Lying on the west coast, Goa is one of the smallest states in India known for its brilliant beaches, scrumptious food and Portuguese heritage. Panjim, the capital city located in the centre is well-connected with an international airport and roads and trains run from North to South part of Goa.
With a coastline stretching for over 100 kilometres, Goa has numerous beaches that attract millions of visitors. While Baga and Calangute are more popular among the Indian family crowd, Anjuna and Arambol draw a lot of foreign tourists. The beaches in South Goa are relatively lesser explored, but some of them like Agonda and Palolem are more beautiful.
A former Portuguese colony, Goa also boasts of beautiful architecture from the colonial era with many churches and old-style bungalows. The people are quite friendly towards tourists and celebrate many festivals throughout the year. While the seafood is excellent, Goa has one of the best nightlife in the country with trendy bars, beach shacks, elegant cafes and many clubs and discotheques. Thanks to lower alcohol prices in the state, Goa is also great for younger tourists with relatively tighter pockets.
Places to Visit
Situated 15 km from Panjim, Calangute Beach is the longest beach in North Goa, stretching from Candolim to Baga. Due to its sheer size and popularity, it is a hub for tourists and backpackers from all over the world.
Popular as the “Queen of Beaches”, the Calangute Beach of Goa is among the top ten bathing beaches in the world. Being one of the busiest and most commercial beaches of Goa, it is swarming with eating joints, shacks and clubs serving cocktails, beer and seafood. The Calangute Beach is also known for its water sports activities like parasailing, water surfing, banana ride and jet-skiing. While the days here are filled with beach fun, nights call for upbeat parties and letting your hair down. Calangute is also popular for staying in Goa as it keeps you well-connected to the other beaches in the north such as Baga, Anjuna, Candolim, Aguada and many more.
Basilica of Bom Jesus
The Basilica of Bom Jesus church is one of a kind in India and is known for its exemplary baroque architecture. Built in the year 1594 and consecrated in 1605, the building of this church coincides with the beginning of Christianity in India. The church is located in Old Goa in Bainguinim about 10 km away from Panjim. The oldest church in Goa, Basilica of Bom Jesus holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier, a special friend of St. Ignatius Loyola with whom he founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Even after 400 years, the remains are in a good condition and are taken out once every decade. A site with rich cultural and religious significance, the Basilica of Bom Jesus has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Literally translating to ‘Holy Jesus’, the basilica of Bom Jesus is the only church in Old Goa that is not been plastered on the outside. The facade of the church has a triangular roofing which is delicately carved with the initials ‘IHS’, which is an abbreviation for Jesuit emblem meaning ‘Jesus, Saviour of Men’. Inside, the floor of this church is made of marble mosaic with precious stones, giving it a solemn appearance. The interior is embellished with a screen that runs from the floor to the ceiling and has the image of St. Ignatius Loyola protecting an infant Jesus. Above all is the image of the Holy Trinity, which is the most sacred symbol in Christianity. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is over 408 years old and is open to the public every day.
Fort Aguada is an epitome of Portuguese architecture built in the 17th century. Its lighthouse and the fort itself have braved the ravages of time and stand like silent sentinels on the Sinquerim Beach, approximately 18 km from Panjim. Built-in 1612 as a protection from Dutch and Marathas, it was the most prized and crucial fort for the Portuguese and covers the entire peninsula at the southwestern tip of Bardez. The view from the fort is breathtaking as it overlooks the confluence of Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea.
The fort is so named after the Portuguese Word for water i.e. ‘Agua’ and used to be a replenishing source of freshwater for sailors. In fact, it has the capacity to hold 2,376,000 gallons of water and was one of the biggest freshwater reservoirs of Asia.
Fort Aguada has also been used as Aguada jail. A statue in front of the jail salutes the freedom fighters, giving the fort a touch of patriotism.
Cruise in Goa
Cruise in Goa allows one to explore the exotic scenery, pristine waters and marvel the breathtaking view of the sunset. Bounded by numerous rivers, Goa makes for an exciting and diverse cruising destination.
