Mumbai is the most populated metropolitan city in India. It is home to Bollywood, it is also the financial and commercial capital of India. History and culture go back at least two thousand years while being very current, modern, and progressive. With such a big city, it’s not an easy thing navigating where to go, what to see, where to eat, or where to go out. While it’s worth taking your time and seeing many places and areas, here is a list of 25 top places to visit in Mumbai. They’re not all the famous, most common places, but you’ll probably agree they are well worth the time to see.
1. Gateway of India: One of the most famous monuments in Mumbai, the Gateway of India is easily one of the top places to visit. The gateway was started in 1915 and completed in 1924. Though originally planned as a welcome for King George V, it became the place where officials and governors would land upon arrival in India. Today it is popular as a tourist destination and looks beautiful both during the day when you can admire the structure as well as during the evening as it’s lit up. From there, you can also visit or just see the Taj hotel, which is at a walking distance from the Gateway.
2. Elephanta Caves: From the Gateway, it’s possible to reach the Elephanta Island by ferry in order to see the caves. These ancient caves have been carved out of the basalt rock and are full of history in the form of carvings and statues. After its renovation in the 1970s, it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is visited by millions every year. The history and culture of the caves can’t be compared as each cave contains several stories and depictions of events. There are two groups of caves—five large Hindu, and two smaller Buddhist caves.
3. Colaba Causeway: If there’s one street that combines art with culture and the traditional Indian market, it would be the Colaba Causeway. It easily lives up to its reputation of being the “Culture Square” of Mumbai, by offering a variety of cultural experiences in one place. The huge causeway is home to museums, high-end retail stores, art galleries, small shops and stalls, a cinema, and a church among other attractions. Eating here can be done at road-side eateries or famous restaurants and cafes which line the street. The Cafe Mondegar is one of the oldest places to chill, with a real juke box and all. Number of things can be bought here, from books to clothes, jewelry to antiques, cosmetics to artifacts and much more.
4. Flora Fountain: The fountain, named after the Roman Goddess Flora was built in 1864 and stands in the middle of a beautiful park area which is worth seeing. There are a number of ways to travel to the fountain, though the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation offers open-air bus tours which is a good way to get a higher view of the fountain. Near to this heritage are other impressive heritage buildings such as the Gateway of India, Bombay High Court, the Central Telegraph Office, and many more. Also worth a visit in the evening as the fountain is stunningly lit up.
5. Churchgate: Churchgate refers to one of the gates that used to be in the walls around Mumbai. Today it’s a place to visit, both for the historical building, and for the newer train station there. The walls were torn down in the mid 1900’s, but the train station was not built until the 1930’s. The building has an interesting structure in that it is far more modern than the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, but offers a different look at Indian station architecture. Within walking distance of the Flora Fountain, the whole area around Churchgate is good for strolling around, taking pictures, and admiring the different types of architecture and buildings.
6. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus: Another UNESCO heritage site, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is another must-see in Mumbai. Originally named Victoria Terminus after the then reigning queen, the building is simply stunning to look at. A fusion of Victorian/Italianate/Gothic/Revival and traditional Indian architecture, the building boasts turrets, pointed arches, wood carvings, tile, ornamental brass and iron. Inside, the decorations can easily take your breath away. An architectural marvel, this busy station is more than just a place to catch a train, though it does serve a number of lines; it stands out as one of the top 25 places to visit in Mumbai.
7. Marine Drive: A C shaped highway which lines the coast, this road is enjoyed both during the day and at night. It looks like a necklace from above at night, which is why it’s also known as the Queen’s Necklace. Most of Mumbai’s wealthy live in this area; the houses are luxurious and beautiful to look at. The drive connects to Nariman Point which is the business area. Many luxury hotels can be found here along with a beautiful view of the ocean.
