You don’t need a reason to visit Goa. But you could definitely do with a plan, especially with the long weekend coming up. Bhagyashri Pawar draws one up for you.

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Places you will cover in this trip: Panaji, Divar Island and Old Goa Also Read - Zoom Launches New Home Communication Device at $599 For Enhanced Video Conferences

Getting in: Also Read - Coronavirus in Telangana Crosses 39,000-mark With 1,597 New Cases, 11 Fresh Deaths

Take the Konkan Kanya Express, which departs from Mumbai CST at 11.05 pm and reaches Karmali at 11.10 am the next day. Also Read - Global COVID-19 Cases Top 13.2 Million : Johns Hopkins

Karmali is the nearest railhead from Panaji and the train journey takes about 12 hours.

Fare for Konkan Kanya Express: Rs 380 (Sleeper), Rs 1020 (3A), Rs 1475 (2A), Rs 2490 (1A)

Auto rickshaws and taxis are readily available from Karmali railway station to Panaji.

The distance between Karmali and Panaji is 15.8 km, and it can be covered in 35 to 45 minutes.

There are no fixed fares but you can strike a deal with the auto/cab driver for anything between Rs 200 and Rs 300.

Day 1

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Photograph Courtesy: Parth Joshi/Creative Commons

The best way to get around Goa is on a two-wheeler.

Typically, a scooter like an Activa or a Dio should set you back by just about Rs 300 a day during the off season.

Most hotels have a local bike rental on call but here are a few agencies from where you can hire a bike in Panaji.

1. B & G Travels And Holidays

Contact: +91-832-2222786

Address: 206, 2nd Floor, Nizari Bhavan, National Talkies, Dr Pissurlekar Street, Panaji, Goa 403001

2. Baretto Car & Bike Rental

Contact Number: +91-9822124943

Address: Head Post Office, Panaji, Goa 403001

3. Neliza Tours & Travels

Contact Number: +91-832-6547102

Address: Cardozo Building, KTC Bus Stand, Panaji, Goa 403001

Accommodation in Panaji:

Since you most likely will be tad exhausted from your train journey, consider keeping a leisurely schedule.

Here are a few places where you can stay in Panaji.

Miramar Residency

Tariff: Rs 1780 – Rs 4800/night

Address: Miramar, Panjim, Goa 403001, India

The Crown

Tariff: Rs. 5191/night

Address: Bairo Alto Dos Pilotos, Jose Falcao Road, Panjim, Goa 403001, India

Vivanta By Taj

Tariff: Rs. 7300/night

Address: Off D. B., Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, Panjim, Goa 403001, India

Goa Marriott Resort & Spa

Tariff: Rs. 11,357 per room, per night

Address: Miramar Beach, Panjim, Goa 403001, India

After relaxing, head out to Dona Paula in the evening.

Named after Paula Amaral Antonio de Souto Maior, daughter of a viceroy who arrived in Goa in 1644, Dona Paula offers stunning panoramic views of the Arabian Sea.

Dona Paula

Photograph Courtesy: Parth Joshi/Creative Commons

Aim your camera at the friendly locals, walk around or simply watch the sun go down, Dona Paula is a great way to begin your Goa sojourn.

Miramar Beach is to Panaji is what Juhu is to Mumbai. Thanks to its proximity to the capital, every Panajikar and tourist looks for an excuse to descend upon this beach.

Ride down to the beach if only to take a walk or grab a bite in one of the restaurants nearby. Miramar Residency, the Goa Tourism Development Corporation resort, offers good food and great accommodation for a decent price.

Goa

Photograph Courtesy: Nilanjan Sasmal/Creative Commons

Alternatively, head to any of the following restaurants to sample the best of Goan food:

Mum’s Kitchen

Address: 854, Martins Building, Dayanand Bandodkar Street, Miramar Road, Panaji, Goa 403001

Meal for two (without alcohol): Rs 1800 to Rs 2000

Other restaurants that you ought to try in Panaji are:

O Goa, Hotel Fidalgo

Meal for two (without alcohol): Rs. 1500

Address: Fidalgo, 18th June Road, Panaji, Goa

Riorico Restaurant, The Mandovi

Meal for two (without alcohol): Rs. 2500

Address: Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, New Panaji Market, Near SBI Main Branch, Panaji, Goa 403001,

Day 2

You can begin your day early, especially if you want some great pictures of the streets in Panaji.

You can start with Fontainhas, a street which exhibits the influence of Portuguese.

Then, head to the Gitanjali Art Gallery in Panaji’s Latin Quarter to soak up some more colonial history.

Other places that you must visit while sightseeing in Panaji are:

Goa State Museum:

Goa State Museum has around 8000 artefacts on display, which include wooden objects, carvings, stone sculptures, paintings, manuscripts, rare coins and much more.

Address: EDC Complex, Panaji, Patto, Goa, India

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church (Panaji Church):

First constructed in 1541 as a chapel, this wedding cake-shaped church is a classic example of Baroque architecture and the most recognizable landmark of Panaji. If you can, schedule your visit to coincide with the Sunday mass when the city’s faithful flock to the church.

