Some travelers see Goa as one big beach resort, but the central region – with few beaches of note – is the state’s historic and cultural heart and soul. Wedged between Goa’s two biggest rivers, the Mandovi and the Zuari, this region is home to the state capital, Panaji, the glorious churches of Old Goa, inland islands, bird sanctuaries, spice plantations and the wilds of the Western Ghats.
No visit to Goa is complete without a day or two spent cruising on the Mandovi River and exploring the old Latin Quarter in laid-back Panaji. Less than 6 miles (10km) away, Old Goa is the state’s major cultural attraction, where the grand 17th-century churches and cathedrals are humbling in their scale and beauty, while further east are the Hindu temples and spice plantations around Ponda.
You could spend a week here without making it to a single beach. Don’t miss it.