Goa – The Complete Travel Guide

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Goa - The Complete Travel Guide

This tiny state is a highlight of the southwestern coast of India. Surrounded by Maharashtra on the north, Karnataka on the east and south, and the Arabian Sea on the west, the state spans only 3702 sq. km.

The state is divided into North and South Goa, each with its salient geographical and cultural features that collectively make tourism an incredible experience. Panjim is the capital of Goa, while Vasco da Gama is the largest city. 

History

Goa History

The history of Goa is long and diverse, dating back to prehistoric times. The current state as we see it was only established in 1987. There has been archaeological evidence of human settlements from the palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods.

During the Iron Age, the Maurya and Satavahana empires ruled the state, followed by the Kadamba, Vijayanagara, Bahmani and Bijapur Sultanate rulers in the medieval period. In 1510, the Portuguese invaded the place and defeated the Bijapur Sultanate.

The Portuguese rule lasted for 450 years, which became the most prominent history and influenced its people, culture, art and architecture. In 1961, the Indian army annexed the state overthrowing the Portuguese. Until 1987, Goa was a union territory and received statehood in 1987. 

Hidden Facts About Goa

Hidden Facts About Goa

Here are some interesting and fun facts about Goa – 

  • The state has at least 7000 bars and pubs, which is more than most metro cities in India. 
  • This state has the highest per capita income, and Human Development Index, mostly due to its flourishing tourism industry over the years.
  • It is the only state with official bike taxis, i.e., two-wheelers serving as taxis. 
  • Goa celebrates two independence days – the national one on August 15, and a local one on December 19

Best Places to See in Goa

With its palm-lined shores, golden sandy beaches, the calming blue sea, the clear sky, and the vibrant cosmopolitan culture, there are endless places to see and visit in this beach paradise. Goa tourist places are divided across the north and south parts of the state. 

The best beaches of Goa are mostly in the northern part, known for nightclubs, pubs, and beach adventures, while the south beaches are known for their serene and peaceful vibes.

[Also read: The Ultimate Guide to Goa Nightlife – Night Parties in Goa]

Places to Visit in North Goa

Anjuna Flea Market 

Anjuna Flea Market
  • How to Reach – The beachside market is 21KM from Panjim. You can rent a bike taxi or a cab to reach
  • Timings – 9AM-6PM (Only Wednesdays)
  • Entry Fee – Free
  • Time Required – 2-3 Hours 
  • Tips – Check with local guides for live jazz performances and other art events

Panjim Church/ Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

Panjim Church
  • How to Reach – The church is located in Panjim, at a walking distance from the bus station. 
  • Timings – 9:30AM – 12:30PM, 3:30PM – 7:30PM (Monday to Sunday)
  • Entry Fee – Free
  • Time Required – Less than 1 hour
  • Tips – Also visit the nearby churches of Bom Jesus, Chapel of our Lady of the Mount, etc. at a 10-minute drive

Fort Aguada 

  • How to Reach – The ancient fort is located at 16KM from Panjim city. You can take a local bus, hotel cab, or rent a local car to reach.
  • Timings – 9.30AM-6.30PM
  • Entry Fee – Free
  • Time Required – 1-2 Hours
  • Tips – Visit the four-storied lighthouse on the premise – the oldest lighthouse of Asia

Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

  • How to Reach – The bird sanctuary is located at 6KM from Panjim. You can book a local car or cab to travel and return.
  • Timings – 6AM-6PM
  • Entry Fee – INR20 (adults), INR 10 (children), boat rides – INR 750-900
  • Time Required – 2-3 Hours
  • Tips – Explore Chorao Island for crocodile spotting on the marshes

Chapora Fort 

Chapora Fort
  • How to Reach – The fort is at 21KM from Panjim. You can book a car or rent a cab to travel.
  • Timings – 9.30AM-5.30PM
  • Entry Fee – Free
  • Time Required – 1-2 Hours

Basilica of Bom Jesus

  • How to Reach – The ancient church is located in Old Goa, 10KM from Panjim. 
  • Timings – 9AM – 6:30PM (Monday – Saturday),10:30AM – 6:30PM (Sundays)
  • Entry Fee – Free
  • Time Required – 1-2 Hours 

Places to Visit in South Goa

Dudhsagar Falls 

Dudhsagar Falls
  • How to Reach – The waterfalls are at 60KM from Panjim. You can book a cab or rent a car for the day to travel and return.
  • Timings – Sunrise to sunset
  • Entry Fee – INR 20, For camera, INR 300(still), INR 5000 (professional cameras for shoots)
  • Time Required – 6-7 Hours to trek
  • Tips – Also visit the Mollem National Park, at 7KM and the hidden springs of Devil’s Canyon

Butterfly Beach 

Butterfly Beach
  • How to Reach – The cove is off the Palolem beach and you have to take a boat to reach.
  • Timings – 6AM-10PM
  • Entry Fee – Free, boats/ferry to reach INR 1000-1500
  • Time Required – 1-2 Hours
  • Tips – Visit very early mornings for dolphin spotting, or at sunset for great views

Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary 

  • How to Reach – The sanctuary is at 72KM from Panjim. You have to book a cab or rent a car for the day to travel and return.
  • Timings – 8AM-5.30PM
  • Entry Fee – INR 20(adults), INR 10(children), Still camera: INR 30, Video camera: INR 150
  • Time Required – 1 day
  • Tips – For safaris and forest treks, visit between January and March

[Also Read: Chorao Island – Goa’s Best Kept Secret]

Places to Visit near Goa

Besides all the popular places listed above, Goa sightseeing also includes many other interesting sites nearby. With a Goa tour package, you can cover most of them. Include some of these destinations on your next Goa trip.

