Places To Visit In Panjim – The Heart Of Goa

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Miramar, Panaji Beach - Places to visit in Panjim
Miramar, Panaji Beach – Places to visit in Panjim

Panjim or Panaji, Goa has been home for me for last few years. We tend to take our homes for granted, so did I. This post took so long to write, but I hope it would be like we say in Hindi – Der Aaye, Durust Aaye. It came late, but it came out well. Get to know about Places to visit in Panjim.

Panjim is surrounded by waters on almost all sides. On one side is Mandovi merging into the Arabian sea, on other River Zuari. To get out of Panjim, you need to cross one of these rivers or walk along Mandovi till it feels like a mainland.

History of Panjim, Goa

Vegetable Market in Mario Miranda style wall murals at Panaji Vegetable Market, Goa
Vegetable Market in Mario Miranda style wall murals

Panjim is an island that got connected to Old Goa, which was the capital of Portuguese Goa when a long causeway connected it. I am talking about the Ribandar Causeway that still connects Panjim to Old Goa through an arched structure in laterite stone. When I walk on this, I feel I am walking on the birth limb of Panjim.

Do you know Panjim has two roads named after two historicals dates – 18th June Road and 31st January Road.

Initially, Panjim was limited to an area that we now know as Fontainhas. A lovely little area with colorful houses and heavenly bakeries. Now, it is becoming home to heritage hotels, boutiques and designer stores. If you have seen Panaji in films, you have probably seen this area.

Places to visit in Panjim

Explore following interesting heritage, landmarks, city walk, leisure, art, festivals, restaurants, museums, water sports, entertainment, beaches while visiting Panjim, Goa.

Landmarks of Panjim

Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church

This late 16th CE church with lovely staircase sits on a hill overlooking the city of Panjim. It is the most photographed and filmed part of Panjim and maybe Goa. It is a pleasure to sit in front of it and admire the lovely structure. One of the popular places to visit in Panjim particularly during Christmas.

Maruti Temple

On another sits the saffron-colored temple dedicated to Hanuman. The temple is best seen at dusk when it is lit up and it shines like a jewel in the hill. It needs a bit of endurance to climb the steep steps leading to Maruti temple.

Adil Shah Palace or Old Secretariat

This lovely building in quintessential yellow and white is the only Palace in Panjim. Now it is home to art exhibitions. We keep hearing the state museum will shift here, but it is yet to happen. The road that you see outside the palace was a moat around the palace.

Cabo Raj Bhawan

The official residence of the Governor of Goa is situated on the tip of a finger jutting out into the Arabian sea. Normally, you are not allowed to go inside, but on the Sunday mornings, it is open for those who want to visit the church there. Try your luck – its worth a visit. Of course, if you know the governor, invite yourself!

Mahalakshmi Temple

One of the most popular temples in Panaji dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi. Do not miss the unique Deepstambh in brickwork here.

Museums in Panjim

Panjim has 3 museums. Museum buffs may easily spend some time during the daytime.

Goa State Museum

Mahishasurmardini at Goa State Museum - Panaji
Mahishasurmardini at Goa State Museum – Panaji

Like every state museum, this museum aims to showcase the heritage and antiquities of the Goa state. Not the best museum you would see, but go there to see a lovely wooden Rath or Temple Chariot, the ancient Hero stones that honor the brave posthumously. Time needed – 1 hour. It is indeed the Places to visit in Panjim if you like heritage and museums.

Goa State Excise Museum

This is a lovely little museum located in a 400+-year-old blue building on the banks of Mandovi River. On the two floors of this museum, you walk through the history of smuggling – I call it a walk through the smugglers’ minds over the ages. Of course, it also tells you the tales of customs and taxes that exist across borders. Time Needed – 1 hour. Read my detailed blog post here.

Goa Science Centre

Goa Science Centre is the go-to place for school going kids. They can see magic galleries and learn about a bit of science in this museum conveniently located close to Miramar Beach.

Experiences

Following are some of the cherishable experiences you may gain here.

Sunset at Dona Paula

Dona Paula is famous for its sunset. It gives you a vantage point where you only see the sky, sea, and sun. Reach 20-30 minutes ahead of sunset time and enjoy the stunning sunsets of Goa. Sunsets are particularly colorful and dramatic post monsoons in October and November.

Cruises & Water Sports in Panjim, Goa

Yacht Ride
Yacht Ride

Panaji offers plenty of water-based activities at Mandovi river, estuary, and Arabian sea. You can hire a private boat to explore the backwaters of Mandovi river, birding near the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.

