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Places to visit in Goa

Discussion in 'Goa' started by Dhiksha, Mar 7, 2017.

  1. Dhiksha

    Dhiksha New Member

    My husband and I from Ambala want to both go to Goa this year, hopefully before the monsoons start.
    We have seen a lot of people going on holiday to Goa, and they all go to different places, as we don't have much knowledge about the destination we have absolutely no idea of which places to visit in Goa. Once we know, we can then decide which location to stay in Goa.

    It would be great to get some suggestions on the places to visit in Goa so that we can begin with the holiday plans and bookings.

    Thank you.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, @Dhiksha, welcome to the forum!

    (Images from Ruben Alexander, Srashmi, Adriao, Paul and Aldopolo)


    Goa is the most popular beach destination in India. It is sometimes referred to as the Party Capital of India, due to the number of bars and pubs that one can find in central Goa. But the truth is, Goa has more to offer, apart from its gorgeous beaches and vibrant night life. The more rural areas of Goa has lots of greenery and wildlife that you can enjoy. There are many heritage sites in Goa, from Portuguese churches, to Portuguese forts and even Portuguese mansions. Yes, once a colony of the Portuguese, it's inevitable to find influences of the colonial rule in this small state. And if you're a certified foodie, Goan cuisine has a influences of both the Portuguese and Indian cuisines, which makes for a unique culinary experience as well. Planning a trip to Goa? Then this guide might help you in choosing which are the best places for you to visit in the state.

    Places to Visit in Goa

    For a glimpse of the past...

    1. Panjim - You can't miss visiting Panjim, the state capital, which is also India's smallest capital. It is the best place to experience the Portuguese era vibe, as every street and corner of the city still has that old world charm unto it. Don't get it wrong though, Panjim is very much developed though not as chaotic yet unlike other metro cities. It's a city that has its own distinct identity, which is fully defined, amidst the modernities that has enveloped the place. About 20 minutes away from the city centre is Old Goa, the former capital of the state during the colonial rule. This attraction has a number of Portuguese churches that one can visit. The most popular church here is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which can be easily distinguished because of its bricked red facade. The church also houses the relics of St. Xavier and is worth a visit for the architecture lovers as the interiors are very elaborate, with a gilded altar housing a statue of the Bom Jesus. Other churches located within this area are the Se Cathedral, Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount and Chapel of Saint Catherine. After exploring the churches of Panjim, it's then a must to visit the Fontainhas. A place where you can get lost in the bright hues of the residential areas, this is Goa's very own Latin Quarter. The architecture of the houses are largely Portuguese, with their front balconies, white accented windows and sloping roofs. While you're there, indulge in some pastries through the coffee shops and bakeries that are considered as the oldest in Goa. Last is the Reis Magos Fort, originally built around the 15th century by the Portuguese. As it fell into disuse, when the capital was moved, the fort fell into ruins as well. Recent restoration works brought back the old glory of the fort and you can definitely see the glory of the past era here. From here, you can also enjoy a view of the confluence of the Mandovi River and Arabian Sea, truly a perfect spot for sunsets.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Old Goa (Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral, Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount & Chapel of Saint Catherine), Fontainhas and Reis Magos Fort
    (Images from Aaron and Amar)

    2. Sinquerim - Sinquerim has only one heritage site but it is easily the most popular historical attraction of Goa. This is none other than the Aguada Fort, a Portuguese fortification built around the early 17th century. The fort has two levels, the lower level served as a port for passing Portuguese ships while the upper level served as the guarding area against invaders. The lower level has a harbour wherein ships are docked. During the colonial rule, the fort supplied water to passing ships too, hence the name Aguada, meaning Watering Place. Onto the upper level, this is the main fort area, where the bastions, light house, water storage and escape tunnels are located. During its time, the water storage here was the largest of its kind in Asia, with the capacity to hold over 2,376,000 gallons of water. The fort occupies a large area and unlike the forts of Rajasthan, there are no other structures like temples or palaces inside. The Aguada Fort served its purpose as a fortress back then and after the colonial rule, it even extended its purpose as a prison. In fact, there's a section of the fort now that holds prisoners of Goa, mostly those with crimes related to drugs. Close to the fort, you can also visit the Shanta Durga Temple. The temple is dedicated to Shanta Durga, the mediator during the battle of Shiva and Vishnu. The temple has striking and contrasting facades, especially the pure white deep stambha and the bright red main temple complex.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Aguada Fort and Shanta Durga Temple
    Crowded but must-visit beaches...

