Visiting Lonavla hill station - day trips from Mumbai
Destinations in India,  Maharashtra,  Mumbai

10 weekend getaways and day trips from Mumbai

When one talks of day trips from Mumbai, it’s rather common to refer to them as a kind of escape from this “difficult, congested, and polluted city”. Therefore, the lists of weekend gateways and one day trips near Mumbai are usually topped by nature spots and picnic locations. But I’ll tell you honestly, after twelve years in Mumbai I find the city as charming and enigmatic as it first appeared before me.

Even though it can be overbearing sometimes, I never felt the need of escaping it or taking a break from its trademark rapid rhythm, bustling liveliness, and contagious enthusiasm. Day trips from Mumbai are attractive to me for the sheer convenience of getting there fast, and I favour both the nature spots and urban areas with beautiful architecture.

In my list of one day trips near Mumbai you’ll find only places I’ve visited on my own – I’m speaking only from my personal experience and not rehashing any stuff from other sources. So yes, I like all these places and genuinely recommend them.

Here are some of the best weekend getaways and day trips from Mumbai you’re bound to enjoy.

Best weekend getaways and day trips from Mumbai

The Elephanta Island

When one thinks of day trips from Mumbai, the first thing that comes to mind is visiting Elephanta island. It’s by far the easiest trip to take from the city. To reach the island, you need to take a ferry from the docks behind the Gateway of India. It takes approximately one hour to reach Elephanta, and the journey is nothing short of delightful.

The shimmering waters of Mumbai Bay, the graceful seagulls and all sorts of ships and boats you meet on the way will entirely occupy your thoughts as the island will slowly emerge from the misty horizon. Elephanta Island is famous for its groups of rock-cut caves with a vast array of sculptures depicting scenes from Hindu epics.

Dating back to the 5th century, the Elephanta Caves are a silent testament of ancient sculptors’ incredible mastery, and exploring them is a treat. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. All in all, Elephanta Island is one of the most enjoyable day trips from Mumbai.

How far is Elephana Island from Mumbai? 20 km

Things to do in Elephanta:

  • Take a toy train (it’s just a very small ride, but it adds to the fun).
  • Buy some souvenirs. To get up the cave complex, you need to climb a stairway lined up with souvenir stalls. There are plenty of interesting things. They come with a tourist price attached, of course, so you should bargain. As a person who loves buying souvenirs when travelling, I purchased countless things during my trips to Elepnata, including fridge magnets, statues, a handmade bag, jewellery box, “I love Mumbai” t-shirt and what not.
  • Explore the caves. The main attraction for many visitors is a large three-headed statue of Maheshmurti Shiva which stands for creation, protection and destruction. Other interesting statues include Gangadhara (Shiva bringing Ganges river to Earth), Virabhara (a fierce form of Shiva murdering the demon Andhaka), Yogishvara (Shiva as lord of Yoga), Nataraja (Shiva as god of dance), and many more.
  • Familiarize yourself with a history of the place. The island has an interesting history, and you can learn about it by either hiring a guide (there are plenty of them offering their services), or buying a booklet.
  • Watch the monkeys. These little pests can be found in the island in abundance, and they are very cute and picture worthy. Make sure to take care of your belongings though and avoid eating near the caves, or they’ll come for your snack, acting rather aggressively. One of the monkeys snatched my mom’s hat, but little did she know that my mom is a former prison officer who doesn’t tolerate any nonsense. She got her hat back!
  • Enjoy the beautiful view over the sea.

Recommended read: Tips on visiting Elephanta Island near Mumbai with kids

Day trips from Mumbai
A ferry ride to the Elephanta island
Day trips form Mumbai: visiting Elephana Island
The caves of Elephanta

The Kanheri Caves

Located within the borders of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, this complex of rock-cut Buddhist caves makes for one of the most comfortable day trip from Mumbai. There are more than one hundred ancient caves, with some of them dating back to the 1st century BC. Just like in the Elephanta caves, you can find a lot of interesting sculptures and bas-relieves in the Kanhery caves, including a massive statue of Buddha.

Some of the caves are rather simple and frugal (these were used as shelters for Buddhist monks and travellers, while the others are highly ornate and intricate. I visited this place during the rainy season, when the splendour of monuments was complemented by the thriving greenery and scenic waterfalls.

How far are the Kanheri Caves from Mumbai? Sanjay Gandhi National Park with the cave complex is actually located within the boundaries of the city, around 40 km from its centre. It took me two hours to reach it by the local trains.

