The dynamic city of Mumbai sits on the west coast of India as a dream vacation for people all around the world, with world-renowned dining experiences, historical architecture and bustling markets just being some of the things on offer. With the well-deserved nickname of the ‘City of Dreams’, there’s no wonder the vibrant metropolis was voted as one of the top 10 cities to visit by readers of Travel and Leisure.
Stay at the extraordinary Taj Mahal Palace Hotel
With its ornate Rajput palace-inspired exterior and Florentine-esque red domes, the Taj Mahal Palace is truly Mumbai’s most iconic hotel and makes for an elegant and comfortable base from which to explore the lively city.
The interior effortlessly blends classic elegance with contemporary comforts, showcasing the city’s storied past in a sophisticated and modern way, while outside you can marvel at the spectacular views of the Gateway of India, a 20th Century arch monument, and the sparkling Arabian Sea just beyond.
Within the hotel’s walls, you can also enjoy nine of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants and bars, including the traditional Indian delicacies at Masala Kraft and the delicious Japanese offerings of Wasabi by Morimoto. During the day, when you’re not off exploring the city, an outdoor pool with the wonderful poolside restaurant Aquarius, fascinating heritage walks and the inner-city sanctuary J Wellness Circle spa, offering ancient-Indian-inspired treatments, await.
Shop for trinkets at Colaba
A hub of color and bustling crowds, the famous Colaba Market could easily double as a set for Shantaram. Stalls surround you to your left and right offering up everything from quirky clothes, handicrafts, antiques, artisanal creations, jewellery and everything in between, and you could spend an entire day getting lost in them. Even if you’re not on the hunt for anything, you’ll probably find a hidden treasure you didn’t know you needed.
Try the famous local cuisine
India is famous worldwide for its amazing cuisine, with each region utilising their local spices and ingredients to create tantalising dishes- and Mumbai is no different.
Try some of the local street food such as a vada pav, fried potato dumplings seasoned with ginger, garlic and chillies in a bun, slathered with spicy chutneys or the famous Bombay Sandwich, with green chutney, potatoes, beetroot, cucumber, tomatoes and onions. Better yet, all the local eateries and street food stalls will have their own secret recipes, making no two dishes quite the same.
Visit Elephanta Island and Mumbai’s beautiful gardens
From the Gateway of India, a 60-minute ferry will take you to Elephanta Island where ancient archaeological ruins from as far back as the 2nd century BC dot the landscape. The real star of the island is the Elephanta Caves which were constructed between the 5th and 6th centuries. Immense, intricately-carved pillars hold up the impressive UNESCO heritage site, while sculptures and carvings inside tell Hindu stories about the God Shiva.
Within the city, there are more green spaces that will make you feel a thousand miles away from the city. Sanjay Gandhi National Park is home to the Caves of Kanheri, a 2000-year-old Buddhist cave complex, and a Butterfly Garden where 170 species of butterflies flutter, while Kamala Nehru Park boasts panoramic views of the city.
Explore the trendy Bandra neighbourhood
Spend a day getting lost in Bandra, a favorite amongst locals and visitors alike, where centuries-old architecture, such as the bold Bandra Fort, shares space with hip bars, restaurants and cafes. Spot impressive murals by local street artists along the walls, shop in colourful markets and indulge in, even more, street food. As a testament to the neighbourhood, it is also home to a number of Bollywood stars and their stunning homes can be seen all around the area.
5 Unmissable Experiences in Mumbai image credits: vada pav by StockImageFactory.com; watches on sale in Colaba market by Sri Iyer; IIndian Taj Mahal Palace Hotel Mumbai by Chitraka; Bandra Fort in Mumbai by RealityImages