, the pond-like structure is surrounded by a descent of stairs which turn out to be a great spot to meditate. The tank is fed from a nearby spring and stays full almost throughout the year.
19. Witness the High Tide at Worli Sea face
A posh locality in South Mumbai, Worli sea face is marked by breathtaking locales and pristine blue waters. The area is partly-commercial-partly-residential and is mostly occupied by the affluent crowd of the city. The unusually high tidal waves that pop up during the monsoon season is a treat for the eyes of all those who reside here or happen to visit. The waterfront has been a part of many a Bollywood film (such as ‘Jaane Tu..Ya Jaane Na’ and ‘Dhobi Ghat’).
20. Attend a Heritage Walk at Dockyard
While not all that popular, the Dockyard is the venue where heritage walks are held on the first Sunday of every month. You’re bound to feel newfound admiration for the Dockyard once you partake in one of the heritage walks. While here, you can also spot a large number of ferries entering and exiting the yard beside fishermen seeking their daily catch. The murals on the walls of the Dockyard are eye-catching.
21. Watch Bollywood classics at Maratha Mandir
The theater rose to fame by playing the Shah Rukh Khan starrer ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’ for over two decades. The cinema hall is just a couple of kilometers away from Mumbai Central railway station and is touted to be the most valued amongst Mumbai’s Box Office. Maratha Mandir opened its doors on 16th October 1958 and is a 1000 seater.
22. Attend a live gig at Hard Rock Cafe
Mumbai is one of the few cities in the country that has two Hard Rock Cafe outlets. Both joints are excellent when it comes to ambiance, food & beverages, and live entertainment. You can also find personal belongings (such as guitar picks, attires, accessories and musical instruments) of renowned musicians at the Museum of Music. The energy exuded by the performers during live concerts absolutely need to be witnessed in person.
23. Catch the Sunset at Juhu Beach
For the aesthetics alone, Juhu Beach warrants a visit. Catch a mind-blowing sunset from the shores of the Arabian Sea, which also doubles as a location for film and music video shoots. The beach also features an array of stalls that serve up some of the best street food in town (including bhel puri, sev puri, and pani puri). Predominantly crowded on every weekend, Juhu Beach also witnesses a massive influx of people on the occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi.
24. Rest on a Tetrapod at Nariman Point
Situated on the southern end of the Mumbai peninsula, Nariman Point is where some of India’s large business conglomerates are headquartered. The stretch is strewn with tetrapods that can be accessed conveniently. You can unwind here all evening, watch the sunset and even indulge in a little star-gazing. If you’re seeking peace and tranquility coupled with great views of the horizon, Nariman Point is where you need to be heading.
25. Visit Vasai Fort
Located around 60 km away from Mumbai, the fort (or whatever remains of it) is a prime location for film/song shoots. Parts of the fort are overgrown with vegetation and are broken down. However, some of the watchtowers still stand tall, with even their stairs intact. Three distinct chapels with Portuguese-styled facades are still perceptible. You can also spot beautiful wild flora on the premises.
26. Explore the Elephanta Caves
Situated on an island about 10 km east of Mumbai, the Elephant Caves contain sculptures that exhibit a blend of Buddhist and Hindu religious concepts. The caves have been cut out of solid basalt rock. The origins of the caves date back to as early as 5th and 7th centuries, and they received the name ‘Elefante’ from Portuguese explorers who discovered the elephant-shaped sculptures in it. Currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the caves are maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.
27. Visit the Asiatic Society Library
The library is said to be having a rare collection of over hundred thousand books. Manuscripts pertaining to various languages (that include Prakrit, Persian, and Sanskrit) written on paper and palm leaves can also be found here. You can also observe a wonderful collection of maps and numismatics. Besides conserving the artifacts and books, it also engages in conducting research studies and generates debates and discussions amongst members.
28. Catch an Opera at the NCPA
The National Centre for the Performing Arts acts as a pivotal venue in the country to promote contemporary and traditional visual/performing arts. Workshops related to the same are conducted at various educational institutions in the city. Catching a musically-driven play at this venue is sure to enliven the spirits of everyone. There are five theaters in the complex – the prominent ones being Jamshed Bhabha, Tata, and Experimental theaters.
29. Feel at Peace by Paying a Visit to Knesset Eliyahoo
Situated in the downtown area, this Orthodox Jewish synagogue stands as an ode to Mumbai’s Jewish connections. Now maintained by the Jacob Sassoon Trust, this building was designed by a British architectural firm who goes by the name of ‘Gostling & Morris’. Featuring stone masonry at the base and brick masonry on the top, the exterior frontage has been painted in turquoise. The synagogue predominantly features ornate pillars, Torah scrolls and immersion pools.
