Below is a guide to some of Goa’s top attractions that you shouldn’t miss when staying here.
This is one of the most famous historical sites in the state and Old Goa definitely has a lot of interest to see. The city was Goa’s capital between the 16th and 18th centuries – covering part of the period when the Portuguese ruled the area – and it’s home to a large number of amazing churches that were constructed by the European settlers.
The Se Cathedral, which houses five bells, is one of the most impressive, although each of the places of worship here has its own story to tell. For example, the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary is one of the oldest remaining religious buildings in Goa, while the Church of St Francis of Assissi boasts some beautiful artwork and the neighbouring convent has an archaeological museum.
One of the reasons why the Portuguese were so keen to control Goa was for its spices – and the trade they could generate for these commodities all over the world.
You’ll be astounded by how many flavours are grown in this part of India, with the likes of cardamom, pepper, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla all cultivated alongside a range of exotic fruits, including coconuts and pineapples.
Some of the plantations also grow crops like cashew nuts, betel nuts and areca nuts, so there is a diverse array of flavours available for use in Goan cooking. A highlight of a visit to a spice plantation will be the chance to try some of the traditional local cuisine infused with fresh spices.
There are many forts dotted around Goa, but Aguada Fort, which stands guard over the estuary of the Mandovi River is one of the best preserved in the state. Dating from the early 17th century, it was constructed by the Portuguese as an outpost to protect Old Goa from attacks.
Its name stems from the spring that is located within its walls, providing fresh water to the enclave. In the 19th century, a lighthouse was added to the complex, with the 13 m high tower easily recognisable.
Although sections of the fort have fallen into disrepair, many buildings are in good condition, with some of them even converted into a prison in more recent years.
While the Portuguese certainly left their mark on the area, you should also take the time to seek out some of the region’s other heritage on a break in Goa. There are numerous Hindu temples all over the state which are well worth visiting.
The oldest place of worship here is the Mahadeva Temple in Tambdi Surla, which was constructed in the 12th century. It is quite small in comparison to Goa’s other religious buildings, but the Jain architecture and its location in a remote forested area make it well worth a visit.
Another Hindu shrine you should consider travelling to is the Anant Narsinha Temple in Veling. The exterior of the building is remarkably plain, but when you step inside you’ll be greeted by a riot of colour and a selection of beautiful wood carvings.