Categories: Top travel tips

Top Things to Do in Mumbai: A Local’s Guide

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Today’s blog post has been contributed by one and only Renuka Walter, a fellow travel blogger and a digital nomad from India. Her blog, Voyager For Life, is all about interesting travel stories, her misadventures on the road, the experiences that enrich her, the people she meets, the cuisines she tastes…and the person she becomes. Don’t be shy and follow Renuka’s experience on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

Mumbai is magic. It’s a city that evokes many emotions. From slums to skyscrapers, street food to posh hotels, super frenzied local trains to a calm seaside, Mumbai is like a spectrum. You got to be curious and have an intrepid spirit to explore Mumbai, because, as they say, the city never sleeps.

Mumbai is magic. It’s a city that evokes many emotions.

Formerly called Bombay, Mumbai is the financial capital of India, located in the western part of India, in the state of Maharashtra. So if you really want to extract the true essence of Mumbai, explore it from a local’s perspective and take back some endearing memories. 

Explore the ‘vintage’ Mumbai

Begin your expedition with some of the iconic sites of Mumbai, such as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Churchgate, Colaba Causeway, Gateway Of India, and Rajabai Clock Tower. Mumbai has a rich heritage of British-era architecture, which is worth marvelling.

Admire the art & heritage

Mumbai is a heritage city. Besides the vintage architecture, there are so many art galleries and museums in Mumbai that you probably would feel overwhelmed.

Gateway of India.

To check out the best, make sure you visit National Gallery of Modern Art, CST Heritage Gallery & Railway Museum, Jehangir Art Gallery, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Sakshi Art Gallery, and Tasveer.

Go for a morning jog or an evening stroll at Marine Drive

If you really want to have a close brush with the locals of Mumbai, Marine Drive is the place you should spend some time at. It’s a beautiful seaside pavement, which is mostly hogged for its mesmerising view of the sea and the skyscrapers.

Marine Drive at sunset.

Make sure you take a walk at Marine Drive in the morning and get mesmerised by the scintillating sunset view in the evening.

Enjoy ‘doing nothing’ at Bandra Bandstand

Mumbai has a free-spirited aura, which a traveller must soak in. One of the best places to enjoy ‘doing nothing’ in Mumbai is Bandra Bandstand. It’s a lovely seaside promenade flanked by palm trees offering mellow breezes. It’s a favourite romantic hideout for the younger crowd. Also, it’s a place to catch glimpses of a few top Bollywood stars.

Watch a play at Prithvi theater

Prithvi theater is one of the best hangout places in Mumbai not just for the great plays, but also for the food and brew.

A small treat at Prithvi Theater.

There’s a charming open-air café, where you must sit and observe the vibe around. You should also check out the art gallery and a small bookshop on the premises.

Take the Film City tour

As Mumbai is home to the world’s biggest film industry known as Bollywood, taking the Film City tour is a foregone conclusion. There are day tour packages that take you to all the famous film-shooting locales, and give you glimpses of live shooting as well.

Take in the vibe of the beaches

Since Mumbai is a coastal city, you have to experience its ‘beach’ vibe. The top beaches to visit in Mumbai are Juhu, Gorai, Aksa, Marve, Versova and Madh Island.

Relaxing Juhu Beach.

Play with the waves, watch the locals, sip fresh coconut water, and savour the mouth-watering street delights like Pani Puri and Baraf ka Gola.

Drive on the Bandra-Worli Sealink

The best way to get a stunning cityscape of Mumbai is by driving on the Bandra-Worli Sealink. Although the drive lasts for barely five minutes, the view of the skyscrapers and the harbour is a sight to behold.

Nosh through the Irani cafes and restaurants

Thanks to Iranians who have lived in India for over 150 years now, there’s this charming culture of Irani tea in Mumbai, Pune, and Hyderabad. Thus, you will see a lot of Irani cafes, bakeries and restaurants in Mumbai. The top dishes to relish are Irani Chai (tea), Bun-maska (Bun with butter), Keema Pav (minced meat), Akuri (eggs) and Mawa Cake.  

Food is served!

The top Irani cafes & restaurants to try are Kyani & Co., Café Excelsior, Stadium Café, Merwan & Co and Leopold Café just to name a few.  

Visit the religious sites

Mumbai is an amalgamation of different cultures and beliefs. You will see a lot of Parsis, Iranians, Catholics, and Muslims in Mumbai. You must visit the famous Dargah (shrine) called Haji Ali, which is located beautifully in the middle of the sea.