Address: Altinho, Panjim, Goa 403001

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Customs Museum: The Customs Museum in Goa provides a glimpse of how gold, precious metals and currency notes were smuggled in and out of the country.

Address: Avenida Dom João de Castro, Opp. Jetty Captain & Port, Ozari, Panjim, Goa 403001, India

Santa Monica Jetty Boat Rides:

Sail along the River Mandovi with live music and dance performances by some of the most talented young women and men.

Cost: Rs. 300 per head

Duration: One hour

Address: Booth No. 1, Tourism Jetty, Below Mandovi Bridges, Patto, Panjim, Goa 403001, India

Depending on how light your wallet is by now, head to any of these places for lunch:

Ritz Classic

Meal for two (without alcohol): Rs 800

Address: Ground Floor, Gera Imperium – II, Patto Plaza, Ozari, Panjim, Goa 403001, India

Viva Panjim

Meal for two (without alcohol): Rs. 800

Address: 178, 31st January Road, Behind Mary Immaculate High School, Fontainhas, Panaji, Goa

Fisherman’s Wharf

Meal for two (without alcohol): Rs. 1100

Address: DB Bandodkar Road, Campal, Panaji, Goa

Head back to your hotel, freshen up and head out to the onshore Casino.

There are several floating casinos on River Mandovi to pick from and the entry fee covers food and drinks and also provides for a few coins for your game!

Deltin Royale

Entry Fee:

Rs. 2500 (Mon-Thurs), Rs. 3000 (Fri-Sun)

Address:

Noah’s Ark, RND Jetty, Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, Panjim, Goa 403001, India

Casino Pride

Entry Fee:

Rs. 2000

Address:

River Mandovi, Captain of Ports Jetty, Panjim, Goa 403001, India

Once you are exhausted or have exhausted all your money, you can head back to your hotel for the night.

Day 3

Most people don’t like rising early in Goa but we’d suggest that you do so for this particular trip to Goa.

Venture out early to photograph the perfect architectural pieces in Goa, under the well-lit sky!

Today, head to Old Goa, the former colonial capital that has some of the most scenic churches and convents in the world!

Basilica of Bom Jesus:

Dating back to 1605, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is yet another example of Baroque architecture in India and is best known for being the home to the relics of St Francis Xavier. More on this UNESCO World Heritage Site here!

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Se Cathedral:

Built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese under Afonso de Albuquerque over the army of Ismail Adil Shah of Bijapur, Se Cathedral is also one of the largest in Asia. More about Se Cathedral here!

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Church and Convent of St Francis of Assisi:

Constructed by the Portuguese in 1661, the Church and Convent of St Francis of Assisi is part of the same cluster of shrines. It is difficult not to be in awe of the huge three-storied building and its accompanying lawns. Explore the church, admire the painted panels that depict scenes from the life of St Francis of Assisi or just walk along in the lawns and soak in the ambience.

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While these are the important sites that you absolutely must not miss in Old Goa, you will be surprised by several other churches that you will come across while roaming Velha.

While sightseeing, you can take a break to grab a bite at any of the following places:

River Isle

Meal for two (without alcohol): Rs. 500

Address: Opposite Divar Ferry Wharf, Ribander

Viva Goa

Meal for two (without alcohol): Rs. 400

Address: Opposite Post Office, Gandhi Circle, Old Goa

After sightseeing in Old Goa, you should head to Old Goa Jetty to reach Divar Island.

Divar Island

Divar Island lies some 10 km upriver from Panaji along the Mandovi and is connected by ferry boats from Old Goa, Ribandar and Narve.

Know that you can take your ride with you on the (very) short ferry ride.

Cost for the ferry ride: Free

Cost for taking a bike on the ferry: Free

Cost for taking a car on the ferry: Rs. 10

Ferry Timings: 6:00 to 00:00 hours.

Divar Island is quaint, retains its old world charm and is home to very friendly locals.

It is a perfect place to unwind, away from the city’s noise and crowd.

The Church of Our Lady of Compassion, atop a hillock in Piedade, offers a panoramic view of the Island and watching the meandering Mandovi, churches of Old Goa and the countryside makes a trip to Divar Island totally worth your while!

By late evening, take a ferry back to Ribandar and ride back to your hotel or consider dining and drinking at the place mentioned below:

Down The Road

Down The Road is a pub and restaurant in Panaji, with great music and awesome food. The ambience is cool and it’s a great place to chill out.

Meal for two (with alcohol): Rs 1500

Address: H. No 99, Fatardo House, Old Patto Bridge Rua de Ourém, Panjim, Goa 403001, India

Day 4:

Return Journey

Return to Mumbai by the Mandovi Express that departs from Karmali at 9.10 am and reaches Mumbai CST by 9.30 pm.

Fare for Mandovi Express: Rs. 220 (2S), Rs. 380 (Sleeper), Rs. 1020 (3A), Rs. 1475 (2A), Rs. 2490 (1A)