Mumbai is a sprawling, monstrous city that seems to be constantly expanding and almost never-ending.
It’s a place of history, culture, and too often, mayhem as well.
While the city is a must-visit place during any trip to India, the size, scale, noise, and pollution of Mumbai can be all too overwhelming, all too quickly.
Luckily, the city does end, and in the surrounding area – outside the urban mass of apartments and suburbs and slums – you can easily escape Mumbai for the day to find some peace and refreshing, clean air along the way.
There are plenty of interesting day trips to make – from exploring ancient Buddhist caves to adventuring into India’s very own wine region.
There are beaches, waterfalls and national parks to discover, amongst much, much more.
Here are our favorite day trips to make from Mumbai.
1. Elephanta Caves
The Elephanta Caves are a spectacular and intriguing UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s found just a short journey outside of the city center of Mumbai.
The caves are found on Elephanta Island – located in the Mumbai Bay – which was used as an important religious site by Buddhists and then Hindus.
The caves are cut from the rock itself.
Inside the many different, ancient caverns can be found an array of sculptures and inscriptions that depict Hindu epics and deities.
Even today, the caves are a place of worship and pilgrimage for many Hindus in the Mumbai area, and you can expect to experience a colorful display of culture and religion when you visit.
Recommended tour: Half-Day Mumbai Elephanta Caves Tour
Nashik is located a few hours to the northeast of Mumbai and makes for a wonderful day trip away from the city.
This is an area of rolling hills and lush, green valleys.
Importantly, though, Nashik is also India’s premier wine-producing region.
Although many visitors may not be expecting to find fine wine when they visit the country, in Nashik, they are guaranteed to be pleasantly surprised.
Wine production here is a relatively new art form, but already the locals of Nashik are competing with the biggest international players.
There are several wineries to visit, with the most popular being the Sula Winery – is the nation’s largest and most well-known domestic wine producer.
You can call in for tastings and to see the vineyard in action.
Available tour: Nashik: Private Full-Day Wine Tour with Tastings From Mumbai
Alibaug is found overlooking the ocean to the south of Mumbai.
There are great connections – by road, train or ferry from Mumbai – making this the perfect place to spend the day.
Alibaug is known for its variety of beaches and unique seafront; surrounding the town are many stretches of sand – from black sand beaches to extreme tidal areas.
A favorite tourist spot is the Kolaba Fort, which is built a few kilometers out from the shore; it has long played a historic role in the region.
Spend the day enjoying the sights and lounging on the beaches, but make sure you stay for the sunset before returning to Mumbai, as the sunsets over Alibaug are some of the most beautiful on the coast.
Matheran is a small hill station that has become one of Mumbai’s most loved day trips.
Matheran, in stark contrast to Mumbai, has been declared pollution free.
This charming hill station has banned all cars, and being 88 meters above sea level, offers a much-needed respite from the humid, polluted city below.
To get here, you must take the train, as no private vehicles are allowed in the town itself.
There are many other forms of transport inside the town though, from handcarts to rickshaws, but really, the best way to get around is to hike along the spectacular trails that offer dramatic viewpoints out over the surrounding green, landscapes.
5. Kanheri Caves
Just to the north of Mumbai’s center, you can find the historic Kanheri Caves.
Located within the boundaries of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, this is a vast complex of over one hundred caves, many of which have been shaped and carved by hand over centuries into the shape they are today.
The area was originally used by Buddhists – as far back as the 1st century BC – and then Hindu worshippers added their own layers of sculpture and worship to the caves.
A lengthy, rock-hewn staircase leads to the cave entrance, which you will find is impressively pillared and hewn straight from the rock itself.
It’s a mammoth feat of engineering that will leave you bewildered and humbled.
Recommended tour: Kanheri Caves: 5-Hour Excursion from Mumbai
Karnala is a small area of protected land that’s found extremely close to the city of Mumbai, making it an excellent location to escape the chaos of the city and find some small level of solitude.
Karnala is home to a bird sanctuary, which, although very tiny in area – just a few square kilometers – is full of wildlife and greenery.
There are hundreds of species of bird that flock to Karnala, and many hikers and outdoor lovers are drawn here for the wild beauty too.
The sanctuary is found around the remains of an ancient fort that stands atop a huge pinnacle of rock, making for a dramatic sight.
The fort can be reached along a lovely trail that will take you through the bird sanctuary and to the top of the peak.
7. Pawna Lake
Pawna Lake is found close to the city of Pune, to the southeast of Mumbai.
It’s an excellent outdoor location, perfect for hiking, strolling, picnicking, or simply relaxing and enjoying the calm, tranquil waters.
Although it’s artificial, you will find it is still very much a beautiful, green and outdoorsy place to visit.
A favorite local hobby in the area is to bring a tent and camp out under the stars, to wake up to the lapping waters in the morning.
It’s definitely a place that’s worth a trip from Mumbai, even if it’s just for the day.
Pune is another sprawling city, so if you are looking for a relaxing escape from Mumbai, then this might not be the best place to visit.
If, however, you are looking to experience one of the most fascinating cities in this part of India, then a day trip to Pune is very much worth it.
This is a historic place – home to the world famous Aga Khan Palace, a lavish display of wealth and power that dates back to the 19th century.
It’s also the site of the Gandhi National Memorial, where the great man’s ashes are preserved.
There are plenty of old forts and museums to visit, while there is a real mix of ancient culture and modern India is visible across the city.
Lonavala is a place that’s really like few others near Mumbai.
This beautiful hill station is almost dream-like, with misty mountains and green rolling hills that stretch for mile upon mile.
If you arrive straight from Mumbai, the clean air and cold climes will shock you as much as the spectacular landscapes do.
There’s plenty to do in the hill station and the surrounding area, from visiting the ancient cave system of Karla to the dramatic peaks and cliffs that can be hiked.
Khandala is another beautiful hill station that’s actually found just a few miles away from Lonavala.
This town is found at an elevated height, overlooking a scenic, green, and misty valley.
It’s a real favorite for those from the nearby cities who are looking to enjoy a spot of hiking; there are some great walking routes that lead to panoramic viewpoints.
Kashid is found along the coast to the south of Mumbai.
This beachside town is a great place to spend the day relaxing on white sands and enjoying the sea.
This is a quiet spot – at least in comparison to Mumbai – and there are even a few resorts where you can get food or enjoy a drink, or spend the night if you really want a longer break from Mumbai.
Vasai is a city to the north of Mumbai, found on the other side of the Vasai River.
The city is full of colonial relics, including the famous Vasai Fort, which was built hundreds of years ago by the Portuguese.
Found to the north of Mumbai, Silvassa is a unique city to visit; for years, this was a Portuguese colonial city.
There are still a lot of remnants of Portuguese rule, and a very distinct history waiting to be discovered.
The surrounding area has many natural wonders too, including some incredible waterfalls.
Rajmachi is an old ruined fort that’s found in a breathtaking location atop verdant, green cliffs.
The fort was an important defensive structure against the British when they began their conquest of India, but ultimately, it fell.
It’s now a protected monument and well worth a day trip from Mumbai.
Trimbak is a fantastically cultural town that’s found away from Mumbai, close to the nearby town of Nashik.
Trimbak is the site of Trimbakeshwar, a Hindu temple that holds an incredibly sacred place in the religion.
It’s very much an important pilgrimage site and held to be very sacred.
As such, the whole town is a culturally vibrant and exciting place to visit.