THE GREAT GOA DILEMMA: NORTH OR SOUTH
Goa might be a tiny little place. But even this little paradise is structurally divided into the North, Central (Panjim) and the South. Both North and South Goa are different beauties in their own distinct way.
So, do not make the mistake of ignoring one part while you get busy in exploring the other. Doing that will only make you regret in the future. To make things simpler, I tried my best to explain the happening & busy North Goa, Panjim: the coolest capital & South Goa: calm & serene. I invite you to spend a little bit of your precious time to go through my relevant posts & informed yourself before the travel.
You can view our Goa Tourism page for more in-depth details about Goa state travel plan, or you can navigate to calm South Goa guide page for things to do in south Goa
EXPLORING NORTH GOA
Let us now explore North Goa a bit more. Is it famous only for parties or is there more to it?The first thing to do here, of course, is to visit the beaches. Being a coastal destination Goa would not disappoint you with its amazingly beautiful beaches.
LET’S GO BEACHES & DO PARTIES
VAGATOR & ANJUNA BEACHES
One of the most famous beaches of Goa located in Vagator, which is synonymous with the romanticism of Goa. The beach has dramatic red cliffs looking down on the shore and offers a breath-taking view of the sunset.
WHY GO? The town of Vagator is every backpacker’s dream destination. It is very laid back and very steeped in the rave culture attracting a high number of western tourists and backpackers. A little south from Vagator is the famous Anjuna beach, known for being the birthplace of the hippie culture in India.
DINE AT: A famous restaurant Thalassa is located on the hilltop overlooking the beach. It has very good food and an immense view to offer. It is also very budget friendly, and the view makes it priceless. Other good cafes and restaurants include Salt n Pepper, Scarlet’s, My Place and lots more.
LIVE GOAN LIFE: You can also hire scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles for day-long trips around the town and nearby beaches. They are available for a variety of budgets starting from Rs 250 to 800. There also taxis and other cab services available for hire for those who love the cars or have bigger groups.
FOR LATE NIGHT PARTY GOERS: If you are a party animal looking to have the best evening in Goa, Vagator is the place to be. All night raves on the beach to swish nightclubs, you will be left with too many options to choose. Although most places in Vagator have parties going on, do not miss out on my recommendation of Shiva Valley in South Anjuna beach.
WHY SHIVA VALLEY: It is known as the temple of trance where hippies and ravers dance until sunrise on the shores of the beach overlooking the Arabian Sea. Also recommended would be Waters and Chronicle, located in Vagator, which are known to be among the best.
ARAMBOL: SERENE & CALM ATMOSPHERE
Arambol was primarily a fisherman village before the tourism boom. It is located at approximately one hour drive from Dabolim Airport in northern Goa. The beach attracts majorly international tourists for its serene and calm atmosphere.
WHY ARAMBOL? The beach is long, with parts both rocky and sandy. There is also a hilltop which you can climb and find a pleasant view. The main draw of this quaint place is the activities. You will find innumerable flyers advertising all kinds of parties, events, and services.
UNIQUE ABOUT ARAMBOL? The local markets are very vibrant, and rich display of items for sale. During peak season, many traders from all over India come to Arambol to sell their goods and merchandise. But as like any other tourist place, you must haggle and bargain to get a good price.
FOR DINE & WINE? Cafes and restaurants are spread around the entire beach as well in the town. Some of the noteworthy ones are Basho Café, Shiva Moon, Double Dutch, Fellini’s and countless other very good ones. Most of them are multi-cuisines, cooking up delicious meals, with friendly staff and view and ambiance to keep you enthralled.
NOT TO MISS: You should definitely not miss the Pepperoni Pizza at Fellini’s Italian Restaurant, Brownies and Apple Pie with ice cream at Pink Orange, Beef Burgers at Salt n Pepper and Mustard Fish at Sublime.
A BIT OF HISTORY: You can also visit the Terekhol Fort in Arambol. This historic bastion was built by the ruling Maratha dynasty in the early 20th century. The fort is now a luxury hotel operated by the GTDC, but the café and the Chapel of St Anthony are easily accessible.
As with any beach, there is a host of water activities that you can indulge in during the daytime, and enjoy the evenings chilling at the numerous cafes.
MORJIM: LITTLE RUSSIA IN GOA
Morjim is a town in Parnem, located in North Goa. It is situated on the northern bank of the Chapora River estuary. The town is also known as Little Russia because of huge Russian immigrant population.
UNIQUE ABOUT MORJIM: The beach in Morjim is known for being the nesting and hatching ground of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtle. Because of its status, the Indian law gives utmost protection to the turtle and any kind of poaching is a punishable offense.
Morjim is known for its thriving nightlife, filled with tiny shacks and always having beach parties. Daylong activities in Morjim include visiting the protected turtle habitats, which is quite fascinating.
