Goa is particularly known for its tourism industry with the largest number of tourists visiting the city per year, for its exotic beaches, nightlife, places of worship and world heritage architecture. There are so many places to visit in goa for a traveler. It is also a biodiversity hotspot with rich flora and fauna. This is because of its proximity to the Western Ghats.
Goa, also known as Konkan, is a state in India located within the coastal region and situated on the Western Ghats. With Panaji as the state capital and Vasco-de-Gama as the largest city, it has been ranked the ‘best-placed state’ by the Eleventh Finance Commission and the ‘best quality of life’ in India by the National Commission for the Population based on 12 factors.
Goa Map and Weather
Goa rests on an area of about 3702 sq. km. It is a part of the Konkan coastal country and slopes upwards onto the Western Ghats, separating it from the Deccan Plateau. It has five major rivers flowing through it which include Talapona, Mandovi, Chapora, Terekhol, Zuari Galgibag, Kumbarjua canal, and Sal.
Goa has a tropical monsoon climate, according to the Koppen climate classification. Being near to the Arabian Sea, in a tropical zone, it mostly has a tropical climate for most of the year. The weather is hot and humid. May months are usually the hottest, with temperatures soaring to 35 degrees Celcius and a lot of humidity. The state has three seasons – Southwest monsoon (June-September), post-monsoon period (October-January) and fair weather period (February-May).
Tourism is focused mainly on the coastal region with high concentrations of tourists at the coasts and significantly lesser concentrations inland. The best time to visit Goa would be during summers between April to June and in winter from November to February. Goa has special celebrations during Christmas and the city is a treat to watch in this festival.
Goa is popularly known for its tourist attractions and beaches.
Listed below are some popular places to visit in Goa.
1. Calangute Beach
Calangute is a town in the northern part of Goa, famously known for its beaches. This beach is one of the largest beaches in North Goa and is visited by many tourists, domestic and foreign alike. The peak tourist season is the summer month of May and Christmas and New Year times. The beach also offers various water sporting activities such as skiing, parasailing, and others. Calangute Beach and Baga Beach are the famous places to visit in north Goa.
2. Baga Beach
A seaside town situated 2 km to the south of Calangute, coming in the district of Calangute, the seaside town of Baga is famous, especially for its beaches. Baga Creek is the famous beach in the town of Baga and receives thousands of visitors annually.
The beach contains rows of shacks and fishing boats. The beach is named after the Baga Creek, which empties into the Arabian Sea on the north end. Like Calangute, Baga Beach is also famous for its water sports with banana rides, parasailing and dolphin cruises as some of its major attractions.
3. Basilica of Bom Jesus
The Basilica of Bom Jesus, a church located in Old Goa, dating back to the time of the Portuguese is a UNESCO World Heritage Center. The name ‘Bom Jesus’ is used for the ‘Ecce Home’ in Portuguese colonies. Basilica of Bom Jesus is one of the best examples of baroque architecture in India.
4. Fort Aguada
Fort Aguada has a lighthouse that is well preserved and stands on the Sinquerim Beach and overlooks the Arabian Sea. It was constructed in 1612 to protect against the Dutch and the Marathas. At that point, it was a reference point for European vessels. This old fort is atop the beach, south of Candolim, at the Mandovi River shore.
There is a freshwater spring within the fort which provided water supply to the ships that used to stop by, back in the day. This was how the fort acquired its name, Aguada, meaning ‘Water. The fort is divided into two parts. The upper part acted as a fort and watering station while the lower part acted as a safe haven for Portuguese ships. This fort was an important strategic point for the Portuguese and is so large that the entire peninsula at the southern tip of Bardez is enveloped by it.
5. Mangueshi Temple
Shri Mangeshi temple is a popular temple located at Mangeshi village in Priol, Ponda Taluka. The main deity of this temple is Lord Manguesh, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Apart from Lord Shiva, it has other deities such as Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesha.
6. Dudhsagar Waterfalls
Dudhsagar falls is the largest and highest waterfalls in Goa. It is one of the must-visit places in the city. It is a four-tiered waterfall with a height of 310 m and an average width of 30 m. It literally means ‘Sea of Milk’ in the local Konkani language.
7. Old Goa
Old Goa, also known as Velha Goa, is a historic city present in the northern district of Goa. Since old Goa is famous for its historical significance, it is home to several famous churches that include Se Cathedral, Church of St.Francis, Chapel of Saint Catherine, Basilica of Bom Jesus, and Church of Saint Cajetan.
8. Casino Cruise
If you love the sea and enjoy traveling on a ship, then the casino cruise in Goa will give you an unforgettable experience. Board on the casino cruise and enjoy singing, dancing, drinking, and casino games while on the cruise. One can also enjoy the beauty of the Arabian Sea and view the famous tourist points like fort Aguda and Adil Shah’s palace while traveling on the cruise.