Things to do when visiting the Kanheri Caves:

  • Explore the caves, obviously! The complex is huge, and you can easily spend a few hours looking around.
  • Take some breathtaking photos. The place is a photographer’s paradise, so make sure to take a lot of pictures.
  • Enjoy the view over the vast area of the national park. It’s especially scenic when karvi shrubs are in bloom, painting the sprawling landscape bluish purple. What makes it even more special is that these shrubs are supposed to bloom only once every eight years.

You may also like: The Kanheri caves – a huge complex of rock-cut Buddhist monuments in Mumbai

Day trips form Mumbai -Kanheri caves
A large statue of Buddha.
Kanheri caves
Ah, that naughty guy! He snatched a biscuit from my son’s hand!
Kanheri caves
Rock-cut stairs and a waterfall
Kanheri caves
Am I not in a good company? 🙂

Lonavala

With an elevation of more than two thousand feet and mesmerizing nature, Lonavala is one of the most popular day trips from Mumbai and Pune. This iconic hill station is dotted with fantastic view points and picnic spots, which makes it an ideal place to relax and recharge one’s emotional batteries. It also has facilities for water sports like swimming and rafting.

The best time for visiting Lonavala is October to March, when the temperatures are not soaring high, but if you fancy an opportunity of admiring the freshness of nature and countless waterfalls, it’s highly recommended to visit the place in rainy season. Make sure to check the weather forecast though – during monsoon this region of the Maharashtra state is known for its heavy downpours.

How far is the Lonavala hill station from Mumbi? 83 km.

Things to do in Lonavala:

  • Check out the Lonavala lake. Excavated in 1876 to preserve water in the region, this artificial lake is still a sight to behold. It fills up during the rainy season and dries up during the consequent months, so if you want to see it in full glory, make sure to visit Lonavala just after monsoon.
  • Visit Karla caves. The state of Maharashtra is studded with ancient Buddhist cave complexes, and one of them is located in Lonavala. The Karla caves features a magnificent praying hall with the most impressive facade. Highly recommended!
  • Have a look at the Tiger’s Leap. The place has got its name after a cliff shaped like a leaping tiger.
  • Admire the view over the Karla and Bhaja caves from the Lohagad fort. The fort is an interesting architectural remnant from the era bygone – it was used as a jail and treasure in the time of Shivaji.
  • Walk around, admire the beautiful nature, take photographs, have a picnic, and what not 🙂

    Visiting Lonavla hill station - day trips from Mumbai
    Visiting the Karla caves near Lonavla – these are the sort of day trips I like 😉

Khandala

This hill station is just a few miles away from Lonavala, and these two destinations can be easily clubbed together as a day trip.

How far is the Khandala hill station from Mumbai? 80 km

Things to do in Khandala:

  • Visit the Rajmachi fort. Rajmachi is a small town, conveniently located between the Lonavala and Khandala hill stations. It houses an ancient fort, which is a major attraction for the local tourists. As you walk to the fort, breathtaking nature of the Deccan Plateau keeps unfolding the most fantastic views.
  • Admire the Kune waterfalls. With a total height of more than two hundred meters, it’s one of the largest and most impressive waterfalls in India.
  • Have a look at the Duke’s nose. This place with an intriguing name is a mountain in Khandala whose top resembles the shape of the Duke of Wellington’s nose. With lush greenery and splendid views, it’s a perfect place for trekking and hiking.

These are just a few things to do in Khandala that make it one of the most attractive day trips from Mumbai.

Aurangabad

Commonly known as the tourism capital of Maharashtra and the City of Gates, Aurangabad is an intriguing city with a 400-year-old history. That said, the city is often overlooked by tourists who use it merely as a stopover on the way to the world famous Ellora and Ajanta caves. But I spent a wonderful half a day in Aurangabad and would gladly visit again, this time for the whole weekend.

How far is Aurangabad from Mumbai? 367 km. One can easily reach there by train – it’s only a night journey away from Mumbai. Devagiri Express departs at 9.10 pm and reaches Aurangabad early in the morning.

