Mumbai, the capital city of Maharashtra, was originally an archipelago of seven islands. Under British rule, sometime in the mid-19th century, the islands were merged to form a single landmass. It was called Bombay until the city was renamed Mumbai in 1995. Most heritage attractions in Mumbai trace their history back to colonial times.
Being a port city, Mumbai emerged as a major hub of trade and economic activities in India. People from all parts of the country flock to the city in search of better prospects. So, Mumbai received its specific epithet and is popularly known as the “city of dreams”.
If you are planning a trip to this magical city and are not sure about the city’s top tourist attractions, this post can help you. Read on for our list of the 12 must-visit tourist attractions in Mumbai below.
A Quick Glance Through
- How To Get To Mumbai
- List of Attractions
- Where To Stay
- Best Time To Visit Mumbai
- Traveler Tips
How To Get To Mumbai
Mumbai is served by Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport which is located in the suburb of Santa Cruz. It has 2 terminals, around 4.5 km away from one another.
All international flights arrive and depart from terminal 2 whereas domestic flights operate from terminals 1 and 2 both.
If you are coming by train, you can choose from several outstation train stations. Some of the major railway stations are Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), Mumbai Central, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT), Bandra Terminus and Dadar Terminus.
You can easily find radio taxis, cabs and auto-rickshaws for local commuting.
Mumbai city is well-linked by roadways with all neighbouring states. There are many overnight tourist buses that come to Mumbai from nearby cities.
Top 12 Attractions in Mumbai
1. Gateway of India
Overlooking the endless Arabian Sea, the Gateway of India is a noted historic monument and a famous landmark of Mumbai. It is located in South Mumbai at the end of Chhatrapati Shivaji Marg, opposite the iconic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.
It was built to mark the royal visit of King George V and Queen Mary, the emperor and empress of British India. When they landed here in 1911, a makeshift structure of the Gateway was erected to welcome them.
A Scottish architect, George Wittet designed this exquisite arch-monument in Indo-Saracenic style.
The final design was approved in 1914 and it took 10 years to complete the construction. It is an architectural masterpiece and features amongst the must-visit attractions in Mumbai.
Prior to independence, it acted as an entry point to India for British dignitaries. Interestingly, the last batch of British troops left India from the same spot in 1948.
Aside from marveling at the majestic monument, you can enjoy a refreshing boat ride in the Arabian Sea. The ferries to Elephanta Islands also depart from this jetty.
The area is surrounded by plenty of shops and food joints. Take a stroll around and munch on some local snacks.
The Gateway is easily accessible from all parts of the city by road and by local (suburban) train. It is served by Churchgate Railway Station which is approximately 2 km away.
Timings: 24 hours; Entry fee: Free
2. Chowpatty Beach
A bustling beach in the heart of a megacity, Chowpatty is one of the top attractions in Mumbai for locals as well as tourists. It is located at the end of the Marine Drive promenade in South Mumbai’s Girgaon locality.
For many, it offers a perfect respite from the humdrum of daily life. The beach gets a large number of visitors on weekends, particularly during sunset hours. Take a leisurely amble along the shoreline to soak up the warm light of the setting sun.
It is an excellent place for foodies too. At one corner of the beach, you will find an array of eateries selling all kinds of local refreshments from pav bhaji to bhel puri and chaat items.
Also Read: 12 Most Famous Beaches in India.
If you are around during the Ganpati Festival then you must visit here on the day of immersion. The followers of Lord Ganesha flock to the beach, accompanied by a whole lot of music, for immersing the idols in the sea at the Chowpatty Beach.
The nearest local train station is Charni Road. You can walk to the beach from the station or take a taxi.
Timings: 24 hours; Entry fee: Free
3. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum
Officially known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, the museum was founded in the early 1900s. It was formerly called the Prince of Wales Museum.
It was erected to commemorate the visit of the Prince of Wales (King George V), who later became the emperor of British India. In 1998, the museum was renamed after Chhatrapati Shivaji, a fearless Maratha ruler.
The museum was designed in Indo-Saracenic style by George Wittet, the same architect who designed the Gateway. He accommodated the best of traditional Indian and Saracenic architectural forms in designing the museum building.
