Goa is the jewel of India’s tourism crown, a beautiful state full of history, culture and beaches which closely resemble paradise. While it’s appealing to spend your entire holiday in Goa lying on the beach, you’ll regret not discovering everything this beautiful area has to offer. Its colonial past and holiday popularity come together to offer a range of must-do activities and must-see attractions, including temples, stunning architecture, spas and sporting pursuits. Here are our top ten things to do in Goa.
1. The Temples of Ponda
The north Goan area of Ponda is not somewhere people automatically head to as it is set back from the coast. But you’d be wrong to discount it because of this. Ponda is home to a great many Hindu temples, many of which can be visited by tourists. But do check first as some have ceased to allow tourists to visit and for any that do accept visitors it is very important to dress in clothes which are not deemed offensive.
2. Dudhsagar Waterfall
This is one of India’s highest waterfalls and can be found in south Goa near Mollem. The best time to view the waterfall is during monsoon season from June to September and at this time the most convenient way to visit is by train. It is possible to reach in a hired Jeep, but don’t attempt this during monsoon season when the road is often closed.
3. Partying in Vagator
Unlike many places in India, Goa has a reputation for partying. As a liberal area and a long-term tourist destination it has many established bars and parties. For a truly Goan holiday experience, head to the Nine Bar at Vagator where trance music and Goan sunsets collide for an unforgettable experience every night during the tourist season.
Goa offers a number of well-known and lesser-known spas. Relaxation is what Goa is all about, so you can’t go home without giving yourself a treat at a Goan spa. One of the most highly recommended is Sereno Spa in Cansaulim, south Goa. Spa treatments in established spa centres are similarly priced to those at home, but much cheaper treatments and massages can be found elsewhere.
Along with the relaxing spa experiences, Goa is also home to many Yoga centres and retreats. Many places offer drop-in classes for visitors, such as ABS yoga in Baga. Each morning they hold classes on the beach at 7.30-9.00, which is the perfect way to start the day in Goa. You can expect to pay around $11 for a class.
6. Old Goa
Old Goa is an absolute ‘must-see’ place. Located in the north of Goa, this once great town has a rich colonial past and although the old city is no longer complete, the remains have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the monuments are free to visit and open daily from sunrise to sunset.
7. Tomb of St. Francis Javier
Of the many monuments within Old Goa, the most important one to visit is the Tomb of St. Francis Xavier. St. Francis was a leading European missionary whose mummified body can be found here.
8. Arpora Night Bazaar
While most holiday makers head to Anjuna’s flea market, this night bazaar is both calmer and cooler. You’ll find an eclectic range of goods, crafts, foods, clothing and much more. There are even street performers such as dancers and fire eaters to entertain you as you shop. The Bazaar is held every Saturday night from 7.00pm and runs till dawn.
There are many activities available in Goa, from paragliding to kite surfing, but diving is one of the most rewarding. Diving can only be enjoyed outside of the monsoon season, but that is probably when you’ll be there, from October to May during the tourist season. The warm waters are bursting with marine life and there are even a few shipwrecks waiting to be explored.
No top-ten list of things to do in Goa is complete without the beaches. It’s a given, of course, that you’ll want to spend a fair amount of time there and while you need to be careful to avoid the midday sun, the beaches can be as beautiful as anywhere you’ll find in the world. Open all day, every day, the best beaches are often said to be Palolem and Angonda.