30. Relax at Aksa Beach
The beach is presently a popular picnic spot in the Malad area. You can find a decent number of hotels and private cottages along the shoreline which are perfect for weekend stays. One end of the beach houses a naval base (called ‘INS Hamla’) and a tiny beach stretch known as ‘Dana Paani’. Aksa beach can be reached either via private transport, or shuttle buses from Borivali Railway Station. While the beaches are deemed unfit for swims (due to heavy tides), the views of sunrise and sunset are sufficient to enthrall visitors.
31. Go Leather Shopping at Dharavi Market
The Dharavi leather market is supposedly the largest in the entire continent. You can procure absolutely anything made out of leather such as footwear, belts, bags (laptop bags even), jackets, wallets and watch straps at this place, that too at throwaway prices. Plus, if you don’t happen to like the goods put on display, you can always choose to customize your purchase.
32. Enjoy a Luxurious Dinner at Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
A heritage five-star hotel in Colaba, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is a major landmark in the city of Mumbai. The hotel dome is simply beautiful to observe at night. Facing the Arabian Sea, the hotel has been visited by a large number of local and international celebrities. While the tower features twenty-two floors, the palace features seven. There are about 11 restaurants in the hotel specializing in various cuisines both on a buffet/à la carte basis.
33. Shopping for Books at Flora Fountain
While the place is known for its historical significance, the endless stretch of street stalls selling second-hand books at economical prices are an added attraction here. This area is fondly referred to as ‘Book Street’ by most locals and has publications pertaining to all kinds of genres. Also, you can return previously purchased books for a reimbursement of 75% of the agreed price.
34. Chill with friends/family at The Hanging Gardens
A terraced garden atop the Malabar Hill, right opposite to the Kamala Nehru Park, the Hanging Gardens offer splendid sunset views to visitors. The fences here take the shape of animals, adding to the fascination of infants and kids. Established in the year 1881, the gardens continue to attract a huge number of tourists owing to its peacefully serene ambiance.
35. Ferry Ride off Gateway of India
Observing the city from distant waters is something that needs to be part of every Mumbai itinerary. Besides getting to click nice photographs (of the Taj Palace Hotel, Gateway of India and panoramic views of the entire city), you also get a chance to connect with other travelers on board. This activity can be clubbed en route to Elephanta Caves as well. Ferry services remain available throughout the day from a number of boarding points.
36. Trekking at Sahyadris
If you’re craving an adrenaline rush, then head to the Sahyadri mountain range during the monsoon season for eventful treks. Kalsubai peak, Raigad fort, Purandar Fort, and Rajmachi Fort are some of the places that you can trek up to. These can turn out to be life-changing experiences as they often involve a certain amount of physical risks and climatic hazards. There are plenty of scenic spots en route in case you have a thing for photography.
37. Visiting the Prince of Wales Museum
Situated on MG Road, the museum (which is also known by its alternate name ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya’) is a significant landmark in Mumbai city mainly due to its laudable external architecture. The museum houses a spectacular collection of ancient artifacts, artwork, and sculptures. It is also a venue for lectures and exhibitions related to art and history. The museum has been segregated into three sections namely Art, Archaeology and Natural History.
38. Pray at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount, Bandra
This Roman Catholic church, situated in Bandra is renowned for hosting the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the first Sunday post 8th of September. Following the feast is the ‘Bandra Fair’ which runs for a week and is frequented by thousands. The fair features several stalls selling street snacks, sweetmeats, and religious articles. The church features a 16th-century statue of the Virgin Mary which has an interesting legend attached to it.
39. Get on a Mumbai Local
This is an experience that shouldn’t be missed when you visit. The local trains (run by the Mumbai Suburban Railway) mostly connect the suburbs to major intersections in the city. By commuting on a local train, you come across people from all strata of the society, inadvertently taking a slice of Mumbai with you forever. Said to be one of the busiest railway systems in the world, it was set up during the British Rule and saw considerable expansions later on.
40. Watch a Cricket Match live at the Wankhede Stadium
If you’re a Team India/Mumbai Indians supporter, then watching live cricket at the Wankhede should be part of your bucket list. With a seating capacity of over 30,000 the stadium has hosted plenty of matches with nail-biter finales (including the 2011 World Cup Final). The insane crowd reactions (let’s say, to an Indian batsman hitting a sixer or an Indian bowler getting a wicket) need to be experienced in person at the Wankhede stadium.
We hope the above list of offbeat things to do in Mumbai is sure to keep you busy on your next trip to the city and leaves you with a plethora of unforgettable memories. Let us know of your experiences in the form of ‘comments’ that can be posted in the space provided below.
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