The sunshine state of Goa has an endless charm to every kind of traveller. Gorgeous beaches with fair share of calm and cacophony both, imposing forts and pristine churches dating back to Portuguese era, exciting pubs that promises electrifying party scenes, the au naturale allure of rustic Goa – it has it all.
Pro tip: As far as our experience goes, Goa is best experienced along with a group of closest friends. Keeping that in mind, we explored Goa in the company of two of our dear friends, Pradip and Sanhita, which made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable. And, let’s face it. We all have spent good deal of our times in colleges planning that all friends’ crazy Goa trip. So, why wait anymore?
This blog – post is aimed at giving an idea and a basic itinerary for covering most of Goa within a short span of time. We also have another blog – post which is a foodie’s guide to Goa. Visit this link for a further read: https://thefloatingpebbles.com/goa-a-foodies-guide/
Table of Contents
Getting into Goa:
Reaching Goa is as easy as pie. We are listing two of the most convenient ways for travelling Goa.
By air: Various airlines offer seamless connectivity with Goa from all major cities in India. Dabolim International Airport is the sole airport of Goa. The nearest city is Vasco do Gama (just 4 kms away), while the state’s capital, Panjim, is around 26 kms away from the airport.
By train: Goa can also be reached simply by train. Two of the prime rail stations are Vasco da Gama and Margao or Madgaon, both of which are well – connected with almost every major city of the country.
On reaching Goa, first head to your hotel/resort/BnB. Afterwards, you may explore the beaches in and around Panjim. We suggest catching the sunset on Bambolim beach, followed by an evening stroll.
For dinner, explore the lipsmacking Goan cuisine at Viva Panjim.
Where to stay in Panjim:
In Panjim, the Fontainhas area has lots of beautiful homestays and BnBs which offers a complete Goan experience in terms of both accommodation and food. We had booked the Afonso Guest House for our stay in northern Goa. It was a love at first sight with the guest house. Nestled in a quaint alley of Fontainhas, it stood out as a charming Indo-Portuguese villa, coloured in a peppy yellow hue. The house was decorated simply, yet aesthetically. We specially loved the arrangement of books in a queue along the stairs. The drawing room was furnished with antique furniture, which added to its appeal. The rooms are simple and provided with all the basic necessities. However, the clincher is its lovely roof – top terrace, decorated with potted plants and an aquarium, where traditional Goan breakfast is served to the guests every morning, overlooking the St. Sebastian’s Chapel. For bookings, visit http://afonsoguesthouse.com/ .
Day 2: Morning
The morning is meant for exploring some of the beaches in North Goa. Make your way first to the renowned Baga beach, which will be almost deserted in the early morning giving you ample opportunity to click photos to your heart’s content.
Now, head straight towards the Anjuna beach. En route, make a pit stop at the astounding Mae de Deus church in Saligao, which is regarded as the finest specimen of Neo-Gothic architecture in Goa.
After the first phase of exploration, it’s time for breakfast. Visit the Artjuna Garden Cafe near Anjuna beach. It is a perfect place to have hearty middle-eastern breakfasts accompanied with fresh smoothies.
Post-breakfast, drop by the beautiful Anjuna beach.
The next destination is the less explored Mandrem beach, which is located between the more popular Arambol and Ashwem beaches. The beach has few visitors, which makes it perfect for unwinding and that oh-so-good dip into the sea. Mandrem offers a taste of how northern Goa would have appeared prior to tourist development. The beach is exceptionally clean and the water crispy blue. Fringed by coconut trees along the shore, the beach is pretty as picture and the rustic charm of the fishing boats lined up along the beach adds a further charm. This tranquil beach is perfect if you are in search for serenity.
Day 2: Afternoon
Grab a sumptuous lunch with Cajun Chicken Pizza at Tin Tin, a Tin Tin themed cafe near Vagator beach.
