Goa is one of the most beautiful places in India with a large number of beaches and amazingly scenic nature. Surrounded by the state of Maharashtra in the north, Karnataka in the east & south, and the Arabian sea forming on the western side, this smallest state of India has a plethora of beautiful sites to visit and enjoy. The Portuguese influence of the state is evident in its architecture, culture, cuisine, and even plantations. Goa is visited by hundreds and thousands of domestic and international tourists every year because of its white sugar-sand beaches, architectural wonders, amazing nightlife, worship places, and heritage sites. The beauty and serenity of Goa will rejuvenate you and allure you to visit this ethereal nature again and again. Goa enthrals every kinda people; be it a nature lover, party freak, clubber or a thalassophile, Goa has everything for you.
Best Places to Visit in Goa
Goa entices every kind of people with its unique culture, architectural wonders, pristine beauty, beaches, shacks, vogue shopping places, and a lot more. The word Goa is synonymous with colourful beaches, lively nightlife, shacks, party nights, flea markets, wild forts, seafood, drinks and so many alluring spots. Given below is the list of top must-visit places in Goa.
Calangute, known as the Queen of Beaches in Goa, attracts tourists of all types because of its beautiful nature, party houses, beer parlour, trinkets, clothes, and what all you would love to buy and enjoy as a tourist. Located in North Goa, Calangute beach, lined with dense palm trees and coconut trees, is a visual treat for travellers, with mesmerising sunrise & sunset, and other scenic views. The list does not end here; Calangute has a lot more for its visitors.
Church of Our Lady of Immaculate
This is one of the popular must-visit places in Goa. Know for its historical importance and impeccable beauty, this Church attracts visitors greatly. Located in the state capital Panjim, this Portuguese colonial church was built as a chapel in 1541, later get a makeover as today’s known church in the 1600s. This church is famous for an ancient bell that was extracted from the Augustinian ruins of the Church of Our Lady of Grace in Old Goa. The church looks stunning in December as the “Our lady of Immaculate Conception” is commemorated on the 8th of December followed by Christmas and New year celebrations.
If you are spending some time in Panaji during your visit, drop by this church and simply rejoice in the tranquillity.
Fort Aguada, another must-visit tourist place in Goa is a seventeenth-century fort with a lighthouse. With its historical and archaeological importance, The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) has listed Fort Aguada in the Monuments of National Importance in Goa. The fort was built in the early 1600s to guard against the Dutch invaders but now stands as a treasured monument dividing the Sinquerium Beach and Candolim Beach. This architectural wonder with its marvellous buildings and sea views & sunset from the top is something you shouldn’t miss in Goa. Since the afternoon is too hot here, you can spend a lovely time in the evening. So, explore Fort Aguada and spend your time experiencing it.
Located in Panjim, Miramar beach is the longest beach in the state. Stretching for more than 2 kilometres, the beach lies on the convergence of the Mandovi River and the Arabian sea. With a string of palm trees on one side and silvery-while sand, the beach offers splendid oceanic views. The beach is perfect for those who love tranquillity and is known as one of the preferred choices for honeymoon couples and families. During the winter season, you can spot a huge number of migratory birds including gulls here. The beach also houses a large number of eateries and pubs and offers great opportunities for watersports adventures and boat rides.
The Dudhsagar Waterfalls situated on the Goa-Karnataka border is another must-visit spot in Goa. Located on the Mandovi river, this four-tiered waterfall is one of the tallest in the country with a height of 310 metres. Dudhsagar waterfall is actually a part of the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park. The best way to reach the falls is to enter the National park and catch a van allotted by the park to the falls. The lush green jungle and beautiful water spray with some trekking experience are worth the effort you put into it.
Located in the suburbs of Panaji, Dona Paula is one of the major tourist attractions in Goa, fumed with some myths. Dona Paula named after a Portuguese historical figure Da. Paula Amaral Antonia de Souto-Maior was a woman of charity. According to the myth, Dona Paula was in love with a fisherman and when his father, the then viceroy refused to get them married, she jumped off the cliff and died. It is said that she was seen arising from the moonlit waves wearing just a pearl necklace. Dona Paula is said to be entombed in the Cabo Chapel near the Cabo Raj Nivas, the present-day residence of the Governor of Goa. Nestled in the southern part of the peninsula, the beach is famous for its location where the two famous rivers Zuari and Mandovi meets the Arabian Sea. The beach extends exceptional views with a serene atmosphere. Whether or not you get a glimpse of the emerging Dona Paula, you can feel the lovely breeze taking all your grief away.
Anjuna Beach & Flea Market
Anjuna beach is one of the top must-visit places in Goa. This exquisitely beautiful beach offers a lot to enjoy your trip. Anjuna is famous for its trendy nightclubs, beachside resorts, flea market, beautiful landscapes, seafood delicacies, nightlife parties, shopping, and Chapora fort. Being an entertainment hub, the place hosts several adventure activities such as et skiing, parasailing, banana boat rides, bumping rides, and water scooter. The Wednesday Flea Market at Anjuna is pretty popular to buy trinkets, intricate sculptures, boho jewellery, spices, junk items, t-shirts, tote bags, bedsheets, electronic devices, and anything & everything from India and even foreign countries.
