Looking out for top things to do in Goa? Goa is not only about the beaches or the parties it is know for. In today's post, I am going to tell you why Goa has made it to the top of the list of the Best Tourist Places in India. So, go ahead and continue reading if you are planning a trip to Goa for your next vacation.
WHAT IS GOA ALL ABOUT?
Goa is one of the most loved tourist destinations in India. Thousands of national and international day-trippers flock to this land every year to witness its stunning beaches and staggering beauty together with experiencing the thrill of the rave parties that Goa is famously known for.
Goa, as you all know, is one of the most happening places in India. Be it the rave parties, the trance culture, the thrilling adventure sport or its spectacular natural beauty and stunning beaches, Goa, never disappoints people who love travelling, exploring new cultures or staying up all night partying with their friends.
Apart from its floating casinos, crazy nightclubs, and amazing cultural festivals, the fantastic beaches, pretty villas, beautiful churches, the riverside promenade and cobbled streets, Goa is also bursting with great sightseeing opportunities.
GOA DILEMMA: NORTH OR SOUTH ?
However, there is one thing that might confuse you when you land there. And that is - which part of Goa is better, North Goa or South Goa?
In the beginning, I too had this dilemma and searching on the internet made it even more confusing. So, to make things easier for you I will tell you about both these parts from my own experience.
LEARNING FROM MY MISTAKE
Goa might be a tiny little place. But even this little paradise is structurally divided into the North and the South. Both North and South Goa are different beauties in their own special way.
So do not make the mistake of ignoring one part while you get busy in exploring the other. Doing that will only make you regret in the future. To make things simpler, let me brief you a little about both.
UNDERSTANDING NORTH & SOUTH GOA
Since both North Goa and South Goa are two extremely vibrant tourist destinations that are bursting with places to see and things to do for tourist, I will be covering both these parts of Goa separately in two different posts.
- NORTH GOA
- SOUTH GOA
North part of Goa might fascinate you more if you are a celebrator who loves socializing and partying. North Goa is the hub for all party-goers, bag packers and yes, for all those who love the hippy vibes.
You can enjoy these mouth-watering delicacies of Goa and its lip-smacking seafood as you bop along the live music.
Not too far from Baga is the Anjuna beach which is well-known for its trance parties. Another attraction about this beach is the Wednesday flea market that hosts a range of items for sell both Indian and foreign.
Anjuna is full of quirky shacks that cater partying revelers with food, drinks, smoke and the like.
Panaji is the capital of Goa and it is one place in India that your travel list needs to have. One of the most spectacular cities of the country, Panaji overlooks the gorgeous Mandovi river where cruise boats and floating casinos ply the water.
Choose any place here and enjoy the beauty of the dynamic Mandovi river that flows composedly, as people flocks into the casinos and restaurants that float magnificently on its lap.
You can enjoy the exotic Goan food as the sun nears the horizon and live music and local bands start performing in different restaurants to entertain their guests for a lovely evening.
You can go through the streets of the Panaji market during the day. In the evenings, of course, the place is all lively and vivacious like it is having a carnival. Every day is like festive time in Goa.
If you are looking for a quiet, peaceful vacation, where you want to leave behind all your worries and slip into solitude amidst serenity, South Goa is the place to be. The South is the perfect romantic escape for love birds seeking some privacy.
The beaches in the south still have the calm and rustic touch and look marvelous with all the palm trees that decor the shore.
South Goa is perfect and recommended for water-sports activities
Note About Panaji
Panaji is the capital of Goa and trust me it is one of the coolest capital I have ever seen in India. You must explore Panaji when in Goa!
"The red, blue, green and yellow tiled roofs of the Portuguese Baroque style houses add to the city’s charm. A host of fancy restaurants has been set up along the river. I recommend to enjoy your lunch or dinner in one of those lovely restaurant"
NORTH GOA- RECOMMENDATIONS
Let us now explore North Goa a bit more. Is it famous only for parties or is there more to it? the first thing to do here, of course, is to visit the beaches.
Being a coastal destination, Goa would not disappoint you with its amazingly beautiful beaches. We categorised sightseeing in North Goa by Category. Please click specific category to directly jump to the post.
VIBRANT NORTH GOA BEACHES
VAGATOR AND ANJUNA BEACHES
One of the most famous beaches of Goa is in Vagator, which is synonymous with the romanticism of Goa. The beach has dramatic red cliffs looking down on the shore and offers a breathtaking view of the sunset.