After a quick stop at Vagator beach, get ready to climb uphill to experience a wonderful sunset from the top of Chapora Fort. The fort offers a stunning view of the Vagator beach opening expansively into the Arabian Sea. Remember to wear comfortable shoes since the trail is quite tricky.
Day 2: Evening
After travelling hither and thither, it’s time to letting your hair down. Visit the chic Black Sheep Bistro, one of the finest restaurants in Goa. Before calling it a day, sip some wine and eat some Paellas and Pastas and Roasted Chickens.
Day 3: Early Morning
Start the day by exploring the nook and corner of the colourful Fontainhas, the old Latin quarters of Panjim.
Grab a quick bite of freshly made breads, buns and swiss rolls at Confiteria 31 de Janeiro, the oldest bakery in Goa.
Day 3: Morning
Before heading out to explore the churches in Old Goa, stop by the Caravela Cafe & Bistro for a lip smacking breakfast with sandwiches and scrambled eggs with Goan sausages.
Bask in the beauty of the Mandovi river, which leads the way to the Old Goa.
On reaching, get welcomed by the towering Basilica of Bom Jesus, which houses the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. One of the oldest churches of India, its interior is simple apart from the elaborately gilded altar.
The next stop is the Se Cathedral, located just by the road opposite to Basilica. It is the seat of Archbishop of Goa and was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese under Albuquerque over a Muslim army leading to the Portuguese occupation of Goa in 1510. The interior is opulent, with the main altar being dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria. Check out the Golden Bell, which is said to be the largest in Goa.
Afterwards, visit the adjoining Church of St Francis of Assissi, the exterior of which is in simple Tuscan style, while its interior is richly Baroque with Corinthian features. The gilded interior is decorated with paintings, carved woodwork, statues and frescoes with intricate floral designs.
Take a look inside the now defunct Chapel of St Catherine.
Later, explore the ruined complex of Church of St Augustine, which was built on top of the Monte Santo by Augustinian friars. The church faced gradual ruination owing to its abandonment. At present, only half the tower remains out of the four originally existing towers.
Pay a visit to the pristine and divine Church of St Cajetan, which was modelled on the St Peter’s Basilica of Vatican City.
Day 3: Afternoon
It’s quite toiling to travel under the unforgiving Goan sun in the afternoon. We would therefore suggest heading to a beach for relaxing after the vigorous exploring of Old Goa. We went to the Candolim beach and lazed inside a shack sipping ice cold beverages.
Day 3: Evening
After an eventful day, it’s time to hit the night club for chilling out. We stopped by the Cohiba, which has a sprightly ambiance and friendly crowd. Eat, drink, dance and make merry all the way.
Day 4: Morning
Before bidding North Goa adieu, enjoy a filling breakfast with Goan breads, omelettes and piping hot tea on the breathtaking terrace of Afonso Guest House.
We had decided to stay at Betalbatim, which gives an easy access to a lot of the gorgeous South Goan beaches. The area around Palolem beach is another great option.
On reaching Betalbatim, we dumped our luggage at the hotel and headed out to explore the rustic South Goa and it’s breathtaking beaches. We had opted for Colva, which left us utterly disappointed. The beach was teeming with people and the shacks don’t have proper changing rooms. Since we were wee bit tired, we decided to just relax on the sun beds.
Day 4: Evening
The spectacular sunset on the Majorda beach made us forget about the let down that Colva beach was. Majorda is one of the most spectacular beaches of Goa. With endless stretches of sea, sand and shells, it is a perfect getaway for anyone seeking solace. Stroll along the beach and collect the sea shells with your loved ones. Or just sit back and count the waves until it gets dark.
For dinner, visit one of the beach side shacks of Majorda. Enjoy a candle lit dinner under the starlit sky with freshly caught crabs, prawns and pomfrets on the sea beach.
