For a traveler, Goa needs no introduction. The smallest state in India is big on its attractions. There are so many things to do and places to visit. But if you are planning a short tour to Goa, we give you the top 15 places to visit in Goa along with activities and things to do.
The tropical weather is perfect for a relaxing getaway. The exciting nightlife inspired the title of the “Party Capital of India”, so there is no dearth of options to spend hours after the sun goes down. And without further ado we give you the 15 best places and things to do in Goa. So read on!
The well-known beach in Goa, Anjuna is a picturesque seaside village in North Goa. The once hippy paradise of the 60s is now a major tourist attraction. This is one of the most popular beaches of Goa, crowded with people from all walks of life. Visit the beach to enjoy the commercialization of the place.
Whatever a tourist wants, the beach offers it. A fresh taste of food or drinks? Watersports or shopping? A beautiful tour or a party? Get to the shores of Anjuna and get ready to begin your Goan holiday.
What to do at Anjuna Beach?
- Go for parasailing, it is an awesome experience.
- Attend one of trance style beach parties or go partying in the nighttime options.
- Take a walk through the hordes of hawkers.
- Get to the beach shack for fresh snacks or a drink.
- Take a beach accommodation, just for the experience of a hippy life.
How can you think of missing the churches in Goa? Goa is known for its churches. Churches and cathedrals of South Goa have been inscribed as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Se Cathedral is the largest church in not only Goa, but also in Asia. Dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, the cathedral is known for giant bells and exquisite architecture.
Se Cathedral Church like the popular Goan churches is located in Old Goa on the banks of River Mandovi. The classical Iberian façade, was erected as Portugal’s commitment to the Catholic Church as well as its overwhelming supremacy. Marvel at the sheer grandeur, there is so much history, peace and an ethereal experience to unravel.
What to do in Se Cathedral?
- Marvel at the largest church in Goa and also Asia.
- Witness grandeur of Portuguese-Gothic architecture.
- Check out the “Golden Bell” said to be the largest in Goa, and one of the best in the world.
- Light a candle for prayers.
The Palolem Beach in South Goa, is the perfect spot for honeymoon couples. Away from the crowds, love birds can take the real experience of sun, sand and sea. The 1.5 kilometer stretch is blessed white powdery sand lined with tall coconut palms and bamboo beach huts.
Palolem is perfect to spend a day absorbing the peaceful surroundings. The shoreline offers a breathtaking view of the entire picture-perfect environment from both of its ends. The Arabian Sea is a shade of sapphire and offers a refreshing dip too. Get away from everything and revel in the harmony of nature.
What to do in Palolem Beach?
- Stroll on the soft sands holding hands with your loved one.
- Watch the sun rise or set over the clear waters.
- Go swimming or sunbathe.
- Famous for parties and nightlife
A dose of history is quite important on your holiday in Goa. After all, Goa has such colorful history. The colonial rule of Portuguese has left its mark and would you not love to see it? The Archeological Museum of Goa is one of 19th century tourist landmarks which displays antiquities that date back to the medieval period making it one of the top places to visit in Goa.
See portraits of governors and viceroys who ruled Goa during the colonial times. Check out postage stamps and several other objects pertaining to the Portuguese rule in India.
What to do in Archaeological Museum?
- Take a keen interest in knowing about Goa’s colonial times
- Check-out the interesting displays housed here.
A place to definitely check out in South Goa, Agonda Beach is a gorgeous three kilometer stretch of relatively pristine sandy shores. The quiet fishing village for most of the year, Agonda transforms itself into a lavish, family oriented, yoga-loving Goa beach resort. The five months November through March season is the best time for yoga sessions.
The shores have a reputation for being the Goa beach to get away from it all. Take refuge from a stressful year at work and leave home refreshed. Agonda beach is the ultimate in laid-back Goa beach holiday destinations.
What to do in Agonda Beach?
- Walk on the soft sandy shores.
- Watch sunrise or sunset.
- Sunbathe or relax.
- Attend yoga sessions in the blessed setting.
To experience the local colors of Goa, Anjuna is definitely the place to be. The Anjuna flea market is held every Wednesday from morning until evening, except during the monsoon season, on the southern end of the beach. One of Goa’s popular attractions, the Anjuna Market offers everything and anything you could think of.
Merchants and gypsies from across India crowd the shores selling locally produced apparel, spices, tea, coffee, jewellery, hand-made toys, souvenirs and much more. Check out the goods, but make sure you bargain.
What to do in Anjuna market?
- Walk the entire market to marvel at the goods.
- For souvenirs you can buy some jewelry, cashews or other token that remind you of Goa.
- Stop at the food stalls, for the real taste of Goan food.