8. Food joints along Marine Drive: A great number of eateries, pubs, and clubs can be found on Marine Drive, but it can help to know which ones are worth a visit. If you’re hankering for good ice-cream and shakes, the small beach chowpatty called Bachelor’s could be just up your alley. There is a Sukh Sagar which has good fast food, if you’re looking for somewhere to eat where you won’t have to wait too long. There are plenty of road-side joints where you can get Kulfis as well. Mahesh Lunch home offers arguably the best sea-food in town if that’s where your appetite takes you. In evening, the Blue Fox is known as the best night club in the area.
9. Dome Bar/Status: The Dome Bar offers a wonderful view of the Marine Drive and allows patrons to take pictures both inside the bar and of the view. It’s a great place to go for an evening view of the Drive as well as chill with drinks and food. Status Restaurant offers great vegetarian food, especially Thali which is worth it at this restaurant. Service is prompt, food is good, and while it can get crowded, there is always food to be had.
10. NCPA auditorium: If you’re looking to catch a good play, this auditorium is built for large-scale events such as orchestral concerts, opera, ballet, dance programs and more. Since it’s inception in 1969, the auditorium has made a name for itself by promoting and preserving India’s rich art and cultural traditions. It’s possible to catch some kind of cultural event at almost any time as the theater boasts over 500 events in a year.
11. Worli Sea Link: The cable-stay bridge connects Bandra in the western suburbs of Mumbai with Worli in South Mumbai. This amazing structure is not only a great way to cross the channel, but makes for a great drive. The scenery is amazing, not least of which is the view of the ocean. The structure itself, with its complex combination of concrete deck and cable-stayed spans is amazing to view, as it was built to not only work, but to look stunning as well. It’s worth a drive through, both during the day and in the evening as it’s lit up.
12. Haji Ali Dargah: Probably one of the most recognized structures in Mumbai, this Mosque sits on an islet right in near the heart of the city. Built in 1431, the Dargah is receiving ongoing renovations, but can be visited during the low tide. The road is covered during high tide, making it impossible to cross. The structure is relatively small, but makes up for it with it’s cultural architecture. Especially on Friday’s you might get lucky enough to hear musicians playing a form of devotional music. At any time you visit, you’ll agree that it’s one of the 25 top places to visit in Mumbai.
13. Linking Road: This is the place to go shopping. Here you can find high-end international brand stores right along with market stalls selling just about anything you can imagine. It’s a great experience to get in there, with the crowds and find good deals for yourself or your loved ones. At the end of the day, the Little Door pub offers great food, good music, and a great ambience if you’re in a party mood.
14. Mani Bhavan: This building was the place from which Gandhi focused his political activity during 1917-1934. While it never belonged to Gandhi, he was hosted there frequently and is now a memorial to the memory of the great man. It is now a museum where people can visit to pay respect as well as view a variety of photographs, his spinning wheels, as well as his bed, which is preserved for viewing. There are models and books depicting Gandhi’s life as well as the balcony where he was arrested in 1932.
15. Crawford Market: Another incredibly famous market in South Mumbai, this market not only boasts a great place for market shopping, but the building itself is worth a visit, even if you don’t buy anything. The building, which was completed in 1869, was the first in India to be lit up by electricity. The architecture is another wonder of combining British with Indian style. It has a huge skylight which allows the indoors of the market to be lit up by sunlight during the day. As with the other big markets, just about anything can be bought, including pets.
16. Juhu Beach: One of the most affluent areas of Mumbai, the rich and famous live near this beach. However, it’s open to the public and offers the visitor a brilliant view of the sea. It’s a good place to get good food, especially if you like Italian food for a change. Juhu Beach hosts one of several branches of Café Mocha where you can get the famed “death by chocolate” desert. You can also view planes landing and taking off from a good viewpoint at the beach. While it’s usually not very crowded, if you want to avoid too many people, visit during the day and during the week as weekends and evenings can be crowded.
