Thinking of a Goan holiday? Looking at Goa for family vacation?
Look deeper, head inland….there is more to this “bite-sized” state than sun, sand, sea, beach, booze and bistro’s. This time around, along with the usual, try a different Goa as well and you are sure to come back with more selfie clicks and memoirs for your life.
So read on, and plan to surprise yourself with a true Goan experience this time around. Check out these 15 best places to visit in Goa and things to do that won’t let you miss out on any of the Goan “fun”.
One of the most popular beaches in Goa and also the largest beach in North Goa, Calangute beach is among the most recommended tourist places in Goa and popular with both domestic and international tourists. It is also the busiest and commercialized beaches in Goa and during peak seasons, this beach is swamped with people from all over the world. It offers a long coastline with an amazing view of the sea and the beach front is dotted shacks, restaurants, clubs and shopping outlets. Once can also enjoy a plethora of water sports at Calangute beach.
Anybody and everybody who has been to Goa would have visited Calangute beach, popularly known as the ‘queen of beaches’. It easily tops the list of top places to visit in North Goa.
A well-preserved 17 century Portuguese fort, Fort Aguada is located on the Sinquerim Beach in North Goa. Built as the chief defence of Portuguese against the Dutch and Marathas, it was the most prized and crucial fort of the Portuguese. The fort is ringed by thick battlements and a deep dry moat. 2 things worth visiting inside the fort are the 13 metre high lighthouse built in 1864 and a vaulted cistern capable of storing ten million litres of fresh water. From here fresh water was supplied to the ships that stopped there.
Some buildings of the fort are still in good shape having been converted into a jail and interestingly, it happens to be the largest jail in Goa. Fort Aguada is one of the top sightseeing places in Goa.
The Deltin Royale Casino boat is the largest casino boat in Panjim, Goa. It offers 24 hours of nonstop fun in an area spread over 40,000sq.ft of luxury live gaming on three levels with 850 gaming positions. Live entertainment is on the restaurant floor and during peak hours. You need to buy an entry and play package to gain access to the casino. You can also choose to buy a stay and play package which lets you stay at the Deltin hotel and access to the casino as well. For those travelling during national holidays, the casino is closed on all national holidays.
Popular as the place where the Bollywood flick “Dil Chahta Hai” was picturised, the Chapora fort stands at the mouth of the Chapora river as an old guard. Today this laterite fort is almost in ruins but does offer some sensational views of the coastline from the top of the fort. That itself is reason enough for any photo enthusiasts.
Churches in Goa are an important legacy of it being an erstwhile Portuguese colony. Built across centuries, these architectural wonders were more than just a place of worship; they hold a place of historical or cultural significance as well. One of the popular churches in Goa is the Basilica of Bom Jesus. The mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier is preserved here in this Basilica and hence revered by many. It also is an UNESCO World Heritage site.
About 9 kms to the south of Bicholim town in North Goa is located the 6th century Pandava cave complex and Arvalem waterfalls. The cave complex is divided into 5 compartments and the ‘linga’ enshrined in the middle compartment is held in great reverence by devotees here.
Another attraction close to the Pandava or Arvalem caves is the Arvalem waterfalls. The water cascading down from a height of 50 mts makes for an awesome view, and there is a park nearby from where you can view the waterfall as well as the lake at the bottom.
Goa may have a long Portuguese history and quite a few famous churches, yet it is also home to beautiful temples and ornate mosques as well. Ponda region in Goa is famous for the 16th century Safa Shahouri Mosque as well as the 450-year-old Shri Mangesh temple dedicated to Shiva. The highlights of the temple are the seven-story lamp tower (deepstambha), a magnificent water tank, believed to be the oldest part of the temple and there is a prominent Nandi Bull as well inside the temple. Located on a small hillock, it is also one of the largest temples in Goa. Because of its temples and churches, Goa is also a popular tourist destinations in India for religious travel.
Literally meaning a sea of milk, Dudhsagar Falls is a 4 tiered waterfall located and the 4th tallest waterfall of India. Located at a distance of 46km from Madgaon, the falls appear spectacular during monsoons after been fed by the rains. There is a railway bridge which passes right in front of the waterfall and passenger train passing through the fall tend to always slow down for passengers to view the fall up close. Unfortunately, there is no viewing platform or site for tourists to take in the full view of the enormous waterfall. Some people do get down at the Dudhsagar station and walk backwards on railway tracks, but that is certainly not recommended.
