Goa is one of the most popular tourist places to visit in India. It is located in the Konkan region of India. The western ghats are located to the east of the state of Goa and the Arabian Sea on its western coast. The tiny state of India is packed to the brim with fascinating things to do and see. Goa has a stunning coastline dotted with beautiful beaches which lures both adventurists and travelers looking for a relaxed vacation. Apart from beaches Goa also a rich colonial history which has left its mark with remarkable historic buildings and forts. Here are the top things to do in Goa which we are sure will push Goa to the top of your bucket list.
Relax at the Beaches
Beaches are the first thing that comes to mind when one plans a trip to Goa. We listed the best places to visit in Goa beyond the beaches but you will agree a trip to Goa is incomplete without chasing some waves at the beach or sunbathing or snapping some breathtaking sunset pictures.
While Baga, Candolim, Calangute, Sinquerim, Anjuna, Vagator, Palolem are some of the touristic beaches, Agonda, Butterfly, Honeymoon, Betul, Arambol, Cola Beach, Galgibaga Beach are some of the best if you are looking for a laid back experience. Beaches like Sinquerim, Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Majorda are for someone looking to some adventure and fun watersport activities.
Numerous Beach huts, restaurants, beach shacks, and discotheques line the popular beaches in Goa. You can grab a seat at one of the tables at these beachfront restaurants and behold as the sun sets in the perpetual horizon and as the sky changes its color into fiery orange while you enjoy some mouthwatering Goan delicacies.
Heritage Tour at the Old Latin Quarter of Fontainhas
The charming capital city of Goa, Panjim is home to Fontainhas, one of the most colorful Old Latin Quarter. The historic neighborhood has numerous traditional mansions and buildings painted in bright colors of red, green, blue and yellow which is spectacular to behold.
Restaurants, cafes, museums occupy most of the buildings in Fountainhas. Few others have been turned into guest homes which offer visitors a unique experience.
You will find numerous spots while wandering the alleys of Fontainhas. Peacock Stairs are the steps which have been decorated with tiles which together illustrate a peacock. Then, the Urban Cafe whose entire wall has been adorned with colorful tiles. Or the Wishing Well which dates back to the times of the Portuguese colonial era. In fact, the traditional mansions in Fontainhas were built by the Portuguese when they moved their capital from Old Goa (Velha Goa) to Panjim. A walk through the streets of Fontainhas is sure to walk you back in time.
Explore the Churches of Goa
Goa is home to some of the magnificent churches which are amongst the largest in Asia. The top best are located in Velha Goa (Old Goa) which is the former capital of the Colonial Portuguese who built these grandeur churches. The most striking and one of our favorites is the Basilica of Bom Jesus. Basilica of Bom Jesus dates back to the early 17th century and is one of the oldest churches in India.
Basilica of Bom Jesus
Right across the street from the Basilica of Bom Jesus are the Se Cathedral and St. Francis of Assisi Church. The 17th-century Se Cathedral features a gilded reredos above the main altar which depicts scenes from the life of St Catherine and the St. Francis of Assisi Church has some of the remarkable frescoes decorating the interior. The convent of St. Francis of Assisi Church which houses the Archaeological Museum of Goa.
About 5 minutes walk from the Se Cathedral is the church of St. Cajetan which has richly decorated altars.
Visit the Temples
Goa is home to some of the beautiful historic temples as well. One temple which we frequently visit is the Mangeshi temple in Ponda, the 16th-century temple enshrines God Manguesh, an incarnation of Lord Shiva.
Shantadurga temple is the 18th-century temple is dedicated to goddess Shantadurga. The temple is about 10 min drive from Mangueshi temple. The Mallikarjuna temple in South Goa believed to be one of the oldest temples in Goa dating back to the 16th century. The temple is dedicated to Lord Mallikarjun, an incarnation of Lord Shiva.
Mahadeva Temple located near Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary is another important historic temple that dates back to the 12th-century. The temple features intricate carvings on pillars and ceilings. Also must visit are the Maruti Temple which sits on a hill in Fontainhas, Mahalaxmi Temple, Mahalasa Temple, and Kamakshi Temple.
Stay at a Beach Resort
One of the best ways to make the most of your laid back vacation to Goa is to stay in one of the beach resorts. The resorts are located right on the beach offering you breathtaking views of the sea. Enjoy your stay where the evening ends amidst the waves crashing at the shores and the dawn breaks with the chirping of the birds. Wouldnt that be an amazing experience?
During one of our trips to Goa, we stayed at one of the beach resorts in South Goa and it was a wonderful experience. If you are looking for a relaxed trip, the beach resorts in South Goa is definitely recommended for fewer crowds.
North Goa has many popular attractions. Booking a beach resort in one of the beaches in North Goa would make getting around for sightseeing much more convenient. The beaches of North Goa like Calangute and Sinquerim are also known for the myriad of adventure water sports activities.
Visit a Spice Farm
There are numerous spice gardens in Goa which offer a tour of the spice farm along with information on the spices grown, their benefits and their cultivation. The tour also includes lunch comprising of local Goan delicacies and which is cooked with fresh ingredients from the farm.
