Gorgeous Goa is India’s smallest state stretching along the shores of the warm Arabian Sea. It has been a jewl in the crown of Indian tourism since the 1960’s attracting hippies and sun-seekers each winter.
Goa (like all of India) is a place of celebrations and you’re bound to experience a festival or parade sometime during your stay. The wonderfully festive province of Goa will remind you that there’s always a reason to celebrate (ie, you are alive)!
Its rich cultural history and lush forests make it a wonderful place to explore and there are some great guided tours on offer. If you’re looking for the perfect way to spend your time in Goa, you’ve come to the right place because we’ve put together the ultimate Goa itinerary.
Need some info about visiting Goa? Then read on!
- A Little Bit About This Goa Itinerary
- Where To Stay In Goa in 3 Days
- Day 1 Itinerary in Goa – Panjim & Old Goa
- Day 2 Itinerary in Goa – Anjuna Party Time
- Day 3 Itinerary in Goa – Arambol
- What To Do With More Than 3 Days in Goa
- Best Time To Visit Goa
- How To Get Around Goa
- Plan a Trip To Goa – What To Prepare
- Final Thoughts
A Little Bit About This Goa Itinerary
Whilst Goa is India’s smallest state, it is still nevertheless a state and is as big as some small countries. This itinerary covers the entire state from North to South and with several incursions inland. Therefore, to execute this Goa itinerary in 3 days you will need to change accommodation a few times.
The good news is that finding places to stay in Goa is pretty easy wherever you are. There are loads of guest houses, hostels, hotels and homestays all eager for foreigners to crash – it is usually as simple as turning up in town and asking around.
The itinerary does leave time for changing accommodation and moving around and has also been designed to be flexible enough to adjust to suit your own needs. In terms of traveling around Goa, the bus system is very cheap, but rides can be long and very uncomfortable. Therefore if you have the budget, we suggest taxi’s – if you book ahead and haggle you can cover even large distances for well under $30.
Goa 3-Day Itinerary Overview
- Goa Itinerary Day 1- Old Goa | Spice Garden | Panaji Tiatre
- Goa Itinerary Day 2 – Vagator Beach | Foot Massage | Paddle Boarding | Trance Party
- Goa itinerary Day 3 – Braganza House | Sweet Lake | Yoga Session | Drum Circle | Ecstatic Dance
Let’s get this straight, Goa is a State. Whilst it is India’s smallest state it is still bigger than a lot of countries. You need to choose where to stay in Goa very carefully as it will inform your experience and will affect your Goa itinerary hugely.
Goa is roughly divided into North Goa and South Goa. North Goa has a few more famous attractions than South Goa so if you’re wanting to spend some time doing typically touristy things then North Goa is a great place to start!
Most visitors opt to stay in a beach town or village. The prime ones in the North are Anjuna & Arambol for hippies & backpackers, and Baga beach and Calangute for package tourists. In the South, Palolem Beach & Agonda and Candolim are popular. There are Airbnbs in Baga, Calangute & Candolim but very few in Arambol & Anjuna.
If you don’t want to be near the beach then there are a few nice towns and cities set further back inland.
Panjim is a nice city in the Northern Goa region! It’s home to many gorgeous old Portugese mansions and some good art galleries.
Best Hostel in Goa – Folklore Hostel
Situated in Vagator, Goa Folklore Hostel can only be described as a home away from home! With communal spaces that encourage interactions and facilities that you provide everything you need, there’s no better place to spend your stay in Goa if you’re looking for a hostel experience!
What’s more? If you don’t want to leave your furry friend at home, feel free to bring them with as the Folklore hostel is pet-friendly!
Best Airbnb in Goa – 2 Bed Lotus Villa @ Tito’s Street
This quirky and comfortable villa is located in the heart of Goa’s party district. With Bardez’s best beaches and hottest clubs within walking distance, you won’t find a better Airbnb in Goa.
Best Budget Hotel in Goa – Crystal Goa
This quaint hotel offers everything you’ve come to expect from a hotel, plus an incredibly tranquil setting! The restaurant and bar on the property are also a great place to dine during your stay in Goa. But don’t worry, should you feel like lying in and having a lazy morning, breakfast will be delivered to your door! Crystal Goa is located in Palolem in South Goa so perfect for those who prefer peace to partying.
