15 Things You Can Do For Free in Mumbai

15 Things You Can Do For Free in Mumbai
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Advertisement

The Maximum City has a lot to offer and that too at zero, or bare minimum, damage to your travel budget

Manisha Nainani
February 21 , 2022
16 Min Read

Mumbai, or back in the day Bombay, has gotten ample coverage in Bollywood movies and songs, however, there’s much more to the city than the cinematic portrayal of it. The stunning Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus with its Victorian era influence, the spiritual Haji Ali, a national park in the middle of the city, seaside promenades, those charming fisher-folk villages, and the East Indian houses in Bandra - no other city has such a multitude of experiences to savour, No wonder it is called the Maximum City. But we all know that Mumbai can also max out your wallet. We have put together a list of 10 free things to do in Mumbai that will allow you to savour the essence of the city and not put a dent in your budget. Bookmark this for your next visit. 

In The Lap Of History

Advertisement

The oldest museum in the city, the Bhau Daji Lad Museum is situated inside a grand Palladian building with high Victorian interiors which was built in 1858 to showcase industrial arts and life as it was like in 19th century Bombay. The building was opened to the public in May 1872 as the Victoria and Albert Museum. However, lack of regular upkeep resulted in the deterioration of the museum and in February 2003, the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation along with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) signed an agreement with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) for its restoration. The museum has received the UNESCO International Award of Excellence for Cultural Conservation. It contains one of the finest collections related to the city’s origins, history and evolution. The artefacts are kept inside stunning polished wooden cases which are retrofitted with state-of-the-art lighting. The exhibits on the ground floor are objets d’art, ranging from pottery, bronze and metal ware, miniature paintings and ivory sculptures, while on the first floor are dioramas and clay models that trace the history and cul-tural development of Bombay during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The most important exhibits are clay model representations of all the communities of erstwhile Bombay.

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (@bdlmuseum)

Address: 91 A, Rani Baug, Veer Mata Jijbai Bhonsle Udyan, 91 A, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Rd, Byculla East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400027. Timings and charges:Thursdays to Tuesdays, 10am to 5pm. The last ticket is sold at 4:30 pm. Closed Wednesdays and certain public holidays. Indian visitors: Rs2  ro Rs10 per ticket (based on age). Foreigners: Rs.30 to R 100 per ticket

Paint It Red 

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Amrit Kochar (@musafir_amrit)

Mumbai is known for kickass street art. The breezy and hip suburb of Bandra West is a great place to see some of the best. From the walls of the narrow lanes in Chapel Road to buildings in Bandra Reclamation, a host of different styles can be spotted.

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Amrit Kochar (@musafir_amrit)

Spend a day spotting public art from ones on popular OTT series to Bollywood legends. This area started becoming an artistic playground around 2014, and now encompasses graffiti pieces from artists all over the world.

Address: Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050

Know More About Mumbai Life 

Mumbai boasts several antique and colonial structures, including the Asiatic Society Town Hall. If you and your friend are avid readers, then there is no better place to be. Grab yourself a book and make your way outside onto the steps of the Asiatic Society. Find yourself a place to sit and whip through the pages of your book. Partake in endless discussions with your reader friends. Conspiracy theories, character analysis, plot twists - there's nothing that you can't converse about. The building used to be the Town Hall (1820-23), whose Ionic columns are said to be inspired by a Greek temple. Now, it houses the Bombay Asiatic Society which consists of the Asiatic Society Library, the State Central Library, a museum, the Maharashtra State Directorate of Libraries, the Additional Controller of Stamps Office, the Maharashtra State Women's Council, and a post office. The building has been around since 1833 and has gained historic prominence over time. One can walk by and feel centuries passing by at the same spot.

Address: Town Hall, Shahid Bhagat Singh Rd, Fort, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400023

A Picnic Date At The Maidan

The charkha spinning wheel in the maidan

Plan a trip to Cross Maidan Gardens in Marine Lines, pack some sandwiches and juice, go on a picnic, and breathe in the fresh air. The smaller Cross Maidan, located just north of the more well known Oval Maidan (and near Churchgate station), was named after an antique stone cross in the park's northern section which once housed a Portuguese church. In 2010, the Cross Maidan garden was renovated, and it now hosts several interesting installations, sculpture and art spaces. The park is surrounded by multiple attractions like the futuristic Steel Charkha of Mahama Gandhi, the tranquil 18th-century Bhikha Behram Well, and (on the western side) the foodies heaven called Khau Gali.