Benaulim Beach in South Goa is one of the fairly undiscovered beaches of Goa. The lack of crowds and of course the serene peace makes it one of the best places to see in Goa. It is a fishing beach with charm of an authentic Goan village.
For solitude and calmness, it is your bet. The beach is melodious with sounds of the sea. When the weather permits, which is mostly throughout the year, one can easily enjoy water sports like parasailing and paragliding.
What to do in Benaulim?
- Stay in the quiet villas or the hotels in the area
- Go for swimming in the clean waters.
- Sunbathe and simply relax.
- Try out the water sports, especially parasailing.
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the top 10 places to visit in Goa. Away from the shores and crowds, this is a haven. The sanctuary shelters a variety of animal life. Sambar deer, Indian bison, peacocks, Wild Boar, Gaur, Porcupines, Jackals, Leopards, Sloth Bear and many species of snake are some of the known inhabitants. Birds of many inhabit the sanctuary and are also easily spotted. The green cover of lush forest, botanical garden, rose garden, fenced deer park, mini zoo are fun to explore. Go for Elephant rides.
What to do in Bondla wildlife sanctuary?
- Hear the calls of birds. Bird watching is a fun adventure.
- Go for elephant rides. You can easily spot the wildlife inhabiting the sanctuary.
- Check out the rare collection of orchids and medicinal herbs.
- Keep your camera and binoculars ready and get ready to be surprised.
When you are in Goa, you must definitely check out the Dona Paula . The mix of sea, sand and sun and other tourist pleasures makes it one of the top places to visit in Goa. This beach has a romantic and mysterious past.
Dona Paula de Menzes, daughter of a viceroy (in colonial India), is said to haunt the beach. After being forbidden form her love she gave up her life. The site is quite romantic for lovers. The shores of Dona Paula are also well known for an array of water sports. The beach also hosts the famous annual water sports festival every November.
What to do in Dona Paula?
- Walk on the sandy shores, it is a kind of blissful experience.
- Visit the monument of Dona Paula, a mark of forbidden love.
- Try out the hordes of water sports. There are options of kayaking, windsurfing, water-skiing, motorboat riding, skibob, parasailing, yachting, snorkeling, sports fishing and harpoon fishing.
- Attend the annual water sports festival held in November, it is a gala time for water lovers.
The Candolim beach in North Goa is one of the most popular beaches. The Candolim shores are blessed with cerulean expanse of the Arabian Sea and silken sands. The ambiance is tranquil. To get away from crowds you would find both tourists and locals, reveling in its mesmeric panorama.
The major lure of the beach is its food. There are delectable seafood options served here. If you are seeking beach accommodation, Candolim beach offers several hotels, resorts and guest houses here. For the adventure lovers there are many options of water sports activities.
What to do in Candolim?
- Relax on the golden shores watching the play of waves.
- Get to the beach shacks for the taste of the fresh catch of the sea and of course, drinks to go with it.
- Indulge in waterskiing or parasailing.
One of the most offbeat things to do in Goa is visit to one of the multiple spice plantation farms in Goa, Sahakari Farm being the most sought after among the discerning travelers. Besides soaking in the natural surroundings and knowing about various spices, you could also partake in some adventure activities like elephant bathing.
What to do at spice plantations?
- Pluck and taste Perry Perry (hottest chilly in the world)
- Take an elephant shower or give bath to a tusker
- Feast on traditional Goan cuisine prepared using farm spices
Sunset Cruise on River Mandovi is one of the most pulsating and romantic experiences in Goa. The cruise is operated by the Goa Tourism Development Corporation. Although the cruise is operated thrice a day, it is the sunset cruise which is most in demand. Music, dance and the scenic surroundings and distant lit city makes for a treasured experience.
The largest floating casino in Goa offer round the clock non-stop fun. This huge floating casino is spread over 40,000 sq ft on three level and is one of the most luxurious places in Goa where you could mint your luck. There are 850 gaming position in the Deltin Casino and you have to either pay for entry + play package or stay + pay package to gain access to the live gaming on this giant casino boat.
Ride a Bike
To discover the best of Goa and move at the speed you want the best way is to hire a two wheeler aka motorcycle. With a motorcycle at your disposal, you can explore the hinterlands of Goa at your own pace and get away from the raucous crowd. That is how you leave behind being a tourist and become a traveler.
Dolphin cruise offers a rare opportunity to spot one of the loveliest, friendly and cutest sea creature. When in Goa don’t forget to go for a Dolphin Cruise and capture them in your camera as they gracefully peep out or water around your boat. The dolphin cruise can be taken from Fort Aguada, Sinquerim or Panji Jetty.
