Fun and Almost Free Things to Do in Mumbai This Summer


Mumbai is the most expensive city in India, but that doesn't mean you can't explore its modern life and local culture without breaking the bank. Things to do in Mumbai don't always come in four digits expenses and can be enjoyed through the many places and journeys the city contains within itself.

Here are some fun and inexpensive things to do in Mumbai, which won't cost you a lot:

1. Explore the love of the stage at Prithvi Theatre

Founded in 1942 by Prithviraj Kapoor, the theatre was a travelling troupe of 150 members who staged plays across India. Now, in the 21st century, Prithvi Theatre is THE place to spot the acting nerve of Bollywood. In the premise of the complex also lies a cozy but vibrant Prithvi Cafe. This open-air cafe is decorated at night with huge lanterns and bamboo decorations. Every fourth Monday, Prithvi Cafe holds an open mic where poets, comedians and enthusiasts of the stage can be spotted crooning away to glory.

Photo of Prithvi Theatre, Juhu Church Road, Janki Kutir, Juhu, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Sreshti Verma

Address: 20, Juhu Church Road, Janki Kutir, Mumbai

Cost: ₹125

Timings: Cafe is open from 10 am to 11:30 pm everyday; dates and timings for open mic may vary.

For details about upcoming events and plays, visit the Prithvi Theatre's website here.

2. Taste authentic Iranian cuisine at Parsi cafes in the city

Parsi cuisine and cafes may seem central to Mumbai's culture but they are a dying breed. None of them are overly expensive or luxurious but they do promise a heart-warming meal and a taste of the Parsi culture.

Credits: IrnichaiMumbai

Photo of Kyani & Co., Jss Road, Marine Lines East, Tak Wadi, Lohar Chawl, Kalbadevi, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Sreshti Verma

Where: JSS Road, Jer Mahal Estate, Opposite Metro Cinema, Marine Lines

Cost: ₹300 for two

Timings: 7 am to 8:45 pm(Monday to Saturday); 7 am to 6:30 pm (Sundays)

Contact: 022 30150864

Must order: Maska bun, Keema pav and Irani omelette

Where: Fountain Akbar Ally, Saint Thomas Cathedral, Fort

Cost: ₹200 for two

Timings: 7 am to 7 pm

Contact: 022 22870739

Must order: Bun maska and bread pudding.

3. Get everything you will ever need under ₹500 at Chor Bazaar and Crawford Market

Chor Bazaar is a 150-year-old market, which is so dense and rich that even most regulars can't fully fathom it. Be it age-old artefacts at dirt cheap prices or Polaroid cameras for ₹500, Chor Bazaar is a treasure waiting to be tapped by the willing.

As for Crawford Market, you can buy literally everything it takes to make a household. From Alphonso mangoes to imported sweets, Crawford is where Mumbai shops. Definitely mark these treasures on the top of your shopping destinations and things to do in Mumbai.

Photo of Crawford market, G D Ambekar Road, Bhoiwada, Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Sreshti Verma

Timings: Chor Bazaar remains open from 11 am to 7.30 pm (Fridays are especially exciting) and Crawford is open from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm (Sundays closed).

Pro Tip: Get your bargaining game on.

4. Go early morning celeb-spotting at Marine Drive

This is the go-to answer, every single time, to whenever anyone asks what they must do in Mumbai. The iconic shoreline of the city brings together people from any and every class. Sitting by the sea, this is the one time when you will find people just staring away into the sunset. Even the shining "stars" of Mumbai are spotted here during the wee hours of the morning and night. Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone among others come here often for an early morning jog. Even Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan have been spotted late at night walking their dog. Is the Bollywood fan in you excited yet?

Photo of Marine Drive, Mumbai, Maharashtra by Sreshti Verma

Pro Tip: By early morning, I mean at the crack of the dawn like 4:00 am and late at night means few hours before the first sunlight, around 2:00-3:00 am.

