Are you considering spending 1 week in Goa or longer? Wondering what should be on your Goa travel itinerary? Well, look no further! In this article I have it all covered- from the best beaches, to waterfalls to nightlife.
Read on to find out how to make the most of your Goa travel itinerary….
- Tourism in Goa
- Know before you go: Essential reading and viewing
- The best time to visit Goa
- The best places to stay in Goa
- The best budget accommodation in Goa
- The best midrange accommodation in Goa
- The best luxury accommodation in Goa
- Unusual places to stay in Goa
- What should be on your Goa travel itinerary?
- Relax on the beach
- Go shopping
- Party on the beach
- Go swimming in a waterfall
- Experience the culture in Goa
- Head to the jungle
- Visit a spice plantation
- Visit the elephants
- Other things to do in Goa
- Goa travel itinerary: 1 week in Goa
Tourism in Goa
Goa is a state in western India. With year-round warm weather, Goa attracts both domestic tourists and international tourists. Most people flock here for the beautiful sandy beaches. But Goa has much more to offer too- there are popular places of worship, incredible wildlife and heaps of culture.
Gos is a former Portuguese colony. For this reason, it has a much more European feel to it than the rest of India. Of course, there are still plenty of amazing curries and plenty of chai around here, but you can also easily communicate in English and buy a beer if you want to- which are not things that are easy to come by in some parts of India!
Goa’s tourism industry really took off back in the 1960s. During this time the beach bars were frequented with hippies and backpackers in search of the exotic at affordable prices. Since this time it has developed into a mass tourism destination. British tour operators send troves of tourists each year, most of whom are on package holidays.
Goa is also a significant domestic tourism destination in India. Many Indians will travel by plane or train to the coastline, where they are able to let loose and live the life that may not be available to them back home. For many, a visit to Goa is the only opportunity that they may have to swim in the sea or to drink alcohol.
In recent years the Indian Government has been trying to promote more ‘upscale’ tourism in Goa. Whilst backpackers and budget holiday makers are great, the economic impacts of their visits aren’t always that high. This is especially true if tourists have booked all-inclusive holidays, where enclave tourism results in substantial economic leakage.
Know before you go: Essential reading and viewing
I am a strong advocate of educational tourism. No, you don’t have to spend your Goa travel itinerary studying, but I do recommend that you learn a little bit about the destination before you travel. Not only does this make for a more enjoyable visit, but it will also help you to travel more responsibly.
Here are some of my ‘must read’ and ‘must watch’ recommendations:
- Lonely Planet Goa & Mumbai– this is the best travel guide on the market. It tells you everything you need to know from the history of the Portuguese colony to the best places to eat waffles for breakfast.
- Barefoot To Goa– A fascinating film about two children who travel through Goa to find their grandmother.
- Bombay to Goa– A golden oldie, this film was a big hit back in 1972. It’s an Indian adventure-comedy film with some great tunes.
- Last Hippie Standing– A fascinating documentary capturing the way that East met West when the first foreign tourists descended on the Goan state.
- The Essential Goa Cookbook– Goa has some of the best food in all of India! Learn hoe to make these delicious dishes yourself with this cookbook.
The best time to visit Goa
You can plan a fantastic Goa travel itinerary year-round. Whilst Goa is almost always warm and sunny, there are some times of the year that are more favourable than others.
Peak season in Goa is winter time (November-February).
I have been to Goa twice and both times were in December January. During this time the weather was PERFECT. It was nice and hot in the day and the water was beautifully warm to swim in. In the evenings the temperatures cooled to a comfortable level, sometimes cool enough to warrant putting on a shawl or a lightweight cardigan.
This time also coincides with Christmas and New Year. Much of Goa is of the Christian faith, meaning that Christmas is widely celebrated here. For us Brits it is a wonderful place to escape to during the gloomy winter!
Most people are instantly put off by travelling during the monsoon season, but don’t be!
Travelling in rainy season can actually be a great experience. Prices are generally cheaper, there are less crowds and the country is beautiful and green.
The best places to stay in Goa
There are plenty of places to stay for your 1 week in Goa holiday. For me, having good accommodation is pretty important and it is a key part of my Goa travel itinerary. Fortunately, there is something for everyone here, whatever your budget.
The first thing that you need to decide, is where in Goa you want to stay. Goa is a big place and choosing a location for your Goa travel itinerary can be a bit daunting. The coastline is around 100km long, encompassing three main areas:
- North Goa
- Central Goa
- South Goa
Where you choose to stay really depends on what you are looking for in your holiday. Personally, I would probably opt for a few days in the north and a few days in the south, but that’s because I like to see as much as I can when I travel. But where you choose to stay really depends on what you are looking to get out of your 1 week in Goa.
If you are looking to party then North Goa is definitely the place that you want to be! This part of Goa is more built up than the rest and is home to the famous beach areas of Arambol, Calangute and Candolim. There are also some great all-inclusive resorts here, if that’s your thing.
