23 Best Tourist Places in Goa
Clean Beaches, Historic Forts, Colorful Markets and Must-see Attractions
Most tourists visit Goa for its famous beaches and nightlife. Sure enough, Goa has some of Asia’s best beaches and a nightlife scene that is often compared with Bangkok, Langkawi, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Phangan, and Boracay. But this small Indian state offers much more. Our list of the top 22 tourist places in Goa will give you a peek of the best attractions you can see and the activities there.
There are many tourist places in Goa worth visiting. From the beaches in Goa, to the national parks and hills, churches, forts, markets, and the backwaters, you will find virtually everything here. You can see and do so much in Goa that you may end up staying for a long time in Goa. Many international tourists do just that, especially the Brits and the Russians. Others keep coming back to Goa again and again. So here’s a list of the must-see places in Goa that you should definitely include in your tour planning.
Many of the tourist places in Goa are famous landmarks. There are several UNESCO Heritage sites too that include beautiful churches. The body of St. Francis Xavier is preserved at the Bom Jesus Basilica in Goa. You must also visit the local flea markets. See the Old Latin Quarter for its impressive architecture, Portuguese mansions, and boutiques. Not that well known outside India, but Goa has many interesting and forts too in picturesque locations that you may want to visit.
Of course, the Goa beaches are always a top attraction. Agonda, Baga, Anjuna, Vagator, Arambol, Cavelossim, and Palolem are the best beaches. If you love to party, then Goa will please you, especially in the winter. You can also enjoy casino gaming.
Make sure you don’t miss these best places to visit in Goa:
Map of the places to visit in Goa
#1 – Agonda Beach
Agonda beach in South Goa is a must-visit. 39.2 kilometers from Margao, this is an isolated stretch of sand lined by palm groves. It is a very quiet, peaceful, and picturesque beach with few tourists. There is a turtle center in the north, and rocky outcrops in the south. Developed tourist infrastructure! You will find many shops, cafes, beach shacks, bars, restaurants, yoga centers and massage parlors. But you will still get a less “touristic feel” here.
Agonda has been ranked as “Asia’s #1 beach for 2018” according to the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice® awards. It was ranked Asia’s 4th best beach in 2016 as well.
Best time to visit, what to do – November to February. Most beach shacks are temporary structures that will open only in the winter.
#2 – Fort Aguada
Fort Aguada is an old 17th century Portuguese fort in north Goa. It is at the confluence of the Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea on top of a hill. The Portuguese constructed this fort as a defense against the Marathas and the Dutch. There is a deep dry moat here and a 13-meter-high lighthouse, which was constructed in 1864. Many buildings within the fort are still in very good condition.
From Aguada, you can get awesome views of the shoreline, the Arabian Sea, Mandovi River, and even the city of Panaji, which is on the other side of the river.
Best time to visit, what to do – During the winter and monsoon. There can be rain and a strong wind in the monsoon, but you the sea and river view will be even better when it rains.
#3 – Chapora Fort
The Chapora fort is in North Goa, close to Vagator beach. The Chapora River meets the Arabian Sea here. Chapora fort is a must-visit for those who love Bollywood Hindi movies. The famous Bollywood movie “Dil Chahta Hai” was filmed here. The fort is almost in ruins now, but it still offers incredible views of the river and the coastline. Take a picture – there are many photo opportunities here!
- Distance from Panaji – 21.7 kilometers by the NH66.
Best time to visit, what to do – Winter and the monsoon. You will have to walk to the top for the views, which may be difficult in the summer heat. Make sure to spend time in the beautiful Vagator beach while you visit Chapora.
#4 – Dudhsagar Falls
Witness the fury of nature, in what is one of India’s tallest and most powerful waterfalls. Dudhsagar Falls is 47 kilometers from Margao by the MDR52. It is located on the Goa-Karnataka border. Dudhsagar Falls looks most impressive in the monsoon when there is a lot of water.