Other popular tourist attractions near Anjuna beach are Mahadev Temple, Museum of Goa, Kuteswara Temple, St. Anthony’s Church, Bhumika Temple, Chapora Fort, etc. Take your visit between November and March to enjoy the site at its best.
Some of the best hotels & resorts in Anjuna Beach include:
- Fairfield by Marriott Goa
- Curlies Shiva-valley Cottages
- Annapurna Boutique Resort
- Shalai-The Cliff Resort
- Spazio Leisure Resort
- Gaia Hostels
- Laguna Anjuna
- Ginger Tree Boutique Resort
- Palacete Rodrigues Heritage
Baga is one of the famous beach destinations in Goa and is widely popular for its watersports such as banana rides, dolphin cruises, parasailing, surfing, jet skiing, etc. At Baga, you can see a long row of fishing boats, shacks, and an indoor snow park with a wide play area where you can enjoy several games and sledging and savour a few drinks at the ice bar. Named after “Baga Creek” which drains into the Arabian sea, Baga beach is bordered by Anjuna and Calangute beaches. Your visit to Baga would be incomplete without its nightlife. The famous Tito’s Lane hosts several bars, lounges, and clubs that can make your nightlife in Baga the best.
Popular hotels in Baga are:
- The Park Baga River Goa
- Silversalt Baga Luxury Boutique
- Acron Waterfront Resort
- La Sunila Suites
- Colonia Santa Maria
- Woodside Retreat
- Lazy Lagoon, A Lemon Tree Resort
Tito’s Street, named after the lane it is located on is one of the best and must-visit nightclubs in Goa if you wish to enjoy a theme night. The place is extremely popular for its nightlife, music, dance, drinks, food, and what you would love to relish in Goa. Tito’s is a vast space that comprises an open-air restaurant, a concert space, and three nightclubs — Club Tito’s, Café Mambo, and Bollywood Discotheque. During the peak season, Tito’s is busy with a lot of fun and celebration and you can even see the crowd waiting outside the club for a chance to enter.
Also read, Goa’s Iconic Club Tito’s Sold Out
Bom Jesus Basilica
The Basilica of Bom Jesus located in the old Goa is a UNESCO recognized World Heritage Site. The construction of the church was completed in 1604 and now it stands as the epitome of Portuguese colonial architecture and Baroque architecture. Located 10km away from Panjim, the church is a monumental masterpiece that is 61 feet tall. Inspired by Mosaico-Corinthian architecture, the interior of the church is intricately designed. The entire structure of the Basilica comprises an altar surrounded by two chapels and a belfry at the back of the church. The altar of St. Anthony stands on the right side while the left side holds a majestic wooden statue of St. Francis Xavier. You can find two galleries with oil paintings of Biblical references within the architecture of the Basilica. These paintings speak about Christianity from an Italian perspective.
Museum of Goa
Museum of Goa (MOG) is a unique contemporary art gallery near Calangute, Goa. Founded in 2015 by Subodh Kerkar, a Goan artist, this art gallery is special for its temporary collections that include exhibitions, workshops, art courses, book reading, screenings, talks and plays. If you are an art lover who wants to take a look at some artistic wonders and intellectual marvels, the MOG is a must-visit place in Goa.
Want to enjoy your time in a calm ambience rather than the usual nightlife and parties? Then Mandovi is the right place. Mandovi meets the Zuari, the largest river in Goa at a common creek at Cabo Aguada, forming the Mormugao harbour in South Goa. Panaji, the state capital is located on the bank of the Mandovi river. Mandovi river cruise is a must-try activity in Goa. Get into one of the decent luxury cruises and enjoy the serenity of the river. Though you can take the cruise in the daytime, evening or even night as per your choice, an evening time cruise would be super to relish the grand sunset view.
Of course, there is no dearth of watersports in Goa. Grand Island is one such amazing place where you can enjoy a variety of watersports such as Dolphin tour watching, Scuba diving, Snorkelling, Boat tours, Underwater tour etc. Island Grand is a one-stop spot for those who wish to experience a good number of water activities in one place. The boat tour of Grand Island gives you a remarkable chance to get close to dolphins and to explore the exotic underwater life. From fishing to island tripping to Suba diving, this island has everything to satisfy the adventure junkie in you. Don’t forget to take your swimming essentials, beachwear, an extra dress, to avoid untimely running after these things.
