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Ultimate Guide to Goa for First Time Visitors

  • October 18, 2021

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Goa is known as a romantic tourist destination due to its beautiful beaches and picturesque scenic beauty. Plenty of men and women prefer to visit here for a memorable vacation with their loved ones. Hence, the tourism industry is a prime source of income in this western state of India.

Essential things to know before you visit Goa

Tourists need to know certain things before visiting Goa. All the beaches of Goa are not safe due to high waves, mainly the ones in Northern Goa. Southern Goa beaches face a much calmer sea. People should take off all their shiny accessories before going into the sea in South Goa so that jellyfishes are not attracted to them. Tourists should check the quality of water sports equipment before buying from beach stalls. They should carry enough cash to pay for all expenses in Goa, as card payment is not accepted everywhere.

Related: How to Prepare for Common Travel Emergencies

Why Goa is a popular holiday destination in India

Numerous beaches covering the distance of more than 100 Km comprise the foremost reason that attracts tourists from all over the world. People enjoy various thrilling water sports, like scuba diving, parasailing, banana boating, kayaking, speed boating, and jet skiing at different beaches of Goa. Food lovers cannot miss tasting all kinds of authentic Goan cuisines available at the local eateries. The famous churches in Old Goa are remarkable due to their wonderful architectural style. The vibrant nightlife in local bars, nightclubs, or beach shacks also attracts lots of tourists.

When is it best to visit Goa?

Winter is the best season for visiting Goa, as the weather is mildly cool and dry at that time. The summer is much hotter and the monsoon experiences heavy rainfall, making these seasons unfit for traveling here.

How to travel to Goa

People can take flights from New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Cochin to land in Dabolim Airport, which is only 29 Km away from Panjim, the capital city of Goa. Several airlines run daily flights on these routes, among which GoAir flight tickets are available at a cheap price. People can also travel by intercity buses from other neighboring states. Two railway stations at Thivim and Madgaon are connected to all parts of the country by train routes.

Hire a Guide if you are traveling solo

If you are alone in Goa for the first time, you will not be acquainted with the roads of this place that lead to beaches and other tourist attractions. So, it is best to hire a local tourist guide who can accompany you all the time for sightseeing. Many hotels arrange experienced tour guides for their customers, to make their tours in Goa more hassle-free.

Culture in the Goa

Goa has a diverse culture with people from different religions living happily together. Thus, all religious festivals of Christians, Hindus, and Muslims are celebrated here with grandeur. Local Goans are fun-loving people and they are indulged in vibrant music and dance on all occasions.  Due to the long Portuguese, western influence can be noticed in their foods, dance, music, and etiquette.

What to wear in Goa

Local Goans are liberal-minded people and thus, tourists can wear any comfortable attire. Women need to pack monokinis or bikinis as swimwear, sarongs, kaftans, kimonos, or ponchos for strolling on beaches, tank tops with loose trousers or cotton shorts, long skirts, printed playsuits, scarves, straw hats, sunglasses, flip-flops, and junk jewelry. Men can pack shorts, chinos or trousers, loose cotton or linen shirts, swimsuits, flip-flops or espadrilles, sunglasses, and felt or straw hats.

Adventure sports in Goa

Tourists can enjoy various adventurous sports in Goa. They can go bungee jumping, scuba diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, paragliding, kite surfing, and flyboarding, under the guidance of experts. They can also ride hot air balloons, kayaks, banana boats, ATV bikes, and water scooters for a taste of the thrill. White water river rafting and a ride on a luxury cruise on River Mandovi are other popular activities enjoyed by tourists.

Most popular attractions in the Goa

Calangute Beach is the largest beach in Goa that is nicknamed ‘Queen of Beaches’. Baga Beach, Palolem Beach, Colva Beach, Agonda Beach, Anjuna Beach, Utorda Beach, Candolim Beach, Sinquerim Beach, Dona Paula Beach, and Butterfly Beach are other popular destinations for tourists. Basilica de Bom Jesus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. People also visit Mahadev Temple, Mangueshi Temple, Braganza House, Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Church of St. Cajetan, Chapora Fort, and Fort Aguada in Goa. Dudhsagar Waterfalls, Arvalem Waterfall, Verna Springs, Todo Falls, Divar Island, Grand Island, Spice Plantations, and Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary are some other notable tourist attractions of Goa. Some tour packages also include Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Mollem National Park, Fort Tiracol, Corjuem Fort, Lamgau Caves, and Bats Island.

Where to Eat in Goa

Food lovers can visit various reputed restaurants in Goa, to get tastes of authentic Goan cuisines, as well as different other varieties of foods. Cantare is popular for Goan and Thai cuisines while The Black Sheep Bistro is admired for delicious foods that are grown on their own farm. The Lazy Goose is popular for some delicious seafood cuisines, which was earlier called Amigos. The Fisherman’s Wharf is famous for mouth-watering Goan dishes, beautiful views of the backwater, and live music on Sundays. Ritz Classic, Vinayak, Amavi, and Gunpowder are a few good restaurants where tourists can satisfy their taste buds.

Markets and Shopping

Anjuna Flea Market at Anjuna Beach, Mapusa Market in Panjim, Tibetan Market on Baga Road, Ashwem Beach Market, and Calangute Market Square are the most popular places for shopping at reasonable prices. Ingo’s Saturday Night Bazaar, Mackie’s Night Bazaar, and Arpora Night Market are flocked by numerous tourists and local people, to buy souvenirs, handicrafts, garments, and other items of daily use. CocoRoots in Anjuna is the best place for buying junk jewelry of various materials.

Where to stay

Many tourists prefer to get a direct view of beaches and thus, they should book hotel accommodations close to those beaches. If anyone opts to stay near the airport, then hotels in Central Goa should be their choice, preferably in Panaji. Fun-loving people prefer to live in North Goa because it houses lots of marketplaces, eateries, bars, and nightclubs for their entertainment. Tourists preferring secluded places will want to live in luxury resorts of South Goa.

First-time visitors can follow these tips for making their vacations memorable so that they may want to revisit this place in the future.