It cascades down for 1017 feet from a steep mountain face. You can view the falls from a train journey to and from Margao, or you can trek to the base of the falls. You have to trek through the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park. There are many viewpoints along the way.
Best time to visit, what to do – Always in the monsoon season because the waterfall will be the most powerful this time of the year. You can also visit in the winter. There will still be a lot of water.
#5 – Baga Beach
Baga beach in North Goa is one of Goa’s most popular beaches. The Baga River is in the north. Calangute beach, also popular, is in the south. The Baga-Calangute stretch is one of the longest sandy shores in Goa. You will find many beach shacks, pubs, restaurants, shops, nightclubs and water sports activities, including banana riding, speed boats, paddle boarding, paragliding, surf boarding, and more. Britto’s at the northern end of the beach is a famous shack. Club Tito’s and Cafe Mambo are two famous Goa nightclubs, both in Baga.
Best time to visit, what to do – Throughout the year. Dine at Britto’s, enjoy dancing and the nightlife at Club Titos, watersports on the beach. Baga to Candolim is the most popular stretch in Goa.
#6 – Anjuna Wednesday Market
Started by hippies in the 1960s, the Anjuna flea market is a landmark in Goa. It is at the southern end of the Anjuna beach. The Anjuna flea market is open on Wednesdays between 9 AM and 6 PM. There are more than 500 stalls selling handicrafts, handmade jewelry, Kashmiri and Tibetan goods, bags, clothing, tribal artifacts, and more. There are food stalls, bands playing jazz and rock music.
Best time to visit, what to do – The flea market is open on Wednesdays, only during the peak tourist season. Spend time on the beautiful beach. There are rave and trance parties, full-moon parties in the winter.
#7 – Basilica of Bom Jesus
The body of St. Francis Xavier is kept preserved at the Bom Jesus Basilica in Goa. It is one of the most important tourist attractions in Goa, and a landmark for Catholics from around the world. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is an UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Church was constructed in baroque style in 1605. The Saint’s body was brought here in 1622, and it has since then been laid in a glass mausoleum. There is also a gallery of Modern Art in the Basilica.
- Timings: 9.00 am — 6.30 pm
- Distance from Panaji – 12 kilometers by the NH748.
Best time to visit, what to do – Throughout the year. Also see the nearby Se Cathedral, Church of St. Cajetan, Archaeological Museum, and the Viceroy Arch in Old Goa.
#8 – Thalassa Restaurant
The Thalassa restaurant is in Vagator, North Goa. It serves the best Greek and Mediterranean food in Goa. Good décor and awesome views of the Arabian Sea! Good music in the evening. The meat platter, mock tails, baklava, vegetable moussaka, mushroom saganaki, chocolate cake, and the chocolate cheesecake are some of the favorites here. Their seafood, including prawns, and calamari are also legendary. See the sunset with a drink if you are in North Goa. You may want to stay back till dinner.
Best time to visit, what to do – You can hire a boat and visit the Chapora Island or cross the Chapora River and visit the Morjim beach on the other side. It is an Olive Ridley turtle nesting site.
#9 – Mapusa Market
The Mapusa Market is 10.3 kilometers by road from the Anjuna Beach in North Goa. Open on Fridays, this is one of the biggest, most colorful and interesting markets in Goa. People from the villages and far-off places come here to sell their produce. You will find a wide variety of fish, meat, and vegetables, fresh spices, fruits, flowers, nuts, home-made chouriço, marinated pork sausages, pickles, ropes, coir mats, jewelry, clothes, and even wines. The stores are grouped together by the type of products sold.
Best time to visit, what to do – Though it is a Friday market, but many shops remain open on the other days too. Visit the nearby Acoi marshland. You can do fishing and see many birds. There are many hiking trails too.
#10 – Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception
Also called the “Immaculate Conception Church”, this beautiful church is in Goa’s capital Panaji, close to the Mandovi Bridge. It used to be a chapel in 1541. The larger church building came up only in 1619. Since then, many revisions and improvements have been carried out, but the original building remains.
