Do you know what attracts me to Goa?
Parties? No. Casino? No. Alcohol? No. Baga Beach? NO.
Forts? Yes. Silent Beaches? Yes. Goan Cuisine? Yes. Fontainhas? YES.
And, the best way to explore this part of the world is by doing walking tours in Panjim and Old Goa.
A guide to Walking Tours in Panjim and Old Goa –
In for a Mediterranean fling? Well, come along 🙂 With its Mediterranean appearance, narrow streets, colorful houses, and overhanging balconies this old district or the so-called ‘Latin Quarter’ set out at the base of Altinho Hill has a very different atmosphere from the rest of Goa. Fontainhas is a dreamy little neighborhood with the most friendly locals set at the heart of Panjim. Known for its beautiful windows and doors; the houses in Fontainhas are brightly colored and are very attractive.
Things to do in Fontainhas:
The 31’st January Road is magical. The quaint streets, the laid-back charm, and the colorful houses are sure to make your heart skip a beat. Visit Panjim Inn – A bright red and white; 180 years old mansion tucked at the corner of the street. Right opposite to Panjim Inn is the Geetanjali Gallery for Art. A great place for art lovers and you can pick some beautiful souvenirs for your family back home.
Visit the Chapel of St. Sebastian (Built in 1818) – A lovely, white-washed church tucked at the end of the quiet lane lined with beautiful, dreamy houses. And, do not miss the old wishing well down the road from the chapel. Throw a coin and make a wish. What would you wish for? 🙂
Maruti Temple – Built alongside Altinho Hill, this temple is dedicated to Hanuman and was built around 1934. The walk to the top offers beautiful views of the city and the Mandovi River.
To one end of the square is the Baroque styled Church of Immaculate Conception (also known as the Panjim Church) and to the other end is the shopping lanes of 18th June Road. The Panjim Church is the identity of Panjim. This beautiful white church was built way back in 1541 and the bell here is the second largest in Goa. I am not sure about other churches in Goa, but, in Panjim Church, one cannot wear shorts inside the chapel. Shyam could not come inside because he was wearing shorts. 😛 So yeah, remember that! 🙂
A beautiful residential area which houses some of the most elegant Latinesque buildings I’ve ever seen. Take steps around the corner from Panjim Church and walk up. At the top of the stairs is Sunaparanta – Goan Centre of Arts. This is a must visit place if you are an Art and Photography Enthusiast. The gallery is beautiful and also houses some amazing books by great photographers. You could also pick some trinkets and souvenirs here. Further, the walk will lead to the Bishop’s Palace (Built in 1886) – The residence of Archbishop of Goa. Do not miss the ‘Stations of the Cross’ as you walk up to the Bishop’s Palace.
The hill is beautiful and talks a lot about the Goa’s colonial past. Drive around the hills and explore the beautiful colonial architecture it has to offer.
Watch a sunset in Dona Paula:
Miramar Beach is the only beach which is at proximity from Panjim. Unlike other beaches in Goa, Miramar is way too simple in terms of activities and views. Though it is a nice option to go for a walk on the beach; I’d prefer heading to Dona Paula instead. It is a quaint fishing hamlet. Dona Paula is slowly gaining attention, but still, has a laid back charm to it. If you wish to enjoy beach sports – this is the place. Less crowd, no queue for tickets and pretty peaceful. Dona Paula makes for a perfect evening – Long walks, beautiful views, and a stunning sunset.
Shell Windows and Mosaic Art at Hotel Mayfair:
Stop by Hotel Mayfair to check out these beautiful Shell Windows. The windows here have oyster shells instead of glass panes. It has elements of an old Goan home and also houses some traditional mosaic works and murals. The oyster shells used in these glass panes are that of ‘Placuna Placenta’ also known as the ‘Window Pane Oyster’. Interesting? 🙂
Courtesy to the strong Portugal influence, there is history in every corner of the city. The best part is – the history is well preserved. Most of the government offices are still housed in the old Portugal buildings overlooking the beautiful Mandovi River which curves gently through the city.
Try and visit the old government offices, buildings – The General Post Office, Raj Bhavan, Maquinez Palace are housed in old Portugal styled buildings and have their charm intact. Drive through the Tobacco Square and Miramar Road (alongside Mandovi River) to spot many heritage buildings.
Panjim is a beautiful amalgam of legendary culture and nature’s beauty.
Where to stay in Fontainhas, Panjim:
There are a lot of good hotels in Panjim. We stayed at The Caravela Homestay and we loved every bit of it. It is centrally located and perfect if you are planning to do Panjim and Old Goa tours. Their rooms are neat and we loved the collection of books in the lounge. The homestay has a small bistro alongside which serves amazing breakfast all through the day. 🙂 The Caravela Homestay is a great stay option in Fontainhas. Another one that we would recommend is the Panjim Inn – An 180-year-old Portugal Mansion converted into a hotel. It is located at the heart of Fontainhas. What more does one want? 🙂
Where to eat Vegetarian Goan Food:
If you are a vegetarian, there are high chances that you might feel left out in Goa. Shyam and I were determined to devour vegetarian Goan cuisine. We found Viva Panjim and Mum’s Kitchen very good.
A quaint, little eatery set in an old Portuguese House serves great Goan Food at a reasonable price. We ate pure vegetarian Goan food at Viva Panjim and guess what? It was awesome. The Goan vegetable curry, mushroom vindaloo and the nutty Goan rice are True Classics. Do not miss the Mushroom Vindaloo if you are visiting Viva Panjim. It is one of the best dishes I’ve had in recent times.
Located on the Miramar Road, this restaurant serves some great Goan food. They also have a great collection of wines – So if you enjoy wine and Goan food – Mum’s Kitchen is the place to be. Also, the Bebinca (Topped with Vanilla Icecream) at Mum’s Kitchen is melt in the mouth and splendid. Bebinca is a type of pudding and is a traditional Goan dessert.
You can also find good Babinca’s at Mr. Baker (Church Square – Near the market area.)
Vegetarians who are craving for Goan food – Now you know where to come? Head straight to Viva Panjim or Mum’s Kitchen and enjoy the authentic Goan food. 🙂
The road leading to Velha (Old) Goa from Panjim is like a beautiful dream. With Mandovi River flowing along side, some fishermen and ferries for company, this road passes through beautiful Goan homes and everyday scenes. Laid back and charming is the word.
Old Goa has a lot of churches, convents and ruins. The famous ones are usually filled with people, so I’d suggest you head to the Holy Hill call Monte Santo instead. There is Augustine’s Ruins, Santa Monica Convent and Our Lady of Rosary Church tucked at the end of Santa Monica Convent. This particular church is hidden and is empty. I remember when we visited this church, there was not a single person – Eerie silence in the church, two of us and the beautiful view of Mandovi.
The best way to explore and do the walking tours?
This may sound contradicting but the best way to do the ‘walking tours’ of Panjim is with your bike. Walking can get tiring and time-consuming. Just rent a bike and you should be fine.
What did you do on your maiden trip to Goa? Talk all about it in the comments. I love reading your comments. 🙂