There are so many fun things to do in Goa – it’s easy to see why it’s one of the most popular places to visit in India. Let me take you through some of my favourite Goa activities…
If you do decide to follow the Konkan coast down to Goa then prepare for some serious tanning time. With some of the country’s best beaches along this bay – like Mandrem, Baga and Cavelossim – it’s the perfect opportunity to sit back, relax and soak in the sunshine here.
At least for the first day… and then it’s time to explore the amazing amount of cool things to do in Goa. This west Indian state has history, beautiful countryside, fascinating people and plenty of wildlife to explore.
Goa is India’s smallest state and also its richest. Perched halfway down the Western coast, it looks out over the Arabian Sea and is renowned for its stunning beaches of pure white sand.
Goa first became world famous, however, for the influx of hippies in the 60s and 70s and the resulting beach parties.
Nowadays though, the appeal of Goa goes way beyond the obvious. There’s something magical about it. From the laidback locals, to sunbathing cows lying next to you on the beach, Goa will open your eyes to a breathtaking new world.
Beaches, culture & relaxation
With nearly 80 miles of coastline, Goa’s beaches are the primary attraction. But it’s the relaxed and friendly vibe which keeps people coming back for more. Every year, 2 million visitors flock to this small slice of paradise. As a former Portuguese outpost for over 450 years, it retains a distinctly different atmosphere to the rest of India and is regularly voted as having the highest standard of living. The sunsets are world-class. But which bit of this wonderful place is for you?
Things to do in North Goa
As soon as Goa gained independence from the Portuguese in the early 60s, it was here in the North that first saw an influx of hippy tourists from all over the world. Although the hippies have all moved on, their legacy and influence remain largest here. Anjuna beach plays host to a large flea markets every Wednesday. As the day comes to a close, crowds gather to listen to trance music whilst watching the sun go down.
This area showcases Goa’s original charm and is considered by most to be slightly more authentic and typical than the North. Whether you agree or not, you’ll certainly find an abundance of stunning beaches.
One of the most prominent beaches is Palolem. Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Goa, it was featured in the 2004 film The Bourne Supremacy. Although it’s become more and more popular in recent years, there are still no ugly modern structures on the beach. Accommodation comes in the form of coco huts that are erected every year after the monsoon season.
If you are looking to capture the culture and history of Goa, Panjim has a lot to offer. The state capital oozes charm and old-fashioned appeal. It’s completely different in character to any of India’s other capitals. A lot of this is due to the architecture.
Panjim is home to many buildings from the early 1800s, and in recent years quite a few of them have been lovingly restored to their former glory. That’s not all though. The city is famed for its terraced hills, colourful villas, cobbled streets, riverside promenade and beautiful churches. Panjim could easily be in the Caribbean; such is the sun-soaked feel of the riverfront. Buildings are low in height and pastel colours are everywhere. It’s a beautiful spot to explore on foot.
Situated a mere 10kms east of Panjim, Old Goa is also a sight to behold. Once one of the wealthiest cities on the planet, it’s now slowly being reclaimed by nature after being largely abandoned during the 18th century due to the plague. The remains of the city are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
52 Fun Things to Do in Goa
1. Hit the high seas and go dolphin spotting.
2. Buy yourself a new pair of harems with a matching bag from one of the many street vendors.
3. Have you even been to India if you don’t come back with a henna tattoo?
4. Do a river cruise along the Mandovi River.
5. Brave Goa’s traffic and hire a vespa for the day, or at least some sort of clapped out old bike (remember though, safety first).
6. Rejuvenate yourself with a session of ancient holistic healing at an Ayurvedic centre.
7. See some beautiful butterflies at the Butterfly Conservatory.
8. Taste, touch and see what goes into creating spices before testing out your taste buds on the world’s hottest chilli at the Sahakari Spice Farm.
9. Get some great snaps on a hike to Devil’s Canyon in the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary.
READ MORE: 6 Days in Kerala, What Have I Been Doing?
10. Whip out the head torch for one of the most daring activities to do in Goa, a caving session inside the Arvalem or Pandava Caves.
11. Check out the sea views from Goa’s oldest fort, Cabo De Rama.
12. See the jungles, mangroves and beaches from the waters with a kayaking trip along the backwaters of Zuari, Mandovi or Sal.
