With a strategic ‘get in and get out’ approach, we spent just 48 hours in the South of Mumbai. For us, it was enough time to visit the main attractions in this part of the city. And in this article, we will be sharing 17 things to do in South Mumbai that will ensure you have a truly fantastic time.
Mumbai is the epitome of a major City in INDIA. It’s loud, it’s dirty, and it’s busy. To walk among the bustling metropolis can be a vicious onslaught on the senses; however, there is a vibrant energy that consumes the Island City. A significant financial district and the heart of India’s Bollywood scene, some even like to call Mumbai ‘The City of Dreams’.
Are you an LGBT+ traveller? Check out our article LGBT+ Travel Guide for Mumbai.
Most of you know us by now, we are not city people; however, Mumbai was on our bucket list ever since our completion of the book Shantaram; a (supposedly) true story based in the city. (Whether or not it is a true story, it is an incredibly well written & extraordinary book; therefore, I am going to take this opportunity to recommend you read it immediately!) Furthermore, we gathered it would be cheating to come to India and not experience the delirium of at least one major Indian city.
17 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN THE SOUTH OF MUMBAI – ITINERARY & GUIDE
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ARRIVING INTO SOUTH MUMBAI
BY AIR – Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the main airport in Mumbai.
BY TRAIN – Mumbai is connected via train from across the region; however, booking trains in India can be tricky. It is advised to book at least 3 days in advance, and we are more of the decide at the last minute types. You can book trains up to 6 months in advance using 12go, Asia.
BY BUS – Mumbai is accessible by bus from a number of destinations across India. To check routes, timetables, and ticket prices we recommend using redbus.com or the Red Bus app. In our experience, they are extremely reliable. They are one of the only companies who will accept payment with an International card, and if you have any problems with your journey they are contactable by phone.
BEST TIME TO VISIT SOUTH MUMBAI
The best time to visit Mumbai is between the months of October & March when the monsoon season is over and the weather is mostly warm & dry. It is also cooler during these months, making exploring the city far more enjoyable.
WHERE TO STAY IN SOUTH MUMBAI
As with most cosmopolitan cities, finding cheap yet suitable accommodation options can be quite a challenge. We arrived at the initial hotel that we’d booked for $15 a night to find ourselves in a very run down part of town. After deciding that we didn’t feel entirely safe there, we made a booking with AK International. It was way over our budget at $30 a night; however, the rooms were nice, 24/7 security, the staff were helpful and the WiFi was good.
For more places to stay in Mumbai, check the latest prices here.
You can also check out this article for other popular areas to stay within the city.
17 THINGS TO DO IN SOUTH MUMBAI
1. VISIT THE DHARAVI SLUMS
We understand this is a controversial subject, however, there are many reasons why visiting the Dharavi slums is one of our top things to do in Mumbai. An imperative part of our travelling experience is to attempt to understand all sides of a nation’s culture. Even when it means some elements are harder to digest than others. Ironically, ‘The City of Dreams’ possesses one of India’s highest poverty rates. A staggering 5.2 million people live in poverty-stricken environments. That is a whopping 42% of the cities total population.
Dharavi is not only the biggest slum in Mumbai but one of the biggest in the world. The estimated population is said to be close to 1 million. It would be impossible to summarise our experience in Dharavi into a few short sentences. However, I can say that we felt deeply humbled by our time there. Be sure to read our experience visiting the Dharavi slum, before you go.
2. THE GATEWAY OF INDIA
To go to Mumbai without visiting the Gateway Of India is like going to Agra and not visiting the Taj Mahal. OK, maybe not quite as extreme as that, however it is an important monument all the same. The iconic archway was erected to commemorate King George V and Queen Mary on their visit to India in 1911. It later served as an entry & exit point for supreme members of society.
Positioned alongside the Arabian Sea and the infamous Taj Palace Hotel, the Gateway is a popular tourist attraction & Instagram hot spot in India. (Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here!) We visited once in the afternoon and were joined by relentless crowds of people. At an attempt to snap a good picture, we returned at 7 am the next morning, only to find ourselves to be the only ones there. Not only did we get to enjoy the striking architecture in peace but we also witnessed an epic Indian sunrise. Double Win!
