With abundant historic sites, bustling markets, and endless cultural institutions, Mumbai is a city packed with places that will be rewarding for any visitor. To help you navigate the best of what this vibrant city has to offer, Culture Trip has put together a guide of 12 must-see attractions.
As the country’s most famous railway station and one of Mumbai’s most iconic landmarks, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus is one of the best spots to witness the city’s past and present. Rich in history and featuring striking High Victorian Gothic and Indian architectural styles, this UNESCO World Heritage Site also happens to be among the busiest railway stations in the country and an integral part of the daily lives of lakhs of Mumbaikars.
The stunning Haji Ali Dargah (shrine), which dates to 1431, is one of the most iconic architectural structures in Mumbai, built in the memory of Sayyed Peer Jaji Ali Shah Bukhari, a wealthy Muslim merchant from present-day Uzbekistan who gave up all his worldly possessions to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Located on an isle off the coast of Worli, the pristine-white Mughal-style building connects to the mainland by a narrow pathway that only appears during low tide.
Haji Ali Dargah, Dargah Road, Mumbai, India, +91 22 2352 9082
No tour of Mumbai is complete without some time spent at the historic and architectural marvel that is the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The building’s iconic dome was the first clear marker of the Bombay harbour until the Gateway of India came along 20 years later. Built in 1903 under Jamshetji Tata, the Arabian Sea-facing hotel is among the most celebrated in the country.
As the oldest museum in Mumbai, the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum qualifies itself as one of the top candidates if you are looking to visit a museum in the city. Established under British colonial rule in 1855, it traces the city’s history and the shape of daily life through a stunning collection of highly intricate clay model dioramas created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With a constantly expanding collection of contemporary art and other artefacts that showcase the heritage and culture of Mumbai, this is a must-visit spot for any visitor in the city.
Located in the Mumbai Harbour, this lush, forest-covered island is about 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) from the Gateway of India. While it houses only 1,200 inhabitants and prohibits tourists from staying overnight, the island houses the historic Elephanta Cave Temples. Dating back to the 5th century CE, the five Hindu caves and two Buddhist caves served as places of worship until the 1500s. While some of the structures are in ruins now, the site remains one of the city’s primary attractions for the outstanding sculptures, architecture and heritage on display.
Lined with streetside stalls selling a variety of items from cheap jewellery to clothes and used books, this historic and famous stretch in Colaba is undeniably a unique Mumbai experience no one should miss. From cafés, bars and restaurants with cult-like followings across the country to historic stores selling quirky items, there’s a lot to see here.
While there are plenty of other options in the area if you’re looking for pristine and empty beaches, there’s no beach more iconic in the city than Juhu. Packed with visitors from all walks of life, and from all over the world, this energetic beach has remained the key destination for Mumbaikars to dip their toes in the Arabian Sea, to jog or to simply unwind and people-watch.
This ancient temple is among the oldest in the city. Dedicated to Hindu deity Shiva, the stunning temple dates back to the 12th century, built by local ruler Bhimdev or Bhima. However, over the years, it was abandoned and eventually buried until its rediscovery in the 18th century. Its reconstruction took place in the late 1800s.