Mumbai is one of India’s largest cities and is full of historic sites and iconic monuments. It is also a city of extremes – home to some of the world’s most expensive homes along with the biggest slums, and there are lots of things to do in Mumbai. The city also is the heart of India’s largest film industry, and Bollywood fills much of the city with a unique breath of life.
There is something for everyone in Mumbai. However, this profusion of attractions can overwhelm any new visitor. So here are 30 of the top things to do in Mumbai that you must see when you visit.
1. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Perhaps the most famous railway station in the country, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is one of Mumbai’s most iconic landmarks. Once called Victoria Terminus, it was built in the 19th century with a mix of High Victorian Gothic and Indian architectural styles. The palatial interior sees over 3 million people pass through it each day. The station has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Gateway of India
Constructed to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai in 1914, the Gateway of India was designed by Scottish architect George Wittet. He was inspired by Indo-Islamic, Indian and Roman styles in the building of this arch. It also marks the point where the last British troops departed from India after centuries of colonial rule.
3. Marine Drive
This iconic sea-facing promenade in South Mumbai is located at the foot of Malabar Hill. Stretching for 3 kilometres from Nariman Point to Babulnath, it is often called “Queen’s Necklace” as the curved stretch sparkles at night. It is the perfect place to go for a walk or to unwind as you watch the sunset. To the north of the drive lies Chowpatty Beach, which is famous for its bazaars and food stalls.
4. Colaba Causeway
This historic market is lined with stalls that sell everything from cheap jewellery to clothes, food, quirky items, and used books. Browse the fashionable boutiques and street-side stalls in the lovely British era buildings. Once you’re done make sure to visit one of the many famous cafés, bars and restaurants here, such as Leopold Cafe and Cafe Mondegar.
5. Mount Mary Church
Mumbai is full of historic churches, but one of the most striking is Mount Mary’s Basilica (Basilica of Our Lady of the Mount). It is set atop a hillock overlooking the Arabian Sea in Bandra West and was first built in 1570, though it was rebuilt numerous times (the latest in 1904). The church has been a vital part of the area for hundreds of years and houses a statue of Mother Mary that is said to have been brought to India by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
6. Taj Mahal Palace
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is one of Mumbai’s most celebrated landmarks. This architectural marvel was built in 1903 under Jamshetji Tata. It was once the first sight upon entering Bombay Harbour until the Gateway of India was built 20 years later. Today, it is still one of the most prestigious and luxurious hotels in the country.
7. Prince of Wales Museum
Also known as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, this is one of the most popular museums in Mumbai. The museum was built in the early 20th century and has three major sections, Natural History, Archaeology, and Art. It has numerous items in its collections, including ancient artworks, armour, weapons, jewellery, sculptures and artefacts, as well as regular exhibitions.
8. Haji Ali Dargah
This stunning shrine is one of the most important religious places in the city. Dating back to 1431, it was built in the Mughal-style, in memory of Sayyed Peer Jaji Ali Shah Bukhari, a wealthy merchant from present-day Uzbekistan who gave up all his possessions to travel to Mecca. It is located off the coast of Worli, lined to the mainland by a narrow pathway that only appears during low-tide.
9. Chor Bazaar
One of the oldest markets in Mumbai, this “Thieves’ Market” has some of the most unusual items on sale. Here you can find everything from antiques to electronics, clothes, and spare automobile parts (often said to be stolen goods). The wide array of things found in these crowded narrow lanes are usually sold at throwaway prices, making this the perfect stop for shopaholics.
10. Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Sanjay Gandhi National Park is said to be the largest park in the world located within city limits. The densely forested park is spread over an area of 104 sq km and is visited by millions each year. It is full of hiking and trekking trails that are popular among wildlife and nature enthusiasts. Apart from the wide range of flora and fauna, the park is also home to the ancient Kanheri Caves.
11. Babulnath Temple
This temple is one of the oldest in the city, dating back to the 12th century. It is dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva (also known as the Lord of the Babul tree) and is said to have originally been built by local ruler Bhimdev. Over the years it was abandoned, before being rediscovered and rebuilt in 1890.
12. Juhu Beach
Though not the cleanest to the most empty beach in Mumbai, Juhu Beach is one of the most iconic. Located in Ville Parle, it is usually crowded with visitors from all over the world. It’s the ideal place to people watch, play around in the water, or indulge in some delicious street food like bhel puri, vada pav, and pav bhaji.
13. Kamala Nehru Park
Named after the wife of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, this park in Malabar Hill provides amazing views of Chowpatty Beach and Marine Drive. The lush green surroundings are also full of colourful flowers. It is also home to the “Old Woman’s Shoe” and unique structure that is very popular with kids.
14. Knesset Eliyahoo Synagogue
The Knesset Eliyahoo Orthodox Jewish Synagogue was established in 1884 and is one of the oldest in the city. It was built by Jacob Elias Sassoon, who fled persecution in Bhagdad and became a leader of the Jewish community in Bombay. It also features a magnificent sky-blue façade and striking Victorian stained glass windows.