Haji Ali.

Also, Mumbai is a city of churches. The most famous ones are Mount Mary Basilica, St Andrew’s Church, St Thomas Cathedral, Afghan Church, Gloria Church and St Peter’s Church. 

Sizzle up for the night-life of Mumbai

Make sure you make the most of a Friday night in Mumbai. The Mumbai nightlife is an experience to reckon with.

Mumbai never sleeps.

Check out some of the top nightclubs, such as Trilogy, Blue Frog, Tryst, The Wine Rack and Kaama to name a few.

Savour the street food of Mumbai

Mumbai is also a food city; especially the food served by the street vendors is the most sought after. Yes, you must go on a street culinary tour of Mumbai and try all the popular dishes like Vada Pav, Misal Pav, Pav Bhaji, Bhel Puri & Sev Puri, Batata Vada, Bombay Sandwich and Ragda Pattice.

Travel on a local train

Although getting on a local train in Mumbai is a daunting affair, it’s an experience you should take to get acquainted to the real, everyday life of a Mumbaikar. You will see how people travel long distances and try to finish off a few of their household chores, such as cutting veggies, while they are on the train. Also, it’s interesting to see hawkers and vendors get on the train and set up their shops in a jiffy.

To avoid the discomfort of an over-packed train, take a ride during the lean hours – 1 to 4 pm. Also, there is an option to travel in a first-class coach, which has a relatively lesser crowd. My advice would be to take the local train ride with a known local instead of venturing into it all alone.

Have you been to Mumbai? Are you planning to go? What was/would be your favourite thing to do in the city to feel like a local?

Agness Walewinder @AgnessTramp

Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"

View Comments

  • Thanks so much Renuka! That's really nice. I'll send you a PM in a few days with the details.
    'Can't wait to see you!

  • Thank you, Victoria! :) I'd love to meet you whenever you are in Mumbai. Just let me know. Tweet me or email me. I'm sure you will love Mumbai!

  • 'Love the post Renuka!

    I've not yet been to Mumbai, but I've been to Delhi and I didn't like it! Funnily enough, people who know mw say that I would like Mumbai much better as it has a lot of historical character. I think i might agree!

    My husband (German), teen son and I are actually going to be in Mumbai this Autumn, and flights have already been bought! I think my favourite thing would be seeing the beautiful train station, nervously attempting to ride the local train, walking along the beach, and experiencing the food market!

    If you're in town during that time of the year, would you like to meet up? I have Indian blogger friends in Delhi, but none in Mumbai, and as you say, hanging out with a local would be a much better experience. :D

  • Mumbai has been an intimidating destination for me. Your post makes it less intimidating though! Thank you for this!

  • Wow! What an amazing place! There is so much to see and do in Mumbai, I’d love to experience it someday. This is such a brilliant guide which covers so much. Thank you for sharing 💖 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  • Glad to have this post on this blog. Really, I am a big follower of Renuka Walter and this post is just another fine example of my choice (it may sound a little bit cheezy). But honestly, a well-written post on this worthy city.

    • That's so nice to hear, Sophie! Yes, Mumbai is a bustling city with lots of cool things to do for all kinds of travelers.

  • i really loved Mumbai although it was so long that I visited! One of my favourite Indian cities! Had a ball there, met locals, took the double decker buses. Wonderful city!

  • What a cool place, have never visited but would love to experience Mumbai one day. Cool contribution to your site!!

  • That looks awesome! I've heard mixed things about it being safe for single women to travel through there alone though. Can you tell me more about that? The city itself looks beautiful!

    • Hi Leanne,

      Mumbai is known to be a safe city for women. However, I personally do not consider any city safe or unsafe. I believe in being cautious wherever I am in the world. That being said, Mumbai is very accommodating for women. Whether you are single or married, you can step out of your home even quite late into the night and no one will bat an eyelid.

    • Thanks for the comment, Leanne. That's a good question. We'll wait for Renuka to answer it!

  • Wow! The post looks beautiful. Thank you for featuring my guest post on Mumbai. :) I think Mumbai is an awesome city and no matter how much you write about it, there's still so much that remains hidden and unsung.

    • Hey, Renuka! It was our pleasure to have you on our blog. That's all true for Mumbai and yet, such hidden gems seem to be the most exceptional ones! ;);x

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