    3. Calangute - If you are a fun loving and adventurous individual, then you must also visit the Calangute area. There are two main beaches here and they are considered as the most crowded beaches of Goa. First is the Calangute Beach, a vibrant beach located a few kilometres from the capital. The sands here aren't white but rather golden brown in hue. The water isn't that clear but still suitable for dipping your feet in. The beach shores has plenty of shacks for dining or drinking as well. Calangute Beach is also known for the myriad of water sports that one can do here. From jet skiing, to banana boat riding, to water scootering and even parasailing, you can do them all here. Then you have the Baga Beach, located just to the north of the previous beach. Aside from its water sports, the Baga Beach area has the famed Tito's Lane. This is the place where all the happening pubs and bars of Goa are located. Cult favourite spots here are Cafe Mambo's, Club Tito's, Havana and Cape Town Cafe. Yet another good feature of the Calangute area is that it has an assortment of budget and luxury accommodation options. As such, you can find backpackers and luxury travellers in this area.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Calangute Beach and Baga Beach
    4. Palolem - One of South Goa's most popular beaches is the Palolem Beach. It isn't as crowded or as chaotic as Baga or Calangute but as compared to other South Goa beaches, it's relatively busier. Two activities that one can enjoy here are kayaking and dolphin spotting. Kayaking is the main water sport that Palolem Beach offers. Dolphin Spotting trips are also arranged here usually by local fishermen boats. Such trips usually involve exploring the more remote areas of Honeymoon Island and Butterfly Beach. Approachable by foot is the Monkey Island but you need to pass through rocky shores during low tide. This isolated part of the beach has pebbles in its shores and is relatively more serene than the main beach. Finally, for a bit of a unique experience, head to the Neptune Point during night time. This is the venue of the Silent Noise Party that happens in Palolem. Instead of blaring music from speakers, guests are handed out headphones through which they can listen to music from. And yes, it can be amusing to watch people grooving to music that only they can hear.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Palolem Beach, Honeymoon Island, Butterfly Beach, Monkey Island and Neptune Point
    (Images from Dan and Beelakesbeelog)

    Serene beaches...

    5. Arambol - To the far north of Goa is the Arambol region, where you would find the most tranquil beaches of North Goa. The most commercial beach here is Arambol Beach but still far from the popularity of Baga. It has a number of beach shacks but the further you venture to its north, the more serene it becomes. Arambol Beach has this creamy whitish sands and clear blue waters. Activities here are sparse and even water sports aren't available. Thus, if you want to just laze by the beach and enjoy the views, this is the place to be. Close to the former beach is the Paliem Beach, approachable by a short trek. It takes around 10 minutes of walking to reach this small beach. This beach has a small sweet water lake as well, which looks quite picturesque as it's surrounded by lush foliage. This is also the location for paragliding enthusiasts. Further to the north is the Querim Beach, close to the border of Goa with Maharashtra. This beach has soft silky white sands and clear waters. Crowds are almost non-existent and there are even no hawkers or shacks nearby. Your only companies are the small red crabs burrowing their ways through the sands. There are some guest houses in Arambol that one can stay in but resorts or hotels are sparse.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Arambol Beach, Paliem Beach and Querim Beach
    6. Benaulim - Benaulim is located to the far south of Goa. South Goa in itself is considered as the quieter area of the state. Benaulim has a set of white sand beaches that are perfect for couples and families alike. First of which is the Benaulim Beach, which has vast expanse of white sands. The waves here are very calm, suitable for just lazing in the water. A number of resorts and hotels line the shores of the beach too. If you just want a place where you can enjoy the serenity, away from the crowds, this beach is perfect for that. You can also visit the Betalbatim Beach, just a few kilometres away from the former beach. It has powdery white sands as well and there are only six shacks around its shores. No hawkers, nor vendors would be there as well. Only a handful of water sports are available as well. Also worth visiting is the Varca Beach, which is located at the further south of Benaulim. The sands here are a unique mixture of silver and white, which look quite sparkling during day time. There are some water sports available here like parasailing, jet skiing and banana boat riding. Yet it isn't as crowded as other beaches in the central part of Goa and you can enjoy the mild crowds with picturesque sceneries.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Benaulim Beach, Betalbatim Beach and Varca Beach
    (Images from Andrea and Tanya)

    Closer to nature...

