Goa is renowned for its beautiful beaches, UNESCO World Heritage-listed architecture and unique mix of Indian and Portuguese cultures.
Stretching across 3700 sq km, Goa is divided into two regions – North and South Goa, each with its own distinct coastal and interior areas.
The central coastal area reflects the Portuguese colonial influence with a larger Christian population, while the interior is home to a majority Hindu population.
With a choice of more than 20 tourist-friendly beaches, accommodation options to suit all budgets and a fascinating culture, Goa offers much that appeals to adventurous honeymoon couples.
Explore on foot the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Old Goa, located in Central Goa, soaking up the atmospheric former capital of the one-time Portuguese colony.
Don't miss the Basilica of Bom Jesus, built in 1605 of local red stone and the final resting place of St Francis Xavier, a legendary 16th century missionary and patron saint of Goa.
Pick up bargains at Anjuna flea market, lined with stalls selling designer beachwear, silver jewellery, prayer wheels, curios, mirrors and elaborately woven multi-coloured cloth from neighbouring Karnataka.
Or just watch the exotic spectacle of strolling musicians, religious mendicants, performing monkeys and snake charmers that mingle alongside holy cows among the rows of market stalls.
Unwind on palm-fringed Palolem Beach – arguably Goa’s most beautiful beach, a 2km-long crescent of golden-white sand framed by rocky headlands – with a cold beer and fresh spicy seafood.
Further afield, explore the narrow, winding cobbled streets of Panaji, the atmospheric old quarter of Fontainhas lined with faded, pastel-coloured Portuguese colonial buildings that date back to the mid-17th century (and were used as a backdrop in the dramatic car chase at the beginning of The Bourne Supremacy.)
Take a four-wheel drive to Dudhsagar Falls, then hike up to the famous 310m-high cascade that flows into a deep green pool surrounded by the rugged Western ghats and overlooking unspoiled tropical forest. Cool off with a swim in the deep, icy pool.
The city was first constructed by the Bijapur Sultanate in the 15th century, and served as the capital of Portuguese India from the 16th century until the 18th century.
Gradually abandoned after repeated cholera and malaria epidemics from the late 17th century onwards, Old Goa came to be known in Portuguese as Velha Goa (Old Goa), to distinguish it from the new capital or Nova Goa (Panaji).
Major sights of Old Goa not to miss, include…
Built between 1594 and 1605 of local red stone, the beautifully preserved Basilica of Bom Jesus (Cathedral of the Good Jesus) (photo) famously contains the tomb of St Francis Xavier, a legendary 16th century missionary who was given the task of spreading Christianity among the subjects of the Portuguese colonies in the East.
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(St Catherine's Cathedral) – This impressive white building with an inspiring Corinthian interior and ornate gilded main altar was built between 1562 and 1619.
The grand church houses the historic Golden Bell, relics of the Blessed Martyrs of Cuncolim, the Miraculous Cross (said to heal the sick) and a statue of St Catherine of Alexandria, which attracts hundreds of devotees annually.
More about Sé Cathedral…
Discover a distinctive domed church, built in 1651 and modelled along the lines of the Basilica of St Peter in Rome.
Beneath the church lies a crypt where the embalmed bodies of Portuguese governors were once stored before being shipped back to Lisbon.
More about Church of St Cajetan…
See finely decorated frescoes and paintings depicting the life of St Francis of Assisi.
Admire intricately gilded and carved woodwork, a beautiful reredos (the ornamental screen covering the wall behind the altar) and a floor made of tombstones carved with the coat of arms of Portuguese families dating back to the 16th century.
More about Convent and Church of St Francis Assisi…
(Central Goa) – Explore the narrow, winding cobbled streets of the atmospheric old quarter of Fontainhas (photo), lined with faded, pastel-coloured Portuguese colonial buildings that date back to the mid-17th century (and were used as a backdrop in the dramatic car chase at the beginning of The Bourne Supremacy.)
Don't miss the life-like crucifix inside the whitewashed Chapel of St Sebastian, which sits at the centre of Fontainhas; the imposing, white-Baroque façade of the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church (photo), built in 1541; and the wooden verandas and sloping tiled roof of the Secretariat, Panjim’s oldest building and the former summer palace of the Sultan of Bijapur.