If you prefer a quiet holiday, with serene and empty beaches then you will likely prefer South Goa. South Goa is home to some of the most luxurious resorts in India as well as a number of budget and midrange options.
There are a lot of accommodation options to choose from for your Goa travel itinerary. Below, I have recommended some of my favourites, based on budget.
The best budget accommodation in Goa
Many people who come to Goa are travelling on a budget. Goa is perfect for backpackers and budget travellers because the cost of living is low. You can easily survive on just a few Pounds per day here!
Noname Guesthouse, Arambol
The Noname Guesthouse has some of the best reviews of all accommodations in Goa! This place is small and welcoming. The rooms have private balconies and there is a lush garden. It is also walking distance from the beach-perfect!
Red Door Hostel, Anjuna
Anjuna is where the parties at and the Red Door Hostel has a great party vibe. This hostel is just a stone throw away from the beach. Red Door Hostel is almost always packed, so make sure you book ahead.
Jes Guesthouse, Majorda
Located in South Goa, Jes Guesthouse offers great value for money. It’s close to the beach and it has a lovely homestay vibe. All rooms comes with a TV, electric kettle and a fridge. Bikes and cars are available for hire here too.
The best midrange accommodation in Goa
There are plenty of places to stay in Goa that are not cheap and not too expensive. Here are my top picks:
Chalston Beach Resort, Calangute
Chalston Beach Resort is family run, which I love. It gives you a great cultural experience and you know that your money is staying in the local community. The hotel is set on the beached there is a beach side restaurant too. I like this place because it has live music and anIndian dance show once a week. They have standard rooms and cottages.
Vaayu Waterman’s Village, Ashvem
Vaayu Waterman’s Village is located across the road from an AMAZING beach. They offer surf lessons here if that’s your thing and they have some of the best food in ALL of Goa! I loved the relaxed beach vibe here.
The Tamarind is a holiday home located in a quiet spot between Anjuna and Assagao. This two bedroom house is great for families or groups of friends who want a value for money accommodation option. There is free parking on site too.
The best luxury accommodation in Goa
As I mentioned earlier, the Indian government are trying to attract more luxury travellers to Goa. This means that there are a number of luxurious resorts that have been built in recent years. Here are my favourites:
Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa
The Taj Holiday Village Resort & Spa is a world-class Goan resort. Located on the beach, rooms have sea views. The resort is well equipped with excellent food options, relaxing spa massages, a golf course, gym, squash and tennis courts and water sports at the beachfront.
Planet Hollywood Beach Resort, Uttorda
The Planet Hollywood Beach Resort is the perfect romantic destination. The settings and rooms are absolute luxury and the services are impeccable. Every room has massage chairs (so cool!), seasonal tents and excellent views of the surrounding paddy fields. This is without a doubt, one of the best resorts in all of Goa!
Ahilya By The Sea, Nerul
Ahilya By The Sea is close enough to Calangute for you to enjoy the hustle and bustle and far enough away to get away from it all. The hotel features Portuguese-Balinese style villas with private terraces. The located is just magical!
Unusual places to stay in Goa
I’m always a big fan of staying in unique and cool places! And Goa has some GREAT options. Here are my favourites…
This place is chic, elegant and seriously cool. It attracts the hippie vibe, but not the late night parties…. which I personally find super appealing. Just as the name suggests, you can stay in a luxurious tent. They also have jungle huts and apartments for rent here too. The outdoor showers are a novelty (showing beneath the stars is soooo awesome!) and there are meditation and yoga classes too.
Fort Tiracol, Arambol
Ever fancied staying in a renovated Fort? Well, now you can! This luxurious accommodation option in Northern Goa offers some of the best cuisine around. There are just seven rooms and you have your own private gourmet chef. The views are incredible.
Anahata Retreat, Ashvem
If staying in a luxury beach hut surrounded by lush jungle is your thing, then look no further. Anahata Retreat is the perfect place for tranquility and relaxation. You can spend your days relaxing on the beach and your evenings doing candlelit yoga and drinking cocktails whilst listening to the sounds of the sea. Bliss!
Wildflower Villas, Candolim
If you are into ecotourism then you will LOVE the Wildflower Villas. Located just 1.9km from the main beach, this resort offers you the chance to get away from it all (in an evironmentally-friendly way). It is set amongst 8acres of lush greenery and the views are to die for. The infinity pool makes for the perfect Insta tourism setting too!
What should be on your Goa travel itinerary?
Goa is a wonderful place to visit. Goa is easy to reach from other parts of India and abroad too, making is easily accessible and convenient.
Whilst most people come here to relax on the beach, there is soooo much more to Goa than beach bars and sun loungers!
Below, I have outlined the different things that I did during my Goa travel itinerary.
However, I am aware that there are many other things to see and do that I didn’t get to a chance incorporate into my 1 week in Goa. Therefore, I have outlined these below in the section ‘other things to do in Goa’. There is easily enough to keep you occupied for a month or more here, and I plan to return soon to try all of these things out for myself!
