Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I earn from any qualifying purchases, at no additional cost to you.
This article lists the 17 best offbeat places in Goa.
While Goa is famous for the endless number of beaches, cheap booze, rave parties, and the fun vibe, there's a lot more to this popular beach destination. Apart from the popular tourist attractions, Goa has a bunch of scenic spots, islands, waterfalls, churches and chapels in a picturesque setting. Not only does Goa have a rich culture and heritage, but also immense natural beauty. I've written this post to especially appeal to the offbeat explorer in you. Whether you've already seen the mainstream Goa and want to try something different or whether you're looking to see another side of Goa, you'll find this blog post useful to plan your next trip to Goa.
Map of Offbeat Places in Goa
Offbeat Places in Goa
Nowadays, more and more people are drawn to towards the offbeat places in Goa, rather than the same old tourist hot-spots. In fact, you too are reading this post because the explorer in you wants to see another side of Goa. Perhaps you're even looking for some of the instagrammable places in Goa? In any case, take a look at some of the best offbeat things to do in Goa.
1. Divar Island
Take a ferry from Old Goa or from Ribandar to reach the charming little Divar island. The island is located approximately 10 km upriver from Panaji. While there isn't much to see at the inland except for a few churches, there's a stillness in the air that you feel while driving across the empty roads surrounded by marshy open fields. As you arrive at the laidback little villages surrounded by hills, step out of your car or bike and lake a leisurely walk along the single-lane roads and soak in the serenity of rural offbeat Goa. Keep in mind that Divar is an island village so don't do anything to disrupt the life of locals here.
On a side note, you can follow me on Instagram (@thespicyjourney) to get instant updates on offbeat places in Goa and beyond.
2. Salaulim Dam
Located in the Sanguem taluka of South Goa, approximately 26 km from Margao, Salaulim Dam is Goa's largest man-made water storage reservoir. Coupled with lush greenery and a large, picturesque garden, the dam makes for an ideal day-trip during and soon after the monsoon season in Goa. A sprawling lawn, canopy of trees, manicured hedges and ample open space make the botanical garden a favourite picnic spot among locals. Moreover, the garden was built to resemble Mysore's iconic Brindavan gardens. From the top of the dam, you can see the pellucid waters reflecting the forest on one side and the garden on the other side. The unique duckbill spillway of the dam falls with such force that it causes some of the water to rise up and create a misty appearance. If you can't get yourself to leave this place, there is a guesthouse located close-by where you can book your stay to spend a night near the dam.
When it comes to offbeat Goa, Chandor is as offbeat as it gets. One of the unexplored places in South Goa, Chandor used to be a magnificent city between the 6th and 11th century. While Chandor still retains an old-world charm, there are two mansions located in this village which you can visit to get a feel of this place.
Braganza House in Chandor dates back to the 16th century. The owners give the visitors a tour of the house, showing all the relics and where they came from. Most of the items in the house were imported from Europe. The highlight of the house is the grand ballroom, shown in the picture above. Expect to pay around Rs 300 per person, which goes into the maintenance of the house.
While you're in Chandor, you can also visit the Fernandes house. This house is less extravagant compared to Braganza house but the highlight of this house is the secret passage which was used in times of war. Besides, the man running the houses is the sweetest person. He was kind enough to open his house for me and my friend in the middle of his lunchtime and gave us a full tour. A visit to Fernandes house will cost Rs 100 per person.
Chandor is located 15 km south-east of Margao city.
4. Siolim Riverside Chapel
The Siolim chapel is located in Siolim which is roughly a half-hour drive away from Vagator. This chapel is set alongside the Chapora river, near the Siolim bridge. While the chapel is located in the popular North Goa, it's one of the most offbeat places in North Goa that resides in a tiny riverside village. If you're staying in Vagator or Anjuna, you can drive through the idyllic villages along the river to reach this chapel just a little before sunset to enjoy the peace and calm it offers. While you're here, you can also check out some of the other places to visit in North Goa.
5. Three Kings Church
Three Kings Church is situated on a hillock 12 km from Dabolim Airport, on the way to Margao. A tiny chapel atop a hill, it's a popular hangout place for locals residing nearby, including me. Since the Chapel is located at a height, you get to see spectacular views of the surrounding landscape, open fields, lanes surrounded by coconut trees and the sea at a distance. In addition to the views, there is a gentle breeze in the evening and a small road where you can take a leisurely stroll or sit on a grassy patch and take in the views. You can visit this Chapel while going from Dabolim airport towards Margao city or vice-versa.
Weren't you wondering if I would include some offbeat beaches in this list? There's no way I would leave beaches out of any list based in Goa. In contrast to the North Goa beaches, which are generally overcrowded, the beaches in South Goa see much fewer visitors. Not only are some of these beaches tranquil and nearly empty, but also some of the most picturesque places to visit in Goa.
Palolem beach, Agonda beach, Benaulim beach and Colva beach are the popular beaches in Goa, which means that they're nowhere close to being offbeat.
Cabo de Rama beach is a cliff-side beach, pictured above, which is one of my personal favourite beaches for a picnic and to see the sunset. Apart from that, Patnem beach, which is located just 2 km from Palolem beach, is another underrated beach in South Goa.
7. Cola Beach
How I wish I had a better picture to show the beauty of this beach. Cola beach is located in South Goa, less than 7 km from the popular Agonda beach and 50 km from Goa International Airport. There are multiple reasons why visiting Cola beach counts as one of the offbeat things to do in Goa. firstly, due to its offbeat location, you will need to do off-roading for a little while to reach here. Next, you will have to climb down a large flight of stairs to get to the beach.