It features a pillared hall at the entrance door, arched pavilions and a central dome, inspired by the Gol Gumbaz of Bijapur. The museum exhibits an excellent collection of around 70,000 artifacts, placed in numerous galleries.
A walkthrough of this museum provides a great opportunity to discover lesser-known aspects of archaeology, natural history and art. You can see a vast assemblage of sculptures, decorative arts, Indian and European paintings.
It is counted amongst the best attractions in Mumbai and you must include this amazing museum in your Mumbai itinerary.
The museum is located within walking distance of the Gateway of India.
Timings: 10 am to 3 pm; Entry fee (per person): Indians: ₹50, Foreigners: ₹200, Children (5-15 years): ₹20
4. Marine Drive
Marine drive is a C-shaped coastal promenade that stretches 3.5 km along the road linking Chowpatty Beach to Nariman Point.
At night, the placement of street lights makes this stretch look like a beautiful necklace strewn with pearls. So, it is popularly also referred to as the Queen’s Necklace.
The construction of Marine Drive was a part of the Back Bay Reclamation Project that was taken up by the British Government in the early 20th century.
From joggers to revelers, Marine Drive attracts hordes of people every day. It promises splendid views of the sea with the backdrop of urban landscapes.
On the other side of the promenade, the road is lined with Art Deco buildings erected between the 1920s and 1950s by affluent Parsis.
People visit here to enjoy cool breezes and spend some moments of repose with their loved ones. Marine Drive is definitely one of the best attractions in Mumbai that you shouldn’t miss. The nearest local train station is Marine Lines.
Timings: 24 hours; Entry fee: Free
5. Siddhivinayak Temple
Dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Shree Siddhivinayak Mandir is a 200-year old Hindu temple in the city of Mumbai. The temple was originally built in 1801 as a small structure that was renovated in the 1990s to give it a contemporary look.
The new structure comprises six storeys with a gold-plated kalasha (a holy pot) perched at the top. A Chaturbhuj (one with four hands) idol of the deity, flanked by his wives Riddhi and Siddhi, is placed at the main shrine.
The deity’s trunk is tilted to the right side making it even more special for the followers. In most idols, the trunk is tilted to the left side.
An eye engraved on the deity’s forehead bears a close resemblance to the third eye of Lord Shiva, Ganesha’s father.
Lord Ganesha is worshipped as the God of wisdom, prosperity and luck. It is considered auspicious to pray to him before starting any important work.
The temple attracts thousands of devotees round the year, especially during the ten-day Ganesh Festival, which is celebrated in the months of August-September.
On Siddhivinayak temple’s official website, you can watch aarti and puja proceedings live.
It is situated in Prabhadevi, between Dadar and Worli. The temple is conveniently accessible from Dadar Railway Station, the nearest suburban train station.
Timings: 5:30 am to 9:00 pm; Entry fee: Free
6. Bandra Worli Sea Link
Built as part of the Western Freeway Sea Project, Bandra Worli Sea Link (BWSL) is a marvel of modern engineering. It is an 8-lane cable-stayed bridge that connects Bandra in Western Suburbs with Worli in South Mumbai over open sea.
Of the 8 lanes, the first 4 lanes were opened in 2009 and the rest 4 lanes in 2010. The sea link not just provides an alternative route between South Mumbai and the Western Suburbs but also decongests Mahim Causeway.
A major highlight of the bridge is its excellent architecture. The bridge is supported by central towers with cables running from it to the deck, forming a series of parallel lines.
It is India’s first cable-stayed bridge constructed over open sea and is one of its kind in the country. The total weight of the Bandra Worli Sea Link is equivalent to 50,000 African elephants.
Also Read: 31 Amazing Things India is Famous For.
It is open for transportation throughout the year. However, there is no pedestrian walkway on the bridge. So, the best location to glance at this photogenic bridge is the Worli Sea Face.
Visitors come here particularly during the evening time to watch the sun go down against a spectacular skyline.
Timings: 24 hours; Entry fee: Free
7. Elephanta Caves
Settled 10 km off the coast in Mumbai, the Elephanta Caves is a group of seven ancient caves on Elephant Island (also called Gharapuri Island).
