Old Goa, Xplro, Goa

A Day in Old Goa: Must-See Sights and Hidden Gems

Step back in time and explore the captivating city of Old Goa, once the crown jewel of Portuguese India. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, also known as Velha Goa, isn’t just a collection of ancient buildings – it’s a mesmerizing blend of history, culture, and spirituality.

Wander through narrow lanes lined with architectural gems, each whispering tales of a bygone era. Imagine the grandeur of Old Goa’s golden age as you visit magnificent churches and imposing monuments. These structures stand as testaments to a time when the city pulsed with trade, politics, and religious fervor.

How to reach:

By Air: Dabolim Airport (Goa International Airport) is your closest aerial entry point, situated about 28 kilometers from Old Goa. Taxis or ride-hailing apps like Uber or Ola can comfortably transport you to Old Goa in approximately 40-50 minutes.

Train Travel: Train travelers have two main options: Madgaon (Margao) Railway Station, roughly 36 kilometers away, and Vasco da Gama Station, about 30 kilometers distant. Both stations have readily available taxis and auto-rickshaws to complete your journey to Old Goa.

Bus Network: Goa’s well-connected bus network allows you to reach Panaji (Panjim), the state capital, which is just 10 kilometers from Old Goa. From Panaji, local buses, taxis, and auto-rickshaws can take you directly to your destination in Old Goa. Additionally, several private and government-run buses connect major cities like Mumbai, Pune, and Bangalore to Panaji, offering a convenient option for bus travelers.

Road Trip Ready: For those who prefer the freedom of the open road, Old Goa is easily accessible! The city is well-connected by road to major Goan towns and cities. If you’re traveling north or south, National Highway 66 (NH 66) is your best bet. Rental car agencies and taxis are readily available for those who prefer not to bring their own vehicle.

Best time to visit:

Winter Bliss (November to February):

Escape the chill and embrace the warm embrace of Old Goa during winter. With comfortable temperatures between 20°C and 30°C (68°F and 86°F), this season offers ideal weather for exploring historical sites and soaking up the rich cultural heritage. Clear skies and sunshine make it no surprise that this is peak tourist season. Expect bustling streets, vibrant cultural events, and festivals like the renowned Feast of St. Francis Xavier in early December.

Summer Siesta (March to May):

Summer paints a contrasting picture of Old Goa. Temperatures soar between 25°C and 35°C (77°F and 95°F), offering a chance to experience a different side of the city. While the heat can be intense, it also brings a distinct advantage: fewer tourists. This translates to less crowded attractions and potentially lower accommodation costs. It’s a perfect time to explore museums and historical sites at a leisurely pace, or to delve into the vibrant markets for local treasures.

Monsoon Magic (June to October):

The monsoon season transforms Old Goa into a verdant paradise. Refreshing showers paint the landscape a lush green, creating a serene atmosphere with temperatures ranging from 24°C to 30°C (75°F and 86°F). Imagine exploring historical monuments with a picturesque backdrop of rain-washed landscapes! While some outdoor activities might be limited, the monsoon season offers a unique perspective on Old Goa’s charm.


Viceroy’s Arch:

Viceroy’s Arch, Old Goa, Xplro

The Viceroy’s Arch, a historic gateway to Old Goa erected in 1599, marks the entrance to this once-powerful colonial capital. Crafted from laterite and adorned with intricate carvings, it’s a testament to the grandeur of Portuguese colonial architecture. One side features a statue of Vasco da Gama, the famed explorer, while the other honors St. Catherine, the arch’s namesake. More than just a landmark, the arch serves as a portal to Goa’s past, transporting visitors back to a time of bustling streets and strategic importance in the global maritime trade network.

Se Cathedral:

Se Cathedral, Xplro

Old Goa’s Se Cathedral transcends its role as a church, transforming into a monumental landmark. Built in 1619 to commemorate a Portuguese victory that serendipitously fell on St. Catherine’s feast day, this architectural marvel embodies Goa’s history. The imposing facade and majestic bell towers showcase the grandeur of Portuguese-Manueline style. Inside, a treasure trove unfolds: the legendary Golden Bell tolls its deep tones, while intricately carved altars, detailed woodwork, and captivating frescoes adorn the walls. The main altar honors St. Catherine, and side chapels whisper stories of faith with elaborate altars and saintly relics. Se Cathedral stands as a testament to Goa’s rich heritage, where art, architecture, and faith interweave to create a lasting impression.

Museum of Christian Art:

Museum of Christian Art, Old Goa, Xplro

Within the historic Convent of Santa Monica, the Museum of Christian Art in Old Goa enthralls visitors with a unique exploration of Goa’s Christian artistic legacy. Prepare to be captivated by an exquisite collection of artifacts – intricate ivory statues whisper stories, vibrant paintings and gilded altars showcase artistry, and ornate liturgical objects hint at Goa’s rich Christian heritage. A true gem is the Indo-Portuguese collection, where local craftsmanship masterfully blends with European styles. But the museum offers more than just a visual feast. Through informative displays, it educates visitors about the historical and cultural context that shaped these treasures. Uncover how Christianity intertwined with Goa’s local art forms, leaving an indelible mark on the region’s artistic identity.