15. Rajabai Clock Tower
The Rajabai Clock Tower in South Mumbai stands in the campus of Mumbai University next to the High Court. It is one of many stunning Victorian and Art Deco buildings around Marine Drive that have recently been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was inspired by Big Ben in London and is also embellished with artworks and carvings.
16. Elephanta Caves
A short ferry ride from the Gateway of India will take you to the historic Elephanta Caves. This group of Hindu and Buddhist cave temples date back to the 5th century. While some of the structures may be in ruins, these amazing sculptures on this picturesque island is still a major tourist draw. Don’t miss the majestic three-headed statue of the deity Shiva.
17. Global Vipassana Pagoda
Global Vipassana Pagoda is an imposing meditation complex and memorial. It is the world’s largest pillar-less stone dome, and was built to honour Gautama Buddha, and his teachings. Modelled after the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar, its massive central meditation hall can seat up to 8000 people.
18. Bandra Bandstand
This walkway along the Arabian Sea provides stunning views of the water, the Mumbai skyline, and the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Here, you can also find the Walk of the Stars. Dedicated to various Bollywood actors, it is inspired by the Hollywood Walk of Fame. At the southern end of the walk you can also visit the historic Bandra Fort which was built by the Portuguese in 1640.
19. Film City
Also called Dada Saahab Phalke Chitranagri, this massive attraction near the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Goregaon is spread across 520 acres. It is filled with thousands of film sets including fake lakes, fountains, gardens, houses, cities, villages, and even mountains.
20. Afghan Church
This neo-Gothic church in Colaba was built by the British to commemorate the dead soldiers of the First Anglo-Afghan War. The Church of St. John the Evangelist, better known as the “Afghan Church,” was the result of disastrous 1842 retreat from Kabul was the result of an attempt to encroach into Afghanistan. It also features a massive tower and beautiful stained-glass windows.
21. The Town Hall
This historic building in South Mumbai was built in 1883. Its stunning neoclassical architecture houses the Asiatic Society of Mumbai. It is full of ancient manuscripts, books, folios, coins, artefacts, maps, and various other treasures. Among these gems are – an original copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy (one of only two known originals), 13th century Sanskrit texts, and what are believed to be fragments of from the Buddha’s begging bowl.
22. Dr Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum
Previously known as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum was built in 1872 and is one of the oldest museums in Mumbai. It looks at the history of the city, and has an amazing collection of archaeological finds, manuscripts, costumes, photographs, maps and relics that relate to daily life here. There are also a series of intricate clay model dioramas of the city.
23. Banganga Tank
According to legend, the Banganga Tank, in the Walkeshwar Temple complex on Malabar Hill, was created by Rama and Lakshmana shooting an arrow into the ground to bring forth a tributary of the Ganga. It was rebuilt in the 18th century after the previous structure was destroyed in the Portuguese in the 16th century.
24. Kanheri Caves
Located in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, the Kanheri Caves are some of the most important historic sites in the area. The 109 rock-cut cave temples dating to the 1st century BC were once Buddhist shrines and places for study and meditation. Much like the lush green park that surrounds it, the basalt caves provide a quick getaway from the crowds of the city.
25. Jehangir Art Gallery
Founded by Sir Cowasji Jehangir in 1952, this art gallery is a centre of contemporary Indian art. It is located at Kala Ghoda, behind the Prince of Wales Museum and has four large exhibition halls. There are numerous shows by local artists, as well as festivals that engage artists, patrons and art lovers.
26. Powai Lake
This artificial lake in the Powai Valley of north Mumbai is one of the most beautiful places in the city. It is located next to Powai village and acts as a calm oasis amongst the hustle and bustle of Mumbai. The lake is surrounded by various luxurious houses and hotels, as well as the Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai and National Institute of Industrial Engineering.
27. Crawford Market
Mumbai is full of bustling and crowded markets. While Colaba Causeway and Chor Bazaar might be better known, Crawford Market is also very popular. You can find almost anything here, though it is said to be the best place for household items, food, and handicrafts. Among the crowds, you can catch a glimpse of stunning Norman and Flemish architecture
28. Fort George
Located in the Fort area of Mumbai is the very fort that gives it its name. Fort George (or St Georges Fort) was built in 1769 on the site of the earlier Dongri Fort. It served as an extension of the fortified Bombay region, and was named after King George III. The fort was meant to provide extra defence from an attack by Napoleon. Later, it was used to store arms, and then was the site of the St. George Hospital whose remains can still be seen today.
29. Khotachiwadi Village
This tiny heritage village in the Girgaum district of South Mumbai is full of picturesque old-Portuguese style houses. They often have charming verandas and are painted in bright colours. A short distance from the famous Chowpatty Beach, it also has some of the most spectacular views of the Mumbai skyline.
30. Nehru Science Centre
The Nehru Science Centre is a part of the National Council of Science Museums, and has hundreds of interactive exhibits on various aspects of science and technology. It is the perfect place for both kids and adults to spend the day. Don’t miss the three-dimensional show ‘Monsters of the Deep’ that explored mythical sea creatures, and the ‘Grand Canyon Adventure’.
There are lots of other great things to do in Mumbai, and if we’ve missed any, be sure to share them in the comments below.