Take in all the green as you land amongst the swaying palm trees, or stop for a refreshing pint of Kings as you drive across the border. See that white chapel round the corner? And then another? One more? Welcome to Goa – there’s nowhere quite like it. India’s smallest state is a hit with all kinds of travelers – from honeymooners and revelers to families and gourmands. A whole new world has emerged in Goa since the hippies first discovered it in the ’60s – a riveting mix of culture, music, food, dance, spirituality and everything in between. Today, quaint, restored Portuguese houses built in the 1500s are as charming and covetable as a slice of their inhabitants’ susegad (chilled out) nature. Contrary to popular belief, Goa is also not seasonal any longer. The winter months are the best to hit the beaches and clubs but monsoons can be spellbinding too. Waterfalls and muddy treks, local festivals with bursts of color, the first distillation of feni and the unquestionable calm the lush green fields evoke elevates the calm of Goa.
Where to Eat in Goa:-
Rava-fried tiger prawns, stuffed crab, chicken cafreal and Chorizo are a few things that you must pin to your culinary bucket list. To scoop out where let’s begin with the North. Bhatti Village in Nerul is the best place for Goan food, seafood, and meat, located in a quaint spot in a quiet Goan vaddo (neighbourhood) run by a local family, it is a wholesome experience. Cavala in Baga serves top-notch Goan home-style food with old forgotten dishes making appearances on the menu. For cafreal chicken, head to Florentine in Saligao – a go-to since the early ’90s.
Head down South to The Farm House Bar & Bistro in Benaulim, and try the rava-fried mussels with some feni, or to Martin’s Corner in Betalbatim for their mouth-watering king crab. Need to turn it up a notch? The Fisherman’s Wharf in Cavelossim meets all expectations. With a river-front view, an action-packed bar and a superb herb-grilled lobster, it hits all the right spot. You’d want to make a reservation if you plan to visit on a weekend. Had your fill of Goan delicacies? The ever-growing expat community makes sure there’s a lot more variety in cuisines, although most of these restaurants are located in the North.
Tamari at the Vivanta Panaji serves a delicious array of Japanese fare, while The Black Sheep Bistro will help you abandon your sunbed in favor of its global cuisine created using Goan ingredients. Gunpowder in Assagao with its Kerala beef fry, appams, Andhra prawns and pork chops is like home-cooked goodness served in style, and you have to try the duck pancakes with hoisin sauce at Wok & Roll in Candolim. Looking for some small bites or cafes, Bodega in Panjim serves the most insane Eggs Benedict and freshly baked bread while Bakers Street in Porvorim is taking over the city with its fresh doughnuts and toppings. The Rice Mill in Morjim is quite a hidden gem, serving excellent coffee and with a well-stocked bar as a bonus.
For pure vegetarians or those looking out for a complete detox have nothing to worry about, Goa has a wide range of restaurants from Navtara, with a wide range of South Indian, North-Indian, Continental cuisines along with the fast-food sections in their menu, Bean Me Up in Vagator with their wholesome vegan and organic options, Saraya Art Cafe in Sangolda with some mind-blowing vegetarian pizzas and fresh juices, to Cafe Tato’s in Panjim, their Paatal Bhaji is out of this world along with their Goan and South Indian dishes.
Where to Sleep in Goa:-
We understand if your hosteling days are behind you but if you’re traveling solo or with your band of boys, we suggest you have a look at all the cool ones popping all over Goa. Check out Hopping Frog, RoadHouse Hostels, That Crazy Hostel or The Hostel Crowd – a great way to meet people from around the world, drink together and not have to worry about riding your bike back to the hotel. Looking for something a bit more luxurious? Alila Diwa in Majorda with its infinity pool in the midst of lush green paddy fields is all kinds of #vacaygoals. Located just 20 minutes from the airport, the service is spectacular and the food, delicious.
For some solitude, check out Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel. With a splendid cliff-top view, it exists in its own space and time on the northernmost tip of Goa. You can go fishing, cruise on a boat along the Tiracol river, or head off on treks behind the fort. Champakali in Old Goa or Birdsong in Moira – both blissfully placed amidst flourishing green foliage. Else Cidade De Goa, in the heart of the city, makes for a great weekend getaway too.
For those no glitz and glamour people, you need to have a look at these lovely backpacker hostels because in reality, you’ll be at the beach, not your resort! There are a variety of OYO Rooms to choose from surrounded by beautiful beaches, the perfect views, and all basic amenities. The Old Quater hostel in Panjim is very quaint, rustic and easy to access, they have their own cafe which serves delicious vegan food. Backpackers Panda Hostel in Candolim is only a 2 min walk to the beach and the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of Goa.
Where to Shop in Goa:-
Relinquishing your hammock for a shopping spree sounds tough but Goa does particularly well with quirky, won’t-find-elsewhere buys. Head to TIA in Ashvem which stocks handwoven cotton, linens, and silks that are great for the beach, the bar or the city. The Flame Store in Arpora stocks organic and sustainable fashion pieces. If it’s alcohol you are shopping for, we recommend a visit to the Mapusa market on Friday to stock up your holiday bar. Local spice mixes, pickles, Goan sweets, and delicacies can be found here too.
For those looking for clothes, shoes, jewelry on bargain can visit the Saturday Night Market in Arpora, here one can find food stalls, clothes, knickknack and entertainment options from across the world, if you are looking for something or have time to kill during the day visit the Wednesday Flea Market in Anjuna, shop from a range of apparel, home decor, Indian spices, musical instruments and more. These markets are only open from June to September and closed during the monsoons.
Whether you are looking for a relaxed holiday or a party-hopping getaway, local delicacies or a taste of the world – Goa’s got you. Here’s to susegado days ahead.