Goa offers a wide variety of experiences. You can choose what you want to do based upon your interests. But so many choices can also leave you overwhelmed and confused, specially if you want the best experiences in a limited number of days.
Here are my top 5 tips on how to plan a short trip to Goa.
- Goa has hot and humid weather so it is better to plan your afternoons (12 noon to about 4 pm) at a covered place like a church or a museum rather than the beach or an open fort.
- The sea is towards the west of Goa so sunsets are a sight to behold. It is better to be at the beach or a sundowner restaurant or a breezy fort with water view during the sunset to enjoy its beauty.
- Goa has great nightlife, so it is better not to plan your days from early in the morning as it will get quite hectic after a late night.
- Goa has narrow roads. Hired Two wheeler are the best way to travel here. If you are travelling with kids or old people, it is better to hire a car.
- Travel light– It will be easier for you to move around even on the day of you check-in or Check-out. Because of the hot weather and casual attitude of Goa, small light clothes are good enough. To know more about what to pack for Goa please click here.
Here is a sample itinerary for North Goa so that you are at the right place at the right time without a lot of running around. It also has tips on how to plan attractions in the same area to be visited on the same day to avoid a lot of travelling .
North Goa has almost everything that Goa is famous for. I would suggest starting your day around 11 am.
Brunch (11 am to 1:30 pm)
Beach shacks and rustic seafood joints are great places for a casual brunch.
Beach shacks are thatched or cemented restaurants at the beach, overlooking the sea. They offer great food (mostly seafood), sand beneath you feet, a casual atmosphere and friendly staff. Here are some famous food options of Goa. What’s more, most of them are very close to us.
1. Pousada by the Beach, Calangute
A beach shack with a lovely view of the beach yet hidden from the hustle and bustle of the beach. They are open only for lunch and the only music you will hear is the sound of the waves.
The place is best known for the hosts, the view, the peace and of course, the food. Josh and his father along with their two dogs “Chai” and “Biscuit” are very friendly.
The place is famous for its Goan cuisine. I love their Balchao and Xacuti masalas with prawns but you can order them with fish, calamiri, poultry and even vegetarian options. They are open from 11 am to 3 pm.
2. Royal Enfield Garage Cafe, Arpora
If you are a bike enthusiast, this is the place for you. Barely 900 m from Fun Holidays Goa- Arpora, Royal Enfield Garage has a cafe, a small museum of various Royal Enfield bikes and a shop selling biking essentials.
They serve continental food which is tasty even for our Indian taste buds. The staff is friendly and cordial. A great place to enjoy a laid back brunch and explore the world of Royal Enfields. You will find them open from 9 am to midnight.
3. Fat Fish, Calangute- Arpora Road
Known for their seafood dishes, this cozy nook is the best choice if you are a sea food enthusiast. From Prawns, to crabs to king fish you are spoilt for choices. They offer poultry, beef, pork and vegetarian options too.
They have ample parking though you might have to wait a bit to get a table. But if you do not mind waiting a bit for your food, this is the place for you.
Fat Fish is about 1.8 km from Fun Holidays Goa- Arpora They are open from 12 noon to midnight.
4. Habanero, Baga
Serving Mexican cuisine this place is the choice if you are a Nachos fan. They have other lip smacking Mexican food also on offer like fajita, churros, tacos, Guacamole etc. They have their own brewery so its the-place-to-be for beer lovers.
A spacious place though they do not have an AC area but it is fun and vibrant. They give you Mexican hats to wear and click pictures with. You can expect courteous staff and quick service here. Habenero serves from 11 am to 11 pm.
5. Southi, Candolim
If you fancy a South Indian brunch, this is the place for you. From Mutton pepper fry to Hot Garlic Chicken, Crispy Basa to andhra Egg bhurji, you name it and they have it. Pair them with their Malabar Paratha or Coorg Idli or dosa and appam and its a treat. I like their Prawn Dosa the best.
The place is done up well and also has a small bar. They also serve Chinese, Goan, North Indian for the people with other preferences. This place is open from 8 am to 11:30 pm.
6. Burger Factory, Anjuna
Feel like a burger for brunch? Visit this cozy place with warm hosts and appetizing burgers. The decor is rustic, appealing and has a young vibe to it.
A peaceful place that serves nothing but burgers, but they are so filling. I loved my drink the most- Extra Virgin with Cookies. They are friendly and do not mind going out of the way to get you what you want.
They are open from 11:30 am to 3:30 pm and then from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm. They are closed on Wednesdays and there also are days when you might have to go home disappointed as they get sold out.
7. Anand Seafood Bar and Restaurant, Anjuna
A no nonsense place with awesome Indian Seafood. At once glance, it looks like a dhaba but the fish will make you forget the way it looks. That is also a reason why this place is a little easy on the pockets.