Photo source and more on dolphin cruise here
Best Time to Visit Goa
As everywhere in India, there are three seasons in Goa: summer, monsoon and winters.
Summer last from March to May when the weather is hot and humid and even the Arabian Sea is rougher. This is the low season in Goa which means you can have amazing deals on hotels and home stays. Ideal time for budget travelers.
Monsoon arrives in Goa around mid-June and lasts till October. With the arrival of rain, the vegetation don the lush green hue all around. With 30% of Goa covered in forest, monsoon infuse a new vigor to the natural beauty of Goa. However, sea and sea sports is out of question at this time. Many off beat travelers consider monsoon to be the best time to visit Goa as the weather is just fine, hotel rates are pretty affordable.
Winter season begins from November and last till late February. This is the peak season in Goa with a number of festival being observed and travelers from Russia, UK and USA arriving in throngs to enjoy the tropical warm weather at beaches of Goa. Hotels are mostly sold out and rates are at peak so you are well advised to book in advance.
For a comprehensive travel guide visit the website of Tourism of India
Also know more about Goa on Wikipedia
How do I obtain a visa to (Goa) India?
The good news is that you could apply for e-tourist visa on arrival (TVoA). If your country is eligible (Most of them are now included) you can apply online for visa on arrival a minimum of four days in advance before the day of your arrival. The window for the same is of 30 days. The cost for e-Visa on arrival is $60 and it is valid for 30 days from the date of arrival. Currently, entry at nine designated airports: Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Trivandrum is permitted for TVoA.
For more information, please visit the official site here: https://indianvisaonline.gov.in/visa/tvoa.html
Safety Concerns in Goa
Goa is known for its very low crime rate. However it is advisable to be cautious to your surroundings. Avoid visiting isolated areas and don’t get too comfy with strangers.
Travelers from USA, UK and Canada don’t require any mandatory vaccination while traveling to India. However, it is advisable to carry yellow fever vaccination certificate. As a precautionary measure, one could get vaccinations for Tetanus, Polio, Typhoid, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and B, Tuberculosis, Meningococcal meningitis, Rabies and Japanese B encephalitis.
How to Reach Goa
The major international airport near Goa is Mumbai. However, Goa Airport also cater to international flights with many chartered flights arriving from Russia and UK. Goa is well connected by road and rail as well. By road, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore are the major nearest cities from where buses ply regularly. By train, Goa is connected to major cities all over India.
What Should I Pack for Goa
One of the problem faced by international travelers is the inability or difficulty to recharge electronic accessories such as mobile, laptop etc. Voltage in most of India is 220V. Ensure that you are carrying appropriate accessories and adapters to recharge your gadgets.
Also carry an international driving license if you wish to drive. Self-driving is the most affordable and best way to explore Goa especially driving two wheeler. Royal Enfield is especially popular with international travelers when it comes to renting motorbikes in Goa.
Always carry photocopy of your passport and tickets at all time. Ensure that the originals are safe and secure.
Recent demonetization means travelers are having tough time with currency in India. However, the things have stabilized with the re-introduction of new 500 rupees note. The key is to use cards as much as possible or do the online transactions for hotel bookings. In cities almost all transaction could be done online using cards or apps like PayTM.
In Goa most of the restaurants, shops and hotels accept cards so money is not a problem. When you find an ATM get as much cash as you can or exchange the foreign currency which are giving good returns these days.
Read more on how to deal with demonetization in India
Drugs and Rave Parties in Goa
Drugs are absolutely illegal in Goa attracting severe penalty both monetary and jail term if caught in possession of even minute quantities.
Interesting Facts about Goa
- Goa was ruled by Portuguese for more than 4 centuries, until 1961, when Indian military began military operations resulting in takeover of Goa.
- Goa has the highest per-capita income in India.
- Remains of St. Francis Xavier at Basilica of Bom Jesus in old Goa is 400 years old and are still in a non-decomposing state.
- Goa is the only Indian state with an active and enforced Uniform Civil Code implemented by the Portuguese.
- The first printing press of Asia was installed at St. Paul’s college in Goa in 1956.
- Asia’s only Naval Aviation Museum is at Goa.
- Goa has more than 7,000 bars.
- The Se Cathedral in Old Goa is Asia’s largest church.
- Goa is only state in India having two official state languages: Konkani and Marathi.
Did we miss out on anything or do you think we should have included more? Let us know as we always welcome bouquets and brickbats 🙂
A travel writer by profession and self-professed addict to literature, momos, dancing, music and travelling, Debasree Chakraborty has all interesting things to share. Go through her penned down travel experiences and collected intelligence in her write ups. She writes frequently on Indian Holiday Blog!