Welcome to Mumbai - a city of contrasts, where glossy modern high-rises stand alongside timeworn temples and ancient markets. One of the best places to experience the city of dreams is the luxurious Taj Mahal Palace in Colaba. Here's a 3-day itinerary that includes some of the best things to do, eat, and see around The Taj and its surrounding areas.
Mumbai Day 1:
Breakfast at the Sea Lounge: While waiting for your room at the Taj Mahal Palace, start your day with a delicious breakfast at the Sea Lounge within the Taj hotel. This elegant, art deco-esque restaurant offers a lavish breakfast buffet with both Indian and British fare, while overlooking the Arabian Sea. Wake up with their sweet and famous masala chai.
Gateway of India: Step out into the bustling streets and take a walk to the Gateway of India, just a few minutes away from the Taj Hotel. This iconic monument was built in 1924 to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai, and the last of the British troops to leave India passed through the Gateway on 28 February 1948. The area is buzzing with locals and tourists alike, all taking selfies in awe of the gateway. Tip: To see the Gateway of India without the crowds, wake up for sunrise and watch the sun painting the sky beautiful shades of amber right from your hotel window. Hundreds and hundreds of birds will chirp away creating the most dreamy morning wakeup call.
Lunch at Leopold Cafe: For lunch, step back in time and head to the iconic Leopold Cafe. This popular Iranian cafe has been around since 1871 and is known for its food and laid-back atmosphere. Try the keema pav, a spicy minced lamb dish served with soft bread rolls. To cool down from the Mumbai heat, sip on their signature lemon iced tea.
Sunset at Marine Drive: Keep the cooling going with a cocktail in hand while watching the sunset at the hip and trendy Dome rooftop inside the InterContinental hotel. After soaking in the panoramic views of Mumbai’s Marine Drive, also known as the Queen's Necklace, take a stroll along the promenade itself. This arc-shaped bay-side boulevard lining the Arabian Sea is known for its water-side street food. Of all of Mumbai's street food, try bhel puri - a tangy and crunchy mix of puffed rice, veggies, and tamarind chutney.
Nightcap at Harbour Bar: Unwind and savor the taste of a fine night cap at the famous Harbour Bar inside the Taj Mahal Palace. With it's intimate setting of dimmed lights, chic decor and subtle music, the Harbour Bar is the perfect place to end your first day in Mumbai. It is Mumbai's first licensed bar where you will find some of the best service in the city from exceptional mixologists. You must have From the Harbour since 1933 - their signature cocktail that's a tribute to the end of the prohibition period in the US; two American sailors asked for a quenching drink to celebrate the news which the bartender responded to with the fruity cocktail that is still served to this day.
Mumbai Day 2:
Aquarius: Start your day in complete serenity hearing the birds chirping while dipping into the pool followed by a refreshing breakfast at Aquarius, the poolside restaurant within the Taj. This all-day dining restaurant at the Taj Hotel offers everything, from classic Indian snacks to healthy, hearty breakfasts. I recommend the chili cheese toast and the cottage cheese scrambled eggs with Indian spices, and masala chai, of course.
Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus: Venture out and take a walk to the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, also known as Victoria Terminus. This historic railway station is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a must-see for anyone interested in architecture and history. It was built in 1887 in a Victorian Gothic style, and its stunning facade is adorned with turrets, domes, and gargoyles. But what makes this place incredible are the hundreds of thousands Mumbains from different walks of life who intersect for a few split seconds then disperse like ants continuing on their individual journey. Go inside the station and witness the dance of people getting on and off packed trains without dropping a bead of sweat in the chaos.
Bademiya: When lunchtime hits, head to the Colaba staple, Bademiya, a popular street food stall that serves delicious kebabs and rolls. This eatery has been around since the 1940s and is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Although the prices have shot up in the last years, it's still very reasonable and Bademiya itself is totally worth the hype. For non-veg lovers, try the mutton seekh kebab, a spicy minced meat skewer served with soft bread and mint chutney. There are plenty of veg options too.
Colaba Causeway: When the sun starts to come down and the streets are cooling down, head to the Colaba Causeway for some shopping. Colaba Causeway is a bustling street market that sells everything from jewelry and clothes to souvenirs and street food. When the shopping gets too much, take a pit stop to have some falooda, a sweet milkshake made with vermicelli, basil seeds, and rose syrup. For a savory snack, try the vada pav, a super popular Mumbai street food snack made with a potato fritter served in a bread roll.