THE GATEWAY OF INDIA MAP LOCATION
3. TAKE A STROLL ON MARINE DRIVE (AKA QUEENS NECKLACE)
Marine Drive, otherwise known as The Queens Necklace, is a C shaped promenade located east of Colaba. The stretch runs for 3.6km North to Chowpatty Beach alongside the Arabian Sea. Adorned with lush palm trees, a stroll along here makes for a welcome break from the intensity of the city.
We walked the promenade in the early evening and arrived at Chowpatty Beach just before sunset. What we found, was vivacious energy encouraged by families playing games, and local vendors setting up for the evening food market. We enjoyed a glorious sunset while sampling a variety of mystery street food. And later, as darkness crept in, the lights of the promenade illuminated like pearls on a necklace. Hence the name, The Queens Necklace.
MARINE DRIVE (AKA QUEENS NECKLACE) MAP LOCATION
4. ADMIRE THE ARCHITECTURE
A simple yet enjoyable thing to do in Mumbai is to admire the awe-inspiring architecture that adorns the city. A delightful combination of Art Deco, Gothic, and Islamic styles inspires an enlightening journey through the cities history.
Mumbai is home to a number of captivating Unesco World Heritage sites such as the C.S.T (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus), The High Court & Mumbai University. Some of our other architectural favourites include the Taj Palace Hotel & the Asiatic Library.
ASIATIC LIBRARY MAP LOCATION
5. PICK UP SOME BARGAINS ON COLABA CAUSEWAY
No trip to Mumbai is complete without experiencing the chaotic wheeling & dealing on Colaba Causeway. Strategically positioned to allure in tourists, an array of market stalls litter the pavements of the busy main road. You can expect to find anything from handcrafted souvenirs to the latest clothes; and fashion jewellery to home decor.
The atmosphere is hectic but exhilarating. If you enjoy shopping, there are some great bargains to be had, and haggling with the charismatic vendors is always a good laugh. Just be sure to haggle sensibly, and pay what you think is deserved for the item.
COST: Free to look
COLABA CAUSEWAY MAP LOCATION
6. HAVE COFFEE AND CAKE AT LEOPALD CAFE
This iconic bar and restaurant have been around since 1871, and in recent years has become the backpacker haunt of South Mumbai. Made famous by the book ‘Shantaram’, most travellers will find themselves here enjoying a beer and swapping stories with strangers.
The menu is diverse, with a wide range of food & drink on offer; however, although the food was good, we found it to be relatively expensive. The coffee and cake, on the other hand, was simply irresistible. Our favourite was the Ferrero Roche cake alongside a delicious cold coffee.
COST: Approx 500 INR for 2 coffees and 2 cakes
LEOPALD CAFE MAP LOCATION
7. INDULGE IN SOME DELICIOUS STREET FOOD
From the Mumbai staple dish of Vada Pav, to freshly cooked Samosas; and mouth-watering Pani Puri to delicious Pav Bhaji; delectable street food can be found all over the streets of Mumbai. Eating street food is an exciting and affordable way to experience all the delightful flavours of Indian cuisine.
If you are worried about getting sick, then your concerns are valid; however, there are certain measures you can take to avoid this. We always look to eat from vendors who appear to be the busiest. We also make sure that the food is piping hot. Although ‘Delhi Belly’ is sometimes difficult to avoid, these simple tips should help to minimise the risk.
COST: From as little as 50INR
8. VISIT THE C.S.T AT NIGHT
The grandeur design of Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station is a masterpiece that can be admired at any time of day. At night, however, the UNESCO world heritage site is truly enchanting. Visit around 8 or 9 pm to skip the crowds and witness the beautiful spectacle.