9. Spice plantation
You may be surprised to know that Goa is famous for spice plantations as well. There are several spice plantations in Goa where tourists can visit and see how the spice plant looks, and how they are cultivated. There are informative tours organized for tourists that will take you to the famous spice plantations which include Sahakari Spice farms, Savoi Spice Plantation, and Tropical Spice plantation.
10. Arpora night market
Also commonly known as the Saturday night market, the Arpora night market is the most famous and largest shopping event in Goa. It is also one of the best places to visit in goa at night The event happens only on Saturdays and is organized only in the peak tourist season. It is conducted in a large fenced area between the Anjuna city and Arpora City. The range of products sold here includes everything starting from jewelry to clothes to bags and shoes. There is also a wide variety of food sold here to attract tourists who come to shop here.
11. Lamgau caves
Located in Bicholim, the Lamgau caves are one of the popular attractions of Goa. The Lamgau caves are carved out of laterite and are covered with palm trees. A Tulsi, A Shiva Lingam, and a statue of Nandi are installed in the courtyard of the cave. Situated just 25kms from Panaji, the Lamgau caves are one of the must-visit attractions in Goa.
This was just a glimpse into what places to visit in Goa. Of course, there are much more worth mentioning, but these can be considered as the key tourist places of Goa. There’s no doubt that Goa indeed is a wonderful city, and is worth a visit every now and then. However, when one does visit this extraordinary place, the aforementioned places are a must visit. For, one, as a tourist would miss the magnificence of Goa without visiting these places.
12. Anjuna Beach
Folded up by azure water of Arabian Sea and with hills in the background, Anjuna Beach in Goa is a perfect paradise for beach lovers. Situated just 8 km away in the west of Mapusa town, this beach is blessed with a bizarre array of red laterite rocks. It is beautifully embellished with picturesque sceneries and so the place is reckoned among the hottest tourist destination of India.
The principal attraction of Anjuna beach is the Wednesday flea market, and Chapora Fort. The ideal time to visit the place is from November to March. Located near the Anjuna beach in St. Michael’s Church is one of the oldest churches in Goa, but is still in decent condition. The main attractions are its Portuguese architecture and beautiful engravings. There is a statue of St. Michael too, which is famous for the demon under his feet and the scale on his left hand.
How to reach:- Anjuna is 22.2 kilometers from Panaji, via the NH 66. The beach is 46 kilometers from Vasco da Gama. The closest railway station is Thivim, which is 19.3 kilometers away.
13. Dona Paula
At the confluence of the Goan rivers Mandovi and Zuari, Dona Paula is a must place to visit in Goa. The ruins of Cabo Fort, which was erected in 1540 and the National Institute of Oceanography are some popular attractions close to Dona Paula.
A myth has been attached to this place and according to one legend, the Viceroy’s daughter after facing objections from her family about her love affair with a poor fisherman jumped off the cliff.
The enticing story is about a girl named Dona Paula de Menezes, after whom the Goa beach has been named. She was the daughter of a viceroy in colonial India, who threw herself off the cliff when refused permission to marry a local fisherman, Gaspar Dias.
How to reach:- Simply take the road going to Miramar and keep going along the road passing Miramar beach till the road leads up to a hill. A right turn atop the hill leads to the Dona Paula jetty while a narrow road branching to the left leads to the beach.
The Dabolim Airport is the nearest one that is at the distance of 32 km from the Dona Paula. The nearest railhead is Karmali Railway Station, which is at a distance of 14 km. Panaji is the nearest bus station, which is located just 6 km away from Dona Paula beach.
14. Colva beach
Colva is a beautiful beach in the village of Salcete in South Goa. A very popular tourist destination is known for its beaches, food, pubs, and bars. It is also known for its Portugal significance with a number of buildings that speak of history, elegance, and architecture. Extending from Bogmalo beach to Cabo de Rama beach; it’s a beach filled with coconut reefs lined out.
Like other beaches, this one too has got a number of water sports. A number of adventure sports are carried out. For an adventure lover; it has got a lot. Try out sports like snorkeling, speed boat riding, parasailing, jet skiing, banana ride, motorboat rides, Paragliding for a wonderful beach sports experience.
How to reach:- Colva Beach is in South Goa and is six km away from the city of Margao which is the closest major city from the beach. The best way to commute within Goa is through a rental vehicle such as a scooter or motorcycles. You can also travel by local transportation such as taxi or auto-rickshaw.
