Curious Newbie's Guide To Goa's Best Hangout Spots

Goa has something for everyone and it goes much beyond the typical. You can spend your time exploring Goa's history through old chapels and forts, indulge in offbeat adventure sports on lesser-known beaches, cycle through quaint islands, or go cafe/bar hopping in some of the hippest neighbourhoods (looking at you, Fontainhas, oh hello, Assagao). The Sunshine State truly has something for every budget. So, if you're wondering where to get the search party started, we've put places that serve as a good starting point. Map your vacation such that they include these hangout spots in Goa and a fun time's almost guaranteed! 

Fort Aguada

Located in Candolim, a short distance away from Taj Fort Aguada Resort, Fort Aguada is a popular tourist attraction in North Goa. Built in 1612, this fort was built as the chief defense of Portuguese against the Dutch and Marathas. The spot had a freshwater spring, which made it a pit stop for ships to replenish their freshwater stocks at. In fact, this is how this place got its name: Aguada means water. The fort stands on a hill that provides sweeping views of the sea, and even gives you a bird’s eye view of the point where the Mandovi river meets the sea. Today, this fort is a popular hangout spot that is loved for its sunset views. Best part? You can walk right in. There's no entry fee. 

Fontainhas

Goa’s Latin Quarter flanked by Ourem Creek on one side and Altinho Hills on the other is a hot tourist spot that's had a revival of sorts off late thanks to Instagram. Once upon a time, these candy-coloured homes belonged to Portuguese administrative officers and rulers back in the 1800s. Narrow cobbled streets and bylanes will teleport you to a village in Europe, you will notice that the roads are named after important Portuguese events like Rua 31 de Janeira (31st January Road) is the day Portugal got independence from Spain in 1640; and 18th June Street is named after the day in 1946 that marked the end of Portuguese rule in India. Don't let this make you feel like the Latin Quarter is all history. In fact, some of Goa's hippest bars, restaurants, art galleries, casinos and designer boutiques are clustered around this picture-perfect neighbourhood

Maruti Mandir, Tobacco House, St. Sebastian Chapel, Immaculate Conception church, Ourem Creek are some of the places worth visiting. Café Venite, Joseph Bar, Kokni Kanteen and Black Sheep Bistro come recommended for meals and drinks. So, make a day of hanging out in Panjim and you can thank us later. 

Reis Magos Fort

This beautifully maintained fort is the oldest fort in Goa is ideal for those who like to spend time away from the tourist-filled areas around the beach. Built in 1551, this Portuguese fort provides a splendid view of the Mandovi and the city of Panjim in a distance. A walk around this serene site is relaxing and if you're someone who likes to explore places at an unhurried pace, you can walk around the rooms and walk around the ramparts and of course, revel in the sea views. It's obviously a popular viewpoint that is best visited during the sunset. In fact, it's a good idea to club it with your Fontainhas trip. 

At the base of the fort, you can climb down the stairs to reach the Reis Magos Church, a church that is said to have been built on the ruins of an old Hindu temple. It is one of the three places in Goa where the unique feast of Three Wise Men is held every year on January 6. An entry of 50 INR has to be paid before entering the premises. The fort has a museum shop too and a room dedicated to Mario Miranda's artworks. 

Tip: There are a lot of private events like movie screenings, art festivals, music concerts etc that are held at Reis Magos Fort. It's also a popular wedding venue.

Hollant Beach

Hollant Beach is located in Bogmalo in South Goa. It's a hidden gem in South Goa that is not frequented by too many tourists. The beach is a curvy stretch of golden sand, and is seen lined with colourful sunbeds and rustic boats, and provides mesmerising views of the sea in the horizon. There are not too many shacks here, so we suggest heading down to enjoy a swim and a picnic lunch (it’s also a safe beach for children to swim). Because of the gorgeous views, this beach makes for a great photography venue, and even artists like to come down to be inspired by the beauty.

Palolem Beach

We know Palolem beach isn't half the quiet beauty it once was, but it's still a great option for those who want a beachy time with the side of shopping, shack hopping and water sports. Flanked by rocks on both sides and palm trees on one end, it provides a safe space to enjoy some tranquil peace by the beach. It’s a good beach to swim at, and if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even opt for kayaking, sailing and boating here. A combination of all this makes Palolem beach one of our favourite hangout places in South Goa.

