Mumbai is a colorful hodgepodge of glimmering cosmopolitanism, regal colonial architecture, and ancient tradition. It’s also huge, so if you have just one day in the city, you’re best off concentrating on one area. Fortunately, many of the top attractions are clustered in the southern parts of town. Here’s how to make the most of one day in Mumbai.
Morning: The Road to Colonial Colaba
Start your day off at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and arguably the most dazzling building in the city. This huge railway station features a magnificent blend of neo-Gothic, Mughal, and Indian design elements known as Indo-Saracenic architecture. From here make your way to the Bombay High Court, which is fronted by a massive cricket ground, perhaps stopping at the open-air shops at Fashion Street along the way. Continue south to Colaba, the city's main tourist hub, to peruse rows of market stalls and stop for lunch at one of the many good and affordable spots in the area.
Afternoon: Elephanta Caves
After lunch, make your way to Colaba’s Gateway of India. This triple-arched monument, built in the 1920s, is reminiscent of a Mughal take on the Arc de Triomphe and looks out over Mumbai Harbour. From here, regular ferries depart for the Elephanta Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of rock-hewn temple caves, the oldest of which date back to the seventh century. Here you'll find Buddhist shrines and Hindu temples alike; one of the Hindu caves houses a gargantuan statue of Lord Shiva in his 3-faced form.
Night: Marine Drive and Chowpatty Beach
After heading back to the mainland, make your way up to Marine Drive, a 2-mile-long road that flanks the Arabian Sea. The area is known for its lovely art deco buildings and is a popular spot for Mumbaikars out on an evening stroll, owing largely to its pleasant, pedestrian-friendly promenade and sunset views. From here you can continue all the way up to Chowpatty Beach, another popular evening spot among local families. The beach is a great spot to try out local treats, with food stalls and roving vendors selling everything from traditional ice cream known as kulfi to the puffed-rice snack bhel puri. Make a dinner of it, or try the cuisine of the Konkan coast in one of the restaurants along the seafront.