Local Experiences:

  • Spiritual Retreats: Find peace and serenity in Old Goa’s tranquil atmosphere. Participate in spiritual retreats and meditation sessions offered by churches and convents.
  • Local Markets: Immerse yourself in the vibrant energy of local markets. Browse for traditional Goan souvenirs, handcrafted treasures, and exotic spices. Interact with friendly vendors and tantalize your taste buds with delicious Goan street food.
  • Art and Culture: Dive into the heart of Goan culture. Attend vibrant cultural events, captivating art exhibitions, and soulful musical performances. Explore the Museum of Christian Art, where Indian and European artistic influences beautifully blend.
  • Feast of St. Francis Xavier: Join pilgrims from across the globe during this vibrant December festival. Witness the electrifying religious fervor and immerse yourself in the celebratory atmosphere.
  • Cycling Tours: Rent a bicycle and explore Old Goa’s charm at your own pace. Enjoy a leisurely ride through picturesque landscapes, historical sites, and along the scenic Mandovi River.
  • Goan Cuisine: Embark on a culinary adventure. Savor authentic Goan cuisine at local eateries and restaurants. Indulge in traditional dishes like fish curry rice, prawn balchão, and the decadent Goan dessert, bebinca.
  • Photography: Capture the essence of Old Goa with stunning photographs. The iconic churches, colonial architecture, and scenic vistas provide endless opportunities. Consider joining photography tours designed to showcase the city’s most captivating angles.
  • Workshops and Classes: Unleash your creativity by participating in workshops focused on traditional Goan crafts, cooking, and music. Learn these valuable skills from experienced artisans and chefs, gaining a deeper appreciation for local heritage.

Travel tips:

  • Opening Hours: Research and note the opening hours of churches, museums, and other attractions to avoid disappointment. Times can vary, so plan accordingly.
  • Dress Modestly: When visiting religious sites, dress modestly as a sign of respect. Covering your shoulders and knees is appreciated.
  • Hydration is Key: Goa can get hot, especially in the summer. Always carry a water bottle to stay hydrated while exploring.
  • Sun Protection: Goa’s sun is strong! Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat, particularly for midday excursions.
  • Footwear: Comfortable walking shoes are a must. You’ll likely encounter uneven surfaces like stone church floors and might walk longer distances.
  • Local Transport: Consider renting a scooter or bicycle for flexibility, or use app-based cabs for longer journeys.
  • Languages: While English and Konkani are widely spoken, learning a few basic Portuguese phrases can enhance your experience.
  • Carry Cash: Some smaller shops and vendors might not accept cards, so having some cash readily available is helpful.
  • Go Local (Cautiously): If you have a sensitive stomach, try local delicacies in moderation.
  • Hydrate Safely: Stick to bottled water and avoid tap water to prevent any issues.
  • General Safety: Goa is generally safe for tourists, but be cautious with your belongings and avoid isolated areas at night.
  • Travel Insurance: Consider travel insurance to provide peace of mind in case of unexpected medical emergencies or trip cancellations.
  • Embrace the Tropics: Be prepared for Goa’s tropical climate. Check the weather forecast and plan your activities accordingly, especially during the monsoon season.


Unveiling Goa’s rich tapestry of history, culture, and architecture, Old Goa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, beckons travelers on a journey through centuries of colonial influence and religious fervor. Explore the intricate carvings of the Basilica of Bom Jesus, the serene corridors of Se Cathedral, and the artistic treasures of the Museum of Christian Art. Wander cobbled streets, soak in the tranquil ambiance, and discover stories whispered by a bygone era. Whether you’re a history buff, spiritual seeker, or simply curious, Old Goa’s timeless allure awaits. Plan your unforgettable adventure today! Visit Xplro.com to discover comprehensive travel guides, insider tips, and hidden gems to create the perfect Goan itinerary.


What is Old Goa famous for?

  • Old Goa is renowned for its rich history and cultural heritage, particularly its magnificent churches and monuments dating back to the Portuguese colonial era. It is also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What are the must-visit attractions in Old Goa?

  • Key attractions include the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral, Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Archaeological Museum, and the Viceroy’s Arch, among others.

When is the best time to visit Old Goa?

  • The optimal time to visit Old Goa is during the winter months (November to February), offering pleasant weather ideal for exploring outdoor attractions without extreme heat or rain.

How do I reach Old Goa?

  • Old Goa is accessible by air via Goa International Airport (Dabolim), by train to Madgaon or Vasco da Gama railway stations, and by road through well-connected highways and local buses.

What local experiences can I enjoy in Old Goa?

  • Local experiences include heritage walks, spiritual retreats, exploring local markets, attending cultural events, and savoring traditional Goan cuisine.

Is photography allowed inside the churches and museums in Old Goa?

  • Yes, photography is generally permitted inside churches and museums in Old Goa, but it’s advisable to check specific guidelines at each site.

What should I wear when visiting religious sites in Old Goa?

  • Visitors should dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees, when visiting religious sites in Old Goa as a sign of respect.

Are guided tours available in Old Goa?

  • Yes, guided tours are available, providing insightful commentary and historical context about churches, museums, and other landmarks in Old Goa.

What are the popular festivals celebrated in Old Goa?

  • The Feast of St. Francis Xavier in December is a major festival, attracting pilgrims globally. Vibrant Christmas and New Year celebrations are also noteworthy.

What precautions should I take during the monsoon season in Old Goa?

  • During the monsoon season (June to October), visitors should prepare for heavy rains and potential travel disruptions. Checking weather forecasts and planning activities accordingly is advisable.

Is Old Goa suitable for visits with children?

  • Yes, Old Goa is family-friendly, catering to visitors of all ages. Consider weather conditions and plan indoor activities during hot or rainy weather.

Is Old Goa safe for tourists?

  • Yes, Old Goa is generally safe for tourists. Standard precautions regarding personal belongings and avoiding isolated areas at night apply.

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