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Things to do in Goa

Things to do in  Goa

Welcome to Goa

In Goa, a western state on the coast of India, endless stretches of white sand melt into the Arabian Sea. It holds multi-faceted appeal that attracts everyone from escapists and pilgrims to thrill seekers and history buffs, so it comes as no surprise that the region is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Portuguese colonial architecture provides unique sightseeing opportunities, while the state’s spiritual reputation is easy to see, with its abundant yogis and shamans. There are tours specializing in pretty much every flavor of adventure: In Old Goa (Ela), formerly known as the ""Rome of the East,"" World Heritage Sites such as the Basilica of Bom Jesus and Se Cathedral remind visitors of Portugal’s colonial rule. Panaji (Panjim), the capital of Goa, offers easy access to fragrant spice plantations and Dudhsagar Falls; while from Candolim in North Goa, visitors can cycle to the mysterious Fort Aguada and its lighthouse, or go kayaking on the Nerul River—if you can bear to drag yourself away from its golden-sand beaches. Other day-trip destinations popular with travelers include Palolem Beach—locally known as Monkey Island—for snorkeling and scuba diving; and Reis Magos, a village home to a 16th-century church and fort. Plus, revellers shouldn’t be deceived by Goa’s antique charm—areas surrounding Calangute Beach and Anjuna Beach attract ravers from around the world with legendary beach parties.

Top 15 attractions in Goa

Basilica of Bom Jesus (Borea Jezuchi Bajilika)

Built at the turn of the 17th century by Florentine sculptor Giovanni Battista Foggini, this red-stone church is one of the oldest in India. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While it's dedicated to the baby Jesus, many people choose to visit because the basilica holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of Goa.More


Situated on the banks of Ourem Creek in Panaji, Goa's capital city, the charming neighborhood of Fountainhas is dotted with charming old homes dating back to the mid 19th century. Fontainhas occupies land that was reclaimed in the 18th century and gets its name from the natural springs situated at the edge of the area.More

St. Catherine’s Cathedral (Sé Cathedral)

The largest church in Goa and the seat of the Archdiocese of Goa and Daman, this huge white Portuguese Gothic structure was constructed from 1562 to 1619 to commemorate a Portuguese military victory over Goa that was won on the feast of Saint Catherine. Inside, images of the saint adorn the cathedral walls.More

Old Goa (Goa Velha)

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Goa is a historic site and former capital of the state of Goa. Visitors come to tour the impressive buildings and learn more about the fate of this town that was abandoned in the 18th century.More

Panaji (Panjim)

Panaji is Goa’s capital city. Built alongside the Mandovi River as it flows into the Arabian Sea, many visitors start their vacations in Goa with a day or two in Panaji city.More

Dudhsagar Falls

At 1,017 feet (310 meters), Dudhsagar Falls is among the tallest waterfalls in India. At the base of the four-tiered falls is a huge swimming area—that’s as as far as most travelers go. A railway bridge crosses right under the falls, and if you happen to visit when a train is passing by you're sure to get some great photos.More

Anjuna Beach

Popular among international backpackers, Anjuna has long been associated with the hippie lifestyle. It's more laid-back than some of the livelier beaches a few miles south, though. Its big draw is the numerous beachfront shacks serving delicious, affordable Indian and international fare well into the wee hours.More

Sahakari Spice Farm

Sahakari Spice Farm provides an excellent first introduction to India's spice-growing and production. Here you'll get to see where your spices come from and learn about how they’re grown, dried, and processed. If they’re daring enough, guests can also try their hand at swinging from betel-nut palms.More

Fort Aguada

Built at the confluence of the Arabian Sea and the Mandovi River in Goa, Fort Aguada was once one of the country’s most important sea defenses. Nowadays, visitors can tour the remains of the buildings, enjoy panoramic views from the top of the walls, and learn about Goa’s history under Portuguese colonial rule.More

Shri Shantadurga Temple

This temple, dedicated to the goddess Shantadurga, dates back to the first half of the 18th century (though there was likely some kind of temple here for much longer). Its architecture is quintessentially Goan, with rust-red exteriors and white trim coupled with arched windows and stained glass.More

Reis Magos Fort

Situated on the banks of the Mandovi River, this scenic fort was built by the Portuguese in 1551 to protect the Mandovi estuary, and was reconstructed in 1707. It was abandoned for much of the 19th and 20th centuries before being turned into a prison. It was later restored and turned into the tourist attraction that it is today.More