The town of Vagator is every backpacker’s dream destination. It is very laid back and very steeped in the rave culture attracting a high number of western tourists and backpackers. A little south from Vagator is the famous Anjuna beach, known for being the birthplace of the hippie culture in India.
A famous restaurant Thalassa is located on the hilltop overlooking the beach. It has very good food and an immense view to offer. It is also very budget friendly, and the view makes it priceless. Other good cafes and restaurants include Salt n Pepper, Scarlet’s, My Place and lots more.
You can also hire scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles for day long trips around the town and nearby beaches. They are available for a variety of budgets starting from Rs 250 to 800. There also taxis and other cab services available for hire.
If you are a party animal looking to have a good time, Vagator is the place to be. All night raves on the beach to swish nightclubs, you will be left with too many options to choose. Although most places in Vagator have parties going on, do not miss out on Shiva Valley in South Anjuna beach.
It is known as the temple of trance where hippies and ravers dance until sunrise on the shores of the beach overlooking the Arabian Sea. Also, recommended would be Waters and Chronicle, located in Vagator, which are known to be among the best.
Arambol was primarily a fisherman village before the tourism boom. It is located at approximately one hour drive from Dabolim Airport in northern Goa. The beach attracts majorly international tourists for its serene and calm atmosphere.
The beach is long, with parts both rocky and sandy. There is also a hilltop which you can climb and find a nice view. The main draw of this quaint place are the activities. You will find innumerable flyers advertising all kinds of parties, events, and services.
The local markets are very vibrant, and rich display of items for sale. During peak season, many traders from all over India come to Arambol to sell their goods and merchandise. But as like any other tourist place, you must haggle and bargain to get a good price.
Cafes and restaurants are spread around the entire beach as well in the town. Some of the noteworthy ones are Basho Café, Shiva Moon, Double Dutch, Fellini’s and countless other very good ones. Most of them are multi-cuisines, cooking up delicious meals, with friendly staff and view and ambiance to keep you enthralled.
You should definitely not miss the Pepperoni Pizza at Fellini’s Italian Restaurant, Brownies and Apple Pie with ice cream at Pink Orange, Beef Burgers at Salt n Pepper and Mustard Fish at Sublime.
You can also visit the Terekhol Fort in Arambol. This historic bastion was built by the ruling Maratha dynasty in the early 20th century. The fort is now a luxury hotel operated by the GTDC, but the café and the Chapel of St Anthony are easily accessible.
As with any beach, there is a host of water activities that you can indulge in during the day time, and enjoy the evenings chilling at the numerous cafes.
MORJIM- LITTLE RUSSIA
Morjim is a town in Parnem, located in North Goa. It is situated on the northern bank of the Chapora River estuary. The town is also known as Little Russia because of huge Russian immigrant population.
The beach in Morjim is known for being the nesting and hatching ground of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle. Because of its status, the Indian law gives utmost protection to the turtle and any kind of poaching is a punishable offense.
Morjim is known for its thriving nightlife, filled with tiny shacks and always having beach parties. Daylong activities in Morjim include visiting the protected turtle habitats, which is quite fascinating. Other places like the Ch
Other places like the Chapora fort are massive tourist spots. The beach was earlier very quiet, but increasingly becoming more and more crowded. The beach offers all kinds of water sports activities. For leisure and food, you can opt for any of the beach shacks and restaurants.
Each brings its own flavor and ambiance for its customers. Known among them are Bora Bora for its vibrant nightlife. There is also the Yoga Village, Sacred Groves and others for the nature lovers and laid back people to relax and rejuvenate themselves. There are also a lot of spas, which will surely rid you of all your mental troubles.
There aren’t as many hotels but almost every other house offers rooms and guest houses for a cheap stay. Restaurants that we would recommend are Jardin d’Ulysse offering French, Italian, Tibetan and Indian cuisines.
Sporting Heroes Rock for American, Continental and International cuisines. Hakuna Matata Restaurant for Japanese, Italian and Russian cuisines are among the best.
The beach at Ashwem is scenic, sandy with palm trees and luxurious lounges available for rent. It is one of the hidden gems of North Goa. It has a stunning scenery and is comparatively less crowded.
If you venture out a little, you will find yourself during quaint and authentic Goan villages and temples and churches. Staying at Ashwem will be taken care of by the number of low-cost huts to expensive luxurious resorts in the quieter parts of the beach.
There is a noise curfew in the evenings, which ensure that Ashwem offers the perfect peaceful trip away from the hustle and bustle of the other beaches. The sounds of the waves crashing against the beach can be heard from far and act as a natural relaxant.