It is believed that most caves were built between the 5th and 8th centuries AD. However, the exact date of these famous caves is still debated.
The island houses two groups of basaltic rock caves. On the western hill of the island, there are five caves featuring sculptures of Hindu Gods.
The most magnificent of all is Cave 1 which is located at the main entrance. It hosts beautiful relief sculptures of Sadashiv (Trimurti), Yogishvara (Lord of Yoga) and Nataraja (Lord of Dance), but some are partially damaged.
Caves 2 to 5 are set in a row next to cave 1. Apart from these, the eastern hill of the island is home to two Buddhist caves, also called Cave 6 and Cave 7.
Without any doubt, the Elephanta Caves is one of the best attractions in Mumbai for history buffs. Set aside one full day to explore these historic caves.
Also Read: 15 Nearest Weekend Getaways From Mumbai.
Ferries to Elephant Island depart from the Gateway of India. It takes approximately an hour to reach the island. Thereafter, it involves an uphill climb through 100 odd steps to get to the main cave.
Timings: 9:00 am to 5:30 pm; closed on Mondays; Entry fee (per person): Economy: ₹120, Luxury: ₹150
8. Haji Ali Dargah
The Haji Ali Dargah is a celebrated Islamic shrine located in South Mumbai. It houses the tomb of a Muslim saint, Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, also called Baba Haji Ali.
Born to a rich merchant family from Uzbekistan, he renounced all his wealth to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. He finally settled in Mumbai and spent the rest of his life in this island city. The tomb was built in his memory in 1431.
It is one of the top attractions in Mumbai that is visited by people of all faith. The structure is a brilliant example of Indo-Islamic Architecture.
About a kilometer long narrow walkway from the shoreline leads you to the shrine complex. There is no fencing around the walkway. So, it gets flooded during high tide. You can visit here only during low tide.
Timings: 5:30 am to 10:00 pm; Entry fee: Free
9. Sanjay Gandhi National Park
The city of Mumbai is blessed to have a wealth of greenery in the form of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. It was formerly known as the Borivali National Park. Located in the Western Suburbs of Mumbai, the park is popularly known as the “lungs” of Mumbai city.
It is amongst those few national parks in India that exist within the limits of a burgeoning city. The main attractions of Sanjay Gandhi National Park are its bountiful flora and fauna.
You can take a toy train ride or a jungle safari to explore the biodiversity of the park. The large mammals, like tigers and lions, are kept in enclosures whereas deer, monkeys and other smaller mammals can be spotted in their natural homes.
The park is within a short walking distance from the nearby local (suburban) train station in Borivali.
Timings: 7:30 am to 6:30 pm; closed on Mondays; Entry fee (per person): Adult: ₹64; Children (5-12 years): ₹34
10. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is one of the four railway stations in India that have been accorded the coveted UNESCO World Heritage tag.
The other three are the mountain railways. You can read this post to find out more: Mountain Railways of India That Are Heritage Sites.
Formerly known as Victoria Terminus (VT), the station was renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) in 1996 after Shivaji Maharaj, a valiant Maratha warrior of the 17th century.
The building was designed by a British architect, Frederick William Stevens, in Victorian Gothic style with inspirations from traditional Indian architecture.
The construction work took almost 10 years, starting from 1878. It was opened in 1887 on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of Queen Victoria’s rule.
A majority of its original structure has been preserved. You will see figures of a lion (representing the UK) and a tiger (representing India) at the building entrance.
The heritage edifice features a great assemblage of stone carvings, paintings and relief sculptures. It is the remarkable architectural beauty of this structure that earns it a mention on the list of top attractions in Mumbai.
Stroll around and admire this heritage structure. It is located in the Fort area, roughly 2 km from the Gateway of India.
Timings: 24 hours; Entry fee: Free, ticket required to travel by train.
11. Kanheri Caves
The Kanheri Caves are a series of 2000-year old Buddhist Caves, located within the boundaries of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Inside the cave complex, there are more than 100 caves that served different purposes during their heyday.
The Vihara caves were used for living and studying, and the larger caves were used as a prayer hall, known as chaityas. From sculptures to stupas and reliefs, the caves display a great variety of Buddhist artwork.