5. Go cheap bar hopping

Alcohol in Mumbai is cheaper than Delhi, and to exploit that opportunity to its full potential, you don't need to head to fancy places. The night life of Mumbai comprises of working-class people heading to very affordable bars post work to wrap up the day. Here are some of the iconic inexpensive bars of Mumbai.

Where: 78 A, Pali Naka, Dr. Ambedkar Road, Pali Hill, Bandra West.

Rate of a pint: ₹120 (approx)

Timings: 12 pm to 1 am

National Restaurant & Bar

Where: Rameshwar, SV Road, Santacruz West, Mumbai

Rate of a pint: ₹120 (approx)

Timings: 11:30 am to 3 pm and 6:30 pm to 12 am

Where: Ravindra House, Kalbadevi Road, Near Furtados, Dhobi Talao, Kalbadevi, Mumbai

Rate of a pint: ₹90 (approx)

Timings: 9 am to 12 am

6. Drown yourself in the soulful qawwali at Haji Ali Dargah

In the multi-cultural city of Mumbai, people of all religions find themselves flocking to the wish granting shrine of Haji Ali. Located on an islet off the coast of Worli, Haji Ali Dargah is visited by millions of people looking for a spiritual solace. The magical qawwali night every Friday has inspired many Bollywood renditions but is best experienced live.

Photo of Haji Ali Dargah, Dargah Road, Haji Ali, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Sreshti Verma

Timings: 5:30 am to 10 pm

Pro Tip: Don't miss out on fresh juices and the world's best fruit cream at the Haji Ali Juice center.

7. Take the harbour line on a local train

The Mumbai local is the life of the city. Every day hundreds of thousands of people take the local to their work places and homes. Running throughout Mumbai like a well grid network, the local train is a must on the list of things you need to experience. Take the harbour line which goes over the backwaters of Vashi to turn your local experience into a scenic ride.

Photo of Fun and Almost Free Things to Do in Mumbai This Summer by Sreshti Verma

Timings: 12 am to 1 pm

Cost: ₹5-20

Tip: The trans-harbour line can be boarded from many stations to cross Vashi. You can get on Khar, Wadala, Panvel and even Mumbai CST.

8. Get a daily dose of Mumabi's art and culture at The Hive.

The Hive has recently emerged to provide a single roof to the growing start-up buzz and millennials of Mumbai. The co-working space holds many workshops for small media groups and artists such as Terribly Tiny Tales and Garbage Bin. From mixed performances, live music to open mics, The Hive is the place if you have been looking to dive into the ever-changing temperament of Mumbai's culture. Most events here are affordable and you can always choose to sit at the cafe and observe the action from a distance.

(C)The Hive

Photo of The HIVE at Linking Road, Linking Road, Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Sreshti Verma

Where: 50 - A, Huma Mansion, Opposite Ahmed Bakery, Chuim Village Rd, Khar West.

Cost: ₹200-500 (depends on the event)

Timings: 9 am to 10 pm

Keep a track of the upcoming events here.

9. Take an elevator ride to the Mumbai of 1900s.

Bombay, before it became Mumbai and got known for its film industry, was a massive port that welcomed traders and businessmen from all over the world to India. Architectural gems of that era are hidden all over the city, one of those are the ancient elevators that are over a 100 years old. Carved in wood and iron, these elevators were imported here all the way from London and the one in Navsari Building is still functional. So go ahead, and take a ride in a century old life to get a slight glimpse of Mumbai used to be.

Where: The best collection of elevators are in the buildings in DN Road in the Fort business district of South Mumbai. The Navsari Building is in this area as well and there is no charge for the ride.

10. Spend time and hike in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park

The green expanse of Sanjay Gandhi National Park is an extreme contrast to infrastructural jungle of Mumbai. The place offers a quiet escape to nature and takes pride in the wide variety of butterflies it is home to. There are two lakes within the national park, Tulsi and Vihar, which you can easily walk up to, or take a short hike to the Kanheri Caves. The Kanheri Caves are a collection of 109 caves containing rock sculptures of Budhha and his disciplines.