It is easy to get lost in this peaceful environment and enjoy the company of your loved ones and connect with your most personal desires. The villages are surrounded by coconut and palm groves, forests and fields providing an idyllic setting. However, if you want to indulge in
It is easy to get lost in this peaceful environment and enjoy the company of your loved ones and connect with your most personal desires. The villages are surrounded by coconut and palm groves, forests and fields providing an idyllic setting.
However, if you want to indulge in nightlife and parties, you can easily take a short rickshaw ride to Arambol Beach to take part in the festivities and parties. We would recommend the Tahira beach resort, La Vaiencia Beach Resort and Riva beach resort.
Candolim is a beach town in northern Goa, situated just south of the famous Calangute beach. It is a popular tourist destination and lies 15km from Panjim. It is one of the longest beaches in Goa.
The beach is very calm and peaceful which attracts a lot of tourists. The scenic beauty of the sun and the sand is accentuated by the scrub-covered dunes at the back of the beach. To keep from overcrowding of the beach, the beachfront is free of any commercial activities, except water sports. The restaurants and bars are towards the back of the beach.
Places to see and visit would include the Aguada Fort, built by the Portuguese in 1612 for defense against the Dutch and Maratha invaders. The fort includes the church, lighthouse and the barracks of the Aguada jail.
For shopping, they have Hollywood Fashion Goa and a couple of other well-known shops. We would recommend going to Scuba Evolution to partake in Scuba diving activities which will leave you enthralled. On the beach, you will find a ship called the River Princess which has been stuck at the shores of the beach since 2000 and has now become a tourist attraction.
Other places would be Top Corner; whose selection of pork chops are just mouthwatering. Himalaya Bar and Restaurant would also be one of our top choices. There are a decent number of options for staying in Candolim, for every budget. Most of them also have a two-wheeler renting facility, which you can use and explore nearby places.
Baga is one of the coolest North Goa beaches that always have a very vibrant and lively environment all-round the year. You will find all kinds of people here enjoying the beach life to the fullest.
The beach is full of shacks, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, tattoo parlors, massage parlors and these serve you with their best services. These shacks come to live in the evening with rocking music and fantastic service.
You can also indulge in some thrilling water sport here and enjoy yourself by Jet Skiing, windsurfing or parasailing. Do not forget to try out the massages. The massage bhaiyyas has got amazing massage tricks up their sleeves. Baga is the top party place in Goa. Some of the popularly known clubs here are Brittos, Titos and Mambos.
Calangute is another amazingly vivacious beach that is a continuous stretch of the Baga. Replete with lots of adventure games, and a range of restaurants serving finger-licking delicacies, Calangute is fancy in its own way.
Calangute, often called the ‘Queen of Beaches’ is the real attraction for tourists. You will see plenty of shacks and stalls along the beach selling everything, from alcohol to exotic jewels, souvenirs, seafood and much more.
The main attraction of this beach is the Aguanda fort that stands majestically on the cliff overlooking the sea. It is a perfect place for an evening saunter and to catch the spectacular sight of the sun kissing the horizon.
GOA MONUMENTS & FORTS
If you are into history go find out why and when this fort was built. This fort is where the famous Bollywood movie ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ was shot. It is a perfect place to witness the sunset.
Address- Fort Aguada Road, Candolim. Open for visitors 8:30 AM-05:30 PM
Fort Aguada and its old lighthouse is a well-preserved seventeenth-century Portuguese fort standing tall in Goa, India, overlooking Sinquerim Beach and the Arabian Sea.
FORT REIS MAGOS
Address- Verem, Bardez, Goa 403114 . Open for visitors 9:30 AM-05:30 PM
Address- Off Aldona-Corjuem Road, Corjuem, Goa. Open for visitors 24 hrs
GOA TEMPLES & CHURCHES
You will be surprised to know that the Mangueshi temple which was built in the name of Lord Shiva is a 400-year-old temple. Situated in the Mangueshi village in Pirol this temple has a very simple yet elegant structure that appeals to all its visitors.
This temple is the most important temples of Goa. So, do make sure you pay a visit to it.
CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
This is one of the first churches to be built in Goa. Located in the heart of Panaji this Church with its stunning white architecture is a major attraction of North Goa. This church is also famously known as the SRK movie Josh church.
The grand look of the Church attributes to the attention it grabs from all its visitors. You can see the church from the streets of the Panjim market as it is slightly elevated from ground level. In the evening the church gets beautifully lighted as the evening prayers are being held.
SE CATHDRAL CHURCH
This is one of the oldest and largest Churches in Goa and is Dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria.
