One of India’s most beautiful states, Goa is a dream destination for travellers. A popular winter retreat, it’s most well-known for mesmerising beaches, historical monuments, stunning churches and culture so interesting, you wouldn’t want to leave. There are tons of places to visit in Goa and travellers can be assured of an action-packed vacation. From beaches, restaurants, churches to markets, forts and natural retreats – remember to prepare your itinerary wisely so you don’t miss out on some of the best places to visit in Goa.

Places to visit in Goa: Beaches

Baga Beach

Located in North Goa, Baga is one of the most popular places to visit in Goa. Visited by travellers from across the world, the beach offers a plethora of activities which makes it one of the top beaches in Goa. Baga is home to popular cafes and restaurants and one can easily spend a day here enjoying the warm sunshine, great food and numerous water sports.

We suggest heading here late in the afternoon to enjoy a lavish lunch at Britto’s or Go With the Flow. Offering local Goan cuisine, Mughlai, Indian and Chinese, the restaurants here are an ideal way to enjoy the popular Goan vibe. If you head here in the evening, you can enjoy live music as well as admire the beach under the soft shimmer of the moonlight.

Baga is also counted among the most popular places to visit in Goa for the number of activities it offers. Among the most popular ones, water-scooter rides, parasailing, banana boat rides and cruises stand out and are a must-try. We suggest booking group packages for water sports if you are travelling with a large group of friends or family since you’ll get much better discounts. 

Calangute Beach

Calangute Beach is counted among the most popular places to visit in Goa for beach lovers. Visited by hundreds of tourists every day, the beach is home to a number of restaurants which are popular for delicious food, live gigs and an array of cocktails. Calangute is also a great option for those who are in the mood for water sports or refreshing foot and head massages. Since the beach is located in the heart of North Goa, it tends to get crowded, especially in the evenings. If you’d like to experience the beauty and serenity that Goa offers, we recommend visiting early in the morning or late in the evening.

The beach is also home to several accommodation options for backpackers and budget travellers including shacks, homestays and small hotels. 

Anjuna Beach

For those who’d like to experience the carefree and boho vibe of Goa, we recommend adding Anjuna Beach to your list of places to visit in Goa. A rocky beach with umpteen cafes and restaurants, Anjuna is most popular with budget travellers and backpackers. One of the few beaches in Goa which is marked by craggy rocks and is surrounded by rugged hills, Anjuna is a different experience. There are tons of cafes here which have been a favourite with travellers for decades and are some of the best places to visit in Goa. The most popular are Curlies, Cafe Lilliput and Baba Au Rhum.

Another thing that makes Anjuna one of the most popular places in Goa is that it’s easy on the pocket. One can enjoy wholesome meals without worrying about hefty bills and can also book comfortable beach shacks which are ideal for beach bums.

The beach is not suitable for swimming owing to sharp rocks but one can definitely enjoy a great walk along the shore. Gradually, Anjuna Beach has become one of the best places to visit in Goa for adventure buffs since it offers bungee jumping, windsurfing and paragliding. 

Arambol Beach

Counted among the best places to visit in Goa, Arambol is an ideal spot for backpackers and those who are looking for a quiet, laidback experience. One of the lesser-known places to visit in Goa, Arambol beach is located away from commercial beaches and is gradually becoming popular as a nature lover’s haven. 

The peaceful vibe of the beach has also given rise to numerous wellness and health resorts which offer a different experience of the beach state. With yoga, meditations and art workshops, the beach is the perfect place to reconnect with yourself and nature. The most striking feature about Arambol is the vast sea shining against the backdrop of lush forests, which makes for a picture-perfect view. 

If this is your first visit to Arambol, we also recommend including Arambol sweet water lagoon in your list of places to visit in Goa. Lesser-known and one of the hidden spots in Goa, it’s accessible by foot and is a delight for swimmers. Allowing one to rejuvenate amidst the beauty of nature, the lagoon is only visited by travellers who have done thorough research on Goa or ones who have stumbled upon this hidden treasure. Travellers can combine Morjim and Arambol together in one trip since they are located close to each other. 