For starters have Kingfish rawa fry and follow it up with the quintessential fish thali. You can also try their Goan style prawns with rice or their pomfret masala fry. The place is generally crowded and hence expect the service to be a bit slow.
They are open from 11 am to 11 pm and they are closed on Mondays.
8. Gun Powder, Assagao
Set up in a heritage property, this restaurant is a hot favorite for Kerala and regional food. Tastefully done up, it also sports a bar and an interesting craft store. It is famous for its pork ribs, mutton curry, meen curry, appams and their cocktails. The staff is attentive and helpful.
Like all good places,you can find it crowded, advance booking will be helpful to get a table. They have enough parking.
They have separate timings for breakfast,lunch and dinner. Breakfast is from 8 am to 11 am, lunch is from 12 noon to 3:30 pm and dinner is from 7 pm to 11 pm.
9. Baba Au Rhum, Anjuna
Known to be an ideal place for brunch, this is a little off the main road and the beach but totally worth it. They serve European food and are known for their french toast, wood fried pizzas, burgers, croissant and double espresso condensed milk coffee.
Like all good places, it is a bit busy and you can expect some waiting time but the hospitable and friendly staff makes the waiting easier for you.
What people love about his place is their pleasant and homely atmosphere and soothing music. They serve from 9 am to 10:30 pm.
10. Cafe Candolim, Candolim
You look and the place and know that someone is putting his or her heart and soul into it. It is so warmly done up that you just can’t pass by without paying a visit.
The food and the hospitality does not disappoint you either.They are best known for their masala chai, coffee, fresh juices, sandwiches and muffins.
They have books and games to keep you and your kids busy while you wait for your food. The staff is friendly and attentive. They will make sure you get your food exactly as you like it.
The place is barely 2 km from Fun Holidays Goa- Calangute. It is a pocket friendly place and is open from 8 am to 8 pm.
Your decision one where to have your brunch should also depend upon where you are headed to after that.
Noon (1 pm to 4 pm)
It is the hottest time of the day by now so visit a covered place. Some good options are
1. St Alex Church, Calangute
A beautiful and peaceful church right where you enter Calangute from. The church is dedicated to Alex and is about 280 years old.
The church is still functioning. It has an office and holds masses daily. It also has a small but well maintained cemetery. This church is about a km from Fun Holidays Goa- Calangute.
To know more about this church please visit my post on the best churches of Goa.
2. Mario Gallery, Calangute
Mario Miranda, the famous cartoonist of Goa whose work had the funniest depictions of native Goa and Mumbai of the 1950’s, has a gallery in Calangute.
His work printed on tiles, mugs, cards, cushion covers, scarves, even lamp shades and purses. They are decently priced and are a great way to add some quirk into your possessions. Mario Gallery is about 2 km from Fun Holidays Goa- Calangute.
3. Benz Celebrity Wax Museum, Arpora
A museum with lifelike wax statues of famous personalities. They have Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities like Jackie Chan, Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Madonna, Amir Khan and fictitious characters like Iron Man and Harry Potter. You can also get yourself clicked with world leaders Barack Obama, Narendra Modi, Mahatma Gandhi and sports personalities like Messi and Sachin Tendulkar.
They also have a 9D theater inside. This museum is about a km from Fun Holidays Goa- Arpora.
Click here to know more about the best museums of Goa
4. Mae De Dues Church, Saligaon
Translated to Mother of God church, this is a beautiful white church set in a green background. The insides are decorated in golden. With the peace this place offers, visiting it is a beautiful experience. This church is about 150 years old and masses are still held here. Click here to know about the best churches of Goa.
5. Reis Magos Fort, Bardez
Reis Magos is a beautifully restored fort with an awesome view of the Mandovi river meeting the Arabian sea. The fort holds a lot of history and has a museum about the freedom struggle of Goa, life and times of Goa and the works of the famous Goan cartoonist Mario Miranda.
6. Museum of Goa, Pilerne
A museum of contemporary art, this place is sure to keep you captivated. This three story building houses not only paintings and photographs but also works of art with simple things like stones, nuts and bolts, clothes clips etc. Privately run and owned by renowned artist Dr. Subodh Kerkar, this place also has an art shop for you to buy art pieces from. Click here to know more about the best museums in Goa.
7. Houses of Goa, Penha de Franca
A privately owned and run museum, it displays the various types of houses that Goa has seen over the years. It has photos and real objects like door locks, window frames, tiles etc showing the amalgamation of Hindu, Muslim and Portuguese architecture and ways of living.
8. Mall De Goa, Penha De Franca
If you fancy some retail therapy or gaming or a movie at Inox, Mall De Goa is a great place to spend your afternoon.
