Mumbai boasts a good variety of leisure and lifestyle activities to entertain just about any expat’s idea of a good time. From restaurants that showcase the country’s regional cuisines, to bustling marketplaces, attractions and annual events, there’s plenty to see and experience for new expat arrivals.
Nightlife in Mumbai
Mumbai’s social scene is deceptively big and lively parties can be found most nights of the week. With the Bollywood scene based in and around the city, don’t be surprised to spot local film stars at one of its trendy nightclubs or bars.
For a roaring night out on the town, expats can opt for a cocktail on any of the many rooftop bars that overlook the Arabian Sea, or an evening stroll on the bustling Colaba Causeway. They can enjoy the delights of the city's dance clubs in Churchgate or Juhu, and a craft beer or a sophisticated glass of wine in the chic and stylish Bandra area – where looking good and being seen are all in a day’s work.
Shopping in Mumbai
Mumbai is a shopaholic’s dream come true. With everything from quaint little markets to shopping malls and haute couture around almost every corner, Mumbai is a great place to spend time and, if residents aren't careful, a lot of money. While the cost of living (and shopping) in Mumbai is steep, there are always bargains to be scored.
For clothing, M Gandhi Road is the place to start and local department stores are good bets too. The markets are the place to exercise haggling skills, so visit the Chor Bazaar flea market to pick up jewellery and other trinkets before heading to Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai (previously known as Crawford Market) to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables.
For the expat who prefers a one-stop-shop rather than the experience of sifting through stalls, there are plenty of excellent malls throughout Mumbai where hypermarkets are plentiful.
Eating out in Mumbai
From Tandoori and Punjabi to Gujarati and Mughlai cuisine, India’s scrumptious spectrum is well represented, and expats will be pleased to know that their favourite butter chicken and chicken tikka masala regularly feature on restaurant menus. And although traditional local cuisine is popular with Westerners, there are also many restaurants in Mumbai specialising in European and Eastern cuisine.
Sports and outdoor activities in Mumbai
Cricket is one of Mumbai’s most popular sports, and expats can try their hand at playing the game or can watch an exciting match at one of the city’s premier and international cricket grounds, including Brabourne Stadium and Wankhede Stadium. Expats can also find gyms, clubs and groups where they can play tennis, badminton and golf, among a wide range of other sports.
As a coastal city that is also close to a few rivers, Mumbai affords a multitude of water sports and activities from sailing or rafting and kayaking to snorkelling and scuba diving, while adventure parks such as EsselWorld make for great outings for the whole family.
See and do in Mumbai
A city steeped in history yet famously modern, there's an endless variety of things to see and do in Mumbai. From mosques and temples to galleries and historical wonders, expats are sure to find something in the city that interests them.
Hop on a ferry and take a trip to Elephanta Island. Here, culture and architecture enthusiasts can appreciate the cave temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The island also hosts the Elephanta Festival, which normally takes place in February.
A fun day out for the kids or the young at heart. Esselworld is an amusement park located in Gorai, offering a variety of options including family rides, thrill rides and children's rides. It also plays host to an ice rink, a bowling alley and a number of restaurants serving local and foreign cuisine.
Gateway of India
Built between 1913 and 1924 to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary, the beautiful basalt structure was built to be the first thing seen when approaching the city by boat and stands as a testimony to the British rule.
An impressive-looking complex that encompasses an art gallery, planetarium, discovery centre and a culture wing, Nehru Centre is a great way to discover the sciences and learn more about Indian culture and history.
What's on in Mumbai
With something happening just about every week, expats will never run out of things to do in Mumbai. Below is our rundown of this charming city's unmissable events and celebrations.
Banganga Festival (January)
The Banganga Festival is a musical extravaganza performed at the Banganga Tank at Walkeshwar Temple every year. Expats can expect top artists and excellent classical performances.
Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (February)
This exciting annual celebration is held with the intention of making Kala Ghoda the arts district of Mumbai. The festival has 12 sections, including visual arts, music, dance, food and more, so expats will have plenty to explore. The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival runs for nine days so there's more than enough time to explore what's on offer.
Elephanta Festival (February)
A fantastic day out that starts with a ferry ride from Mumbai Harbour to the small island of Elephanta. Here, dancers and musicians perform against the backdrop of caves dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
Nariyal Poornima (July/August)
Also called Coconut Day, this fisherman's celebration marks the end of the monsoon season and the beginning of the year's fishing season. Painted boats, garlands of flowers and oil lamps are set afloat on the water as an offering to the sea.
Diwali is the Festival of Lights and it symbolises the victory of truth and the lifting of spiritual darkness. Fireworks illuminate the sky and oil lamps light the windows of homes across Mumbai, with some particularly striking displays seen from Marine Drive and Charni Road.
Where to meet people and make friends in Mumbai
Making friends in a new city can be tricky, particularly when there are language barriers and cultural differences. Joining a club or a group of likeminded individuals who share an interest can be a good way of meeting people and networking. We've listed a few options below.
The Mumbai Expat Club is based around a dining and socialising itinerary, with art exhibitions and champagne brunches held at the club in India’s largest city. International members also take part in events outside the club, such as cultural festivals and parades.
Not just any old book club, this little community is great for avid readers looking to connect with their ilk in Mumbai. It hosts plenty of fun events and provides a platform on which to discuss, exchange or buy books – perfect for bibliophiles on a budget.
A hobby club for anything from photography, books and blogging to cooking, fitness and sports, Happy Mates has something for everyone, and provides fantastic opportunities for expats to make friends.
A great option for expats looking to connect in Mumbai, the group hosts myriad social events and takes part in many charity drives.
►For an overview of life in the city check out Moving to Mumbai.
"It’s definitely easy to meet people and make friends in Mumbai. Expats are very welcoming and Indians are open minded and chilled. You cannot feel alone in this city." Read more about expat life in Mumbai in our interview with Mathilde.
"It’s such a cosmopolitan city, every day is a new adventure. Life is good, and I feel like I can do anything here." Read our interview with Rakhee for some expat insights.
Are you an expat living in Mumbai?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Mumbai. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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