The Top Things to See and Do in Goa

Pathway to Tambdi Surla Waterfall in Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary
Pathway to Tambdi Surla Waterfall in Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary | © Arunabh Bhattacharjee / Alamy
Ritu C. Poojari

Located on the west coast of India, Goa is akin to a tropical paradise: boasting gorgeous stretches of white sand, crystal clear waters and lush palm trees. The area is also known for its incredible historic and cultural heritage. Here we explore the best things Goa has to offer to the intrepid traveller.

Saturday Night Market, Arpora

This Saturday Night Market is quite a feast for travellers who are on the lookout for something colourful and authentic. This is a bazaar made for everyone; equally crowded by locals and foreign – or domestic – tourists, all interested in getting a glimpse of Goa’s vibrant culture… or a bargain. This market offers souvenirs to take home to the loved ones, an open bar, live music and a noteworthy variety of food stalls catering to all tastes.

Goa Diving

Basilica of Bom Jesus

Bom Jesus translates to Good or Holy Jesus. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is the perfect spot for those who love intricate design, as this basilica is very well known for its remarkable Baroque architecture, and is one of the finest examples of Baroque detailing. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, revealing its importance in both regional and architectural heritage. The inside of the 400 year-old basilica holds a glass coffin in which lie the remains of St. Francis Xavier.

Menezes Braganza Pereira House

Goa isn’t all about beaches and parties only. The area has a very rich colonial history, and the Braganza House is a wonderful story book to narrate the story of the colonial history of the Portuguese in Goa. From the streets this two storey house looks fascinating and inviting, with its faded walls and its vintage style. After the India’s Independence, all houses owned by non-Indians had to be vacated, including the Braganza house. Today it is a private home with a remarkable collection of antique pieces and furniture from across the globe.

Big Foot

Big Foot situated in the heart of Lotoliu is a treasure house of artifacts and valuable items, of stories and sculptures, all strongly rooted in the culture and tradition of Goa. Big Foot aims to preserve the ethnicity of the Goan lifestyle and beliefs through art, bringing together local artisans to create and exhibit their work. Of particular note are the sculptures displayed in the house: the Sant Mirabai sculpture was listed as the longest sculpture in Limca Book of Records, and there are various other sculptures which depict the old traditions and customs of Goan people.

Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary

Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife is the perfect spot for those who are looking for a place to find peace and spend time with nature. The sanctuary features leopards, elephants, deer and Indian bison, with the aim of tending to and conserving their species. The park is also a paradise for bird-watchers, given the sheer variety and number with which they flock together in the sanctuary. Private jeeps need to be arranged to explore the park, as the further inside you venture, the more you’ll find exotic species.

Tropical Spice Plantation

Preserving the tradition of their land, the staff at the Tropical Spice Plantation welcome guests with a garland of flowers and kukum on their foreheads. Apart from the 45-minute tour around the Spice Plantation, visitors will also be offered a hot, delicious lunch buffet in a banana leaf. Tropical Spice Plantation is a must-visit for the unique, charming experience it offers, as well as for its insight into various aspects of Goan culture.

The Naval Aviation Museum

The Naval Aviation Museum is one of the only two military museums in India, the other being located in New Delhi. The museum proudly displays the evolution of the Indian Naval Army throughout previous decades. With naval aircrafts on display such as the Seahawk and Sea Harrier, as well as missiles and ammunition, The Naval Aviation Museum is a great stop for history buffs and aircraft enthusiasts.

Viva Panjim

With its dark, blood-colored walls and charming, wooden, wrap-around balcony, it’s difficult to miss Viva Panjim. The restaurant is a traditional side-street eatery that has gained fame throughout Goa despite its small size thanks to its budget friendly menu, mouthwatering, home style cooked food and charming location with intimate outdoor seating. It is a perfect little place to go if you wish to explore and devour classic Goan dishes.

Boat rides

If there is one thing that Goa has been generously blessed with, it is beaches. It is therefore inevitable that the most sought after and enjoyable activity is the boat rides, be it for water sport, or for a leisurely romantic getaway. With several boat ride agencies to choose from, it is easy to find the one that best suits your tastes and your budget. Beaches like Morjim, Ashwen, Calangute, Panaji are well known for their boat rides, while the house boat rides and dolphin rides are unmissable, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

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