We’ve compiled the best of the best in Goa - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Ashvem Beach

    The white sands here are perfect for uninterrupted lazing. Sandwiched between Morjim and Mandrem beaches, Ashvem has a fair number of hippie beach shacks, but it still manages to hold onto its air of deserted idyll. Between September and February, this is a nesting spot for the olive ridley turtle, and you just might spot a few. No longer off the beaten track, the areas around the beach are now full of thatched beachside accommodations, like Yab Yum Resorts. And in season it's also home to some of Goa's best seasonal eating, notably at upscale La Plage. It's not as much of a destination for partyers as some of its neighboring beaches, and just a hop and a skip away from the beach are lush paddies and coconut groves. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: solitude; sunrise; sunset; swimming; walking.

    Mandrem, Goa, India
  • 2. Basilica of Bom Jesus

    Dedicated to the worship of the infant Jesus, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is also known throughout the Christian world as the tomb of St. Francis Xavier, patron saint of Goa, who was handed the task of spreading Christianity in the Portuguese colony. The saint's body has "survived" almost 500 years now without ever having been embalmed, and lies in a silver casket well out of reach of visitors. Built from local red stone around the turn of the 17th century, the tomb took the Florentine sculptor Giovanni Batista Foggini 10 years to complete. Once every 10 years the missionary's body is exposed to the public at close quarters, drawing thousands of pilgrims.

    Old Goa, Goa, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 3. Anjuna Beach

    This is Goa's original hippie haven. Those full-moon parties, now so synonymous with this beach state, first happened on the sands of Anjuna in the 1960s, and even today this northern beach is home to modern-day flower children, international travelers keen on sampling some of that hippie stardust, and everyone looking for a party. It's definitely not one of Goa's most beautiful beaches, but the steady influx of people means that it's got restaurants and bars galore. Anjuna's busiest on Wednesday, when the famed weekly Anjuna Flea Market takes place. The water is safe for swimming and you'll find lots of sunbathers and souvenir vendors year-round. Amenities: food and drink; water sports; parking. Best for: partyers; sunset; swimming; walking.

    Anjuna, Goa, India
  • 4. Arambol Beach

    Perfect for those keen on sampling a taste of the 1970s hippie trail, and still a favorite with Goa's free spirits, this lovely and rugged North Goan beach has long, wide swaths of clean sand and shallow water that's great for paddling. During the day it's quiet and relaxed, but come evening, the beachfront restaurants transform into informal nightlife venues, with some blasting music well into the night. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: parties; sunrise; sunset; swimming.

    Arambol Pernem, Goa, India
  • 5. Archaeological Museum

    A part of the Franciscan monastery behind the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, the Archaeological Museum has an intricately gilded and carved interior. The museum's collection is not entirely devoted to Catholic objets d'art; it also has bits and pieces from Goa's early Hindu history. It's worth a quick look around, if only to peruse the portrait gallery of Goa's viceroys.

    Old Goa, Goa, 403402, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 5, Closed Fri.
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  • 6. Baga Beach

    This long, narrow (at high tide) beach is one of Goa's most popular, and Baga is where you'll find nonstop action, cocktails around the clock, innumerable water-sports vendors, as well as some of North Goa's best-loved party spots like Tito's and Cavala (a short walk away from the beach). In the winter months this beach is filled with package tourists, so although you won't find peace at Baga, you will find everything else. Amenities: food and drink; water sports; lifeguards. Best for: partyers; sunset; windsurfing.

    Baga, Goa, India
  • 7. Benaulim Beach

    Despite its proximity to crowded Colva, Benaulim beach is a world apart. Still relatively quiet, an increasingly rare commodity on Goa’s beaches, this long swath of sand features only the odd souvenir hawker or stray dog, and is an excellent spot on which to park your beach towel. Of course, there are beach shacks, if you’d prefer a steady supply of beer and snacks as well as the comfort of a sun bed, and although it isn’t as idyllic as Morjim or Mandrem farther north, with still water and soft sand, Benaulim is a great pick for a day in the sun. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; water sports. Best for: solitude; swimming; walking.

    Benaulim Beach, Goa, India
  • 8. Braganza House

    The chief reason to visit Chandor is this 400-year-old house—a slice of living history. Two wings are occupied by two branches of the Braganza family, the Menezes Braganzas and the Braganza Pereiras. You can see the style in which the wealthy landed gentry must have lived until the land reformation that followed Independence in 1947; the great rooms are filled with treasures, including beautiful period furniture and Chinese porcelain. Although some parts of the house have been renovated and are in reasonably good shape, it takes a lot of effort to maintain the two wings, and contributions toward upkeep are expected.

    Chandor, Goa, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Donations welcome
  • 9. Calangute Beach

    Crowded and sometimes dirty, particularly in the high season, Calangute Beach is the main destination for many package tourists in Goa. The rampant commercialization means that visitors can take their pick of activities, from water sports to shopping, but space and quiet are harder to find. The beach is accessible by concrete steps. There's a fairly strong undertow here, making swimming here dangerous. Amenities: food and drink; water sports; lifeguards. Best for: partyers; windsurfing.

    Calangute, Goa, India
  • 10. Cavelossim Beach

    One of Goa's lesser-known stretches, Cavelossim Beach is starting to come into its own. With a few swanky hotels in the area, including the Leela Goa, Cavelossim is primarily popular with wealthy Indian visitors, due to the proliferation of upscale resorts in the area, and as a result is fairly clean, with soft white sand. If you're looking for swinging nightlife, this is not the beach for you, but it is worth a visit for those seeking relaxation, or perhaps some dolphin spotting—contact the area's boat operators who can organize sunset trips to spot the pods of dolphins that inhabit these waters. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguard; water sports. Best for: solitude; sunset; swimming.

