There is something in the air about this small little state of India , Goa that makes tourists keep coming back. It may be because of its golden sun-kissed beaches, or the crazy parties, the booze, the food or even because of their lifestyle. This small paradise situated at the western coastal part of India is a kaleidoscopic blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures, sweetened with sun, sea, sand, seafood, the susegad way of living and spirituality, Goa is definitely India’s pocket-sized paradise. Yes, Goa means beaches, parties, casinos but you also have to know Goa is more than what you think it represents. There is so much untapped beauty hidden in this small state and today we will guide you to the Goa you should really visit and know about.
Here are our Top 10 places to visit in Goa the offbeat way:
1) Cabo de Rama
At this part of the world, time stands still. Known to be one of the oldest forts in Goa, Cabo de Rama even predates the Portuguese conquest of Goa. This ancient fortress has been standing on the bluff overlooking the Cape for centuries. It commands the panoramic views of the ocean and it’s surrounding country side. Before the Portuguese taking over the magnificent fortress the site was held by various Hindu and Muslim rulers and it was in 1763 that it was gained by the Portuguese from the Raja of Soonda. The Portuguese was subsequently rebuilt and equipped it with 21 guns and military barracks, as well as commandant quarters and a chapel. The western side of the fortress, where the cliffs drop sharply to the sea, provides a great view both to the north and south. Own transport has to be arranged to reach the fort. Though time and the elements have weathered this proud structure, it still stands today, guarding the mouth of the Sal River.
Another lesser known fact is that Cabo de Rama also hosts one of the most beautiful beaches of Goa, this beach provides a picture-perfect view from Cabo de Rama fort. On reaching there you’ll have to off-road a little (about 1 km). You can park your bikes/cars before the off roading section too and walk the way. The beach is fairly secluded owning to its distance from major towns and cities and is not particularly crowded. The majestic beach is surprisingly untouched by tourists but still has got beach guards. The sands are known to be in pristine conditions with specks of golden the sun rays gleaming across the shoreline.
Both the fort and the beach make for an amazing place to have a small family picnic enjoying nature and indulge oneself into small adventures of life. Be sure to carry food for you and your as there might not be restaurants close to the vicinity.
The best time to visit the fort of Cabo de Rama:
The fort provides a good vantage point to watch the sunset over the Arabian Sea and this is a good time to visit. It is also advisable to not visit during the monsoon season as there is little shelter to be had from a sudden shower of rain.
Place: Cabo da Rama, Canacona, South Goa.
Fort Timings: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
*No entrance fee*
2) Dudhsagar Falls
The Dudhsagar Waterfalls situated at the Goa-Karnataka border are one of India’s must-see sights. The four-tiered waterfall structure is one of the tallest in India and is located on the Mandovi River. The water cascades down from a height of nearly 1017 feet off a nearly steep mountain face. In fact, the name “Dudhsagar” literally translates to ‘sea of milk’ which many believe is an allusion to the white spray and foam that this great majestic waterfall creates as it cascades into the waters of the lake. The falls are at their zenith during the monsoon season, although they are a popular attraction all year round.
The waterfalls form a part of the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park and make it accessible to reach the falls with jeeps. The Dudhsagar waterfalls can be reached by trekking from Kulem and following the jeep trail. Another possible route is the trek from Castle Rock in Karnataka. Reaching the waterfalls will not be an easy task but it is one that is worth every ounce of effort put into it.
Many tours are organized throughout the year, so you can choose to go as a part of a group. Some tours even have overnight camping options. But remember to go well-prepared to ensure a good experience, especially if you are going on a self-organized trek. The lush green jungle and the beautiful waterfall sending up their forceful sprays are a sight to remember long after you have left Dudhsagar behind. If you happen to be a keen observer of nature you may find yourself in luck in spotting some wildlife animals.
There are jeeps available for hire which cost about Rs. 1200* and can carry 6 people at a time, the driver then waits at the drop off point for an hour and a half before bringing the visitors back.
The best time to visit the Dudhsagar falls:
Although the waterfall continues to flow throughout the year there, monsoons are the best seasons to visit the falls. It is filled with lush green lands and becomes home to rare animal species. Visitors should carry their own food as there won’t be restaurant close by while keeping in mind cleanliness is next to Godliness.
Place: Sanguem, South Goa.
