If you are in Mumbai for a business trip or in transit there while waiting for your flight to other places in the subcontinent, here is an easy itinerary for you to check out that you can finish within one day. Mumbai is India’s commercial center and is one of the largest cities in the world. It is easy to get overwhelmed here especially if you are just on a short layover. Without further ado, this is how I’d do Mumbai in 24 hours (or even less!).
Obtain your bearings at the Gateway of India. Probably Mumbai’s most iconic structure, it was built to commemorate the visit of King George V to India back in 1911. Construction took around 13 years to finish and the location of the arch marks the spot where the king landed during the visit. Today, the place marks the center of tourist life in Mumbai. Busloads of group travelers can be seen here all day, with selfie sticks in tow. To avoid the crowd, it is best to come early.
The area is also where ferries going to Elephanta Caves depart from. You are sure not to miss it, as touts will make sure to let you know about their “special offers” to the place. It takes around an hour to get to the island to see the caves but it’s worth a trip. The UNESCO World Heritage Site features rock carvings of Shiva with an impressive entrance cut out from the cave and supported by pillars.
After heading back to Mumbai, admire the colonial exteriors of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel before having lunch at Leopold Café. If you have been traveling around India for days (or weeks) such as we did before landing in Mumbai, you’d probably miss a good dose of Western or Chinese food. This restaurant addresses that craving and even has beef on the menu (a rarity in India). While there, make sure to try the delicious Chili Beef!
It’s most likely searing hot after lunch so make a stop at the Colaba Market to shop for souvenirs and other trinkets to bring back. After having your fill, hail a cab to bring you to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Known in colonial times as Victoria Terminus, this station serves as the main terminal for long-distance trains. If you are heading to places such as Bangalore, you can also check out this list for things to do in Bangalore. If you are heading to Rajasthan, you can also check out my guide to Udaipur.
What makes Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus special is the fine 19th century red brick architecture with plenty of spires and other minute details that are often not found in other colonial buildings in Mumbai. Traveling by train is a way of life all over India. Coming here and seeing how the locals do their daily commute is an eye-opening experience for travelers.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is also known as a filming location for the award-winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire. Some important scenes in the movie were filmed there. The music video for the song “Jai Ho” was also filmed in this train station.
End the day by watch the sunset from Marine Drive, the long crescent-shaped street that takes up the southwestern portion of Mumbai. Filled with low and medium rise art deco apartments on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other, this is a fantastic place to soak in the fresh sea breeze. Walking the 3.6 kilometer stretch is quite a pleasant experience and you will find joggers and couples along the walkway in the late afternoon. There is also a popular pizza joint here called Pizza by the Bay that allow for that dining experience with a nice seaside view.