The grand architecture of this church is one thing that attracts hundreds of visitors each day. It is one of the largest churches not just in Goa but in the entire Asia. The interior is embellished with various impressive paintings and artifice. Surrounded by a beautiful and well-maintained garden the church has 14 altars with pictures of different priests in the background.
The church has much religious antiquity and houses the miraculous cross symbol that is claimed to grow in its size. This church is a must visit if you are in Goa. Across the Se Cathedral is the Basilica of Bom Jesus
BASILICA OF BOM JESUS
This is a 500-year-old church that cradles the relics of St Francis. Dedicated to Bom Jesus (baby Jesus) this heritage church is a quiet and peaceful building with stunning interiors. The mortal remains of St Francis that are preserved in this church are said to be surprisingly intact. Except for a hand which was asked for by the Pope and a toenail which was bitten off by a lady.
If you look around you will notice gold-plated sculptures of Mother Mary holding Jesus being depicted on the walls. Opposite to the church is a museum that too is worth paying a visit.
SAINT FRANCIS ASSISI
This church that originally began as a small chapel was modified to a proper church in 1521 and was consecrated in 1602. This church is a mixture of different styles. Its exterior decoration is in the simple Tuscan order, but its interior—especially the main altar—is richly Baroque with Corinthian features.
This church is an epitome of the 17th century Goa that finds expression in its interiors that is decorated with different paintings and artifice.
GO ON A SHOPPING SPREE
You will love the Panaji market if you want to get your hands laid on some traditional Goan handicrafts, local jewelry, Goan spices, clothing, cashews, wine & feni, magnets, or a small solitaire that you might want to get for your loved ones.
ANJUNA FLEA MARKET
You may want to visit Anjuna beach on every Wednesday when they have a flea market, which is very well known among the locals as well as tourists. You will get all sorts of things here. Clothes, local jewelry, accessories, solitaires and what not.
ARPORA SATURDAY NIGHT BAZAAR
This is one fascinating market I have ever visited. If you are someone who loves art and craft, beaded jewelry, handloom stuff etc, this market needs to be on your top list. You will see a lot of foreigners here who visit this place to explore the local culture and heritage of Goa.
This market is the hub of everything that makes Goa popular across the globe. You will find a variety of spices, traditional handicrafts, Goan pottery, homemade pickles and a lot more. You might even land upon something exotic to take back home from this market.
CALNGUTE MARKET SQUARE
This is another place worth paying a visit. The Calangute market square is lined up with several shacks and stalls that attract visitors with the colourful stuff it sells. This place is a great one to collect some sarongs or trinkets as giveaways to your friends.
You will also find nice leather stuff here. The clay potteries are another eye-catching things that are sold here. You will also find several eateries here selling some amazing seafood.
HOW TO REACH GOA
Goa is well connected by flights, trains, and buses from different parts of the country. You can either directly take a flight to Goa or go to Bombay, Pune or Bangalore first and then board a bus or a train.
BEST TIME TO VISIT GOA
The best time to visit Goa is from mid-November to mid-February. December & January being peak season. November & February best for less priced stay and activities.
The weather during this period remains at its best. The otherwise high temperature starts falling now, enveloping the atmosphere in the cool sea breeze that springs up.
You will love to spend your day at the beach soaking the sun and relaxing in a recliner sipping your favourite drink and enjoying the fascinating view of the sea.
Note About Goa Visit
It is said that Goa is at its best form around Christmas time. An air of festivity pervades over the city. The streets are all lit up with fancy lighting and Christmas Carol and hymns reverberate in the churches.
CHECKLIST FOR YOUR SAFE GOA TRIP
I want you to be safe and enjoy your memorable travel to Goa, Below are few important checklist for yours and your loved one safety!
- Carry your wallet/cash/credit cards in the inside pocket or in backpack- NEVER in the rear pocket.
- Do not leave your valuables, important documents unattended in your room. Keep them safely stored in the hotel’s safe box.
- Do not forget to apply SPF/ UV protectors.
- Nothing has a fixed rate in the city, from taxi to local market so don’t forget to bargain.
WHAT TO EXPECT NEXT?
So, this was about Panjim and North Goa. In my upcoming post, I will tell you about the Southern part of Goa.
A section of the post shall also elaborate upon the exotic, colourful and enticing festivals that Goa hosts every year, The Sunburn Festival being the most popular one.
To know more about Goa (the fun state of India ), do visit us again. I shall be back very soon with more interesting stuff from Goa. Until then keep traveling and keep exploring.
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