Planning a trip to Goa? Wondering where to go? What are the tourist spots in Goa?
Most people think that Goa is only all about the beaches, but that is not true. Goa is a storehouse of culture and history that is not just limited to the beaches. Goa is divided into North Goa and South Goa, but as Goa does not face problems with traffic the travel is not excruciating even if the distance is more.
This article will answer the following questions:
- Which are Goa’s best beaches?
- Which churches are famous in Goa?
- Which are the prominent temples in Goa?
- Where can you see the influence of Portuguese architecture?
- Which part of Goa is used for movie shooting?
- Best Casino & Cruise in Goa?
- What should you do on your Goa vacation?
1) Sun, San and some Tan:
The first thing that comes in anybody’s mind when they think about Goa are the serene beaches. And yes Goa does have a lot of beaches, some are well known by everyone while some are not that popular amongst tourists. Whichever the beach you are guaranteed with cool seas with sandy beaches and sea shells you can collect as souvenirs from your Goa trip.
- Miramar Beach- The beach is named after the place it is situated at, Miramar is a part of the capital city of Goa ie Panaji. This beach is a big beach with a number of food stalls lined on its coast. Miramar beach also hosts a few events like the annual Kite festival, music concerts and IFFI movie screenings. The food stalls have various types of chats, paav bhaji, shwarma, ice gola, sweet corn and even a Maggie stall. You can take a dip in the sea or walk on the sand and then relish this delicious food.
- Kerim Beach- The northern-most beach of Goa is located close to the Tiracol Fort. This old Portuguese fort overlooks the beach of Kerim. This beach has water sports but is not safe for swimming. It is 58kms away from Panaji.
- Arambol Beach- A beach unexplored by the tourist stretches upto 16kms surrounded by cliffs and a fresh water lake Arambol is a traditional fishing village and one can see the reminiscence of fishing even after the fishermen retire for the day. One can indulge in activities like paragliding and parasailing on this aesthetically appealing beach. Arambol beach is 50kms away from Panaji.
- Morjim beach- Popular amongst tourist Morjim beach is thronged with beach enthusiasts all around the year. Morjim is often called “Little Moscow” or “Mini Russia” due to a large number of Russian people residing there. One can often find boards of restaurants and shops in Russian as well and English in Morjim. This beach is also famous for the Olive Ridley Turtles that lay their eggs on the sands of this beach. While earlier Morjim witnessed a lot of loud late night parties, those have been banned now so this beach provides quiet time for you to relax and enjoy yourself.
- Baga and Calangute Beaches- Well known and commercial beaches of Goa are crowded with people and beach shacks. These beaches not only offer the pretty view but also good food, drinks, karaoke, hookah, water sports and more. You can rent a deck chair and sit for hours while the vendors will try to sell their trinkets, hair beads, temporary tattoos etc. These beaches are located 19-22 kms from Panaji.
- Bogmalo Beach- Located near the airport, this beach is away from the prying eyes of tourist and is hence non-commercial in nature. It is a small beach with blue water and a few beach shacks around it. Its clean water is ideal for swimming and it is safer with the Goa Institute of Diving located there. Bogmalo Beach is located 32kms from Panaji.
- Majorda Beach- A South Goan beach located in Majorda is a clean beach with a number of popular bakeries and eateries located in close proximity to the beach. Ideal for swimming, Majorda beach is one of the most popular beaches in South Goa. This beach is at the distance of 31kms from Panaji.
- Colva Beach- Another small yet popular beach of South Goa is now a hub for eateries and cafes. A picturesque beach ideal for romantic walks and family outings where you can watch your kids build sand castles while you enjoy the cool breeze. Colva Beach is approximately 34kms away from Panaji.
- Agonda Beach- Hands down one of the best beaches of Goa perfect for a romantic gateway, chilling with friends or for some nice family time. Situated in South Goa, the beauty of this beach will take your breath away. Very few people know about the beach so crowds of people will not bother you. And with almost negligible phone reception, you will fully enjoy the peace and serenity this beach offers. This place is also home to the Olive Ridley Turtles. Panjim is 72kms away from this beach.
2) Where do the Goan Catholics go to pray?
