7 Things to do in Goa beyond beaches

posted in: Asia, Goa, Heritage, India, Nature, Tips | 106

My last trip to Goa was quite an unusual one – one where I almost did not go to any beaches. I say “almost” – for it was only on the last day, we hopped onto the Fort Sinquerim that is along a beach. Again, we did not get onto the beach but just gazed at the sea from atop a bastion. For all the time that we were here, we were busy discovering the other part of Goa – the one that I have been calling – Goa Beyond Beaches.

Sinquerim Fort, Goa
Sinquerim Fort, Goa

Goa is an all year round destination- there are just tons of things that you I have shared quite a bit of my trip of Goa beyond Beaches in my earlier posts. This one is merely to summarize it for you and give you a list that can help you include a few places from Goa beyond beaches in your holiday itinerary.

Why Goa beyond beaches?

Sinquerim Beach
Sinquerim Beach

Alright – so Goa is beautiful. Beaches are good enough. Why should anyone look beyond it?

If this is what you are thinking, then my reasons below should be able to convince you –

  • Goa has a very unusual history  – one that is not just interesting but has a made Goa as you enjoy today. It is quite illuminating to know about it all.
  • Goa is a lovely blend of Eastern Indian Culture with the Western Portuguese world. This blend is still visible in Goa. Once you discover these roots, you are bound to enjoy Goa even more.
  • Goa is a state, not a city or region. Thus, it is time we look at it as a larger region – one that has so much natural beauty that takes you beyond its beaches. Discovering it is truly refreshing.

If you need to know some more reasons and are not completely convinced, my 7 picks of things to do in Goa beyond beaches will definitely do its trick.  Take a look –

Heritage Walk in Panjim to see Goa beyond Beaches

The Old Portuguese Well in the Old Latin Quarters of Goa
The Old Portuguese Well in the Old Latin Quarters of Goa

The heritage walk through the Old Latin Quarters or the Fontainhas area of Panjim is a colorful and quite an illuminating experience. Here you can  get glimpses of the shared connections with the Portuguese, discover the various facets of the Indo-Portuguese homes, find wishing wells while you pass through their old cafes and bakeries. You will also, be able to see the Fresh Water spring – on the basis of which this area was named as “Fontainhas” or the “Fountain of Phoenix”. Truly a unique and vibrant experience.

Spice Tour

Tour of the Spice Plantation - Goa beyond Beaches
Tour of the Spice Plantation – Goa beyond Beaches

It is not enough that you use and enjoy spices. It is always good to know where they come. Goa’s spice plantations are truly a delight for your senses. A lush green paradise with fresh spices growing around, a tour of this plantation is bound to refresh you. You don’t just see these spices, but also, can taste them in the fresh lunch that is served here. Also, you can meet the gorgeous fauna residing in the gardens. Take a peek at this post for my other reasons on why you need to take this tour.

River Rafting

River Rafting in Goa.
River Rafting in Goa.

Not too fast, nor too slow, the River Mhadei is a great place to experience some River Rafting. A well-organized and safe adventure sport, river rafting is available only during the monsoon months. And it is not just the adrenaline kick, but also, a soothing and refreshing experience, thanks to the lovely woods along the banks of the River Mhadei. So, if you are headed to Goa around Monsoons, make sure you try this one out.

Don’t forget that there is more to the woods than the river rafting experience. You might even want to explore the wild in Goa out here for its unique flora and fauna.

Indian Customs and Central Excise museum

Replica of the Natraj Statue seized by the Kolkata Customs , Indian Customs and Central Excise museum
Indian Customs and Central Excise museum, Goa Beyond Beaches

Experience the battle of wits as the customs officers play a chess game to beat the smugglers . Here you can also, see the goods that were saved from being stolen from India as well as case studies of how they were being smuggled out. One of its kind, this museum is definitely a recommended visit. If you want to know more, click here.