Chorla Ghat Waterfalls 

  • How to Reach – The waterfalls are located near the Karnataka state border, 60KM from Panjim. You can book an outstation cab for the day to travel and return.
  • Timings – Sunrise to Sunset
  • Entry Fee – Free
  • Time Required – 1 day 
  • Tips – Stay at forest camps or jungle lodges for the best experience

Kurumgad Island, Karwar 

Kurumgad Island, Karwar
  • How to Reach – The island is off the Karwar Beach, at a 50-min ferry ride from River Kali. 
  • Timings – Sunrise to Sunset
  • Entry Fee – Free, boat ride to the island – variable on season
  • Time Required – 3-4 Hours
  • Tips – Also enjoy watersports, fishing, beach sports, or nature walks, or visit the deserted lighthouse

Best Time to Visit Goa

The temperature is usually good all year round, with warm, humid summers and cool, pleasant winters. Usually, September to January is the best season to visit, when the weather is comfortable to spend time outdoors, do water sports, and explore all the beaches all day. For the best experience, the best month to visit Goa is December, when they have Christmas celebrations, followed by New Year and the Goa carnival. 

Things to do in Goa

things to do in Goa

While you explore old forts, churches, popular beaches, and other famous places in Goa, don’t forget to have some adventures in Goa. Try these interesting activities for the ultimate travel experience. 

  • Take a tour of the ancient palaces and mansions dating to the time of the Portuguese rule, like the Fernandes House, Braganza House, or the Fontainhas and Sao Tome. 
  • Experience the night beach life infamous clubs like Love Karma Passion, Mambos or SinQ.
  • Take a dining cruise on the Mandovi River, and try your luck at the casino cruises, while you sail along. 
  • Enjoy all kinds of water sports in Goa like parasailing, banana boat, jet ski, scuba diving, and more.
  • Go shack hopping and exploring the bustling pubs on Baga or Calangute beach, Anjuna, Arpora, Ashwem, and others in the north. Or, relax and dine at the exotic beachside restaurants and diners in the south beaches of Palolem, Patnem, Canacona, Colva, and Majorda. 
  • Explore the food trail. The Konkan state is a heady mix of traditional Konkani fare and a rich culinary legacy derived from its Portuguese past. Sample special Goa food like vindaloo, xacuti, cafreal, or traditional sweets like bebinca, dodol, or guava cheese. Don’t forget to try freshly caught fish.

How to Reach Goa

By Train

There are two major railway junctions in Goa – Margao and Vasco da Gama. There are frequent trains to both of these stations from major towns and cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Mangalore, Ernakulam, Pune, Nagpur, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, etc. 

By Road

Goa is well-connected to Mumbai, Pune, Belgaum, Mangalore, and other neighboring cities and towns by NH 48 and AH 47. There are also state-run and private buses frequently available to Panjim, Magao, Mapusa, and Vasco. The best way to travel is to book a car and take a road trip from any of the above cities to Goa.

By Flight

The nearest airport is Dabolim International Airport, which is about 28 KM from Panjim city. There are daily flights to Panjim from all metro cities and major towns like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Mangalore, Kochi, Trivandrum, etc. From Dabolim, you can book an airport taxi to reach Panjim or your destination in Goa. 

Best Places to Stay in Goa

Staying at one of the beach hotels in Goa is a major part of your vacation. From the best hotels in Goa to best resorts and homestay in Goa, there are ample accommodation options. You can look for the best deal while booking a Goa hotel. With so many to choose from, we divided Goa resorts and hotels by region- 

Hotels in North Goa

  • Bogmallo Beach Resort 
  • Pranha Resort by the Sea 
  • Baga Beach Residency 
  • Casa Menezes
  • Double Tree by Hilton Hotels 
  • Bambolim Beach Resort 

Hotels in South Goa

  • Caravela Beach Resort 
  • The Cape
  • Alila Diwa 
  • ITC Grand (formerly Park Hyatt)
  • Palolem Beach Resort 
  • Mayfair Hideaway Spa Resort

Best Places to Eat in Goa

A culinary joyride, Goan food is an integral part of the state’s heritage. Here are some of the must-visit and best restaurants in Goa – 

  • Curlies Beach Shack
  • George Restaurant & Bar
  • The Black Sheep Bistro
  • Venite Bar & Restaurant 
  • Chef Fernando’s Nostalgia
  • Martin’s Corner
  • A Reverie
  • Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Thalassa
  • Britto’s 

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Goa - Travel Guide
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Goa - Travel Guide
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The tiny state of Goa is a highlight of the southwestern coast of India. Surrounded by Maharashtra on the north, Karnataka on the east and south, and the Arabian Sea on the west, the state spans only 3702 sq. km.
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Reading between lines - the ones that rhyme, on a journey with no stop sign.

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