Things to do in Aurangabad:

  • Explore the gates. There used to be 52 gates in the city during the time of Aurangzeb, the six Mughal Emperor. This as the number of suburbs walled within the boundaries of Aurangabad in order to protect them from the Marathas’ invasions. At the moment there are only 13 surviving gates, standing guard by the city they were meant to protect.
  • Visit the Daulatabad fort. This fort with a magnificent pillar that can be seen from afar was known as City of Prosperity in middle ages, but then was completely abandoned in the 14th century because of lack of water. Located atop a 200 m high pointy hill, this fort used to have an admirable defence system and was never in its history taken by force.
  • Admire the beauty of Bibi Ka-Maqbara (“Tomb of the Lady”). Known as “Mini Taj Mahal” or “Taj of the Deccan”, this monument bears a striking resemblance to the glorious Taj Mahal indeed, only it was constructed for the fraction of the price.
  • Make your way to Panchakki. Panchakki is an ancient water mill that was used for grinding wheat in to flour.
  • Visit the Chatrapati Shivaji museum. The museum is not big, but it showcases a decent collection of weaponry, crafts and coins.
  • Have a great time in Siddhartha Garden and Zoo.

Finding a place to stay is easy in  Aurangabad – there are lots of hotels and homestays to suit any budget – here are some of the best deals.

Suggested read: One day in Aurangabad – things to do, places to visit in the City of Gates

Bibi Ka Magbara in Aurangabad
Bibi Ka Maqbara in all its glory

Nashik

Located around 170 km away, Nashik can hardly be included in the list of day trips from Mumbai (though it’s still possible with proper preparations), but it’s definitely a worthy weekend getaway. The city is famous for its vineyards and pilgrimage destinations. According to Ramayana, lord Rama stayed in this place during fourteen years of his exile. As a holy city, every 12 years Nashik hosts Kumbh Mela – the biggest religious gathering in the world.

How far is Nashik form Mumbai? 170 km.

Things to do in Nashik:

  • Walk around Ramkund. According to legends, Ramkund is a place where Rama, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana took shelter during their exile. The place is bustling with religion related activities, and there are plenty of temples of a considerable architectural value.
  • Visit Kalaram Temple. Built in the 18th century, the temple was constructed entirely of black stone and dedicated to the lord Rama (Kala Ram actually stands for Black Rama).
  • Enjoy the special atmosphere of Tapovan. Located amidst the flourishing greenery, this place on the Godavari River’s banks is nothing short of picturesque.
  • Visit the Gargoti Mineral Museum. Located 30 km from Nashik, this museum is definitely worth a visit even if you’re not a big museum enthusiast. Not only it’s the only Gem and Mineral museum in India, but it’s also the biggest private mineral museum in the world. It houses a rich collection of minerals and crystals, fossils and metals, precious and semi-precious stones. Here you’ll find the most splendid okeanites, pentagonites, green apophillites, amethysts and quartzes.

For a place to stay in Nashik, check out these accommodation options.

You may also like: One day in a holy city – things to do in Nashik on a short visit

Things to do in Nashik
The Calaram temple
things to do in Nashik
Ramkund
Some pretty religious offerings

Pune

I’m not sure whether you would consider day trips form one sprawling city to another, but I did, and it was an absolute success! It takes around three hours to reach Pune from Mumbai by an AC chair car, which makes it super easy to arrange a trip.

In Pune, my wanderings around the city took me to an ancient fort and glorious palace, showy memorial and lovely museum, bustling market areas and quiet gardens. And if you ask me whether I recommend Pune as a day trip destination from Mumbai, the answer is yes!

How far is Pune from Mumbai? 152 km.

Things to do in Pune:

  • Visit the Shanivar Wada fort. Built in the 18th century by Bajirao I, the fort served as the seat of power for Peshwas during the time of the Marathas. The imposing building was destroyed in the fire, but even its remnants are quite impressive and definitely worth exploring. Shanivar Wada is undeniably the main architectural and historic attraction of the city, and it’s recommended to start your acquaintance with Pune from this place.
  • Admire the woodwork of Vishrambaug Wada. Would you like to see wooden gargoyles, exquisite pillars and pretty balconies? Then Vishrambaug Wada is the place for you!
  • Enjoy the peace and quiet of the Aga Khan palace. It’s a beautiful mansion set amidst the sprawling gardens, where Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned for two years along with his wife and secretary.
  • Visit the Shinde Chhatri memorial. This exquisite structure breaks the myths that the most intricate chhatris (cenotaphs) can be found only in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
  • Lose yourself in the galleries of the Kelkar Museum.
  • Do some street photography in the old neighbourhood of Pune – there are plenty of interesting architectural details.
    Vishrambaug-Wada-balcony
    Observing Pune from the Vishrambaug Wada’s balcony with its stupendous woodwork
    places to visit in Pune
    Shanivar Wada fort – the view over the courtyard and surviving foundations
    Aga Khan Palace Pune
    Peace and quiet of Aga Khan Palace.

