Goa’s long stretch of sandy coastline is renowned for its multitude of beaches. There’s something on offer for everyone, from luxury resorts to makeshift huts and trance parties to tranquility. The Goa India beach that’s right for you will depend on the kind of experience you want to have. Want water sports? Head to Baga. Want to hang with the hippies. Try Arambol. Prefer isolation? Agonda or Patnem might be the beach for you.
The Anjuna flea market is held every Wednesday from morning until evening except during the monsoon season on the southern end of Anjuna Beach. The market has exploded in size and attracts people from all over Goa. It’s now got over 500 stalls and is still growing. You’ll find a huge assortment of goods there, but make sure you bargain. After a day of shopping til you drop, head over to Curly’s beach shack and take in the sunset scene there.
If one market isn’t enough for you, the very hip Saturday Night Market and Mackie’s Night Bazaar, both in the Arpora Baga area, are also worth checking out. They offer entertainment, including live music, as well as an eclectic range of food.
Latin Quarter and Portuguese Mansions
Capital city Panjim is worth visiting for its Fontainhas neighborhood. Declared a UNESCO Heritage Zone in 1984, it gets its name (meaning “fountain”) from the fountain at the foot of the hill. You’ll be transported back in time as you wander past colorful old Portuguese homes, belonging to the last surviving Portuguese families of Goa. Narrow winding streets and lanes, quaint shops, art galleries, bakeries, and restaurants give it an undeniable charm. Plan your visit with this essential guide to Fontainhas.
Once the magnificent Portuguese capital of Goa India, these days all that remains of Old Goa is a handful of imposing churches and cathedrals. They are among the largest in Asia, though. Some of the buildings have now become archaeological museums, and provide a fascinating display of Goa’s history.
One of the most interesting buildings in Old Goa is the Convent and Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, built in 1521. Just opposite is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which contains the preserved remains of the body of Saint Frances Xavier, a revered missionary and the patron saint of Goa. The body is shown to the public every 10 years (the last exhibition happened in early 2015). Old Goa is situated not far from Panjim, Goa’s current capital.
Goa Tourism’s open-top Hop on Hop Off Bus departs from Panjim and provides an inexpensive way of getting to Old Goa. Tickets cost 300 rupees.
Another highlight of a trip to Goa India is the spice plantations in the dense jungle around Ponda. Goa’s lush tropical climate makes it an ideal place to grow spices. The spice farms are open to visitors. You can take a guided tour, enjoy the picturesque scenery, and finish with a spicy lunch.
One of the oldest and most acclaimed plantations in Goa is the 130-acre Sahakari Spice Farm, located around 40 minutes from Panjim. Others include the Tropical Spice Plantation, Savoi Plantation, and Pascol Spice Village. Accommodations, and other activities such as elephant or boat rides, are offered at many of the farms. If you’re interested in Ayurvedic herbs and organic farming, don’t miss Sai Abyss Herbarium, run by an Ayurvedic doctor. It’s situated just outside Savoi Verem village.
Goa India isn’t just all about beaches and churches. The state’s location along the mountainous Western Ghats is home to an array of birds and animals. Around 20% of Goa consists of wildlife sanctuaries. They’re open all year round, although October to March are the best months to visit.
The two main sanctuaries are Bhagwan Mahvir (of which Mollem National Park is a part) and Cotigao. On the fringe of the Mollem National Park, you’ll find the imposing Dudhsagar Falls, where the water rages down from a huge height during and just after the monsoon season. Accommodations, provided by the Goa Forest Department, are available at both sanctuaries. For a very eco-friendly stay, try a mud hut at the Shanti Nature Resort in Mollem National Park