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Goa is mostly known for its beaches and as a party destination in India, however the offbeat route in Goa can take you through a nature’s path that is truly unique to this state. The state is rich and warm and a perfect destination for backpackers and adventure lovers. Traveling and staying in Goa while experiencing all the hidden gems (off the beaten path Goa) in North and South Goa can take you weeks, here is our recommended one-week Goa itinerary just in case you want a crisp version.
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Day 1: Agonda Beach
If you are looking for a more relaxing and laidback kind of holiday, then head out to South Goa first where the beaches are less crowded as compared to North Goa. Relatively untouched and still pristine, Agonda beach is a great base to explore the sights in South Goa. There is an array of options for staying at Agonda from guest houses, beach front hotels to beach cottages that offer panoramic views of the sea. Agonda is also the hub of yoga and you will often come across travelers who are staying here for months to learn and practice yoga.
An interesting place to explore near Agonda is The Cabo De Rama fort in Canacona, which was won by Portuguese from the local Soonda rulers. The fort was used as a prison after India’s independence and was abandoned in 1955. Legend says Rama and Sita lived here during their 14 years of exile and that’s how the fort got its name. Incase you are looking for something more adventurous, you can try out river rafting at Dandeli and visit the magnificent waterfalls at Jog falls which is about two hours drive from South Goa.
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Day 2: Palolem Beach
Palolem beach is an unspoiled beach mainly used by local fishermen and has shacks along the beach offering reasonable accommodation for those who wish to live the beach life. A day or two at the beach can be an interesting experience as you get to observe the local side of Goa. In the evenings it is quite common to see the local boys gather for a game of football or volleyball. Taking a walk along the shore is a great way to end the day and don’t be surprised if you pass a bonfire with people singing around and drums beating in the background.
There are a few offbeat things that you can do at the beach itself. From the beach you can see rocks coming out of the water and just a few miles away you can visit some islands which are completely remote. Also known as lover’s paradise, this beach is called Butterfly beach due to the shape of the mountains that rise from the island. A few minutes away from the island you can watch dolphins swim if you go there early morning and enjoy some peaceful time.
Day 3: Cavelossim Beach
This beach has a long stretch of white sand with the winding river Sal merging with the sea on one side. Ideally, a family friendly beach, Cavelossim beach is a great place to watch the sunset. This beach also stands out due to the lava rocks jutting out of the white sand and the coconut trees along the beach. Due to this unusual landscape, the sunsets look spectacular and you can spend the evening watching the sunset with delicious food and drinks.
Sal river and the nearby areas provide ample opportunities for nature lovers. You can trek in the jungles surrounding the river with the help of GPS if you want to explore the offbeat routes and connect with nature. Taking a bird watching trip or a river cruise is also recommended if you want to discover more in the deep mangroves.
Day 4: Panjim
Even though Goa is more popular for it’s beaches, there are some beautiful ancient churches in Old Goa near Panjim, which must not be missed. Bom Jesus Basilica is without doubt the most popular church, which is also a UNESCO heritage site. It contains the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, who was a renown missionary and healer from the 16th century. Another important church and iconic to Goa due to widespread pictures is the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Every year, Festival of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, is held on 8 December and the church is colorfully lit up. The Se Cathedral and Chapel of St. Catherine are a amongst the other prominent churches.
Panjim has the hustle of a busy city but also has the laidback charms in pockets where the old Portuguese buildings still stand as a test of time. Walking the streets of Panjim can be a great way to see and experience the local life. There are numerous cafes that serve amazing and lip smacking Goan cuisine and you must visit the markets to get the flavor of true Goa.
Day 5: Panjim
While not many visit Goa to experience the rustic and natural side, Goa does offer quite a lot of natural spots that are mostly untouched. For bird lovers, a trip to Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is a must. Named after the eminent Indian ornithologist, the mangrove reserve houses hundreds of species of birds and animals. You can take a 15minute ferry ride from the mainland through river Mandovi to reach this marshland. You can also book a guide or a bird expert to give you a tour of the sanctuary and explain about the birds and vegetation.
If you are an architecture enthusiast, you must visit the forts around Panjim like Reis Magos Fort and Aguada Fort. The Reis Magos Fort in Bardez was built in the 16th century to protect the estuary of Mandovi river. The fort is believed to have been built on the ruins of a Pagoda and you will find inscriptions and stupas inside. The highlight however are the panoramic views from the fort top.
Day 6: Saligao
Goa is filled with old Portuguese houses which have been restored and act as guesthouses and rentals, especially in Saligao. Staying in one of them with a local family with ancestral roots there is a special experience. You will be able to observe their customs, cuisine and some families also exhibit their antiques and family heirlooms. You can also check with your hosts if they can cook some authentic Goan dishes as it may be a great opportunity to taste some traditional Goan dishes with recipes handed down the generations.
While staying in Saligao, do explore the countryside of Goa as this area is very beautiful with its lush greenery and tropical mountains. Seeing Goa through a road trip is an adventurous journey and the best way to discover the rural beauty is on a rental two-wheeler or a car.
Day 7: Baga
I highly recommend to spend the last day in Goa doing nothing but just enjoying on the beach. My favorite beach in North Goa is Baga which has the right amount of action and tranquility. Generally busy, spend some time early morning on this beach to have some uninterrupted relaxation after a quick dip. You can try some water sports activities right at the beach like banana boat, parasailing and water scooters. Head over to Curlies in Anjuna Beach for lunch and then watch the sunset at Anjuna Beach.
No trip to Goa can be complete without shopping at the flea market. And the market at Anjuna is known to be one of the oldest flea markets in Goa. Shop till you drop and don’t forget to practice your bargaining skills.
In summary, this is the 7 Days in Goa itinerary that we recommend for you. I hope you enjoyed reading and that this post helps you in planning your trip to Goa. Feel free to leave a comment below on how you feel about this article. If you have been to Goa, what other places you recommend to add to this itinerary.
This is a guest post by: Pujarini of My Soul Travels.
Author Bio – Pujarini Mitra is a travel writer and Founder at MySoulTravels. She has worked with several major retail and travel companies and her work has been published internationally. An avid traveler, she loves exploring offbeat destinations and discovering new cultures.
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