Mumbai, fondly called as Bombay by the many who have lived and loved the city, is one of the busiest cities in Asia. This coastal town is a city of glamour to some and a city of dreams to many. Many Indians flock to the financial capital of India looking for jobs, and some carve a career and a life in this city.
If you are here as a traveler though, Mumbai is another kind altogether. It can be overwhelming for anyone traveling for the first time, especially if you want to make your way as a tourist. But a day or two in the city, you’ll start to blend in. Who knows, you might even end up falling in love with this city.
This post is a comprehensive guide to Mumbai. From places to visit in Mumbai to the costs to the local trains, we present to your travel guide to the city to explore it best!
Let’s first find out more about all the places to visit in Mumbai.
Places To Visit in Mumbai
Heritage Sites/ Historical Monuments
1. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Victoria Terminus as it is popularly known as is not just another railway station. Located in the heart of Mumbai, this grand structure is one of the most ancient monuments of the city and is a UNESCO heritage site. The CST today serves as the headquarters of Central railways and is one of the busiest railway stations in India.
It took more than 10 years to construct this building which is now more than 150 years old. Built by the British to commemorate the victory of the then Queen Victoria, this monument embodies Europe’s Gothic style of architecture.
The insides of the terminus is a testimony to the grandeur of the place. Admire the well-protected murals, vibrant artefacts in the terminus as you make your way through a bustling crowd. Whether you have a train to board from CST or not, visit this heritage site for its splendour!
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai timings: 12 AM – 11:59 PM every day. No entry fees.
2. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
Earlier known popularly as the Prince of Wales Museum, the now Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya was established during the early 20th century. This Indo-Saracenic style building stands elegantly in south Mumbai and is one of the prime attractions for history lovers.
Did you know? The dome of this building is designed after the Gol Gumbaz of Bijapur and the finial is copied from the Taj at Agra, and this monument is more than 160 years old!
CSMVS is home to about 50,000 artefacts today. It has a brilliant collection of sculptures, terracottas, excavated artefacts from the Harappan sites, Indian & European miniature paintings, porcelain and ivories from China and Japan, etc. Also, the Museum has a separate section for Natural History.
Find more about its history, collection and other details on their website here.
Museum timings: 10:15 AM – 6 PM every day. Entry fees: 70 INR (Indian adults) 500 INR – Foreigners. There are separate fees for photography & videography.
3. Gateway of India
The Gateway of India is the iconic landmark of Mumbai. It is one of the most visited attractions and receives millions of footfalls every year. Whether you go there during the day or at night when it is lit up, it is an awesome place to enjoy the view of the seashore, a busy harbour, hundreds of pigeons, and the ocean.
Another magnificent structure, the Taj Hotel stands opposite to the Gateway of India.
Gateway of India Mumbai timings: 12:00 am – 11:59 pm every day. No entry fees.
4. Bhau Daji Lad Museum
The Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, constructed in the early 18th century, showcases Mumbai’s cultural heritage and history through a rare collection of fine and decorative arts. The ancient building built during the Queen’s rule is in Victorian style. If you love architecture and Mumbai’s history makes you curious, then this museum is surely worth the visit.
The curators also host free public tours in English every weekend at 11:30 AM. Read more about the museum here.
Bhau Daji Lad Museum timings: 10 AM – 5:30 PM (Closed on Wednesdays) Entry fees: Indians – 10 INR; Foreigners – 100 INR. You can get an audio guide in English for an additional 30 INR if you are an Indian and at 50 INR for other nationals.
5. Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Located in the heart of the city, The Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a treasure of wilderness that spreads for over 100 square km. Built in the 19th century, it is home to more than 200 species of flora and wildlife species, two lakes Vihar and Tulsi, Kanheri, a 2000-year-old complex comprising of more than 160 rock-cut temples, which is a well-protected archaeological site.
