North Goa

A short break to Goa is more than enough time to explore this exotic Catholic-Hindu enclave of India. North Goa is best known for its package holidays and party-friendly resorts along the Calangute and Baga beaches. As well as experiencing the grungy, hedonistic party scene, there's culture, history and nature to enjoy in the capital city Panaji, the village of Anjuna, and beyond. 

Old Goa
Once the magnificent Portuguese capital of Goa, these days all that remains of Old Goa in Panaji is a handful of imposing churches, cathedrals and ruins. Se Cathedral is worth a look, while one of the most interesting in the area is the Basilica of Bom Jesus, considered one of the best examples of baroque architecture in India. This UNESCO World Heritage Site contains the preserved remains of the body of Saint Frances Xavier in a glass casket.

Yoga Retreats
India was where yoga was born, and Goa is the most Western-friendly place to study the discipline. Yoga Magic near Anjuna is a popular retreat that offers daily yoga classes, accommodation in Rajasthani-style hunting tents and delicious vegetarian meals.

Spice Farms
Goa's tropical climate and dense forests make it an ideal place to grow spices and many of the spice farms are open to visitors. Try Sahakari Spice Farm, where, for only 400 rupees, you'll get a crash course in the history, medicinal and culinary uses of spices such as nutmeg, curry leaves, turmeric and cardamom, and finish with a traditional lunch. There's also the option to purchase a range of spices and teas to take home. For an additional cost, you can ride elephants around the compound or get wet in an elephant bath.

Mandovi River
A boat cruise on the Mandovi is a must-do; head west to watch the sunset or east to sail past Panaji and the green island of Chorao. Santa Monica runs day, evening and full moon cruises, with Goan dancing and traditional buffet adding to the charm. 

Fort Aguada
Walk along the high sides of this fort for great views out to the Indian Ocean. Built in 1612 to protect the northern shores of the Mandovi estuary from Dutch raiders, the fort has a four-storey Portuguese lighthouse.

Souza Lobo
Souza Lobo is a Goa institution with spicy coastal food to satiate both a local and traveller's desire for authenticity. Locals have been coming here for generations not simply for the view but the prime location too. Be prepared to scoff down sublime prawn curry, sausages and fried fish.

Anjuna Flea Market
This classic market has been around since the 1970s and covers most of the area behind the south side of Anjuna beach. What began as hippies selling off their possessions to afford a ticket back home, has now become a commercial spectacle on a grand scale. Every Wednesday, vendors sell a massive collection of artefacts and collectibles, creating an irresistible one-stop shopping experience.

Ayurvedic Treatments
Shamana Spa at the Grand Hyatt Goa offers a wide range of treatments and massage techniques, but an Ayurvedic massage will give you the authentic local experience. This traditional Indian massage philosophy involves lots of heavenly oil that is applied with long and slow strokes to warm the muscles and relax the body. Guests stepping into this haven of serenity can make use of the spaís impressive wellness facilities, including a Roman bath-style Jacuzzi, large indoor swimming pool, and separate male and female saunas and steam rooms. 

Mangeshi Temple
One of the largest and most popular Hindu shrines in Goa is located roughly 8km southeast of Old Goa and is dedicated to Mangueshi ñ an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Before entering, purchase an offering of colourful flowers from one of ladies sitting outside the Temple walls and pass this onto the priest inside ñ a ritual known as Puja. The priest will take your offering and, in return, give you his blessing.

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