13. Shop to a decent soundtrack at Ingo’s Saturday night bazaar in Arpora.
14. Venture into the big blue with a scuba diving excursion from Bogmalo Beach.
15. Visit the pretty impressive and Portuguese-style churches of Old Goa like Basilica of Bom Jesus.
16. Keep your fingers crossed that on a visit Galgibaga beach you’ll spot some turtles hatch.
17. Stop by Mum’s Kitchen for the best selection of local cuisine with a Portuguese twist.
18. Pluck up the courage to do karaoke at the laid back St. Anthony’s Bar on Baga Beach.
19. Bag a bargain at the Mapusa Friday Market.
20. Practice your downward dog at a yoga class somewhere like Yoga Magic.
21. Continue channeling healthy vibes with a visit to Anjuna’s health-conscious cafe, Bean Me Up.
22. Discover over 4,000 forgotten objects from Goa’s past at the Museum of Goa Chitra.
23. Test out your balance with some kite surfing on Morjim beach.
24. Master Goan cuisine with a cooking class at The Siolim House.
25. Get yourself on croc watch on the Cumbarjua Canal with a crocodile safari.
26. Visit the Anjuna Flea Market by the beach for all your handmade goods.
27. Do a trek to the Tambdi Surla Waterfalls.
28. See some ancient tribal art at the Usgalimal Rock Carvings.
29. Apparently it’s all about ballroom dancing rather than bhangra here so get yourself to one of the many classes.
30. Feel a little confused after watching a Goan Tiatr, otherwise known as a traditional theatre performance.
31. Earn yourself a rest on Neuti Beach after completing the beautiful Ocean Trek.
32. Tick the largest church in Asia off the list with a pitstop at the regal Sé Cathedral.
33. Make friends with Goa’s marine life by underwater sea bed walking by Baina Beach.
34. Disconnect with an off the grid: homestay deep in the forest of the Western Ghats.
35. Take a dip in Arambol’s sweet water lake and cover yourself in the lake’s clay to take in some of its supposedly magically healing properties.
36. Take an overnight train to get there, or out. I went on the Radjdhani Express, overnight.
37. Listen to some live music at Sol De Goa.
38. Chill with the cows on Calangute Beach — at a good distance of course.
39. Try a trance party somewhere like Hilltop in Vagator or Curlies on South Anjuna Beach.
40. Give back by volunteering with animals at Siolim’s Welfare for Animals in Goa.
41. Learn to glide those waves like a beach babe with a surf lesson on Arambol Beach.
42. Embrace Goa’s casino culture with a trip to the Casino Royale on the Moldovi River.
43. Set off some Instagram envy with a snap of a beachside Goa sunset.
44. Take to the skies by paragliding on Arambol Beach – it’s of the most unique and popular attractions to do in Goa.
45. Try to spot panthers, bears and deer at the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park.
46. Go home with a new skill after taking a reiki class.
READ MORE: 31 Mistakes I Made in India
47. Do a roadtrip to see the impressive Dudhsagar Falls.
48. Go shopping in the downtown Portuguese alleys of Panjim.
49. Keep those adventure urges satisfied by rafting on the Mhadei River.
50. Sharpen up your self-defence skills with a wing chun kung fu martial arts class
51. Always a fan of freebie, get yourself on this Panjim walking tour.
52. Pile on the pounds by stopping by local bakeries for freshly baked poi.
See, there are LOADS of fun things to do in Goa.
Hope you have a great time, and let me know in the comments below if you have any more to add.
Best things to do in Goa
Goa is a great choice if you want to visit India, but you’re a little intimidated by the intensity and craziness of the big cities. It’s India, but a gentler introduction with its high Western population and familiar bars, restaurants and beachside activities.
Goa is a comparatively small state compared to the rest of India, but is a compact area of beautiful powder white sands and wild shoreline. The state was a Portuguese colony for over 400 years, which is easy to see in the uniquely Goan architecture. You’ll find Hindu and Christian architecture side by side along with vibrant Portuguese Heritage homes.
Each state in India has its distinct cuisine – there’s no such thing as ‘Indian’ like we assume in England. In Goa it’s creamy coconut milk served infused with local fish. Goan fish curry was one of the culinary highlights of my week there and I managed at least three for both lunches and dinners.
When to go to Goa
Goa has a tropical Monsoon climate. This makes it hot and humid for most of the year. May is hottest and then from June through until September is the monsoon season. The best time to go is after this. The cooler and less humid winter runs from November until March. Although it’s the coolest time of year, temperatures still typically reach 30 degrees during the day and low 20s at night. This constitutes the main tourist season, but from mid-December to the end of January is extremely busy and consequently more expensive.
What to do in Goa
Sadly I was so engrossed in the easy going beach life of Goa, and the food, that I didn’t get out to see the local sites. But if you’re more energetic than me in the sunshine you could see the state capital of Panaji, the local cathedrals and basilicas and the Goa State Museum.
The shopping in Goa was the most relaxed I found. There’s no hard pressure like I found in the markets of Delhi – the locals in Goa are too chilled to force you into buying anything. They’d rather sit back, assess your interest and advise and help where they can. This made for a much more pleasurable shopping experience, which made my friends and I spend a lot more money.
You can also head inland to take a jeep through the jungle and swim beneath the Dudhsagar Waterfalls or to Arpora for the lively Saturday Night Market with live music, delicious street food and row after row of colourful stalls selling crafts, spices and souvenirs.