Welcome to Panaji

A glorious whitewashed church lords over the animated city centre, a broad leafy boulevard skirts around the river, and grand colonial-era buildings rub shoulders with arty boutiques, old-school bookshops, state-of-the-art malls and backstreet bars.

But it’s the tangle of narrow streets in the old Latin Quarter of Fontainhas that really steal the show. Nowhere is the Portuguese influence felt more openly than here, where the late afternoon sun lights up yellow houses with purple doors, and around each corner you’ll find restored ochre-coloured mansions with terracotta-tiled roofs, wrought-iron balconies and arched oyster-shell windows.

A day or two in Panaji really is an essential part of the Goan experience.

Top experiences in Panaji

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Panaji activities

$45 Cultural & Theme Tours

Se Cathedral, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Dona Paula Private Tour

Discover Goa’s colorful history on this private half-day tour. Learn about the heavy influence Portuguese rule had on this region’s religion and architecture from your expert guide’s interesting commentary about all the places you see. After pickup from your Goa hotel in the morning by private, air-conditioned vehicle, your guide will take you to the Basilica of Bom Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that holds the remains of the Catholic missionary St Francis Xavier.Enter the church and walk on the marble floor inlaid with precious stones. Admire the exquisite paintings adorning the walls that depict scenes from St Francis Xavier’s life and see the mausoleum that contains his silver casket. Follow your guide upstairs to the art gallery to see beautiful surrealist paintings from Goan painter Dom Martin.Walk to the nearby Se Cathedral, also known as the Se Cathedral of Santa Catarina, dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria, a Christian saint who was martyred in the early 4th century by a Roman emperor for her devout dedication to Christianity. Marvel at the facade’s Portuguese Gothic-style architecture before entering the church with your guide to see the Golden Bell, one of the largest bells in Goa.Re-board the vehicle and head 15 minutes to the city of Panaji to visit the historic neighborhood of Fontainhas, known as the Latin Quarter. Discover the area’s Portuguese influences as you walk with your guide down narrow streets and past old, colorful villas. Visit the small St Sebastian Chapel and see several statues of historical figures including the Roman Catholic monk Abade Faria.Then, drive to the Dona Paula Jetty, a secluded bay where you can enjoy gorgeous views of the Mormugao Harbour and the point where the Mandovi River and Zuari River meet the Arabian Sea. Feel the gentle sea breeze and enjoy the romantic atmosphere of this hidden treasure before exploring a small local market along the waterway.After your tour, you can choose to stop at the popular O’Coquerio restaurant for lunch (own expense). Enjoy traditional Portuguese and Goan dishes and try their famous pomfret recheiado (fish stuffed with red masala). Then, settle in your comfortable vehicle for the drive back to your hotel.

$50 Private & Custom Tours

Private, All-Inclusive Tour of Goa

After a 9am pickup at your Goa city hotel, meet your guide and travel in a private air-conditioned vehicle to reach Old Goa, also known as Velha Goa ( velha means old in Portuguese). This was the original capital of the state of Goa and the second capital city established by the Portuguese in India. It was established in 1510 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Appreciate this slice of history as your guide shows you the Se Cathedral and the Basilica of Born Jesus UNESCO World Heritage  sites Next, visit the Mangueshi Temple, one of the largest Hindu temples in the state of Goa. It was completed in 1560 and was originally a very plain building. Over the centuries it has been renovated and expanded. Admire the current lavish temple as your guide points out key elements like the Mangesh Linga. Then continue to the Shanta Durga Temple, a large temple complex near the village of Kavalem, before touring a spice plantation in the town of Ponda. The plantation is spread over a large area where TK SPICES are grown. After receiving a traditional Aarti welcome and a garland of marigolds, tour the plantation then enjoy a buffet lunch on site including traditional Goan dishes served on a banana leaf (vegetarian options available).  After lunch, visit the Portuguese Latin Quarters in the city of Panaji, including Fontainhas (or Bairro das Fontainhas, in Portuguese). Here the Portuguese influence is easy to see in the architecture, the narrow streets, and the buildings painted in lively colors.  Continue to the village of Dona Paula near Panaji. Formerly called Oddavell, this village was re-named in honor of a beloved and generous benefactor. It is now home to the National Institute of Oceanography.  Finally, explore Panjim City, the capital of the state of Goa, on the banks of the Mandovi River, including the Baroque Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church on the main square (known as Praça da Igreja in Portuguese), colorful villas, and cobblestone streets. Then sit back and relax for the return to Goa in your private vehicle, arriving at your hotel around 5pm.

$540 Multi-day & Extended Tours

4-Days Leisure Vacation In Goa

ItineraryDay 1: Goa (arrival)Pass By: Goa International AirportArrive at Goa Airport by flight. The private AC car will pick-up from airport and transfer to hotel. Check-in at hotel and relax. Evening at your leisure.No meals included on this day.Accommodation included: Overnight stay at Holiday Inn Resort Goa (or similar).Day 2: Goa (full day sightseeing)Stop At: Goa International AirportAfter breakfast head out for local sightseeing tour of Goa. Visit Old Goa Churches (UNESCO World Heritage Site): Se Cathedral and Basilica of Bom Jesus; Miramar Beach & Dona Paula. In the evening hangout at Panaji market. Reach back hotel by evening.Duration: 5 hoursMeals included: • BreakfastAccommodation included: Overnight stay at Holiday Inn Resort Goa (or similar).Day 3: Goa (free day - no transport)Pass By: Goa International AirportAfter breakfast entire day at your leisure to explore the Goan beaches on your own. Goa has a vast stretch of shorelines which forms a variety of beaches. If you like crowd and fun, North Goan beaches are the most happening. If you like peace & serenity, South Goan beaches are meant for you. Reach back hotel by evening.Meals included: • BreakfastAccommodation included: Overnight stay at Holiday Inn Resort Goa (or similar).Day 4: Goa (departure)Pass By: Goa International AirportAfter breakfast check-out from the hotel and transfer back to the Goa airport for your return journey. Bid farewell with fun-filled memories of 4 amazing days spent at the happening Goa.Meals included: • BreakfastAccommodation included: N/A