You can go there for half a day or make it a day trip, where you can easily spend a day in the lush wild national park. There are many activities to indulge in, especially that which kids would enjoy if traveling with a family like Tiger & Lion Safari, boating, a toy train ride through the forest, and hiking in the park. Note that all these activities are not available on Mondays.
There is a unique project called Living with Leopards initiated by the park to conserve the Leopard, where you get to experience their habitats through workshops and awareness programmes. They also host internships for students. Know more about the programs here.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park timings: 7:30 AM – 5:30 PM every day.
1. Colaba Causeway
Colaba is that stretch in the south of Mumbai and is the mecca for shopping. You get to see how the local scenes work in the markets at Colaba. From hundreds of small shops to upscale boutique places, Colaba has it all for a shopaholic.
Another thing that you can’t miss in Colaba is food. It is one of the first neighbourhoods that you must check out if you are a foodie! The best swanky cafes of Mumbai reside here. Enjoy the wall art at Leopold Café & Bar, savour the best cuppa at Café Mondegar or treat your taste buds at Café Basilico Bistro & Deli. The meat lovers can cherish some authentic Indian cuisines at Bademiya, Baghdadi and Delhi Darbar.
Get down at Regal Cinemas and walk your way through Colaba to discover Mumbai on foot. You can get down at CST by local train and take a bus/tuk-tuk to Colaba too.
2. Marine Drive
Known as the Queen’s Necklace, Mumbai is the only metro city in India that boasts of a marvellous coastal line. The crescent that spreads for miles is a favorite among the Mumbaikars and travelers alike.
You’ll find people hanging out by the walkway even during the wee hours of the morning. More than the beach, the view of the skyline of Mumbai is what attracts tourists. It’s your best place to sit, grab a local dish and watch Mumbai unfold.
You can get there by buses, taxis or shared cabs. If you are opting for a local train, get down at Marine lines.
Chowpatty is one of the public beaches in Mumbai next to the Marine drive and is a famous hang out place. More than the beach itself, Chowpatty is known for its various eateries selling the signature snacks of Mumbai – Bhelpuri, Panipuri, Ragda Patties and Pav Bhaji.
4. Elephanta Caves
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Elephanta Caves is a group of caves consisting of temples dedicated to Hindu God Shiva. There are located on Elephanta Island, 10 km away from the mainland of Mumbai towards the east. Regular ferries take you on a ride to the island, and it is a pleasant getaway from the heart of Mumbai to enjoy the ocean and the views of the city.
The rock-cut sculptures depicting Buddhist and Hindu deities are as old as the 5th century and is a preserved archaeological site today that attracts thousands of visitors.
The first ferry for Elephanta Caves leaves from the Elephanta caves ferry point, also called Apollo Bandar at 9 AM and the last one at 2 PM. The first return ferry is at 12 PM and the last is at 5:30 PM. There is s ferry every 30 minutes and it takes 1 hour one way.
Elephanta caves timings: 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Closed on Mondays. Entry fees: 10 INR for Indians; 250 INR for foreigners.
5. Sea Link / Bandra Stand
The Bandra–Worli Sea Link is a cable-stayed bridge linking Bandra with Worli in South Mumbai. Open to the public since 2010, Mumbai’s Worli sea link is an important connecting point for local commuters. Bandra stand is the area from which you get a view of this sea link.
Located next to the beach, Bandra stand is popular for its serene walkway that next to the sea, a park and an old fort, from where you can watch a stunning sunset. There is also a church close to this viewpoint, from where you can enjoy the views of the coast.
6. The Hanging Gardens
Constructed in the 18th century, The Hanging Gardens atop the Malabar Hill, opposite to the Kamala Nehru Park is a fabulous place to witness the sunset. There are fences made in the shape of animals below and rows of well-manicured gardens terrace in the area. It is a great place to travel with kids especially, and you’ll find a lot of families in the evenings.
The Hanging Gardens timings: 5 AM – 9 PM every day. No entry fees.
