Visitors will find the coolest weather and the largest crowds from late fall to early spring (October to February). Hotels fill up fast this time of year, so be sure you have a room booked, especially if Mumbai is your arrival point in India—it has one of the nation’s busiest airports. Located mid-continent on the country’s west coast, the city is also well served by domestic flights and the national railroad. In winter, nights rarely get down below the 40s and most days stay comfortable, so you can set your sights on the bazaars, galleries, and neighborhoods that make Mumbai a true tourist mecca. In January and February, festivals abound—the classical Banganga and Kala Ghoda arts expos are two biggies.
As the heat index rises, and everybody in the region gets ready for the monsoon season, Mumbai does not exactly slow down (although those who can afford to, head north to cooler country hill locations). March to May, and again in September, is a good chance for visitors to experience the “Big Mango” at a, relatively speaking, mellower clip. Even though you’ll think twice about swimming here, on hotter days, the call of the beach and its offshore breezes are hard to resist. A trip to the upscale Juhu Beach suburb on Mumbai’s west side may be in order. Likewise, joining the pilgrims at the tanks on Malabar Hill and strolling the nearby hanging gardens, are good chill-out activities when the hustle and bustle of downtown threatens to overwhelm.
Once the monsoons arrive (June to August), daily downpours turn the streets into a churning mass of… well, better not to think of it. On the plus side, it’s cool to see the monuments freshly scrubbed by rain, and there are bargains to be had on rooms. (Regardless of when you visit, brace yourself for Mumbai prices, which include the highest hotel rates in India.) The annual Ganesh Chaturthi celebration of the elephant-headed Hindu deity often falls in late August and is worth the trip.