Must see attractions in Goa

  • Top ChoiceSights in Old Goa

    Basilica de Bom Jesus

    Famous throughout the Roman Catholic world, the imposing Basilica de Bom Jesus contains the tomb and mortal remains of St Francis Xavier, the so-called Apostle of the Indies. St Francis Xavier’s missionary voyages throughout the East became legendary. His ‘incorrupt’ body is in the mausoleum to the right, in a glass-sided coffin amid a shower of gilt stars. Freelance guides at the entrance will show you around for ₹100.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Old Goa

    Sé Cathedral

    At over 76m long and 55m wide, the cavernous Sé Cathedral is the largest church in Asia. Building commenced in 1562, on the orders of King Dom Sebastiao of Portugal, and the finishing touches were finally made some 90 years later. The exterior is notable for its plain style, in the Tuscan tradition. Also of note is its rather lopsided look resulting from the loss of one of its bell towers, which collapsed in 1776 after being struck by lightning.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Panaji

    Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

    Panaji’s spiritual, as well as geographical, centre is this elevated, pearly white church, built in 1619 over an older, smaller 1540 chapel, and stacked like a fancy white wedding cake. When Panaji was little more than a sleepy fishing village, this church was the first port of call for sailors from Lisbon, who would give thanks for a safe crossing, before continuing to Ela (Old Goa) further east up the river. The church is beautifully illuminated at night.

  • Sights in Reis Magos & Nerul Beach

    Reis Magos Fort

    Opened to the public in 2012 as a cultural centre, Reis Magos Fort overlooks the narrowest point of the Mandovi River estuary, making it easy to appreciate the strategic importance of the site. It was originally built in 1551, after the north bank of the river came under Portuguese control, and rebuilt in 1703, in time to assist the desperate Portuguese defence against the Hindu Marathas (1737–39).

  • Sights in Around Margao

    Palácio do Deão

    About 8km southeast of Chandor is the busy small town of Quepem. Here the Palácio do Deão, the renovated 18th-century palace built by the town’s founder, Portuguese nobleman Jose Paulo de Almeida, sits across from the Holy Cross Church on the banks of the small Kushavati River.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Benaulim

    Goa Chitra

    Artist and restorer Victor Hugo Gomes first noticed the slow extinction of traditional objects – from farming tools to kitchen utensils to altarpieces – as a child in Benaulim. He created this ethnographic museum from the more than 4000 cast-off objects that he collected from across the state over 20 years. Admission is via a one-hour guided tour, held on the hour. Goa Chitra is 3km east of Maria Hall – ask locally for directions.

  • Sights in Molem Region

    Shri Mahadeva Temple

    If you’re a history or temple buff, don’t miss the atmospheric remains of the unusual little Hindu Shri Mahadeva Temple at Tambdi Surla, 12km north of Molem. Built around the 12th century by the Kadamba dynasty, it’s the only temple of dozens of its type to have survived both the years and the various conquerings and demolishings by Muslim and Portuguese forces, probably due to its remote jungle setting.

  • Sights in Chorao Island

    Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

    Named after the late Dr Salim Moizzudin Abdul Ali, India’s best-known ornithologist, this serene sanctuary on Chorao Island was created by Goa’s Forestry Department in 1988 to protect the birdlife that thrives here and the mangroves that have grown up in and around the reclaimed marshland. Apart from the ubiquitous white egrets and purple herons, you can expect to see colourful kingfishers, eagles, cormorants, kites, woodpeckers, sandpipers, curlews, drongos and mynahs, to name just a few.

  • Sights in Old Goa

    Church of St Francis of Assisi

    West of the Sé Cathedral, the Church of St Francis of Assisi is no longer in use for worship, and consequently exudes a more mournful air than its neighbours.

  • Sights in Around Margao

    Shri Chandreshwar Temple

    Approximately 14km southeast of Margao near the village of Paroda, a number of hills rise out of the plain, the highest of which is Chandranath Hill (350m). At the top, in a small clearing stands the Shri Chandreshwar (Bhutnath) Temple, a small but attractive 17th-century building in a lovely, solitary setting.