Address: WRQH+8XQ, Mahatma Gandhi Road, New Marine Lines, Marine Lines, New Marine Lines, Marine Lines, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400020

Also Read: 7 Street Food Dishes One Must Try In Mumbai

Buddhist Splendour in the Middle of a National Park

One of the earliest examples of excellent rock-cut architecture in the Western Ghats, the Kanheri Caves in Mumbai are a sight to behold. Housing a collosal Buddha statue that dates back to the period between the 5th and 6th centuries, they are believed to have influenced the Elephanta Caves. The complexity of different caves varies depending on the century of their constructions and the massive structure has Buddhist motifs, sculptures and carvings which are enough to teleport travellers hundreds of years back to the Buddhist era. They are set inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park which is a unique thing. It is a bona fide forest, replete with endemic flora and fauna, smack bang in the middle of the country’s busiest, most cramped city. Once occupying a diminutive 20 sq km area and known as the Krishnagiri National Park early in the previous century, the park was expanded several decades later, and renamed the Borivali National Park. Renamed yet again in 1981, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park now sprawls across more than 100 sq km, occupying some 20 per cent of Mumbai’s land area. The park is part of the Western Ghats biodiversity complex and is home to an estimated 1,300 species of flowering plants and a large number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies. Leopards are a fairly frequent sighting at the park–and outside it too, as the human residents of the surrounding neighbourhood recount.

Timings: The caves are open from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm for visitors. On all Mondays, the national park is closed but you can still visit Kanheri caves.

Also Read: 5 Hikes in Mumbai to Make You Forget You’re in the City

The Knight and Shining Armor Of Forts

The Bandra Area of Mumbai houses multiple memorable experiences like the famous Bandstand Promenade (do not miss the crowds outside Shahrukh Khan's house), the Bandra and Worli forts, hipster cafes, watering places in every nook and corner, churches, jaw-dropping views of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link and Worli skyline from the old Bandra Fort. The Portuguese built Bandra Fort is a watchtower overlooking Mahim Bay to the south, the Arabian Sea to the west, the Worli islands to the south, and Mahim town to the southwest - it is a great place to weave in all the old war stories in your head. And sunsets are marvellous here. 

Address: Byramji Jeejeebhoy Road, Bandstand Road, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050

A Walk With The Stars

Take a walk around the Bandra Bandstand area - it is a fairyland for all movie buffs. There’s a section that pays tribute to major Bollywood stars with a Walk of Stars inspired from the one in LA. Six iconic Bollywood actors are represented by statues, while 100 brass plates with handprints and signatures of Bollywood stars are stamped here. One can also drive to nearby Mannat and Galaxy, the respective homes of two of the most loved Bollywood heroes - Sharukh and Salman Khan. They do stroll out to wave at fans sometimes. If you get lucky, you may spot other celebrities jogging along the bandstand.

Address: Bandstand Promenade, Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400050

Indulge in Window Shopping

Even when on a budget, one can make a trip to the lively markets around Mumbai to get charmed by their vibrance and uniqueness. The famous Colaba Causeway is full of stalls and shops selling affordable (and very trendy) jewellery, handbags, shoes, clothing, and even home décor items. You can pick up some great gifts here, or just take a walk around the heart of Mumbai. When you are done, drop in at Cafe Mondegar (or Mondees as it is fondly known) and Leopold Cafe (remember it from Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts?) for a drink and some great food.  

Address: Bakery Ln, Army Area, Nofra, Navy Nagar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400005

Find Peace In A Pagoda

Away from the bustling markets is the Global Pagoda, also known as the Global Vipassana Pagoda, one of Mumbai's most beautiful landmarks - especially when the early sun shines on it. It is thought to be a structural duplicate of Myanmar's Golden Pagoda, created to propagate Vipassana beliefs. Anyone looking for some peaceful hours in the busy city of Mumbai can drop by here and find some solace.

Address: Global Pagoda Road, Near Esselworld, Gorai, Borivali West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400091

Ride the Bull of Aspirations 

It would be unfair to visit the city of dreams and not take a dekko at Dalal Street and the Bombay Stock Exchange. Founded in 1875 by cotton merchant Premchand Roychand, a Rajasthani Jain industrialist, the BSE is among Asia's (and the world's) oldest stock exchanges. Watch the air get electric with ambitions  between 9 am to 3 pm. While around Dalal Street, don’t forget to eat at the Kala Godha Cafe near the Kala Ghoda Art Precinct, known for its arty vibe.