Timings: 9:00 am – 6: 00 pm
*No Entrance Fee*
3) Galgibaga Beach
Galgibaga Beach or as it is also called Galgibagh Beach is located in the south of Goa in Canacona region. Galgibaga Beach is also known as the Turtle Beach and is one of three other Goa beaches (alongside with Agonda beach and Morjim beach) where the state program of olive turtles saving and protection works and implemented perfectly. The whole northern part of this beautiful beach is used for turtles nesting. The beach strip is about 1,7 km long and is covered with dense pine vegetation. The place is almost empty and has a kinda sharp entering into the Sea. The beach provides a sense of serenity to its visitors as the land unspoilt and maintained. Unlike the other beaches in Goa, Galigibaga is quiet and one of the cleanest beaches in Goa. there are no beach shacks like there are on most of the other Goan beaches. However, there is a resort where one can enjoy a pleasant and peaceful stay, away from the crowds and the bustle of the rest of the state. The beach itself is a pristine stretch of golden-brown sand, fringed with coconut palms and other trees. The seas in the area are known to be quite rough and not always safe to swim in, so caution is advised when venturing out for a dip.
It seems, sea turtles have a taste for the best beaches. Galgibaga, along with Agonda in the south and Morjim in North Goa, are the three beaches in Goa where Olive Ridley turtles lay eggs between October and March. Given their dwindling numbers, a conservation program run by the forest department ensures proper fencing of the nesting area. At any time, you are likely to see three-four enclosures meant to protect the eggs from accidental damage. Each enclosure carries a date when the eggs were laid. The friendly conservation staff can give you all the information you need and might even show you pictures or videos of the turtles or baby turtles at the time of birth!
The best time to visit Galgibaga beach:
Turtles usually come to the shoreline at night. So, to stand a better chance of spotting them, plan a visit accordingly. It is better to do a recce during the day so you are familiar with the location when you return at night. The best time of the year to visit the beach is during the winter season namely from October to March.
If you are staying at Palolem, there are two ways to reach the Galgibaga Beach and both are beautiful. It is best to take the Margaon-Karwar highway while getting there, as it is a neatly marked route. On the way back, you can try the other internal route crossing a narrow iron bridge over a serene river and enjoy a few scenic villages and greenery. Simply ask the locals for directions to Palolem and they will guide you via this shorter route that lands you at Chaudi.
Place: Galgibagh, South Goa
Timing: 9: 00 am – 6: 00 pm
*No entrance fee*
4) Cotigao wildlife sanctuary
Trek the Jungle
Out of the many options available for exploring the beauty of South Goa, one of the best ways is to try jungle trekking. There are many popular wildlife sanctuaries available in South Goa that provide ample of ways to explore the beauty of the place.
Cotiago wildlife sanctuary is one of the most popular ones in South Goa that many tourist visits throughout the year for trying their hand in jungle trekking. The wildlife sanctuary has various wild animals and rare spices of birds that catch the attention of the people.
One of the ways to appreciate the flora and fauna of Goa is to undertake a trek. Unravelling uncharted territories, they are usually designed to provide a wholesome experience to the group members.
The Cotiago Wildlife Sanctuary is one such place which provides the setting for a fun and adventurous trek and should be on the list of places to visit in South Goa.
The path undertaken in the sanctuary can be quite difficult in parts with the trail becoming muddy. Expect to catch a glimpse of some wild animals as well as some rare bird species and flora. Group members are instructed by the guides to dress comfortably to enjoy the trekking in Goa. Usually, enough pit stops are given to rest before starting again.
The place is also known for picnics with friends and family. It is very much advisable to carry snacks, water and some eatables while visiting this nature’s paradise. You can visit this sanctuary all year round.
Place: Canacona, Cotigao South Goa
Timing: 7:00 am to 5:30 pm
Adult: Rs. 20/- per person
Children: Rs. 10/- per person
Still Camera: Rs. 30/- per Camera
Video Camera: Rs. 150/- per Camera
5) Spice Plantations
For many people, Goa is all about the beaches and the nightclubs. This has influenced its popular public image to the extent that we forget that there is more to Goa than the beaches. In truth, Goa is also the hub of many types of spice Plantations. A huge variety of the common spices that we use at home, as well as the more exotic and expensive varieties reserved for special occasions, are grown here. By making a visit to these plantations, you get right into the natural habitat of the ingredients so beloved in Indian kitchens.