Cost: ₹20

Timings: 7:30 am to 5:30 pm

Where: Abhinav Nagar, Borivali East, Mumbai

(c) Arijit Patra

Photo of Fun and Almost Free Things to Do in Mumbai This Summer by Sreshti Verma

11. Take a visit to Kwan Kung Temple, the only Chinese Temple in Mumbai.

The history of the only Chinese temple in Mumbai harks back to the time when the community if See Yup Koon people was thriving in Mazagaon. Hailing from the southern part of China, the community worked with the East India Company as merchants, traders and sailor. Most of the families left when the Indo-Sino war broke out in 1962, except a few. The Kwan Kung Temple and the area around it is a gentle and nostalgic reminder of the people who called this place home for a very long time.

Where: Behind Dockyard Road Railway Station, Wadi Bandar, Mazgaon, Mumbai.

Timings: 10 am to 5 pm

Cost: Nil

(c) Anuraddha Chowdhary

Photo of Kuan Kung Temple, Dockyard, Wadi Bandar, Mazgaon, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Sreshti Verma

12. Spend the weekend swaying at Bandstand.

The top things to do in Mumbai don't have to include spending a lot of money for a memorable experience. Every Saturday and Sunday of the winter months, the BMC (Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika Suraksha Dal) Band performs all over the public parks, Bandstand and gardens of Mumbai. The performance entails crowd-pleasers of all sorts, such as old Hindi film songs, patriotic number, Scottish marches and even tunes of Beethoven and Mozart.

Contact: SM Kamble on 2596-5257 for the schedule and performances usually begin from October.

13. Rent a bicycle and take an early morning tour of Mumbai by yourself

The best way to experience the life of Mumbai is to see it wake slowly and then all at once. The people who are the lifeline of the city, begin their chores and day at the break of dawn and you can get a glimpse of them by taking an early morning cycling tour. Take a circuitous route beginning from Kailash Parbat Restaurant in Colaba, to Sasson Doc and the kolis of Mumbai. You can make a route of your own and follow Google maps while you ride. Renting a bicycle is extremely convenient and affordable.

Cost: ₹100-200 per day for renting a bicycle

Gateway of India at the crack of dawn. (C) Gabriel de Castelaze

Photo of Bandstand Promenade, Bandra West, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Sreshti Verma

14. Visit the Japanese cemetery behind the Japanese Temple of Nipponzan Myohoji.

Fujii Guruji was on a tour of India during 1931-38 to spread the message of Buddhism, and when he met Mahatama Gandhi during his travels he started actively participating in the freedom movement. As a token to his service in the freedom movement, Kishore Birla and Baldeo Das Birla built the Nipponzan Myohoji temple for the strong community of Japanese traders that were thriving in Mumbai at the time. Now the population has dropped to little over 500 people, but the temple stands as a powerful symbol of solidarity between the countries. Behind the Japanese Temple lies a little-known cemetery where ashes of Japanese immigrants and prostitutes lie. There is no charge for visiting any of these places.

Where: Hindu Shamshan Bhoomi, behind Japanese temple, E Moses Road, Worli

Cost: Nil

15. Explore the Sassoon Dock Art Project

(C) St+art India

Photo of Fun and Almost Free Things to Do in Mumbai This Summer by Sreshti Verma

The 142-year old docks that is home to the circus of a bustling fish market every morning has recently been given an artsy makeover. The project was an initiative of the St+art Mumbai Urban Art Festival and showcases murals, installations, film screenings, talks, and audio-visual experiences that capture the lives of the Kolis, the Banjaras and the Hindu Marathas. One of the most fun things to do in Mumbai, 40+ Artists from across India, France, Singapore and Australia have come together and transformed the docks into an art space bursting with colour and poetry that doesn't fail to delight Mumbaikars and the regular tourist.