    There are plenty of places to stay in Pune, ranging from budget hostels to luxury accommodations. TO get the best deals on Pune hotels, check out this list.

Kolhapur

Just like Nashik and Aurangabad, Kolhapur is a comfortable and extremely rewarding weekend getaway from Mumbai. The city is interested in more ways than one – its history goes back to the times when locals were trading with Romans, and later it was an important strategic point of the mighty Maratha Empire. It’s home to some exquisite architectural masterpieces, iconic mutton thali, and trademark Kolhapuri shoes.

How far is Kolhpur from Mumbai? 376 km

Things to do in Kolhapur:

  • Explore the architectural marvels of the city. There are quite a few magnificent buildings in Kolhapur with cultural and historic significance, including Mahalaxmi Temple, the Old Palace and the New Palace of the Maratha rulers.
  • Walk along the pathway around the Rankala Lake. This is an artificial lake with a religious significance and one of the most peaceful and serene places in the whole city. Lined up with palm trees standing proudly against the backdrop of the sky, the Rankala Lake is a very scenic spot.
  • Check out the Town Hall Museum. Housed in a quaint heritage building, this museum’s exhibits range from ancient relics to marble statues, oil paintings and ivory collectibles.
  • Visit the Panhala fort. For breathtaking views, visit the Panhala fort overlooking the Sahyadri mountain range.
  • Enjoy the local cuisine. Please your taste buds with Kolhpuri missal pav, batata wada pav, bhel, and mutton thali.

Suggested read: Places to visit in Kolhapur – the city in pictures

Kolhapur New Palace
The New Palace in Kolhapur

If you need a place to stay in Kolhapur, some of the best accommodation options could be found here.

Mahabaleshwar

The list of day trips from Mumbai would have been incomplete without Mahabaleshwar. Commonly known as the land of strawberries, this magnificent hill station is also famous for its countless rivers, waterfalls, hills and valleys. It’s strongly recommended to take a road trip to Mahabaleshwar by a private vehicle as you’ll want to stop in quite a few places on the way and admire the beautiful nature. After visiting Mahbaleshwar a few years back, and I would make a second trip anytime.

How far is Mahabaleshwar from Mumbai? 260 km

Things to do in Mahabaleshwar:

  • Go boating on the Venna lake. You can rent either a row boat or a paddle boat, or go on a private boat tour. You can also go horseriding near this place or have a pleasant picnic in a scenic spot overlooking the lake.
  • Go on a trek or nature walk in the Tapola forest.
  • Treat yourself with some delicious strawberries and cream in the Mapro Garden. Originated in Mahabaleshwar, the Mapro brand is famous in the whole of India for its delicious foods and drinks made of strawberries and other berries like raspberries and mulberries. Here you can buy jams, milk shake mixtures, jellies, syrups and so on.
  • To enjoy some seriously mesmerizing views, make your way to the Elephant’s Head point, the Arthur’s Seat, Connaught Peak and Babington point.
  • Buy some handicrafts at the Town Bazaar.

    Waterfall in Mahabaleshwar

Matheran

 And last but not least, Matheran is a tiny hill station which makes one of the most exciting day trips from Mumbai. Matheran is a vehicle free place, so it’s best explored on foot while breathing fresh air and admiring amazing vistas. Apart from hiking, one can indulge in a vast array of activities in Matheran, including rappelling, rock climbing, boating and horse riding.

How far is Matheran from Mumbai? 90 km.

Things to do in Matheran:

  • Witness the beauty of nature form the Alexander point.
  • Go on a trek to Garbett point. It’s an easy trek which makes it perfect for first timers.
  • Enjoy the peace and quiet of the Charlotte lake. Located around two kilometres from the train station, the lake is easily accessible, and you can reach there either by walking or riding a horse.
  • Visit the Luisa point for mind blowing 360 degree view of fantastic surroundings. Make sure to take some of the most epic photos.
  • Head to the Echo point and listen to visitors screaming their names or names of their beloved ones. The location is surrounded by hills which bounce sounds back.

These are only a few tips on choosing some worthy destinations for day trips from Mumbai. There are many more, and most probably I’ll keep adding them to this post. Stay tuned!

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Day trips from Mumbai for history, nature and culture

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