What To Do And See In Mumbai During A Layover
The Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport, the second busiest airport in the country can be an intimidating place to get caught in for a layover. With a wide range of outlets, eateries and other services to keep you engaged, yet not being too far from the fabulous city of Mumbai, the airport presents too many options if you are seeking to make the most of your layover. We bring you a comprehensive guide to making the best use your layover here, whatever the length of your stay. From facilities in the airport to must-visit historic landmarks, century old eateries and hip bars in the city, we’ve got you covered.
You should stay in the airport to avoid getting stuck in the city’s maddening traffic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time. If your layover is in the international terminal, T2, you have plenty of options to keep yourself engaged and even indulge a little bit. The terminal has free Wi-Fi, but you will need to provide a cell phone number to access it. There are also plenty of computer stations, charging outlets, comfortable loungers, prayer rooms etc. in addition to the basic smoking rooms, ATMs, pharmacies and currency exchange services at the terminal. Moreover the airports walls are covered in paintings and surrounded by carefully curated décor.
There’s no better way to spend a short layover than to sit down with a good book and indulge in a delicious meal or a soothing drink. One of the country’s favorite restrobars – Olive Bistro – has an outlet at T2. Indulge in one of their rich pastas, wood-oven baked pizzas or just dig into one of their luscious desserts surrounded by comforting décor and friendly staff. If you are more likely to find solace in a good drink – be it caffeinated or alcoholic – head to The Beer Café, India’s largest beer chain! The café is stocked with everything from breakfast food to hard liquor and fancy cocktails. You will not be disappointed.
T2 has about 21,000 square meters of space dedicated to retail outlets. So you will never run out of options. FabIndia rarely disappoints, with its variety of garments, accessories, décor items, beauty products etc. – all handmade from rural India. Kama Ayurveda’s range of skin, hair and body care products made with pure, natural and organic ingredients will make your layover the highlight of your day, if not week. If you would like to pick up a good book or magazine, head to Crossword, one of India’s largest book, tech and gift chains.
With the airport’s on-site Heaven on Earth spa you can bid farewell to those neck and shoulder cramps you picked up on the flight over. From foot, neck and shoulder, and back massages to pedicures, there are plenty of options for you to treat yourself.
With more than 5 hours to spend in Mumbai, you can definitely leave the airport and explore the hip and dynamic surrounding neighborhoods of Bandra, Juhu, and Khar, amongst others. Your most convenient and efficient option would be to hire a cab from the airport. You can leave your bags at the luggage/baggage storage service at T2 to make the best of your layover in Mumbai.
This six-kilometer long beach by the Arabian Sea is one of India’s most popular beaches. Catch some sun, people-watch and eat ice cream at this Mumbai gem.
You can catch a play at the iconic theater if you have the time. A theater-lover’s paradise, Prithvi regularly features some of the country’s finest talent. If theater isn’t your thing, head to its famous open-air garden café for chai and pav-bhaji. With hanging lanterns, colorful décor and plenty of plants, this artsy café will eliminate all your travel blues.
One of the city’s finest seafood restaurant chains, Mahesh Lunch Home, has an outlet in Juhu –just a short walk from the beach. Try the Mangalorean crab or the fried Bombay duck to find out why this restaurant is rarely empty. If you would rather head to a quiet place with warm lights, cozy décor and a great collection of wines, Silver Beach Café will satisfy your cravings.
Bandra’s famous Linking Road should be your go-to destination to get a sense of the city’s street-side shopping offerings. From artificial traditional jewelry to eccentric souvenirs, there are plenty of gorgeous things to stare at if not purchase here.
With more than 12 hours to spend, you can head south to the heart of the city. South Mumbai – particularly historic Fort, trendy Colaba and other adjacent neighborhoods – are worth checking out. With plenty of historical landmarks and museums, a wide range of eating options and the famous Colaba Causeway, this part of town is equipped to guarantee that your time in the city is well-spent.
Soak up Mumbai’s cosmopolitan history and old-world charm at one of the city’s Iranian café houses. Kyani & Co in Marine Lines is over a hundred years old and still packed with loyal patrons seeking to indulge in some bun maska (butter) and Irani chai. Their raspberry soda and cherry custard are particularly worth trying. Britannia & Co in Ballard Estate, another famous Parsi café a couple or so decades younger than Kyani, is located in historic Ballard Estate. Their Berry Pulav is famous all over the country.
Get a sense of yesteryear’s Bombay at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum in Byculla, the oldest museum in Mumbai. With a rich collection of decorative arts, artifacts and dioramas, the museum traces the city’s history and showcases daily life here during the 19th and 20th centuries. If you aren’t a fan of museums, head further south to visit the historic Gateway of India, one of Mumbai’s most prominent monuments built in the early 20th century. With its rich historical connotation, striking architecture and opening up to the charming Arabian Sea, this landmark is incapable of disappointing. Right next to the Gateway is another Mumbai landmark, the Taj Mahal Palace – one of the country’s most luxurious and iconic hotels.
Shop at Colaba Causeway
Mumbai’s most famous commercial street, Colaba Causeway has everything from antiques to trendy jewelry. Even if you aren’t looking to buy anything, this stretch with vibrant and colorful street-side stalls and beckoning vendors is an entertaining sight.
Eat & Drink
Indulge in a meal at The Table, one of the country’s best restaurants. Combining a range of cuisines including Japanese, French, Thai, Italian and Indian and using fresh produce from their own chemical-free farm in Alibag, The Table is the food connoisseurs’ paradise. Their choice of wines will leave you completely satisfied.
If you aren’t in the mood to splurge, head to the famous Café Mondegar. With decently priced beer and a range of cuisine, this tourist hot-spot with walls adorned by iconic cartoons of Mario Miranda is a Colaba experience you shouldn’t miss out on.