1. Siddhivinayak Temple
The Shree Siddhivinayak Ganapati Mandir dedicate to the Hindu elephant God Ganesh is one of the most visited temples in Mumbai as well as in India. Built in the 18th century, the temple attracts millions of people every year. Whether you are into religion or not, this is worth visiting for its ancient culture and tradition.
Siddhivinayak Temple timings: 5:30 AM – 10:45 AM; 1:30 PM – 7:20 PM; 8 PM until night.
2. Mahalakshmi Temple
Built by a local Hindu merchant in the 18th century, Mahalakshmi temple located in Mahalakshmi area is dedicated to Hindu Goddess Lakshmi. The neighbourhood also houses Mumbai’s famous Mahalakshmi Racecourse as well. You can reach the temple by shared cabs, taxis, buses or tuk-tuks.
Mahalakshmi Temple timings: 6:30 AM – 10 PM every day.
3. Haji Ali Dargah
More than being a religious point of interest, Haji Ali Dargah is one of the landmarks of Mumbai. Located on an islet off the coast of Worli in the southern part of Mumbai, it offers great views of the coast and the Mumbai skyline.
This place is dedicated to a wealthy merchant Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari who turned into a saint. More than 600 years old, the Dargah is built in an Indo-Islamic style of architecture. During the monsoons, riding tides cause flooding in the area with roadblocks leading to its closure. It has also been renovated several times because of the rains causing damage to the structure.
Haji Ali Dargah timings: 6 AM – 10 PM every day.
Offbeat Places in Mumbai
Dharavi, located in the heart of Mumbai is second largest slum area in Asia. But that’s not what it makes an interesting place to visit.
It is a mega-factory of different businesses worth millions of USD, and thousands of people are at work most part of the day involving in small and medium scale labours to cater to many industries all over the world.
The best way to explore the dwelling in Dharavi is to opt for a walking tour. Be the local tours, a local tour group consisting of Mumbai students offer excellent private and group tours where they’ll take you through the doors of homes and places where entrepreneurship thrives. For booking and more details, visit their website here.
2. Dhobi Ghat
The laundry district or Dhobi Ghat, as the name suggests was the centre for laundry activities since the time of the British rule in India. This open-air laundromat was built in 1890 and is the world’s largest outdoor laundry. Located close to Mahalakshmi railway station, it is more popular among the foreign travelers.
A tour through the area will let you see a day in the life of dhobis or washers who are engaged in laundry activities in thousands of numbers. The area is also home to more than 200 families of Dhobis whose generations have dwelled here for more than 100 years. Although modern washing methods are slightly making its way to the laundry today, Dhobi Ghat still runs most parts of it operations manually.
3. Nehru Science Centre
If you are traveling with kids, then Nehru Science Centre is a place that you should visit. Located in Worli, it is the largest interactive science centre in India. This huge centre has more than 500 hands-on and interactive science exhibits on energy, sound, kinematics, mechanics, transport, etc.
Nehru Science Centre timings: 10 AM – 6 PM; Entry fees: 50 INR
4. INS Vikrant Ship Naval Dockyard Museum
INS Vikrant was a huge aircraft carrier, which played an important role in the 1971 war of India-Pakistan. After the war, the aircraft was docked at the naval dockyard in South Mumbai in Colaba and was converted into a museum open to the public. Aircraft, naval charters, helicopters and many war weaponry was on exhibit.
Now the regular museum is shut but if you happen to visit Mumbai during the months of November and December, you can visit this Museum which opens to the public.
5. Prithvi Theatre
Bollywood of Indian cinema is known worldwide, but Mumbai is also home to theatres and is a favorite among the art lovers. Prithvi Theatre, established in 1951 by the Bollywood actor Shashi Kapoor in memory of his father Prithviraj aims to be the breeding ground for artists, actors and creative souls. The family’s attempt to preserve and grow cinema artists was not only a success, but the Prithvi cafe adjacent to the theatre is one of the most happening cafes in Mumbai today. There are many plays, workshops and shows conducted every day. If theatre fascinates you, you should head there to watch a show while in Mumbai.