Most organized cruises operate in the evening – for the tourists to have fun, get sunset view, dusk view, dolphin sighting etc.

  • Boat Ride on Mandovi
  • Dinner Cruise on Mandovi
  • Paragliding
  • Jet Ski Ride
  • Yacht ride

Panjim Beach

Miramar Beach

Miramar beach is the most popular beach of Goa – always full of tourists. This is where I go for my evening walks when I am at home. It is a pleasure to watch the sunset here as tourists try to catch them with their cameras.

Bambolim Beach

This is a quieter beach mostly visited by people who stay in the high-end hotels located next to it. We always take our guests to Bambolim beach for a quiet beach experience. Though, technically it is a bay and not a beach.

Walking Trails in Panaji

Fontainhas Heritage Walk

Fontainhas - Places to visit in Panjim
Fontainhas – Places to visit in Panjim

The Fontainhas is the oldest part of Panaji, sometimes also called the Latin Quarters. It is known for its colorful houses and steep staircases that connect it to the hill above. This is the popular walking trail of Panaji. The heritage Places to visit in Panjim.

Read our detailed post on Fontainhas Walk

Mandovi Promenade Walk

Panaji is one of the few cities in India that is walking friendly. The main road of Panaji officially called D B Bhandodkar Road is a great place to walk. I would suggest starting from Kala Academy. Watch the sunset at Darya Sangam and then walk towards the Jetty point along the Mandovi River. You can stop and stroll at the Forest Park or taste some street food on the way. By the time it’s dark, all the boats, signboards and casino boats would be lit up. It is a must-see sight in Panaji.

Dona Paula Walk

Sunset Viewpoint Dona Paula, Goa
Sunset Viewpoint Dona Paula – Places to visit in Panjim

Dona Paula is best known for its sunset and its famous statue of Dona and Paul. However, it is a pleasure to walk on the lanes leading to the Jetty with some hidden treasures.

Read our detailed post on Dona Paula Walk.

University Walk

Goa University has a lovely campus. We love to go for walks there. The best one is behind the university library. Reach the library and walk on the road that takes you behind the library. The narrow road will take you past many departments but more importantly through many trees where you can spot many birds.

Festivals of Panaji

Shigmotsav Ghodi Dance Goa
Colorful Shigmotsav – our favorite of Panaji Festivals.

Panaji celebrates all major festivals, here are some special ones that we recommend.

New Year at Miramar Beach

Start your new year by witnessing the fireworks at Miramar Beach. You not only see the fireworks of Miramar but also see the panorama of fireworks on North Goa beaches

Lokotsav

This is a folk festival when artists from around the country come and perform at Kala Academy for good 10 days or so. It is a cultural riot with an equally happening market where you can buy products from across India. The cherry on this cake is the street food of India that is usually not available in Goa.

Viva Goa Carnival

Celebrated in the month of Feb this is well, a carnival. The main street is full of colorful floats and there are song and dance all around. King Momo rules from 3 days and his orders are – eat, drink and be merry.

Read more –  Viva Carnival

Shigmo

This is personally my favorite Goa festival. 18th June Road reverberates with traditional music of Goa. Festivities roll and the audience on both sides of the road enjoy. This is the Holi Time festival of Goa.

Read More – Shigmo – The Cultural Extravaganza of Goa

Sao Joao

The onset of monsoons is celebrated by jumping into wells and well, these days into swimming pools.

Read More – Sao Joao

Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with fervor in Panaji. Public Pandals are set up in various parks.A peculiar thing to notice in Ganesh Pandals of Panaji is the Matoli made with fruits, vegetables, and local herbs.

Anant Chaturdashi

One of the biggest houses of Panaji – the Mamai Kamat house opens its doors for everyone to celebrate this festival. Any number of who come are served a multi-course meal. This is quite a unique way to celebrate this September festival.

Narkasur Chaturdashi

This is the way Panaji celebrates Diwali. Children get together to create the demon Narkasur only to burn it down the last day.

IFFI – International Film Festival of India

In November, Panaji plays host to the biggest film festival in India. Venues like Kala Academy, ESG and INOX theater are full of cinema lovers. The main street is decorated and the weather is just perfect to move around.

This is your chance to rub shoulders with whos who of the film industry and watch some of the world’s best cinema.

