Goa, the land of beaches, is the smallest state in India and yet, arguably, the biggest tourist destination of the country. The beaches, markets, parties and natural beauty of this land full of life on the west coast of India is what mesmerizes many visitors and leaves them asking for more. Goa had earned a reputation of a hippie hangout destination during the 70s. Anjuna was the destination everyone wanted to head to. Over the years, Goa has become more hip than hippie. A blend of Portuguese and Indian influences, Goa’s unique history makes it a place much more than just beaches and parties.
Arambol, Mandrem, Morjim, Vagator, Anjuna, Baga, Calangute, Candolim, Miramar and Dona Paula are the most popular beaches in the north. While the beaches of North Goa are considered ideal for beach holidays, the beaches in South Goa can match those in the north in scenic splendor. Be it the beautiful Palolem beach or the quiet Patnem, you are in for some splendid beach time. For sports enthusiasts, a number of water sporting activities are available at many of the beaches. When you get away from the beaches towards the interiors, you will be amazed by the beautiful old churches of Goa. It is also one of the best destinations in the country to try out some delicious sea food.
In and Around
Basilica de Bom Jesus
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a church, which is situated in Old Goa, and is an excellent example of Baroque architecture. Basilica of Bom Jesus was constructed in the year 1605 and is one of the most important destinations for Christian pilgrims from all over the world. One of the most important attractions here are the mortal remains of the missionary Saint Francis Xavier.
This majestic fort perched over the Sinquerim beach is an architectural marvel of the 17th century, which was constructed by the Portuguese in order to defend their land from the Marathas and the British. Offering breathtaking views of the Arabian Sea, a walk through the fort to the lighthouse located on top is a must while touring Goa. The lower portion of Fort Aguada has now been converted in to a beach resort.
Chapora Fort first got noticed in the movie Dil Chahta Hai. This ancient fort in North Goa offers splendid views of the adjoining Vagator beach and overlooks the Arabian Sea from all angles. The fort is located on top of a hillock with slopes on all sides, and though it is almost in ruins now, it doesn’t stop visitors from standing where Bollywood stars once did!
St Cajetan’s Church
This is the most beautiful of all churches of Old Goa. The church is built in Corinthian style. It is said to be modeled on the design of Basilica of St. Peter in Rome and is built of laterite blocks which are lime plastered. Originally named The Church of Our Lady of Divine Providence, the church is named after its founder St. Cajetan.
Colva is one of the historical towns in Goa that dates back to the early 17th century. The popular Colva Beach is approximately 6 kms from Margao and is graced with 25kms of the fine white sand and is bounded along its coast by coconut palms that stretch from Bogmalo in the north to Cabo de Rama in the south along south Goa’s coastline.
Located 14 kms north of Panaji in the state of Goa, the Candolim Beach is a part of a long extension of beach coastline along the Arabian Sea that begins at Fort Aguada and ends at Chapora Beach.This place is also famous as it is the birth place of Abba Faria, considered to be one of Goan freedom fighters and the Father of Hypnotism.
Miramar Beach is situated 1 kilometer ahead of the confluence of Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea. It is situated on the way towards Dona Paula, about 3 kilometers from Panjim, the capital city of Goa. MiramarBeach of Goa is also known as ‘Gasper Dias’. The Miramar Beach in Goa begins at the gulf and then culminates in the Emerald Coast Parkway. It is a golden beach fringed with palm trees. The soft sands of the beach makes it the best site for evening walks. Moreover, ‘miramar’ in Portuguese implies ‘viewing the sea’. Tourists can get a glimpse of the majesty of the Arabian Sea from the Miramar Beach at Goa.
One of the most sought after beaches in India, Baga Beach is the centre of tourist attraction in Goa. Situated in North Goa, pleasant ambience, scenic views of the shoreline and plenitude of things to do makes this fishing village one of the finest places to visit in Goa. On any visit to this sandy retreat, you can witness innumerable fishing boats docked by the shoreline.
Known for its Aguada Fort, Aguada Beach is among the places to visit in Goa. The seashore is positioned in North Goa and is perfect to bask in beachy allures. This destination stands apart with the many historical attractions. It also allures with pristine landscape and the background of ancient citadels. Thanks to the great settings, the beach is also a favourite among honeymoon goers.
Arambol Beach is said to be the most beautiful in the state. It lies on the north of Keri Beach and south of Mandrem Beach. This is also a traditional fisherman hamlet.The sandy shore is considered safe for swimming and hence attracts several family goers. It also lures many foreigners especially during the months from November to March. The accommodation provided is simple in the form of homestays and beach shacks and relatively cheaper. Over here, one can indulge in adventure sports such as paragliding and kite surfing. Those who are interested can also avail of courses in yoga, meditation, Odissi Dance and more.