Best Luxury Hotel in Goa – Vivanta Panaji
This incredibly beautiful luxury hotel is located right in Panjim center! But convenience is not its main drawing card.
A 24-hour gym and spa might have something to do with it! As well as the fact that the hotel is pet-friendly. This is very rare to find in such a luxurious venue! Live music is provided every night so there is no shortage of entertainment at the Vivanta Panaji!
For the first day of our 3 day Goa itinerary we are gonna base ourselves in Panjim or Panaji, the Goan state capital. Whist this city is inland, away from the lush beaches, it is one of India’s cleanest and most pleasant cities. It abounds with beautiful old colonial mansions and is well situated for executing day 1 of our itinerary.
Old Goa is the former Portuguese Colonial capital. It was once considered a great city of the world rivalling even Lisbon itself I’m terms of its wealth, culture and beauty.
Most of Old Goa has been lost to the ravages of time but thankfully, enough has survived to justify a visit. The Dom Jesus Basilica is perhaps the grandest Christian temple in the whole of Asia. Then there are the ruins of the old Church of St Augustine. which blend into the Goan jungle like a level from Tomb Raider.
Old Goa can easily be explored in a day or even in half a day. The issue is getting there as it is about 20km away from the beaches. You can book a private or a bus tour from any travel agent in pretty much any resort which will leave in the morning and drop you back home after dark.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus Church is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Although the building is very rustic, it’s incredibly beautiful too. A church may seem like a strange place to visit while staying in Goa, India. But because Goa was colonized by the Portuguese for so long, many Hindus converted to Catholicism over this period of time. This is one of Goa’s best places to visit in 3 days.
A solid option, is to join an electric bike tour so you can really explore the jungles and roads!
- Cost – Most of the sites here are free
- How Long Should I Spend Here? Half a day
- Getting There – Old Goa is about 30 minutes drive from Panjim. I recommend getting a taxi or joining a tour bus
At the Sahakari Spice Farm, you’ll get the chance to take in the incredible fragrance of the beautiful spice farm! These lush plantations are not all there is on offer at the spice farm though.
During your tour, you’ll be shown how to climb the trees and swing from palm to palm! If any guest on the tour is brave enough to give it a try, they’re encouraged with enthusiasm. This often creates a lot of laughs among the tour group!
For those interested in a more relaxing form of entertainment, you will be treated to a folk dance by some of the female laborers and children who live on the farm. These often contain lots of color and excitement!
- Cost – $3
- How Long Should I Spend Here? 90 minus is plenty
- Getting There – It’s a 20 minute ride from Old Goa. Get a cab.
The Hanuman Theatre in Mapusa is home to some of the most incredible Tiatr! Just like Broadway there are many different types of Tiatr that take place, these all have different names and contain different entertainment elements (dancing, singing, etc.)
To be honest, it doesn’t really matter which you decide to go see, they’re all great and can be enjoyed whether you understand the words or not.
The word Tiatr comes from the Portuguese word ‘Teatro’ – meaning theatre. As you know by now, Goa is heavily influenced by the Portuguese because of its previous colonization by Portugal.
- Cost – $1.45
- How Long Should I Spend Here? 2 hours
- Getting There – Get a taxi back to Panaji and then either walk, or take a Tuk-Tuk to the theatre
For day 2, we’re gonna head for the beaches. Pack your bag into a taxi, or jump on a bus towards Anjuna. Whether you decide to base yourself in Anjuna or Vagator is fine.
Once you’ve checked in to your new digs, hit the beach!
Although it’s free to relax on the beach, if you’d like to make use of the loungers that line the beach, you’ll have to buy something from the restaurant. This isn’t a bad deal at all, cause trust me, you’ll want to be there a while! You can have drinks and food brought to you.
While lying back on your lounger, it’ll be hard to miss the many cows that stroll past and sit on the beach alongside you. There’s nothing to be scared of though, they are very peaceful creatures!
Due to the Hindu culture in Goa, it’s illegal to kill or harm these beautiful creatures. This means that you’ll find them roaming the streets and congregating in open areas – such as the beach.
- Cost – Free – but bring money for food and drink
- How Long Should I Spend Here? A good few hours
- Getting There – Depending on where you are staying, either walk, get a cab or hire a scooter
After all your gallivanting around you’ll be doing during your trip, you’ll be in need of a great foot massage! Luckily for you, they offer them right on the beach – along with a variety of other treatments. So it’s about time you put your feet up and enjoyed some good ol’ relaxation!
