Formerly made up of seven islands, Mumbai today is a buzzing metropolis that seems to be growing upwards to match the country’s ambitions. It may be the financial capital of India, but Bollywood is its biggest export and greatest draw. It’s a city that is continuously reinventing itself, bit by bit. You will find a resurgent Kala Ghoda today, a new side to Byculla tomorrow, and Bandra—there’s a new restaurant or snack bar opening practically every weekend. How do you pack in everything on a trip? Here’s a guide.
Best time to visit: October to February is the best time to explore Mumbai.
How to reach
By air: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the main airport, located about 30km from north of the city. IndiGo operates more than 100 daily non-stop flights between Mumbai and other key locations in India and abroad.
By train: The city of dreams is well-connected to rest of the country through a good network of Express trains as well as passenger trains.
By bus: Mumbai has a vast network of buses connecting it to the all major town and cities of the country.
Getting around/ Transport in Mumbai
Auto-rickshaws, black and yellow taxis, app-based cab services such as Ola & Uber, local trains (known as the lifeline of the city), now metro (from Versova to Ghatkopar) along with BSR buses are the convenient and most common means of travelling around Mumbai.
Putting a twist on food from around the country, in less than two years, Bombay Canteen has managed to change perceptions of Indian food, without resorting to gimmicks like molecular gastronomy. An ever-evolving menu showcases regional cuisine and inventive fusion fare. Thepla tacos, anyone?
Run by the anglophile Boman Irani, this is where you come for a Parsi meal. Get the berry pulav, salli chicken and mutton dhansak, before rounding out your meal with caramel custard, all under the watchful eyes of a cutout Queen Elizabeth. Elco Pani Puri Centre, Bandra: On busy Hill Road, you’ll find people protecting themselves from the sun, under Elco’s signboard, while eating their way through an array of chaats, Indian snacks and, of course, pani puri. Join them!
A local favourite when it comes to coastal cuisine, the fish koliwada and bombil fry are a must-have at Gajalee. There are two outlets in the city, but the original at Vile Parle is the one you should stop by at for a meal.
For kebabs, pakoras and rolls, Khane Khas is where you should go. The hole-in-the-wall joint with plastic tables and not much else serves up mouthwatering rustic food with a particular focus on North Indian specialities.
Coastal seafood restaurants abound in the city, but the most underrated is Pratap Lunch Home, which serves a mean prawn gassi to be lapped up with airy appams. Wash it all down with a sol kadi and walk out satisfied.
An all-vegetarian, all-you-can-eat Gujarati thali is a must-do when in Mumbai, and no one does it better than Shree Thaker Bhojanalay. Serving wholesome home-style food, you’re guaranteed to waddle out afterwards.
With two city outlets, Swati Snacks is favourite for its homemade chaats, and other vegetarian food. What you have to order though is the banana leaf-wrapped pankhi chutney, a Gujarati favourite.
Lauded as one of the most excellent restaurants in Mumbai, Chef Alex Sanchez’s globe-trotting menu is a firm favourite with locals who want quality food. With some of its production coming from the restaurant’s farm in Alibag, you can remain assured of its freshness.
Clubbing is still a big part of the city’s weekend culture, but a host of affordable bars means more people are willing to spend the night drinking with friends.
Abode Bombay, Colaba A boutique hotel that thoughtfully combines contemporary flourishes with old-world touch, Abode is a refuge from cookie-cutter hotel rooms in a central location.
Hotel Fariyas, Colaba This hotel is popular with those who favour location over all else. Walk to the Gateway of India, the shops that line Colaba Causeway and more from here.
Hotel Residency, Fort Amidst the city’s old business district, rooms at the Hotel Residency are comfortable and with modern amenities. Best of all, it’s within walking distance of a ton of tourist sites.
JW Marriott Mumbai, Juhu A sprawling property that opens out onto the beach, the Marriott is famous as a meeting spot for the film fraternity. Besides the celebrity spotting, make sure to have a meal at Dashanzi, which does excellent Asian fare.
The Oberoi, Mumbai, Marine Drive Ask for a room that overlooks the Arabian Sea for a view that will leave you spellbound. The hotel has a standout Italian restaurant and a Champagne lounge, where the wines are impressive, but the bright red piano steals the show.
The St Regis Mumbai, Lower Parel This luxury hotel is where the city parties on the weekend, but its central location is what makes it popular with guests. Towering above Phoenix Mills, you can visit the mall after a hectic day—to shop, watch a movie or grab a bite.
Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, Colaba An enduring property, the heritage wing offer spacious rooms and old-world charm. The new tower has the signature Taj service, and between the two they have a range of eateries that offer a variety of cuisines.
There’s a Mumbai for every interest so that you can explore the city on your terms. For architecture and design lovers, a walk around the Oval Maidan presents Indo-Saracenic style Bombay High Court and Rajabai Tower on one side, and the low-slung Art Deco buildings on the other. From there walk past the imposing colonial buildings and buy a ticket for Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus’ Railway Museum and stroll into the grand station’s administrative section, where you can marvel at the cavernous dome that echoes with every footstep. All-encompassing heritage tours can get booked from Raconteur Heritage Walks, who guide you through the historic district.
Culture vultures should check local papers and catch a show at the NCPA’s Experimental Theatre, a lively black box that hosts young talent, or at Prithvi Theatre in Juhu, where the intimate performance space demands your full attention. Each has a café on the premises, for those that want to sit around and soak in the atmosphere.
Those on the trail of the Mumbai hipster must go to Mahalaxmi’s Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters, where circular windows allow you to see the action in the roastery. Try their single-origin coffees and pair it with a Magazine Street Kitchen croissant or Le 15 cupcake. Then catch a movie at Matterden at The Deepak, a refurbished single-screen theatre that shows a range of arthouse and foreign language films, in addition to the populist fare. Also worth visiting is The Revolver Club, in Mahim, for vinyl that includes new artistes and pre-owned favourites. If you’re looking to end your night with something unusual, take a night-cycling tour of the city, which is organised by Reality Tours, to see the city when it’s not as crowded. It starts at Kala Ghoda and ends at Worli Fort.
Crushed between the two rural areas of Mumbai and Thane, Sanjay Gandhi National Park is ideal for picnics. Acclaimed to be one the most loved public parks, guests crowd in thousands to spot Leopards, Macaques, Boars, Lions, Flying fox, Kingfisher, Sunbirds and countless butterflies here. Kanheri caverns, which are more than 2,000 years old are additionally a significant vacation destination inside the recreation centre premises. The caverns have been cut out of the rough precipices.
The Sanjay Gandhi National Park, recently known as the Borivali National Park covers around 20% of Mumbai's geological territory and is home to a stunning thirteen hundred types of vegetation and over 500 types of fauna individually. Covering a zone of 104 square kilometres, it is one of Asia's most visited National Parks with more than 2 million guests consistently. The recreation centre is additionally supposed to be the biggest park on the planet situated inside city limits. There are two counterfeit lakes inside the woods flourishing with crocodiles and transient winged animals throughout the year.
It is quite famous for adventure activities and trekking. Located on the basin if river Ulhas, Karjat promises, scenic views, beautiful mountains and ancient rock-cut caves along with being one of the best locations near Mumbai to spend a weekend.
Settled on the top of the Western Ghats, Matheran is among the oldest hill station in Mumbai. The lush green fields, serene environment and picturesque view make this place an ideal weekend getaway. Being here, you must experience a ride on the Neral-Matheran toy train.
This place needs no introduction. Be it a perfect road trip or a short escape for one day from Mumbai or a location amidst hills, this place caters to everything, and that is why hold a special place in the hearts of Mumbaikars.
It’s a popular beach destination near Mumbai with sprints from history, and you can reach here either by ferry or by road. The ferries are available from Gateway of India in South Mumbai.
This is the birth commemoration of Lord Ganesh. This celebration happens in August/September and is one of the most popular festivals of Mumbai. The celebration is praised for 11 days. Local people purchase idol of Ganesh and love the idol for 10 days at home. Numerous pandals are raised all through the city for different ceremonies.
This function happens once in two years. Coordinated by the administration and Films Division, this celebration brings all the media individuals together.
This celebration is coordinated by the administration to advance the travel industry and culture. This celebration takes place on the Elephanta Islands, close to the terrain of Mumbai. This festival happens for two days (at night).
This is the Hindu New Year festival, which is celebrated in April. In Mumbai, this is celebrated for the thriving of the forthcoming year. It is additionally celebrated to recollect that good consistently beat evil.
This is a social celebration, well known for works of art, dance, music and theatre. You can discover various workshops and classes identified with the fine arts during this celebration.
This festival falls in February or March. Among all the twelve Shivratris that occur in a year, Mahashivratri, the one that occurs in February or March is of the most spiritual significance.