Where to stay in Betalbatim:
We went for Martin’s Comfort, the iconic hotel of South Goa. Located in the sleepy village of Betalbatim, it provides an excellent opportunity to enjoy the laidback Goan ambiance. It offers a blend of modern contemporary living with traditional Goan hospitality. Stepping into the hotel feels like a step into another world together. The hotel with its Goan architecture has antique, Portuguese style furniture and pieces of pottery strategically placed that tends to give a glimpse of Goa of the days of yore. The poolside is also beautifully decorated with a garden. For bookings and further information, visit https://martinscomfort.com/ .
Day 5: Morning
It’s time to explore the beaches of South Goa. The road will take you through the scenic and verdant Western Ghats as well as the fabulous countryside of this less travelled part of Goa.
On reaching Palolem, take a boat ride to the Butterfly beach. There are a number of spectacular, virgin beaches near Palolem, such as Butterfly beach, Monkey beach and Honeymoon beach. All of them are just a boat ride away. Numerous dolphins will accompany you on your way as the boat will meander through some islands.
Butterfly is one of the hidden beaches of Goa. It’s beauty is enhanced by it’s semi-circular landscape awashed by resplendent blue water. It is well – known for spotting marine species like sea urchins, goldfish, sea cucumbers and so on. It also provides majestic panoramic view of sunsets.
The Palolem itself is vivid with colourful shacks and boats dotting its shore under the swaying green coconut trees. Unlike other beaches of southern Goa, Palolem is a bustling beach, surrounded with various cafes, homestays and shops. The beach is crescent shaped, making it possible to see both the ends from the centre.
From Palolem, move towards the elusive Cola beach, which is arguably Goa’s best kept secret. Get ready for some spectacular views (and backaches!). The road leading to Cola is agonizing, but as they say, there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. So, after driving through the terrible terrain, you will be welcomed by the secluded beach, hidden inside hills and sky-kissing coconut groves. With its crisp, golden sand, dazzling water and the distinctive fresh water lagoon, Cola is perhaps one of the most exquisite beaches in India. In a word, Cola is a paradise.
Day 5: Afternoon
It’s better to call it a day after the back-breaking trip to Cola, but not before having a sumptuous lunch at the iconic The Fisherman’s Wharf in Mobor, which offers modern fusion dishes infused with Goan influences along with a view of shimmery water of the Sal river and colourful boats harboured on its shore.
Day 5: Evening
Visit the pioneering Martin’s Corner on your last night in Goa. This fascinating restaurant, which is almost 30-years old, will take you back to the Goa of the yesteryears, with its vivacious ambiance and delectable Goan cuisines. Groove in the live music and enjoy the sumptuous Chicken Cafreal.
Day 6: Morning
We didn’t spare even a single minute on our last morning in Goa. After having breakfast, we headed straight to the Cavelossim beach, which is another charming beach with white sand and contrasting black rocks. Situated in between the Arabian Sea and Sal river, it looks extremely scenic. A long stretch of white sandy beach with few people around, palm and casuarinas trees, clean, placid and blue water – it is a perfect beach for relaxing in private. Have a book and a drink and layback.
Time for returning home now. With the rhythm of waves crashing still ringing to our ears and speckles of sand stuck to our hair, we left Goa, with a promise to return every year.
A few tips for Goa:
- Goa is gorgeous all the year round. For exploring beaches, forts and the likes, best time is perhaps October-March. The party scenes turn electrifying in and around the Christmas and New Year. The monsoon months from June to September might not be ideal for beach hopping, but they are perfect for exploring the many riverine, rural islands of Goa, such as Divar and Chorao.
- For travelling around Goa, renting bikes is the best, cheapest and most convenient way. Information regarding bike rentals is easily available from hotel authorities.
- Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion – this Holy Trinity is a must in Goa. Also, umbrellas.
- Try to visit forts and churches in the morning as its cooler and crowd mostly nil. In Goa, temperature soars as the day progresses.
- In general, there is no restrictions on dresses in Goa and you can wear whatever to your heart’s content. However, the churches often don’t allow sleeveless and short dresses. It will be wise to carry a stole and a sarong while visiting churches, just in case.
- Alcohol is in abundance, but maintain sobriety and avoid drunk driving.