15. Se Cathedral
SE Cathedral or SE Catedral de Santa Catarina is the Latin Rite RC Cathedral of Archdiocese of Goa and Daman. This cathedral is a famous landmark built with the Portuguese Manueline style. The church is 76 m in length and the frontispiece is around 35 m high. This Church was built by Portuguese, who was ruling Goa during that reign. This church is considered as the largest one in the continent.
The Sé Cathedral has five bells. The existing tower houses a famous bell, one of the largest in Goa and often referred to as ‘Golden Bell’ on account of its rich tone which has been immortalized in a Portuguese poem. The main altar is dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria, and old paintings on either side of it depict scenes from her life and martyrdom.
Visiting Hour:- On Sunday – 7:15 am to 10 pm; Other days – 7:30 am to 6 pm.
16. Vagator Beach
One of the most beautiful beaches of Goa; it is the beach follows the rave culture with western backpackers all around. Surrounded by fresh water springs on one side and shopping stalls on the side. Clean and serene it is the beach filled with thrill, music, dance and lots of foreigners. Vagator is actually a bay between rocky headlands. It is located near Mapusa Road in Northern Goa.
Every Saturday, Flea market is held by Germans on this beach. It is the most vibrant and longest flea market of Goa. Almost everything you can shop is sold here. Goa’s some of the most famous Open Air Clubs are located here in Vagator beach.
How to reach:- The nearest airport is at Dabolim, which is 29 km away from Panaji. Panaji is just 22 km away from Vagator. The nearest railway station is at Karmali, just 11 km away from Panaji. Vagator is at a distance of 9 km from Mapusa, and 22 km far from the state capital Panaji. There are frequent buses to Panaji and Mapusa from Vagator.
17. Chapora Fort
Chapora Fort first got noticed in the iconic Bollywood movie Dil Chahta Hai. This ancient fort in North Goa offers splendid views of the adjoining Vagator beach and overlooks the Arabian Sea from all angles. The credit for the construction of the Chapora Fort is credited to Adil Shah of Bijapur. Constructed entirely of red laterite, the Chapora Fort is situated at a distance of approximately 22 km from Panaji.
The fort is located on top of a hillock with slopes on all sides, and though it is almost in ruins now, it doesn’t stop visitors from standing where Bollywood stars once did. The best time to visit Chapora Fort is evening time because sunset sky looks spectacular from here. Moreover, when the sky paints everything around, especially the Chapora River and beaches of Chapora, in its sunset color, ah! The sight is just out of this world.
How to reach:- The best way to access Chapora Fort is from Mapusa. There are frequent buses to Chapora that leave from Mapusa. Occasional direct buses to Chapora ply from Panaji. The bus stop is in the vicinity of the crossroads of in the Chapora Village. Another alternative is to hire a motorcycle or a taxi from Mapusa.
18. Agonda beach
The Agonda Beach is an isolated place that makes this place more beautiful, silent, quiet, and peaceful as lots of tourist attraction is not seen over here. The Wonderful Agonda Beach is a cynosure for all loners and nature lover people that will turn on their excitement. Agonda Beach stretch about some 3 kilometers long, lovely and lovely beach fringed with palms and casuarinas and dominated by a large hill to the south.
The scenic beauty of Agonda Beach is not less than from all other beaches of Goa. The plus point of this beach is the calmness and tranquility that an individual attains which makes a rigid different identity from all other beaches of goa either situated on the north side or south side. Loners and adventurous people will be fond of to visit this place surely. The adventure lovers can also hire a tent and spend their beautiful evening under the starry sky and crashing waves.
How to reach:- Dabolim airport is about a 90-minutes drive away. Agenda by road is 15 minutes from the more famous, busy Palolem beach. Agonda is only a few kilometers from Canacona station, although the main train services stop at Margao station, about an hour’s drive away.
Regular buses depart from the Canacona bus station for Agenda. Buses from Chaudi and Margao are available a few times a day. From the Canacona railway, it’s about 1km to the Canacona bus stand, where you can get a bus to Agonda.
19. Reis Mongos Fort
Reis Magos Fort was built in 1551 by Sultan Adil Shah. The fort of Reis Magos is located to the extreme south of the Bardez taluka at the northern bank of the river Mandovi. The church is situated in the fort that is frequently visited by travelers visiting Calangute and Candolim beaches. In 1760, the fort was rebuilt by Portuguese rulers to protect their territory from the invaders of the neighboring states of Goa. The fort also contains a church ‘Reis Magos’, that is located at the base of the fort.
The fort got its name ‘Reis Magos’, which in Portuguese religion symbolizes the Magi Kings. Concept of ‘Magi Kings’, also known as ‘three wise men’, states that they went to Bethlehem after the shining star to bestow their gifts towards the Infant Jesus. The fort is one of the three places in Goa where the feast of the three wise men takes place.
Museum opening hours: 9:30 AM to 5 PM. Mondays Closed.