COST: Free to look
CHHATRAPATI SHIVAJI TERMINUS MAP LOCATION
9. HAVE A CHANCE TO BECOME A BOLLYWOOD STAR
Mumbai is the heart of India’s Bollywood scene, and film industries are located all across the city. It is not uncommon for local scouts to scan the area, looking for Western tourists to appear as extras in their latest movie. All you have to do is hang around local haunts such as Leopald Cafe or Cafe Mondegar looking like a million rupees, and just maybe it will be your lucky day. The pay is notably rubbish, but what an interesting story to take back home!
10. BUY A BOOK FROM A PAVEMENT BOOKSTORE
What appears to be a unique concept to Mumbai, Pavement Bookstores are a fun & authentic way to shop for your next book. Most commonly found around the busy intersection that encircles Flora Fountain, these fascinating vendors are a book lovers paradise. From current bestsellers to sought after classics; and an abundance of titles to rival most mainstream bookstores; customers find themselves scanning the ‘shelves’ for hours. Prices vary depending on the book, however, you can guarantee it will be cheaper than any high street store!
11. WATCH A BOLLYWOOD MOVIE AT REGAL CINEMA
No trip to India is complete without going to see a Bollywood movie, and the Regal Cinema in South Mumbai is one of the iconic venues to do it. The art deco theatre aired its first film in 1933 and with little adjustments made to the original design, has retained an air of old-fashioned charm.
Bollywood Movies are generally vibrant, energetic and great fun to watch. They do not usually have subtitles, but you should be able to follow the storyline. If not, the powerful & uplifting soundtracks will keep you entertained.
COST: Approx 200INR
REGAL CINEMA MAP LOCATION
12. TAKE A WALKING TOUR OF MUMBAI’S ART DISTRICT
Mumbai has been championing the art scene since the early 20th century when many galleries and museums opened in the city. Today, the district continues to be an art lovers paradise, with local galleries exhibiting both famous and emerging artists. Download the free app GPSMYCITY, for a FREE self-guided tour that will lead you through the cities most popular attractions.
13. TAKE A FERRY TO THE ELEPHANTA CAVES
The Elephanta Caves are a compelling historical site beholding a collection of cave temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The caves contain intricate carvings & religious structures, depicting the fascinating legends of Hindu mythology. Situated 1 hour from South Mumbai on Elephanta Island, the UNESCO World Heritage site is a must visit for anybody remotely interested in Indian culture and history. Sadly, we didn’t have time to visit ourselves on this trip; however, I have included it on this list as I think you guys would be interested.
HOW TO GET THERE – To reach Elephanta Island, you can purchase tickets at the entrance of The Gateway to India. Boats depart from 9 am and leave every 10 minutes until around 5.30pm. Be aware that the caves are closed on a Monday, although the ferry still operates.
*TIP – For your own personal tour guide for the Elephanta Caves, we highly recommend to download the AudioCompass app. Audio Compass is ‘shaking up India’s travel scene’ with this easy to use app, allowing customers access to thousands of narrative guides for India’s main attractions.
ELEPHANTA CAVES MAP LOCATION
14. RELAX AND UNWIND AT THE HANGING GARDENS
When the city gets a bit too much, The Hanging Gardens located on Malabar Hill are the perfect spot to catch some peace and serenity. Here you can admire the gardens, read a book, and immerse in the tranquility that such nature provides.
The gardens tend to get busier in the late afternoon, as many come to enjoy the view of the Queens Necklace for sunset. You will find the viewpoint located just across the road from the gardens.
HANGING GARDENS MAP LOCATION
15. ENJOY DRINKS AT 39B BY THE BAY
Considering Chowpatty Beach is a popular sunset spot, we were surprised to find there are limited bars in the area. 39B By The Bay is as close to a rooftop bar as you’re going to get in this part of the city. If you want to catch the sunset, we recommend doing so from the beach and heading here for a drink afterwards.
As well as attractive happy hour deals, you can expect unlimited roasted peanuts with your drinks. They also serve food and have a wide selection of board games to enjoy.
COST: Approx 300 INR for 2 beers and unlimited peanuts!
