Shopping, eating, strolling through heritage precincts or simply watching the waves – Mumbai is packed with great things to do. Find out everything that is best of Mumbai here.
Best of Mumbai: Places to see
1. Marine Drive
This is the original cityscape everyone remembers from countless movies and yes it is a must-see. Watch the waves on the Arabian Sea, the architecture of the Art Deco buildings along the promenade, sample snacks like corn on the cob and peanuts for a true blue Mumbai experience, or just simply gaze at the waves under the sky.
2. Gateway of India & Taj Mahal Hotel
This is two for the price of one. The Gateway of India was started to welcome King George V and Queen Mary when they visited India in 1911, but they only got to see a cardboard model. Construction began with their arrival and finally finished in 1924. This Indo-Saracenic gateway is the sight that greeted many ships and welcomed Viceroys and Governors to Mumbai. Opposite the Gateway is the city’s finest heritage hotel – the Taj Mahal Hotel. Built in 1903 when Jamshedji Tata was refused entry into the “whites only” Watson’s Hotel, the Taj Mahal Hotel has weathered one of the worst terrorist attacks faced by the city and bounced back from it. Pay your tributes to the spirit of the city by visiting this landmark.
3. Haji Ali Dargah
This picturesque Dargah was constructed on a tiny islet off Worli in 1431. Named after the saint who travelled to Mecca and died during his journey there, it is said his casket drifted back to Mumbai and got lodged in this piece of the coastline. It is only possible to visit this during low tide so plan ahead and glimpse a 600 year old piece of Mumbai’s Indo-Islamic heritage.
4. Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Kanheri Caves
This 40-square mile park is a must visit for any nature buff, and is one of the most visited parks in Asia. You can make a day of it – plan a picnic, watch the carvings of the Buddhist Kanheri caves dating back to 9th – 1st century BCE, spot a deer or tiger or lion or two and breathe in the fresh air. Remember to don your most comfortable pair of shoes.
5. Bandra Bandstand
No visit to Mumbai is complete without a visit to the queen of the suburbs, Bandra. On Bandstand, you can spot Bollywood celebrity houses, couples cosying up on the rocks and also get the best view of the Worli Sea Link. Look out for Shah Rukh waving to his fans from his balcony!
Best of Mumbai: Things to Do
1. Take a walking tour
Mumbai may be on the cutting edge when it comes to the modern, but it is also rich with legacies of the past. Take a walk through its old precincts, such as the Fort area, and admire the heritage buildings that ooze history. Look out for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus with its Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture, the Asiatic Society Library, Kala Ghoda and the Flora Fountain. And definitely don’t miss the very stately Taj Mahal Hotel.
2. See it from the sea
Mumbai’s ocean-side situation allows tourists to enjoy an array of activities. Go for a stroll on Juhu Beach and then tuck into its famous chaats. Sit on Marine Drive and listen to the crashing of the waves. Or, take a ferry from Gateway of India and see the city from the sea. Some ferries will take you to Elephanta Caves – also worth a dekko.
3. Chill out in Colaba
For the traveler, Colaba could well be the pulsating heart of Mumbai. Walk its pavements to enjoy the old-town charm and don’t forget to bargain-hunt for clothes and jewellery. Amble around the Gateway of India, feed the pigeons and admire the regal architecture of the buildings. And when you are tired from all the strolling, chill out with a cold beer at Leopold Café or Mondegar, while watching the passing parade of people.
4. Savour the seafood
Mumbai’s eating out options are endless – from gourmet affairs in the five-star hotels to restaurants that serve select cuisines from across the world. For a true taste of Mumbai, opt for a meal at one of its famous seafood places specializing in coastal cuisine. There’s Mahesh Lunch Home in the Fort area, serving superb fish curry-and-rice, and Trishna, known for its butter-garlic crabs and celebrity clientele. Gajalee in the suburbs is the perfect choice for a seafood meal, so don’t miss eating their take on Bombay Duck or Bombil.
5. Prithvi Café
This is where the city’s arty set gets together to drink coffee and discuss the latest in literature and theatre. Catch a play if you can and then soak in the wonderful ambience at the café attached to it. The cutting chai and Irish Coffee are the drinks to order here.
Best of Mumbai: Where to Shop
Mumbaikars take their fashion very seriously and the city’s streets are dotted with stalls, shops, and boutiques to match every taste and budget.
Swish South Mumbai is home to Chor Bazaar or ‘Thieves Market’, which dates back more than a century. The odd nomenclature is the result of the British mispronouncing ‘Shor Market’ or ‘noisy market’. Today, you can get almost anything from Victorian furniture to vintage Bollywood posters and trinkets at the Chor Bazaar. For more kitschy knick-knacks, head over to Linking Road and Hill Road in Bandra. And don’t forget to bargain.