Houses of Goa Museum

Houses of Goa Museum, An attraction to discover Goa beyond beaches
Houses of Goa Museum

Another exceptional museum that is not just unique in the way it is built but also, showcases the various aspects of the Indo-Portuguese homes. Built by a local architect Gerard Da Cunha, this museum explains the various traditions and signature styles and symbols of the Goan homes. And while you are here, take a tour of the cheerful and eco-friendly schools that have been built by the same architect.

Relics of Old Goa

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa
Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa

The Old Goa region in Ponda is full of stories and heritage monuments. Be it the age-old Mangeshi temples that were built elsewhere earlier and then, shifted to its current location owing to the Portuguese invasion or the famed Basilica of Bom Jesus that holds the mortal remains of the St. Francis Xaviers. It is a delight to see the elaborate architecture of these places.   A day spent in Old Goa definitely brings alive a different perspective to this lovely place called Goa.

Our Lady of Immaculate Concession Church, Panjim, Goa
Our Lady of Immaculate Concession Church, Panjim, Goa

Besides Ponda, if you visit the smaller villages and the capital city of Panjim, you are bound to find some really gorgeous churches and temples –  that are bound to mesmerize you with their architecture.

Unusual festivals of Goa

Devotees offering cucumbers at the Touxeachem feast
Devotees offering cucumbers at the Touxeachem feast

The little towns and villages of Goa have some really unusual and vibrant celebrations. I had the fortune of attending one of them –  the Touxeachem or the Cucumber festival of Goa which you can see for yourself here.  And then, there were others that I was keen to attend – like the fun Chikal Kalo festival where you play with mud or the Bonderam festival that took place in an island off Goa. The Bonderam Festival has some really creative floats and games and I for one, would love to be a part of that. Almost every month, Goa has some festivals that you can visit and be a part of. To find this calendar of events, you can refer to the Goa Tourism website.

With this list, I am sure you are convinced that there is more to Goa than just its beaches and am sure, you would be keen to explore this part of Goa beyond beaches. On how to get to these places, just click on the links that I have included under each suggestion.

Which one of these appeal to you? And if you still want more options, check out my fellow blogger Sid’s post on his blog Sid-thewanderer to know what else you can do in Goa beyond its beaches.


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106 Responses

  1. Manavi

    Goa may be famous for its beaches, but it does offer a lot more than that. I love the churches in Goa and the houses. The houses of Goa Museum sounds interesting. Will make it a point to visit next time I plan on going Goa.

  2. indrani

    Great list Ami! There indeed plenty to do instead of the beaches alone.
    The museum of Houses of Goa being most amazing.

  3. Christina

    Love to be able to look behind the scenes, past these well known tourist attractions, especially in a place like Goa. Safe travels! 🙂

  4. shubhammansingka

    Absolutely wonderful list. And the photographs have turned out really nice. The houses of Goa museum sounds so cool!

    My last trip to Goa was in the monsoons, and I totally loved it : travelshoebum.com/2016/03/02/goa-in-the-monsoons-top-5-experiences

    Hope you will like checking it out.

  5. Subhadrika Sen

    I have never been to Goa. though I know that Goa is famouc for its beaches and nightlife which I would like to experience of course, I would also be looking towards something off beat to do. I love your guide and I guess the Heritage Walk tour would be the best for me when I go there.

    • Ami

      Thanks. I love the beaches too, but I like to mix them up with the other stuff in Goa. It makes it more fun.

  6. John Rodgers

    So many more things to do in Goa than I ever knew about. We are going to Goa next Jan as part of our India visit and this gives us such a good insight as to what to do there. India is always about the spice and that is a great place to start. The homes and the festivals are also very interesting and I hope we can time our visit to coincide with some of those.

  7. Blair Villanueva

    I wish to participate in a Spice Tour! I would like to know those secret spices you guys mixed with your foods that makes it ohh soo freakin delicious, and colorful! I wish we have that kind of tour here in PH.