It is popular among the young crowd and many celebrities from the Bollywood industry can be spotted here!
6. Banganga Tank
Located atop Malabar Hill in the Walkeshwar temple complex, Banganga is an ancient water tank, which was built in the 11th century. Legend has it that the water came to force here during the Ramayana. When Ram’s wife Sita complained of fatigue and thirst, his brother Lakshman shot an arrow into the ground, which led to the flow of Ganga in the north here, thus obtaining the name Banganga.
Today amidst the modern Mumbai, the place speaks of history and mythology and attracts explorers. It is a good place to get away from the bustling Mumbai.
Mumbai Travel Costs
Categorising the expenses as below, this is what you can expect when it comes to the cost of traveling in Mumbai.
Compared to other cities in India, Mumbai falls on the higher side of prices when it comes to accommodation. There are plenty of budget options available – from hostels to hotels to guest houses, but the average price per day for accommodation for a person is around 600 to 700 INR or around 10 USD, which is slightly higher than any city.
South Mumbai and Andheri have most of the hotels, guest houses and homestays. The prices in South Mumbai are higher compared to Andheri or Goregaon or in and around Kurla. For families, you can get a hotel room from the range of 1200 to 1800 INR for a day assuming a single kid, and many hotels offer complimentary breakfast. Chain hotels like Oyo, Treebo and Ginger hotels are excellent options for couples and families.
Being a cosmopolitan city, Mumbai has its platter diverse and vivid for its travelers. From the traditional Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji, Pani Puri to western food joints to authentic Italian and Mexican and continental, you would be spoilt for choice for food in Mumbai. Local shops are the cheapest and that’s where you can eat like a local if you are on a shoestring budget.
If budget isn’t your concern, then you can try from the hundreds of restaurants that Mumbai boasts of. The approximate price per day for food assuming you are having 3 meals a day would be around 7 to 8 USD excluding alcohol. Make it 15 USD per day if you opt for coffee, snacks or cosy dining places.
Here are a few things about Mumbai’s street food – Where to try & What are the delicacies you can’t miss:
Bhel Puri at Chowpatty beach, Misal Pav at Aswad near Dadar Shivaji Park, Vada Pav at Anand near Mithilabhai College and Farali Pattice at Lohar Chawl. Head to Ghatkopar for a variety of Dosas which we bet you wouldn’t have heard before. Try the Cheese Burst Sada Dosa, the Thousand Island Dosa and Ice Cream Dosa.
For chicken & mutton delicacies, head to Bademiya, Noor Mohammadi Hotel and Sulemaan Usmaan Mithaiwala located in Mohammed Ali Road, which is the best street for meat lovers. From kebabs to tikkas, you get the best Mughlai food served here.
Another area for meat lovers looking for mouth-watering street food would be at Mahim. Try out the Tandooris, Khichada and everything else at Hussain Khichdawal, Makhdoom Masaha and Garib Nawaz.
Refer this for a complete food guide to Mumbai. Watch Jason’s street food rampage in Mumbai here to find out where to find Mumbai’s best street delicacies!
Getting around in Mumbai is cheap as well as comfortable and you have multiple options to choose from.
The popular local trains are not just way of commute, but an indispensable part of Mumbai’s people and is a culture. For travelers, it is a unique experience that’ll make you realise that it’s not just a train travel, but one kind of a memorable journey! Hop on to a local train at least once in Mumbai, it is a must-do thing!
Understand the local train map & find out the routes here.
Also, local buses, tuk-tuks, cabs and shared taxis will take you anywhere in Mumbai. Depending on where you are traveling the average price shouldn’t exceed 8 USD at max. Compared to accommodation and food, you’ll spend less on getting around in Mumbai.
The local bus routes, numbers and distance details can be found here.
Accommodation costs are slightly higher in south Mumbai, so although most attractions are nearby, it is better to base yourself a little away if you intend to save some money on accommodation. Even the backpacker hostels are located away from the south for this reason.