GALF – Goa Arts and Literary Festival

December brings the literature and art lovers together at ICG goa for 4 days. Talks, panel discussions, workshops, art exhibitions, networking, bookstores, book launches – there is so much for the literature lovers to look forward to.

Christmas

The Churches of Goa are a sight to see during Christmas. We usually go for a drive to see the churches and the Cribs that dot the city. It is interesting to see the creative displays every year – many of them floating in the water.

Public Spaces in Panaji

Sunapranta - Places to visit in Panjim
Sunapranta – Places to visit in Panjim

Panaji the capital of Goa is always buzzing with activities that include public performances or talks. Here are some of the places you should check out:

Kala Academy

This is a well-designed Academy with multiple auditoriums. It plays host to all kinds of concerts, plays, festivals. On the banks of River Mandovi just as it merges with the Arabian Sea, it is a good place to watch the sunset or to enjoy the activities.

Check out Kala Academy Website for latest events.

International Center, Goa

Located near Dona Paula, ICG is home to Goa Art and Literary Festival that is held in December. Rest of the year too, it has talks, workshops, quizzes. Check out their events calendar – ICG, Goa.

Sunapranta

This Palacious Goan house in blue and white on top of Altinho Hill is home to Art shows and has a film screening every Wednesday. Their cafe is perfect for you to sit back relax or even work from. They hold an annual Sensorium festival. Check out what Sunapranta has to offer when you are visiting Panaji

Goa State Library – Panaji

Goa State library is not just the best public library in India. It is also home to Goa Art & Culture department. See our detailed post on Goa State Public Library.

Menezes Berganza Hall

This is a favorite venue for local events. Check out the local newspaper for what is happening. During the day, you can buy homemade stuff like Pickles and Sweets sold by women’s self-help groups. This long yellow building is also home to Goa Police Headquarters. The entrance to Menezes Berganza Hall has Goa’s best Azulezos paintings – handmade in Blue & White.

Azulejos at Menezes Berganza Hall - Panaji, Goa
Menezes Berganza Hall – Panaji, Goa

Read More – Azulezos – the CHarming Hand Made Tiles of Goa

This long yellow building is also home to Goa Police Headquarters.

Fundaco Oriente

A quaint art gallery in Fontainhas that hosts occasional talks and art shows.

Bookstores in Panaji

Broadway Books – The best place to get books on Goa or by Goan authors. They have two outlets in Panaji – one on 18th June road and other in Caculo Mall – I love going to the former which has an old world charm and a much bigger collection.

Singhbal’s Book Store – opposite the main Church Square – a lovely building in White and Blue.

Bookworm is a lovely children’s library and bookstore in Taleigao.

Of course, there is crossword for regular bestsellers.

However, what we recommend is a visit to Goa State Library at Panaji, Saraswati Library on June 18th Road and 100+-year-old reading room in Fontainhas.

Shopping in Panaji

This is where you can go to pick up your Panaji Souvenirs.

  • Mario Miranda Gallery near Panaji Church
  • Wendell Rodricks Boutique in Campal
  • Zantye for Cashew and Kokum Sherbet
  • Municipal Market / Fish Market – more for street photography
  • 18th June Road – for anything under the sun

Read More – Azulejos – Charming Hand Painted Tiles of Goa

Restaurants in Panjim

  • Black Sheep Bistro for local fusion food
  • Hotel Fidalgo Restaurants
  • Fish Curry, Goan cuisine at Ritz Classic
  • Goenchin – locals love it. Don’t ask me why!

Read More – Vegetarian Fine Dining Restaurants in Goa

Cafes in Panaji

  • Cafe Bodega at Sunapranta
  • Cafe Basil at Tonca for some college style food
  • The Cafe Tato – for Goan snacks
  • Cafe Real – old world charm coffee house
  • Cafe Central – Ask for Mushroom Samosa
  • The Cafe Bhonsle – for Maharashtrian snacks

Hotels in Panaji

High-End Hotels in Panaji

  • Cidade De Goa – If you want a true Goan feel next to an idyllic beach
  • Goa Marriott Resort & Spa – for the best sea view lobby
  • Grand Hyatt Goa – with an almost private beach

Mid-Range Hotels in Panaji

  • Fortune Miramar – Business Hotel with a feel of Leisure
  • Panaji Inn – live in the heritage precincts of Panaji
  • Vivanta by Taj – in the heart of the city

Budget Hotels in Panaji

  • Hotel Mandovi – the old world charm and river view
  • Panaji Residency by Goa Tourism
  • Miramar Residency by Goa Tourism

If you have a question about Places to visit in Panjim, feel free to ask us in the comments!

