Visiting Mumbai – A City Guide
Mumbai epitomises cosmopolitan India, cherishing the past while embracing its status as the country’s financial and entertainment hub. Ancient temples stand beside glistening skyscrapers, punctuated by lively street bazaars and Bollywood film studios in what is now the wealthiest city in India.
Mumbai: city layout and top attractions
Mumbai is a collection of former fishing colonies bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west. It divides into two regions: the southern Mumbai City district, and the much larger Mumbai Suburban district in the centre and north.
South Mumbai packs wealth and business into dense, energetic city blocks. It’s also chock-full of famous colonial architectures, museums & galleries, along with some of the best hotels in Mumbai. The western shores harbour ancient fishing villages such as Worli, Bandra and Juhu Koliwada, and is also the home to the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA). The hilly northern area cradles the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
Minutes away, Art Deco buildings define Marine Drive, also called the “Queen’s Necklace” for its graceful curve around the bay. It loops around to Chowpatty Beach, filled with street performers and open-air stalls selling sugar cane sweets.
The Gateway of India, featuring basalt stone carvings and Jharoka balconies, arches over the waterfront facing Mumbai Harbour.
The concierge recommends…
Eating Out in Mumbai
Mumbai buzzes well into the night, and dinner often starts as late as 9pm. Chefs dish up a mix of eastern and western cuisine, but local dishes are definitely the way to go.
Vegetarian thali platters are popular at Soam on Marine Drive, while classic Indian biryani dishes take centre stage at Delhi Darbar in the Colaba District.
Fresh seafood from the Konkan coast is a local speciality. You can try dishes like butter pepper garlic crab at Trishna in the Fort business district.
Grazing at Mumbai’s ever-popular dhabas and street stalls introduces you to chaats (Indian snacks) such as peppered mango, masala chickpeas and kulfi ice cream. Food stalls dot the Bhendi Bazaar, especially along Khao Galli Road and Mohammad Ali Road.
Maharashtrian dishes made with freshly ground spices, vegetables, lentils and cashews dominate the Thane West and Andheri East neighbourhoods near the airport.
The chef recommends…
Shopping in Mumbai
Shopping in Mumbai ranges from glitzy designer boutiques to artsy street markets and bazaars selling everything from exotic batik cloth to gold jewellery and antiques.
For upscale western-style clothing, shoes and bags, try Fashion Street and Palladium Mall in South Mumbai, and the Bandra district in the western suburbs.
You can find authentic Indian crafts, fabrics and clothing in Mumbai’s lively street markets. You’ll have to barter for your purchases, but could end up going home with treasures for a fraction of the original asking price.
Mumbai’s best street markets and bazaars
Culture & Nightlife in Mumbai
Mumbai has been compared to New York for good reason: it’s brimming with non-stop culture and nightlife. Slick nightclubs spin modern dance music.
The Colaba Causeway invites you to visit cosy gastropubs like Cafe Leopold, or enjoy a quirky art-filled evening with jukebox music at Café Mondegar.
The Colaba Art District showcases Indian art in places like Gallery Maskara. The tiny Chatterjee & Lal gallery features historical material, photographs and landscape paintings.
The National Centre for the Performing Arts at Nariman Point presents experimental theatre, dance and classical music.
You can party with locals and Bollywood glitterati at clubs in central Mumbai and Lower Parel. The open-air lounge at DOME in the Intercontinental Hotel is one of the hot spots along Marine Drive.
Best museums in Mumbai
Leisure in Mumbai
Mumbai embraces its trendy urban persona, but some of the most popular leisure activities are a world away from the concrete urban districts.
A day trip to Sanjay Gandhi National Park flings open a large area of wilderness with a biodiversity complex, nature trails and the Tiger and Lion Safari. If you’re staying in one of the South Mumbai hotels, it’s about 40 kilometres away, or just 18 kilometres from hotels near Mumbai airport.
Nature and history in Mumbai