Almost everyone has made plans for a Goa trip with their friends while growing up. Because Goa is the land of good times and has this carefree vibe, unlike any other state. What few of us don’t investigate enough though is Goa’s extensive history.
The Portuguese have left their influences here since the 16th century and Old Goa still has its culture ingrained in the lay of the land. You can see some of these interesting historical sights in a single day on foot. Keep reading our Goa 1 day walking tour to know how you could go about it.
Route: Viceroys Arch - The Church of St. Francis of Assisi - Chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria - Basilica of Bom Jesus - Museum Of Christian Art - St. Augustine Tower
Goa Walking Tour Distance: Around 2 km.
Tour Duration: 3 hours.
With the beautiful Mandovi river as its backdrop and lush greenery on either side, the Viceroy Arch is a great place to begin a walking tour. It was built back in 1599 by Francisco da Gama, the Viceroy at the time. I am sure the name rings a bell in your head. He was the grandson of the great explorer Vasco da Gama.
The arch is made of strong laterite but the tides of time were not so kind to it and it was in need of severe repairs. In 1954, it was restored to its full glory, but there were some modifications. It no longer has its third tier which housed St Catherine’s bronze statue. But there is still plenty more here that will amaze you.
The river-facing side of the arch showcases Vasco da Gama's coat of arms with a deer emblem. The other side, which is towards the city, features a European woman in a robe and donning a crown while holding a book and a sword. But the highlight here is the statue of Vasco da Gama which is looking towards the beautiful Mandovi river.
The arch held a lot of importance during its heyday. Whenever a new governor took over Goa, he had to walk or ride through this arch after which the keys to the city of Old Goa were handed over to them. It was a ceremony that was duly followed by all governors. You see, Old Goa was the capital of Goa back then. But the popularity and importance of this monument faded away after 1843 when Panjim become the state capital.
Things to do here: Make sure you check out the Mandovi river which is just a few minutes away from here.
How much time to spend here: 20 minutes.
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Here we go, starting with the churches now. Goa has lots of beautiful churches but for this tour, we have picked some of the best ones. So, the next destination requires you to walk for just around 10 mins to the main square of Old Goa. The Church of St. Francis of Assisi is a huge white structure built using Tuscan architecture. But it wasn’t always like this.
It was established in around 1517 by eight Franciscan friars and it was just a small chapel back then. It was built into a church in 1521 and again underwent major reconstruction in 1661 and this is what we get to see now. The interiors of the centuries-old building are a blend of Baroque and Corinthian design choices and are full of intricately carved woodwork, marvelous frescos, and several paintings that speak about St. Francis.
Above the main altar, you will see the stature of St. Francis of Assisi and above it, you will find Jesus. The amount of decorative carvings done in this church is commendable. Just think about the crazy amount of time the skilled workers must have put in to get every detail right.
Things to do here: You are sitting inside a building that was built hundreds and hundreds of years ago. It is a huge deal. Let this sink in first. After spending some quiet time here, you can visit the convent next to the church which has a museum. It features paintings, artifacts and sculptures which are valuable memorabilia of Goa’s past.
How much time to spend here: 20 minutes. You can spend more if you want to visit the museum.
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While this is not a functional chapel, it still is one of the threads that weave together the glorious history of Goa. It was 25th November 1510, when the Portuguese general Afonso de Albuquerque fought against Adil Shah’s forces and conquered Goa. 25th was also the feast of St. Catherine and in order to commemorate this and his victory, he erected this chapel designed in the Baroque style of architecture.
It is interesting that a place where people go to find peace was built right after a war. The more you did deep into history, the more interesting it can get. 24 years after its creation, in 1534, it was rebuilt after receiving the status of a cathedral from Pope Paul III. It received another facelift in 1550 when it was expanded by the order of Jorge Cabral, who was the governor at the time.
Eventually, it became neglected and ended up being a deserted structure, but it is very easy to imagine how impressive it might have looked once upon a time. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular attraction.
Things to do here: Take a lot of pictures. How many times in life do you think you are going to get a chance to visit an abandoned chapel? Also, just feel the vibe of this place. It’s unlike anything else and worth experiencing.
How much time to spend here: 15 minutes.
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Just 10 mins away from the Chapel of St. Catherine of Alexandria is one of India’s most visited and most popular churches. The construction of this Basilica began in 1594. Bom Jesus is Portuguese for "Good/ Infant Jesus" and it holds a lot of importance. It’s a pilgrimage sight and one of the Seven Wonders of Portuguese Origin. The building is a breathtaking mix of Portuguese colonial and baroque architecture. Its interiors are nothing short of magnificent either.
Its floor is made of marble that’s studded with various precious stones, there are heavily engraved altars and several other design elements on the walls. All of these designs and engravings are in striking gold color and they contrast with the overall soothing white color. A statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola protecting baby Jesus can be found on the main altar. The paintings that are present around it are from the Bible.
St. Ignatius was the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). One of the most fascinating things about the Basilica of Bom Jesus is that the mortal remains of the 16th-century saint, Francis Xavier, are held here. The remains are kept for public display every 10 years.
Things to do here: You are standing inside a very important building. It has immense religious value and is an architectural masterpiece. Even if you don’t feel like praying, you should spend some time checking out the truly dedicated craftsmanship that went into every inch of this structure.
How much time to spend here: 30 minutes.