Relax on the beach
Many people who travel to Goa, particularly those who book a package holiday, will choose to spend the majority of their time at the beach.
The beaches in Goa are absolutely stunning- soft sand, long open beaches, warm water to swim in.
I also love that there are lots of beach bars along the beach. As long as you buy a drink, you are entitled to use the sun loungers in front of the beach bar all day long. The staff here are great and they bring you food and drinks when ever you want, right to your sun lounger.
Wondering which beaches to visit? Head on over to this article to find out which are the best beaches in Goa!
Goa has several markets that are fantastic for grabbing some bargains.
The most famous market in Goa is Anjuna market. Here you can buy anything from clothes to pottery.
Haggling is a must here! You can get some fantastic bargains, but sadly the locals will try to make as much money from you as they can. I get that they need to make a living, but sometimes it just feels like you are being completely ripped off!
Even if you don’t fancy doing any shopping, the markets are a great place to soak up the atmosphere and experience the local culture.
Party on the beach
Goa is famous for its nightlife scene.
A legacy of the hippy days, Northern Goa is home to numerous lively beach bars and nightclubs.
During our visit we had our fair share on cocktails on the beach…. it was lush!
I have spent New Years eve in Goa twice, which was fantastic. There were fireworks on the beach and the parties were brilliant!
Go swimming in a waterfall
Goa has some of the most spectacular waterfalls around!
Some are big and filled with tourists, others are also big but are completely off the tourist track.
Some allow swimming (but watch out for the HUGE fish!) and others don’t.
Want to know which waterfalls I recommend? Take a look at my article on the best waterfalls in Goa.
Experience the culture in Goa
As I mentioned earlier, Goa is a fantastic cultural tourism destination.
I enjoyed visiting some of the many temples and churches.
I also enjoyed just wandering around the area, going off of the main tourist path and getting to know the local people a little bit.
If you want experience some of the wonderful Goan culture, but don’t want to use up too much of your beach time, then it might be worth joining a tour. There are plenty around and I personally recommend this one day tour of the Goan temples, churches and spice plantation. You see a lot in a short space of time and it gives you the perfect cultural fix for your 1 week in Goa.
Head to the jungle
For one night and two days we booked on a tour that was being sold at our hotel. The tour was called the Jungle Book Tour, which seemed to be a pretty popular excursion for package holiday tourists.
The tour included a visit to a spice plantation, yoga by a waterfall and elephant riding and washing in the jungle.
I have written about the tour in detail in this post- The Jungle Book tour, Goa. You can also read the reviews of the tour on Trip Advisor.
*Note- most places in Goa have now stopped the use of elephants for riding or washing.
Visit a spice plantation
Many tourists who travel to Goa choose to incorporate a visit to the Tropical Spice Plantation in their Goa travel itinerary.
This is a fascinating place where you can learn all about how the spices are grown and try some authentic Goan food.
As the spice plantation is not far from one of Goa’s best waterfalls, it makes sense to combine them both into one day trip. This tour is affordable and great fun!
Visit the elephants
Many people wish to include a visit to see elephants in their Goa travel itinerary.
Sadly, there have been many reports of maltreatment of elephants in India. Fortunately the Indian government have recognised this negative impact of wildlife tourism and have banned the use of elephants in unethical conditions.
If you want to visit elephants in Goa then you should find a place where you can do so in ethical conditions. As far as I am aware there are no sanctuaries in the state of Goa at thistle, but I expect that one or two will emerge in the near future, as they have in other parts of the world.
India is the home of yoga, so it is a right of passage to do some yoga as part of your Goa travel itinerary!
Yoga is found in many places throughout the state go Goa. Beginners are usually welcomed.
Other things to do in Goa
As I said before, you could keep yourself busy for several weeks in Goa! Whilst I haven’t had the chance to visit every place myself yet (I plan to though!), here are some of the cool places that have been recommended to me:
- Go cycling through the paddy fields
- Visit the body of St. Francis Xavier at The Basilica of Bom Jesus Church (a UNESCO site)
- Have an authentic Goan massage
- Do watersports at the beach
- See a Tiatr production at the the Hanuman Theatre
- Visit Brahma Karmali Temple
- Visit Braganza House
- Visit the Sweet Water Lake in Arambol
- Visit Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
- Learn about the local history at Fort Aguada
- And learn some more at Chapora Fort aka Dil Chahta Hai Fort
- Gamble away at Goa’s new casino, Casino Pride
- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage sight of Se Cathedral
- Explore the Museum of Christian Art
- Visit Mangeshi Temple
- Relax at Mollen National Park
- Get your aviation fix at the Indian Naval Aviation Museum
- Go bungee jumping
Goa travel itinerary: 1 week in Goa
Are you ready for your 1 week in Goa?
As you can see, you can do as little or as lot as you like. You can enjoy lazy days at the beach in Goa or you can create an action-packed Goa travel itinerary with culture, sport and lots of fun!
Whatever you choose to do, Goa is a fantastic place to visit. Have fun and enjoy!