More about Panjim…
(North Goa) – While Anjuna's Wednesday flea market may not be as spontaneous as it once was, it nonetheless still offers a fascinating shopping experience – at the right price when you bargain hard.
Check out designer beachwear, trays of silver jewellery from Kashmir, prayer wheels from Tibet, Himalayan curios, mirrors from Rajasthan, appliqué from Gujarat, woodcarving from Kerala and elaborately woven multi-coloured cloth from neighbouring Karnataka.
More about Anjuna Flea Market…
(South Goa) – Hire a 4WD drive in Collem then hike up to the famous 310m-high cascade that flows into a deep green pool surrounded by the rugged western Ghats and overlooking unspoiled tropical forest.
Enjoy the spectacle, clamber over rocks and swim in the deep, icy pool.
Although visible year round, the best time to visit is when water levels are highest, following the monsoons from October until mid-December.
More about Dudhsagar Falls…
Goa’s 70km-long coastal strip from Pernem to Candolim is famous for its stretch of more than 20 tourist-friendly beaches.
Here, you can discover flimsy oceanfront beach shacks serving cold beer and fresh spicy seafood, as well as a range of beachside accommodation to suit all budgets.
The best beaches in Goa, include the following…
(South Goa) – Relax on what is arguably Goa’s most beautiful beach, a 2km-long crescent of gorgeous golden-white sand framed by rocky headlands and fringed by swaying coconut palms.
Imbued by its long hippie history and with no nightclubs in sight, Palolem Beach is the perfect spot for sunbathing, quiet contemplation, practicing yoga, and safe swimming in tranquil waters.
Swim across to pretty Kankon Island or stroll along the beach past cud-munching holy cows – a unique sight for most visitors but perfectly normal in India.
Be inspired by one of Palolem’s unforgettable, mesmerising sunsets then unwind with a cold beer and feast on spicy fresh seafood at one of the numerous beachside shacks.
To escape weekend and high season crowds, take a short hike across the southern headland to palm-fringed Patnam Beach, a secluded stretch of pristine golden-white sand.
Popularised in the opening sequence of the 2004 movie The Borne Supremacy (as Jason Borne’s residence), this long-time favourite beach of hippies and backpackers now offers a wide choice of accommodation.
Discover low-budget Thai-style palm-leaf guesthouses and eco-friendly Indian-style stilt huts to pampered luxury in the 5-star InterContinental Lalit Goa Resort, situated just a short walk away at the southern end of nearby Galjibag Beach – another stretch of pristine golden-white sand.
Palolem Beach is located in the Canacona district of southern Goa, roughly 64km south of Dabolim Airport – a 70-minute drive.
(South Goa) – Discover an isolated, 3km-long golden-sand beach just a short 12km drive or bike ride north of Palolem Beach.
Swim in crystal clear waters and sunbathe on this empty palm-fringed stretch of sand where the only footprints will probably be your own.
(South Goa) – Relax on this wide crescent of golden sand that shelves gently into the calm waters of Colva Bay facing San Diego Island.
Framed by palm-fringed headlands, Bogmalo is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, windsurfing, water skiing and diving.
Of course you can also simply relax with a cold drink beneath the shady palm trees. The beachside Bogmallo Oberoi hotel offers a wide range of creature comforts
(South Goa) – Pick your own spot to unwind on this 25km-long, palm-fringed white-sand beach that lies 6kms west of Margao.
Sunbathe, swim, stroll along the beach then try some tasty snacks at one of the beachside shacks.
Facilities include jet skiing, paragliding, water scooters, speed boats and rest rooms.
If you’re feeling adventurous hire a bike and explore nearby attractions, such as is the ‘Menino Jesus’ statue at the local church of Igreja de Nossa Senhora de Piedade (Our Lady of Mercy) founded in 1630. The church is famous for its annual religious event – Fama of Menino Jesuse (Child Jesus) – celebrated on the third Monday of October annually.
Benaulim beach is nearby. Colva Beach stretches from Bogmalo in the north to Cabo de Rama in the south.
(South Goa) – Relax on the gorgeous white sand of this secluded beach located just south of (the usually crowded) Colva Beach. Go swimming, take a dolphin-watching cruise or visit the hilltop church of St John the Baptist.
(North Goa) – Goa’s most northerly beach offers a spectacular and unspoiled crescent of soft white sand fringed by a tree-covered hillside and bisected with rocky outcrops.