$50 Tours & Sightseeing

Panjim Heritage walk

ItineraryThis is a typical itinerary for this productStop At: Fontainhas, Panjim, North Goa District, GoaWe begin our walk from the Latin quarters of Fontainhas, the residential quarters designed for the Portuguese Bureaucrats and servants. This was one of the earliest settlements in Panaji city. The quarter has retained its heritage look with the small crowded lanes flanked by the typical bright Portuguese styled houses. Our walk takes u past a wishing well, Chapel of St. Sebastian and the Temple on the hill dedicated to lord Maruti and the Geetanjali Gallery of modern art exhibitions.Tobacco SquareWe visit the square which got its name from Tobacco trading over the river. Later this square served as the police headquarters, a customs and mint area and currently accommodates the General Post Office and the Sao Tome Chappel. We walk past bright coloured buildings set on the backdrop of the river Mandovi. We will also walk to the Mermaid Garden and statue of the world famous hypnotist Abbe Faria.Palace of MaquinezesOur next destination is the headquarters for the International Film Festival of India and the Entertainment Society of Goa. The Palace of Maquinezes or Palacio dos Maquinezes was built in 1702 and originally belonged to two brothers, Diago da Costa de Ataide e Tieve and Cristovam da Costa de Ataide e Tieve, known by the name of Maquinezes. In 1842, the Portuguese used the nearly 150-year old Palace to house the Goa Medical College. This grand palace has been part of many Bollywood films such as Golmaal.Duration: 2 hoursStop At: Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Panjim, North Goa District, GoaThe Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church is often used to represent Goa in Bollywood films. The church was constructed on this hill for the sailors in the year 1541 after demolishing a temple. Later in the early 17th century it was renovated and constructed in the Baroque style of architecture. The church houses a large church bell in Goa that was brought here from the fallen monastery of Old Goa.Duration: 30 minutesStop At: Shree Mahalaxmi TempleWe visit a unique temple dedicated to the goddess of wealth, Mahalakshmi. It is the only temple constructed in Goa with the permission of Portuguese after years of wanton destruction of temples. The temple board also founded one of the most eminent institutions for the spread of education in the regional languages.Duration: 30 minutes

$116 Cultural & Theme Tours

Explore the Heritage of Goa in 4 days

This four-day tour takes you through an enthralling trail through Goa's least frequented places, some of which has some fascinating stories to relate, which is not known to the outer world. Visit the 3500 million-year-old rocks and following this, explore the famous fort, which is believed by mythologists that this massive fortress was once abode to Lord Rama and his wife Sita during his time of exile. The ruins and sculptures of bygone eras will show you how far we’ve come. Gaze upon petroglyphs or rock carvings that are a thousand years old, and visit the spot where the Queen of the Kadamba dynasty allegedly committed suicide and left her imprints on a rock!Adil Shah’s Palace, being one of Panaji’s oldest buildings, is one of Goa’s major tourist draws. Walk down Tobacco Square and check out the small city’s funky, archaic architecture. The Latin Quarter is another one of many cardinal attractions around Panaji. The area in and around the city of Panaji is the exploration terrain for the last day. View the serene Goan panoramas atop Altinho Hill, one of Goa’s most elite residential colonies. Modern architecture combined with the beautiful constructions of the past give Panaji a different feel altogether.The other side of Goa is beautiful and unexplored, experienced best through the eyes of the guide. The tour guide provides a healthy dose of local history, mythology and facts that no internet checklist about Goa will ever be able to provide! 

$72 Cultural & Theme Tours

Private Portuguese Heritage Tour of Goa

You will be picked up from your hotel for a half-day tour of Goa featuring its colonial history.Start your tour from the Basilica of Bom Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Basilica was completed in 1605 and is one of the best pieces of baroque architecture in India. The Basilica contains the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, who brought Christianity to Goa. Walk across the marble floors that are inlaid with precious stones. Learn about the life of St. Francis Xavier from your guide, as well as from the detailed paintings that decorate the interiors. Head upstairs to a gallery of surrealist paintings from Dom Martin, a famous Goan painter.Next walk over to Se Cathedral, known by locals as Se Cathedral of Santa Catarina. This magnificent 16th century Cathedral is the largest church in Asia. The building is Portuguese-Gothic in style with a Tuscan exterior and a Corinthian interior. The church houses one of the largest bells in Goa and is dedicated to a saint who was martyred in the 4th century for her devotion to Christianity. Afterwards, take a short drive to Panaji city. See the Latin Quarter, known as Fontainhas and experience the sights, sounds and flavors of Portuguese influence first hand as you explore the streets.Make a stop at St. Sebastian Chapel, where statues of historic figures like Abade Faria, a Roman Catholic monk, are displayed.Next, travel to Dona Paula Jetty, and take views of the picturesque Mormugao Harbor and the Arabian Sea that make for the perfect photo stop.At the end of it all, you may choose to have lunch (own expense) at a local restaurant.After lunch you will be dropped back at your hotel.