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Goa Travel Guide: Best Places to Visit, Things to Do, & More! 

Goa Travel Guide: Best Places to Visit, Things to Do, & More! 

Goa is one of the most sought-after destinations in India. Hailed for its pristine beaches, the small yet scintillating state offers plenty of exoticness to embrace. Besides providing a coastal retreat amid the azure waters and lush green landscapes, Goa is loaded with old churches, cheerful casinos, stunning national parks, heritage forts, lively markets, and so much more. Whether you visit North Goa to indulge in nightlife and shopping or head towards the southern part for tranquility, the beach capital of India won’t disappoint you. So, if you are planning to visit Goa for the first time, we recommend reading this guide. This Goa travel guide introduces you to the best places to visit in Goa, the top things to do there, the best time to visit, and everything else. Have a look!

Best Time to Visit Goa

Thinking about the best season to visit Goa? Well, the best time to plan a holiday trip would be during the winter months, i.e. between late November and mid-March. Reason – Goa usually has a tropical climate and scorching summer months might be too hot and uncomfortable for you. At other times, the clouds and rain may make things messy. During winter, the weather is cool and pleasant and humidity is low. During peak season, from mid-December to late January, the weather is almost perfect, with temperatures hardly going above 32°C. 

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North Goa vs South Goa

If you are heading towards Goa for the first time in your life, the question of whether to visit North Goa or South Goa can perplex you. Although the question of picking one over the other seems to be a conundrum, we are here to ease all your thoughts. Well, each region of Goa whether it’s North or South has its own charm. Both regions are loaded with beaches, flea markets, churches, forts, Goan food, and casinos. While North Goa is known for its scintillating beaches, busy flea markets, and heart-thumping parties, South Goa is hailed for its secluded beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, and exclusive market collections. Read on to know the top spots to visit in North Goa and South Goa.

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Best Places to Visit in North Goa

When it comes to North Goa, a few beaches are quite famous for party animals. You can also check into exciting nightclubs, visit old famous churches, and shop from the busiest yet affordable markets. Here are our top recommendations for people who want to explore North Goa:

Top Beaches

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  • Arjuna Beach
  • Vagator Beach 
  • Baga Beach
  • Calangute Beach
  • Aguada Beach
  • Morjim Beach
  • Candolim Beach
  • Chapora Beach
  • Mandrem Beach
  • Arambol Beach

Famous Churches

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  • Basilica of Bom Jesus
  • Church of St. Lawrence
  • Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception
  • Se Cathedral
  • Church of Our Lady of the Mount
  • Church of St. Cajetan
  • Mae De Deus Church
  • Church of St Francis of Assisi
  • St. Diogo’s Church
  • Santa Cruz Church
  • Chapel of St. Catherine

Top Casinos

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  • Deltin Royale
  • Big Daddy Casino
  • Deltin Jaqk
  • Casino Pride
  • Casino Paradise
  • Majestic Pride 
  • Casino Palms
  • Chances Casino and Club
  • Casino Carnival 
  • Crown Casino

Famous Forts

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  • Fort Aguada
  • Chapora Fort 
  • Terekhol Fort
  • Corjuem Fort
  • Reis Magos Fort
  • Sinquerim Fort
  • Nanuz Fort
  • Ponda Fort

Popular Markets

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  • Mapusa Municipal Market
  • Anjuna flea market 
  • Panjim market 
  • Calangute market
  • Mackie’s Night Bazaar
  • Arpora Night Bazaar
  • Jade Jagger Beach Boutique
  • Le Souk

Other Attractions

  • Mangueshi Temple
  • Fontainhas 
  • Divar Island

Best Places to Visit in South Goa

South Goa is perfect for those looking for peace, rejuvenation, and tranquility. Besides its peaceful beaches, the region boasts plenty of less crowded markets known for its exclusive collections. Not to mention, the churches, wildlife sanctuaries, forts, and casinos of South Goa are also worth a visit. Here is a list of popular places to visit in South Goa:

Top Beaches

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  • Palolem Beach
  • Majorda Beach
  • Butterfly Beach
  • Colva Beach
  • Benaulim Beach
  • Agonda Beach
  • Tiswadi Island 
  • Bogmalo Beach
  • Betul Beach
  • Polem Beach
  • Patnem Beach
  • Cavelossim Beach
  • Varca Beach
  • Kakolem Beach

Famous Churches

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  • St. Alex Church
  • St. Andrew’s Church
  • Three Kings Chapel
  • The Church of Our Lady of Merces 
  • Holy Spirit Church
  • St. John the Baptist Church
  • Church of Our Lady Of Hope
  • Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol
  • Our Lady of Grace Church

Top Casinos

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  • The Zuri White Sands Casino
  • Treasures Casino
  • Casino Pearl

Famous Forts

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  • Cabo de Rama Fort
  • Mormugao Fort
  • Rachol Fort
  • Betul Fort