Meet friendly villagers and ageing hippies and go swimming, surfing, boogie boarding and dolphin watching.
Wander beachside tracks to deserted beaches from where you can truly appreciate the rugged scenic beauty of this less-travelled region.
Behind the main beach lies a hot sulphur spring that flows into a freshwater lake – known for its medicinal properties – where you can swim and relax.
(North Goa) – Choose from two beautiful white-sand beaches set in a small cove fringed by red cliffs, black lava rocks and swaying coconut palms.
Swim in the gentle surf, sunbathe at the more secluded south beach (known as Ozran Beach) or hike to the 500-year-old Portuguese hill fort of Chapora for panoramic sea views.
Relax with a cold beer at a beachside shack and party-on during the tourist season when the beach comes alive with nightly raves.
Vagator Beach is around 88km north of Palolem Beach.
(North Goa) – Fringed by a grove of shady palm trees, this small and clean white-sand beach is a quiet alternative to bustling Calangute Beach from which it extends.
Go swimming, fishing and sunbathing or simply relax with a cold beer and fresh seafood at one of the beachside shacks.
Baga offers the liveliest after-dark scene in Goa, as well as a Saturday night flea market where you can browse for colourful handicrafts. Don’t go past Tito's, Baga’s legendary bar-cum-nightclub.
(North Goa) – Discover a small white-sand beach that offers several watersport activities including boogie boarding, windsurfing, parasailing and water skiing, with rentals available on the beach.
On a nearby hilltop sits the historic Fort Aguada, with panoramic views across the Arabian Sea and Aquada Bay to Panaji. Hire a taxi or hike the 4km from the beach to explore this 17th century Portuguese fort.
(Gokarna) – Explore this sweeping crescent of golden sand – framed by rocky headlands and divided by protruding rocks into three separate bays that resemble the Sanskrit ‘om’ symbol.
Located an hour’s drive south of Palolem Beach (in the neighbouring state of Karnataka), Om Beach is considered by many to be one of the best beaches in India.
Sunbathe, snorkel, swim from the golden sands or unwind at the nearby yoga retreat of Saswari, which sits on a hilltop bluff overlooking the beach.
Just over the northern headland lies Kootlee Beach, a gorgeous kilometre-long sweep of golden-white sand.
To the south of Om Beach lie Half-Moon and Paradise beaches – isolated crescents of golden sand centred in small, sheltered coves that are perfect for quiet contemplation and secluded sunbathing.
Goa offers an excellent choice of accommodation options to suit most honeymoon budgets, including the following 5-star hotels…
Vivanta by Taj Fort Aguada
Location: Sinquerim Beach, Candolim, Goa
Ave nightly price: AUD442 per room
Description: Overlooking the Arabian Sea, Vivanta by Taj Fort Aguada offers luxurious 5-star accommodation spread across 73 acres. Boasting 5 dining options, it features a spa, outdoor pool and fitness facilities. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Featuring Portuguese designs and private balconies, air-conditioned units are fitted with classic wood furnishings and a DVD player. Private bathrooms have a bathtub, hairdryer and bathrobes. Guests can enjoy relaxing spa massages after active workouts at the tennis and squash courts. The property also houses a library, mini golf course and water sports facilities. Offering varied international and local menus, Latitude provides a trendy setting and all-day dining. The resort also has Italian and seafood restaurants as well as 2 bars. Just 100 m from Fort Aguada, Vivanta Fort Aguada is about 12 km from Vagator Beach and Chapora Fortress. It is a 75-minute drive from Goa International Airport and provides free parking.
The Leela Goa
Location: Cavelossim, Goa
Ave nightly price: AUD410 per room
Description: Surrounded by gardens and blue lagoons, The Leela Goa Beach Resort offers luxurious rooms with a DVD player. Facilities include a 12-hole golf course and an outdoor pool. Rooms are elegantly furnished and feature a balcony overlooking the lagoon. They are equipped with a satellite TV, CD player and minibar. En suite bathrooms come with a bathtub and hairdryer. Guests may enjoy Ayurvedic massage and yoga sessions at the spa, or arrange a sunset cruise at the tour desk. The Leela also provides a tennis court and pottery making classes. Leela Goa offers 7 food and beverage options served buffet style, with cuisines ranging from local Indian dishes to Italian food. The resort is located 40 km away from Goa Dabolim Airport. Panjim, the capital city, is around 60 km from the hotel.
Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa
Location: Arossim Beach, Cansaulim, Goa
Ave nightly price: AUD395 per room
Description: Set within 45 acres of landscaped gardens with glimmering waterways and lagoons, Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa is nestled along the pristine Arossim Beach. It offers an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness centre. It has 3 specialty dining options and an award winning Spa, Sereno Spa. Free WiFi access is available in all public areas. The pousada-style accommodation will provide you with air conditioning and a balcony. There is also an electric kettle. Featuring a shower, private bathroom also comes with a bath and a hairdryer. At Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa you will find a 24-hour front desk and a concierge desk. Other facilities offered at the property include a shared lounge, a games room and a tour desk. An array of activities can be enjoyed on site or in the surroundings, including cycling. The property offers free parking. Dining option includes Casa Sarita that serves authentic Goan cuisine while Da Lugi serves a selection of Italian delights. Palms is a seafood restaurant on the beach. Enjoy the robust flavours of Indian food at Masala and savour international cuisine at our 24-hour restaurant, Village Cafe. The Cabo Da Rama Fort is 25 km. The Baga Beach and the Fort Aguada are 45 km. This resort is within 15 km from Goa International Airport and the Madgaon Railway Station. Goa International Airport is a 15-minute drive.
Taj Exotica Goa
Location: Benaulim, Goa
Ave nightly price: AUD361 per room
Description: Spread across 56 acres of landscaped gardens, the Mediterranean-style Taj Exotica Goa sits along a private beach overlooking the Arabian Sea. It boasts golfing facilities, a full spa and outdoor pool. 6 dining options await guests. Decorated in neutral colours, rooms feature classic dark wood furnishings. Each comes with a balcony overlooking the garden, pool or sea. Select rooms offer a private pool or hydromassage bathtub. Sunny afternoons can be spent playing tennis or getting a relaxing massage at The Jiva Spa. The resort also provides a fitness centre and 24-hour room service. Guests can enjoy fresh seafood at the beachfront Lobster Shack while Mediterranean cuisine is served at Miguel Arcanjo. Traditional Goan dishes are offered at Allegria. For a nightcap, Adega Cameons Bar serves a variety of drinks. Taj Exotica Goa is 3 km from Colva Beach and 12 km from Madgaon City. It is a 45-minute drive from Goa Dabolim Airport. Free parking is available.
Goa Marriott Resort & Spa
Location: Miramar Beach, Panaji, Goa
Ave nightly price: AUD299 per room
Description: Goa Marriott Resort & Spa offers luxurious 5-star accommodation, featuring a casino, outdoor pool and spa. Offering 3 dining options and free parking, it is a 2-minute drive from Kala Academy Pier. Featuring spacious layouts, Marriott Goa’s air-conditioned rooms have stunning views and DVD players. For convenience, a safe, ironing and tea/coffee making amenities. Private bathrooms have hot/cold showers and a hairdryer. Regular workouts can be maintained at the fitness centre. For leisure, there is a tour desk that organises day trips. Goa Marriott Resort & Spa also provides business services. All-day dining with international dishes is available at Waterfront Terrace which also features outdoor dining with poolside views while AZ.U.R. is the transitional lounge specializing in Mediterranean dishes. Other options include Wan Hao Asian restaurant, Simply Grills and 24-hour room service. Located in the business hub of Panaji, Goa Marriott Resort & Spa is a 40-minute drive from Dabolim Airport.
Find the best deal, compare prices and read what other travellers have to say about these and more hotels and resorts in Goa at TripAdvisor.
The best time to enjoy Goa’s beaches is during the cool, dry season between November and April, and especially from mid-December to February, with daily temperatures averaging 29°C (84°F).
Goa is warm and humid year round, with temperatures hitting 33°C (91°F) in May, the hottest month. Heavy monsoonal rains last from early June to late September.
Note: Goa’s peak season is during Christmas and New Year when the cost of beachside accommodation often doubles or triples.
More about Goa Weather Guide…
Goa hugs the centre of India’s west coast bounded by the Arabian Sea.
The most convenient route to Goa is to fly into Mumbai Airport (Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport) then connect with a domestic flight to Goa’s Dabolim Airport (Dabolim International Airport).
More about how to get to Goa…
Latest update: Where to Honeymoon in Goa: 5 February, 2019
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