Everyone deserves to have a great time in my favorite part of the whole world: Goa!
So i thought, it was high time i published a post about exploring Goa with parents / family since I’m usually the go-to person for most of my friends who are looking to explore Goa solo, with their partner, friends or family…
Don’t miss my popular ‘50 Things to do in Goa‘ post, updated for 2019.
But for now, let’s focus on some great experiences you could partake in Goa, almost all year round. As a bonus, i’m also going to share the itinerary i chalked out for my trip to Goa with mom at the end of this post.
That’s right – Goa has a fantastic arts, culture and museum scene hiding in plain sight, and i call the Panjim-Porvorim-Pilerne stretch Goa’s own museum precint! Mom and i thoroughly enjoyed it and we plan to return for more…
- Museum Of Goa (MOG) – A must visit for those interested in art and architecture. Their quaint little cafe is an added bonus, so budget for at least half a day if not an entire day here.
- House Of Goa & Mario Gallery
– House of Goa is a superb and unique museum showcasing different styles of architecture that reigns in Goa. The structure itself is shaped like a boat and you have to experience it to know why i find it so charming. Mario Gallery is dedicated to the works of Mario Miranda – we couldn’t cover it, but it’s something i’d want to do and recommend others too. Both these museums could be done in a day, but you’ll be surely wanting more… guaranteed.
- Pro tip: Consider lunch at Chef Peter’s Kitchen or Bhatti village – both highly rated for their authentic cuisine OR another great lunch option is Kokum Kitchen at Taj Fort Aguada Resort & Spa which serves an authentic Goan thaali by Chef Rego which i highly recommend.
Lokaso has an additional, longer list of all the museums of Goa if this category interests you, including most of my favorite ones.
Airbnb Experiences has launched in Goa recently, and these offer a variety of awesome experiences that are local and authentic.
I would highly recommend these 2 in particular:
- Panaji Walking Tour by Ramchandra Salgaonkar – Although i was reasonably familiar with the Latin quarters of Fontainhas, both mom and i were beyond glad that we chose to go for this walking tour. Besides being a treasure of knowledge and trivia about the region, Ramchandra went beyond his call of duty to ensure that the entire group went back with memories, friendships and a renewed love for Panjim and Goa. I’ll personally vouch for his amazing tour. Just go!
- Cooking Class by Odette where she also educates you about the roots of Goan food. From the multi-cultural influences (Portuguese, Hindu, Muslim and Goan-Christian) to sharing insights about local ingredients like tefla (Sichuan pepper) and the origins of words like coconut, pao and ‘vonn’, Odette will ensure that the magic of Goan food lingers in your mind as much as it lingers on your tongue!
No, i’m not talking about the music festivals here. 2 of the most important art & cinema festivals take place back-to-back in Panjim through the end of November and December.
Serendipity Festival of Arts is a celebration of craft, music, theater, dance, culinary arts & visual arts, every year in December.
🛸Hot Air Balloon Ride over Goa!
Tiger Balloon Safaris conducts ballooning, which is perhaps better than a drone’s eye view of the beautiful state. Depending on weather, this would be a great experience if available, offering spectacular views of the sunshine state that only birds and drones would otherwise get to witness!
🎻 Live Bands & Local Tiatr / Fado
Unbeknownst to the transient yuppie traveller, Goa has its own charming music and theatre scene which will teleport you back to the good ole’ days of susegado Goa!
- Live Music: Visit Cavala on Friday evenings (Baga), where local bands play popular as well as Goan music and the vibe is electric! Cantare is another fantastic place to catch live bands with a Goan vibe.
- Tiatr is Goa’s own (mostly Konkani) theater, typically focusing on social issues. every year, 14th of April is celebrated as ‘World Tiatr Day’ at the Kala Academy in Goa.
- Spend a ‘Noite de Fado‘ at Cidade De Goa. Fellow blogger friends Jade (ThatGoanGirl) and Kuheli (The Foodie Trails) have fabulous descriptive blog posts on this.
🎭Panjim’s Art & Culture Precinct
Panjim, Fontainhas & Campal form the cultural and administrative district of Goa, offering an enchanting mix of old world charm with modern amenities and livability that is perhaps unparalleled across India, especially for a capital city!
Kala Academy – Cultural events hub with a beautiful location and lawns overlooking the Mandovi riverside.
Sunaparanta – A gorgeous cultural space with an amphitheater, exhibition areas & a picturesque courtyard with a cafe.
🏡 Where We Stayed
This is perhaps THE most important question i get asked about Goa. The good news is, there’s something for everyone in Goa. So first, figure out what you’re aiming to do. Let me try and break this down a bit, based on areas. My assumption here is that you’re looking for a family trip or with your parents.
North Goa – I would avoid the beach side all across North Goa, with family. Perhaps the Baga to Candolim stretch is the only exception, if your definition of fun is water sports, partying, tons of eating out options (including 100% vegetarian and veg-friendly options).
Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel is a bit secluded, but if you’re looking for an idyllic spot to bond with your parents / family, this would be my top choice!
Living Room, Vagator – Vagator and Chapora are very dear to me since i spent my best years here, and i wanted mom to see these through my eyes. So i picked this specific property primarily because it was the only one in the region with an elevator, along with an underrated restaurant with impeccable service and a reasonably chill vibe. It ticked all the boxes, and we landed up extending our stay here when i fell sick. I couldn’t have picked a better place to fall sick though – the staff here went out of their way to make our stay comfortable and memorable. Highly recommended! 🙂
Central Goa – This is what i would suggest as the ideal location. Specifically, Panjim. I don’t know how it is so underrated. The colourful bylanes of Fontainhas are incredibly charming for morning walks. Mom and i loved strolling around here.
Hospedaria Abrigo De Botelho, Fontainhas (Panjim)
O Pescador, Dona Paula
South Goa – This is my idea of a ‘getaway’ and a relaxed Goan holiday! Nothing beats the tranquility of South Goa for me. So if you’re looking for some quiet time and moments to cherish, as opposed to ‘experiences’ and sensory delights, stick to the south.
We didn’t hit the south on this trip, so i’ll not get into details in this post.
Finally, here’s the promised itinerary i made for my trip with mom – some of the ideas may be useful or provide inspiration to you! (feel free to copy it)
Taking a cue from my earlier trip with her to Bhutan, i realized i should hand over a print of our itinerary so she knows what to expect and plan in her head for the day ahead. This was worth every minute of my effort!
Map of all the places i took mom to, around Central Goa
Don’t miss: The best places in Goa for photography
Further links and resources for your research: