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Explore Goa - Rickshaw in Panjim

Things to do in Goa

Goa is a great place to end one of our holidays to India or India tours with some relaxing time on the beach. But if you'd rather do a bit more than just stretch out in the sun during your Goa trip, you'll find that there's plenty of alternative things to do in Goa.

You could witness sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs between October and February, go dolphin spotting on a boat trip with one of the local fishermen, or go on an exploration to one of the other nearby beaches.

If you’d like to visit Goa during your India holiday, you can choose from our choice of tours in Goa which offer a number of alternative and authentic accommodation options. Simply, let our friendly India travel specialists know, and they will help you build your own unique trip.


Things to do in Goa: Goa in a nutshell

Old Goa was known as the ‘Rome of the East’ in its heyday (16th-18th century). Back then the population of this city exceeded that of Lisbon and it was the former capital of Goa. Cholera out-breaks and malaria brought the capital to its knees and it was abandoned, but many imposing old churches remain standing today. The largest church is Sé de Santa Catarina and is the biggest in Asia dating back to 1562. In 1843 the Goan capital shifted down river to what is now Panjim (Panji).

Now, Goa is a relatively miniature state within the huge sub-continent, but it has a big reputation. ‘Long-termers’ and travellers have been hanging out in Goa since the hippy trail of the ‘60’s. There is an irresistible laid-back atmosphere, welcoming people, colourful markets, miles of palm-fringed sandy beaches and great food. As well as plenty of things to do in Goa, there is also a good mix of accommodation to suit all budgets from rustic beach huts and eco-resorts to old colonial Portuguese-style houses and luxury resorts.
Things to do in Goa - Colourful Panjim street

Things to do in Goa: Northern Goa

The Bardez coast in the north of Goa consists of dozens of pretty bays and isolated coves. The beaches at Calangute and Baga are part of this coastline. Calangute, known as the Queen of Goa, was the first beach to be discovered by the hippies in the 1960s. There’s plenty of things to do in Goa’s coastal towns here, as they're packed with restaurants, bars, and interesting souvenir stalls.

During your Goa trip, you could also book yourself a sunset boat cruise around the Mandovi waters. The highlight is relaxing with a beer while you soak up the view. In this area, you'll find lots of things to do in Goa as tours normally depart from the Santa Monica Jetty, with a multitude of companies competing for your business: time to haggle!

Things to do in Goa: Southern Goa

Although southern Goa is famous for its beaches, there are plenty of hidden gems for those who have time to explore Goa. You could check out the Cabo da Rama Fort, named after the god Rama. There is an impressive entrance-way and the walls are so thick you can easily walk along them.

If you fancy a bit of wildlife, it's worth checking out the Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, about 9km east of Palolem. This beautiful spot is Goa’s second-largest sanctuary and home to a multitude of animals including deer, snakes, monkeys and leapoards (though you'll be lucky if you do see one!).
Things to do in Goa - Cheeky monkeys
Things to do in Goa - Goa beaches

Things to do in Goa: Away from the beach

Many people on a Goa holiday head straight to the beach, but some of the more interesting accommodation can be found elsewhere such as in Panjim (or Panji) in the old picturesque Latin neighbourhood of Fontainhas. Here there is a European flavour where you’ll see many Portuguese colonial influences, such as overhanging balconies, red tiled roofs, white washed catholic churches and colourful bars and cafes. From here you can head off to visit the grand cathedrals of Old Goa that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Panjim (Panji) is the capital of Goa state, but has managed to avoid the chaotic mayhem of many other Indian cities. It’s the perfect retreat from the beach front for some culture, leisurely meals (try some Xacutis, traditional Goan spicy sausage) and a stroll along quiet streets to quirky little bars and eateries. Sao Tomé and Fontainhas are the prettiest areas of the city for a leisurely wander.

Things to do in Goa: Alternative Goa

If you’re looking for more ‘alternative’ things to do in Goa, you’ll find courses in all kinds of yoga, massage, ayurveda and alternative therapies, as well as clubs, bars and trance parties, and all that goes with the beach party and beach shack scene. There is an increasing number of things to do in Goa in season (Oct-April), such as water sports, paragliding and jet-skiing and even scuba diving on offer along the busier stretches of beach.

If you head further inland during your Goa holiday, you can enjoy Goa’s beautiful surroundings. Here, you’ll find vibrant green rice paddies spotted with white egrets and water buffalo, tropical spice farms, villages, rivers and temples. Dudhsagar falls are on the Goan border (with Karnataka) and are the second highest in India and are at their best after a good monsoon. It is a full day out as it may involve a train ride, jeep and then a short climb. You can swim in the natural pool at the bottom of the falls- but watch out for cheeky monkeys. If you'd like to see more of the countryside during your trip to Goa, take a look at our tour from Goa to Hampi.

Things to do in Goa - Green rice terraces
Things to do in Goa - Anjuna market

Things to do in Goa: Colourful markets

Anjuna market (on Wednesdays) is the notorious Goan flea market experience. To reach this lively market, just hop on one of the traditional fishing boats leaving from Baga Beach to Anjuna. It’s not as bohemian and hippy in style as it used to be, due the influx of a more mainstream moneyed holiday makers. However, it’s still on our list of things to do in Goa as it’s a great spot for people watching or haggling hard for a bargain. It can get very busy, but it is easy to retreat to a drink and snack stall for some down time to refresh your haggling skills and then head back for that sequined bedsheet or those tie dye pantaloons.

Top tip: If you're not here on a Wednesday, try the local market in Apora, 4km south of Anjuna.

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