Of all the caves in this group, the Great Chaitya Cave is the most impressive. There are two colossal statues of Lord Buddha at the entrance, one on each side.
The Kanheri Caves are mentioned as Krishnagiri caves in the ancient inscriptions because the structures are carved from black basalt rocks. In Sanskrit, Krishnagiri literally translates to Black Mountain (Krishna – Black, Giri – mountain).
Renowned for the largest number of excavations from a single hill, the Kanheri Caves are one of the best attractions in Mumbai city and are worth exploring.
The caves are not difficult to locate. It is approximately 20 minutes drive to the cave complex from the national park entrance. The state government buses also ply from the park entrance to the cave entry gate.
Timings: 7:30 am to 5:30 pm; closed on Mondays; Entry fee (per person): Indians: ₹15; Foreigners: ₹200
12. Global Vipassana Pagoda
Situated in the northwestern suburbs of Mumbai near Gorai, the Global Vipassana Pagoda is a majestic dome hall dedicated to practicing Vipassana.
In Buddhism, the term Vipassana translates to ‘Insight’. It is an ancient technique of meditation that was discovered by Gautama Buddha.
The Pagoda boasts an elegant architecture comprising the world’s largest stone dome constructed without pillars.
It is a wonderful sight in the midst of the city to meditate and experience spirituality. The dome hall is huge with a seating capacity of over 8,000 meditators. It was opened to the public in 2009 making it one of the latest entrants to the list of attractions in Mumbai.
You can attend a short 20-minute meditation session that is organized for visitors daily. Anyone above 10 years of age can attend this session and it is free of cost. In addition, the meditation center also offers a 10-day Vipassana course for adults.
Borivali Station is the nearest suburban train station. From there, take an autorickshaw to reach Gorai Creek.
At Gorai jetty, you can board an Esselworld Ferry that will drop you at the Esselworld jetty. The Pagoda is within walking distance from the Esselworld jetty.
Timings: 10.00 am to 6.30 pm; Entry fee: Free
Where To Stay
Colaba, Fort and Bandra West are some of the best places to stay in Mumbai. Most sightseeing attractions are conveniently accessible from these neighbourhoods. You will find all kinds of accommodation ranging from basic to luxury.
- Affordable: Carlton Hotel, Colaba; Travellers Inn, Fort; Residency Hotel, Fort.
- Mid-range: Fariyas Hotel, Colaba; Hotel Godwin, Colaba; Grand Residency Hotel, Bandra West.
- Luxury: President – IHCL SeleQtions; Taj Lands End, Bandra West.
If you are a backpacker looking for cheaper options, consider booking a hostel.
Best Time To Visit Mumbai
The most desirable months to visit Mumbai are from October to February. Winters are pretty mild and the weather is perfect for exploring the city and sightseeing. During winter months, the temperature hovers around 18°C to 30°C.
With the arrival of Summer in March, the temperature and humidity level start rising. May is usually the hottest month of the year and the temperature may go as high as 40°C.
Monsoon kicks in from June and lasts until September. In the months of July and August, the city gets heavy rainfall making traveling a bit difficult.
Tips For Visiting Tourist Attractions In Mumbai
– If you are not used to commuting by local train, avoid it during rush hours. The local trains are quite crowded on weekdays, especially during morning and evening peak hours (8 am to 11 am and 6 pm to 9 pm).
– Auto-rickshaws ply only in the suburbs of Mumbai. Bandra and Sion are the last accessible points by an auto-rickshaw if you are coming from the suburbs towards South Mumbai.
– Pack lightweight cotton clothes – t-shirts, a few pairs of comfortable pants, maxi dress (for women).
– The weather is mildly cold in winter. So, you can manage without woolens. To be on the safe side, pack some casual winter wear, such as sweatshirt or blazer.
– When you are visiting a religious site like temple or mosque, follow the decorum of the place. Be appropriately dressed. Your clothing should cover you from shoulder to leg.
– Make sure to book your hotel and do your travel arrangements in advance because last-minute bookings are likely to cost more.
Over To You Now…
There are so many amazing tourist attractions in Mumbai which deserve to be on your itinerary. We hope this post has inspired you to plan your Mumbai trip soon. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.