May 10th, 2019 | Updated on July 13th, 2022
Goa, a state on India‘s West coast, is a former Portuguese colony with a rich history. Spread over 3,700 square kilometres with a population of approximately 1.8 million, Goa is small by Indian standards. It has a unique mix of Indian and Portuguese cultures and architecture that attracts an estimated 2.5 million visitors each year (including about 400,000 foreign tourists).
Since the 1960s, Goa has been attracting a steady flow of visitors — first the hippies and returning expatriate Goans, then the charter tourists (starting with the Germans in 1987), pilgrims visiting Catholic and Hindu shrines, those opting to settle in Goa as their home, people going for medical treatment, and a growing number of those who attend seminars and conferences in Goa.
Candolim’s long and languid beach, which curves to join smaller Sinquerim Beach to the south, is largely the preserve of charter tourists from the UK, Russia and, more than ever, elsewhere in India. It’s fringed with an unabating line of beach shacks, all offering sunbeds and shade in exchange for your custom.
Margao (also known as Madgaon) is the capital of South Goa, a busy – at times traffic-clogged – market town of a manageable size for getting things done. As the major transport hub of the south, lots of travellers pass through Margao’s train station or Kadamba bus stand; fewer choose to overnight here, but it’s a useful place for market shopping, catching a local sporting event or simply enjoying the busy energy of big-city India in small-town form.
3. Basilica de Bom Jesus
Famous throughout the Roman Catholic world, the imposing Basilica de Bom Jesus contains the tomb and mortal remains of St Francis Xavier, the so-called Apostle of the Indies. St Francis Xavier’s missionary voyages throughout the East became legendary. His ‘incorrupt’ body is in the mausoleum to the right, in a glass-sided coffin amid a shower of gilt stars. Freelance guides at the entrance will show you around for ₹100.
4. Goa Chitra
Artist and restorer Victor Hugo Gomes first noticed the slow extinction of traditional objects – from farming tools to kitchen utensils to altarpieces – as a child in Benaulim. He created this ethnographic museum from the more than 4000 cast-off objects that he collected from across the state over 20 years. Admission is via a one-hour guided tour, held on the hour. Goa Chitra is 3km east of Maria Hall – ask locally for directions.
Travellers have been drifting to Agonda for years and seasonal hut villages – some very luxurious – now occupy almost all available beachfront space in season, but it’s still more low-key than Palolem and a good choice if you’re after some beachy relaxation. The coast road between Betul and Palolem passes through Agonda village, while the main traveller centre is a single lane running parallel to the beach.
6. Reis Magos Fort
Opened to the public in 2012 as a cultural centre, Reis Magos Fort overlooks the narrowest point of the Mandovi River estuary, making it easy to appreciate the strategic importance of the site. It was originally built in 1551, after the north bank of the river came under Portuguese control, and rebuilt in 1703, in time to assist the desperate Portuguese defence against the Hindu Marathas (1737–39).
7. Dudhsagar Falls
Situated in the far southeastern corner of the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, Goa’s most impressive waterfall splashes down just west of the border with Karnataka state. At 603m this is the second highest in India, after Jog Falls. The falls are best visited as soon after monsoon as possible (October is perfect), when the water levels are highest and the cascades earn their misty nomenclature, Dudhsagar, meaning ‘Sea of Milk’ in Konkani.
8. Old Goa
From the 16th to the 18th centuries, when Old Goa’s population exceeded that of Lisbon or London, Goa’s former capital was considered the ‘Rome of the East’. You can still sense that grandeur as you wander what’s left of the city, with its towering churches and cathedrals and majestic convents. Its rise under the Portuguese, from 1510, was meteoric, but cholera and malaria outbreaks forced the abandonment of the city in the 17th century. In 1843 the capital was officially shifted to Panaji. Some of the most imposing churches and cathedrals are still in use and are remarkably well preserved, while other historical buildings have become museums or simply ruins. It’s a fascinating day trip, but it can get crowded: consider visiting on a weekday morning.
9. Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Named after the late Dr Salim Moizzudin Abdul Ali, India’s best-known ornithologist, this serene sanctuary on Chorao Island was created by Goa’s Forestry Department in 1988 to protect the birdlife that thrives here and the mangroves that have grown up in and around the reclaimed marshland. Apart from the ubiquitous white egrets and purple herons, you can expect to see colourful kingfishers, eagles, cormorants, kites, woodpeckers, sandpipers, curlews, drongos and mynahs, to name just a few.
Cavelossim village – a straggling strip of jewellery and gem shops, souvenir shops, ATMs, one quite swish department store, and the increasingly common proliferation of cosmetic dentists – is a place of large hotels and time-share complexes strung along the main road.
Top Hotels In Goa
1. Mariners Bay Resort
Mariners Bay Resort has the warmth of the home and the lavishness of a luxury resort. Be it cozy, wooden cottages or opulent suite rooms, there’s something for everyone, at the best price which gives you value for money. The Resort boasts of 2 nos world-class swimming pool in the midst of picturesque backdrop for anyone who wishes to take a rejuvenating dip and unwind or enjoy with families & kids.
2. Beleza By The Beach
Beleza is a beach resort spread over 5 acres of open expanse with our scenic pathway from within the premises of the resort connecting guests to the pristine white sands of Colva beach. It is conveniently located close to the Colva Promenade shopping area as well as a distance covered in 25 minutes from the airport. All rooms are air-conditioned with an attached bathroom, LCD TV with satellite connection, tea/coffee maker and DVD player.