Dinner at Golden Dragon: Return to the tranquility of the Taj and have a late dinner at the Golden Dragon. As it's name suggests, the Golden Dragon serves Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine, but it's true beauty lays within the service and ambience of the restaurant. The decor is sophisticated with white walls and plush gold velvet seating, with staff that will go above and beyond to cater to your requests. The food is just as spectacular with items such a garlic butter prawns and asparagus and corn dumplings that are prepared in a live kitchen in front of you.
Mumbai Day 3:
On your last day, hire a driver and head out of Colaba for a day oozing with Mumbai's local culture. Concierge at the Taj will be happy to arrange this for you.
Dadar Flower Market: Start your day super early and head to the Dadar Flower Market - a thirty minutes drive from the Taj Mahal Palace. The Dadar Flower Market, similar to the Jaipur flower market, is a sensory overload where farmers trade flowers to locals, businesses and the hospitality industry in the masses. The Dadar Flower Market and the rustic surroundings are a photographer's street scene paradise. The paradoxical instability where the sweet smell of jasmine meets sewage water, prayers are thwarted by people yelling, and Mumbains from all walks of life intertwine, is nothing short of mesmerizing. The market is open from 4am - 8pm but the ideal time to be there is dawn, around 6am when you can witness the trade before it gets too overwhelming.
Kailash Mandir Lassi & Sweets: Once the flower market leaves you hungry, walk a short five minutes to Kailash Mandir Lassi & Sweets for a roadside breakfast. They are known for their lassi - a popular yogurt drink that can be sweet or salted, but also grab their vada pavs or samosas for a quick bite.
Blue Tokai Coffee: Next, its time to wash down the morning snacks with a quick coffee at Blue Tokai Coffee in Mahalaxmi. Blue Tokai is the perfect pitstop to escape the craziness of the city with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, taking a momentary break from chai.
Mahalaxmi Dhobi Ghat: Hop back into the car and drive five minutes south to see the famous Dhobi Ghat - Mumbai's unique and colourful outdoor laundromat that's over a 140 years old, with over seven hundred families being a part of the operation. The Dhobi Ghat's organized chaos is a hypnotic glimpse into everyday local life where millions of garments are washed by stone, dried and ironed daily. Dhobi Ghats are found throughout Inida but the Mahalaxami Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai is the largest and most famous in the country. Although you can walk through the Dhobi Ghat free of charge (despite some locals telling you otherwise), it is really best to see the choreographed dance of billowing garments and labourers from the Mahalaxmi train station where there is an observatory deck overlooking the madness beneath.
Haji Ali Dargah: Next, take a fifteen minutes drive to Haji Ali Dargah - a complex housing the tomb of the Muslim Saint Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari with an ajoining mosque. The magnificent Haji Ali Dargah is so unique as it sits on an islet in the Arabian Sea connected to the mainland by a pathway. Like all things in India, it's old and beautiful, and very photogenic. Haji Ali Dargah is free to visit and is open to all religions.
Shamiana: Before departing Mumbai, step back into the comfort of the Taj Mahal Palace for your final meal at Shamiana. This all-day dining restaurant offers a wide range of options, from classic Indian dishes to Western favorites. If you've never had dosa before, now is your chance - a crispy South Indian rice pancake served with coconut chutney and sambar.
A stay at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai is an experience in itself. With its luxurious amenities, fine dining restaurants, and prime location, it is the perfect base for exploring the vibrant city of Mumbai. From the minute you walk through the doors to their signature perfume to the moment you depart is nothing short of heaven. The extra touches the Taj provides make a stay at the hotel even more memorable. Everyday little gifts would apprear in the bedroom. From blends of bath salts and herbs, to floral rangoli patterns left on the marble floors, the Taj leaves no stone unturned. The hotel also offers a guided tour to its residents daily, where the beautiful heritage wing, the hotel grounds and a diverse collection of paintings can be seen. You can also witness a candle ceremony performed by the hotel staff at the Aquarius restaurant everyday at dusk.
This 3-day itinerary includes some of the best things to do, eat, and see around the Taj Mahal Palace and its surrounding areas, but there is so much more to discover in the City of Dreams. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.
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