Cola beach, apart from having a beach, also has a fresh-water lagoon surrounded by lush greenery and rustic beach huts. You can rent a kayak to go kayaking in the lagoon, swim around and relax in one of the beach huts at Cola beach. Not just that, you can even book a stay at these huts.
8. Kesarval Waterfall
While there are many waterfalls in Goa, most of them are located at far off distances and often require you to trek in order to reach them. However, Kesarval waterfall is located in Verna, a busy place which lies between Margao, Panaji and Vasco. This waterfall has a lot of water during and just after the rainy season in Goa and starts drying up by the time summer approaches. Nonetheless, if one of the best offbeat places in Goa that I can recommend due to it's close proximity to all major cities in Goa.
9. Heart Shaped Lake
Of all the offbeat things to do in Goa, this one tops my list. Whether you're going to the Goa airport or to Kesarval waterfall, you can take a short detour to visit the heart-shaped lake which is located in Bogmalo. This offbeat place in Goa can be reached via a non-existent dirt road near the Bogmalo beach, just 5 km from the Goa airport. The lake place is a popular hangout spot among college students and locals due to its offbeat location and the drop-dead gorgeous sea view.
10. Siridao Chapel
While Panjim city is a popular and busy place, there are a few offbeat things to do in Panjim as well. Siridao chapel, which has a blissful vibe and a great view (pictured above), is located 10 km from the heart of Panaji city. In fact, the chapel is not the only offbeat place in this area. There's even a beach here, called Siridao beach, which has been gaining popularity among people wanting to stay close to Panjim but who want to visit an offbeat beach. There's another beach in the vicinity called Bambolim beach, which is also another offbeat place to visit in Goa. Take a look at this guide to Panjim city to read about places to visit, events, hotels and more in the capital city of Goa.
When it comes to one of the best offbeat places in Goa, this one tops the list. The old Latin Quarters of Panaji, Fontainhas is an area bustling with colourful houses in bright maroon, green, blue and yellow. The cute restaurants, cafes and bars here are equally lively. Fontainhas is a region with a rich cultural history. It's not possible to capture the essence of Fontainhas in just one paragraph and so, I have dedicated an entire blog post on Fontainhas. Read this article to find out the hidden secrets, the best eats and the right spots to take Instagram-worthy pictures. Spending a day here is undoubtedly one of the best offbeat things to do in Goa.
12. Mangrove Boardwalk
Speaking of offbeat places to visit in Panjim city, the mangrove boardwalk is a recent addition to the city. Built as part of a beautification project, the boardwalk is located behind the state central library near the KTC bus stand in Panaji.
The mangrove boardwalk of Goa is the perfect place to snap pictures for the 'gram, walk around and chill out with friends. Its close proximity to Fontainhas makes for an ideal day trip where you can cover two of the best offbeat places to visit in Goa together.
There is no entrance fee to visit the mangrove boardwalk.
13. Reis Magos Fort
Goa has quite a few forts, both popular as well as offbeat ones. While Aguada Fort and Chapora Fort are the popular forts in Goa, the Reis Magos Fort is a lesser-known but the most beautiful of them all. Located just 5 km from Panaji and 5 km from Candolim, you can visit the fort from either of the two places. The fort is set along the Mandovi river and was built in the 16th century. It remains open from 9.30 am to 5 pm for visitors.
Apart from the picture-perfect location overlooking the expansive sea as well as the Mandovi river, Reis Magos fort has a unique architecture and lots of open spaces. The river-side location coupled with the greenery incorporated inside the fort is something I haven't seen in any fort in India.
14. Sao Jacinto Island
Jacinto island is one of those places where there's nothing much to do in terms of activity. Instead, it's the kind of place where you can spend endless time with your company. Located near Vasco-da-Gama city and accessed by a small bridge, this place is perfect for spending the evening, enjoying the light breeze and hanging out with friends. The location and the aura of this place certainly put it on top of the list of offbeat places to visit in Goa. Not just that, it's even one of the finest places to chill in Goa. There are 2 restaurants located at the start of the bridge and another one on the island, offering sweeping views of the river as well as good seafood, in case you decide to stay here for dinner.
15. Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount
While Old Goa may be famous because of the Old Goa church, there are certainly a lot more places to visit in Old Goa. Our Lady of the Mount Chapel is one of those places. Located on a small hillock just 2 km from the Old Goa church, this chapel overlooks the Old Goa attractions as well as the Mandovi river. It's just another one of those places which are great for watching the sunset. I can't help it - I'm a sucker for sunsets and if you are too, definitely pay a visit to this chapel while you're in Old Goa.
16. St Augustine Tower
Speaking of offbeat places to visit in Old Goa, St Augustine tower is another favourite of mine! You might recognize this location from a few Bollywood movie scenes and songs. Now a part of the World Heritage Site, Churches and convents of Goa, the tower is a part of a ruined church complex. This ruined complex is set in a sleepy lane, just a 2-minute walk from the famous Old Goa church. There's no entrance fee and no restrictions on photography but be careful not to touch or disrupt anything in the complex.
17. Mae de Deus Church
The Mother of God church aka Mae de Deus church is one of the rare Neo-Gothic churches in Goa. Set in the serene town of Saligao in North Goa, the church is also commonly known as Saligao church. The impressive architecture, the stark white colour of the church sharply contrasting the lush greenery around it makes for a picture-perfect setting. Not only is the church one of the most peaceful locations in North Goa, but it's also one of the best offbeat places to visit in Goa. Not just that, Saligao is a sleepy little town and driving here, surrounded by open fields and colourful houses, is quite pleasing.
Did You Enjoy this List of the Best Offbeat Places in Goa?