Butterfly Beach

Butterfly Beach in South Goa is counted among the most beautiful places to visit in Goa. The beach gets its unique name from the surrounding trees which act as a magnet for a huge variety of butterflies and also owing to its unique butterfly shape. Fondly known as Honeymoon Beach, it is one of the lesser-visited beaches in Goa owing to lack of accessibility. The best way to reach the beach is via a ferry which is operated from Palolem Beach. 

If you are travelling by car, you can reach the periphery of the beach but will have to trek to reach the main shoreline. In fact, the beach is one of the most popular places to visit in Goa for trekkers and hikers owing to lush forests surrounding the picturesque beach. There are a couple of cafes here but we do recommend bringing your own food and water to ensure you aren’t left in a lurch. 

Palolem Beach

Palolem is one of the most popular places to visit in Goa, especially if picturesque views and surreal beauty is what makes a holiday perfect for you. Situated in South Goa, it has gradually made it to the list of the best places to visit in Goa and attracts visitors from all over the world. 

Home to a plethora of cafes, homestays and beach shacks, Palolem is an ideal place to spend your time in Goa. Owing to the array of beautiful resorts here, the beach is a haven for leisure travellers, couples and families. On the other hand, if you are travelling on a budget, you’ll find several homestays, shacks and hotels lining the beach. Ideal for sunbathing, yoga and cafe hopping, Palolem is where you can board a ferry for dolphin-viewing cruises as well as to the popular Butterfly Beach. If you intend on staying in Palolem, we recommend booking your accommodation well in advance to avoid last minute price surges.

 

Places to visit in Goa: Architecture

Basilica of Bom Jesus 

Goa is immensely popular for its archaic churches and Basilica of Bom Jesus is counted among the most enthralling places to visit in Goa. Located in Old Goa, the church was built in the year 1594 and is considered to be one of the most important symbols of Christianity in India. The Basilica holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier, who is better known as the co-founder of the Society of Jesus. He founded the society with St. Ignatius Loyola. 

It’s said that the remains have been here for 400 years and are taken out once in ten years. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a must-visit for architecture buffs and history lovers. In fact, if you are interested in culture, heritage and the evolution of Chrisitanity, you must include a visit here. A perfect example of Baroque architecture, exploring the church is a delight and truly makes for a memorable experience. 

Se Cathedral

Considered to be one of the largest churches in Asia, Se Cathedral is one of the top places to visit in Goa. Visited by travellers from all over the world, the church is known for its beauty and architectural simplicity. The cathedral has primarily gained importance as one of the centres of the Latin Rite Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa and Daman. The church took almost 80 years to be constructed and was primarily established to celebrate the victory of the Portuguese over Muslims rulers.

A perfect example of Portuguese-Manueline architecture, the church is one of its kind in India and is a must include in your Goa itinerary. Another striking feature about the cathedral is that it has the biggest bell in Goa and one of the biggest in Asia. According to locals, the bell can be heard across the state and the sound is almost musical. 

Another thing that travellers must note is the gold plated altar in the main hall. Illustrating the life of St. Catherine of Alexandria, it is an intricate design with excellent detailing. 

Chapora Fort

Chapora Fort is undoubtedly one of the most popular places to visit in Goa. Known for incredible views and stunning sunsets, if you’d like a break from the beaches, this is where you should head. Built by the Portuguese in the year 1717, the fort is shrouded in interesting legends and historical tales. 

The beautiful Chapora River flows along the fort and thus gives this architectural delight its name. It’s said that the fort was important for the Portuguese since the walls were impenetrable and offered protection. 

We recommend heading here in the evening, just before sunset to capture the vibrant hues and to soak in the serenity the fort promises. 

Places to visit in Goa: Shopping

Anjuna Flea Market

Anjuna flea market is one of the most popular places to visit in Goa for shopping enthusiasts. Interesting knick-knacks on display, reasonable prices and the smiling faces of vendors are reasons enough to pick up things you may or may not need.

