Aerial view of Mumbai city

Five things to know before visiting Mumbai

travel tips

Mumbai, famously known as the 'City of Dreams', has visitors flock from all over the country and the world. It is home to over 12.5 million people, the famous 'vada pav' (a quick snack on the go) and several UNESCO World Heritage sites. Let's get to know the city better.

Flooded street during Monsoon season in Mumbai

1. Mumbai monsoons are magical

Monsoons provide relief from the sultry summers to all Mumbaikars (a local term used for all residents living in the city) and make the city look beautiful. It is the perfect time to enjoy cool and pleasant weather, get wet in the rain and then sip on hot cups of spiced tea and fried snacks. Traffic snarls are quite common during this time and there are parts of the city that do get flooded but the local officials are quite adept at managing this.

During the weekends, you can drive to nearby villages in Panvel and Karjat and hill stations such as Matheran and Mahabaleshwar to enjoy a short break. If you are somebody who loves waterfalls, then a Bhandardara weekend getaway trip with family would be perfect for you.

Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus at night

2. Marvel at Mumbai's architecture

South Bombay or SoBo as it is popularly known has several Victorian and Art Deco buildings the most famous being Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus which is also a UNESCO World heritage site. On the weekends, it is common to see Mumbaikars out on city walks guided by experts as they learn about Mumbai's fascinating past.

If you want to tour the city and get a sense of its major landmarks, you should opt for a Mumbai sightseeing bus. Some places you must visit are the Gateway of India, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Marine Drive, Chatrapati Shivaji Museum, Bhau Daji Lad Museum and Bandra bandstand. If you are somebody who enjoys street art, then you will love checking out murals in Bandra, Jogeshwari, Worli and Mahim.

Mumbai is home to the Hindi film industry, famously known as Bollywood and you can travel to Goregaon film city to watch some shows and films being shot live. The sets are often opulent and larger than life and make great photo-ops.

The Haji Ali Dargah is a mosque and dargah (tomb) located on an islet off the coast of Worli in the Southern part of Mumbai.

3. Mumbai was once given away as dowry!

Mumbai, then a group of seven islands, was controlled by the Portuguese who defeated the indigenous Koli rulers. When Catherine Braganza married Charles II of England, Mumbai was given as dowry to the East India company. The British worked to reclaim land and connect all the islands to transform it into a city and a major seaport.

Pav Bhaji served on a tray by a street vendor on Chowpatty beach, south Mumbai

4. Try a Mumbai snack on the go

Everybody in the city is always in a hurry - it is after all the financial capital of India. This is why we love eating food on the go. Mumbai is a melting pot of cultures and you will find cuisines from all over India in restaurants. When it comes to street food, you must try the aforementioned vada pav, a spicy snack made of potatoes and spices served with bread and garlic chutney.

Other popular street snacks include frankie, pav bhaji, omlette pav, pani puri, tawa pulao... the list is pretty much endless. If you are somebody who does not enjoy spicy food, be very careful. Indian food tends to be very spicy and Mumbaikars love enjoying their street food with onions and fried green chillies.

Mumbai Suburban Railway, one of the busiest commuter rail systems in the world

5. Rail is the lifeline of Mumbai

Railway is considered to be the lifeline of Mumbai. The city is vast and the fastest and cheapest way to reach a place is by hopping on a Mumbai local train. However, do not attempt to board during peak hours. It can be quite overwhelming to see the crowds. Instead, opt for a train ride in the afternoons as trains tend to be relatively empty.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the different facets of Mumbai. At first glance, the city will seem crowded and overwhelming. But reach out to people for help, talk to the locals and simply enjoy the sights and sound. You will soon find yourself being charmed by the City of Dreams.

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Khushboo Motihar

Author - Khushboo Motihar

Khushboo Motihar is an award-winning travel blogger from India who believes in the power of storytelling. She loves gushing about the new things she experiences as she travels across the globe.

Last Updated October 15, 2021

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