While Mumbai is mostly associated with western fashion, a little exploration will lead you to Hindmata Market in Dadar. Tiny wholesale shops are treasure troves for ethnic Indian wear and you can buy yourself a salwar kameez, lehenga or sherwani. You could even buy various types of cloth material and get it tailored. Despite these being wholesale prices, make like the locals and don’t shy away from bargaining. If you are looking to buy traditional elegant saris, check out Warp ‘n’ Weft in Marine Lines or Sagar in Khar.
3. Shopping Districts
No shopping experience in Mumbai will ever be complete without a visit to Colaba Causeway. As iconic as the Taj Hotel in whose shadow it lies, this street is dotted with shops that sell everything from vintage cameras and Persian carpets to funky jewellery and flip flops. Another must-visit shopping district is Linking Road in Bandra. What Linking Road lacks in history, it makes up for in variety. Shoes and bags of any fashion (Goth included) you can dream of, are available here. And bargaining is the order of the day.
4. Cheap Street
Can you imagine picking up an entire outfit – dress, shoes, bag, and earrings – for under Rs 1,000? A trip to Fashion Street near Azad Maidan or Hill Road in Bandra could make that dream come true. Just remember to be there by 3 pm (all the good stuff’s gone by 6 pm) and wear your most comfy walking shoes. You should start your bargain at Rs. 100.
If you want a more refined and up-market experience with the chance to visit all imaginable imported and domestic brands, check out the city’s famous malls such as Palladium and High Street Phoenix in Parel. If you prefer boutiques, visit Bungalow 8 or Bombay Electric in Colaba for a truly luxe experience. No bargaining here though.
Best of Mumbai: Where to Eat
From authentic Maharashtrian, Gujarati, Punjabi and South Indian cuisine to the delicious global flavours of Italy, Thailand, China and more – Mumbai is a food lover’s paradise.
1. Local cuisine
Mumbai’s local food landscape is dominated by the Konkan cuisine. The curries are coconut(y) and well-spiced, and are mostly accompanied with rice. We recommend the Bombil and Surmai fry, as well as the coconut-and-kokum Sol Kadhi. The must-visits for these flavours are Bandra’s Highway Gomantak, Fort’s Singhdurg and Sion’s Mahesh Lunch Home. Sea food lovers must also try Gajalee’s (Lower Parel) Fish Thali. Locals say it’s something to die for! Also, give your breakfast a Maharashtrian twist with Aasawad’s (Dadar) delicious Kanda Poha, Sabudana Khichidi, Missal Pav, Puran Pohli and Shrikhand.
2. Street Food
Experience the treasures of Mumbai street food at Juhu’s Chowpatty and Ghatkopar’s Khao Galli. Some of the must tries are: Vada Pav, Dhabeli, Pav Bhaji, Ragada Patties, Dhokla, Sev Puri, Bhel Puri, Pani Puri, Samosa, Onion Pakoras, Bhurji Pav, piping hot Jalebis and Ice Gola. And don’t forget to save some appetite for the famous Bombay Sandwich made at the ‘Right Place’ – opposite Breach Candy Hospital. If you’re someone who fancies kebabs and rolls then Colaba’s Bademiya or Fort’s Ayub’s is the place to be.
Apart from the wide range of reasonable street food delicacies, Mumbai also offers South Indian cuisine at affordable prices. Try them at Matunga’s Café Madras and Mani’s Lunch Home. Don’t shy away from giving your taste buds an Iranian treat with Broon Maska, Kheema Pav and Caramel Custard from iconic joints like Britannia & Co., Jimmy Boy and Kyanis. If you want to have a taste of the West then Bandra’s Candies, tucked away neatly near the Lilavati Hospital, is one place you cannot afford to miss.
Hit any of the city’s old school bars for some fun and drinks. Colaba’s Café Leopold and Café Mondegar, and Bandra’s Totos Garage and Janata Bar have to top your must-visit list. And if you’re looking for fruit juice of the non-fermented kind, follow the throng to Haji Ali Juice Centre.
Mumbai has a lot to offer for the elite as well. Some of the city’s premium restaurants that offer the best from around the world are Indigo, Wasabi by Morimoto, Koh by Ian Kittichai, Golden Dragon, San-Qi, China House, Ziya and Stella. And if you prefer exclusive roof-top lounge settings while enjoying exotic drinks, head to Aer at the Four Seasons Hotel, Dome at Hotel Intercontinental or Li-Bai at the Palladium Hotel.
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