4 days in Mumbai: A Journey Through the City of Dreams

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Curated By

Phelipe Cardoso Sekai

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  • India

  • Arts & Culture

  • Food & Wine

  • Sightseeing

  • History

  • Local Culture

Building across a body of water.
Curator’s statement

Embark on a captivating journey through Mumbai, often referred to as the "City of Dreams." This bustling metropolis, the financial powerhouse of India and the birthplace of Bollywood, offers a mesmerizing blend of rich history, vibrant culture and modern dynamism. Over four days you may navigate through the city's colonial past, witness the glamour of its film industry and experience its bustling markets and high-end districts. From the iconic Gateway of India to the scenic Marine Drive and the trendy streets of Bandra, this guide promises a comprehensive exploration of Mumbai's multifaceted charm.

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Where to stay

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The Taj Mahal Palace

Refined property opposite the Arabian Sea with upscale rooms and suites.

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The St. Regis Mumbai

Where opulence and elegance converge, experience a world of unrivaled luxury and impeccable service in the heart of India's vibrant city.

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  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

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The Oberoi, Mumbai

A striking example of modern architecture on Marine Drive that embodies the true spirit and hospitality of the Oberoi brand.

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  • $100 food / beverage credit.

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Day 1: Delving into Mumbai's Historic Charm

Cars in front of a building.

Colaba Causeway

Embarking on a journey through Mumbai, the bustling heart of commerce and Bollywood in India, offers an eclectic mix of history, culture, and contemporary vibrancy.

This 96-hour guide is tailored to help you immerse yourself in the unique spirit of this city, where traditional bazaars coexist with trendy boutiques and historic landmarks meet modern skyscrapers.

Morning: Colonial Grandeur

Start your exploration at the Gateway of India, an iconic symbol of Mumbai's colonial past. Built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary, this monumental archway offers stunning views of the Arabian Sea. Just opposite it is the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, a remarkable example of Mumbai’s luxurious hospitality. Enjoy a sumptuous breakfast here, savoring a blend of traditional and continental cuisines amidst its grandiose architecture.

Afternoon: The Heartbeat of Colaba

Wander through the bustling lanes of Colaba Causeway, a haven for shoppers. This vibrant street market is lined with stalls selling everything from trendy clothes and antique watches to unique Indian crafts. For lunch, head to the legendary Leopold Cafe, a Mumbai institution that's been serving delicious food since 1871. Its walls, marked with bullet holes from the 2008 attacks, tell a story of resilience.

Evening: Mumbai’s Picturesque Waterfront

As the sun sets, take a leisurely stroll along Marine Drive, a 3.6-kilometer-long boulevard in South Mumbai. Known for its stunning seaside promenade, it's the perfect place to watch the city's skyline light up. End your day with a variety of Mumbai's street food delicacies at Chowpatty Beach, where the vibrant atmosphere and local flavors offer an authentic taste of the city.

Tips for Day 1:

Early Start at Gateway of India: Start early to avoid the crowds and to enjoy the cool morning breeze by the sea.
Negotiating in Colaba Causeway: Don't hesitate to bargain in the street markets for the best deals.
Hydration and Comfort: The day involves a lot of walking, so stay hydrated and wear comfortable shoes.
Evening at Marine Drive: Carry a light jacket as it can get breezy by the sea in the evening.
Street Food Caution: While the street food is tempting, ensure it's from a clean and reputable vendor to avoid any health issues.

Day 2: Bollywood Buzz and Suburban Sights

Waterbody with boats.

Morning: The Glamour of Indian Cinema

Immerse yourself in the glitz and glamour of Bollywood with a guided tour of Film City, located in the suburb of Goregaon. This sprawling complex is the heart of India’s film industry, with numerous outdoor and indoor shooting locations. Witness the behind-the-scenes action of movie-making, and if you're lucky, catch a glimpse of a Bollywood star!

Afternoon: The Serenity of Bandra

For lunch, visit the trendy Bandra Bandstand area, known for its upscale cafes with sea views. Then, take a peaceful break at the Mount Mary Church, a beautiful Roman Catholic basilica situated on a hilltop. It's a great spot for some quiet reflection.