There are several types of cruises in Goa, and each of them offers a unique experience. These range from simple evening cruises, elaborate and romantic dinner cruises, backwater cruises, and of course casino cruises. All of these usually originate from Miramar Beach in Panjim.
Several Goa cruises also offer dinner options along with guaranteed fun and entertainment activities are carried through the day depending upon the daytime, sunset and moonlight. Booking a cruise getaway in Goa is fairly simple as a number of them also offer online booking options. Depending on your requirements and time that you want to spend on the boats, you can choose a package that suits you the best.
Club Cubana in Arpora, North Goa is one of the best places to enjoy a party like no other. Club Cubana is one of the only places in Goa where you can enjoy a party every day of the week. Located atop Arpora hill, Calangute, the club is also called “Nightclub in the Sky” and is a popular club with many national and international DJ’s playing the coolest music of all time that will lead to a night that you will remember as being among the best of your lives. With many events attracting innumerable patrons into a vibrant and eco-friendly club, Club Cabana provides a house-party atmosphere. Considered the best place to enjoy the nightlife in Goa, the commercial club is totally packed with people coming together from all over the world to experience the most memorable party life ever.
High up on Arpora Hill, Club Cubana is the place to be looked upon if you are visiting Goa for utmost enjoyment. The sky club has many levels with pools in it which act as the icing on the cake. Nightlife beside the pool with the trending music beats will surely give you a night worth remembering. Also, a night spent here can be the most romantic one for the couples who wish to visit. Otherwise, it provides great fun to a good bunch of female friends partying here. The crowd is very decent. It is a paradise for all the music lovers. It has been here now for more than a decade.
Dudhsagar falls in Goa are a pleasant change in landscape for a destination that is known for its sunny beaches and inviting waves. The majestic falls are a little farther inland approximately 60 km from Panaji on the Goa – Karnataka Border. As these falls are located inside the Mollem National Park, their vistas of green and verdant forest lands are unparalleled.
Cascading from the mighty peaks of the Western Ghats, these are among the highest waterfalls in the country and one of the hundred highest waterfalls in the world. The falls are divided into four tiers on the Mandovi river and resemble a heavy rush of milk flowing effortlessly down the hill.
While most people arrive at the Dudhsagar falls by jeep or by their own private transport from Panaji and nearby areas, others choose visiting the falls through a train journey or by trekking. No matter which way you choose, the whooshing noise of the water hitting the rocks, the cold breeze, and endless flows of the whitewashed falls are sure to captivate you
One of the most popular beaches in North Goa, Baga Beach is located close to Calangute beach, around 30 Km North of Panaji. It is so named after the ‘Baga creek’ which flows into the Arabian Sea. Baga is the perfect destination for you if you wish to witness the excellent nightlife of Goa as signature places such as Britto’s, Tito’s and Mambos have made their mark in their hearts of party-goers. The shacks come to life in the late evening with some pumping music and mouthwatering food.
It is also famous for its designer stores as well as its street-side markets where you can shop till your feet ache and your wallet grumbles! Being one of the most visited beaches in the North, Baga also has a vast range of water sports that you can try your hands at. Grab a sumptuous breakfast at Infantaria – a highly recommended eatery, relax by the beach all day, and in the evening let the party animal in you come alive – it’s all possible at Baga Beach. Baga Beach is considered to be the extension of Calangute Beach itself since both of these lies on the same stretch of the shore.
Lined with an array of tattoo parlours, tarot shops, palmistry shops, spas, sun decks and some legendary shacks, it gives you a chance to live out your perfect beach holiday. If you are not a party person, you also have the option of starting your mornings with some beach Yoga, having a nutritious breakfast by the sea, and then just spend the day reading quietly on beach recliner. There is something for every kind of traveller in Baga!
