With its scenic beaches, lush greenery and Portuguese style churches; Goa from a long time has been a dream destination for millions of travellers across the planet. The unparalleled beauty of its exotic beaches, colourful markets and scrumptious sea food invokes not only domestic but even international tourists to visit this captivating place. Situated on the slopes of the Western Ghats, Goa shares its borders with Maharashtra in the north and Karnataka in south – east. With Arabian Sea on its west side, Goa is gifted with about 78 miles of long coastline bringing forth some extreme beautiful beaches.
Best Time to Visit Goa
To have a fun filled vacation with cheap boozes and sparkling nightlife, Goa is an all-year-round destination. But the best time to visit Goa is winter which the state faces from December to February. During these months, the place has mild and pleasant weather with temperature varying from 21° C in the night to 28° C in the day. Temperature gradually begins to rise from March and the month of May becomes the hottest with around 35° C to 40° C with high humidity. The monsoon season, which starts in the early month of June and last till late September, offers a pleasurable weather but you will miss sun, sand and all the beach activities of the place.
State’s Special (February Edition)
Tourism industry, which is the backbone of the Goa, depends largely on the beautiful beaches of the state. The beaches are divided into North and South Goa. With low and medium budget tourist accommodations, North Goa is more commercial and is popular among party lovers and young travellers. Housing many private beaches South Goa beaches are pristine and less crowded by tourists.
South Goa Beaches
The quiet and serene beaches of South Goa provide best sandy beds to relax and indulge in lethargic environment. Apart from calm atmosphere of these beaches, good food and soothing music are always with you to upgrade your mood. Some popular beaches in this category are Agonda, Colva, Palolem, Majorda, Bogmalo and Benaulim. Among these, Palolem beach is the most popular for its unadulterated beauty and also having budget hotels and guest houses. This palm fringed beach with glittering sand ravishes thousands of travellers every year. Agonda is another popular beach known for indulging in sunbathing, relaxing and swimming. Covered with white sand and long stretch of coconut palms, Colva beach is one of the spectacular beaches of South Goa.
North Goa Beaches
Beaches of North Goa are known for their sparkling nightlife and attract a large crowd. Some of the popular beaches in its list are Anjuna, Arambol, Baga, Calangute, Candolim, Chapora, Vagator and Morjim. The adjoining beach of Baga and Calangute is one of the most sought after and happening beaches of Goa and is famous for water sports. Candolim is a silvery beach noticeable for sand dunes and peaceful environment. Chapora is a fishing beach known for its serenity and food stalls serving tasty Goan food. Anjuna beach is popular for its dots of rocks on white sands which with linings of palms provide an unusual natural beauty to the place. Lying close to Anjuna beach Vagator is known for its mid night parties during tourist seasons.
There are also some less explored beaches in Goa which are calm and impressively beautiful. The important ones in this category are Butterfly Beach, Sinquerim Beach, Cola Beach, Siridao Beach and Kakalem Beach. Known as Butterfly Island, Butterfly Beach is an isolated beauty wrapped in tranquillity. Sinquerim is a white sand beach located close to Fort Aguada and houses some luxury resorts.
- Churches & Cathedrals
Serving as the capital of Portuguese India for around two centuries, Old Goa (or Velha Goa) is home to many ancient Portuguese style churches and cathedrals. Exemplary of rich historical past of Goa, these churches are now one of the major tourist attractions in Goa. Some famous of them are:
One of the ancient structures of Goa, Se Cathedral is a world heritage site by UNESCO. Located on the banks of the Mandovi River, every brick of this cathedral reciprocated the classic Portuguese style.
Basilica of Bom Jesus
This well-known Church in Goa was built in 1605 and is a tribute to Bom Jesus (infant Jesus). Built of white marble, this church is one of the finest structures of India.
Mary Immaculate Conception
Built in colonial Portuguese Baroque style, Mary Immaculate Conception was one of the initial churches of Goa. It was first built in 1541 as a chapel by the Portuguese and renovated in 1600s into a larger church.
Apart from these, Church of St, Augustine, Church of St. Francis and St. Anne Church are some other famous churches in Goa.
