Goa’s sun-kissed beaches draw millions of visitors every year. The string of lively North Goa beaches, including Baga, Candolim, Calangute and Anjuna, have a bohemian vibe while the tranquil South Goa beaches offer a more laid-back atmosphere.
Portuguese-era mansions peppered inland from Margao won’t fail to charm you. Explore Braganza House, one of Goa’s grandest colonial mansions, with a number
of 17th- and 18th-century portraits of family members displayed around the house.
The magnificent architecture of cathedrals, churches and monasteries such as Basilica de Bom Jesus and the grand Sé Cathedral mark the site of Old Goa, the Portuguese capital until the mid-18th century, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Evocative of a provincial Mediterranean town, Goa’s capital, Panaji sits at the mouth of the Mandovi River. Lose yourself in the leafy avenues of the old town with a friendly and relaxed ambience. Here, sun and spices harmonize to give you the perfect experience – from paddle boating on the Mandovi to the Goa Carnival that begins in Panaji in February.
Dating back to the 17th century, Fort Aguada is set atop a hill and was built as a defence against the Marathas and the Dutch. The name was sourced from the freshwater spring within the fort that provided water to the ships that docked here. Climb to the top of the new lighthouse, built in 1976, for endless views of sand and sea.
Scenic and heavenly, Dudhsagar Falls act as a tourist magnet all year-round. The journey, about 70 km (43 miles) away from the Goa-Karnataka border, is worth the effort. A popular trekking destination, kids can go on a jungle safari, enjoy birdwatching or opt for a dip in the ‘sea of milk’.
Arpora Night Bazaar
Located between the beaches of Baga and Anjuna is the lively, colourful and unmissable Arpora Saturday Night Bazaar. The market, spread over a vast area, has over 500 stalls selling everything from clothes, jewellery and accessories to spices and film posters. Visitors can also sample drinks and mouthwatering delicacies from the stalls while enjoying the live music.
Head to the Mario Miranda Gallery for an insight into Goan life. This famous cartoonist is known for illustrating local Goan culture as well as the history that shaped it. You can also carry a slice of it home with you in the form of souvenirs or keepsakes.
Kayaking in Goa
The tropical Goan weather makes it a perfect destination for kayaking at sunset, white-water rafting and snorkelling. There are excursions along the coast, rivers and backwaters of Goa throughout the year. Palolem’s bay or Goa’s several estuaries are considered best for kayaking. Vaayu Waterman’s Village on the Ashvem-Mandrem village offers an exciting range of watersports such as surfing, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking.
Tantalizing even to seasoned travellers, Goan cuisine serves flavours of history preserved through traditional recipes. Savour vindaloo, a curry that came to India with the Portuguese, made with the dry roasted spices such as mustard, fennel, coriander seeds and red chillies. Do not miss out on the ‘queen’ of local desserts, bebinca, which you can also carry home for friends and family.
Nightlife in Goa
Once the sun sets and stars brighten the sky, Goa comes to life. It harbors a medley of exhilarating options including thriving nightclubs, charming beach shacks and party cruises. Dance the blues away at the multi-level open-air nightclub Club Cubana or head to Silent Noise for headphone parties on Saturday nights.
For more information read our new guide to Goa, available on Amazon and Flipkart