Devotees have been coming here for a long time. Old Portuguese sailors offered their prayers, asking for a good voyage. They returned after the trip to say thank you. There is a feast every year on December 8th, which many locals and tourists attend.
- Timings: 10 am — 12.30 pm, 3 — 5.30 pm
Best time to visit, what to do – Throughout the year. Relax at the Panjim promenade, visit the Campal Gardens, and the Miramar beach.
#11 – Latin Quarter
The Fontainhas neighborhood in Panjim is Goa’s Old Latin Quarter, a UNESCO Heritage Zone. Explore the narrow winding lanes and streets, see the old buildings, quaint shops, bakeries, restaurants, and art galleries.
Don’t miss the Portuguese mansions here. Watch out for the red tiled roofs and the projecting balconies. They have a distinct Mediterranean feel. You can also take the heritage walk of the Fontainhas area.
Best time to visit, what to do – The winter. The Latin Quarter is only a 5-minute walk from the Immaculate Conception Church.
#12 – Naval Aviation Museum
The Naval Aviation Museum is at Dabolim in Vasco da Gama, just behind the international airport. This is the only Naval Aviation Museum in India and unique in Asia.
There is both an indoor and outdoor section with exhibits that include bombs, rockets, aircrafts, parachutes, protective gears, armaments, outfits of pilots and much more.
Best time to visit, what to do – There is a lake just behind the museum that has a heart shape. It is aptly called the Heart Lake.
#13 – Casino in Panjim
Casino gaming is big in Goa. In Goa, you will find both land-based and off-shore casinos, on ships. Many casinos are located just off Panjim, on the Mandovi River. Famous casinos in Goa are Deltin Royale, Casino Paradise, Deltin Jaqk, Casino Carnival, Casino Pearl, Casino Pride, and Casino Paradise.
There is live music, dancing, and entertainment shows, apart from the usual games – Indian Flush, poker, black jack, and baccarat.
Best time to visit, what to do – Most casinos charge an entry fee, but free playing coupons are included with this. Winter is the most popular season. But most casinos are open at other times of the year as well. Wear smart casuals.
#14 – Grande Island
Grande Island or Ilha Grande is in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Vasco da Gama. There are ferry services from the mainland. You can do scuba diving, reef diving, snorkeling, swimming, fishing, and dolphin watching. There are many water sports activities to enjoy. It’s a great place for both beginner and advanced divers and snorkelers.
You can explore ship wrecks, including the Suzy wreck, the Davy Jones Locker, Turbo Tunnel, Bounty Rock, and the Serge City. Professional instructors are available. There are banana boat and bumper boat rides too. Just carry your swimming and beach essentials. You can also go on a daylong fishing trip from 8 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon, and finish off with a barbecue.
Best time to visit, what to do – The Grande Island is a short distance away from the Bogmallo beach, which is behind the airport. The sea can be choppy in the monsoon. Winter is the best season to visit.
#15 – Go Kart Racing
Go karting is great fun. The sport is becoming very popular in India. There are two tracks in Goa, at Nuvem in South Goa, and Arpora in North Goa. The Nuvem track is the largest in India. The 482 meters track is on a hill, just behind the Tata Motors Showroom. There are many turns here, some more complicated than others, which the skilled drivers will especially love. There is a huge bulletin board that displays the racing data.
The Nuvem track is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The North Goa track at Arpora is shorter, and has fewer turns.
Best time to visit, what to do – Enjoy go karting throughout the year. The tracks, though, may be closed in the monsoon when it rains a lot.
#16 – Paragliding in Arambol
Arambol in North Goa is a good place for paragliding. Take off from a rocky headland and get an amazing view from the top. You have to trek to the top of the headland. Your pilot will then give you brief instructions and explain the safety precautions. Fly sky high over Arambol and see the shoreline from the top, the sea, and the interiors. It will be a memorable experience.