    Cavelossim Beach, Goa, India
  • 11. Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception

    This grand shrine was a mere chapel before 1541. Soon after, in 1600, it became a parish, and its structure was rebuilt entirely. Now the church almost entirely presides over one of Panaji's squares. The building's distinctive zigzag staircases are a 19th-century addition, and the church's large bell was originally in the Church of St. Augustine in Old Goa. An annual December festival here draws huge crowds. At the other times of the year the square is a peaceful place to linger.

    Panaji, Goa, 403001, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 12. Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

    Just a short distance from Panaji, this delightful bird refuge is on the tip of Chorao, an island in the Mandovi. The ferry jetty for Chorao is on Ribander jetty on the southern bank of the Mandovi River, between Panaji and Old Goa, and boats travel regularly to the island and back. A taxi can bring you to the jetty for the 15-minute ride across the river. The Forest Department in Panaji organizes guided tours to Chorao. The tiny sanctuary, full of mangroves, is named after a dedicated Indian ornithologist. Although October through March is the best time to view migratory birds, the sanctuary is open year-round.

    Panaji, Goa, India
  • 13. Dudhsagar Waterfalls

    With a name that means "sea of milk," these waterfalls are imposing, with water cascading almost 2,000 feet into a rock-ribbed valley. They are at their most impressive when the monsoons arrive, but this also makes the approach road inaccessible, so the ideal time for a trek here is between October and the end of April. Pack refreshments and beach towels, and plan to spend a morning here; monkeys, birds, bees, butterflies, and thick foliage complete the wild experience. The Goa Tourism Development Corporation runs tours from Calangute (departing at 6:30 am, Rs. 2,000) in air-conditioned buses or jeeps, which include admission to the falls, lunch, and bottled water.

    Goa, 403704, India
  • 14. Fontainhas

    The shady, narrow streets of this largely residential neighborhood do not seem Indian—they are clearly still Portuguese at heart. From tiny balcaos (colonnaded porches), inhabitants watch as their quiet, unchanging world goes by, and through the old windows you can hear people practicing the piano and violin. At the heart of Fontainhas is the little whitewashed Chapel of St. Sebastian, which dates only to the late 19th century—new by Goan standards. Its claim to fame is an old crucifix that was once housed in the infamous Palace of the Inquisition in Old Goa.

    Panaji, Goa, 403001, India
  • 15. Fort Aguada

    Perched high on a hill, with wonderful views west across the Arabian Sea and east across Aquada Bay to Panaji, Fort Aguada was built in 1612 and named for the natural springs that supplied not only the fort but also passing ships. Surrounded by wild grass, the fort is in excellent condition. Inside, you can take a good look at the solid stone architecture and the old lighthouse. The fort's defenses actually enclosed a much larger area than the bastion at the top of the hill; a seaward bastion still juts into the Arabian Sea on Sinquerim Beach, near the Taj cluster of hotels. If you only have time for one of Goa's many forts, hit Aguada—it's the best preserved and most magnificent. Hire a taxi if time is a constraint; it's not an easy walk, as it's 4 km (2½ miles) south of Sinquerim Beach and at least half the way is a fairly steep uphill.

    Candolim, Goa, 403515, India
  • 16. Mandrem Beach

    This quiet hideaway in North Goa has the advantage of not being a popular destination on the tourist trail, which is why it's a top pick for honeymooners and for couples looking for a quiet getaway. There are a few beach shacks and the odd guesthouse in season, but you really have to make your own entertainment on this deserted stretch. Amenities: none. Best for: solitude; sunset.

    Mandrem, Goa, India
  • 17. Manguesh temple

    One of the chief attractions of Ponda is this temple in Priol, 7 km (4 miles) before you reach Ponda. With its domes and other eccentric, un-Hindu architectural features, the temple has evidence of Islamic and Christian influences. Other temples in the vicinity include the always-crowded Shantadurga temple, with its distinctive tower, the Mahalsa temple, with its gargantuan (41-foot-high) oil lamp, and the Lakshmi Narasimha and Naguesh temples, with their lovely temple tanks (large pools with steps leading into them, so that the devout can bathe).

    Ponda, Goa, India
  • 18. Morjim Beach

    Best known as a home to olive ridley sea turtles, serene Morjim Beach is popular with those keen to see a nesting site of the species. Known to be quiet and peaceful, it is easy to see the attraction for these endangered marine creatures. In recent years, however, the village of Morjim has also become home to most of Goa's Russian expatriates, earning itself the title of "Little Russia," and this influx has brought with it a less peaceful atmosphere. Although the beach is still quiet during the day, it now has a thriving nightlife. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: swimming; walking; partyers.

    Morjim, Goa, India
  • 19. Museum of Christian Art

    Inside the Convent of St. Monica, the Museum of Christian Art has a number of objects of Christian interest, including paintings and religious silverware, some dating back to the 16th century. The convent was the first nunnery of its kind in the East, and functioned as one until the late 19th century.

    Holy Mount Hill, Old Goa, Goa, 403402, India

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Rs. 30
  • 20. Palolem Beach

    This once-deserted white-sand beach, backed by palm groves and low, green mountains, is still quieter than its northern counterparts, but Palolem is now a definite destination for sunseekers. It has a solid selection of cheap eateries and shacks, which have sprung up to cater to its bunch of hippie visitors. The farthest south of this coastline's developed beaches, it's no longer quite the idyll that first drew visitors this far south, but it is still very beautiful. Amenities: food and drink. Best for: solitude; swimming; walking.

    Palolem Beach, Goa, India

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