Goa is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination and acts as a gateway for many a holidaymaker’s first taste of India. This tropical paradise not only offers swaying palms, beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, but also countless captivating cultural sites to contribute to an unforgettable time away. Here’s a run-down of 6 must-see places.
1. The Arvalem Waterfalls, northern Goa
Distance from Goa airport: 30km
These 50m falls offer truly breathtaking views in the mountains just 2km outside Sanquelim. Culture vultures may want to make for the nearby Rudreshwar Temple, while seasoned swimmers will love the chance of a dip in the pools at the bottom of the waterfall.
Best time to visit: After the monsoon season to maximise the amount of water over the falls.
2. Mangeshi Temple, northern Goa
Distance from Goa airport: 20km
This magnificent man-made spectacle is set amidst serene natural surroundings. As a foreigner you may not be allowed into the temple so ensure you dress appropriately. Even if you can’t see inside, the exterior alone is well worth a visit.
Don’t miss: The leaning temple tower.
3. Anjuna Beach Flea Market, northwest Goa
Distance from Goa airport: 22km
This bustling market takes place every Wednesday and draws tourists from all over the country. The sheer exuberance of the place and range of goods on offer makes it an absolute must-see.
Perfect for: Those who like bartering for a bargain.
4. Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Panaji
Distance from Goa airport: 33km
One of the oldest churches in Goa, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is an unforgettable example of the beautifully conserved Portuguese colonial architecture, brought over by the conquistadors of the 16th Century. The former Portuguese presence is still visible all over Goa in the form of colourful houses and street demarcation through traditional Portuguese ‘azulejos’ tiles.
Must-see for: Those interested in history and awe-inspiring architecture.
5. Casino Royale, Panaji
Distance from Goa airport: 34km
The Casino Royale, India’s largest casino vessel, is moored in Panaji on the bank of the river Mandovi. Described as the hallmark of sophistication and grandeur, the Casino Royale is perfect if you’ve packed that gown and you’re looking for an opportunity to show it off. Just don’t get too carried away with the exchange rate!
Great for: Those looking for a bit of decadence on their trip
6. Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary, eastern Goa
Distance from airport: 50km
This lush national park is the largest protected area in Goa, covering over 240 sq km. If you’re lucky you might be able to catch a glimpse of the majestic Bengal tiger or the spine-chilling King Cobra.
Best for: Nature lovers who want to see animals in their natural habitat.
Other places worth a visit
Fort Aguada, northwest Goa
Distance from Goa airport: 16km
Built by the Portuguese in the 17th century, this is the largest and best-preserved fort in the country and it’s one of the most predominant landmarks in Goa.
Must-see for: Those interested in awe-inspiring architecture.
Choram Baim or ‘Well of thieves’, Baga, northwest Goa
Distance from Goa airport: 22km
Gushing seawater causes captivating haunting sounds at this stunning rock formation that stretches out into the Arabian Sea.
Great for: Absorbing dramatic natural landscape.