Thinking about your next holiday to enjoy walking along the exotic long beaches, taking a sunbath, a variety of sea-food, cheap beer and party nights?. Then, Welcome to Goa!. The most promising coastal region in Western India that has a strong and long history associated with Portuguese. This tropical state was ruled by Portuguese for early 450 years until it was taken over by India in 1961. Most of the monuments, forts, and constructions of Goa dates back from the Portuguese era and hence the Goan culture has a strong presence of Portugal. This part of Western Ghat is also a biodiverse hotspot.
It takes at least a week trip to enjoy Goa to its fullest. In this article, we will talk about the 10 popular places in Goa that are distributed among North, South Goa and Panjim and also some of the best hotels in Goa.
10 Popular Places To Visit In Goa
North Goa is heavily crowded with tourists and is known for nightlife. This region is easily accessible and the town never sleeps. Though there are endless locations in North Goa to explore, below are the top 4 among all:
1. Fort Aguada:
Built in between 1609-12, Fort Aguada is the best-preserved Portuguese bastion in Goa. It was built to keep a check on the potential intruders through river Mondovi. It was constructed as a defense against the Marathas and the Dutch. Interestingly, it is the only fort which was never conquered by any enemy in 450 yearlong rule of the Portuguese empire.
“Aguada” means “a place where water is accumulated” in Portuguese.It was once the grandstand of 79 cannons. It has the capacity of storing 2,376,000 gallons of water, one of the biggest freshwater storages of all the time in Asia. The fort has a 13 meter high and four-story lighthouse built in 1864. This lighthouse believed to be the oldest of its kind in Asia. The limits of the fort present the breath-taking views of the shoreline, the Arabian Sea, Mondovi River, and the city of Panaji.
2. Chapora fort:
Overlooking the Vagator beach and Chapora river, the ruins of Chapora fort is the best place to enjoy the sunset in Goa. It is the point where the Chapora river meets the Arabian Sea. This red-laterite bastion was re-built by the Portuguese in 1617, earlier which was an Islamic structure. The fort was attacked and acquired several times after Portuguese acquired Bardez in 1543.
It was finally deserted by the Portuguese in 1892, hence it is a historically important part of Goa tourism. Today, this devasted fort just have the heads of the escape tunnels built by the Portuguese and a ruined shrine in the middle. The boundaries of the fort present an awesome view of Vagator Beach and Arabian sea.
Calangute is the most popular town in North Goa, known for its beautiful wide beach, shacks, nightlife and a shopping hub. Being the largest beach in Goa, Calangute is popular among both domestic and foreign tourists. It is also largely dominated by fishermen and the fishing activity here is quite evident. The Candolim, Calangute and Baga beaches are all connected side by side and are known to be a party place among the youth.
Due to its beauty and tranquillity, Calangute is known as the ‘Queen of Beaches’. It’s among the top ten bathing beaches in all over the world and remains crowded 24×7. The Calangute Market is the best place to shop for almost everything at a reasonable price. Water sports like parasailing and water skiing are among the top attractions in Calangute.
Anjuna is a village located on the coast of North Goa and has one of the most popular beaches in India. Anjuna Beach is located very near to the Chapora Fort and Vagator Beach. It is another best location to enjoy the sunset in Goa. This beach has a bizarre array of red laterite rocks where you can spot the carbs frequently. Along the beach, the Anjuna Flea market that still represents the strong presence of Hippie culture in the region is another popular shopping hub in North Goa. Anjuna is also known for full-moon parties and the Wednesday flea market. The glorious Albuquerque Mansion built in 1920 is another key attraction here that looks beautiful during sunset.
Panjim is the religious hub of Goa and Goan culture that has a long history associated with its every brick. Though there are few beautiful beaches and popular old Panjim market, the following three are the top picks of Panjim Tourism:
5. Basilica Of Bom Jesus:
Built in the year 1594 and consecrated in 1605, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is a beautiful reflection of Portuguese architecture. It marks the beginning of Christianity in India and the basilica holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, which still remains good with flesh and bones. St. Francis Xavier, was a close friend of St. Ignatius Loyola and they together founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The construction represents the baroque architecture and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The huge and ornate gilded reredos, stretching from floor to ceiling behind the altar, is absolutely commendable.