Be sure to ask around for the best price before settling on a masseuse, some tend to charge a lot less than $6!
- Cost: Bater hard and it will by anywhere between $2 – $5
After all that relaxing, I’m sure you’re down to try something crazy. How about a bit of sea rafting?
After about half an hour of training on the beach, you and your team will be ready to hit the waves! Don’t worry, your guide will be with you to lead you every step of the way! The waves can be a bit daunting at first, but once you’ve caught your first wave, you won’t want to stop!
Be sure to head up the beach for some beers at one of the many beach shacks that call this beach their home.
- Cost: $6.50
- How Long Should I Spend Here? 60 minutes is usually enough
- Getting There – It’s on the beach
17:00 – Dinner at Artjuna
Artjuna is one of my favourite spots in Anjuna. It is a cafe with spacious grounds where you can spend the whole day for a price of a few coffees. The food is proper decent offering a mix of Indian food, vegan grub and a few Israeli specialities.
- Cost: $5 – $10
- How Long Should I Spend Here? 60 – 90 minutes. Service takes time in India
- Getting There – Walk, ride or jump a cab
Goan Trance (latterly Psytrance) is perhaps Goa’s greatest gift to the world and you absolutely should not miss the chance to experience a Goa Trance party first-hand. The scene emerged in and around Anjuna in the early 90’s and reached worldwide fame with “Goa parties” popping up all around the world.
The music itself, is a fast, intense and utterly trippy form of electronic dance music. If you have never heard it before, it may be a bit much for you but bear in mind that it is a sound best heard in altered states.
There are trance parties most nights during high season (Nov – Mar) but the scene is curtailed a bit during election years. My personal picks are Shiva Valley (Anjuna) on Tuesday nights and Shiva Place (Ozran Place, Vagator) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s. The parties start after sunset (around 18:00) and go on until well after sunrise the following morning.
Hilltop (Anjuna) attracts the big names but is a bit over-priced and soulless but still the Sunday afternoon sessions are nice if you want to be in bed early.
- Cost: $0 – $10
- How Long Should I Spend Here? All night!
- Getting There – Get a taxi. Walking at night in Anjuna can be risky
For day 3, we’re heading North across the river up towards Arambol. If you stayed out all night partying, either skip over the morning section of this itinerary or sack it off altogether and spend today hanging out in Anjuna’s German Bakery.
The Braganzas, who owned the property, were once an influential Hindu family who were forcibly converted to Catholicism by st. Francis Xavier. The family worked closely with the Portuguese government, who in return, gave them the mansion that they lived in! They were also given the name of the last royal house of Portugal (Braganza)! It’s a must see in Goa.
Inside the mansion, you’ll discover that every room is laden with 350-year-old porcelain antiques! These were collected by occupants of the house over thousands of years – so as you can imagine, it’s quite the collection! The library contains over 5000 books and is said to be the largest private library in all of Goa!
In the east wing of the mansion, you’ll find one of the most unusual relics found in this house – a jewel-encrusted fingernail of St. Francis Xavier! Strange indeed, but this shouldn’t be surprising as St. Francis Xavier is held in very high regard in these parts!
- Cost: $1.45 – $2.75
- How Long Should I Spend Here? 60 – 90 minutes
- Getting There – Get a taxi. Have the driver wait and then drop you at Arambol beach
13:00 – Fish Thali at the Thali Shack
Just by the first, main park on Arambol beach, there is a completely unassuming looking little shack (a man selling coconuts sit’s by the door). Whilst you may be tempted to walk right past, don’t; because it offers the best and possibly cheapest Thali’s in Arambol.
A Thali is a big silver tray filled with rice, veg and a few different types of curry. The options are Veg, Chicken or Fish – the latter is particularly sublime.
The Sweet Water Lake is a freshwater lagoon with a source that originates in the Goan Jungle. The Sweet Water Lake is warmed by a natural hot spring, so going for a swim is a must in the late evening!
The Lagoon is surrounded by luscious greenery, overhanging thick jungle branches, and coconut groves. Steam rises slowly from the lagoon, making it a beautifully picturesque scene to take in, and the perfect place to snap some pics for the gram!
There is a beach just a short walk from the lagoon that is only accessible by foot. There are loads of shack’s and restaurants selling classic Goan food.