Address: Corporate Office. BSE Limited Phiroze Jeejeebhoy Towers Dalal Street Mumbai- 400001

Watch the Parade At Marine Drive

Coming over to arguably the best free place to visit in Mumbai is the arc-shaped bay-side boulevard in South Mumbai, Marine Drive which runs along to the Arabian Sea and is undoubtedly the greatest place to enjoy spectacular sunsets and take leisurely walks. It is a popular hangout location for Mumbai residents as well as a popular tourist destination. During the day, it's a great spot to drive or stand and take in the breathtaking views of the sea and beach. The location becomes much more appealing in the evenings when the stunning view of the setting sun adds to its allure. The entire crescent-shaped shoreline is illuminated with shimmering lights that look like a string of pearls at night, earning it the nickname "Queen's Necklace." And if you plan to be in Mumbai recently, you can expect to witness a spectacular procession commemorating India's Republic Day that takes place along this promenade every year on January 26th, 

Family Fun At Sanjay Gandhi National Park

To unravel nature’s gift to Mumbai and take a stroll around the natural habitat of mammals like Leopard, sambar, chital, rusty-spotted cat, common palm civet, small Indian civet, Indian crested porcupine and bonnet macaque, plan a visit to Sanjay Gandhi National park which is one of Asia's most frequently visited national parks, spanning 104 square kilometres of land. This park has a variety of enjoyable activities to offer like paddle-boating at Vihar and Tulsi Lakes, a hike to the Gandhi Tekdi, a ride of the Van Rani toy railway, which is particularly popular with children and learning about multiple species of butterflies at the most popular butterfly park.

Address:  Western Express Hwy, Borivali East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400066

Let The Mayanagri Enchant You

You must take in a film at a single screening theatre in Mumbai - like Maratha Mandir and Edward Theatre. And do visit The Royal Opera House which was inaugurated in 1912. It closed doors in 1991 but was reopened after being restored to its former glory. The Opera House, situated on Charni Road, near Girgaum Chowpatty beach, was once the pride of the city’s elite, and hosted, besides ballets, premieres of Bollywood movies, live shows by stars such as Prithviraj Kapoor, Bal Gandharva as well as shows by the French production house Pathé. Restoration work is scheduled to finish by the end of this year. To retain the original style of the building, minton tiles were repaired and the marble statues, crystal chandeliers, gold ceiling and side boxes once again adorn the building to bring the Royal Opera House back to its original grandeur. Then there are the more casual spaces like the amphitheatre at Carter Road Promenade which is used for various cultural events and performances like the Bandra Festival or even an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Address: Maratha Mandir: 22, M M Marg, RBI Staff Colony, Mumbai Central, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400008. Edward Theatre: 514, Kalbadevi Road, Marine Lines East, Tak Wadi, Lohar Chawl, Kalbadevi, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400002. Carter Road Amphitheatre: 71, Sangeet Samrat Naushad Ali Marg, Union Park, Pali Hill, Mumbai, Maharashtra 40005

A Garbage Dump Turned Into A Nature Park 

The Mahim Nature Park used to be a garbage dump till 1983. Now, experts from all over the world are visiting the MNP to see how so many trees could flourish on a dumping area. The Mahim Creek, on the park's outskirts, is home to a thick evergreen mangrove forest now where one can find migratory and aquatic birds that come to India during the winter months of January and February. Many naturalists conduct walks here from time to time. 

Address: Mahim Nature Park, Dharavi, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400017

A Day On The Beach

Mumbai has several beaches you can hang out at. The famous Juhu Beach is usually crowded or filled with the garbage left by visitors. Instead visit Aksa or Gorai - they are quieter. It may take up some commute time to reach. Even though these beaches are far, the peaceful ambience is worth it. Aksa Beach, located on the edges of Malad's western sector, is one of Mumbai's cleanest beaches. This vast spread of sand offers a peaceful respite from the bustle of daily life and is ideal for unwinding. The islands’ churches, fort, small dining halls and ferry rides provide a perfect weekend escape plan.

How to reach: Aksa beach is approximately 9 km from Malad station and 12 km from Borivali Ssation. Gorai is approximately 3 km from Borivali. 


Related Articles

Advertisement*

Here to there

Explore Directions(Routes) and more...
to Go

Our Other Editions

Outlook’ is India’s most vibrant weekly news magazine with critically and globally acclaimed print and digital editions. Now in its 23rd year...

Explore All
  • Check out our Magazine of the month
  • Offbeat destinations
  • In-depth storytelling
  • Stunning pictures
  • Subscribe