Popular Markets

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  • Colem market
  • Palolem market
  • Caculo market
  • Colva Beach Market
  • Margao Market
  • Gandhi Market

Other Attractions

  • Dudhsagar Falls
  • Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary 
  • Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary

Best Things to do in Goa

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As Goa is a coastal state, you have a lot of things to do at the beaches. Apart from engaging in serene walks along the shore and sunbathing, you can try watersports or opt for island hopping. We recommend the following things to do in Goa:

  • Indulge in water sports, such as parasailing, diving, and surfing
  • Take a walk at spice plantations
  • Enjoy a cruise tour
  • Eat popular Goan food, such as Vindaloo and Crab Xec Xec
  • Opt for a mountain bike tour
  • Try your luck in casinos
  • Walkthrough Goan caves
  • Book wildlife or cultural tour
  • Do not miss sacred sightseeing 
  • Go for island hopping
  • Take a city tour by bike or a casual walk

Festivals in Goa

Known for its diverse cultural mix, Goa has a lot of cultural offerings for its tourists. Apart from dance parties, there are plenty of festivals to enjoy if you choose to visit on specific dates or during special months. 

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  1. Goa Carnival (February-March)

The Goa Carnival is celebrated for 3 days/3 nights prior to the fasting season of Lent (February). It features colorful parades, live music, dance nights, and other fun activities. 

  1. Christmas (December 25)

With its Portuguese heritage and Catholic society, Goa is the best place to celebrate Christmas. The festivity offers an exceptional chance to witness adorned homes and churches, listen to Christmas carols, and relish the traditional Christmas feast. 

  1. New Year (December 31- January 1)

Just like Christmas, New Year is celebrated with great fervor in Goa. Especially New Year’s Eve when the whole party-state waits for the clock to strike 12 at midnight. Firework displays, bass music, bubbly champaigns, lanterns making their way up the sky, and cheerful crowds right after 12 are sure to make your heart jump with joy.

  1. Narkasur Parade (October/November)

Narkachaturdashi is the hallmark of Diwali celebrations in Goa during which effigies of the mythical demon Narkasur are paraded on the streets before being burnt. This marks the beginning of the festival of lights. 

  1. St. Francis Xavier’s Feast (December 3)

December 3 commemorates the death of St. Francis whose mortal remains are placed in the Church of Bom Jesus. Every year, thousands of pilgrims across the country and abroad flung to the state to offer their heartfelt prayers. This religious festival starts on 3rd December and is celebrated for nine days. 

  1. Sunburn Festival (December)

Commenced in 2007 as a 3-day festival in Goa, the Sunburn festival is one of Asia’s biggest music festivals. The biggest techno party is held at multiple arenas across Vagator beach.

How to Travel to Goa?

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By Air: Goa’s Dabolim Airport which is about 30 kilometers away from Panjim is well connected to the major cities of the country, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Cochin. The Dabolim Airport near the port town of Vasco-da-Gama also has routes for international flights. 

By Train: Goa has two major train stations, namely Vasco-da-Gama and Madgaon. If you are traveling from Mumbai, you can catch Konkan Kanya Express or Matsyagandha Express. People coming from Delhi can take the Nizamuddin Goa Express. Some of the trains that operate Goa and Hyderabad are 17603 Kcg YNK Exp, HYB VSG EXPRESS, and KCG YPR EXP.

By Bus: Several public and private bus operations offer services for intra-city and inter-city travel. Popular operators for intercity travels include Paulo travels, PVS Tours & Travels, Sea Bird Tourist, Venkatesh Tours & Travels, and Naik Tours and Travels. Local buses in Goa that are a part of the government as well as private undertakings connect most of the state’s cities and villages.

Travel Checklist for Goa

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If you are wondering what to pack for your Goa trip, follow this ultimate checklist that covers everything from clothes and accessories to food.

  • Swimwear
  • Waterproof flip flops
  • Multi-drape cover ups
  • Beach shirts and tees
  • Beach shorts
  • PJs
  • Casual jeans, pants, or trousers
  • Lightwear dresses
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Hat, cap, scarf, and umbrella
  • Sports shoes
  • Dress shoes
  • Beach mat
  • Toiletries/shaving kit
  • Waterproof camera
  • Waterproof cellphone pouch
  • A foldable backpack
  • Lip balm
  • Skincare, haircare, and makeup essentials
  • Menstrual essentials 
  • First-aid kit and medicines
  • Laundry bag
  • Waterproof bag, pouch, or tote
  • Bluetooth speaker and headphones
  • A light jacket or hoodie
  • Travel towels (small and big)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Snacks and packaged food
  • Sanitizer
  • ID Proofs and documents, such as driving license 
  • vaccination certificate

If you are looking for a happening holiday and need a much-needed respite from your hectic everyday life, plan a trip to Goa. Follow this guide to make the most of your holiday.

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