You can take a tour of the plantation and understand how the spices are grown, what goes into making them strong and appealing, and why certain spices cost as much as they do. You can also get some useful usage tips that might just transform your cooking experiences. Apart from the actual spice farming, you will also find yourself having a good time drinking the special teas offered on the plantations, eating the delicious home-made food delicately tinged with homegrown spices, and enjoying the general ambiance of the space.
Best time to visit the spice plantations:
The monsoons are the best seasons to visit the plantations. Any farm is worth a visit when the falling rains fill the air with a lovely scent but imagine how compounded this effect will be on a spice plantation. Spice Plantations are one of most delightful the places to visit in Goa, so don’t miss out on them. Savoi Spice Plantation, Sahakari Spice Farms, Tropical Spice Plantation are some plantations to look into. Most are located roughly 30km from Panaji and easily accessible via cabs.
Comfortable and anti – slip shoes are a must as some of the spice plantations can be very slippery. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Place: Keri, Ponda Goa
Timings: 10 am to 4pm
Rs. 400/- per person(may include lunch)
6) Latin Quarter of Panjim
Take a stroll down the historical isle
While some buildings may be a little faded, there’s no denying that the maze of narrow, winding lanes in the Latin Quarter of Panjim, or Panaji as it is also known, oozes with charm and atmosphere. This neighborhood, dating back to colonial times, has retained its character over the years with its whitewashed churches and colourful heritage homes.
Amongst the cheerfully painted homes, you’ll also most likely stumble across some charming souvenir shops and quirky art galleries, such as the Gitanjali Art Gallery & Café on 31st January Road, displaying artwork by Indian and a few international artists.
There is a romance of discovery in walking through this living coffee table book, leisurely hour-long pace in the morning or before sunset. Fontainhas is seductive with its colour, freeze-frame moments, arches, lace curtains, glimpses of sepia family photographs, vases from China, azulejos, inviting cul de sac.
One of the Fontainhas most beautiful and emblematic attractions (besides the colorful houses, of course) is the 19th century Chapel of St. Sebastian, which is especially notable for its pristine white exterior, a great contrast to the seemingly colorful neighborhood. Stepping inside, you’ll find three resplendent altarpieces, a crucifix, and a statue of the Virgin Mary. There’s a unique thing about the crucifix housed here—the figure of Christ on it has eyes wide open.
The significance of the curiously named streets in Fontainhas is interesting. Rua 31 de Janeira (31st January Road) relates to the date of Portugal’s independence from Spain on January 31, 1640. Bustling 18th June Road, lined with shops and restaurants, was named after the date in 1946 that Ram Manohar Lohia (an activist for Indian independence) called a meeting that led to the end Portuguese rule in India.
The Latin quarter is an architectural and cultural paradise for photographers. When you travel along this part of Panjim make sure to camera, you may miss out on many architectural splendors around the vicinity. The residents around the area are very friendly and easily approachable for pictures but keep in mind of asking their permission.
Place: Fontainhas, Panjim North Goa
Timings: Whole day
*No entrance fee*
7) Reis Magos Fort
The Reis Magos Fort, owned by the Goa government and listed under the Goa Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, is the oldest fort in Goa. It has been restored to serve as a Cultural and Heritage Centre.
The Reis Magos Fort is located in a small village called Reis Magos in the northern banks of the river Bardez, in the Indian state Goa. The fort is quite near to the capital city of Panjim which makes it appropriate for the tourists to visit. Reis Magos is a Portuguese word which means Three Wise Men.
The architecture of the fort has the fusion of the Hindu and Portuguese style of architecture since it was designed several times under the rule of Portuguese and Marathas among others. The Reis Magos Fort was bounded with laterite walls in the entire exterior. From the height in which fort is built, one can get a splendid view of the surrounding area. The fort is preserved well over the years. Artefacts of more than 33 guns originally existed at the fort. Seven guns can be found within the fort in the present-day context. The fort also houses the ingenious artworks works of Goa’s famous artist Mr. Mario de Miranda.
This fort is located near the harbor and the views of the sea are breath taking. Looks to be in good condition and well maintained. Good place to spend a couple of hours relaxing and also knowing the rich history of the place.
