There’s no better way to start your vacation in Goa than to visit a few of the main tourist attractions. Some attractions are more entertaining than others and there’s no need to rush about trying to do all of my top 10 things to do in Goa. If you’re here for a two week vacation then perhaps pick 5 or 6 things to do from my list below. If you’re here for just one week or a few days then aim to see about 2 or 3 main sights. This way you don’t have to feel guilty about spending the rest of your time on the beach, swimming in the sea, eating, drinking, partying and shopping which in my opinion is what Goa is all about.
My pick of the top 10 things to do in Goa
This is based on my time spent here and yes I’ve done most attractions on this list. The rest are based on recommendations I got from other travelers, hotel staff and Goan locals.
The first thing you need to do in Goa is find the right beach for you. The beaches in north Goa are more popular with tourists but south Goa’s beaches are less crowded so maybe you’ll prefer these. If less crowded beaches are more your style then check out Agonda, Colva and Palolem but don’t overlook Utorda Beach and also Arossim near Majorda.
Then of course there’s the famous Calangute, Candolim and Baga which you can’t beat for water sports (and banana boats). Vagator is slightly more chilled but still gets pretty packed out. If you like to party Anjuna is the beach for you. My favorite beach is probably Palolem in the south.
The most famous flea market in Goa is Anjuna Flea Market on Wednesday nights (and yes it’s in Anjuna). This is the Mother of all markets especially if you have a penchant for Hippie gear. Both Goa expats and local Indians have stalls here selling everything from Shiva statues, jewelry, handmade clothes, trance and psychedelic gear to body piercing and tattoo services. When you’ve shopped til you’re ready to drop aim for a food stand and grab a beer.
Prices at Anjuna Flea Market are a lot higher than in other markets in India because there are so many western tourists visiting that will pay the high prices. If you’re traveling to other places in India after Goa then I recommend holding off and do your shopping elsewhere because your money will go a lot further. If you’re on vacation in Goa and going home afterwards then buy the place up… you’re still getting an amazing deal compared to prices back home.
If you miss the Wednesday market in Anjuna never fear because there’s a great market on Saturday night in Arpora that you will love just as much. If you’re tired of the tourist scram already why not check out Mapusa market on Fridays which is less touristy and bit more authentic India.
Read More: What You Should Know Before You Visit Goa
Chapora Boat Cruise
Hire a houseboat and cruise along the Chapora River whether for 3 hours or 24 hours you will be so glad you did this one. Take in the coconut groves and lush green Goan backwaters while being served delicious Goan cuisine.
You’ll see little huts along the way and if you’re really lucky you might catch a glimpse of a dolphin or two. There’s a houseboat for every budget but make sure you book in advance.
Animal & Bird Sanctuaries
Why not swap the Goa nightlife for some Goa wildlife and visit the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary or Mollem National Park. Venture into the foothills of the Western Ghats to see panthers, sloth bears, deer and guar. There are also 200 species of birds such as the Malabar pied hornbill, fairy bluebird, great black woodpecker, emerald dove and kingfisher. If that’s not enough for you bird lovers then take a ferry to the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary on a small island in the Mandovi River.
Although Old Goa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site this is only one of the top things to do in Goa for history buffs. Visually Old Goa won’t impress you if you’ve ever been to Europe and even if you haven’t been to Europe it’s probably still not going to wow you. But it’s a good one to tick off the list if you have FOMO (fear of missing out) because Old Goa or ‘Rome of the east’ is still a much talked about and very popular tourist attraction.
So give it an hour or two and see the Basilica de Bom Jesus and the Church of St. Francis of Assisi which are next to each other. Both were built in the 1600’s by the Portuguese so as I said, history lovers… have fun!
Sahakari Spice Plantation
Visitors in Goa don’t often make it to the spice plantations but they really should so I included this in my list of top 10 things to do in Goa. There’s a few spice plantations in Goa but the best one is in the Ponda area and called Sahakari Spice Plantation. This is the largest spice farm in Goa and it offers really great guided tours to tourists. You can pick and taste peppers, take a bite out of the hottest chilly in the world and try a traditional Goan lunch with spices from the plantation. There’s also an option to see elephants here but I wouldn’t recommend endorsing anything involving elephants being taken out of the wild for the purpose of tourism. All in all, it’s well worth the trip.
Fort Aguada Goa
On Sinquerim Beach, south of Candolim and overlooking the Arabian Sea you will find the old Portuguese Fort Aguada and it’s lighthouse.
Fort Aguada was built in the early 1600’s as a reference point for vessels coming from Europe and to guard against the Dutch and the Marathas. You can also see Fort Aguada from the comfort of the Taj Fort Aguada Resort & Spa, that is if you like a little luxury to come with your views.
The Mangueshi temple (or the Manguesh Devasthan) is a beautiful temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It’s one of the most famous and most visited temples in Goa making it a great choice for people wondering about what things to do in Goa. You can find the Mangueshi temple in Priol in Ponda taluka, about 21 kilometers away from the capital city of Panaji. Make sure you follow the dress code for temples, you may be in Goa but for temples and churches you do need to cover up.
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Naval Aviation Museum
The Naval Aviation Museum in Goa has a collection of vintage and serving aircraft and showcases the rich history of Indian Naval Aviation. The museum is popular with aviation enthusiasts and everyday tourists and gets about 4000 visitors a month. To get here take a rickshaw to Bogmalo beach, near Dabolim, Vasco-da-Gama, Goa. The museum is open from 10am to 5pm on all days except Mondays.
Take a trip to the Mandovi River to see one of India’s tallest waterfalls. Dudhsagar Falls which means Sea of Milk are the best during the monsoon season between July and September. The Falls are located on the border of Goa and the state of Karnataka, 60km from Panjim and surrounded by the forests of the Western Ghats. I recommend hiring a driver to take you there directly or you could get a train at Castle Rock station and get off at Dudhsagar stop.
I hope you enjoyed my list of the top 10 things to do in Goa. Compiled with love to make your time here absolutely unforgettable… for all the right reasons! As I said, take it easy and don’t worry about missing out if you don’t have time to visit all of these attractions. The best things to do in Goa are the markets, beaches, parties and food. After all, chilling out and living a slow-paced lifestyle IS the Goan way. Click To Tweet
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Would you like to visit Goa or are you planning a trip? If you’ve already travelled to Goa then feel free to share your own recommends for top things to do in the comments section below…
Find out more about top things to do in Goa and more besides with one of the top Goa Travel Guides below.