Places to Visit in Goa
Beaches are all people think of when they talk about places to visit in Goa. However, there is a lot more to visit in Goa than its beaches. The hinterland, villages and backwaters hide some beautiful spots to see.
Places to Visit in North Goa
Among the two poles of Goa, North and South, North Goa is more commercial and tourism oriented. Hundreds of restaurants and bars are seen along the coast and the beaches are packed with an array of shacks to suit your taste.
Beaches to Visit in North Goa
Let’s start with the beaches. Ranging from the famous and sought after beach of Calangute and Baga, to the comparatively quieter beaches of Sinquerim and Bambolim, North Goa prides itself in highly tourism-oriented zones.
Calangute and Baga Beach
The beaches that attract the majority of tourists in the whole of Goa, Calangute and Baga play host to a large influx of visitors, mostly Indians. These beaches are dotted with various shacks, both legal and illegal, providing food, shelter, clothing and various other forms of entertainment to keep you occupied through the day and night.
Anjuna and Vagator Beach
Scenic beauty is something to be admired here, the way the rocks adorn the beaches and sea is absolutely divine. Foreigners and Indian tourists throng these beaches regularly. They also have a number of shacks to quench your thirst and cater to your needs. Anjuna and Vagator is riddled with hidden caves and secluded beaches waiting to be explored by the prying ones looking for an adventure.
Candolim and Sinquerim Beach
To the South of Calangute beach, lies a sublime and less crowded stretch of shore, starting with Candolim and ending with Sinquerim. Candolim has various hotels cradling the shore line for tourists who want a view. This long and beautiful stretch ends in Sinquerim at Fort Aguada.
Located after the city of Panaji, this beach provides solace to the working class and students. Parks placed across the beach serves as the perfect place for children to play and people to gather for a lovely stroll. Miramar attracts tourists and locals throughout the year. The beach in itself is void of any shacks, but food carts, Mumbai style, are located along the beach road.
Located right after Panaji, this beach is a quiet and secluded beach with a captivating scenic view. Overlooking the beach from Goa University, one can experience the true beauty of Goa. The Grand Hyatt Goa is located along this beach.
Churches to Visit in North Goa
North Goa has a large number of churches, chapels and crosses which are dotted all over the map of Goa. These religious spots bring thousands of pilgrims from the world over to witness these architectural and religious marvels.
Basilica de Bom Jezu in Old Goa
Basilica de Bom Jezu was built by the Portuguese in the 16th century and contains the remains of St. Francis Xavier. This global wonder has brought millions of tourists and pilgrims to witness this spectacle. Architecturally speaking, the Church stands out fabulously among the various churches with its beauty, strength and designs.
Se Cathedral in Old Goa
Located bang opposite the Basilica de Bom Jezu, this massive church houses certain relics of religious significance that are bound to intrigue the mind. This church is dedicated to St. Catherine.
Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Old Goa
The intricate Manueline style of the entrance and the choir is a unique one of its kind in the East. Adorned with exquisite paintings and designs, this church adds to the collection of amazing churches in Goa.
Reis Magos Church
Reis Magos is situated 7 km from the town and is adjacent to the Reis Magos Fort. It was built in 1555 and is the first church to be built in Bardez Taluka. This church used to house dignitaries and was a mission centre for the Franciscan order.
Mae de Deus Church in Saligao
Mae de Deus has an architectural design that is elaborate and unique as opposed to any other church in Goa. This church stands out at night with breathtaking lighting and highly maintained decor. The church is surrounded by picturesque surroundings and houses the miraculous statue of Mae de Deus brought from the Mae de Deus Church at Old Goa.
Goa is embellished with hordes of serene and beautiful churches, chapels and crosses.
Nightclubs, Discos and Pubs to check out in North Goa
Goa is known for its vibrant, high quality and the wide variety of clubs and pubs that blanket the entire state. The exclusive clubbing experience in Goa is unlike any other state in India, with cheap booze, scrumptious food and high quality sound, Goa is the ultimate party destination. Clubs and pubs are best visited at night, so if you are looking forward to enjoying your Nightlife in Goa, be sure to look out for all the awesome clubs, pubs and parties in Goa.