We did a tour with the Sahakari Spice Farm which is located in Ponda. Sahakari Spice Farm spread over 130 acres is one of the largest spice gardens in Goa. The farm also grows fruits, medicinal trees and herbs apart from the spices. Lunch at Sahakari spice farm was very good. The plates and spoons were made out of leaves of betel nut palms. The food items were stored in earthen pots. The menu consisted of both veg and non-veg items.
Other popular spice gardens in Goa are Tropical Spice Plantation in Kerim which also offers a spice farm tour with lunch.
Go on a Shopping Spree
One of the fun things to do in Goa is to go on a shopping spree. Small shops selling beach wears, beautiful dresses, hats, handicrafts, toys, and some unique souvenirs line the streets leading to the beaches. If you can bargain hard you can strike some amazing deals when shopping here.
One of the best we can recommend for shopping is the Anjuna Flea Market that takes place near Anjuna Beach every Wednesday. There are over 100 shops selling you dresses, handicrafts, shoes, antiques, spices, gems and stones, jewelry accessories, toys, bags and much more at a very reasonable price and still, you have room for some bargaining too.
Then there is Arambol night market which is held on Saturdays. The market sells some of the trendy and latest fashion collection including clothes, jewelry and more. The market is open between 4 PM and 11 PM from November to April. You will also find food stalls where you can take a break and try some delicious cuisines.
Devour on a Fish Thali
A trip to Goa is incomplete without trying some Goan seafood delicacies. Even best devour on a Seafood or Fish Thali. During our tour of Fontainhas, we stopped by the Ritz Classic Restaurant for lunch. The restaurant is located off 18th June Road about 5 minutes walk from the iconic Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church.
The Fish Thali we ordered comprised of fish rava fry, fish curry, crab masala and shrimp salad seafood specialties accompanied by rice. It was one of the best thalis we ever had.
Other popular restaurants are Martin’s Corner in Betalbatim, Dropadi in Palolem, The Verandah and Viva Panjim in Fontainhas. These restaurants are a must visit to try some local Goan delicacies and seafood specialties. Most of the beach restaurants also serve some great seafood cooked with day’s fresh catch.
Get High on Adventure Activities
Goa is a favorite beach destination and one of the top reasons is that it offers a myriad of water sports activities. Parasailing, kayaking, water skiing, banana ride, rafting, windsurfing, kite surfing jet skiing are some of the popular adventure activities. The tour companies also organize fishing tours and boating tours to explore the nearby beaches and dolphin sighting.
Discover the colorful world underwater and get a chance to swim with fishes and other beautiful marine animals on Scuba Diving and Snorkeling. The best time for water sports activities in Goa is from October to March.
There are also plenty of nature trails which can be explored on trekking and hiking. One can reach the popular Dudhsagar Falls, one of the popular waterfalls in India by hiking from Mollem National Park. Vagheri Peaks, Chorla Ghats, Udaan Dongor, Krishnapur Canyon Trek are other popular trekking destinations in Goa. There are numerous waterfalls including Todo Waterfalls and Savari waterfall at Netravali, Tambdi Surla Waterfall all of which needs trekking through dense foliage offering an amazing experience.
Explore the Forts
Goa has a rich history ruled by several dynasties including the Adil Shahis of Bijapur, the Marathas, and the Portuguese. These dynasties have left behind some magnificent forts. The 17th-century Fort Aguada together with its lighthouse is amongst the well-preserved Portuguese fort in Goa. The Reis Magos fort is a 16th-century fort which offers great views of the Arabian Sea. There are galleries in the fort with artifacts on the history of Goa.
The Chapora Fort and Caba Da Rama Forts are the ancient forts which are almost in ruins. Visitors can walk along the ramparts which offer breathtaking views of the sea. Corjuem Fort, Mormugao Fort, and Anjdiv Fort are other forts which are known for the spectacular views.
Goa has a vibrant nightlife which draws party animals from all over the world. There are plenty of nightclubs, pubs, and bars in Goa. You can dance the night away amidst the energizing music accompanied by drinks and delicious seafood. The beach shacks were amongst our favorite which made for a perfect night out with family.
We had some delicious food at Shiva Valley and then spend some time on the beach. The partygoers enjoyed shaking a leg at the open discotheque which is next to Shiva Valley. And then there were families with kids like us who enjoyed watching the waves with beats in the backdrop.
Another wonderful all-in-one option is the party cruises that sail on the Mandovi River. Hop onto a cruise and party the night away with lots of music, dance, and food under the open starry sky surrounded by perpetual waters.
Hope you have plenty of reasons to plan that most awaited trip to Goa. What is that you like most about Goa? What is your most favorite thing to do on the trip to Goa? Do share with us in comments.
Make sure to spend a few days in Goa and explore the places around Goa which have some of the gorgeous hidden beaches, quaint villages, and mouthwatering seafood.
Things to do in Temple Town of Gokarna – Gokarna is about 150 km from Goa
Karwar – The Pristine untouched beaches and the Scrumptious Sea Food – 85 Km from Goa
Murudeshwar Temple – A Visit to the World’s Second Tallest Shiva Statue – 200 km from Goa
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