Goa, the smallest state in India and unlike any other is located on the western coast and is renowned for its unending beaches, fantastic nightlife, diverse seafood, and world-heritage-listed architecture. While everyone thinks of Goa as the ultimate end-of-the-year destination, there is much more to the state than its party-friendly beaches.
Goa is a small Indian state in the Konkan area, covering only 3,702 km. It is a long cry from a beach retreat or a haven for hippies, and is one of the very few places that is open every day of the year. Goa’s relaxed atmosphere (susegad) draws just as many foreign visitors as it does domestic ones, if not more. Tourist flock to Goa in the month of December to celebrate Christmas, New Year’s, weddings and now the famous year-end Sunburn festival. So, if you’re one of these people and are heading to Goa for the first time, here’s a little itinerary for you.
Panjim or Panaji is Goa’s capital city, and is a cultural, political and social hub. Most people tend to skip out on visiting the city as they would rather spend their time on the beach, but what they don’t know is that this bustling city centre has a lot to offer. The Fontainhas or the Latin Quarters is a must-visit. Goa was colonised by the Portuguese for centuries and in the Fontainhas you can truly feel and see the most palpable signs of Portuguese influence. Stroll through the Fontainhas and take in the beauty, the infrastructure, the painful past and the beautiful houses that will remind you of Lisbon.
A go-to tourist attraction is the beautiful Our Lady Of Immaculate Conception Church. The stunning white church is famous for its stairs which were built in the 1800s, nearly two hundred years after the church was first constructed.
When it comes to food and the nightlife in Panjim, you won’t be disappointed. If you want to party as the locals do, then I suggest you head to Josephs’s Bar. This hidden gem was built in the ’70s and is between the lanes of the Latin Quarter. While you are there, enjoy a chilled glass of Tambde Rosa, which is essentially a coconut feni cocktail mixed with birindao, the extract of kokum that lends its rich ruby hue, and adequately blended with lime and mint to finish it off. A few minutes from Josephs’s Bar is the restaurant Down The Road, which is a popular spot to listen to some good live music. Right opposite Down The Road, you will find Tataki which will serve you delicious pan Asian food and right next to it is SOHO- a western-style pub in an antique mansion.
Where to stay
Taj Resort & Convention Centre Goa
The Taj Resort & Convention Centre Goa is located in Panaji, directly on the serene Vanguinim Beach Dona Paula in North Goa. It offers guests luxurious rooms with a variety of options. The hotel is situated in the centre of Goa and is approximately 28 km and 45 mins by car from the Dabolim airport. The guests have access to a second swimming pool on the lower deck in addition to panoramic views from the large elevated deck at the rooftop with an infinity pool overlooking the Arabian Sea. Access a variety of water sports, a sunset cruise, and other beach activities, relax at the Jiva Spa, take advantage of e-biking, a kid’s activity area, a cutting-edge fitness centre, or simply unwind by the Arabian Sea while soaking up the sun.
DoubleTree by Hilton Goa – Panaji
A short distance from Panaji and Miramar beach, DoubleTree by Hilton Goa-Panaji overlooks the lovely Mandovi River. The resort has a full-service Spa, a 24-hour fitness centre, a kids club, and an outdoor infinity pool. Panorama views of the Mandovi River or the beautiful vegetation around the hotel are provided from guestrooms and suites. There is a sizable private balcony in every room. Exclusive access to the executive lounge with complimentary refreshments is available to guests staying in executive rooms and suites. The presidential suite features a Jacuzzi, a private terrace, and lounge amenities. Comida, an all-day dining establishment, offers a buffet breakfast as well as regional and international delicacies all day long.
Once you have finished exploring Panjim, drive 30 minutes up north to Candolim. For those who love Goa, you need no introduction to the three-party hubs- Candolim, Calangute and Baga. But for first-time visitors here’s all you need to know. The beaches are situated only a few minutes away from each other. You can drive to the beaches or you can rent a bike to go through the narrow roads. Without its beach, Candolim would not exist at all. The beach in Candolim is more relaxed and typically less crowded than those at Baga and Calangute because it is actually a part of a much longer strand that includes other locations. The water is inviting and warm at this time of the year. From 1510 until 1961, the region surrounding Candolim served as a Portuguese outpost on the Indian subcontinent. The European presence has left a wealth of historical landmarks, including Fort Aguada and Se Cathedral in Old Goa. It’s simple to eat well in Candolim. It’s a terrific place to try Goan food, including sorpotel, white bait caught nearby, crusty pao bread, and pork vindaloo. It’s a true culinary adventure that combines Asian and European inspirations. You can visit YAZU, a pan-Asian beach club for a sundowner experience by the beach. Yazu’s aura is all about exquisite contemporary dining, radiating placidity, a super snug vibe, a dim ambience, well-spaced with multiple seating structures with beach beds, relaxing sunsets, and classic tones playing in the background, a perfect setup to dine in known for one of the best sundowners and relaxing experience.
Where to stay
Hyatt Centric Candolim
The cosy rooms have views of the garden, the pool, and the hill.
The hotel’s bar and signature restaurant, GROK, which offers both indoor and outdoor dining, is open to visitors. The restaurant, serves a variety of cuisines throughout the day. The cooks provide a special eating experience in the alfresco area every evening from 5 pm to 11 pm, presenting a variety of international flavours through a kebaberie, an international bread, and a salad bar. Another place to spend a leisurely day is the pool bar, where you may sip cocktails and eat delectable snacks.
