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24 Hours in Mumbai: India Unbound’s City Guide

Mumbai is our second home. Having lived there for almost 3 years we feel we really know this town and adore it. We love its energy, its glamour, and its vibrant, cosmopolitan feel that can also be at times overwhelming.

Putting together 24-hours in Mumbai is a real challenge as we could easily guide you around for a week during a tour of India! So, we’ve given you a small snapshot of some of our highlights. Don’t be surprised if you see a second version of 24-hours in Mumbai from us soon!

9 a.m. If you’ve seen Slumdog Millionaire then you have probably already heard of Dharavi Slum. It’s one of the world’s largest slums and the tin roofs and plastic tarps that form people’s homes and businesses can be seen from the air when you land at Mumbai airport. What’s not known though is what a hub of industry the slum is. Let’s start here for a tour of Dharavi and you’ll be totally surprised at how enterprising the communities here are.

See all the beautiful fabrics and colours in Mangaldas Market

See all the beautiful fabrics and colours in Mangaldas Market

12 p.m. Next stop on your 24-hours in Mumbai is a guided walking tour of Crawford and Mangaldas Market in central Mumbai. Crawford is a bustling, busy and interesting local market that sells everything from fruit and vegetables to pets, home wares and clothes. Behind Crawford Market is the narrow lanes of Mangaldas Market – the textiles or fabric market. See where Mumbaikers come to buy fabrics to have traditional Indian salwars and outfits stitched. Around these two market areas there are also some amazing buildings and shops to see, a picturesque mosque and lots of street food vendors. Make sure to stop at Badshaw – one of Mumbai’s best places for snacks and kulfis – the Indian ice cream.

Is this Mumbai's best kulfi?

Is this Mumbai’s best kulfi?

2 p.m. – Time to see one of India’s great icons and to pause for some refreshments. Head to Colaba in South Bombay and to the majestic Taj Mahal Palace hotel. Before you go in, walk across the road and see the Gateway of India, one of the city’s key landmarks. Take a selfie or two (like everyone else) and also take in the splendid façade of the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. Tourists from all over India and the world come to this spot to see this glorious landmark. Once you’ve got your pictures, head inside to the hotel’s Sea Lounge and indulge in afternoon tea. Book ahead and get a booth to enjoy the view. The afternoon tea is delicious – especially the Mumbai Street snacks. Relax for a little while, these great heritage hotels are a real reminder of India’s colonial past.

Gateway of India

Gateway of India

Time for Afternoon Tea: Sea Lounge, Mumbai

Time for Afternoon Tea: Sea Lounge, Mumbai

4 p.m. – The day’s not over yet but already it’s been hectic. Time to stop for a little R&R. Palms Spa in Colaba offers a great Jetlag package that includes a full body scrub and one-hour massage. It’s bliss and the perfect way to unwind after a busy morning or international flight and get you ready for our next stop.

Unwind with a massage

Unwind with a massage

6 p.m. Feeling refreshed – let’s head to one of Mumbai’s best bars. Aer – the rooftop bar at The Four Seasons hotel at Worli – offers panoramic views of Mumbai, beautiful sunsets and wonderful drinks. We never miss the chance to take people to Aer. Grab a seat and champagne, and watch the colours of the sunset fill the sky and the lights of this magnificent city come on. It will be hard to leave but dinner beckons.

The must visit place for drinks in Mumbai: Are, Four Seasons Hotel

The must visit place for drinks in Mumbai: Aer, Four Seasons Hotel

7 p.m India’s food scene is really hotting up with contemporary dining restaurants and experiences opening up in cities like Mumbai and Delhi. In Mumbai, Masala Library is a hip and relatively new restaurant that serves modern Indian cuisine. It’s creative, it’s amazing and not to be missed. The tasting menu is the way to go. You can pare it with wine and sit back and experience Indian food not as you know it for the next few hours. This restaurant will blow you away!

That’s 24-hours in Mumbai. It’s not nearly enough but hopefully enough to make you fall in love with the city like we are. A stay in Mumbai can be included in any custom made tour of India.