Top Things To Do In Goa, India

Since the time it first came to the notice of foreign travelers in the 1960s, the small Indian state of Goa has transformed from a famous destination on the hippy trail to the popular tourist destination it is today. It offers visitors a variety of attractions to enjoy and the following are some of the top things to do in Goa, India.

Things To Do In Goa

Relax on a Beach

Relax on a Beachflickr/Ben Snooks

The coastal region of Goa is where most visitors stay and there are a huge number of beaches to choose from. These are grouped into two distinct regions. Southern Goa has luxury hotels and guesthouses next to a mix of public and private beaches, while northern Goa features low to medium budget accommodation close to mainly public stretches of sand. The beaches in the central area tend to be the most crowded, with quieter locations to be found the further north and south you go. This provides plenty of options to find a perfect spot to spend some time enjoying sun, sea, and sand. Popular beaches in the south include Colva and Palolem, with Anjuna, Baga, and Calangute being favorites in the north. Anyone that enjoys beach fun will find Goa a wonderful place to have a vacation.

Visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Basilica of Bom Jesusflickr/Ramesh Lalwani

While Goa may be one of the smallest states of India, it is still large enough to be the home of one of the country's World Heritage Sites. This is known as the Churches and Convents of Goa and includes a number of religious buildings in the ancient city that was the capital during Portuguese rule of the region. The most famous of these is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which is the resting place of St. Francis Xavier. He came to fame during his lifetime as one of the men that established the Society of Jesus.

The basilica is one of the oldest churches in India, and things to view while there include the ornately carved exterior of the building and the beautifully decorated interior. An art gallery inside showcases the work of Goan artist Dom Martin and every ten years the remains of St. Francis Xavier are put on display for devotees to worship. Other buildings to view while at the site include the Chapel of St. Catherine, the Convent of St. Francis of Assisi, and the Tower of St. Augustine. The history on offer makes it a popular attraction that should definitely be visited by Goa holidaymakers.

Take in a Museum

Goa State Museumflickr/Aaron C

Goa boasts a number of fine museums, where visitors can learn about the history and culture of the state. The Goa State Museum is one of the best and is located in the capital city, Panjim. This has a wide variety of artifacts on display that range from ancient carvings to paintings, coins, sculptures, and more. There are many thousands of items on show, making it a great place to take in some interesting history.

A visit to the National Aviation Museum in Bogmalo provides the opportunity to see the development of the Indian Naval Air Force over the years. An outside exhibit has a number of planes on view, while an indoor area provides details of some of the battles the planes have fought in. Other top places to visit include the Museum of Christian Art or Wax Work Museum in Old Goa, and the Goa Science Centre in Panjim.

Take a Tour of Fort Aguada

Fort Aguadaflickr/Aaron C

The Portuguese had a huge influence on the architecture of Goa and one of the finest buildings constructed during their time in the state is Fort Aguada. This is located on Sinquerim Beach and was a defensive position intended to guard against attacks by the Dutch and other potential invaders. It was originally built in the early 1600s and was extended over the years to cover a huge area. One of its major features is a lighthouse built in the 1800s that remained in active service until the 1970s. The fort is now a major tourist attraction for Goa visitors and is well worth visiting for anyone that gets the chance.

See the Local Plants and Wildlife

Salim Ali Birdflickr/romana klee

The natural beauty of Goa is certainly something to be enjoyed on a visit and there are a number of places to take in the local plant and wildlife. Many species of birds and animals make the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary on the island of Chorao their home. This includes the red knot, jack snipe, fiddler crab, and mudskipper. The mangrove swamps of the sanctuary are an impressive sight and well worth a visit.

Another option is the Cotigao Wildlife Centre, which has a nature centre in which to learn about animals such as flying squirrel, Indian pangolin, and mouse deer. A watchtower in the upper branches of the immense jungle trees provides visitors with a bird's eye view of the surrounding forest and the chance to see some of the animals they learned about. There are also other wildlife centres and sanctuaries around Goa that can be interesting places to visit.

Shop at a Street Market

Nite Market Goaflickr/Ipshita Bhattacharya

The local street markets around Goa provide the chance to do some shopping to find a souvenir of your visit. The Anjuna market takes place every Wednesday and is the place to find handicraft pieces from locations around India. This includes a huge variety of products, from rings to necklaces, clothes, toys, and many other items.

For those interested in tasting some of the local delicacies, the Friday Mapusa market is one to have a look around. Farmers and villagers from the surrounding area bring their wares and there is a huge selection of fish, fruit, vegetables, and other foodstuffs. The market is open all day, so there is plenty of time to find what you want. Other popular gatherings in the state include Ingo's Saturday night market and the Banastarim Bazar.

Goa is one of the most popular vacation destinations in India and attracts a huge number of visitors each year. Its many beautiful locations and attractions provide plenty for holidaymakers to enjoy. The details above show some of the best things to do in Goa, so make sure to try a few of them if you are planning a vacation in the state.