Not everybody loves crowded beaches. For those looking for some serenity in Goa, Ashwem beach is kind of an oasis. Located in North Goa, around 27 miles from Anjuna beach, this beach is quite opposite to what the popular North Goa beaches like Baga or Calungute are. It is quiet, clean, less crowded and peaceful. White sandy beach with a smattering of restaurants and hotels scattered around the beach area.
Arossim Beach is another such South Goa travel destination or rather beach. Located at a distance of 12 kms from Margao, this beach also is a peaceful paradise with dazzling white sands and swaying palm trees. This beach is also famous for 2 very popular beach shacks; The Star Fish” shack and “The Venus” beach shack. Excellent food (both Indian and international) and awesome views are 2 primary reasons why these 2 places are hugely popular. Looking to watch the sun go down with a chilled beer? Look no further.
Unknown to many, the Naval Aviation Museum is the only one of its kind in the whole of Asia and the only Naval Aviation Museum in India. It has an outdoor and an indoor section and exhibits range from 7 different type of aircrafts, rockets, bombs, armaments, protective gears, parachutes, pilot’s outfits etc. Definitely a must visit on your next Goa tour, especially for those keen on life about the defence forces.
The Mollem National Park, located in the Western Ghats along Goa’s eastern border with Karnataka. Spread over 240 sq km, the national park is home to several species of wild cats, a wide variety of birds, several species of snakes and even a wide range of butterflies.
Besides wildlife, the park is also home to “the Dhangar”; a community of nomadic buffalo herders. It is also known for some awesome trekking trails and the 12th century Tambdi Surla Mahadev temple dating back to the Kadamba Dynasty.
Fontainhas, the old Latin Quarter of Goa seems to belong to another part of the world, maybe Europe but certainly not India. The narrow winding street flanked by brightly coloured houses with projecting balconies and red tiled roofs makes for a very picturesque sight. Even the beautiful number plates of the houses are like works of art. It gives a very Mediterranean look and feel to the entire place.
Located at the foothills, with the Altinho hills on the west and the Ourem creek on the East, it derived its name from ‘Fonte Phoenix’ (Fountain of Phoeni)’, which was essentially a water reservoir constructed during the Portuguese rule. The Fountain of Phoenix can still be seen on the way to the Maruti Temple in the Mala area.
You can also opt for a Heritage walk in Fontainhas to know more about the architectural marvels of the place.
The Reis Magos Fort is the oldest fort in Goa and has been recently restored to its former glory. It was initially used as the viceroy’s residence and later converted to a fortress. It also served as a prison until recently. Surrounded by sturdy and distinctive reddish laterite walls and studded with typically Portuguese watchtowers or turrets at strategic points. The fort offers some remarkable views of the surrounding countryside and overlooks the Reis Magos Church which lies only a short distance away.
Goa’s flea markets are also an integral part of tourist experiences in this beach city. Originally started off by hippies as a means of earning money by bartering or selling their stuff, today it is very much a part of any tourist’s Goan itinerary. Arpora night market is held every Saturday from 6pm until late night. This market is a more welcome alternative to the Anjuna market held during sweltering hot afternoons. Also, you can find food stalls offering an inexhaustible range of delectable fare and a centre stage which hosts live concerts.
Goa has always being popular for its nightlife, and Tito’s is one of the best nightclubs in Goa. It is also one of the first discotheques of Goa. Located off the main road, towards Baga beach, Tito’s consists of 2 levels; dance floor on level 1 and level 2 is from where you can sit and watch over the action below. Saturday nights at Tito’s is all about pulsating dance floor, electrifying music, and throbbing lights. The food at Tito’s is also quite lip smacking.
Best Time to Visit Goa: The winters are the best time to visit Goa but it is also when Goa is the most crowded. Summers in Goa are more popular with families with kids. Goa looks beautiful in monsoon as well and monsoon tourism is fast catching the traveller’s frenzy as well. Though you miss out on some water sports at the beach, which are closed monsoons, you can indulge in some white water rafting which runs only during monsoons.
How to Reach: Goa is easily accessible from all metros and major cities by flight, train and by road as well. The international airport is at Dabolim, at a distance of 29 kms from Panaji and the rail head is at Madgaon and Vasco da Gama are the 2 railway stations in Goa.
Goa continues to remain an eternal favourite with both domestic as well as international travellers because there is no place quite like it in the whole of India. Apart from being a top honeymoon destination, it is also an equally popular family holiday destination. If the sea and sun doesn’t lure you, you still have enough reasons, listed above, to visit this wonderful place.