Travel Bucket List:12 Best Things To Do In South Goa

Whether you're a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, consider experiencing these South Goa adventures to make your vacation unforgettable
South Goa is known for its secluded beaches
South Goa is known for its secluded

Goa, India's sunny beach paradise, is known for its pristine coastline, active nightlife, and relaxed atmosphere. While many travellers rush to the famed beaches and clubs in North Goa, those looking for something different can find it in the less visited South Goa, from stunning landscapes in wildlife sanctuaries to 12th century temples, and the best bakeries. This is also where you will find some of the most interesting ancestral homes that serve as one-of-a-kind windows into Goa's past. For instance, the house of the famed artist Mario Miranda. Here's a guide to some of the best things to do in South Goa.

Check Out The Museums

Goa Chitra, a privately owned ethnography museum, is a place to learn about ancient Goa and its culture. Displayed here are traditional farming implements and other ancient tools of trade set up against the backdrop of a traditional organic farm, wood work, doors, windows, pillars, railings and other material collected from over 300 demolished traditional houses, etc.

Address: H.No. 498, Near Auxilium High School, Benaulim, Goa 403716

A palanquin displayed at the Ancestral Goa Bigfoot museum
A palanquin displayed at the Ancestral Goa Bigfoot museumShankar S/Flickr Commons

Although it may appear a bit tacky to some, Ancestral Goa (also known as the Big Foot museum) in Loutolim is often a favourite with kids with its models of village settings with huge displays explaining the history and culture of Goa. Besides, there are exhibits such as the Museum of Crosses, the Rosary Bead Museum, the Tiatr Hall of Fame dedicated to the actors of the Konkani theatre, etc. The Big Foot museum is open round the year, from 9am to pm.

Address: Loutolim, near Saviour of the World Church, Loutolim, Goa, Goa 403718

Explore The Beaches

Palolem Beach
Palolem BeachNico Crisafulli/WikiCommons

South Goa has some of the most pristine beaches in the state. Palolem Beach is a crescent-shaped paradise in South Goa, known for its crystal-clear waters and picturesque surroundings. Take a boat trip to spot dolphins, enjoy a yoga session on the shore, or explore the nearby Butterfly Beach, accessible by boat. Situated in Canacona, Cola Beach is a secluded and pristine paradise that seems untouched by time. Accessible by a winding path through the jungle, this hidden gem rewards travellers with its wild natural beauty. Marvel at the stunning lagoon surrounded by palm trees and enjoy a refreshing dip in the freshwater lake. Experience a unique stay in one of the beachside eco-resorts, offering a peaceful retreat amidst nature's bounty. Known as Goa's nesting beach, Galgibaga Beach is a haven for the endangered Olive Ridley turtles. Take a stroll along the shore, keeping an eye out for turtle nesting sites, and learn about the conservation efforts being made to protect these magnificent creatures. Immerse yourself in the beauty of this beach and savour the untouched coastal wilderness.

Try The Eclairs At Jila Bakery

Goa's 500-year-old baking tradition is reflected in its old bakeries which seamlessly weave the best of local and European flavours in their breads and desserts. Jila is a family-run bakery has been in business since 1972. According to rumours, the bakery was a favourite of Indira Gandhi's. Jila is based out of the home of Jose Inacio and Ludovina Antao, located in the peaceful village of Camorlim in Loutolim, South Goa. Their delectable eclairs get sold out fast. Also try the caramel-butter cake and luscious plum cake, as well as macaroons and Geneva pastry. You can tour the popular Big Foot Museum in Loutolim and walk across for a snack pitstop here.

Address: Ambora Bustop, Near Our Lady Of Candelaria Church, Verna Loutolim Rd, Ambora, Camurlim, Goa 403718

Visit A Sanctuary

About 20 per cent of Goa’s geographical area (3,702sq km) is notified, and called the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. The core of the reserve is called Mollem. Go on a day's hike through the Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary. Located along the Western Ghat foothills, it is the largest wildlife reserve in the state. Notified in the year 1967, the reserve was first known as the Mollem Game Sanctuary. However, following the institution of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 , the provision for hunting blocks at Mollem was discontinued and the sanctuary was renamed Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. Later in 1978, an area of 107sq km was demarcated from within the reserve and christened the Mollem National Park in 1978. In 1982, Tambdi Surla and the surrounding villages of Dhargem and Talade were excluded from the park area. Remember that Goa can sometimes be caught in a fight against overcrowding and pollution caused by excessive tourism. Check here for ways to travel in Goa sustainably.