The flair of Goa lies in its beautiful landscape, architectural wonders, nightclubs, cute shacks, happening streets & nightlife, beaches, pubs, and seafood. Candolim beach is another wondrous place in the state that help you immerse in the Goan experience. Nightlife, banana boat rides, jet-skiing, parasailing, scuba diving, and several other watersports and party life await you at Candolim beach in Goa. You can spot a good number of restaurants and shops that sell handicrafts and clothes on the Candolim-Calangute road. Located just 12.6 km away from Panaji, Candolim beach is a quiet place for a perfect hangout with your partner.
Chronicle Goa, another happening place in Goa is a club prominent for its nightlife. Located by Vagator beach, this high-end bar is a mini-heaven for nightlife lovers. Chronicle offers a chance to overlook the calm waters enjoying the party life. Enjoy your dining while relishing the pleasantly beautiful party nights will be an ever-loving moment in your life.
Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
There is a nature lover in most of us. But if you are an ardent lover of birds or an ornithology enthusiast, then Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is a must-visit place in Goa. Spanning over 440 acres, this bird sanctuary is encompassed by low mangrove forest and several other species including the striated heron, western reef heron, little bittern, colourful kingfishers, woodpeckers, eagles, sandpipers, black bittern, red knot, mudskippers, and other mangrove habitat specialist species. Located on the Chorao island in the Mandovi river, this bird sanctuary is the smallest protected area in Goa. The ideal time to visit this habitat is during the winter season(October- March).
Mapusa Friday Market
If you are planning to stay in Goa for a minimum one week period, pay a visit to Mapusa Friday Market where the local farmers sell their products. Located in the Bardez district of Goa, this Friday local market sells a wide range of fresh fruits, farm vegetables, earthen pots, glass bangles, coir mat, tamarind, spices, dried fish and prawns, local Goan liquor, and other Goan natural food items. Why don’t you take a visit to this local farmers’ market so that you can meet some locals, grab some natural Goan items, and be a part of their happy trading?
Mangueshi Temple also known as Shir Mangesh temple, dedicated to Bhagavan Manguesh, an incarnation of Lord Shiva is located in the Mangeshi village of Ponda taluk, Goa. This is one of the largest and most frequently visited temples in Goa. Believed to be originated in the 1540s, this temple which was built in a simple structure underwent several renovations and the current structure was built under the Maratha rule. The temple hosts several domes, a 7 storeyed lamp tower, an imposing Nandi statue at the entrance and various architectural marvels that will be a visual treat during your visit. The temple locates in lush green forests with mango and jackfruit grooves.
St. Augustine Church
Church of St. Augustine, now a ruined church complex in Old Goa is part of the World Heritage Site, Churches and convents of Goa. Built on the top of the Monte Santo (Holy Hill) by Augustinian friars who landed in Goa, the church was believed as one of the three great Augustinian churches in the Iberian world. Following the abandonment of the church by the Portuguese government of Goa in 1835, the church collapsed after a few years and the bell was moved to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Panjim. The Augustinian church is also famous for the relics of Ketevan the Martyr, a queen of Georgia, who was martyred in 1624 for refusing to deny her faith in Catholicism.
Want to take a break from the happening nightlife and freaky parties? Then head over to Verna springs located just 22 km away from Panaji. Located over the Verna plateau, this spring is also known as Kesarval springs. Popular for its natural beauty and rumoured medicinal properties for curing various ailments, Verna springs occupy a special place in Goan life and culture. Believe it or not, you can find people around the spring tasting the water with the hope of curing their ailments. The best time to visit the spring is Monsoon when the water springs with full force.
Divar Island is one of the most beautiful places in Goa with its pristine nature, simple habitat, and quiet atmosphere. Lies on the Mondovi River, Divar Island is home to remnants of religious monuments and temples of the Hindu majority once occupied here. The religious persecution by Portugues and plague pandemic led to the fleeing of islanders from Divar to other parts of the state. Now a flourishing village, Divar is attracted by tourists from different parts of the world to visit its dense forest, soothing environment, simple yet intricately designed structures, hilltop views, etc.
Some More Goan Places for Your Long Stay
Other than the places mentioned in the list, there are plenty of tourist destinations in Goa that are famous for tripping. If you are planning a long trip, you can explore some more places in Goa including:
- Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary
- Bogmalo Beach
- Palolem Beach
- Chapora Fort
- Sunburn Goa
- Big Daddy Casino
- Vagator Beach
- Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
- Arvalem Waterfall
- Spice Plantations
- Museum of Christian Art
- Lamgau Caves
- Arambol Beach
- Colva Beach
- Sinquerim Beach
- Arpora Saturday Night Market
- Corjuem Fort
- Fort Tiracol
- Naval Aviation Museum
Stretches along the Arabian Sea, Goa has several tourist-interest sites and heritage spots. The top must-visit places in Goa extends beyond the whole list compiled in the article. Some of the Goan places are still left unexplored. Plan a trip to Goa to refresh your mind and body. When it is time to take a break from the stagnant state, head over to Goa and enjoy a splendid time at this beautiful place.