Goa may be pocket-sized, but its significance as a coastal paradise is colossal. The state has two districts, namely North Goa and South Goa. What many don’t realize is that the Goa that they keep hearing about, with all its beautiful beaches, hippie markets and fun nightlife, is actually the northern part of Goa.
Bordered by the Mandovi River in the south and the Terekhol River in the north, and sandwiching serene golden beaches in between, North Goa is home to some of the coolest beaches and the most popular attractions in the state. If you are planning on visiting this part of the country anytime soon, here is a list of the top 10 places to visit in North Goa that you have to cover on your holiday: –
1. Fort Aguada
Located at the southern tip of the Candolim beach is the most frequented and one of the must-visit places in North Goa, Fort Aguada. Having served as a point of defence against the Marathas and the Dutch, Fort Aguada is one of the most crucial Portuguese forts in Goa. It is a massive structure that covers the entire peninsula at the southern tip of Bardez. Built in the Portuguese style of architecture, the fort with its tall lighthouse exhibits magnanimity and grandeur. By visiting this place, you also get to see the confluence of the Mandovi River into the Arabian Sea.
2. Anjuna Beach
At a distance of around 21 kilometres from Panjim is one of the best places to visit in North Goa, the Anjuna Beach. Anjuna is actually a small village in this part of Goa that is famous for its flea market held on Wednesdays.
Anjuna Beach is best known for its mesmerizing sunsets and trance parties with tourists. So, if you are a party-person looking for fun places to visit in North Goa at night, then this is where you should be heading to. There are various bars and shacks on the beach where you can cool off with a refreshing drink and treat your taste buds to some delectable food.
3. Chapora Fort
Another marvel of Portuguese architecture, the Chapora Fort is one of the must-visit places in North Goa if you want to pass some peaceful and leisurely time. The present fort was built back in 1717, replacing the original one built by Adil Shah, also known as Shahpura.
Sitting at a prominent position, the fort offers views in all direction, including northwards towards Pernem, south over Vagator as well as the Arabian Sea in the distant west. Although much of the fort is in ruins now, you can still see signs of houses and barracks that once stood here.
4. Mandrem Beach
Recognized for its white beaches and stretches of palm trees, Mandrem is one of the best places to visit in North Goa, especially for those who prefer quietude over crowds. You can visit this beach for a refreshing early morning or an evening stroll, alternatively you can also spend the late evening bonfire partying with friends.
Lying between the twin beaches of Arambol and Ashvem, Mandrem Beach with its clear waters and pristine, sandy shores has a sense of peace about it. Taking a walk here, you might even come across the local fishermen carrying their catch for the day.
5. Sinquerim Beach
Goa has various beaches, but the Sinquerim beach is one of the top places to visit in North Goa for you if you love adventure, water sports to be specific. Located north to popular shorelines, such as that of Candolim, Calangute, and Baga, this beach offers amazing opportunities for thrilling water sports including, windsurfing, scuba diving, and water-skiing. Even if you don’t feel very adventurous, a swim here is sure to drain away all your fatigue. The beach also houses some popular nightclubs and restaurants that you can try out when here.
6. Vagator Beach
Located on the bank opposite to the Chapora River, on the northernmost part of the Bardez taluka is the Vagator beach. Featuring soft, white sand and striking rocky cliffs, the Vagator beach offers tourists a sweeping view of the sea. But the factor that actually draws flocks of tourists from different corners of the country and outside of this place is, in fact, rave parties and its interesting food options.
One of the most laidback places in North Goa, the Vagator beach has a culture influenced mostly by its local art, music, and nightlife.
7. Arambol Beach
Another one among the top 10 places to visit in North Goa is the Arambol Beach. Popular with travellers and backpackers looking for some budget-friendly options to stay, this beach is best known for its beauty and tranquillity among both locals and visitors.
Exhibiting distinct Bohemian vibes, the long sandy shorelines at this beach are perfect for spending some quiet and relaxing time with your loved ones. Dolphin sighting can be arranged by the local fishermen which is a popular indulgence among tourists. You can also try paragliding from atop the cliffs at the Arambol beach.
8. Reis Magos Fort
Another time-tested yet popular place to visit in North Goa is the Reis Magos fort. This fort is located in a village by the same name, which in Portuguese refers to the Three Wise Men from the Bible. Established in 1551 C.E., the fort predates the fort of Aguada by almost half a century.
Although the fort was originally used to house viceroys and other personnel travelling to or from Lisbon in the 18th century, it went on to play a key role in the war against Marathas. Following this, the fort was transformed into a prison. Owned and managed by the Goa Government, the fort has now been converted into a cultural centre.
9. Terekhol Fort
Rich with history, the Terekhol (Tiracol) fort in North Goa is also a place that you must visit when here. Located at the mouth of the Tiracol River, this fort was originally built by Maharaja Khem Sawant Bhonsle in the 17th century. A hillock on the northern bank of the river was selected as the site owing to the fact that it offered a commanding view all around. The fort became a major part of the Portuguese maritime defences and was widely overhauled. Following the defeat of the Marathas, the fort became a part of the territory commanded by the British. The fort has now been converted into a hotel and is known as the Fort Tiracol Heritage.
10. Ashvem Beach
Located at a distance of 18 kilometers from Mapusa and 30 kilometers from Panaji Kadamba bus stand, the Ashvem Beach is one of the less explored beaches in North Goa. The beach is less crowded and has clean soft sand and gentle waves. It is just the place to be in for people seeking privacy or some quiet time by themselves close to a beach. This spot is especially popular with Goan families for picnics and has some mouthwatering seafood options on offer.
Ashvem beach is also known for being the nesting ground for the Olive Ridley Turtles so keep an eye out for them.
Take a lazy but refreshing stroll by the beachside, explore the cheap local markets or indulge in a wellness retreat with yoga classes on the beach – North Goa has a lot in store for you. You can plan a detailed itinerary before you set on your trip, or go about it easily with one of the Goa tour packages available online.