DIL CHATHA HAI FORT? Other places like the Chapora fort are massive tourist spots. The beach was earlier very quiet, but increasingly becoming more and more crowded. The beach offers all kinds of water sports activities. For leisure and food, you can opt for any of the beach shacks and restaurants.
Each brings its own flavor and ambiance for its customers. Known among them are Bora Bora for its vibrant nightlife. There is also the Yoga Village, Sacred Groves, and others for the nature lovers and laid-back people to relax and rejuvenate themselves. There are also a lot of spas, which will surely rid you of all your mental troubles.
WHERE TO EAT? There aren’t as many hotels but almost every other house offers rooms and guest houses for a cheap stay. Restaurants that we would recommend are Jardin d’Ulysse offering French, Italian, Tibetan and Indian cuisines. Sporting Heroes Rock for American, Continental and International cuisines. Hakuna Matata Restaurant for Japanese, Italian and Russian cuisines are among the best.
ASHWEM : BEST KEPT SECRET OF NORTH GOA
The beach at Ashwem is scenic, sandy with palm trees and luxurious lounges available for rent. It is one of the hidden gems of North Goa. It has a stunning scenery and is comparatively less crowded.
RURAL & MODERN EXPERIENCE: If you venture out a little, you will find yourself amid quaint and authentic Goan villages and temples and churches. Staying at Ashwem will be taken care of by the number of low-cost huts to expensive luxurious resorts in the quieter parts of the beach.
NOISE CURFEW? There is a noise curfew in the evenings, which ensure that Ashwem offers the perfect peaceful trip away from the hustle and bustle of the other beaches. The sounds of the waves crashing on the beach can be heard from far and act as a natural relaxant.
It is easy to get lost in this peaceful environment and enjoy the company of your loved ones and connect with your most personal desires. The villages are surrounded by coconut and palm groves, forests and fields providing an idyllic setting. However, if you want to indulge in
FIND YOURSELF! It is easy to get lost in this peaceful environment and enjoy the company of your loved ones and connect with your most personal desires. The villages are surrounded by coconut and palm groves, forests and fields providing an idyllic setting.
FOR PARTY PEOPLE: However, if you want to indulge in nightlife and parties, you can easily take a short rickshaw ride to Arambol Beach to take part in the festivities and parties. We would recommend the Tahira beach resort, La Vaiencia Beach Resort, and Riva beach resort.
CANDOLIM: THE BEACH TOWN OF GOA
Candolim is a beach town in northern Goa, situated just south of the famous Calangute beach. It is a popular tourist destination and lies 15km from Panjim. It is one of the longest beaches in Goa. The beach is very calm and peaceful which attracts a lot of tourists. The scenic beauty of the sun and the sand is accentuated by the
ENJOY THE LONGEST BEACH: The beach is very calm and peaceful which attracts a lot of tourists. The scenic beauty of the sun and the sand is accentuated by the scrub-covered dunes at the back of the beach. To keep from overcrowding of the beach, the beachfront is free of any commercial activities, except water sports. The restaurants and bars are towards the back of the beach.
Places to see and visit would include the Aguada Fort, built by the Portuguese in 1612 for defense against the Dutch and Maratha invaders. The fort includes the church, lighthouse and the barracks of the Aguada jail.
RECOMMENDED FOR UNIQUE EXPERIENCE: For shopping, they have Hollywood Fashion Goa and a couple of other well-known shops. We would recommend going to Scuba Evolution to partake in Scuba diving activities which will leave you enthralled. On the beach, you will find a ship called the River Princess which has been stuck on the shores of the beach since 2000 and has now become a tourist attraction.
LOTS OF OPTIONS TO STAY: Other places would be Top Corner, whose selection of pork chops are just mouth-watering. Himalaya Bar and Restaurant would also be one of our top choices. There are a decent number of options for staying in Candolim, for every budget. Most of them also have a two-wheeler renting facility, which you can use and explore nearby places.
BAGA: THE COOLEST WELL-KNOWN BEACHES
Baga is one of the coolest North Goa beaches that always have a very vibrant and lively environment all-round the year. You will find all kinds of people here enjoying the beach life to the fullest.
THE SHACK BEACH: The beach is full of shacks, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, tattoo parlors, massage parlors and all of these services you with their best services. These shacks come to live in the evening with rocking music and fantastic service.
TOP PARTY PLACE: You can also indulge in some thrilling water sport here and enjoy yourself by Jet Skiing, windsurfing or parasailing. Do not forget to try out the massages. The massage bhaiyyas has got amazing massage tricks up their sleeves. Baga is the top party place in Goa. Some of the popularly known clubs here are Brittos, Titos and Mambos.
CALANGUTE BEACH: THE EXTENSION OF BAGA
Calangute is another amazingly vivacious beach that is a continuous stretch of the Baga. Replete with lots of adventure games, and a range of restaurants serving finger-licking delicacies, Calangute is fancy in its own way. However, Calangute Beach is the busiest and most commercial beach in Goa
Calangute often called the ‘Queen of Beaches’ is the real attraction for tourists. You will see plenty of shacks and stalls along the beach selling everything, from alcohol to exotic jewels, souvenirs, seafood and much more.
SECRET TIP: Calangute beach is usually occupied with foreigners tanning themselves on the endless rows of side-by-side sun lounges, and Indian men who come to watch.
AGUANDA BEACH: GO TO AGUANDA FORT
The main attraction of this beach is the Aguanda fort that stands majestically on the cliff overlooking the sea. It is a perfect place for an evening saunter and to catch the spectacular sight of the sun kissing the horizon.
EXPLORING FORTS, TEMPLES & CHURCHES
CHAPORA FORT: DIL CHATHA HAI
If you are into history to find out why and when this fort was built. This fort is where the famous Bollywood movie ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ was shot. It is a perfect place to witness the sunset.
You will be surprised to know that the Mangueshi temple which was built in the name of Lord Shiva is a 400-year-old temple. Situated in the Mangueshi village in Pirol this temple has a very simple yet elegant structure that appeals to all its visitors.
This temple is the most important temples of Goa. This temple is one of the largest and most frequently visited temples in Goa. I do recommend you pay a visit to the temple.
SE CATHEDRAL, OLD GOA
This is one of the oldest and largest Churches in Goa and is Dedicated to St. Catherine of Alexandria. The grand architecture of this church is one thing that attracts hundreds of visitors each day.
The lovely church is one of the largest churches not just in Goa but in entire Asia. The interior is embellished with various impressive paintings and artifice. Surrounded by a beautiful and well-maintained garden the church has 14 altars with pictures of different priests in the background.
The church has much religious antiquity and houses the miraculous cross symbol that is claimed to grow in its size. This church is a must visit if you are in Goa. Across the Se Cathedral is the Basilica of Bom Jesus
BASILICA OF BOM JESUS, OLD GOA
This is a 500-year-old church that cradles the relics of St Francis. Dedicated to Bom Jesus (baby Jesus) this heritage church is a quiet and peaceful building with stunning interiors.
UNIQUENESS OF THE CHURCH: The mortal remains of St Francis that are preserved in this church are said to be surprisingly intact. Except for a hand which was asked for by the Pope and a toenail which was bitten off by a lady.
If you look around you will notice gold-plated sculptures of Mother Mary holding Jesus being depicted on the walls. Opposite to the church is a museum that is worth paying a visit.
CHURCH OF SAINT FRANCIS ASSISI
This church that originally began as a small chapel was modified to a proper church in 1521 and was consecrated in 1602. This church is a mixture of unique styles. Its exterior decoration is in the simple Tuscan order, but its interior—especially the main altar—is richly Baroque with Corinthian features.
This church is an epitome of the 17th century Goa that finds expression in its interiors that are decorated with different paintings and artifice.
LET’S GO SHOPPING: SHALL WE?
PANAJI MARKET: EVERYTHING LOCAL
You will love the Panaji market if you want to get your hands laid on some traditional Goan handicrafts, local jewellery, Goan spices, clothing, cashews, wine & feni, magnets, or a small solitaire that you might want to get for your loved ones.
ANJUNA FLEA MARKET: WEEKLY & CHEAP
You may want to visit Anjuna beach on every Wednesday when they have a flea market, which is very well known among the locals as well as tourists. You will get all sorts of things here. Clothes, local jewellery, accessories, solitaires and what not.
ARPORA: SATURDAY NIGHT BAZAAR: ABOUT ART
This is one fascinating market I have ever visited. If you are someone who loves art and craft, beaded jewellery, handloom stuff etc, this market needs to be on your top list. You will see a lot of foreigners here who visit this place to explore the local culture and heritage of Goa.
MAPUSA MARKET: HUB OF GOAN CULTURE
This market is the hub of everything that makes Goa popular across the globe. You will find a variety of spices, traditional handicrafts, Goan pottery, homemade pickles and a lot more. You might even land upon something exotic to take back home from this market.
CALANGUTE MARKET SQUARE: GO FOR LEATHER STUFF
This is another place worth paying a visit. The Calangute market square is lined up with several shacks and stalls that attract visitors with the colorful stuff it sells. This place is a great one to collect some sarongs or trinkets as giveaways to your friends.
You will also find nice leather stuff here. The clay potteries are another eye-catching thing that is sold here. You will also find many eateries here selling some amazing seafood.
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