North Goa is known as the more chilled, hippy and yoga area in comparison with the South. Here are some places I visited:
My accommodation at Yoga Magic was in Anjuna, near the coast. Whilst the beach is not worth visiting in itself, I recommend combining it with a trip to the flea market on a Wednesday, which runs from 8am to the end of the day.
The market was an amazing experience – allow yourself at least two hours to explore the nooks and crannies and take some water as it can get hot! Just watching the locals, the bartering and the amazing colourful merchandise on sale is worth the trip. I got stuck in with the spirit of bartering and bought a whole array of items – scarves, ornaments, clothes, spices, tea and more! You can normal negotiate down at least 50% so hold your ground.
Also do not be surprised to see cows wandering around, sometimes alone and also sometimes dressed up in beautiful colours!
I also recommend the Saturday night market which starts around 7pm and goes on until 2/3am with live bands, trance music – it is a really fun lovely atmosphere. Not so much bartering here but similar merchandise to the Wednesday market and there are also more Westerners selling stock.
Slightly more upmarket and picturesque than Anjuna, Mandrem is around a 40 minutes drive north. Beautiful white sandy beaches split by a narrow river inlet with bamboo bridges connecting your from the shacks to the beach. Plenty of yoga here as well if you are interested.
From Mandrem, you can walk along the beach for around 30 minutes where you will arrive at Arambol, which is slightly more lively than Mandrem with beach parties, paragliding and more yoga!
We visited Beach Street Resort where there is a beautiful inside and outside restaurant / bar with large huts overlooking the beach – absolute paradise. I had a tasty strawberry dacquiri (about £3!) and other drinks were similarly priced or cheaper. The tandoori fish platter was great as well.
Lovely to visit for the day and definitely make sure you visit La Plage (situated down a long drive so you could easily miss it!) which takes you into a little tropical paradise right by the beach.
The menu has a French influence and has a great range of seafood. There were 12 of us eating and the general consensus was positive – good feedback on the risotto and prawns in particular. I opted for the beef steak (as Yoga Magic was vegetarian, I was missing meat) which came with Mediterranean vegetables, salad and some very tasty potatoes.
I am not always a dessert girl but I just had to try the chocolate thali which ended up being a great decision! We has raw chocolate, sponge, coffee, coconut and ice cream – great mixture and enough to share.
Do book in advance if you can, as it is popular. 2 courses (thali to share) and a drink was around £12 -15 – absolutely bargain.
The capital of Goa, Panaji, is also known by its former Portugeuese name, Panjim and is by the peninsula overlooking the Mandovi River, where there are floating casinos to visit.
The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is a white church in the centre of the city built in 1619.
The main attraction for me was the Old Latin Quarter, which are a number of narrow streets that showcase the Portuguese influence – beautiful bright and pastel colours of houses, shops and chapels make it a wonderful place to just meander through.
Although you could spend much longer here, a whistle stop tour can be done in around 2 hours.
Old Goa is, as the name suggests, the old capital and main part of Goa until 1835. It is now mainly a space for tourists to visit the beautiful churches and chapels. I was also extremely impressed by some of the surrounding gardens.
The two main sights are the Basilica of Bom Jesus and Se Cathedral (both free entrance) and I also recommend Viceroy’s Arch and the Church and Covent of St Cajetan which has some lovely gardens.
You could wander around Old Goa in around 2 hours.
Lastly, if you are looking for a decent department store, check out Fab India (there are a number of branches in Goa) which has good clothes and homeware.