NORTH GOA VERSION
When we think of Goa, we imagine parties, booze and the usual popular beaches. But Goa has so much more to offer. Hidden gems and untouched beaches, various hiking and mountain trails, extravagant paddy fields, beautiful churches and so much more.
But when you are travelling to Goa with your parents/family they would always cover the touristy locations and might not be up for going to places like Love Passion Karma!! (😛). In this blog, basis my personal experience here is a list of all the touristy things that you should definitely cover if you are planning a family trip to Goa!
So lets get started!!
Best places to visit in Goa with family
The Fort is a 17th century Portuguese marvel along with a lighthouse, located on the Sinquerim beach overlooking the Arabian Sea. This is one of the most popular tourist destination in Goa and is an absolute crowd favorite. One can catch an amazing sunset from here. One of the most luxurious properties in Goa, the Taj Fort Aguada Resort and Spa, is located within the walls of this amazing fort.
Timings – 9:30 am to 6:00 pm on all days of the week
Entry fee – **Free**
Lighhouse at Aguada Fort
Another favorite among tourists in Goa is the iconic Chapora Fort. Ever since this fort was featured in the famous Bollywood movie Dil Chahta Hai, it has become as one of the most visited places by tourists. The fort located in Bardez, offers a view north across the Chapora river to Pernem ,south over Vagator and also far out to the Arabian Sea in the west. There is a short hike to this fort and the trail isn’t the most prettiest as it is too rocky!
Timings – 9:30 am to 5:30 pm on all days of the week
Entry fee – **Free**
View from Chapora Fort
Dona Paula View Point
Another famous tourist spot in Goa is the Dona Paula view point, which beholds a tragic history. It is said that the Portuguese Viceroy’s daughter fell in love with a local Goan fisherman but the match was unacceptable to the Viceroy. Later in the year 1682 Dona Paula threw herself off a cliff into the unforgiving Arabian Sea and thereafter the Portuguese Viceroy named the area Dona Paula, as an eternal tribute.
When I had visited the place about two years ago, the actual view point was closed as renovation work was being carried out. From a distance you can see two white marble statues each looking at opposite directions. As per the Goa tourism board website the statues depicts the figure of mother India and young India, one looking east and the other looking west. Despite the various stories and myths associated with this place, it is one of the most popular destinations in Goa.
Timings – 6 am to 10 pm
Entry fee – **Free*
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church
The church is located in Panjim and sits atop a small hill facing the busy main square below. Barring roadside no dedicated parking is available. The architecture of this church is immensely attractive with bright white colour exterior and colorful interiors. One has to climb a couple of stairs to enter the main hall of the church. The main altar is dedicated to Mother Mary.
Timings – 9:30 am to 12:30 pm, 3-5:30pm
Entry fee – **Free**
Fun fact – During the Festival of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, held every year on 8 December, the church is colourfully illuminated. A fair is also part of this festival
Precautionary facts – Avoid wearing shorts to the church as clothes above knee length are not allowed. You can enter the vicinity but cannot actually go inside the church.
Basilica of Bom Jesus
Another famous and popular location among tourists is the Basilica of Bom Jesus. I am not going to lie but this is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen in my life. It is earmarked as UNESCO world heritage site. The basilica is located is Old Goa and holds the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. The church has a rustic looking architecture from outside with absolutely stunning gold interiors inside. This is one of the oldest churches in India. It is an absolute favorite among tourists and is an ideal location to visit with your family.
Timings – Monday to Saturday: 9 am to 6:30 pm and on Sundays: 10:30 am to 6:30 pm
Entry fee – **Free**
Se Cathedral de Santa Catarina
Located right opposite the Basilica the Bom Jesus you can find the mesmerizing Se Cathedral. The church also known as the Se cathedral, is the cathedral of the Latin Rite Roman Catholic. The Se Cathedral’s tower houses a large bell known as the “Golden Bell” on account of its rich tone. It is said to be the largest in Goa, and one of the best in the world.