  • Sights in Patnem

    Patnem Beach

    Smaller and less crowded than Palolem to the north, Patnem makes a quiet and friendly alternative. It’s backed by relaxed beach shacks and has a lively surf, making it great for swimming some days and impossible on others, when an equally lively undertow is present. Its main beach road hosts a string of stalls selling the usual variety of clothes, Kashmiri jewellery and trinkets, without the attendant hard-sell of Palolem.

  • Sights in Agonda

    Agonda Beach

    Agonda’s beach is wide, quiet and picturesque, with a forestry department–staffed turtle centre at the northern end protecting precious olive ridley sea turtle eggs. This is not, however, the place for a leisurely swim; the beach shelves steeply at high tide and the surf can be rough. For a sunset walk or a long lazy day, however, Agonda encapsulates romantic Goa at its very best.

  • Sights in Candolim

    Fort Aguada

    Standing on the headland overlooking the mouth of the Mandovi River, Fort Aguada occupies a magnificent and successful position, confirmed by the fact it was never taken by force. A highly popular spot to watch the sunset, with uninterrupted views both north and south, the fort was built in 1612, following the increasing threat to Goa’s Portuguese overlords by the Dutch, among others.

  • Sights in Around Margao

    Usgalimal Petroglyphs

    One of Goa’s least visited but most fascinating sights is deep in the countryside at Usgalimal: a series of prehistoric petroglyphs (rock art), carved into the laterite-stone ground on the banks of the Kushavati River, and depicting various scenes including bulls, deer and antelope, a dancing woman, a peacock and ‘triskelions’ – a series of concentric circles thought by some archaeologists to have been a primitive means of measuring time.

  • Sights in Panaji

    Goa State Museum & Secretariat Building

    Currently housed in the Secretariat, the oldest colonial building in Goa, the state museum features an eclectic, if not extensive, collection of items tracing aspects of Goan history. As well as some beautiful Hindu and Jain sculptures and bronzes, there are nice examples of Portuguese-era furniture, coins, an intricately carved chariot and a pair of quirky antique rotary lottery machines.

  • Sights in Margao

    Church of the Holy Spirit

    Margao’s whitewashed main church (1675) remains in use as a parish church and is finely decorated inside. The impressive reredos (ornamental screen) is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, rising from ground level to the high ceiling, made more distinguished by the gilded and carved archway that stands in front of it. The church doors are usually unlocked throughout the day, and access is via the side entrance on the northern side.

  • Sights in Molem Region

    Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary

    The entrance to Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is easily accessible from Molem and, with an area of 240 sq km, this is the largest of Goa’s four protected wildlife areas; it also encompasses the 107-sq-km Molem National Park. In theory, tickets are available at the Forest Interpretation Centre, 2km before the park entrance, close to Molem town.

  • Sights in Old Goa

    Archaeological Museum

    The archaeological museum houses some lovely fragments of sculpture from Hindu temple sites in Goa, and some sati stones, which once marked the spot where a Hindu widow committed suicide by flinging herself onto her husband’s funeral pyre.

  • Sights in Palolem

    Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary

    About 9km southeast of Palolem, and a good day trip, is the beautiful, remote-feeling Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Goa’s second-largest sanctuary and easily its most accessible if you have your own transport. Don’t expect to bump into its more exotic residents (including gaurs, sambars, leopards and spotted deer), but frogs, snakes, monkeys, insects and blazingly plumed birds are in no short supply.

  • Sights in Cansaulim, Arossim & Velsao

    Three Kings Chapel

    It's the hilltop views, rather than the plain little chapel itself, that should entice you to take the steep road east off the coastal road up to Three Kings Chapel. On clear days, you’ll have a gorgeous, camera-friendly view south across thick palm groves, paddy fields, beaches and the Arabian Sea.