Day 1 – North Goa
1) Explore Your Neighborhood – Take time to settle in and explore the area you are staying in. Stroll through the lively shopping areas, have a dip in a pool or in the very refreshing Arabian Sea.
2) Chapora Fort – If you arrive earlier in the day, you might want to head here for some photo opportunities and some peaceful views.
3) Sunset Dinner – Make your way to your closest beach (be sure it has a good view of the sunset) for a restaurant serving traditional Goan cuisine. Try some of the local Goan delicacies such as fish curry, raba fry mackerel, crab coconut curry, chicken xacuti, or the shrimp chili-fry.
Day 2 – Panjim
The historic city of Panjim was established in the 18th century by the Portuguese as the capital of Goa. Panjim is located on the left bank of the Mandovi River. Here you can see lovely old and restored Portuguese villas, cobbled streets, churches and grand European style avenues, all of which give the area a distinct Portuguese ambiance.
1) Old Goa – The original colonial capital of Goa, now known simply as Old Goa, was once one of the world’s great cities and home to grandees (nobility), adventurers and slave-traders. Its surviving 15th century churches and convents have been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is linked to modern Panjim by a centuries-old causeways that stretches through backwaters and traditional salt pans, and passes through some of the state’s earliest colonial architecture at Ribandar.
2) Authentic Goan lunch at Mum’s Kitchen – Enjoy a great meal at the local’s favorite, Mum’s Kitchen, for a taste of authentic Goan cuisine which has evolved into an Indo-Portuguese fusion.
3) Fontainhas Latin Quarter – Wander the narrow lanes of the Fontainhas neighborhood; a charming area full of beautifully maintained Portuguese houses, chapels and public shrines. Amble through the old quarter to the gleaming whitewashed Baroque style church of the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception located overlooking the main square known as Praça da Igreja.
4) Dinner Cruise – Enjoy a two-hour sunset dinner cruise on the Mondavi River.
5) Floating Casinos – While gambling is illegal in most states of India, it’s legal in Goa. So why not try your luck at one of the many grand floating casinos on the Mondavi River?
DAY 3 – North Goa Beaches
1) Ashwem Beach – Enjoy the small but very posh beach locale of Ashwem for its upscale designer boutiques, restaurants and idyllic beach setting with a truly tranquil vibe.
2) Lunch at La Plage – A popular spot for great international cuisine and seafood with a wonderfully charming ambiance overlooking the scenic cove. It is located at the center of the stretch of Ahwem beach.
3) Mandrem Beach – Just 5 minutes north is Mandrem, a sleepy village with a serene and scenic beach. It is counted among the most beautiful beaches in Asia. and is well worth a visit.
4) Arambol Beach – Just 5 minutes away from Mandrem, this is the legendary paradise beach from the of the 1970’s hippie scene. Arambol retains an edgy counter-cultural atmosphere and makes for great people watching, eating and shopping.
5) Markets – Don’t miss the Saturday Night Market in Arpora or the famous Anjuna Flea Market each Wednesday. Depending on your arrival to North Goa, make sure to check out one of these popular and exciting markets where vendors sell almost everything imaginable.
Day 4 – Palolem Beach
Begin this day by relocating to the Palolem Beach area in South Goa. The original charms of India’s sunshine state are better showcased in South Goa, offering a glimpse of an older Goa, which is less developed. It has far more impressive colonial architecture and by far the best, and most beautiful beaches in Asia. Relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Goa. South Goa is also popular for yoga and traditional Ayurvedic treatments.
1) Palolem Beach – Also known as ‘Paradise Beach’, Palolem is a lively one-mile long beach that has all you could wish for. Get settled in after the drive from North to South Goa (about 2-3 hours).
2) Relax – Relax and have some fun in the sun. Sun beds are available all along the beach. Certainly go for a swim while enjoying the amazing view of the bay.
3) Eat and Drink – Enjoy an amazing Goan meal at any one of the beach shacks selling fresh seafood. For the brave at heart, you can sample the popular local spirit called ‘feni,’ which is distilled from cashew nuts.
4) Get Busy – Enjoy a variety of fun recreational activities such as: kayaking to neighboring coves (Colom or Butterly Beach) or stand-up paddle boarding. Another popular choice is a sunset boat ride to see the dolphins just on the outskirts of the cove.