The main alter is dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria, and there are several old paintings on either side of it. On the right there is a Chapel of the Cross of Miracles, where a vision of Christ is said to have appeared. It is stunning architectural marvel and should be a part of your Goa itinerary.
Dolphin watching at Coco Beach
Honestly, this was something I wasn’t aware of at all! But our driver surprised us by taking us to this place. Although I wouldn’t lie, this beach isn’t the prettiest. String of tourists have thrown trash all over and the water here is polluted. But you can take a boat ride from here and go Dolphin watching. One can also spot the famous Aguada Fort and the elaborate mansion of a diamond merchant.
Though Goa has a plethora of beaches to offer, but among all, the most famous beaches which pulls a lot of crowd and our family friendly are as follows –
Baga Beach – Also famous for water sports, this beach is one of the most crowded beaches out of all the beaches mentioned in the list.
Candolim Beach – Famous for water sports! I tried parasailing here (twice!!) and had the best time of my life 😀
Calungute Beach – On the way to the beach you will find various road side shops selling some amazing gems, from clothes to trinkets! Also, a fun fact this is the longest beach in Goa.
Anjuna Beach– Compared to Baga and Candolim, the crowd here is much less! Also, every Wednesday, the flea market comes to life which is a shoppers paradise!
Vagator Beach – One of the most beautiful beaches in Goa enclosed with white sand and sparkled by huge black rocks is an ideal location to enjoy beautiful sunsets!
All these beaches are located near to each other and hence can be covered in a span of one day! But if you are feeling adventurous, you can travel farther north with your family to less crowded and pristine beaches like Ashwem and Morjim!
How to reach Goa
The best and easiest way to reach Goa is by taking a flight. Flight tickets can cost anywhere between INR 8000 to INR 20000 round trip, depending which season you are travelling in. Another way to travel is by train, but it would take a day’s time though the Konkan route is super scenic!
If you are from Mumbai or around that area, you can drive down with your friends and family and enjoy a nice road trip!
Getting around in Goa
The best way to get around Goa is by either renting a bike or a car. A bike rental can cost anything between INR 200/day to INR 500/day. Car rentals begin at as low as INR 1000/day. Petrol costs to be additionally borne by the hirer.
Due to the strong taxi union, you will not find any Ola and Uber around here! You can hire private taxis or ride in autos, but both the options are extremely expensive and can burn a hole in your pocket! Relying on buses is not the best option as the timings aren’t fixed!
Another way of travelling in Goa is by booking cabs on this app called the ‘Goa Miles’, an initiative taken by the Goa government. Though the same is reliable but it is very difficult to find cabs on the app.
Fun fact – I did take a bus ride to experience the transportation system of Goa. I must say it was comfortable and the buses were well maintained (not to forget, super cheap!)
In terms of accommodation Goa has a lot of options to offer, from budget to uber expensive. Also, Goa has amazing AirBnBs with some beautiful options.
Some of my recommendations are –
1. Royal Orchid Beach Resort and Spa
2. The Park Baga River
3. Double Tree by Hilton
4. Taj Fort Aguada Resort and Spa
For best deals, check out the site wego – https://www.wego.co.in/ or makemytrip – http://www.makemytrip.com
Best time to visit Goa
Although, Goa is one such place which can be enjoyed year long! But the best months are the summer months when the waters are clean and clear to enjoy. November to February are the ideal months to visit this amazing place!
How many days are required to explore North Goa?
If you are planning to follow my recommendations, then 4 days shall be more than enough to explore this place. Kindly note you will require a day to explore the beautiful city of Panjim! Also, water sports can take half a day and can get somewhat exhausting!
So that’s my ultimate guide for a fun filled family trip to Goa! Though Goa is associated mostly with parties and booze, one can enjoy some good quality time with family!
If you have any specific queries, put them in the comments section below. Will get back to you soon.
Sky above, sand below, peace within.