Best time to visit, what to do – There is a famous banyan tree on the Arambol Mountain where The Beatles had come to meditate. Keep walking to reach an ayurvedic wellness center nearby.
#17 – Hill Top Club in Anjuna
The Hilltop Nightclub in North Goa is between Ozran Beach and Anjuna on the top of a hill. This is one of the best places in Goa for trance music and rave parties. There is a big area for people to drink and dance. The outside is lit up with pretty lights. There is a swimming pool too. Thousands attend rave parties during weekends in the peak season. The DJs are from England, Sweden, Italy, France, Russia, Germany, Israel, and India.
Best time to visit, what to do – The best parties are between November and January. New Year’s eve is a big occasion at the club.
#18 – Arambol Hippie Festival
Arambol in North Goa was popular with the hippies. They are long gone, but you will still find the hippie spirit here. You can hear the songs and stories of their times. You can feel the free spirit. Music brings a whiff of fresh air at the Drum Circles in Arambol, where the locals and tourists come together to enjoy music, dancing, and drumming to remember the days of the hippies.
Best time to visit, what to do – The winter. Visit the nearby Kalacha beach. Surrounded by trees, it remains almost completely empty. There is a small sweet lake just behind the beach.
#19 – Fort Cabo De Rama
The Cabo de Rama Fort is in South Goa, 17.2 kilometers from Agonda Beach. This old fort has been held by the Portuguese, Hindu, and Muslim monarchs at various times. There was a chapel and commandant quarters within the fort during the Portuguese days. There was also a military barrack here. It was turned into a prison for a short time after the Portuguese left. Now it is in ruins, but is still a popular tourist spot. You will get very good views of the sea and the surrounding landscape from the top. The Cabo de Rama Fort is a great place to see sunsets.
Best time to visit, what to do – There is some hiking to be done, so it can be difficult in the summer and monsoon. There are several viewpoints here offering 360-degreee panoramic views.
#20 – Terekhol Fort
The Terekhol or Tiracol Fort is in extreme North Goa, on the northern side of the Terekhol River. It is actually in the neighboring state of Maharashtra, as the state lines pass through the middle of the river. But many tourists from North Goa visit the fort. There is a ferry service from Querim.
It was constructed in the 17th century by Maharaja Khem Sawant Bhonsle, a Marathi ruler. The fort sits on a hill and gives a commanding view of the river and the sea. There was a barrack and 12 guns here, but the fort still fell to the Portuguese. They extensively revamped Terekhol in 1764 and held it for strategic maritime defense till 1961 when Goa became a part of India.
Best time to visit, what to do – The fort has now been wonderfully revamped and turned into a heritage hotel.
#21 – Amboli Waterfalls
Amboli in the Western Ghats is an “Eco Hot-Spot” as there are many unusual fauna and flora here. The Amboli Ghat waterfall is 78.2 kilometers from Panjim. It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Western Ghat hills. The best time to visit the waterfall is just after the monsoon months. There is a lot of greenery and mist. The drive through the hilly road is beautiful. You will hear a roar when you come close to the falls. It is worth taking the two hour road trip from Panjim.
Best time to visit, what to do – Visit during the monsoon. Spend at least a night at the waterfalls. There are quite a few resorts nearby.
#22 – Palolem Beach
Palolem beach is the one of the best beaches in South Goa. It is a natural bay with lofty headlands on both sides. Palolem is close to another beautiful beach in the south – Agonda. Cola and the beautiful Butterfly beach are also close. They are more secluded. Palolem is also a hot party destination. Silent Noise parties are held here every Saturday from 9 pm till 4 in the morning at Neptune Point, the southernmost part of the beach.
Best time to visit, what to do – Winter. Relax or party at Palolem. There is a backwater and wildlife park at the northern end of the beach.
#23 – Best Villa in North Goa
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Agonda has been ranked as “Asia’s #1 beach for 2018” according to the TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice® awards. It was ranked Asia’s 4th best beach in 2016 as well.
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