Beaches are likely the first things that come to mind when you think of Goa. While the beaches are a significant part of this Indian state, Goa is much more than its beaches. It has several cultural, historical and natural attractions that should be a part of your Goa itinerary.
Apart from these attractions, Goa is also known for its delicious food and its vibrant party scenes. Another thing that attracts people to Goa is the laid back vibe of the place, as if every day is a holiday. To experience all this and
#1. Scuba Dive at Bogmalo Beach
If you want to take your adventurous experience to another level, head to Bogmalo Beach, near Goa’s Dabolim airport. Here, you would get training for scuba diving from a PADI dive center and a chance to enjoy exciting underwater experiences.
One of the diving sites here is SS Mary, a steamship that lies under the shallow waters near Grande Island. You can also scuba dive at the reef and coral bay around the island. Scuba diving at Bogmalo Beach is great for both beginners and professionals.much more, you must visit Goa, the prime beach holiday destination of India. Here we take you through the 25 wonderful things to do in Goa.
#2. Enjoy Water Sports at Calangute Beach
Calangute Beach is synonymous with Goa. Located in North Goa, no tourists in Goa can return without visiting this beach. Home to several shacks, restaurants and pubs, Calangute is quite a happening place. Moreover, it offers an array of water sports to adventure-enthusiasts. You can try parasailing, banana boat riding, water scooter riding, etc. at this beach. You can also go on a dolphin-spotting boat ride here.
#3. Relax at the Dona Paula Jetty
Not all waterfront areas in Goa are beaches. On the other hand, one of the most popular places to hang out in Goa is the Dona Paula Jetty. The jetty gives you a unique perspective of the Arabian Sea and is also a great place to relax in the evening. There are several benches on top of the hillock, where you can sit and enjoy the breeze and the beautiful sunset as well.
Moreover, the place also offers some amazing photographic opportunities. Do check out the Dona Paula monument, which is in the memory of two lovers who took their lives here.
#4. Explore Old Goa
When it comes to Goa, North Goa is the most popular. However, if you want to know the essence of the state, a visit to Old Goa (located in the south) is equally important. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Goa is also known as the Rome of the East. Here, you would get to see gorgeous churches, interesting museums and art galleries as well as numerous convents, government buildings, bakeries and bungalows.
One of the churches that you should check out here is the Basilica of Bom Jesus for its architectural magnificence and also because it holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier.
#5. Learn about the History of Goa at Goa State Museum
Also referred to as the State Archaeology Museum, the Goa State Museum in Panaji is located at Adil Shah’s Palace. The museum has more than 8000 exhibits, distributed amongst several exhibits or galleries, some of which include Religious Expression Gallery, Contemporary Art Gallery, Menezes Braganza Gallery, Geology Gallery, Natural Heritage of Goa Gallery, Environment and Development Gallery, Furniture Gallery, Goa’s Freedom Struggle Gallery, etc.
Here, you would be able to see different types of wooden objects, rare coins, bronzes, stone sculptures, manuscripts, carvings, anthropological objects and paintings on display. You get an insight into the history and culture of Goa at this museum.
#6. Experience the Nightlife at Baga Beach
After Calangute Beach, Baga Beach is the most popular beach in Goa. Baga Beach is located at the other end of Calangute Beach. While Calangute is known for its adventure sports, Baga is known for its cool vibe. It is the perfect place to rent a shack and just chill on the beach while sunbathing and watching the waves.
Also, it has numerous restaurants, pubs, and bars, which come alive after sundown. St. Anthony’s Beach Shack is the best here, as it offers great food (seafood and vegetarian dishes) along with local wine or beer, flavoured hookah (with vodka inside), candle-lit tables and chairs on the beach and karaoke performances or live music.
#7. Enjoy the View from Fort Aguada
Goa’s Fort Aguada was built by the Portuguese during the Portuguese rule in the state. Once built to attract the Portuguese traders and merchants, the Aguada Fort and lighthouse is quite popular amongst tourists today. Fort Aguada has been a favourite location for several Indian movies as well.
The best thing about the fort is the splendid view of the Arabian Sea that it offers. Apart from this, the well-preserved structure of the fort is itself quite interesting. It is surely a delight to stroll around the place to check out the architecture of the place. Do not forget to wear a cap and sunglasses and also to carry a water bottle, as it can get really hot here during the day.
#8. Relax at the Butterfly Beach
As Calangute and Baga beaches are popular, they can get crowded. If you are looking for some peace and solitude, Butterfly Beach would be perfect for you. The best way of reaching this beach is by boat ride. However, if you want to enjoy some adventure, you can also go on a 2-hour hike from Palolem Beach.
But, it is important to remember that hiking here includes walking through a forest. However, the effort is worth it, as Butterfly Beach offers you much more than solitude. Here, you would get to see exotic species of butterflies as well as dolphins (if you are lucky). Aside from all this, this hidden gem of Goa is peaceful and gives you the chance to witness a breathtaking sunset.
#9. Watch Dolphins at Palolem Beach
If you want to avoid the crowds of popular beaches but do not want a completely secluded beach like the above one, Palolem Beach would be a good option. Located near Canacona station, Palolem Beach is a laidback beach where you can relax and enjoy being lazy.