There are shacks that line the beach and are popular hangout spots, and cafes and stores in the lanes leading up to the beach are loved by tourists. There are not too many parties in this part of town, except for the Silent Noise Party at Neptune Point that has people from all parts of Goa. Popular shacks include Dropadi, Café Inn, Magic Italy, Ciarin's, Sundowner bar and Little World

Assagao

Assagao is a small village in Goa that has become a tourist favourite over the last year or so. Hospitality brands have fallen in love with this quiet, green neighbourhood of Goa, which explains why some of the best restaurants and boutiques in Goa have popped up in Assagao. Winding roads lined with lush green trees, bungalows that make for the cosiest ambience while you enjoy good food, luxury cottages that provide offbeat stays are just some of the reasons why Assagao has been on the informed tourist's radar. Vinayak for its seafood and fish thalis, Gunpowder for its coastal fare and cocktails, Suzie’s for its romantic setting, The Burger House for its meaty gourmet burgers and SEA for its innovative cuisine are responsible for this area's rise to the top. If you're a shopper at heart, there are Rangeela, People Tree Design Studio, No Nasties are some of the stores we love. Namaste Jungle, Hotel Astoria, Bontanique and The Project Cafe are our picks of popular places to stay in the area. With all of this to explore, would you blame us for hanging out here all the time? 

Candolim Main Market

Take a walk down the Candolim Road in the evenings, and you will see the hustle-bustle of the crowd as they make their way to the nearest shacks, bars and pubs. Candolim road has a lot of options when it comes to getting a drink with friends, and you can opt from places like Watson’s, Fisherman’s Cove, Candolim Deck, Cafe Chocolaatti, Bomras, Davide's Pizzeria and Calamari beach shack amongst many more. There are designer stores for shopping too, and if you’re in the mood to get a beach wardrobe ready, the stalls lining the road will help you find a lot of good stuff at great prices. Later at night, the whole stretch is buzzing thanks to clubs like Showbar and SinQ. 

In case you're keen on staying this side, we have a complete guide to Candolim's best resorts.

Flea Markets

A visit to the night markets is a must-do during season time. If you’re not too much of a shopper, you can head to the night markets to check out the live music performances, eat great food, and get an insight into the multi-cultural aspect of Goa. People from all over the world display their goodies at the stalls, and you will find yourself with a bag or two of shopping goodies by the end of the night. From earrings and anklets and beachwear to winter wear, music instruments and art, the night markets have something for everyone, and are a great place to be introduced to stories from around the world. These flea markets remain open till around 2am. The famous night markets in Goa include the Saturday Night Market at Arpora, Mackie’s Saturday Night Market at Baga, Friday Market at Mapusa and Anjuna Flea Market that happens on Wednesday afternoons. The newest one is the Goa Collective Bazaar in Vagator. 

Chapora Fort

Made famous by Dil Chahta Hai, this fort in North Goa saw an increase in the number of visitors once after the movie released. The iconic wall where the movie was shot still sees tourists thronging to get that picture perfect frame. Built by the Portuguese in 1617, Chapora Fort was made entirely from laterite rock. A sweeping grassland surrounded by walls, it provides 270 degree views of the sea, making it a fun place to take photos and hang around. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also climb down and head towards the hill that lies a little ahead of the fort. Climbing the fort is a good hike, and we recommend doing this early in the morning, or towards sunset. 

Sinquerim Beach

Towards the end of the Baga-Calangute-Candolim beach is this beautiful beach with golden sand, located right under Taj Fort Aguada Resort. Sinquerim Beach is a great place to relax, and we recommend this if you wish to enjoy a book, a workout, or just a lazy day by the beach. Compared to its noisy and crowded neighbours, this is a quiet stretch of sand that is great for swimming, beach volleyball, scuba diving, water skiing, banana boat rides and even windsurfing! There is also a small fort right next to the beach, and if you’re feeling adventurous we suggest taking a hike up to the green slopes of this fort. If you’re interested in water sports, you'll be a happy beach bum here!