Placed in Canacona, Goa Palolem beach offers serene and soothing allures. The beauty of the shore lies in it being mostly untampered. People who reside here include fishermen and foreign tourists.
Such is the exquisiteness of this beach that it was featured in The Bourne Supremacy as the Goan home of Jason Bourne (Matt Damon). Each season, bamboo-hut stays and restaurants are opened up by the beach for travellers to get a true experience of the sun, sand and sea.
One of the captivating tourist places in Goa, Calangute Beach is constantly bustling with tourists looking for some relaxed and good times. It is located about 15 kilometers from Panaji. The largest beach in north Goa, this place especially gets flooded during winter and summer months. There are several accommodations available here. This is where one can dabble with some water sports such as parasailing and water skiing. With Baga Beach just a hop, skip away, you can reel in some vibrant nightlife too.
A delightful little sandy cove north of Palolem Beach, Butterfly Beach beckons with silver sands and lucid waters. Not accessible by road, you would have to embark upon a trek of around 2 hours through woody areas to get here. You can even take a ferry ride from Palolem Beach to reach this place. Needless to say, the beach is not crowded. The hills and thick vegetation fringing the sands further add to the allure. It is among the offbeat places to visit in Goa.
Also referred to as The Pequeno Island, the Bat Island is ideal for adventure seekers. About a kilometre from Baina Beach of Vasco-da-Gama, the delight has a little beach and tiny green stretch. This is where one can enjoy snorkelling or simply spend a lazy day soaking up the charms of the setting. With snorkelling, you might be able to get a glimpse of star coral, brain coral, sea fans, sea whips, parrot fish, angel fish, squirrel fish, butterfly fish, sea cucumbers and many other denizens of the water world.
Lesser known than its famous counterparts, Divar Island is huddled away across the Mandovi River. At this place, you can unravel the appeals of old Goa countryside. Enjoy a pictorial drive amidst paddy hills and woody hillocks. The place was once popular among Hindu pilgrims where several ancient temples existed. They were destroyed by the Portuguese and the main Ganesh idol had to be replaced in Khandola hamlet near Marcel. When at the hilltop, you can soak in sweeping sights of the surroundings as well as Old Goa and meandering Mandovi River. The island especially comes alive during the Bonderam festival that is held with great gusto during the monsoon.
Goa State Museum
Located in the capital city of Panjim, the Goa State Museum houses artifacts pertaining to its golden and bygone history. There are about eight thousand interesting artefacts housed in this museum, which makes this place one of the top places to see in Goa. The artifacts include numismatic collections, anthropological artefacts, coins, sculptures and ancient manuscripts.
Cabo de Rama Fort
The Cabo de Rama Fort is one of the oldest in the state. Positioned in Canacona, it was formed before the arrival of British. Legend has it that this is the very place where Lord Rama along with Sita sought refuge at the time of his exile from Ayodhya. The drive to the fortress is a pictorial one. Once at the top, you can soak in the sight of crystal waters fringed by sandy charms and arching palm grooves. Inside the fort is the well-retained church of Santo Antonio, where devotees still come to.
Goa Science Centre
Goa Science Centre is the latest attraction of Goa. It is the constituent unit of National Council of Science Museums functioning under the Ministry of Culture, government of India. The government of Goa has leased 5 acres of land in Miramar. It has come into existence since the year 2001. The main objective of the centre is to develop a scientific inclination among the young generation. Science centre is a perfect place for entertainment for the entire family.
Anjuna Flea Market
Although Anjuna is a small village in Goa, its fame has travelled far and wide making it one of the most preferred places to visit in Goa. As much as this town is known for the St Michael’s Church, it is known for its flea market as well. Popularized by hippies, the flea market came into being during their time.
Mapusa Friday Market
If you happen to be in Goa during a Friday, do not miss the bustling Mapusa Friday Market that takes place each week. Just outside Mapusa Municipal Market, you will find an array of stalls enticing you with local goods got by farmers and small entrepreneurs across the state. Get your hands on anything to everything from fruits to jewellery, pottery to spice, carpet to home made products and more. You can also but Goan chouriço and seedless tamarind.
If you are looking out for the most happening and electric pubs, bars and restaurants in Goa, Tito’s Street is the spot for you! Some of the famous venues on this street are Café Mambo, Retro Bar, The Club, Red Square, Cock and Bull, World Café and Tito’s Courtyard. There are plenty of events that happen at these places all year round. Visited by local, national and international celebrities, party and liveliness lies in the essence of this street.
The Baga Deck
The Baga Deck or De Baga Deck is a fine-dining Italian restaurant that serves some of the most scrumptious and tantalizing foods in Goa. Visitors to this restaurant vouch for this fact and now this restaurant is a landmark of sorts. Tasty cocktails, great music, pleasing ambience and magical cuisines are the highlights of De Baga Deck. The ambience is unique given the large French windows through which you can enjoy uninterrupted and spectacular views of the Arabian Sea.