Sunset (4 pm to 7 pm)
Around 4 is the time to plan where do you want to watch the sunset from. Here are some great options
1. Calangute Beach, Calangute
The Queen of beaches of Goa– Calangute beach is about 750 meters from Fun Holidays Goa- Calangute. The beach has all that is hip and happening in Goa. Water sports like jet ski, parasiling, banana boat ride etc. You will also find scuba diving options here but you need more time for that. You will also find some bargains here from vendors and roadside shops. Or enjoy the beach the good old way taking a dip in the water, making sand castles and watching the sun go down.
A word of caution- take the life guards seriously and be out of the water once they indicate. Baga beach is also almost the same and is 2 km from Fun Holidays Goa – Arpora.
Tip– Order some drinks or starters at a beach shack that offers beach loungers and good toilet facilities. Then you can use their loungers to relax and keep your stuff while you enjoy the water. You can also use their washroom later to wash off the sand.
2. Ashwem Beach
If you want a peaceful beach then go a little further north to Ashwem, Anjuna and Morjim beach. There are hardly any water sports and vendors here, that explains the less crowd. Though there are some beach shacks to shop and eat.
3. Aguada Fort and Sinquerim Fort
Forts are great to enjoy the view and the breeze. Since most of these forts were made to defend the Portuguese from threat from the sea, they all overlook the sea. The sunset, the breeze and the picturesque surroundings make it a great place to spend your evening.
Fort Aguada and Sinquerim are 3 km apart and were parts of the same fort earlier.
4. Chapora Fort, Chapora
There is a slight climb from where you park but the view from top is worth it. Chapora river meets the Arabian sea here. This is also the place where the famous ‘Dil Chahta hai’ was shot.
5. Anjuna Flea Market
A make shift market set up every Wednesday from sunrise to sunset during season (November to April). They have everything from clothes to accessories to home decor and even Indian masala’s. A bargainers paradise, this place is great pit stop if you love shopping.
6. Sundowner Restaurants
These are places with good food, great music and a great water view to watch the sun go down. Some great options are beach shacks like Souza Lobo at Calangute beach, Curlies at Anjuna beachand Brittos at Baga beach. The advantage being that you can combine a visit to them with a visit to the beach. Curlies also has a dance floor section with a DJ and is very close to Anjuna flea market. So after shopping from 4pm to 6 pm, you can head to Curlies for the sunset, the beach and some food.
If you want a break from the beach and want to go to an beautiful yet casual place, you can consider Thalassa at Vagator, Purple Martini at Anjuna or Lazy goose at Nerul. These places have water view of a lake or a creek, live music, lip smacking food and even performances.
After Sunset (8 pm onwards)
Around 6 or 7, after sunset, head home freshen up and dress up for the evening.
1. Pubs and discs
If you want to dance the night away there are some great options for you like – Cohiba in Candolim, Club Tito’s in Calangute, Club Cubana in Arpora, Cafe Mambos in Baga, Showbar at Candolim and Sinq Night Club in Candolim. These places have DJs with a dance floor and go all night till 2 or 4 am.
2. Saturday Night Market
If shopping is your thing more than dancing then head to the Saturday night market. These are huge grounds with more than a hundred stalls selling clothes, accessories, home decor and everything cute and useful. There are stalls by kashmiris, tibetian and also westerners selling their wares.
They keep changing their location every year, though almost always in Arpora only. An absolute bargainers paradise, these places open at 7 pm and go on till 1 am every saturday during season (november to April).
These markets also have food, cultural and musical programmes along with the shopping.
If you are interested in only a classy and romantic dinner, here are some options for you. For seafood head to Fat Fish on Calangute- Arpora road or if you want seafood in a beach shack go to Brittos at Baga beach or Souza lobo at Calangute Beach.
If you fancy south east Asian food, I strongly recommend Wok and Roll in Sinquerim. Koi Aisian Dining and Bar in Calangute is also popular for the same. For classy food with classy ambiance A Riverie in Calangute or Shivers in Candolim will be good choice.For the good old North Indian or Punjabi food Delhi Darbar in Calangute or Earthen oven in Candolim. Soi will be a good choice for authentic Goan food.
To Sum Up
North Goa is the most hip and happening part of Goa so you are spoilt for choices. These are my picks based on my own experiences and reviews from others. There is a lot lot more to North Goa than can fit in any list. This list is just to get you started.
Its your turn now. Explore more and let us know your experiences below.
Please let me know if my article was able to help you have a great holiday in Goa. Please do like and share this piece with your friends and family. You will be helping someone have a great holiday in Goa. I will be back in the next fortnight with expirences in Panjim and Old Goa that can be done in one day. Till then, Dream, Explore and Be amazed.