The Portuguese not only ruled Goa for 300 years, but they also built a number of Churches in this state. These churches have a Portuguese style of architecture and are as breath taking as the Goan beaches. You do not have to a Christian or a religious person to visit these churches. Go there to experience the vibrant beauty and feel the tranquility that the place offer.
- Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church- The capital city of Goa houses a popular church which can be seen in the background of several Bollywood movies. This church is also called the Panjim Church. Its unique architecture with double flights of steps leading to the church never fails to impress anyone.
- Bom Jesus Basilica- A world UNESCO site, this grand church is one of the oldest churches constructed in the 15th century and painted by Dom Martin Basilica. This church houses the mortal remains of Saint Francis Xavier that can be seen when you enter the interiors of the church. The feast of St. Francis Xaviers is celebrated on 3rd December every year.
Where? Old Goa. 12kms from Panaji
- Se Cathedral- Right opposite to Bom Jesus Basilica is Se Cathedral. While Bom Jesus Basilica is made of a red stone, Se Cathedral is painted white. A church equally beautiful and unique in its own way, displaying a Portuguese-Manqueline architectural style and Tuscan interiors enchants all its visitors and devotees.
Where? Old Goa. 12kms from Panaji.
- Church of Our Lady of the Mont- A little distance away from the Old Goa churches is this breath taking church perched on a hill. You witness a scenic view from the hill overlooking Old Goa, the Mandovi river and Charao islands.
Where? Ella. 11kms from Panaji.
- Church of St. Cajetan- Following the same style as the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica, this church is one of the most beautiful churches in South Goa. This church is a reminiscence of the bygone Portuguese era and a testimony of their grandeur.
Where? Velha. 12kms from Panaji
- Mae De Deus Church- The unique Neo Gothic style of architecture can be seen in Saligao’s famous church. The white structure is illuminated at night which magnifies its beauty by highlighting its distinctive architecture.
Where? Saligao. 12kms from Panaji.
- St Andrew’s Church- This church is one of the most famous sights in Vasco with its white façade and ornamented interiors. This church is situated in the same city as the airport.
Where? Vasco. 26kms from Panaji
3) Ring a Bell Ring a Bell:
After the grand churches come the Hindu temples. Some were destroyed by the Portuguese and later rebuilt while a few survived their wrath. The Goan temples follow a strict clothing policy that prohibits people with short or indecent clothes. Western clothes are not a problem as long as the clothes do not display any vulgarity. Below listed are a few popular Goan temples:
- Tambdi Surla- This Mahadev temple was constructed by the Kadamba dynasty in the 12th As one of the oldest temple in Goa it is also a protected monument. This temple is amidst greenery with a water body flowing near it. Locals as well as tourists spend a day over here admiring the architecture, trekking along the temple and enjoying a swim in the stream.
Where? Sanguem. 58kms from Panaji.
- Shri Shantadurga Temple- A temple dedicated to Goddess Shantadurga who is a form of the ancient Goddess Santeri. This temple is always full of worshippers. The Shantadurga Temple is strict with dress code so if you plan on visiting it, please dress modestly.
Where? Kavlem. 32kms from Panaji.
- Magueshi temple- Dedicated to Lord Maguesh who is a form of Lord Shiva is another major temple in Goa. A temple which follows a dress code This temple is a beautiful union between modern day architecture and traditional hindu pattern.
Where? Ponda. 21kms from Panaji.
- Brahma Temple- One must visit this temple to experience divinity. A tall statue of Lord Brahma stands in the centre of the premise blessing all the devotees. The locals believe that Lord Brahma will bless all those who come to seek his blessings so a lot of devotees visit the temple.
Where? Valpoi. 44kms from Panaji.
4) A walk down the bygone Portuguese Era:
A number of houses and structure still standing in Goa are heavily inspired by the Portuguese architectural style. While most of them were constructed when they ruled over Goa, some were built after the liberation. There is one area in Panaji where one feels like she or he is walking in the lanes of Lisbon. Seldom visited by tourists, Fontainhas is a home to several cafes, a number of schools and local Goan houses as well.
The houses in Fontainhas are not just an archetype of Portuguese architecture, but each of them are painted a different colour making the lanes vibrant with colours.