Candolim and Sinquerim Beaches

With red sands and rocky headlands in the distance, the twin beaches of Candolim and Sinquerim provide a relaxing alternative to some of the busier beaches just north. Candolim and Sinquerim Beaches are frequented by travelers staying at upscale hotels nearby, though many visitors make special a trip out to explore the beachfront at Fort Aguada.More

Ancestral Goa

The Ancestral Goa center offers an excellent introduction to Goan life. This living history museum was set up by a local artist. Included are a typical 19th-century Goan village, featuring traditional homes, displays of handicrafts such as pottery and cobbling, and even a replica of a sacred spring, plus lots of activities for kids.More

Calangute Beach

The largest beach in North Goa, Calangute is a lively, popular beach town that attracts domestic tourists and international visitors alike. The beach is lined with hotels and shacks serving seafood, Indian fare, beer, and cocktails, while the adjacent town offers a mix of handicraft shops and bars.More

Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Located a short drive from the capital city Panaji, Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is a compact reserve, spanning about 1.8 square kilometers (.69 square miles) of mangrove swamps. It's Goa's only bird sanctuary, attracting a variety of native and migratory birds, including kingfishers, coots, egrets, black drongos, and pintails.More
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Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in Goa

How to Spend 3 Days in Goa

Where to See Portuguese Influence in Goa

Where to See Portuguese Influence in Goa

Top activities in Goa

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All about Goa

When to visit

Goa’s seasons are distinctly different. Winter is tourist season, and temperatures reach up to 88°F (32°C) from November to February (though the heat is, thankfully, softened by cooling breezes). December and January are the busiest months, full of beach parties and music events. For a calmer vibe, visit before Christmas or in February. You can also visit in March, before the summer heat intensifies, or in October, when the monsoons have ended and everything is gorgeously green.

Getting around

Goa’s heat can make walking long distances challenging, so cabs and tuk-tuks (known as auto-rickshaws) are the best way to get around. You’ll find both around tourist hotspots, and they are ideal for trips around town, sightseeing excursions, and forays to far-off beaches. Negotiate a price before setting off. For fun but slow journeys, catch one of the buses that rumble along the coastal roads and enjoy the traditional Goan music on board as you go.

Traveler tips

Just north of Ponda, you’ll find the Butterfly Conservatory of Goa, a peaceful garden created as a haven for the region’s exotic lepidoptera. Run by local nature enthusiasts, this gorgeous spot has forest trails where you can walk among clouds of delicate, brightly colored insects and learn about their lifecycle and feeding habits—a delight for wildlife lovers. Book a guided tour or hire a cab to get there: the park opens daily and charges a modest entrance fee.

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People Also Ask

What is Goa famous for?

Goa is a byword for golden sands and hot sunshine. Long beaches like Baga and Anjuna, as well as numerous smaller bays, attract heat-seeking travelers, especially during October-May. These lures, combined with the state’s psychedelic beach parties, Portuguese colonial heritage, spicy cuisine, and laid-back lifestyle, make it India’s top tourist destination.

What should I not miss in Goa?

Blissing out on sun-soaked sands is what Goa’s about, so start with that. Then, tour its peeling colonial churches, browse a flea market—Anjuna tops the list—see the crashing Dudhsagar Falls, savor fish curry or seafood at a sandside shack; and let loose at a beach party or swish nightclub.

Is 4 days in Goa enough?

Yes, for a rapid beach-based break in tropical climes. It’s enough for two days on the sands, watersports like snorkeling or kayaking; and to hit a bazaar or late-night beach party. However, consider bolting on extra days to better discover the state’s colonial architecture, wildlife, and natural wonders like Dudhsagar Falls.

What should I avoid in Goa?

If you’re planning to flop in the sun, avoid Goa’s monsoon season, when rains drench the coast and many resorts shut. Also, give beaches without lifeguards or flags a miss, as Goa’s seas mask strong currents. Female travelers, meanwhile, should probably not walk alone in isolated places or beaches after dark.

Which month is best for Goa?

December, January, or February depending on the vacation you want. Visit in December for a blast of full-on, high-season Goa: the days are sunny and balmy, and party, festival, and bazaar calendars are packed. January and February also bring hot-but-comfortable climes, but with fewer crowds and slightly cheaper hotel rates.

Is Goa good for a family trip?

Yes, although Goa is probably better for families with older children and those wanting to explore away from the sands, especially as many beaches have choppy seas. Family adventures and attractions come thick and fast here: think spice plantations, wildlife sanctuaries, colonial forts, dolphin-spotting cruises, waterparks, and go-karting among others.


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