As mentioned above, getting around in Mumbai is not too daunting or expensive. So even if you are away from the main areas, it is totally fine.
Another idea would be to move closer to areas where you can hop on to Mumbai local trains. It might be too crowded during the peak times and may be overwhelming if you are traveling in India for the first time. But the prices are too cheap, and you can skip Mumbai’s traffic jams.
Try Mumbai Darshan if you are short on time: Mumbai Darshan is a public bus system that takes you to the important attractions of Mumbai for a day. The bus rides usually start at around 7 AM and pick up is available till 9 AM. If you don’t have much time to explore, this is a good option to explore the main attractions of Mumbai. The ride lasts for around 12-14 hours.
There are pick up points from most of the places including Andheri, Bandra, Dadar, Goregaon, Mumbai Central, Panvel, Parel, Thane and Vile Parle.
Route: These are the places that you’ll explore in the order. Siddhivinayak Temple, Nehru Science Centre, Marine Drive, Colaba, Apollo Bunder, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Port, Walkeshwar, Napean Sea Road, Breach Candy, Juhu Beach through the Bandra-Worli Sea Link and Mahalaxmi Temple.
Watch this video by Jason Billiam travel to figure out what the average traveling cost in Mumbai is.
Mumbai: Things Not to Do/Things to Know Before you travel
This isn’t about any place that you need to avoid but we would suggest you to avoid doing these things for your best.
Under estimate the traffic: Traffic in Mumbai can be stressful and could cause major delays if you do not plan well ahead on time. So always keep some buffer time before stepping out for the day.
Weather: Mumbai weather isn’t fickle but could become unbearable during the summer and the monsoons. It gets too hot in the months of April & May. So go equipped with summer clothes, sunscreens, umbrellas and water bottles if you plan your Mumbai travel in summer. Similarly, the rains quickly turn into heavy downpours, and clogging of roads, traffic jams, blockades and other inconveniences are common during the rain. It is better to avoid planning your travel in Mumbai during the months of July, August and September for longer periods.
People friendliness factor: While the city is well suited for all kind of travelers, the old and the physically challenged might find Mumbai a bit unfriendly. The public places aren’t equipped to provide assistance to these groups, like the absence of elevators in local train stations, no lifts in some museums, etc.
Public facilities: In public places, drinking water isn’t commonly available at all places and the same applies to the restroom. Although some of these facilities are being created for tourists, there is still a long way to go given the huge size of the city and the number of travelers that Mumbai receives every day. It is also very rare to find public places designated for showers or changing. So if you are going to beaches, you might want to prepare accordingly.
Water: It is advisable to carry bottled drinking water at all times in Mumbai. The tap water isn’t safe for drinking, although in restaurants it is still ok as purifiers are quite common. But make a check if you want to try having water in eateries. Avoid drinking water when you go for a local street food quest too.
Lastly, no city is devoid of scams that trap travelers, and Mumbai isn’t an exception as well. Here are some things to watch out for in Mumbai.
Begging still exists: Although there has been a significant drop in the numbers, you’ll still encounter people in shabby clothes asking for money, food, help etc. These days, it is more common to come across children doing these than the adults. What you can do is to politely brush them off or ignore them. Especially, adults using infants to make money is one of the new scams that bothers locals and tourists alike. Try not to fall for their innocent requests and cries for help.
Commissions & drivers: This is one of the oldest tricks but still exists in many parts. It is always best not to ask the driver of your tuk-tuk or taxis for suggestions on hotels, places to eat, etc. Particularly not the hotels because most of the time they take you to places where they get some commission from the hotels for bringing you as the customer. The best way is to book your accommodation online.
Similarly, sometimes drivers might say that a particular place that you mentioned to be closed, so as to do the same thing above. So the way to deal with this is to have your Google Map handy or just turn on the GPS to watch where you are navigating.
Tours & Activities: Avoid buying tours and activities from strangers or people who call themselves travel agents. Most of the hotels and hostels are better connected and organize tours if you want to take any. Also, before opting for any tour, do a quick research for some reviews and mentions online.