    • Ami

      Thanks Blair. Since you enjoy the spices, you will love this tour alright. 🙂 And yes, you get to know our secrets too.

  8. Esha Mookerjee-Dutta

    Enjoyed going through your post. We did most of these during our last trip to Goa almost a year back. Wonderful place and so friendly too! Loved the villages and their beautiful architecture…and the beautiful Mandovi river flowed gently!

  9. nabanita

    This November I’m going to Goa again. Though I only want to be at the beach and not move an inch, your post has tempted me to try something different. Maybe I will, if I can conjure up the strength 🙂

    • Ami

      It does not really take up too much time. Head here in the noons when it gets a little hot on the beach . 🙂

  10. Sunita Saldhana

    So true! Beaches are just one part of what Goa is all about. The forest, the waterfall, the churches, the wildlife. the French colony, there is so much to explore and enjoy!

  11. Jen Morrow

    The museums and river trip would definitely be on my list! I love beaches, and I like to experience the culture and history of my destination. There is more to life than just beaches. Wait, did I actually just type that?!?!?

  12. 2travellingsisters

    Perfect itinerary to everyone who want to explore places other than the sunny beaches in Goa. Definitely going to try River rafting and Spice tour on our next visit to Goa.

    • Ami

      Thanks ladies. Am sure you will have a good time here with these two things. Though note that the river rafting is best in Monsoons.

  13. Thuymi @ AdventureFaktory.com

    So many incredible things to do in Goa other than beaches, something I totally never knew of before reading more blogs 🙂 Love your list of activities, will make sure to highlight them for our next visit in India!

  14. Alina Popescu

    Great post! I only spend little time on the beach so a guide like this is very helpful. The houses, Old Goa, the river rafting and the festivals all sound so appealing!

  15. verushka143

    I am rather fascinated with Goa and the history of this state.Love that you did more than the famous beaches of Goa. Thanks for these tips.

  16. Vyjay Rao

    Goa without its beaches sounds so unbelievable, but it is a fact that there is much, much more beyond beaches.. Ample evidence is provided by your post about the vast range of things to do and places to see in Goa other than the beaches. Most times the hype of a place overshadows some unsung places.

    • Ami

      Thanks Vyjay. There is so much more to Goa as I discovered and it is just amazing exploring it all.

  17. anjuprakash

    Love this post! Goa is usually associated with only beaches, its nice that bought attention to all the other places people can visit!

  18. Shane

    I honestly didn’t know much about goa beyond the beaches but it looks to be a versatile and culturally rich destination!

  19. Janine Good

    I wish I had travelled to Goa more and more as I keep reading posts about the incredible landmarks, cuisine and culture I missed! I need to head there to experience everything highlighted!

  20. Mar Pages

    A chess game to beat smugglers? Thats a first! I’ve never thought too much about Goa but now I know its definitely worth a longer visit.

  21. Kevin Wagar

    I knew Goa had a lot to offer, but much of this is new to me. I would love to experience the river rafting and explore the Houses of Goa museum. It looks very cool!

    • Ami

      Thanks Kevin. River rafting is a nice and relaxing activity. The Houses of Goa museum is quite an insightful journey to the history of Goa.

  22. SeizeTheGlobe

    Places like this always mesmerize me with not only their beauty, but their rich culture and history. You did such a good job of capturing that with this post!

  23. Tamz

    Oh I came across this article at just the right time. I am moving to Goa next week and I was looking for things to do there other than the beaches. I would love to know about the history of Goa and also go on the heritage walk.

    • Ami

      Glad to be of help Tamshuk. Mail me any queries that you may have. Happy to help. Have a great time.

  24. Abigail

    I have visited Goa quiet a few times and I was wondering if I have left out anything. It seems the answer is a big NO. I have loved it everytime I went there. But I think I have exhausted the places to visit in Goa. New Destination is calling me.