Curlies, a famous beach shack at the Anjuna Beach is considered to be one of the original beach shacks in Goa. Started as a mere beach shack, it now has become one of the major landmarks in Goa. Offering food and drink in a pleasant ambience, this is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Choose your favourite cocktail from the roof top lounge bar and settle down overlooking the Arabian Sea. On special occasions, the visitors can enjoy live music and other related shows, where international DJ’s play reverberating music can easily make you dance, sing and sway in abandonment.
Mollem National park
Also called the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, this region spreads over 240 sq. km. Amongst all the places to visit in Goa, visitors come here mainly to see the impressive biodiversity of this land and the ancient temples inside the forest. A paradise for the birds and the enthusiasts of reptiles, it houses some of the rare and exotic species of both the species. To name a few of the dwellers, Fairy Bluebirds, Drongos, Hornbills and Wagtails comes up as the most spectacular natives of Mollem National Park.
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Among the serene tourist places in Goa, Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is a trove for bird lovers. It was coined so after the illustrious ornithologist with the same name. The estuarine mangrove habitat is positioned in the Island of Chorao by Mandovi River. You can get here by taking the ferries that ply from Ribander and Chorao. Birds spotted here include striated heron, western reef heron, little bittern, black bittern, red knot, jack snipe, pied avocet and the likes.
If you are a nature lover, than do not miss the gushing splendour of Dudhsagar Waterfalls, the largest of its kind in the state and the fifth largest in the country. Among the fine places to visit in Goa, this cascade is especially known for its milky white appearance. It is perched high up on the Mandovi River and lies around 10 km upstream from Collem hamlet. The beauty spills over four tires in full force amidst clusters of green and makes quite a sight. The fall is also quite a popular for trekking and lures several adventure enthusiasts for the same.
Among the fascinating tourist places in Goa, Lamgau Caves is another place you can dash off to. Tucked away in Bicholim, it is situated around 35 km from north-east of Panaji. The caverns are etched out of decomposed laterite and hence quite delicate. Though incomplete, they make for quite a vision and an important educational and cultural centre.
Also known as Harvalem Waterfalls, the Arvalem cascade is where you can lap up of the view of waters gushing through mountains, dropping from 50 metres. It then forms a pool below where avid swimmers enjoy a swim. The waterfall lies about 2 kilometre from tiny settlement of Sanquelim and 8 kilometre from Bicholim, in North Goa.
Spice Plantations visit
If you wish to do something beyond the beaches in Goa, you can opt for a spice plantation visit. There are packages available which involves you exploring the refreshing surroundings and also getting an insight on what all goes behind the makings of an inevitable part of Indian cuisine. You can make a picnic out of the day. Away from the pollution and amidst the harmony of nature, the visit makes for a memorable experience.
Goan casinos offer ample of opportunities to outshine the nights .Though Goa has some of the best casinos in the country, the floating casinos are the most popular ones. Casino Royale, Casino Pride and Casino Carnival on the Mandovi River are some of the stunning casinos in Goa. Amongst the others, Dunes at the Zuri White Sands on the Varca Beach and Chances Casino in the Vainguinim Valley are also two of the highest visited casinos in Goa.
The best time to travel to Goa is between November and March, when the weather is dry and relatively cool, the sea is calm and clear, and all the facilities, from resorts and restaurants to beach shacks and parties, are open for business.
How to Reach
The Dabolim Airport lies just 29 kilometres from the state’s capital, Panjim. It is well connected by daily flights from Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Cochin and Bangalore.
The two major railheads in Goa are Madgaon and Thivim, which are well connected by trains from all over the country.
There are a number of public as well as private bus operators in Goa, which offer options for intra-city and inter-city conveyance. KSRTC, MSRTC and KTC are some of the Government undertakings that operate from Panaji, Madgaon and Vasco Da Gama. Private bus operators include the likes of Neeta Tour and Travels, Paulo Travels and Naik Tours and Travels. Goa enjoys daily bus service from important cities like Mumbai and Pune.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
Terra Paraiso Beach Resort
Gaura Vaddo Calangute Bardez,
Calangute Beach, North Goa
Plot No 37,38, SGO Complex,
EDC Pato, Near Passport Office,
Panjim , Goa 403001
Santana Beach Resort
Near Kamal Retreat, Calamari,
Dando Candolim, Candolim Beach,
North Goa , Goa , 403515
Where to Eat
Opp Municpal Garden,
Panaji, Goa, India,
31st January Rd,
Panjim, Goa, India
854 Martin’s Building,
D.B. Street, Panjim, Goa, India,