- Cost: Free
- How Long Should I Spend Here? 60 – 90 minutes
- Getting There – Walk here from Arambol beach – it is the only way!
I once checked the notice board in Arambol and realised that there is a yoga class taking place somewhere in town, at every minute of the day. Arambol is a proper yoga Mecca and churns out newly qualified yoga teacher like Yale & Oxford churn out future venture capitalists and war-mongers.
Therefore you won’t have to try too hard to find a Yoga class. Either check the notice board, ask around or ask any slender, toned yogini you encounter.
Every evening on Arambol beach, the place to be is the drum circle. It is literally a circle where anybody can come, bring a drum and bang it. Whilst the sound is (for me) a bit tedious, it is nevertheless a very pleasant gathering and attracts the Goa freaks who come to congregate.
From here, walk down to the sunset market where you can barter for hand made jewellery, post cards and other wares.
- Cost: $4 – $8
- How Long Should I Spend Here? 60 – 90 minutes
- Getting There – Most sessions are within walking distance from the beach
Dance is a way of life in Goa. Whilst you may be exhausted from last nights trance session, I guarantee your legs will still summon the energy for one more boogie! Ecstatic Dance is a giant sober (no drugs or alcohol) party that takes place around a giant Banyan tree at the source.
You may initially need some time to get over your inhibitions (dancing sober?!) but you’ll soon get into it. Ecstatic Dance is massive fun, don’t miss it. If this is your first time in Goa, then its time to embrace your inner hippy!
- Cost: $5
- How Long Should I Spend Here? Stay as long as your energy lasts
- Getting There – Walk from the beach or get a taxi
21:00 – Late Dinner at Aladdin’s
Aladdin’s is one of Arambol’s best restaurants. It has massive menu ranging from bar-bq, Indian classics and some very interesting vegetarian dishes. It is quite pricy for Indian standards but worth it for a treat.
- Cost: $10
- How Long Should I Spend Here? Until they throw you out!
- Getting There – Walk from the Source – bring a torch though as the way is dark
You should always have emergency cash hidden on you – pick up this awesome security belt with its hidden pocket before you travel, it’s perfect for hiding money, a passport photocopy.
If you are planning a trip that is longer than 3 days in Goa, then here are a few things you need to add to your itinerary for the rest of your trip.
Arpora Night Market
The Saturday night market in Arpora is a true Goa institution. It is a weekly mega market where you can barter hard for incense, jewellery, stones, gods, clothes, sheets and wonderful things you probably don’t even know exist!
As well as being a shoppers delight, the market has plenty of food stalls and a few bars mixing Techno into the early hours.
All of the above said, the word on the street is that the sun is setting on the Arpora Night market. Apparently the conduct of management has forced a lot of boutique owners and niche designers away and they can now be found at the Hilltop Friday Night Market instead. The Night Markets are amongst the best things to do in Goa in 3 days.
The Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary contains a mini zoo so that children and adults alike can see the animals up close. Plus, it has a massive deer park, which means that the deer can roam freely in their natural habitat! It also contains a botanical garden and a rose garden, for those who love flowers!
Here you’ll be educated about the animals and the bird life, as well as the vegetation found in Goa! This is a trip that will intrigue nature-lovers, so be sure you don’t miss out!
- It’s only 38 kilometers from Margao.
- There is a jungle resort containing tourist cottages on the property, just in case you want to stay the night.
- There are plenty of different attractions, so you’re bound to find something that will suit your taste.
The Brahma Karmali Temple is one of the oldest temples in Goa! The temple attracts a lot of devoted worshippers from around the region. Based in Carambolim, this temple is said to have played a pivotal role in Goa’s struggle for freedom. Many sessions were held in the building by a member of Congress during the time of struggle.
Learning about the fascinating history of this temple is spiritually moving, and exploring the temple grounds is a wonderfully relaxing experience!
- This temple is named after a nearby town – Brahma Karmali.
- The main idol inside the temple is said to date back to the 12th century.
- Visiting and exploring this temple is absolutely free.
This waterfall is a great place to visit for nature-lovers and adventure junkies alike! During the hike to the waterfall, you will walk along a narrow pathway through the forest. Along the way, you’ll see beautiful river creeks that wind their way through the forest.
The locals that visit the waterfall are always friendly and helpful, and don’t mind guiding tourists to the waterfall with them!