Where: Sassoon Docks, Cuffe Parade, South Mumbai

Cost: Nil

Timings: Thursday through Sunday, from 12 pm to 10 pm

16. Try traditional Sindhi food street food in Chembur Camp

Dal Pakwan (C) CanariasAgusto

Photo of Chembur Camp, Chembur, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India by Sreshti Verma

Post Independence, camps were set up in Chembur (a suburb in Mumbai, on the harbour line route of the Mumbai locals) to settle refugees from Pakistan. The Sindhi Camp are is Chembur is home to many eateries that were established by the community where traditional snacks and meals have been drawing in crowds for decades. There are quite a few food walks that happen here. You can choose to sign up for one or binge at your own convenience.

The landmark mithai shop that started as a hole in the wall, might have expanded with branches within other areas in Chembur, and in Navi Mumbai, but their flagship store that got a swish facelift recently (read large mirrors, new tiles, large glass displays and new machinery for air sealing your mithai boxes) remains a draw.

Where: Chembur Camp, Gidwani Road, Chembur (E).

Cost: ₹400 for two

Timings: 9 am to 10 pm

Contact: 25531762

Must order: The melt-in-mouth Gulab Jamuns (Rs 20 per piece), the popular Sindhi delicacy Singhar Jhi Mithai (Sev Barfi made from unsweetened, sev which are deep fried crunchy strands of gram flour, mawa, milk, sugar and nuts, Rs 560 per kg), the Pista Barfi (Rs 560 per kg) and the savoury Matthi (Rs 240 per kg), which is a traditional North Indian-style crispy snack, made of firm dough prepared with semolina, maida, carom seeds, black peppercorns and ghee.

Opened roughly 66 years ago, the eatery is a two-minute walk from Jhama. People queue up for their Dal Pakwan (Rs 30) and chilled Salted Lassi (Rs 120).

Where: Chembur Camp, Gidwani Road, Chembur (E).

Cost: ₹200 for two

Timings: 7 am to 10 pm

Contact: 8691070000

Must order: Dal Pakwan. A popular breakfast item in Sindhi homes, the dal is a simple preparation of chana dal perked up with green chillies, cumin seeds and spice powders, while the pakwan is a deep-fried puri like snack made from plain flour dough.

Located in a narrow lane near Vig and fondly known as Ladda Ragda Pattice Wala, the eatery can seat up to 10 people. In operation for over 60 years, almost any local on the road will be able to give you directions to this place.

Where: Old Barrack No T-107, Sindhi Camp, Gandhi Bazar, Chembur Colony, next to the Janakalyan Bank, Chembur.

Cost: ₹300 for two

Timings: 9 am to 10 pm

Must order: Ragda Pattice

Right across the road from Vig is Sindh Pani Puri. The tiny roadside shack is packed in the evenings.

Where: Shop No. 13, Chembur Camp, Gidwani Road, Chembur (E).

Cost: ₹100 for two

Timings: 4 pm to 10 pm

Contact: 8898131313

Must Order: Ice-cold Pani Puri (₹30) made from boondi, Dahi Vada and Mirchi Bhajji (₹50).

Non-vegetarians needn’t feel left out in the neighbourhood. The quaint eatery in one of the bylanes between Vig and Jhama does not have any tables but serves delicious food.

Where: Chembur Camp, Gidwani Road, Chembur (E).

Cost: ₹300 for two

Timings: 4 pm to 12 midnight

Contact: 25536668

Must order: The spicy Kheema Pattice (₹ 140 per plate).

Best Budget Stays In Mumbai

Hotel Kumkum, Urbanpod Hotel, Treebo Abrol

Hostels: Dream Dormitory, Hostel Mantra, Backpacker Panda Colaba

Homestays: BSS - Pluto near IIT Powai, Famous Rest Home, Royal Living

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