Goa is on the map of every Indian and international traveler who wants to experience the beach life. From the parties at the buzzing clubs to a chilled bottle of King’s at the shack, Goa never disappoints. But hold on, Goa isn’t just party and beaches and we are here to prove it. Put on your backpacks and tap that fancy fedora as we take you on a trip like never before in the lanes of Goan paradise!
Day 1: Do as the Goans Do
Land in Goa by air or by road and take in the scent of the sea as you drive into the city. To experience Goa differently, make sure you book a homestay or Airbnb in one of the picturesque little villages in the heart of Goa close to Panjim(Contact us for itineraries that include best suggestions for your budget). It will not only give you an opportunity to discover new scenic roads of the state but also introduce you the fascinating life of Goans. With a mixed Portuguese and Indian heritage, the warmth and richness of its culture are unparalleled.
Our pick is a pretty village called Loutolim in Verna, South Goa. Almost picture perfect, the village boasts of lush paddy fields and quiet roads that lie under a canopy of forest trees. With homes that are steeped in Goan-Portuguese architecture, the village offers the most authentic local experience. For accommodation, check out Ikshaa or Casa Susegad and marvel at the beauty and detailing of these beautiful homes.
Go for an evening stroll in the lanes of Loutolim and be greeted by local villagers, occasional monkeys (super-friendly, we promise!) and rows of shame plants (touch-me-nots) growing by the road. With a dense green cover and little traffic, you will forget you are in the party town of India.
In the evening, head to one of Goa’s best kept culinary secrets- Fernando’s Nostalgia, situated 10 minutes from Loutolim in a village called Raia.The restaurant serves classic Goan and Portuguese-Goan dishes, like ox tongue, fofos (fish cutlets mixed with mashed potatoes and spices, rolled in breadcrumbs and egg, and shallow-fried), sopa de bretalha (spinach soup), and prawn almondegas (prawn cutlets), rarely found in restaurants and the reason it’s thronged with the locals. Evenings are the best time to go to enjoy live music and a beautiful well-stocked bar.
Day 2: Soak in the culture and architecture
Within Loutolim and close to the village, there are numerous restored mansions that were originally built by the Portuguese. These palatial houses are rich symbols of Goan history and the impact of Portuguese colonization that lasted 450 years. The village itself houses many of these mansions along with the home of famous cartoonist Mario Miranda.
Casa Araujo Alvares is one of the mansions open to visitors. This 250-year old mansion belongs to the Alvares family and forms part of the Ancestral Goa tourist complex, set up to recreate Goan village life under Portuguese rule. It gives visitors an informative insight into the life of a Goan-Portuguese family, for a minimal entry fee. You can catch details of the timings and entry fees here.
Another 10 kilometers from Loutolim, your mansion trail will take to Chandor- a small village on the bank of river Kushavati. Here, you will find Braganza House– the grandest of all restored bungalows. It dates back to 16th century and is spread across 10,000 square meters. Every room in this quasi-palace has breathtaking antiques but it’s the grand ballroom’s magnificent crystal chandeliers that will leave you in awe. The east wing of the mansion is open through the day for a guided tour at a cost of INR 150-200.
The last pit stop of this trail is Quepem (15-minutes drive from Chandor) which houses Palacio do Deao. Built in the 18th century, the house covers 11,000 square meters including avast lush green lawn. The uniqueness of this mansion lies in its mixed architecture that borrows from Hindu and Portuguese styles. The house also offers a typical Goan meal upon prior request (Check out details here). It does not get more local than this!
After a day of soaking in the history, it’s time to kick-back and enjoy an evening out at Martin’s Corner in South Goa that whips up some of the best seafood and continental fare in Goa. While the restaurant is multi-cuisine and offers something for everyone, do try out the Dutch Truffle, Prawn Masala Fry, Recheado Masala and the delectable Caramel Custard. Do we see you drooling already?
Day 3: Time to hit the secret beaches
Okay, we know you have been wanting to hear this already so let’s pick up some offbeat beaches where the sea of humanity (pun intended) has not yet reached. To witness serenity in the buzz of North Goa, head straight to Ashwem Beach in Mandrem. This secluded beauty has clean sand and clear waters for a perfect dip along with shacks and restaurants as well serving the freshest seafood. But the most incredible feature of this beach is easily the presence of Olive Ridley Turtles that come out occasionally on the shore for a stroll. When was the last time you witnessed that in Goa?
If you want to stay in the South, then there are options galore for serene and secluded beaches. Head to Cola Beach, also known as Khola or the Little Cola. This one-of-a-kind beach hosts an exotic lagoon and is surrounded by coconut palm groves. Located en-route Canacona, tranquility can be found in abundance at this little piece of blue heaven.
Day 4: Spice it up with a plantation tour
Its sadly the ultimate day of the trip, but you will have no time to sit and brood. Put on your boots and head to one of the multiple spice plantations that Goa boasts of. An hour away from Panaji is Savoi Plantation that offers a guided tour of the sprawling farm. With a variety of all the spices you can name, the place is an aromatic treat for your senses. Discover Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves and Vanilla amongst others in the farm with a dense forest cover which makes the expedition a surreal experience. Take a tour, channelize your inner Tarzan to swing between trees and enjoy a spicy meal at the restaurant to fully immerse yourself in the environment.
To get back to the buzz of the city, head to Fisherman’s Wharf near Cavelossim beach. With its location that lines the riverside, authentic food, ambiance and music, this place will remind you why you never want to leave Goa.
So We’re Saying – Move beyond Anjuna and Vagator!
These are just a few of the million reasons why Goa is so much more than its parties, clubs and crowded beaches. Make sure you mingle with the locals occasionally to discover more hidden gems of the state and appreciate the cultural expanse of the state.
Go on then, plan an offbeat trip to Goa and discover the gift that Goa is to everyone in the world!