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A 550-meter walk will take you to the next stop on this tour. So far you must have understood that Goa has rich history and culture and now we are going to take a deep dive into it at the Museum Of Christian Art (MoCA). It is situated inside the Convent of Santa Monica which was built back in the 17th century. The museum first opened its doors in 1994 and has managed to make its way into top travel guides around the world and earn great ratings as well.
MoCA is a treasure chest in its own right. It contains several objects of Christian art ranging from gold and silver to ivory and textiles. Walking through the museum feels like taking a stroll through time as the objects here are from the mid-20th century to all the way back to the 16th century. This is why research scholars, dignitaries and art enthusiasts from India and the rest of the world are impressed with MoCA’s efforts.
Things to do here: Visit the museum shop for some exciting replicas and handmade art to take back home.
How much time to spend here: 40 minutes. But you can spend more time here if it interests you.
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We have arrived at the end of this tour. The final destination is 5 mins away from the former. When its construction was completed in 1602, it was a grand structure of laterite, rising to a height of 46 meters, equipped with 8 chapels, a convent, four towers and four altars. Now, all but one tower remains of what once was the Church of St. Augustine. Its fate was decided in 1835 when the Portuguese government in Goa announced new repressive rules and policies for evicting several religious orders.
The church had to be abandoned and in 1842, a major part of it collapsed and soon the walls collapsed too. Its only belonging that was properly preserved is its bell which was moved in 1871 to Panjim’s Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church. But St. Augustine Church’s story keeps going downhill. The facade and a huge part of its tower fell and by 1938, a lot of other parts did the same. All that is left now is one tower and some other small parts of the original structure.
The Portuguese government ruined this church, but they could never remove it entirely. One can’t help but wonder, how did the tower survive? Today, this tower is one of the most visited places in Goa.
Things to do here: Some places make us romantic, some fill us with happiness, but those places are also important that make us pause, introspect, feel a bit sad and ask some important questions. If you allow it, St. Augustine Tower will do that for you. What is it that you should do here? Experience these feelings.
How much time to spend here: 20 minutes.
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Start your tour early at around 7:30 or 8:00 am. So you will have plenty of time to spend at each of these locations. Many of these places are popular tourist spots, so you might find some crowds and long queues.
If possible, try to avoid going on this tour during the peak season. Old Goa usually attracts a lot of tourists during summer vacations and in the month of December. If you go any other time, you will have fewer crowds, i.e fewer people to ruin your pictures.
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The places on this tour will give you a good taste of Goa’s history. But there’s a lot more worth seeing here. If you have the time, there are more places that are absolutely worth visiting. After your walking tour, give your feet some rest, book a cab and let the mini-road trip begin!
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Goa is known for its laidback vibe and one of the best places to experience it is in Old Goa. You are sure to enjoy this one-day walking tour as we have cherry-picked some really great spots. We do hope that you get the time to visit the other places that we have mentioned above as well. While one day is enough to find out why Goa receives so much love from everyone, it would be great if you could spend more days or a week here. To be honest, the more time here, the better!
Which Side Of Goa Is Best?
North Goa and South Goa are the two districts that make up the state of Goa. Both are full of interesting places to visit. But the north is more commercialized and crowded. You will find a lot more clubs, restaurants, and shopping destinations in the North.
While on the other hand, the whole vibe of the South is different. It is quieter and slow-paced. The true essence of Goa, its laid-back tranquil lifestyle, and sleepy villages can best be experienced in the South.
What Are The Benefits Of Walking Tours?
Cities, towns and villages are not just about their tourist spots. When you walk from one place to another, you are really taking in everything that’s on the way. The air, the streets, the little benches on the sides, the sign boards, the local people and so many other little things that you just can’t notice from the seat of a vehicle when it is moving at 45 kmph. These little things make your tour wholesome.
What Is Famous In Goa Food?
Do yourself a favor and try all of these. Chicken Cafreal, Goan Fish Curry (Xitti Kodi), Pork Vindaloo, Chicken Xacuti, Sorpotel, Bebinca, Crab xec xec and Chouris pao.
What Is Famous Liquor In Goa?
Feni! You can only find it in Goa. The most popular one is cashew Feni and the other is coconut feni. These are made from the first juice extracts and have an alcohol strength of 42% abv. - 45% abv.
Is Goa Good For Nightlife?
Goa has one of the best nightlife that India can offer and it is one of the biggest reasons why so many tourists visit here. Tito’s Club, Club Cubana, Shiva Valley are just some of the top clubs here. You can also go clubbing on cruises in Goa!
What Is The Best Time To Visit Goa?
Goa is most happening from Mid-November to January. The weather during this time is just perfect. Christmas here is a big deal and its celebrations are something one should witness at least once in life. For music lovers, there’s the Sunburn festival that takes place at the end of December.
Is Goa Cheap To Visit?
Yes. But you will have to do a couple of things. Spend some time finding hotels or homestays (Airbnb is a good option) with decent ratings and economical rates. Make your reservations as early as possible. Do all of your travel in Goa on a rented two-wheeler, but rent only from a vetted person. Go during the months of May to September as this is the off-season.
Is Goa Safe At Night?
Yes. But one should always be careful of their surroundings. It is best to avoid empty areas wherever possible, keep someone informed of your whereabouts and do all the usual things that you have been doing so far to stay safe in your locality. While Goa is synonymous with good times, you have to understand that people with cruel intentions are present everywhere.