How to Spend 3 Days in Goa
Goa is a multifaceted state, with everything from beaches and parties to gorgeous interior jungles and waterfalls, not to mention Portuguese colonial architecture. With three days in the state, here’s what you can see and do.
Day 1: Portuguese Goa
Goa was a Portuguese colony until 1961, and the state retains much of its Portuguese heritage to this day. The two best places to see Goa’s Portuguese architectural legacy are Old Goa (Velha Goa), which was the capital of Goa until the bubonic plague caused the population to flee to Panaji (Panjim) to set up a new capital, and Panaji itself. Old Goa is best-known for its churches, notably the Basilica of Bom Jesus, where the patron saint of Goa, Francis Xavier, is interred. Nearby, St. Catherine’s Cathedral (Sé Cathedral) attracts visitors with centuries of art and religious artifacts. Not far from Old Goa, the capital city of Panaji has two noteworthy Portuguese neighborhoods: Fontainhas and Sao Tome, adjacent districts full of colorful old houses and public buildings.
Day 2: Quintessential Goa: Beaches and Nightlife
Beach time is on the itineraries of most visitors to Goa, and no wonder—this coastal state features mile upon mile of beautiful shoreline, from red sandy beaches up north to beaches that take on a whiter hue, such as Palolem, down south. Popular options include Anjuna, Morjim, and Arambol, all of which have more of a hippie vibe, while Candolim and Sinquerim are quiet and close to Calangute, the busy hub of touristy north Goa. When you’re ready for some activity, get out on the water with a cruise. Options include dolphin-spotting adventures, kayak river trips, and sunset river cruises complete with live music and dance performances. In the evening, to experience Goa’s famous nightlife, head to the popular nightclub Tito’s on Baga Beach for Bollywood sounds or clubs in the northern villages of Anjuna and Vagator for homegrown trance music.
Day 3: Day Trip to Dudhsagar Falls and a Spice Plantation
On your final day in Goa, experience the natural beauty of the state’s interior. First, head inland to Dudhsagar Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the country at 1,017 feet (310 meters). Its name means "sea of milk," appropriate given the opaque white hue of its waters, and many visitors opt to hike to the top for great views. Just remember to pack a swimsuit: The pool at the base of the falls is the perfect spot for cooling off. Most travelers visit the falls as part of a group tour, some of which also stop at a local spice plantation in the village of Ponda for lunch and spice shopping. Take a guided walk around the plantation to learn about the history of spices in India and see what kitchen favorites such as cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper, and cinnamon actually look like when they're growing. Return to Panaji and end your trip with a traditional Goan or Portuguese dinner of fresh seafood at the local restaurant of your choice.