The word Goa itself is capable to flood your minds with images of beaches with colorful beach shacks, wild parties, flea markets buzzing with tourists & fresh seafood. Although it is counted among the top travel destinations in India because of those things, there is much more to this state with its coastline which stretches along the Arabian Sea.
There are several points of tourist interest excellent for sightseeing, from waterfalls to spice plantations. You can avail the benefits of an Ayurvedic massage or take a heritage walk exploring the Portuguese culture mixed with a little of India. It is for all these reasons, this wide appeal to everybody, that Goa stands out as both a favorite honeymoon destination and a tourist destination suitable for family holidays.
Beaches are just the beginning of what makes Goa one of the most beloved places to visit in India. The destination also has unique Portuguese-influenced cuisine, historical churches and temples, vibrant wildlife, and fascinating spice farms. No matter how long you spend in Goa, you’ll wish you had a few extra days to explore.
1. Palolem Beach
A crescent-shaped stretch of white sand that overlooks the Arabian Sea in south Goa, Palolem beach is a must-visit in Goa. While simply hanging out and soaking up the scenery is a perfect way to enjoy this beautiful area, Palolem Beach also offers an array of activities to fill your time, kayaking, yoga classes, dolphin-sightseeing trips, and swimming. You can also spend the night in one of Palolem’s rustic coco huts, which are erected at the start of the high season.
2. Butterfly Beach
One of the best-hidden gems in Goa is Butterfly Beach. In a perfect and amazing world of South Goa paradise beaches, this nice piece of coast is single, lonely, and solitary. You can also see here sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and even redfish early in the morning! Butterfly Beach is well known as a favorite place for dolphins playing. You can rent a boat on Agonda beach or Palolem beach to reach the butterfly beach by water or tackle a challenging forest hike, to reach Butterfly Beach. The road to the Butterfly Beach can be seen brimming with butterflies all over giving the name to this Beach as butterfly Beach.
3. Basilica de Bom Jesus
Named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, this Old Goa attraction dates back to the late 16th century and contains the remains of St. Francis Xavier. The only church in Goa without plaster, this baroque-styled church is situated at Old Goa Road, Bainguinim. Inside the church, you can see huge ornamental screens, along with the body of the resident saint in a casket that was once covered in precious stones. Every year, the Feast of St. Francis Xavier draws big crowds to this church in late November and early December. It kicks off with a nine-day novena and mass before concluding with the major holiday on December 3rd.
4. St. Augustine’s Tower
A must-see in old Goa for history buffs, St. Augustine Tower is located just 500 meters from the famous Basilica of Old Goa . Built-in 1602 by 12 Augustine monks, this was a vibrant and imposing church. But now only a part of the front facade remains. The church was abandoned in 1835 AD due to the repressive policies of Portuguese rulers resulting in neglect of the church and collapse of its vault in 1842. The church was destroyed except its facade, half of which fell down in 1931 and 1938 leaving half of the tower which can be seen today. Even in its present collapsed stage, the tower looks grand and tells the story of the time when it was possibly the biggest church in Goa.
5. Fontainhas, The Latin Quarters of Goa
Fontainhas, situated in Panjim, the capital of the state, offers the visitors the chance to walk through history, and discover the Portuguese colonial period in Goa. A must-visit for photographers, narrow winding lanes, masses of bright bougainvillea flowers, and overhanging wooden balconies all together make you feel you are walking in a Latin quarter. Brightly colored houses are a characteristic feature of the Portuguese architectural influence, and Fontainhas is full of them. Deep azure blue houses with white trim, mustard yellow houses with slate-tiled roofs, maroon red houses with dark wood doors and balconies. Each one is unique, and many have names emblazoned on white-and-blue tiled plaques.
6. Fort Aguada
This majestic fort, situated on Sinquerim beach at the mouth of the Mandovi River, overlooks the Arabian Sea. Fort Aguada is one of the largest and impressive forts preserved as one of the best-known landmarks in Goan history. You will be amused by the beauty of this place. You can witness the endless sea, a beautiful lighthouse, and an amazing fort which altogether will give you the feel of a perfect landscape. You can also see the gunpowder room in the upper fort and it is said that earlier there were 200 cannons installed for the defense of locals. Its brilliant architecture as well as the breath-taking views it offers of the Arabian Sea collectively make it a top tourist fascination in the region. It is also a great spot to watch sunsets.
7. Agonda Beach
It is one of the cleanest beaches of Goa which are remarkably less crowded. You can spend a very calm alone time amidst the peaceful silence of the beach. You can find some cozy shacks which have a warm, welcoming vibe attracting people to enter it and relax a little bit. These shacks serve a variety of original local cuisines along with chosen delicacies from around the world. They provide you with beach beds where you can lie down under the umbrellas or hang inside a hammock watching the scenes around the beach. There are various spots at the beach, where you can sign up for water sports and enjoy a distinct variety of adventures. They even train you for some water sports like jet skiing and surfing so that you can enjoy them also if you are a beginner.
8. Saturday Night Market
Located in Arpora, the Saturday night market starts around 6.00 in the evening and remains open till late in the night. With food stalls offering cuisines from all over the world, the Saturday night market is every food lover’s paradise. With the right mix of both local and international wares, the flea market in Arpora has almost everything you can imagine. The night market can be divided into roughly three zones: The lower field, where you get local products from all over the country, the central field that houses the central stage and food stalls, and the upper field that has boutiques and designer stalls.
9. Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
Another one of Goa’s historic churches, The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is also located in the center of the state capital, Panjim. The pristine white church, which dates back to the early 17th century, stands on a zig-zag staircase that resembles the tiers of a wedding cake. Its perfectly symmetrical Portuguese Baroque architecture is a sight to behold. At night, twinkle lights make the church look like something out of a fairy tale. The church’s interior has bright, colorful decorations with the elegant main altar and gilded pillars with elaborate carvings. The Augustinian bell housed in the main belfry, a view of Panjim city from the church steps, view of the church after sunset when the facade is lit by a multitude of lights are must view for anyone visiting this place.
Last but not least, the state is also home to Dudhsagar Falls, a spectacular four-tiered waterfall that towers 310 meters above the ground. It’s one of India’s tallest waterfalls and a popular attraction for day trips around Goa. To reach the falls, you’ll need to make your way to the village of Colem by taxi or train. Then, you can take aboard a jeep through the jungle, passing Devil’s Canyon along the way. Around 45 minutes later, you will be able to finally reach the falls. The best time to visit Dudhsagar Falls is right after the monsoon when the water is gushing. Tourists who wish to take a dip can rent a life jacket from vendors at the attraction.