Night Markets in Goa
Few of the most interesting places to visit at night are the night markets in Goa. The Saturday Night Market in Arpora and the Anjuna Flea Market attracts the most interesting crowd from all over the world. The markets sell everything, from handicrafts to food items, spices to garments, clothing and accessories to music. The Saturday Night Market in Arpora also has live entertainment in the form of music and riveting performance arts comprising of dance and acrobats.
Lounges in North Goa
Lounges in Goa can provide you with the best of comfort to kick back and relax.
An Italian lounge in Baga on the Tito’s Lane called Pacci offers lip smacking pizzas and a place to chill and have a good time.
The Boomerang Bar at the Club City, Calangute is a Goa bar that provides a peaceful place to hang out with good food and a pool table which is open 24-hours.
If you’re hunting for a whiff of Goa’s fresh air, Terrace at Little Vagator provides you an open air bar and restaurant with a spectacular view of the beach. A party venue, Terrace offers food from around the globe including American and European Cuisine with their perfect mixes of cocktails.
Bora Bora, a Morjim beach shack provides a relaxing lounge with some of the best Russian food and multi-national cuisine Goa has to offer.
Club Fresh in Morjim draws a number of international and Bollywood celebrities with its full white chic beachside lounge.
Rockwater Resort is another sports bar with its resort and live music nights.
Restaurants to Eat at in North Goa
Goa has some of the best palettes to offer with its wide range of Indian, Chinese, European and American cuisine. Exotic dishes prepared by some of the best chefs in India are not rare to find in Goa.
Viva in Panjim is one of the best restaurants of its kind in Goa that serves Goan delicacies at reasonable prices.
Mix Bar and Grill serves an excellent diversity of grilled and BBQ specialities in Baga.
Don’t forget to try out Souza Lobo on the seashore of Calangute for some of the best seafood around.
Fiesta is a neat restaurant with a pleasant ambiance and good food.
You can find an extensive range of restaurants catering to your wallet along the entire stretch of North Goa, from budget eateries to 5-star restaurants.
Other Places to Visit in North Goa
If you’re in the mood to gamble or take a chance, Casino Palms at the La Calypso Resort, Baga can provide you with just that. In Porvorim, Neo Majestic provides you with Casino Paradise for a premium Casino experience. Need something more exotic? Well then, Casino Pride and Casino Carnival by the Marriott, both float upon the River Mandovi in Panjim. Crown Casino is one of the latest additions to the growing gaming industry in Goa.
Looking for a place to shop? Caculo Mall in Panjim provides a good shopping environment with a kids play area (TimeZone) on the top floor. They also have a bowling alley there. It is a good place to chill and enjoy with friends and eat a variety of junk foods.
Unlike the rest of India, Goa is also well known for its unique Portuguese influence. Thus the museums in Goa have rather interesting stories to tell. The Goa State Museum houses some of the best artefacts and relics that exist in Goa right from the pre-Portuguese era. The Archaeological Museum in Old Goa has preserved some of the rarest archaeological relics from pre and post liberated Goa.
Places to Visit in South Goa
As compared to the North, South Goa is much more naturalistic and less commercialized. South Goa has a number of beautiful beaches which are rather amorous and have a subtle tinge of romance to it. Other than the beaches, the South is well known for a number of renowned restaurants and pubs. To get a taste of pure Goan culture, untouched and unspoiled for commercialization, travel down South.
Beaches to Visit in South Goa
The beaches in the South are much more preserved in their natural setting as compared to the beaches of the North. However, certain South Goan Beaches do sport more commercial oriented beaches.
Scenic beauty, mesmerising and tantalizing is an understatement to describe Palolem. Locked between two hills, this crescent shaped beach has all the properties of an amazing beach, from huts to restaurants and pubs to the people.
This beach is full of umbrellas, shacks and sunbathing seats. Foreign tourists throng Majorda to enjoy the bright tanning sun of Goa. Majorda sees a comparatively more footfall as opposed to the other beaches in Goa.
