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Beginner’s guide to Mumbai: places to visit and when to go

Navigating the largest city in India isn’t as complicated as you might think, and Mumbai is actually a good place to start your India holiday. So whether you're a returning fan or about to explore for the first time, we've got the best places to visit in Mumbai covered.

When is the best time to visit Mumbai?

Unless you can handle extreme humidity and high temperatures, it’s best to visit Mumbai in the winter. November through April are the best months. May can be uncomfortable as the temperatures top 30 degrees and the air conditioning isn’t in plentiful supply in most places. The monsoon hits in the south at the start of the summer, then works its way north before heading back south again. But you should always look at regional monsoon forecasts to stay cool and dry.

It's easy to take trains into and out of Mumbai

How to get to Mumbai

You can fly direct to Mumbai from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. The flight time from the UAE to Mumbai is circa three hours so it’s very doable for a long weekend. Your plane will land at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport which was given a US$2 billion facelift just a few years ago.

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Where’s the best place to stay in Mumbai?

The South of the city – Colaba in particular – is a good starting point and there’s lots of accommodation options to suit any budget. The Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel are both in Colaba and will really whet your appetite to see what else India has to offer. You can book a large contemporary room at the five-star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel for under Dh600 a night.*

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Book a room at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

 

Places to visit in Mumbai

Go and catch some cricket training at the Oval Maiden when you’re in the leafy streets of Colaba – it is India’s most loved sport after all. Then if you want to see something different to the usual picture of India, go for a sunset walk along Marine Drive, an epic Miami-esque strip of five star hotels and skyscrapers. Here you can check out The Gandhi House and its extensive collection documenting his life. There’s also The Prince of Wales Museum (which is officially known as The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaja Vastu Sangrahalaya) providing a comprehensive introduction to India’s history. It’s also an easy place to pick up handmade and locally crafted souvenirs. For textiles and nice homewares, head to Fabindia (much bigger and better than Dubai’s version) or the narrow alleyways of Chor Bazaar and haggle over some authentic (and some not-so-authentic) antique pieces.

Where are the best places to eat in Mumbai?

Anyone who’s been to Mumbai will tell you to try a vada pav (a fried potato patty), and they’d be right. This, the behlpuri (puffed rice and vegetable chaat), and pav bhaji (vegetable curry and roll) are three of the most delicious offerings from Mumbai’s street food vendors. If you’re a carnivore, go to Bademiya, a popular kebab joint that dishes out delicious BBQ specialities with a night market atmosphere between 12am and 3am. When you’ve had your fill of street food, check out the kitchens of some of Mumbai’s luxury hotels. The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, JW Marriott, Oberoi and Four Seasons each have nice restaurants with contemporary designs.

 

Try the pav bhaji from a Mumbai street food vendor

How to travel safely in Mumbai

Basic common sense goes a long way when you’re trying to avoid food poisoning and stay safe in India. When it comes to food and water, drink only bottled water (make sure the lid hasn’t been tampered with) and avoid uncooked foods such as salads. If you can’t resist the street food, pick a busy stall with a high turnover of food. If you do fall ill, visit a pharmacy as soon as you can to avoid your problems getting worse. In terms of culture, dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention and just accept that you’ll always pay more for a taxi, tuk tuk or souvenirs as a tourist.

Where to go for day trips out of Mumbai

Take a 45 minute flight to Aurangabad Airport or an overnight train ride to see the cave monastery temples of Ellora. The temples are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and feature more than 100 caves dating back more than five centuries.
Goa is also only a one hour flight away from Mumbai and has a relaxed beach vibe which could provide a welcome break from the city.

Get to Ellora on an overnight train or a 45 minute plane journey

This article was adapted from a piece by Skyscanner writer Lezaan Roos.

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