17. Prithvi Theatre: This theatre is located in Juhu and is great if you want to watch Bollywood movies, though they do offer English and other language plays as well. Every day, except Mondays, you can be sure to catch a show of one kind or other in the evenings. The theatre also has an ambient café, which offers a great opportunity to relax and chill with Irish coffee among the regular café drinks. There is also an art gallery, book shop, and small park.
18. Carter Road: Another great promenade located in Bandra, this road is also known as a more modern place to get good food and go shopping. Completed and opened to the public in 2002, the promenade not only offers another great view of the sea—great at sunset for one, but offers a park, jogging track, and just a popular hang-out spot. Bandra in general offers a variety of sights to be seen, including Mount Mary’s Basilica or the Castella de Aguada fort, which are older structures well worth a visit. It’s a nice place to go for a stroll, take pictures, or get good food.
19. Bandra Talao: Bandra Talao, or BandraLake is a lake located in the Bandra area of Mumbai. The lake is a Heritage area, having been built about 200 years ago. Boating facilities are available on the lake, along with other attractions, including a small aquarium, musical fountains, and light shows. It’s one of those relaxing places to go for an afternoon with family, just to have fun. A variety of birds and wildlife can be seen in the area, making it even more special for young and old.
20. Lokhandwala: This is a more residential area, but is among one of the top 25 places to visit in Mumbai if you’d like to view a more modern side to Mumbai. This area is great just to hang out; there are good places to eat, pubs, and places to shop or have a coffee. Bollywood has a large presence in this area of town making the houses worth looking at. There are several parks, including the huge WalavalkarPark, making for green spaces which is great if you’re looking for a place to relax for a bit.
21. Versova: Another beach area is Versova in the Andheri area in Western Mumbai. Not only great for viewing fancy houses, this beach is pretty deserted. The incoming tides and lack of much supervision makes it a less likely place for the masses to go. It’s a fishing area, though methi is also cultivated in the area. If you’re looking for a quiet place to get away from the big city rush, the Versova beach offers a great view of the Arabian sea and a long stretch of sand beach. There is a massive rock wall, intended to buffer from the waves, but the entire beach is submerged during high tide, so plan to go when the tide is out.
22. Madh Fort: Difficult to reach, the Madh or Versova Fort is a quiet, small fort located on MadhIsland. This is somewhere to visit if you want to go off the main track for a bit and enjoy the quiet. There are some modes of transportation there, but it’s one of those places you would do well to research before heading out as it’s not an easy place to get to. The outside structure looks still very much in tact, but the inside is in a state of dilapidation.
23. Mahim Church: A Catholic Church, this structure was originally built in 1534 but has since then been rebuilt several times, and boasts of being one of the oldest existing structures built by the Portuguese. Mass is held regularly, but the church can be visited any time during the day. There are several shrines and famous pictures in the building, as well as the building itself having a certain amount of charm. It is most famous for the Novenas held on Wednesdays which are attended by thousands at one time. You can find the MahimChurch in the Mahim area of Mumbai.
24. Dhobi Ghat: Also known as the world’s largest open-air Laundromat, this area is literally where the laundry gets done in Mumbai—at least all the laundry from the city’s hotels and hospitals. The Dhobis—the washers—work in rows of concrete pens, open-air and with their own flogging stone, to wash the laundry in. The profession is handed down from generation to generation, though the pay is minimal and the work hard. While not an especially beautiful place to visit, it’s a big part of the culture of Mumbai and is visited by tourists on a daily basis.
25. Kala Ghoda Art Precinct: This rather long precinct boasts itself as being the heart of the Mumbai art hub. It offers a variety of options in art, history, education, as well as great places to eat along the way. Starting at the south end of M.G. Road, it stretches to MumbaiUniversity going northbound. You will find, along this road, the Mumbai National Gallery of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Modern Art, among others. Or if you’d like, you can take a stroll down the road and see artists in action, displaying their work and sometimes working on a painting right there.
Have you been to Mumbai? What are your “Must see places in Mumbai”?Let us know in the comments.
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