Learn the art of Bargain: While most countries find this surprising, bargaining in India is a part of its culture. And it is expected that you always do a bit of haggling to bring down the quotes to its nearly actual cost.
Also, if you are a foreigner, the prices of the goods, especially things where you shop, like souvenirs and stuff would be priced at least 10 times the actual price. Again, not all shops do that and bargaining isn’t an option in big showrooms, but the general thing to keep in mind is to never settle for the price that the shopkeepers first quote to you. You should discuss and bargain to get lower prices than the quote.
Strangers offering help: This one may not be a scam always and is common in many countries. But avoid people appearing out of nowhere and that who seem overly eager to be of your assistance.
Exchanging currencies: Always look for an authentic exchange shop to exchange foreign currencies. There are many shops that exchange fake Indian currencies, so ensure to review, cross-check before you choose a currency exchange. It is better to withdraw cash directly from ATM’s or get it exchanged only at designated shops or at the airports (although the exchange rates might not be very good).
Traveling alone in Mumbai, even if you are a solo woman traveler, need not be a cause for worry at all. Mumbai is pretty safe to travel around and encountering any trouble is a rarity. The main parts of the city almost never sleep.
You can find vigilant cops patrolling at many points, and many pubs and eating joints function until early morning hours, which means that you can freely wander in the city.
People are helpful and don’t hesitate to provide the help they can. All you have to do is ask! Of course, make sure that you take the basic precautions and exercise your common sense to assess the situations.
Things to take care if you are a female solo traveler:
Crowd: The crowd is everywhere. Mumbai has a lot of people, so you’ll find a lot of people around you all the time. If you come from a place where you are not used to seeing crowds, you might feel unsafe or chaotic. You will get accustomed to it and this shouldn’t be a reason to worry.
Theft: However, more people mean that there are chances of theft. So ensure to keep a guard on your belongings. It is better not to carry an expensive stuff so that you don’t attract unwanted attention.
Dressing: Although Mumbai is cosmopolitan in nature, it is better to wear loose outfits or Indian attire while in India. Shorts and skirts are perfectly okay, but there are not allowed in places of worship, and sometimes you might encounter extra attention because of the outfit alone.
Hitchhiking & Cabs: Hitchhiking is not that popular in India for solo woman travelers, but can be tried in a city like Mumbai. But a better alternative to this would be to take public transportation as it is much safer. Also, cabs are a good option as well.
Local trains: Always use the woman compartments in local trains for feeling much comfortable. Even during the nights when there are very few passengers, you can safely opt for women compartments in trains since police guard them at night.
If you feel unsafe or find anything suspicious or think that you are in danger, don’t hesitate to seek the help of Women & Children help centre, which is operational 24/7. The number that you need to dial is 103.
Watch this travel vlog by Ivana who discovers Mumbai solo to get an idea of what to expect!
Traveling with kids
Mumbai is quite a popular destination for family travel although it might come as a surprise. There are many exclusive attractions specifically catering to people traveling with kids. You can visit all the places mentioned above with kids as they are kid friendly.
Places of Interest for kids: Additionally, some of the must-do activities that kids would enjoy are theme parks like Imagica, water parks in Mumbai like the Water Kingdom and Essel World. Also, there is Taraporewala aquarium which is a great place to explore with kids. Plus, Veermata Jijabai Bhonsle Udyan or Mumbai zoo is worth visiting with families.
Getting around with families: If the kids are too young, avoid public transport as they might be inconvenient. Cabs are a better option while traveling with kids.
So that’s all we got for your Mumbai trip! Let us know if you have any queries and we’ll try to answer our best.
Even better, download Talk Travel, a free mobile app that will let you call & talk with travel experts from across the world. You don’t have to worry about planning or things to do. All you have to do is ask the local experts! Go ahead and click on the links to download on your Android and iOS mobiles.
This website offers all details about the important sites in Mumbai. Check here to know more!