Guests can choose from a wide selection of movies from our video library free of charge. Tentacao our world cuisine restaurant is an all-day dining restaurant and bar set by the poolside. Nazare our beach shack and bar, is a beautiful spot to view the sunset and sip sundowners and light snacks.
Espacio Divino Our Spa facility offers a range of relaxing massages. Our conference room is picturesquely set overlooking the swimming pool and it can seat up to 35 people. We also have a garden area and a play area with swings for children.
3. ibis Styles Goa Calangute Resort
750 steps to Tivai beach, 15 min from Calangute beach & Candolim Beach and 25 min from Baga beach in North Goa, Feel Welcome in our designer pool view rooms with balcony for a vacation of a lifetime. This resort has a multi cuisine restaurant which serves breakfast, and a bar. Amenities include Wi-Fi, bicycle rides, local jeep transfers, Go Pro cameras and pool games are inclusive. Dedicated kids pool and play areas make it a perfect family destination.
A swim in one of our outdoor pools will be a refreshing start to your break when you can capture underwater moments. Water sports aficionados can relish at Calangute Beach with banana boating, wind surfing, jet skiing and parasailing. The restaurants/shacks at Candolim beach will certainly help you escape from the hunger pangs.
Apart from that, don’t miss the night flea market at the Anjuna beach that offers magnificent antiques, ethnic jewellery and Goan souvenirs. Infantaria Pastalaria Restaurant is a must for you, if you are a fan of Italian cuisine.
4. The Park Calangute Goa
This seafront property features an open-air lounge where you can unwind with a frozen tropical daiquiri after a long day of touring the neighborhood attractions. Sip and take in the breathtaking view of the ocean. Count the beers, the hours left in the day while watching the sunset.Below the skybar you will find our restaurant. Savour the sight of our Chef’s specials being prepared in the open kitchen while you enjoy our Bartender’s classics with some chilled out music. This breezy and comfortable restaurant also gives you direct access to the beach and to the swimming pool.Stretch out and relax on the daybeds and cabanas next to the purple pool. Read a book while enjoying a delicious margarita, take a snooze after you’ve had a swim, or just lay back and people-watch. Treat yourself to a foot rub after a long night out, while you make plans for another one.
5. Goa Marriott Resort & Spa
Edging the waters of the Arabian Sea, Goa Marriott Resort & Spa is an upscale hotel with resort services and award-winning hospitality. Surround yourself with spacious luxury in well-appointed rooms and suites, featuring deluxe amenities and sweeping views of the sparkling bay. Take a few short steps to the beach or Casino Carnival, North Goa’s exhilarating gaming and entertainment destination.
Host successful business functions in 14,000 square feet of flexible event space with custom catering and state-of-the-art audiovisual technology. After a full day of work or exploration, savor the many flavors of India and the world at our stylish restaurants, or rejuvenate your mind and body at our upscale spa. Designed to provide an unrivaled guest experience, our hotel is a luxurious, 5-star sanctuary where you can work, dine and unwind.
6. bloomrooms @ Calangute
World Class affordable hotel experience now in Goa! Superbly located walking distance from Calangute beach, only 200m from Calangute Circle & bang opposite Infantaria Restaurant, you can’t get closer to the action. Chill by our amazing pool by day & hit the North Goa party scene by night – a fantastic holiday awaits!
7. Le Meridien Goa, Calangute
Le Meridien Goa, Calangute situated in the heart of the bustling Calangute-Candolim belt in North Goa, India offers an inspiring setting for the curious traveller in search of a perfect family holiday experience or a leisurely vacation. 146 tastefully designed rooms in a contemporary setting yet retains accents of locally inspired art. Indulge in a culinary slice of Goa when you stay with us at our hotel near Fort Aguada, Fort Chapora, Reis Magos and the city center of Panjim just 30 minutes away.
8. W Goa
Unwind in secluded settings surrounded by spectacular scenery, dappled by golden glows of sunshine. Lounge in vivaciously designed private seaside accommodations at W Goa, a luxury boutique resort in Goa, India. Or, revel in scintillating dining as sensational art and music unfurl throughout beautifully landscaped grounds. Reconcile the fact that while you are only minutes away from anywhere you have to be… including top Goa destinations like Reis Magos Fort… you are exactly where you should be. At W Goa! As we say here in Goa “SUSEGAD”– Take it easy.
9. Radisson Goa Candolim
Indulge in our Candolim, North Goa hotel’s services boasting refined accommodation, exquisite on-site dining and a convenient location just 500 metres from Candolim Beach, Radisson Goa Candolim is an unbeatable hotel choice for your vacation. Situated 500 meters from Candolim beach and in proximity to National Highway 17, makes it easy to explore the numerous attractions surrounding Candolim, North Goa. Take advantage of our hotel’s proximity to area highlights including the historic Fort Aguada, the ancient churches of Old Goa and excellent shopping in Panjim. Radisson Goa Candolim has everything you need to enjoy an unforgettable stay in one of the region’s top leisure destinations.
10. Taj Fort Aguada Resort & Spa, Goa
Taj Fort Aguada Resort & Spa, Goa, spreading across a picturesque 42 acres, meanders into the ramparts of the 17th century Portuguese coastal fort. The resort spreads on the sea front along the Sinquerim to Calangute beach stretch. It is an hour and half drive from the airport. Airport transfers by coach are offered as a complimentary courtesy.