The beach has several shacks and restaurants where you can enjoy delicious food and drinks along with the sun, wind and waves. One of the most popular activities here is to go on a boat ride for dolphin spotting. It is a superb experience: one you must try.
#10. Seek Blessings at Mangeshi Temple
In a Christian-majority community of Goa lies a beautiful 500-year old temple, the largest in the state. The Mangeshi Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and has an interesting legend behind it. Although the temple has been renovated several times from the time it was established, it still holds several remnants of the past.
The shivalinga worshipped here is the same one from ages ago. Apart from this, the lamp tower, the water tank and the chandeliers would take you back to the years gone by. Moreover, there are several ancient artifacts to make your visit interesting.
#11. Go on a Houseboat Tour at Chapora River
Goa is not all about beaches. On the other hand, it also has a beautiful backwater: the Chapora River. The best way to enjoy the beauty of the place is to go on a houseboat tour. Operational throughout the year, except during the monsoon season, the houseboat tour is not something that you associate with Goa.
However, if you are dreaming of a relaxing and laidback holiday where you do nothing but eat and sleep, this would be a great option for you in Goa. The Chapora River Cruise is available for day trips as well as overnight trips. During your cruise, you can watch local fishermen catching fish, see some unique birds and witness a marvellous sunrise and sunset. Also, do visit the Chapora Fort nearby
#12. Relish Goan Cuisine at Mum’s Kitchen
A holiday in Goa cannot be complete without trying the local Goan delicacies, and Mum’s Kitchen is the perfect place to do so. Goan cuisine is an amalgamation of Portuguese cuisine and the local ingredients. Located in a small bungalow in Panjim, Mum’s Kitchen aims to recreate this traditional art of Goan cooking.
The dishes that you see on the menu have been taken from moms from different parts of Goa. Right from the drinks to the lip-smacking dishes, everything has the local Goan touch. Some of the dishes that you should try here include Mother’s Curry, Chicken Cafreal, Pork Vindalho, Mankyo Amot Tik, Pedrinhache Balchao, Moonganchi Ghanti, etc. The restaurant offers several amazing vegetarian dishes as well.
#13. Shop at Anjuna Flea Market
There is no dearth of flea markets in Goa, but there is nothing like the Anjuna Flea Market. A weekly market that happens every Wednesday, the Anjuna Flea Market is where you can get both local and international items. Right from clothes and jewelry to artifacts and collectibles, there is a lot of interesting stuff to shop here.
Do check out Unique Tunic, where you would get to buy shrugs, kaftans, tops, skirts, etc. made in natural fabrics. If you believe in sustainable fashion, you need to visit Darshana’s stall, where you would find a variety of clothing items made from old saris.
Aside from all this, junk jewelry, tribal masks, unique headgear, Tibetan handlooms, glass and beaded jewellery and a lot more interesting things at the Anjuna Flea Market. The best thing is that the prices are quite affordable. Moreover, do not forget to check the food stalls if you want to try some authentic Goan food.
#14. Enjoy a Safari at Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
Stretching 8 square kilometers, the Bondla wildlife sanctuary is located in Ponda. Fused with numerous attractions, there are several interesting things to do at this park. This wildlife sanctuary has innumerable flora and fauna, which would impress nature lovers. The park has a deciduous forest along with few spaces if evergreen vegetation.
When it comes to fauna, you would get to see Sambhar deer, Gaur, leopard, wild boar, Malabar giant squirrel, jungle cat, porcupine, toddy cat, panther, wild boar, and several bird species as well. Some other attractions of the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary include botanical gardens, a zoo, a deer safari park, a rehabilitation center for endangered and wounded animals, and a nature education center.
#15 Visit a Spice Plantation
Spices are the reasons why the Portuguese arrived in Goa, and it is still one of the highlights of the place. Although visiting a spice plantation is the last thing on your mind while visiting Goa, it is surely a worthwhile experience. One of the best as well as the largest spice plantations in the state is the Sahakari Spice Plantation. Here, you would not only be able to check out the variety of Indian spices but also pluck and taste them. Some of the spices you would find here are Peri Peri, pepper, etc.
Few other special experiences at the spice plantation are meeting elephants and getting drenched while playing with them in the water. Moreover, you would also be treated with an authentic Goan lunch made with farm-fresh spices.
#16. Watch the Butterflies at the Butterfly Conservatory
A unique attraction in Ponda Taluka is the Butterfly Conservatory. Run by the Heblekars (a couple who are nature-enthusiasts), the butterfly conservatory has around 100 species of butterflies. Although you may not be able to see all the species, you would surely be able to see at least 25 of them during your visit.
The conservatory is a learning experience, especially for kids, who get to know about breeding and rearing of caterpillars and butterflies. You also get the chance to explore the tropical forests and endemic plants in the area. There is also a small aviary at the butterfly conservatory, where you would be able to see a variety of colorful birds.