One of the few secluded beaches in the whole of Goa, Velsao provides a great getaway for the people seeking solace under the sound of the crashing waves.
Populated with a large number of fishing trawlers, Colva has a number of tourists that pour in from India as well as abroad to bathe in the beauty of the mesmerizing houses and villas scattered around the beach of Colva.
Initially a fishing beach, Bogmalo has been converted into one of Goa’s hottest tourists destinations with an excellent sea line for swimming. The area is occupied by numerous shops selling handicrafts and garments and restaurants selling authentic Goan cuisine and delicacies.
Restaurants to Eat at in South Goa
Just like the North, South Goa has some excellent eateries and restaurants all over the place. The number of restaurants that populate the entire south is enormous; however, certain restaurants stand out among the many owing to their history and services.
Martin’s Corner in Betalbatim provides some of the finest Goan cuisine in a warm and inviting ambiance.
Kentuckee provides delicious meals in Colva.
Leda Lounge & Restaurant, also in Colva, is well priced and known for their excellent service.
Blue Planet in Agonda provides vegan and organic foods which are definitely a treat for the tongue.
Nightclubs to Check Out in South Goa
Titos at Radisson Blu Resort provides an exquisite clubbing experience.
Alvoc, Ziggy’s, and Johnny Cool’s Clubs all located at Colva beach provide good clubbing experiences.
Abyss Club Lounge and Garden in Bogmalo will unwind you in no time with their shisha tent, outdoor lawn garden and unlimited buffet and live cooking.
Pubs and restaurants such as ‘Martin’s corner’ in Betalbatim, Dylan’s Bar in Palolem and Bar Negro in Verna beach also offer the perfect ambience for your drunken endeavors. Palolem beach is known for its beach shacks and for silent party which allows its guests to party silently on headsets so the others do not get disturbed. In other words, it’s a ‘headphone party’ held every Saturday.
Other Places to Visit in South Goa
Museums can be found in South Goa as well. The Museum of Christian Art at Rachol houses some priceless relics. At Dabolim, the Museum of Aviation sports engines, aircrafts, sensors and a number of aviation related accessories in all its glory. Galleria de Icons at Margao and Big Foot Art Gallery & Local Handicrafts Center at Loutolim are places to visit when in South Goa.
Wildlife Sanctuaries to Visit in Goa
Other than the beaches, clubs and churches, this tiny coastal state is well known for its rich flora and fauna. A number of government protected sites exist in Goa to preserve several endangered species.
Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park
Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park is located in the east of the Goa, 57 km from Panaji. The sanctuary is home to various animals, from the Black Panther to the Spotted Deer and a wide range of birds from the Indian Black Woodpecker to the Three-Toed Kingfisher. The Sanctuary is also known worldwide for the famous King Cobra and the Cat Snake among many other snakes and reptiles.
Mahadeyi and Netravali Wildlife Sanctuaries
Mahadeyi and Netravali Wildlife Sanctuaries are connected to each other and have an area of about 420 Sq km. It contains a huge forest area and contains some of the most beautiful waterfalls. This area is well known more for its flora than for its fauna.
Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary
Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary is another protected zone lying in the Western Ghats region and covers an area of about 208.5 Sq km and protects a humongous collection of endangered flora and fauna, including the famous Bengal Tiger. Although threatened by illegal mining and transport through the sanctuary, the government tries to preserve this sanctuary by imposing various rules and regulations. The Malabar Flying Frog and the Flying Squirrel are sights to behold in this sanctuary.
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
The only sanctuary located in North Goa, this bird haven is a home to hundreds of bird species. Located not very far from Panaji, on the island of Chorao along the Mandovi River, this protected zone charges only Rs. 50 per adult and an extra Rs. 50 if you carry a camera.
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in Ponda, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary provides shelter to some of the most interesting species on the planet like the Malabar Giant Squirrel and the Sambar Deer. Another interesting fact about this site is that it contains ancient Hindu carvings which were discovered during the construction of this National Park. These carvings were probably kept hidden due to the Catholic Portuguese Inquisitors who had colonised the state.
Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
The South Goa district of Canacona contains this famous wildlife sanctuary is famous for tourists and locals alike. The area of this preservation contains cottages, houses, a library, canteen, children’s park, rescue centre, reception and the forest ranger’s office. The terrain makes it an excellent ground for trekking and sightseeing. The flora here is spectacularly dense with trees reaching a height of about 30 meters. The animals residing in the sanctuary range from large mammals to tiny reptiles to various exotic birds. All this is a heaven for the nature loving crowd and for all those trekkers out there. There’s hardly a better place to find than the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary.
Villages to visit in Goa
Goa is well known for its agricultural predominance. There are various villages in Goa that have been untouched by commercialisation or development. It is surprising to know that these villages still do exist in Goa owing to the widespread tourism and westernisation that has hit majority of the state. To put things into perspective, Goa was a combination of a various villages; these villages gradually grew into industrial estates and flourish into cities over the past few decades.
Village of Aldona
Situated in North Goa, Aldona is the largest and one of the very few villages in Bardez that remains untouched by development. The inhabitants of this village are very close-knit and it is not a surprise to see cattle on the roads and large fields with farmers toiling through the day.
Village of Maulingam
Located 15 Kms from Bicholim, Maulingam has more influence from the neighbouring state of Maharashtra than from the Portuguese or Goan cultures. The spoken language here is a Konkani dialect mixed with Marathi. Maulingam is completely secluded from the rest of Goa and the people residing here have a small community of not more than 300 people living here whose primary occupation is buffalo herding. The amenities in Maulingam are scarce and irrigation facilities are crude.
Village of Galgibaga
Located in Canacona, near the Goa-Karnataka border, Galgibaga has a rich tradition and culture attached to it. History dating back to 1000 BC is what brings a lot of tourists to the village of Galgibaga. Known for its rich vegetation of forests and fields, Galgibaga remains a green heaven right up till today. However, even though the village is far from any sign of civilization, its inhabitants still speak English fluently, all thanks to the proficient educational system embedded in place.
Village of Benaulim
Benaulim in the South is a well known village. Although not excluded from urbanisation, it still has the essence of a village intact with the main occupation being fishing owing to the extensive sea coast. A number of smaller villages surround this large one; Seraulim and Colva are some of them. Here, local fisheries and large areas for drying fish are spotted. The traditions surrounding this village are mostly dependent on the fishing season.
Village of Keri
Keri is famous for its multiplicity of talents and occupations. It is known for its herbal Ayurvedic medicines, bamboo craftsmen, its cashew and glass bangles Industry and its rich heritage. The humble population of hardworking villagers residing in Keri earns them a decent name on the map of Goa.
Village of Rivona
One of the most enchanting villages of Goa, Rivona is located on the border between Quepem and Sanguem. This village is well irrigated with a large number of rivers and springs which arise from the hill range and valleys with a thick cover of forest. This village gives a highly romanticised image of Goa with farmers working throughout the day in the fields. It is interesting to note that a number of carvings and Buddhist sculptures can be found around this village. The Catholics, as well as the Hindus are very pious in their beliefs and celebrate their traditions with zeal.
Monuments to Visit in Goa
Besides the large number of churches in Goa, monuments of national and international significance have been found and preserved here.
Forts like Chapora Fort, Terekhol Fort, Reis Magos Fort and the Fort of Mormugao along with a number of caves with or without carvings and inscriptions like the Cave of Tar Surla, Caves at Khandepar, Caves at Ishwarbharat and the Caves at Naroa pose as excellent heritage and historical places of interest in Goa.
Various temples with some of the most intricate carvings and mouldings can be found in Goa. Unfortunately, many of the ancient temples in Goa stand in ruins due to colonisation and the destruction of non-catholic structures. A number of fortresses still stand tall braving the changing weather and climate in Goa.
Goa is the ultimate destination for nearly any kind of interest that may exist. It is the place to be for a trekker, a pilgrim, a naturalist and a clubber. All of these stuffed into one single tiny state coastal state of India.