Speaking the old tales of bygone era, Goa Forts attracts many visitors even in the ruined state. Although the forts in Goa are comparatively smaller to the other forts of India, they are significant for their military and political standing.
The Aguada Fort
Located on the Sinquerim Beach, Fort Aguada is seventeenth century Portuguese fort constructed in 1612 in order to guard the northern shores of Mandovi River from Dutch and Marathas. One of the individual features of this complex is its lighthouse, which built in 1864 makes it one of the oldest lighthouses of Asia.
The Chapora Fort
The 18th century structure of Chapora Fort is located in Bardez, high above the Chapora River. The present fort was built in 1717 replacing the old fort – originally built by Adil Shah of Bijapur. The place suitable for explorers and photo fanatics got popular, when it was featured in famous Bollywood movie ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and hence widely began to be known as DCH point.
- Gorge on some of the best sea foods
For non-vegetarians and sea food lovers, Goa is heaven to gulp some mouth-watering Goan dishes. Seafood like prawns, lobsters, crabs, Pomfrets, ladyfish, mussels and oysters are indispensable part of Goan cuisine. Salted and dried fish also is very popular. Try any dish like Prawn Curry Rice, Masala Fried Fish or Crab Xacuti; your appetite will never be satiated. Don’t forget to try Goan Lobster Thermidore. Also have Goan Crab Curry, Tandoori Kingfish, Reichado Pomfret and the mixed sea food grill with grilled crabs, king prawns and oysters.
The dominant cuisine in Goa is Catholic which itself is influence by Konkani, South Indian, Portuguese and British cuisines. Some popular dishes in this category are Arroz Doce(Portuguese Kheer), Amot tik (Sour curry prepared mainly from fish or meat), Balcho (conventional style curry), Chamucas (Goan Samosa), Sorpotel (Popular Goan pork based dish), Xacuti (Goan Curry) and Vindaloo (A hot curry). Apart from these dishes Goa is also famous for its high quality bakeries and confectionaries which you should have during your visit.
Feni is unarguably one of the most popular local drinks of the country.
No trip is complete without shopping in the buzzing markets of the place. And if you are in Goa there are a plethora of miscellaneous items to buy from its famous markets.
Popularly known as flea market, Anjuna market remains full of hustle and bustle and crowd of locals & travellers. Held on every Wednesday, this is the best place to buy fabrics, ornamentals crafts, spices and local Goanese products.
Calangute Market Square
Located nine miles north from Panajim, Calangute market is lined with shops bursting with souvenirs, metal crafts, leather items, clothes and jewellery and many more such entities.
Situated 13 Km away from Panajim, Mapusa Market is stock of fresh fish, locally produced vegetables, fruits, pickles, spices, dried fish and clothes & junk jewelleries.
Located 10 Km west of Mapusa, Baga Beach hosts sparkling Saturday night market. This lively market comprises ample handicraft shops. Apart from these clothes, wood carvings, palmistry and Goan dishes are also available in this market.
- Getting Around Goa
Apart from beaches, there are many other attractions in Goa which are located at some distance from the capital Panjim. The state blessed with rich biodiversity is home to many wildlife sanctuaries. The ideal geography of the place gives rise to many beautiful Ghats and cascading waterfalls.
Located on the Mandovi River, Doodhsagar Fall is one of the highest waterfalls in India. This fall is situated 60 Km from Panjim and displays its full bloomed beauty during Monsoon. Falling from a height of 300 meters, this waterfall is one of the popular attractions around Goa among picnickers and photo freaks.
Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park
Situated in an area of 240 square kilometres, Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary contains rich biota. Sheltering a large species of animals and bird species the place is quite popular among nature lovers.
Amboli is the nearest hill station to Goa situated in the Sahayadri Hills of Maharashtra. Having a soothing climate and surrounded by lush greenery and waterfalls the place is popular among honeymooners.
Set amidst the verdant Western Ghats in the Sahyadri Mountain range, Chorla Ghat boasts of having some rare species of wild life. The place is covered with thick sub-tropical woods and offers stunning views of Anjumen Dam area.
Laced with so many attractions Goa is a complete destination for a joyous trip. Whether you are travelling with your friends, family or soul mate, Goa offers everything to enjoy a vacation to the fullest. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and head for this beautiful place.