    7. Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary - It's no secret that Goa has pristine landscapes yet to be discovered because most tourists flock to the central beaches only. But if you have that inkling for nature getaways, head over to the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. This sanctuary also goes by the name of Mollem National Park. This sanctuary has a mixture of tropical evergreen and moist deciduous forests. Spotting wildlife here might be a bit more difficult due to the thick forest coverings. But reptiles such as the king cobra, Malabar pit viper, rat snake and Indian cobra can be found in the sanctuary. There are also large animals such as wild boars, wild dogs, Malabar giant squirrels and leopards that reside in the sanctuary. But perhaps the sanctuary is most known for the Dudhsagar Waterfalls. The name Dudhsagar can be translated literally to Stream of Milk, which refers to the pure milky appearance of the waterfalls. This is also the highest waterfall in the state of Goa and one of the highest waterfalls in India. Reaching the waterfalls is a bit tricky but the best option is to ride a jeep from Kulem town, which would drop you at the base of the waterfalls and wait for an hour before bringing you back to the town again. Others indulge in a difficult and dangerous trek instead from the Kulem town itself or Castle Rock Railway Station. Don't forget to visit the Devil's Canyon, which is mainly a river gorge with rock formations. It is a bit infamous as a dangerous spot as many individuals have already lost their lives trying to swim in the turbulent waters of the river.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Dudhsagar Waterfalls and Devil's Canyon
    8. Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary - Another must visit sanctuary in South Goa is the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, which is merely 20 kilometres away from Palolem. Much like the former, the flora here are of the tropical evergreen and moist deciduous forests. Animal sightings are very rare except for a few butterflies and squirrels. However, for nature trailing, this is an underrated attraction in the state. There are many areas in the sanctuary that one can explore. For instance, there's the Bela Lake, a small manmade lake which gives nourishment to the animals of the sanctuary. Beside it is a Treetop Watchtower, which requires a bit of courage to climb. From the top, you can enjoy the view of the entire sanctuary clearly. You can also visit the Kuskem Waterfalls, nearby to the sanctuary though it doesn't fall within its premises. It is approachable by a short trek, easier as compared to the former waterfall mentioned above.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Bela Lake, Treetop Watchtower and Kuskem Waterfalls
    (Images from Dinesh and Pixabay)

    To marvel in the beauty of Portuguese homes...

    9. Chandor - Chandor is a small village just 10 kilometres away from Margao. Not many tourists reach this small village but it has some heritage Portuguese mansions worth exploring. One of which is the Braganca House, which is now occupied by two different owners and hence been divided into two wings. These wings are now owned by the Menezes and Pereira families, which trace their lineage to the original owner, which is Luis de Menezes Braganca. The first wing to the right is the Menezes Braganza House and doesn't require any entry fees though it is appreciated if the guests can provide for donations. This wing is known for its elaborate collection of books in the private library. Rare artefacts in the mansion like the Belgian mirrors and Chinese porcelain pieces are also worth seeing. On the other wing, to the left side, is the Pereira Braganca House. This side has its own chapel which even has a nail relic of St. Xavier. It is a bit run down as compared to the former wing, but has its own collection of antique furnitures as well. This side also don't require an entry fee but your donation would be greatly appreciated. About two kilometres away is the Fernandes House, which is lesser known than the former mansion. However, the tour of this mansion would be given by the owner, the descendant of the original owner. You would be impressed by the collection of ancient furnitures depicting the style and grandeur of the Portuguese era. You can view ancient weaponries, palanquins, Belgian furnitures and even secret passages during the entire tour.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Braganca House (Menezes Braganza House & Pereira Braganca House) and Fernandes House
    (Images from Sandra D Souza and Goa Green)

    10. Loutolim - Last on this list is Loutolim, located in the northern part of Goa. Several heritage Portuguese mansions can also be found here. There's the Figueiredo's Mansion, owned by Maria de Lourdes Figueiredo de Albuquerque. This mansion features the same Portuguese style of architecture, along with the lavish interiors and furnitures. A grand hall with its collection of Belgian chandeliers, wood carved furnitures and porcelain plates is the main highlight of the mansion. The 250-year old Casa Araujo Alvares is also worth exploring in Loutolim. This was once the home of the first Portuguese lawyer of the Goa, Eufemiano Araujo Alvares. Interestingly, the mansion has this unique blend of Portuguese and Indian cultures. You can find idols of both Christian saints and Hindu deities, like the Virgin Mary and Ganesha. The old office of the owner is still in intact conditions. The kitchen is especially grand as it showcases earthenware pots, wine glasses and ancient cutleries.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Figueiredo's Mansion and Casa Araujo Alvares

    There you have it, a list of the best places to visit while in Goa. If you only have a few days, then it's best to stay in the central Panjim area and explore its tourist attractions. Then, you can move to either South Goa or North Goa from there. Both have their assortment of serene beaches but you need to venture away from the centre for such beaches. But if you want more of the parties or night life, then it's best to stay in central areas like Calangute and Baga. Good luck and I hope this helps you!