Traditional Indian culture meets modern nightlife in Mumbai for an experience any visitor can enjoy.
As in any major international travel destination, there are a lot of things to do in Mumbai. Perhaps more than other cities in the country, though, this one offers a wide variety of options. We've taken a close look at this beautiful city and all it has to offer. If you are considering a trip to the home of Bollywood, we'll give you plenty more to add to your itinerary.
A Bit About Traveling in Mumbai
Whether you want the beach, nightlife or just a few days of incredible shopping, Mumbai has you covered. We'll try to take a broad brush for this very diverse city. Recognize up front that we'll inevitably miss some hot spots. There are just too many things to do in Mumbai for us to mention them all. But we'll give you a good guide to start your journey and some tips to help you discover even more.
Before we begin, let's take a look at the city itself. It's climate, location and history play big roles in why it is such a vacationer's dream. International travelers can find so many new and exciting treasures that many return time and time again. We hope you have the same memorable experiences if and when you book your trip. Here are some of the big ideas to keep in mind.
Maybe the most stunning geographical feature of this beautiful city is is coastline. The city is located on the western coast of the nation. And you'll find plenty of things to do in Mumbai without leaving the captivating sands. There are dozens of fascinating beaches to explore. Some are more popular among couples away for a high end luxury getaway. Others cater more to those interested in parties and a fun time. If a trip to the ocean is among the reasons you're considering Mumbai, you probably won't be disappointed.
You'll want to take the distinct climate in this region of India into consideration before deciding when to travel. There are really only three seasons here, unlike what most Western travelers might be used to. Expect to find, generally speaking, the year broken up into summer, winter and monsoon seasons. Of course, the winter season is really only a slightly cooler version of the hot, humid summers. Therefore, these few months -- approximately November to February -- are the best for most travelers. And if you decide to travel during monsoon season between June and September, expect harsh winds and driving rain.
Once you arrive in the city, you'll find it fairly easy to get around. Public transportation is a big part of the culture. But it can be a bit overwhelming for unfamiliar travelers. The iconic auto rickshaw is an option, though on some roads it can be a jarring experience. There are also more familiar options like taxis. Many are reputable companies, but like in many tourist cities you will find bad actors. Whether in the airport, on the roads, in stores or at your hotel, be on alert for possible scams. Some more touristy spots are especially prone to such behavior. Many visitors take advantage of Uber and similar options available in the city. And you can also rent a car pretty easily around Mumbai. Bus, rail and ferry service is also available. If you're trying to keep fit while you're there, it's also quite simple to get to most things to do in Mumbai by bike.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Mumbai
As we said, it would be almost impossible to name every attraction and activity in this expansive metropolis. But if you've never visited, there are a few things we think you really should do. It will help you hit the high points to get immersed in the distinct Mumbai culture. When you have an idea of what makes this amazing city click, you might just go ahead an book a return trip.
1. Kala Ghoda Art District
Many major cities have an urban art district. Mumbai is no different, but we think Kala Ghoda is even a little more special than most. The name means 'Black Horse.' That name comes from pretty literal roots in reference to a statue that used to stand there. In general, it refers to the cool area where you can find Mumbai's art museums and galleries.
There are regular festivals, including an annual event every February. The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival lasts for nine days in February. So it might be something to consider when looking for things to do in Mumbai. It does take place at just about the perfect time of year to visit the city. But anytime you go, you can find impressive art on display. One of the more notable home to art in the region is the Jehangir Art Gallery. It is among several that establish Mumbai as the cultural center of India.
2. Gateway of India
Perhaps the most recognizable landmark in Mumbai is the Gateway of India. That is for a few reasons -- and it is all by design. It dates back about a century to its construction ahead of a royal visit. King George V and Queen Mary arrived to find the distinct feature arising from the shore. In the decades since, all sorts of travelers from across the world have encountered he same sight. Like the Statue of Liberty in America, it was positioned and designed to be the city's welcome sign.
And it remains a popular attraction today. There are sail boats and other vessels ready to transport you past this impressive structure. You can get some privacy on a yacht and turn the experience into a cozy romantic date. If you choose a more public ride, you just might fall in love with that choice, too. But be warned, it is typically packed with tourists just like you.
