This post was last updated on February 5th, 2015
It’s no wonder the serene shores of Goa, India attract some 2 million visitors each year. With ample beautiful beaches, swaying palms, a laid-back vibe and a unique fusion of Indian and Western cultures, there’s certainly a lot to love about Goa. But while most people associate Goa with pristine beaches and psychedelic nightlife (both of which the city does wonderfully well), there is much more to discover than sand and booze alone.
Traveling to Goa has never been easier, and there are numerous flights to the city from around the world. Once in Goa, we recommend getting around by scooter.
Ready to learn more about the adventure? Here are 8 reasons we would love to visit Goa, India!
Take A Boat Tour
For a particularly memorable getaway, sail west along the River Mandovi on a sunset cruise. This trip will take you past the stunning Adil Shah Palace, the first building in Panjim City. After passing the Promenade and it’s lovely tree lined avenues, you’ll then park at the riverfront for a spectacular view of the setting sun.
Alternatively, take a tour east to the island of Chorao where you’ll sail amongst the mangroves to an organic spice garden, maybe even spotting a crocodile along the way!
Shop At The Markets
At the Anjuna Flea Market you can spend an entire day bargaining over clothing, jewelry and souvenirs. You’ll find the market at the far south side of the beach on Wednesdays.
Beat the heat and take advantage of the cooler evenings at the Saturday Night Market, where you’ll find anything from spices to teas to kashmiri carpets to jewelry. This market also features food stalls with cuisine from across the globe.
Rent A Scooter To Explore Panjim
Laid out along the banks of the Mandovi River, Panjim is a must-see for a tranquil escape. Take time to explore the old quarters of Fontianhas and Sao Tome where the alleyways are lined with Portuguese-style houses in stark contrast to the brightly colored Hindu temples a short walk away.
Explore The Local Cuisine
Grab a bite of the local specialty: fish curry rice, best washed down with a sweet lime soda or Kingfisher beer. We love choosing local restaurants or street food that is popular with the local and prepared freshly in front of us.
Visit The Ashiyana Retreat Center
It would be a shame to visit India and not take part in a yoga class or two. Head to this tropical retreat center right on Mandrem beach for a particularly memorable experience.
Adventure To The Dudhasgar Falls
One of the highest waterfalls in India (and amongst the hundred highest in the world), the Dudhasgar Falls in the southern part of Goa rise to a height of 306 meters. The waterfall is at its fullest during the monsoon months of June to September, though any time of year it is a marvelous site.
Check Out Basilica Bom Jesus
This UNESCO World Heritage Site hold the body of St. Francis Xavier, making it a large attraction for Christian and non-Christians alike. The Basilica is one of the oldest churches in India and is elaborately decorated with a floor of marble inlaid with precious stones and elaborate gilded altars. It’s quite odd to stumble upon such an elaborate Christian church in India, a country where the majority of the population are Hindu.
Go To The Beach
Sure there’s more to Goa than the beaches alone, but you still need to make time for a sandy escape! If you’re looking for somewhere quiet and secluded, then try Mandrem Beach. This is an ideal place for families and couples to wind down and spend a lazy day in the sun or splashing in the water. Another long strip of pristine beach with relatively few tourists is Agonda Beach—you won’t get any cell reception here, so it’s a perfect place to unplug and relax. Palolem Beach, on the other hand, is one of the most popular beaches, with many restaurants lining its shores.
Have you been to Goa? Have you been to India?