Evening: Bandra’s Trendy Boutiques

Spend your evening exploring the boutiques and shops of Bandra, a neighborhood popular with Mumbai’s young and fashionable crowd. Later, dine in style at one of the chic restaurants in Pali Hill, renowned for its diverse culinary scene offering everything from traditional Indian to international cuisines.

Tips for Day 2

Pre-Book Film City Tour: These tours are popular, so book in advance to secure your spot.
Bandra Explorations: Bandra is known for its narrow lanes and hidden gems, so take time to explore beyond the main streets.
Traffic Considerations: Mumbai traffic can be unpredictable. Allow extra travel time, especially during peak hours.
Evening Dining: Pali Hill gets quite lively in the evening. Making a reservation for dinner is advisable.

Day 3: Cultural Insights and Modern Marvels

Garden with a brown building and white dome.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

Morning: A Glimpse into Art and History

Begin your day at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum. This museum houses a rich collection of ancient artifacts, sculptures, and artwork, providing insight into India's rich cultural heritage. After exploring the museum, enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the nearby Kala Ghoda Cafe, a cozy spot known for its artisanal coffee and healthy eats.

Afternoon: The Buzz of Mumbai's Markets

Head to Crawford Market, one of Mumbai’s oldest markets, famous for its fresh produce, spices, and a variety of other goods. For lunch, experience a traditional Maharashtrian meal at a local thali restaurant, where a variety of dishes are served on a single platter.

Evening: Contemporary Shopping and Dining

Visit the upscale Palladium Mall in Lower Parel for a luxury shopping experience. For your final dinner in Mumbai, explore the various fine dining options in Lower Parel, a neighborhood that epitomizes Mumbai's rapid modernization and burgeoning culinary scene.

Tips for Day 3:

Early Museum Visit: Arrive early at the museum to avoid crowds and to spend ample time viewing the exhibits.
Crawford Market: Be ready for a sensory overload. It's a busy place, so keep an eye on your belongings.
Comfortable Attire: Wear comfortable clothing and shoes as there's a lot of walking and exploration involved.
Dinner Plans: Lower Parel has many popular restaurants, so consider booking in advance.

Day 4: Exploring the Unexplored and Relaxing in Nature's Lap

River surrounded by green trees.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Morning: Offbeat Mumbai

Elephanta Caves: Begin your day with a ferry ride from the Gateway of India to the Elephanta Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These rock-cut cave temples, dedicated to Hindu god Shiva, offer a peaceful retreat and a glimpse into ancient Indian art and culture.

Afternoon: The Green Side of Mumbai

Sanjay Gandhi National Park: After returning to the mainland, head to this expansive national park located in the northern part of Mumbai. It's a rare urban park rich in flora and fauna, including a population of leopards. The park also houses the ancient Kanheri Caves, a series of Buddhist caves and rock-cut monuments.

Lunch at the Park: Enjoy a picnic lunch amidst the serene natural surroundings, or dine at one of the restaurants near the park entrance.

Evening: Sunset and Serenity

Juhu Beach: As the day winds down, make your way to Juhu Beach, one of Mumbai's most famous beaches. It's the perfect place to relax and watch a beautiful sunset over the Arabian Sea.

Dinner at Juhu: End your day with dinner at one of Juhu's many upscale restaurants, offering a variety of cuisines with scenic sea views.

Tips for Day 4

Ferry to Elephanta Caves: Check the ferry schedules in advance as they can vary. The ride offers great views of Mumbai’s skyline.
Visit to National Park: It's advisable to reach Sanjay Gandhi National Park early to avoid crowds, especially during weekends.
Beach Etiquette: Juhu Beach can get crowded in the evenings. It’s a popular spot for locals to relax, so be mindful of the cultural milieu.

Need to Know

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Phelipe wearing glasses, a suit and a hat while smiling and standing outside in front of a city street.

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Phelipe Cardoso Sekai

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to India.