3. Tour Bollywood
If you're visiting L.A., you'll probably want to visit the birthplace of modern American cinema. Like Hollywood, visitors to Mumbai typically want to pay homage to the Indian equivalent. Bollywood is known for its mix of bright colors and enthusiastic dancing in a long series of films. And the root of that impressive industry is right in the cultural epicenter of the country.
So if you ask anybody about things to do in Mumbai, it won't take long to hear "Bollywood." Specifically, there are a few really important features and monuments to the industry. You can still visit the beautiful Eros Cinema to watch a classic or modern Bollywood film. And like its American counterpart in California, Bollywood offers some behind the scenes access. You can visit sets, get tours of production companies and maybe even catch a glimpse of a star.
4. Take in the nightlife
If you're in the mood for some live music and a few drinks, head down to Todi Mills. Since this area was revitalized, it has defined nightlife in the bustling city. There are plenty of things to do in Mumbai without ever leaving this region. It is located in the Lower Parel, which contained warehouses that long ago went vacant. Now many of them are home to cool restaurants and modern dance clubs.
One of our favorites is the Blue Frog. You can catch many major acts as well as all the hot local musicians performing here. And it features a little bit of everything, so you're sure to find something that pleases you. But maybe its biggest draw is the environment itself. And that includes fellow celebrants. Whether vacationers or locals, everyone seems to gather for a common cause in Todi Mills. When you're there, you're main priority is having a good time socializing with some new friends.
5. Experience the other side of life in Mumbai
We don't think a luxury vacation should be shielded from less traveled areas of Mumbai. These include some of the nation's most expansive slums. There is also a wide network of markets and bazaars where locals sell their wares. To truly experience what this city represents, you need to see it all. Unfortunately, that includes some pretty deplorable living conditions.
Even through the unbearable poverty, though, a ride through these areas shows an unbridled spirit. People work hard, establish a local economy and find reasons to laugh with one another. Of course, there are areas you'll want to steer clear of. But take a walk through a marketplace. Or grab a rickshaw if you're not afraid of a bumpy ride. Engaging with these locals will be a wholly different experience than your luxury hotel staff.
6. You gotta eat, right?
You probably wouldn't be surprised to learn there is a lot of great Indian food here. But one of the surprisingly fun things to do in Mumbai is experience the local cuisine. It is far more diverse than some international travelers might first expect. And there are some really great restaurants opening on a regular basis.
Celebrity chefs are starting to take notice of the growing fine dining scene. There are tons of exquisite small bistros ready to show you the best Mumbai has to offer. And local chains give you a great look at what quick service meals look like in this region. Wherever you go, you're likely to find recognized dishes and new favorites. Whether Asian fusion or fresh seafood, the dining is one of several reasons you might want to extend your trip.
7. Relax on the beautiful beaches
With such a long coastline, it is probably not surprising this city has a wide range of beaches. Some rocky coasts jut out into the nearby ocean. Then you'll find beautiful sands just a short drive away. Whatever you're in the mood for, if the ocean is on your must see list you won't be disappointed.
There are dozens to choose from, but Juhu beach really sets the standard. It serves as the backdrop for so much of the culture on display. If you ever run out of things to do in Mumbai, check out this beach. There's always something new. You can get some fresh street food from a vendor. Watch the planes take off and land over the water from the nearby airport. Take in the nearby architecture, including a temple that marks an important period in the city's history.
8. Haji Ali
Religious tradition is a big part of life in India and on full display during travels to Mumbai. One major attraction is the Haji Ali. Some of the things to do in Mumbai are This is an important piece of architecture for more than one reason. First of all, this place has obvious historic significance. It has stood in this spot for nearly 600 years. But what it was built to signify is even more important to many visitors.
The Haji Ali is part mosque for those who crave a bit of reflection during their trip. But it is also the final resting place of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari. He became a major influence in the Sufi faith, otherwise known as Islamic mysticism. He became devout in the practice after his pilgrimage to Mecca centuries ago. Modern travelers can still pay respect and memorialize him where his body is laid to rest. And it is impeccably situated just beyond the shore. In low tide, you can reach the structure via a natural walkway that stretches 500 yards.
There are more than enough things to do in Mumbai to keep you occupied during your trip.
Your only problem might be getting to everything on your schedule. But we've given you some of our favorite pastimes in this beautiful and diverse city.
If you enjoyed our look at Mumbai, share it with the world travelers in your life. And leave us a comment below to let us know your favorite international getaway.
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