The market is located along the main parking lot and comes alive late in the afternoon. Even though vendors are here throughout the day, the vibe of the market is very different in the evening. If you are looking for handmade jewellery and trinkets, you'll be spoilt for choice since the artists have a variety of things one simply can't resist. The market is also a great option for those who are looking to buy swimsuits, sarongs and flip flops to make beach life easier. 

Everything is priced reasonably and will not burn a hole in your pocket so if you are contemplating picking up a few souvenirs, this is a great option.

Night Market at Arpora

The most famous night market in Goa, Arpora ensures a delightful experience. With live gigs, numerous stalls, delicious local food, the market is a great way to learn more about the Goan culture and also to become one with it. Arpora night market sells everything from jewellery, clothes, home decor to spices, footwear, beachwear and packaged food items.

Since the market is one of the oldest in Goa and has been offering travellers an unforgettable experience for years, you must include it in your list of places to visit in Goa. For those who don't enjoy shopping, we recommend heading here for a taste of the local cuisine. 

Baga Road

The stretch between Baga and Calangute is lined with shops on both sides, making it one of the best places to visit in Goa for shopping. Bustling with excited tourists and locals, this is one of the biggest markets in Goa and a shopper's delight. Ideal for buying souvenirs, clothes, shoes and jewellery, the market packs in more than a shopping experience.

Since the market is in one of the most popular areas of North Goa, the prices are slightly on the higher side and you may have to use your bargaining skills.

If you'd like to take a break from your shopping spree for some fuel, there are umpteen cafes and restaurants here. If you aren't carrying beachwear, we recommend heading here for some great quality and a wide range of options.

Beach Candy

Did you know shopping could mean something more than retail therapy? At Beach Candy, it certainly does. Slowly becoming one of the most popular places to visit in Goa for shoppers, Beach Candy offers visitors a huge variety.

But what attracts travellers to Beach Candy is that the boutique works for a good cause. Everything that is purchased directly benefits the artist, thus strengthening the artist community. 

Selling jewellery, apparel and other knick-knacks, the quirky store attracts travellers owing to its simple and welcoming entrance. 

Mackie’s Night Bazaar

Gradually Mackie’s Night Bazaar has become one of the most popular places to visit in Goa. Dotting the lanes of Baga Road are small shops which offer everything from handmade crafts, jewellery, home decor to apparel, packaged food, spices and beachwear. The market takes about three hours to cover, especially if shopping is something you enjoy. 

 

Places to visit in Goa: Cafes and Restaurants

Brittos

Goa’s popular cafes, clubs and restaurants have always been an attraction for travellers. A mix of high-end and quirky, the restaurants in the state are some of the best places to visit in Goa. Brittos has held the fancy of travellers for decades and continues to be one of the most visited places to visit in Goa for food lovers. Offering both indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurant offers great views of the sea but what makes it popular is the array of local and multi-cuisine dishes on the menu. We recommend trying beef xacuti, prawn biryani, carbonara and fruit salad.

Thalassa

Ask anyone about their favourite places to visit in Goa and chances are that Thalassa will be one of the top five. A dreamy ambience, breathtaking views of the sea and delicious food have made this a favourite with travellers and locals alike. White dominates the colour theme and goes perfectly with the soothing music and excited chatter of guests. With a predominantly Greek menu, Thalassa is a must-try if you are looking for a break from local Goan cuisine and everyday Italian food.

Mum’s Kitchen

Mum’s Kitchen has been a favourite with travellers for the past 20 years. Taking lost and forgotten Goan recipes to food lovers, the quirky restaurant has been true to its vision which has ensured a loyal following. 

Offering an extensive menu for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, the restaurant is one of the best places to visit in Goa for those who are looking for something different and new. Among the most recommended dishes, we suggest trying chouris chilli fry, peri-peri prawns, fish curry and fish rava fry. The restaurant has recently opened another outlet in Assagao so food lovers can get more of this charming restaurant.