#17. Checkout Dudhsagar Falls
Located on the border of Goa and Karnataka, the Dudhsagar Falls is a splendid creation of nature. The milky white color of the falls is the reason why it is called Dudhsagar Falls. Known to be one of the tallest waterfalls in India, the Dudhsagar Falls is a beautiful sight to see. Moreover, it is surrounded by verdant forests and greenery, making it even more appealing.
The best way to enjoy the sight of the falls is to go on a trek to the bottom of the waterfalls. If you are planning to visit the place during monsoon, always go for a guided tour and take the necessary safety precautions.
#18. Enjoy a Scrumptious Seafood Meal at Martin’s Corner
While you would find several restaurants that serve the authentic Goan fare, nothing can beat the taste and service of Martin’s Corner. This amazing restaurant is located in a small Goan village, Betalbatim but is quite popular amongst locals and tourists.
Moreover, the food here is so good that it is frequented by celebrities as well. Talking about the food, some of the dishes that you should try here include prawn vindalloo, king crabs, garlic chicken, Calamari fry, etc. Moreover, the restaurant has a cool and casual vibe, making it a perfect place to have a relaxing dinner with family and friends.
#19. Enjoy Kayaking at Mandrem River
Kayaking is one of the most relaxing water sports that you can enjoy in Goa. Even if you have never tried kayaking, you can enjoy this recreational sport at the Mandrem River. Here, a professional would help you to learn the basic methods and techniques to maneuver a kayak, after which you would be able to kayak on the calm Mandrem River.
During your journey on the tranquil blue waters of the river, you would pass several picturesque locations, creeks, and villages of Goa. So, if relaxation is on your mind, kayaking at Mandrem River is surely a great option for you.
#20. Try Your Luck at Dunes Casino in Varca
If you want to take a break from the beaches and want to do something really fun, head to Dunes Casino in Varca. Located inside the Zuri White Sands Resort in Varca Beach, the Dunes Casino is a cool place to hang out. Here, you can try your luck at Black Jack, mini flush rummy, Roulette, baccarat, slot machines and 3 cards poker.
Some other casino facilities include access to the longest swimming pool in the state, a swim-bar, a pool for kids as well as an activity center with pool tables and video games. An important thing to remember is that you have to wear smart casuals or formals to visit the casino.
#21. Enjoy a Sunset Cruise on Mandovi River
Want to have a unique, incredible experience in Goa, the sunset cruise on the Mandovi River would be truly ideal. The cruise usually lasts for an hour, during which you would get to see a marvelous sunset on the Arabian Sea. It also includes a bit of sightseeing, as you would be able to see some important buildings of Goa like Deltin Royale, the Portuguese Museum, etc.
Some of the cruises also offer live DJ as well as Portuguese and Konkan dance performances. Cruises may or may not include food and drinks, and you should check this before boarding. Apart from the sunset cruise, daytime and moonlight cruises are also available on Mandovi River.
#22. Go for a Hot Air Balloon Ride
If parasailing in Goa is not something you want to do, you can have an aerial experience with hot air ballooning. The hot air ballooning experience happens at Chandor Village, located in South Goa. The experience would give you beautiful aerial vistas of the village. Moreover, it is also quite exciting. One hot air balloon can hold around 10 people as well as a pilot.
You can also make it a romantic experience by booking a private hot air balloon for you and your loved one. The hot air balloon ride usually lasts for 1 hour and is surely worth it.
#23. Take a Day Trip to Grande Island
One of the most popular day trips in Goa is visiting Ilha Grande Island. A beautiful island on the Arabian Sea, it is close to Bat Island and Baina Beach. The only way of reaching this island is by boat ride. Most tour operators offer a combo trip to both Grande Island and Bat Island.
Apart from lounging on the beach to enjoy the beauty of the place, you can also indulge in some exciting activities here. The most popular activity here is snorkeling, and the best part is that you do not need to have special training for it, unlike scuba diving. The island is also perfect for dolphin spotting and swimming.
#24. Have a Blast at Headphone Party
Goa is known for throwing some of the most epic parties in the country. However, not many know that it also throws some of the most silent parties. Yes, some of the beach clubs and pubs of the state throw a headphone party, where every visitor is given a pair of headphones through which you can listen to the music.
You can adjust the sound level and at the same time take a break and conversation with your friends without screaming at the top of the voice. Some of the best headphone parties that happen in Goa are Silent Noise and Alpha Bar (Palolem Beach) and Leopard Valley and The Laughing Buddha (South Goa).
#25. Enrol into Goa Cooking Classes
Love the flavors and varieties of the Goan cuisine? Why not take back the secrets of Goan cooking with you? You would find numerous cooking classes in Goa that promise to teach you the art of Goan cooking. While some cooking classes include a market tour where you get to know about the spices and other ingredients of cooking, others include a complimentary authentic meal at the end of the cooking class.
Whether it is a comprehensive course or a crash course, you would surely get an insight into Goan cuisine and culinary scene.
So you see, Goa is not just about beaches and booze. On the other hand, if you want a unique and memorable experience, there are several exciting things to do here. Another unique thing you can do is to go on a Mumbai to Goa Cruise while going to Goa on a holiday. The Angriya Cruise is the only luxury cruise that goes from Mumbai to Goa and back. It would give an exciting start to your memorable Goa holiday.