- Hivre Waterfall is popular amongst locals and tourists alike so it’s often busy, especially on weekends.
- The waterfall is located only 14 kilometers from Valpoi City.
- You will need to travel through the Thane village to get to the Hivre falls!
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Goa is definitely a seasonal destination and best experienced during the Northern hemispheres winter. The crowds flock to Goa between November and February when the weather is perfect. If you come off-season, not much may be happening. The high summer months are best avoided altogether as this is when monsoon hits.
During peak tourist season in Goa, the beaches are the place to be! The water is perfect, there are nightly parties, and it never rains. As the monsoon season in Goa approaches though, the beaches become more and more empty.
However if you’re not a beach bum, then the rainy season can be equally as beautiful! During the summer in Goa, mist rises over the plantations and fields, and rain cleans the cities, leaving them smelling fresh and new. Visiting Goa during June will also allow you to attend the Sao Joao Festival, which is one of the coolest celebrations in the region!
|Average Temperatures||Chance of Rain||Crowds||Overall Grade|
|January||25°C / 77°F||No chance||Very busy||😐|
|February||26°C / 79°F||No chance||Medium||🙂|
|March||28°C / 82°F||Low||Medium/Shigmo Festival||😀|
|April||29°C / 84°F||Low||Calm||🙂|
|May||30°C / 86°F||Medium||Calm||😐|
|June||29°C / 84°F||High||Calm/Sao Joao Festival||😐|
|July||28°C / 82°F||Very high||Calm||😐|
|August||28°C / 82°F||High||Calm||🙂|
|September||29°C / 84°F||Medium||Calm||🙂|
|October||29°C / 84°F||Medium||Calm||😀|
|November||28°C / 82°F||Low||Busy||🙂|
|December||27°C / 81°F||Low||Busy/Sunburn Goa, New Years||🙂|
How To Get Around Goa
There are a number of Goa transport options available depending on where in Goa you are, where you are going and what you want to do. For example, beach towns and cities themselves are pretty easy to walk around. However, to get between them you will need an engine. Tuk-Tuk’s (Rickshaws) are available in some parts of Goa but are banned from a lot of the Northern tourist hubs. Taxi’s are easy to find but Goa’s are expensive by Indian standards.
Renting a scooter is the most popular transport method. They can be rented anywhere in Goa easily and cheaply.
Hiring a tour guide with a vehicle is also a good idea for tackling some of the suggestions on this itinerary.
Whether you’re a solo traveler or traveling with your posse, there’ll be plenty of activities to keep you occupied on your trip to Goa! Here’s just a few that you shouldn’t miss out on!
Travel in India does carry with it a set of risks and Goa is no exception.
The biggest danger is the endless raft of scams which are played on unsuspecting foreigners and of which there are too many to list. Other than this, never leave your valuables unattended and always lock your room.
Be very careful of bad drivers whether you are riding a scooter or simply a pedestrian. If you are riding a scooter, always wear a helmet.
Be careful when swimming whether in the sea or the delta as under-currents can be deadly, especially at night. Use lots of sunscreen and drink plenty of bottled, mineral water. Food hygiene is generally pretty good in Goa but use common sense.
Women travellers sadly need to be extra careful as each year they are the victims of rape, assault and even murders in Goa. Take great care at night and try to travel in a group whenever possible. Avoid dark, unlit areas as much as possible. If you are riding your bike at night, do not stop in lonely areas (you may be being followed). Be very careful in or around Trance parties, be mindful of what you consume and watch your drinks like a hawk.
And have you thought about getting Travel Insurance for your trip? We’ve put together a roundup of Travel Insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads, our favorite travel insurance provider.
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Goa is the perfect place for your next holiday destination! With white sandy beaches, a rich cultural history and some great architectural beauties, there isn’t a single thing you could possibly miss out on!
Its beautiful landscapes are begging to be explored and the culture that surrounds every building in Goa is worth learning about! No matter what time of year you choose to visit, there will always be something going on in this province. From festivals and parades to cultural ceremonies, there’s never a dull moment in Goa!
It’s a great place to travel whether you’re with your crew or a solo traveler. The safety of this beautiful province adds to the appeal of Goa for solo travelers. Be sure you’re not the only one missing out on the amazing experience of visiting Goa, India! And be sure to add a few of these great activities to your Goa Itinerary!
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