You can walk around the entire area to experience the Portuguese culture and gauge the influence they had on Goa, Goans and the Goan architecture. After your walk you can step into one of the many bakeries in that area to relish the local delicacies or just have a cup of tea or coffee.
Fontainhas is a hidden gem that most tourists are unaware of therefore you will only find locals going about their daily chores and school kids playing in the lanes of this side of Panjim.
5) Bollywood Connections:
- Chapora Fort- Popularly called the “Dil Chahta Hain Fort” overlooks the Vagator It has earned its second name as some scenes from the popular Bollywood movie were shot at this fort.
Where? Chapora. 22 kms from Panaji.
- Dona Paula Jetty- Rati Agnihotri and Kamal Hassans’s Ham Bane Tum Bane Ekduje Ke Liye was shot at this jetty where they jump from the the highest point of the jetty as their parents disapproved of their love. This movie made an impact on most of its viewers and a lot of Goan lover and even non Goans (who came to Goa) would come to this jetty to commit suicide. That was then, now people go there to enjoy the view, and go for boat rides. Another popular movie shot here was Singham.
Where? Dona Paula. 7 kms from Panaji.
- Aguada Fort- A fort constructed in 1600s to safeguard from the Dutch and the Marathas, this fort is used in many popular movies. Standing on the shores of Mandovi, Aguada was the most important fort of the Portuguese. Movies like Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Golmaal, Honeymoon Travels Private Lmtd etc were shot here.
Where? Aguada. 16 kms from Panaji.
- Cabo de Rama- This fort has been under several rulers, the Hindu rulers, Muslim monarchs and even the Portuguese. A famous fort in South Goa, Cabo de Rama has a church adjacent to it which is still used by locals. Situated on a cliff, it offers amazing view and even better breeze. An aesthetically pleasing place like this would not escape the film-makers and many movies were shot against its backdrop.
Where? Cabo de Rama. 60 kms from Panaji.
- St. Augustine Tower- Previously a church of the Augustine tower built in 1600s, now so many years later only the ruin of that grand structure is standing. Spread out in a large area, the absence of a roof and collapse of several walls makes it difficult for one to recognize it as a church. The ruins make a very beautiful site and hence movies like Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Khamoshi, Josh, Gumnam are shot at this location.
Where? Old Goa. 6 kms from Panaji.
- Salaulim Dam- Located in South Goa this dam in on a tributary of the Zuari river. One can visit this damn to witness the grandeur of the structure as well as to enjoy the parks built around the dam.
Where? Sanguem. 62kms away from Panaji.
6) So let the river run:
Apart from beaches, Goan rivers have a lot to offer. Not only is the Mandovi river home to several floating casinos, but they also have cruises to entertain the tourists.
- Cruises- The most popular being Santa Monica that takes one for a round along the Mandovi River while the locals sing and dance to Goan tunes. It goes around for an hour, typically beginning at 6am and charging a fee of Rs 300 per head.
- Houseboat- Goa has recently come up with a house boat sailing in the backwaters of Chapora River by John House Boats. Spend a day on the house boat including all the three meals and unlimited drinks. Lasting for twenty four hours, the boat lets you spend some romantic time with your partner or quality time with your family or chill with your friends while you are crusing along the river witnessing Goa at its best.
Where? Chapora. 20 kms from Panaji
- Floating Casinos- Goa is known for its casinos and the night-life along with parties that make the casinos even more colourful. While the government has banned locals from visiting casinos, tourists are welcome. The minimum age limit for entering a casino is 21 years and dress code should not be smart casuals.The list of the Goan floating Casinos is as follows:
- Deltin Royale
- Casino Pride
- Casino Carnival
- Deltin Jaqk
Each of these have an entry fee of around 2,500 to 4,500 per head. The entry comes with a few complimentary coins, unlimited buffet and unlimited alcohol. You go to these casinos through a small boat which picks you up from Panaji (opposite Mandovi hotel or Santa Monica Jetty). The casinos have games like Black jack, Roulette, Poker, Slots etc.
These are the few things that you can do during your vacation in Goa depending on what you relish the most. Happy Holidays!