The air is filled with romance, stories, and legends of eternal love. You are in Dona Paula, which is, arguably, Goa’s most enduring monument. If that was not enough, Dona Paula is also one of the most happening beaches in North Goa just seven kilometres away from Panaji. The Dona Paula beach also provides a magnificent view of the Mormugao harbour. This beautiful getaway is so called because of the statue of a man and woman perched on top of a rock. While various stories surround it, there is an undeniable charm to the mystery of the statue. All the legends speak of the passionate, forbidden, and unfulfilled love affair of Dona Paula with a local Goan man, while some say it was the Governor, others believe that it was a worker from a lower caste.
Dona Paula is one Goa’s must visit places and has captured the hearts of every tourist. It is the meeting point of the Zuari and Mandovi Rivers and is beautified by fronds of palm trees breaking the silvery shimmer of the beach sand. The beach is largely deemed as safe to swim in and there are also a host of water sports that you can indulge in while here.
From swimming, shopping, eating, staying, and even experiencing the thrill of water sports; in Dona Paula there is no dearth of options to keep you in the holiday spirit!
Church Of Our Lady Of Immaculate Conception
Located in Panjim, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception is one of the most popular and also one of the oldest chapels in Goa. Built in a Portuguese Baroque style, the church is located on a slight elevation, on a hillock. It was originally built in 1541 but was replaced by a much larger structure in the 1600s. Today it is known to house the second largest church bells in Goa. These bells are known to have been removed from the Augustinian ruins of the Church of Our Lady of Grace that existed in Old Goa.
Deltin Royal Casino
Famous for its ‘Las Vegas’ experience, this place is also referred to as Casino Royale. There are a variety of gambling options available here with dedicated rooms such as the Royale Poker room and games such as American Roulette, Indian Flush, Blackjack and Baccarat. They also have slot machines and a Money Wheel. Enjoy their lavish spread of cuisines, live performance and delicious cocktails along with the lodging options of VIP Gaming Suites for guests who wish to spend some time here. Enjoy this offshore casino as it floats lazily down the Mandovi River.
Must Try Food in Goa
- Southern India Sea Food at Fishermans Wharf, Panjim
- Seafood at Ritz Classic Panjim
- Vibrant bistro for global plates plus clever cocktails at The Blacksheep Bistro
- Goan Restaurant Viva Panjim
- Goan Home Made Food at Mums Kitchen
- Edward Yard Goan Restaurant
- Seafood at Venite Bar and Restaurant
- North Indian Restaurant Gene by the Riverside
- Vegetarian Restaurant The Rasoda
- Greek Restaurant Thalassa
How To Get Here
Goa international airport is located at Dabolim – 30 km away from Panjim. Multiple domestic airlines provide daily flights from major cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai, Jaipur, Ahmedabad. Most international flights to Goa arrive via Mumbai. In case your hotel offers free pickups, you don’t need to worry about the commute from the airport. Otherwise, pre-paid taxi is a good option.
Several luxury and budget buses run from major cities such as Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, New Delhi to Goa. State-run bus service, Kadamba Transport is also a good option. Other state bus services – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh – also have daily buses going to Goa. Various private players also run buses connecting many cities to Goa. For comfortable rides, super deluxe AC and Volvo buses would be the better options. These would generally cost between Rs 1500 – Rs 2500 depending on the distance and type of bus.
It takes 10h 20 minutes for you to reach Goa from International Terminal of Mumbai Airport. You can take a private taxi or a Volvo to reach your destination.
Goa has six railway stations. Most people usually get down at Madgaon or Vasco-da-Gama in South Goa and Thivim in North Goa. The train ride to Goa is worth the journey just for the view. The picturesque scenery of the Konkan region makes for an amazing sight. Train is also the cheapest option apart from being fast and comfortable.
If you are flying to Mumbai so that you get your TVOA, you can also book tickets for the train in order to commute between Mumbai and Goa. To name a few: Ganpati Special, Mandovi Express, Jan Shatabdi Express, and Mangalore Express