Goa City Guide

Goa - Cuisine, Beachlife and the Portuguese Heritage

Goa is India’s smallest state and can be divided into the two districts of North and South Goa. Northern Goa is much more developed as a tourist destination with its roots going back to the early 1960’s. It has the widest range of accommodation available and has a greater number of small cheap hotels. Tourists come here enjoy the nightlife and to go shopping at the sprawling Anjuna markets.


Calungute is Northern Goa’s most popular beach and was the centre of the hippie scene in the 1960’s and 1970’s. During the day it is busy with sunbathers, hawkers, masseurs, and hair braiders and you will find a good range of accommodation available here.

Adjacent to Calungate is Baga Beach which is also the location of many resorts. The beach here is lined with trinket stalls, bars and beach shacks. The beach shacks serve excellent food and can be an excellent option for lunch when enjoying a day at the beach. There are a wide range of water sports available at these beaches and a ride on a fishing boat is also a possibility as a way of enjoying the ocean.

Calangute’s St Alex Church is topped with a large dome and is a pretty landmark in this area.Panaji Goa’s capital has a Mediterranean atmosphere but it was a port a long time before the arrival of the Portuguese in 1510.The Kings of Bijapur had developed this area as their port in ancient times. The old part of the town in Panaji has friendly and relaxed atmosphere with much to be seen that is of historical interest.

The old residential quarters of Fontainhas and Soa Tome was built on reclaimed land in the 19th Century and this precgainct is known for its jumble of painted tile-roofed houses and taverns that serve genuine Goan cuisine Most houses here are painted yellow, ochre, green or indigo with a white trim as this is in keeping with the old Portuguese building code for this area. Here you will find that taverns sell locally made cashew nut liquor known as Feni and bakeries that sell bebgainca a delicious local cake. The residents here still speak Portuguese. The most interesting sights here are Fundacoao de Oriente a foundation that promotes artistic, cultural and scientific work .

The St Sebastian chapel built in 1888 is also an attraction here as is the Sao Tome a tiny church built in 1849. Rua de Natale is a road that winds its way up to Altinho hill and it has steps that help pedestrians as they climb up. Panaji is located at the mouth of the Mandovi River and a great way to spend an evening is to take one of the many sunset cruises along the river. Most cruises start from the jetty at the foot of the Mandovi Bridge and depart on a daily basis between 6 and 7pm. Entertainment on board is provided by troupes of Goan dancers and musicians. There are also some boat operations here that provide specialized tours through the backwaters to a vibrant mangrove habitat which is home to marsh crocodiles and migratory birds.

Goa’s former capital Old Goa was virtually abandoned due to malaria and cholera epidemics from the 17th Century onward. Old Goa is home to many architectural treasures that have been granted world heritage status. A magnificent complex cathedrals, churches, and monasteries that are spread out over 1.5km are evidence that this was once the Portuguese capital .The most important religious monuments here are the Basilica de Bom Jesus and the Se Cathedral.

The Basilica de Bom Jesus is home to the tomb of St Francis Xavier a legendary 16th Century missionary whose remains are enshrined here. The architecture of the old Goan religious monuments shows they were designed by Portuguese and Italian architects of the time and they encompass a range of European styles gaincluding the renaissance, baroque, and Portuguese manueline.

Dabolim Airport is located in Central Goa 29km south of Panaji at some distance from most resorts in South and North Goa.Beyond the unattractive port city of Vasco da Gama and the nearby Dabolim Airport South Goa would be the best place to find Goa’s finest beaches. Colva has one of Goa’s longest uninterrupted stretches of sand and is home to many self contained resorts. The beaches here are backed by a band of coconut plantations and green hills scattered with small villages.

The South Goan resorts are large and mostly self contained so your stay here is generally more peaceful and relaxed although you are some distance away from sightseeing, shopping and restaurants.The staple components of typical Goan food are products such as rice, fish and coconut. Almost every Goan meal will have a dish comprising them. The people of Goa are gourmet seafood eaters and use prawns, lobsters, crabs, and jumbo pomfrets to make a variety of delicious soups, salads, pickles, curries and fries. The Portuguese introduced a number of roots, fruits and vegetables which were not part of the usual indian cuisine.

As a result potato, tomato, pumpkin, aubergine, cashew nut, pimento (chilli), papaya, passion fruit, pineapple and guava were gaincorporated into the now Goan cuisine. Today the food of Goa is rich in spices and ingredients. Cashews play an important role and are present in almost all dishes. Despite the two schools of cuisine traditions influenced by the respective religions of Hinduism and Christianity; there are some meeting points that present an interesting harmony. This blend of various cooking styles and influences is what makes Goan food so unique and tasty among the cuisines of India.Today Goa is one of India’s most popular holiday destinations. The essence of Goa is its laid back pace of life as described by the Portuguese word sossegado so relax and enjoy the food while you relax spend some time here

Best Time to visit : Mid of November to Mid of February is the comfortable time to visit.It's the exact time to get relax on the beaches,Other tourists visitors who make the most of these months in Goa.