39B BY THE BAY MAP LOCATION
16. WATCH A LOCAL GAME OF CRICKET
It is no secret that Indians love their cricket; nor is it that they are extremely good at it. If it is a sport you enjoy watching, you will find numerous games being played daily at the Oval Maiden grounds in Churchgate. Take a picnic and a blanket, pitch up on the grass for the afternoon and watch the sport of the nation.
OVAL MAIDAN MAP LOCATION
17. SOAK UP SOME SUN AT CHOWPATTY BEACH
Chowpatty Beach isn’t your typical Western Beach, and you certainly won’t find anybody sunbathing here; however, it is a nice spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. We love listening to the sound of waves crashing and breathing the fresh sea air. And it’s not often we have this luxury amid a busy city.
The best time to visit Chowpatty Beach is in the late afternoon so that you can hang around to watch the sunset. Afterwards, head to B39 By The Bay for drinks and nibbles.
CHOWPATTY BEACH MAP LOCATION
WHERE TO EAT IN SOUTH MUMBAI
- CAFE MONDEGAR – For a delicious & healthy breakfast.
- LEOPALDS CAFE – For delectable coffee & cake.
- CAFE UNIVERSAL – For a tasty & fulfilling dinner.
- 39B BY THE BAY – For sunset drinks over Marine Drive (They have board games!)
- Don’t forget to try some delicious STREET FOOD which can be found all over South Mumbai.
- If you aren’t on too much of a budget, we have also heard great things about PIZZA BY THE BAY or afternoon tea at the TAJ PALACE HOTEL.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- The fastest and cheapest way of getting around the city is either by train or by rickshaw. Be sure to agree on a price with the rickshaw drivers before setting off on your journey. You can guarantee the ‘tourist’ price is almost always double, so don’t be afraid to haggle to what you believe is a fair price. As a guideline, it shouldn’t be any more than 200INR for a 20-minute journey.
- This is India, so, unfortunately, you do need to be aware of scams. Although (touch wood) we haven’t been victims ourselves, there were times when we were suspicious in Mumbai. On more than one occasion we were befriended by locals who all shared a similar story of studying in the UK. At the same time, there happened to be somebody lingering behind us where our backpacks were. We would always keep on guard and suddenly they would take off abruptly. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, however, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
WHAT TO PACK FOR MUMBAI
Unsure of what you might need to pack for your adventures in India? Don’t worry, we have got you covered. Check out our backpacker essentials, for a packing list of items that we carry with us on every adventure.
Here are some items that we recommend taking to make your visit to the beaches & city more comfortable:
- Comfortable shoes for the hike down
- Water shoes to wear in the water – We Recommend: 2 in 1 Water/Hiking Shoes.
- Waterproof Bag to protect valuables – We Recommend: Waterproof Dry Bag-10L/20L/30L
- Bathing suit & towel for the obvious – We Recommend: Microfiber Travel Towel
As travellers, it should always be a top priority to travel responsibly. We already leave a substantial carbon footprint just by flying to our travel destinations, so that’s even more reason to make a positive impact when we get there. There are many small steps you can take to becoming a responsible traveller, and we highly encourage you to educate yourself before travelling to India. Here are some things you can do to minimise your footprint:
1. Do not leave any rubbish on the ground: You will see a lot of rubbish on the ground in India, but that doesn’t make it ok to add to it. Bin your trash!
2. Limit your single-use plastic consumption: This is tough in India as we wouldn’t recommend drinking tap water even if it has been treated/sterilised. However, you can say no to straws and plastic bags. Take a reusable bag with you everywhere.
3. Respect the local culture: Be courteous of the local culture and act in such a way that leaves a good impression. Learn a little of the local language (hello and thank you is the minimum), greet the locals in a polite manner, and respect dress codes & traditions. We recommend carrying a Sarong with you to cover up where needed.
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Did you enjoy our list of 17 Awesome things to do in South Mumbai guide?
Well, that concludes 17 Awesome things to do in South Mumbai. We hope you enjoy your time in this magical country. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here where we share further travel advice & inspiration.
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.
Charlotte & Natalie x
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