The place is secluded with very less crowds. It is extremely well maintained. It has scenic locations and best for taking photographs. Really peaceful place to spend quality time with oneself, friends or family. They have a small car which takes you to the top of you are a senior citizen or have very small kids. The visit typically takes 45 to 60 minutes at most.
The fortress is scenic all year round.
Place: Reis Magos, Panjim – North Goa
Tuesday – Sunday: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm
Rs. 50/- per person
8) Lamgua caves.
Going to North Goa to hit one of the beaches? Make sure to take some time out and visit Lamgua caves. One of the ‘hidden’ Goa tourist places, Lamgau Caves are made up of two man-made caves which were meant to be a residence for monks. They are of great importance to the Hindu community in Goa and they reflect the transition from Buddhism to Hinduism. The caves are designed in a Buddhist fashion but the idols of Nandi and the Shivaling outside the main entrance of the smaller of the two caves reveal another aspect.
The other cave is much larger and is basically a place where one can sit and meditate or take shelter from the rains. The scenic route up to the caves is another reason to visit them. The caves are located inside a dense areca nut plantation and trekking up to them can get tough because of the rugged nature of the paths. You pass several small Goan villages on your way, these are good and hospitable resting spots during the trek.
The many interesting local temples on the way are an added attraction of the trek up to Lamgau Caves. You can visit the caves on some early morning. This will allow you to go over the entire location peacefully and enjoy the small details that you might otherwise miss out.
Place: Bicholim, North Goa
Timings: 9 am to 5 pm
9) The Arvalem Waterfalls
The Arvalem Waterfalls are one of the places to visit in Goa especially if you have children in tow. They are not as huge as the Dudhsagar Waterfalls since they are only about 50 meters high and 7 meters wide. But reaching them is far easier than reaching Dudhsagar. Their location is also perfect since they are not located far from the popular North Goa beaches and have other sight-seeing places nearby. The Arvalem Waterfalls are located in Mapusa, near the Bicholem Village.
The Lamgau Caves are close by as is a location fit for white-water rafting which is 13km from the site of the waterfall. The Arvalem Waterfalls in themselves are a pretty sight, and especially imposing during the monsoon months when the fall into the lake below with a fearful force. Among all the places to see in Goa, this is one of the most beautiful ones. They dry to a trickle in the summer leaving the lake to become a swimming pool for avid swimmers. There is a well-maintained government park close to the waterfalls, which is a great spot for a picnic.
You can make a fulfilling day trip to this location and also take part in the other activities close by. The children will have an especially good day.
Place: Mapusa, North Goa
Also Read: How Tourism Destroyed Goa in 2018
10) Museum of Goa
Museum of Goa (MOG) is an endeavor to take art to the masses. It seeks to break social and cultural barriers and make art accessible to all.
This inclusive space for the Arts will bring together artists, curators, collectors, art enthusiasts, educators, students and audiences from all walks of life. It will host exhibitions, as well as workshops, residencies, lectures, talks and art courses. MOG intends to be a platform for contemporary Indian and international artists, building a cultural network for exchange and interaction.
Envisioned less as a repository of objects and more as a laboratory of ideas, MOG welcomes multidisciplinary art forms – painting, sculpture, photography, design, moving image, music, theater, poetry, installation, and others – to have constant dialogue with one other. Contemporary art is a universal language of sharing and communication today. Through MOG, Goa is positioned in a global conversation, and is placed on the international art map.
The museum space displays paintings, sculptures, installations and various types of interactive art created by artists from all over the world. The museum also has a mini-auditorium that screens video art and documentaries throughout the day.
The MOG journey is enchanting, informative and interactive and will create an everlasting memory in your hearts.
The MOG store has a collection of creatively designed souvenirs, ranging from postcards, fridge magnets and small sculptures, all at affordable prices. So, if you’re seeking for a souvenir to take back from Goa, the MOG studio is the best place to hunt for some unique pieces of art.
You can also munch on some delicious snacks at the MOG café that serves veg and non-veg snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.
*It takes about 2 hours to explore the museum. *
Place: 79, Pilerne Industrial Estate, Pilerne, Bardez, Goa.
Timings: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm Everyday
Entry Ticket rates:
Indian – Rs. 100 per adult
Foreigner- Rs. 300 per person
Students- Rs. 50 per person (Indians)
Students- Rs. 150 per person (Foreigners)