5) Shop – Wander the stall-lined streets of Indian clothes and handicrafts. Shop ’til you drop.
Day 5 – Waterfalls & Spice Plantation
1) Yoga – Take a yoga class on the beach. It’s a great way to start the day. Whether you are a beginner or advanced, there are classes for everyone.
2) Ayurvedic Massage – Indulge in one of India’s oldest and finest body treatments and feel the onset of total relaxation.
3) Dhudsagar Waterfalls – Dudhsagar is one of India’s tallest waterfalls. It is located on the Mandovi River approximately 1-1/2 hours from Palolem. A refreshing dip in the pool of these falls should certainly make it on the list of things to do in Goa. It is advisable to carry some food items, as there aren’t many shops around. A taxi can easily be arranged to take you there and will wait while you see the falls and then bring you back. Once at the waterfall area, you will take a 40-minute adventurous jeep ride into the National Park to the actual site of the falls.
4) Spice Plantation – Visit one of the tropical spice plantations near the falls such as Sahakari Spice Farm or Savoi Plantation to see the local exotic Indian spices and other produce in their natural habitat.
5) Dinner and Shop at Patnem Beach– This white sandy crescent-shaped beach (2 kilometers from Palolem Beach) is among the quietest beaches of South Goa. But, it still has a wide selection of beachfront restaurants and a small festive street for some evening browsing and shopping. Indulge in some of the most sumptuous fresh seafood, Goan food and global cuisines.
DAY 6 – Agonda Beach
1) Saturday Market at Chaudi – For a taste of the real Goa, visit Canacona’s local Saturday market (closed from 2-5pm) in Chaudi which is the main hub for all the neighboring beaches of Palolem, Agonda, Patnem and Galgibag. The produce market is a great way to see the local fruits, vegetables and spices. Nearby is the fresh fish market which also makes for great entertainment. The local women working as fish mongers compete for customers to buy their fish. Feel free to bargain away.
2) Agonda Beach – Counted among the most scenic beaches in Asia, Agonda Beach is a serene and clean beach, and much less crowded. It is an ideal spot for body surfing and playing in the waves. It has a relaxing village vibe and is home to many of the “luxury beach huts” in the area. There are numerous eating options both on and off the beach, as well as shopping along the main road.
3) Leopard Valley – For those wanting to get their groove on, Saturday night at Leopard Valley is the place to be for dancing to the most popular DJs from all over the world. It is an open-air club where both locals and tourists dance the night away in the middle of the jungle. Alternatively, Palolem hosts silent-noise parties where guests are handed a pair of multi-channel headphones so they can choose the music they listen to. This reduces the noise and keeps the neighbors happy. These parties can be found most nights of the week.
Day 7 – Figueiredo Mansion
1) Breakfast at Colomb Beach – At the south end of Palolem Beach is a formation of rocks with a wooden footbridge leading to it from the beach. On the other side of the rocks is Colom beach, a tiny and rustic bay of water with rocks jutting out of it and lined with charming and funky colorful beach huts. The walk is about 10 minutes. Make your way to Boomshankar Restaurant which has great food and an amazing view of the rustic beach.
2) Margao Market – In the heart of Margao is the bustling market area. You can buy anything you can imagine; from clothing to food and more at a great price. Keep your eye out for the area with Goan sausage, which is a local delicacy. The nearby fish market is also a bustling place every morning with an impressive variety of fresh, locally caught fish.
3) Figueiredo Mansion – After Goa’s liberation in 1961, land reform took back the vast agricultural holdings and dismantled the feudal system that supported grand estates. Of the surviving grand mansions, the gorgeous Figueiredo Mansion, which was built in 1606 (House No. 376, Loutolim – 15-minute drive from Margao), is the most beautiful Portuguese home around. It is open to visitors. The house retains much of its former grandeur, with magnificent collections of antique furniture and porcelain. You can also sample a taste of the grandee (Portuguese nobility) way of life with a full Indo-Portuguese dinner in the formal dining room, complete with liveried service and century-old family crockery (0832-277-7028, firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Text as seen from my article http://bit.ly/1LJMf0p for www.yourweekaway.com – photos included here are all taken by me.)