6. Dona Paula:
About 5 kilometers inside the Panji city, the Dona Paula is a well-known beach in Panaji that is known for a spectacular view of Arabian Sea. This lover spot has been named after Dona Paula De Menezes, daughter of a viceroy. The whitewashed statue of Dona Paula which is hovering on the rocks near the popular ferry jetty was sculpted in 1969 by Baroness Yrse Von Leistner. This viewpoint is located at the southern part of the rocky headland where the Mandovi and the Zuari rivers meet the Arabian Sea.
This place is also popular for water sports and adventures. Dona Paula offers a splendid view of the Mormugao harbor and it is fringed by casuarinas woods & palm trees. This place has been used in few of the blockbuster Hindi movies time and again.
7. Church Of Our Lady Of Immaculate Conception:
One of the oldest chapels in Goa, the Church Of Our Lady Of Immaculate Conception is one of the important assets of Panjim and Goan history. The colonial Portuguese Baroque style church was first built in 1541 as a chapel on a hilltop overlooking the city of Panjim. Later in the 1600s, the chapel was rebuilt as a church as a part of promoting and expanding the Portuguese Goan religion. The iconic ancient bell that sits on the top of the church was recovered from the Augustinian ruins of the Church of Our Lady of Grace of the old Goa. Every year on 8th of December the locals and the church celebrated a Feast of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception includes special service and lively fair marking the date.
South Goa is the undiscovered beauty of Goa and especially for those people who love natural beauty and relax far from the crowd. Most of the beaches and popular places of South Goa are way inside the villages. Following are the top three places that must be visited in South Goa:
8. Dudhsagar Waterfall:
About 60 kilometers from Panjim, the Dudhsagar Waterfall is a four-tiered waterfall located on the Madgaon-Belagavi rail route wiz the Goa- Karnataka border. With an awestruck height of 1017 feet and an average width of 100 feet, the Dudhsagar waterfall is among the tallest waterfalls in the country.
Dudhsagar which means “Sea of Milk” is a beautiful, white and heavy waterfall that shine through the rich deciduous forests of the surrounding. The fall is most appealing during monsoons and even the trains are fed with heavy splashes of water of the waterfall.
About a mile long, The Palolem Beach is a crescent-shaped beach Located in Canacona Southern Goa. This is an unexplored beach with dense green vegetation due to numerous coconut trees and palms along the entire beach. Being a crescent-shaped beach, one can view the entire beach from either end. This place is mostly visited by foreigners and is a hot party location in South Goa. The beach and the surrounding is a peaceful location, unlike the North Goa with a limited population. Kayaking and paddling are among the popular sports in Palolem beach.
10. Benaulim Beach:
About 30 kilometers from Panjim, the Benaulim beach is an ideal place for relaxation away from the crowded North Goa. Hidden deep inside the outskirts of South Goa village, Benaulim is best known for fishing. The beach is wide open, filled with seashells all over and some coconut trees and palms along the stretch. It is an untouched beauty of Goa and most visited by foreigners. The scenic Benaulim beach is also known for many water sports and you might end up sighting dolphins easily. Benaulim is the birthplace of St. Joseph Vaz, hence the Church of St. John is a must visit place in Goa.
Note: There are Silent-Noise parties here every Saturday from 9 pm till 4 in the morning at the southernmost part of the beach, which is also called the Neptune Point.
Where to Stay in Goa:
There is “n” number of options to stay at Goa depending upon your preference and budget. Being a popular holiday destination, there are many 5- star hotels in Goa with their own private beach. Some of the most popular among them are:
- Taj Exotica, Benaulim
- Goa Marriott Resort & Spa. Panaji
- Grand Hyatt Goa, Bambolim
- Le Méridien Goa, Calangute
- The Leela, Mobor, etc.
Though you can get an ample number of hotels in Goa, if you are planning to visit Goa during Goa Carnival i.e. in December, then you must book your accommodation well in advance. Following are the top 3 among them which are pocket-friendly also well-maintained hotels in Goa:
- Calangute Residency: This guesthouse is about 2.3 kilometers from Baga Beach
- Hotel Miramar: it is located just 50 meters from Miramar Beach.
- Vasco Residency: Located about 600 meters from the Baina Beach.