Novotel Goa Candolim
The Novotel Goa Candolim Hotel, which has 3 outdoor pools and a poolside bar, is ideally located on Candolim Road, which is known for its clubs and restaurants. It is only 500 metres from the lovely Candolim Beach and 4 minutes drive from Baga and Calangute Beaches. In this resort, WiFi is offered for free. All accommodations include the distinctive Novotel bedding, a 42-inch flat-screen television, free Fairtrade bathroom supplies, and private balconies in the pricier accommodations. The Novotel Goa Candolim Hotel also features a swanky Club Wing with opulent accommodations for families with kids, 3 pools with sun loungers and cabanas, and a pool bar called Bar Asia. Additionally, visitors may utilise the amenities at the close-by Novotel Goa Resort & Spa. Dabolim Airport is 40 km away and Thivim Railway Station is 18 km from the property. 9 kilometres separate you from Mapusa Bus Stand. Within 2.9 kilometres of the property are notable bars and eateries such as Infantaria, Calamari, and Sinq. The distance between the property and Cavala and the Saturday night market is 4.6 km.
From Candolim, head 30 minutes North to Anjuna. Anjuna beach, one of the well-liked beaches in North Goa, has been a centre of the hippie movement since the 1960s. This Goan coastal community, which witnessed the beginning of the hippy revolution, is adored today for its buzzing, vivacious beach culture. Recently, the majority of visitors come to Anjuna for the beach, hippie-chic shacks, bars, and flea markets. The area is one of the greatest for finding inexpensive seafood and is also peppered with churches. Shopping, adventure, history, culture, food, beaches, parties, and, if you desire, places to watch the sunset are all available in Anjuna. If you’re seeking to shop, go to the Anjuna flea market on a Wednesday and peruse the selection of regional arts and crafts, apparel, saris, carpets, home furnishings, jewellery, and much more. Try parasailing at the beach if you’re an adventure seeker. If you appreciate the beach, we advise visiting Anjuna beach early in the day for a leisurely swim and staying all day at one of the shacks. There is St. Michael’s Church, a 16th-century church, for those who enjoy history and culture. Another chapel you might visit is Our Lady of Good Health. Those who want to learn Goan architecture and Portuguese culture are advised to visit the Albuquerque Mansion. The Chapora Fort is located at one end of Anjuna; it requires a climb, but the ocean vistas it rewards you with make it worthwhile.
When it comes to food, Anjuna will really spoil you. Artjuna, is a nice laid-back spot to hang out or explore handcrafted bohemian jewellery and handpicked curios. It’s even a little bit away from the beach’s busy tourist areas. The hippie café is in an old Portuguese villa with a large garden space that has hammocks, a tree house and even a book exchange library.
You can also check out the newly launched restaurant Elephant and Co. if you’re looking for a place for a date night or a fun night out. ECO Goa is a destination that goes beyond serving food and drinks. It is an invitation to build a community for artists to find an audience, for audiences to discover new talents and create a conversation built on kindness, connection and cocktails. From a Tender coconut seltzer with curry leaf to ginger ale mimosa to juicy tropical tikis, you won’t be left drinking just a soda at ECO Goa.
Where to stay
Located 1.2 km from Anjuna Beach, MansionHaus offers lodging with a restaurant, free private parking, a bar, and a garden. This five-star hotel provides complimentary WiFi, room service, and a business centre. Each hotel room features a patio with a view of the pool, air conditioning, a desk, a flat-screen TV, a private bathroom, bed linens, and towels. A safety deposit box is included in every unit. Every morning, a continental breakfast is available to MansionHaus visitors. There is a sun deck in the hotel. The hotel is located 1.7 kilometres from Ozran Beach and 2.5 km from Vagator Beach. The hotel is 44 kilometres from Dabolim Airport, and it provides a chargeable airport shuttle service.
The last on this list is a personal favourite. Located 30 minutes north of Anjuna, Morjim is called “Little Russia” and is situated north of the Chapora River Estuary. The broad lengths of white sand and the calm waters of the Arabian Sea make Morjim beach one of the nicest beaches in Goa. Once you arrive, you can easily spend a few days lazing around, visiting different cafes, relaxing, spending time at the beach, or engaging in other water sports. When in season, Morjim Beach is unquestionably one of the trendiest beaches nearby, bustling with events and a vibrant nightlife. Club M at Marbela hosts renowned weekend parties if you’re in the mood to party like a boss. If you enjoy water activities, check out Vaayu in Mandrem, which is only 15 minutes from Morjim Beach. They offer instruction in a variety of water sports, including surfing, kiteboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and wakeboarding. They also do art exhibits and movie screenings on weekdays, and they are generally a fantastic collaborative art venue that you should certainly check out.
When in Morjim, head to The Rice Mill, a bar-cum-cafe located in a gorgeously rebuilt rice mill just a little distance from the main Morjim beach, is ideal for some fast eats and, of course, their Saturday night jazz sessions. La Cucina dishes up some delectable pizzas. Burger Factory Morjim, where you can indulge in their cheddar-filled beef burgers, fries, thick shakes, and beach views, is another sunset favourite.
Where to stay
The Acacia Morjim offers lodging with a restaurant, free private parking, an outdoor swimming pool, and a bar. A tour desk and a concierge service are provided by this four-star hotel. The hotel offers free WiFi throughout the resort, room service, airport transfers, and a 24-hour front desk. Air conditioning, a seating area, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a safety deposit box, and a private bathroom with a bidet, slippers, and a hairdryer are standard amenities in every room at the hotel. All rooms at the Acacia Morjim have balconies and some have views of the pool. Morjim Beach is 2.6 km and Mandrem Beach is 2 km from the hotel. The Acacia Morjim is 55 kilometres from Dabolim Airport, the closest airport.