Dudhsagar Waterfalls

Dudhsagar Falls
Dudhsagar FallsSamson Joseph/WikiCommons

Ensconced in the Western Ghats, Goa’s highest and largest waterfalls come down an impressive length of 306m. Train passengers get a good view of the cascade – the rail track from Londa snakes down south and passes by the falls before heading north-west in a wide curve to Collem. This well-known four-tiered waterfall along the Mandovi River is popular on Insta. Surrounded by rich forest cover, you get occasional sightings of interested wildlife and the deafening roar of the falls as your constant companion. According to local mythology, a princess, the daughter of the Ghats' ruler, would frequently come here for a leisurely bath. A trip through the beautiful forest is required to access this hidden gem, so make sure to pack your trekking shoes.

Tambdi Surla Temple

Tambdi Surla
Tambdi SurlaAbhideo21/WikiCommons

The Tambdi Surla Temple complex is located in the deep jungles of Goa's Western Ghats, within the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary. It is one of the region's oldest temples and is recognised for its unique and ornate architecture. The temple, built in the early 12th century, is regarded as one of the greatest specimens of Kadamba architecture. It is mostly composed of basalt rock and has beautiful carvings on its walls depicting mythological and religious scenes. Read more about it in our guide here.

Usgalimar Rock Carvings

Spot Goa's prehistoric souvenirs at the Usgalimar Rock Carvings. A mini road trip is all you require to get to this historically-enriching place. The best part about the site is that you will find minimal footfall here, giving you ample space and time to dig deeper into the history of the place. Find over 100 intricate prehistoric remnants, believed to have been discovered in 1923. All of these carvings signify tribal art as old as 30,000 years old.

Stroll Through Spice Plantations

Spice plantation tours are becoming increasingly popular in Goa. On a guided tour, you will learn about the curative properties of the spices and the other natural products. Usually, a trip ends with a meal prepared from the locally grown produce. With a spice plantation as old as 200 years old, Savoi Spice Plantation is a must-visit spot. This family-owned plantation has the most hospitable vibe offering tourists an enriching spice tour while enjoying fresh refreshments during sightseeing. Tropical Spice Plantation is another must-visit spice hub in Goa. With trees like cashew, betel nut, palm trees, papayas, and star fruit, visitors will get a first-hand view of how spices are made from these tropical trees. Besides, there is also an open-air restaurant to relish food made of authentic herbs freshly plucked from the farm. 

Casa Museu Figueiredo

The most extraordinary living document of the heyday of Goa's aristocratic gentry is the palazzo of the Figueiredo family in South Goa's Loutolim. Still a family home, but now also a museum, it displays exquisite taste magnificent furniture, porcelain, draperies, artwork, libraries. Best of all, if you call in advance, the regal octogenarian Dona Maria de Lourdes de Figueiredo de Albuquerque will prepare a Luso-Indian lunch to be served in her family dining room. 

Walk Around Margao

Holy Spirit Church. Margao
Holy Spirit Church. Margaokikiwis/WikiCommons

Margao, commonly known as Madgaon, is the taluka capital of Salcete. The River Sal, which has now silted up into a little stream, historically carried cargo to and from Arabia and Africa. Today, the location is clearly commercial. Margao, with its shady lanes lined with colonial houses and bazaars full of lush fruit, is a jewel waiting to be discovered. Check out the Church Square, also known as Largo de Igreja, which is located in the Latin Quarter and is lined with elegant Colonial homes. The Church of the Holy Spirit, erected in 1564, is on one side of the square. It stands proudly in a huge rectangular mango tree-lined square, overlooking historic Colonial residences.

Spend A Day At Loutolim

Probably one of the most beautiful villages in Goa, Loutolim has lush paddy fields forming the backdrop for stunning Portuguese era mansions, including the home of the late cartoonist Mario Miranda's mansion. Check out the more than 250-year-old Casa Araujo Alvares mansion (located opposite Ancestral Goa). And look out for the angled holes in an upstairs wall which were used for placing rifle barrels and shooting invaders.

Cabo de Rama Fort

Perched on the southern tip of Goa, the Cabo de Rama Fort is a lesser-known historical treasure that beckons tourists with its breathtaking views and rich past. This ancient fort has a storied history dating back to the pre-colonial era, when it was known as the Rama Killa. It was later rebuilt by Portuguese colonial forces and named after Lord Rama. The Cabo de Rama Fort offers a peaceful escape from the bustling beaches, allowing visitors to explore its well-preserved walls, bastions, and small chapel. Its strategic location atop a cliff provides panoramic vistas of the Arabian Sea, making it a fantastic spot to witness a stunning sunset.

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