51 COMMENTS

  1. Years back I came to Panjim with my family. After that I have only been to the other side of Goa. Your book recommendations are fab 🙂 I have bookmarked for future Goa travels and hope we can connect someday in person?? what does Sunapranta mean?

    • Ishita, as and when you come to Goa, would take you around for a heritage walk.

      Suna means golden and Apranta means beyond the Prant or limits of the kingdom. Sunaprant is a local word used to describe Goa meaning Golden region.

      Go has the best public library in India – I sometimes go and work from there. It is a must visit for all Bibliophiles.

  2. Unique information which i have never known before about this place. Pictures look amazing. Very informative article.

  3. Nice and precise. You covered almost everything there is. Maybe the kids parks, I would add. And the mall 😬 Also a few more places to eat like viva Panjim and venite in the fontainhas area.

    • Thanks, Kuheli. Kids parks – yes can be added. Shopping mall – I would skip, there is nothing for a traveler there. I have written places that I have tried myself. The restaurants will get added as I visit them.

  4. hi, we are planning to be in aldona for 3 nights starting 18th oct 2017- staying in a homestay. was keen to do my bit of building excitement for my kids by mixing fun and education. I know that Goa has a rich history and it will be worth discovering it at least now (der aaye durust aaye). A friend recommended Panjim, Fontanhas. ferry across the mandovi and Reis Margos. The walk mentioned in your blog seems very interesting. Please let me know if you can help.

  5. I have only been to the state library because of my continued visits to the FRRO which is the whole police station complex. I was always in awe of the tile art on the wall and it’s definitely an insider tip for those who want to see more of the Portuguese side. Otherwise, I enjoy Miramar too, just to hang out and there are a few lovely boutiques there. Ultimately my husband family has got a few relations in Miramar and that’s why we would go there more frequently in the past.

    • Helene, now you should come more often to Miramar, for we live close to it. I love visiting the library – sometimes I work from there and it is like having a huge co-working space to yourself.

  6. My sister had her destination wedding in Goa and it was absolutely stunning. I was so sad to leave because I wanted to explore the area properly! The food was amazing, the people were so incredibly friendly, and it had the most wonderful vibes. This post has made me want to return even more – I’ll definitely be visiting some of the places you’ve mentioned!

  7. Wow, what an informative blog post – you really covered all the bases! It actually makes me really disappointed in myself because I visited Goa a few years back and I don’t think I saw any of the amazing sights that you have listed. And the festivals – I’m DEFINITELY going to have to go back to check out those!

  8. Wow that a really complete list ! Really nice put down, Panjim sure seems like a great place to visit, I had no idea they were so much to do, always nice to learn more ! 🙂

  9. I think ‘Der Aaye, Durust Aaye’ needs to be my new motto in life, I love it! Panjim sounds like an incredible place, I hope I’ll get to visit someday. The heritage walk looks very beautiful, I would love to see those colourful houses and steep staircases in person.

  10. Goa, and now Panjim, has been on my travel bucket list for a while. I would love to do the Fontainhas heritage walk and check out the beaches at sunset. It looks like one should plan at least a couple of days to experience all of Panjim.

  11. Exceptionally well written content to say the least..Panjim indeed is the heart of Goa..Informative at the same time. Personally I feel private and custom tours at Panjim always come up with best results for it’s personalized and brings in comfort for the tourist.

  12. I love how colorful everything is. Just screams of LIFE! This is so very comprehensive and I love that you put all your love into writing about a place you call home.

  13. Oh my there is so much to do there! That Excise Museum, all about smuggling, it sounds really interesting. So cool to know this place celebrates its history so much. I dream about coming here someday.

  14. I feel like sometimes the places we know best are the bardest to write about, but I am so glad you did. Between the beaches and views and museums and architecture, I feel like I would never get bored here. Love the Portugese inspired buildings and have been dying to go since my friend said she grew up there!! Thanks for a great share!

    • Kelly, we came here with the intention to live for a year, but it will be 4 years in January and we want to live nowhere else. Panaji has a perfect balance of nature, heritage, culture, happening events despite being a small town.

  15. You are so right that we take our homeland for granted. If one explores, can really be surprised with what your own city has to offer. You have covered everything in your post. I love Goa and bought a house in Goa recently though not sure if I will live there. Those pictures of sunset are simply magnetic. A great amalgamation of nature, heritage and that awesome laid back feel.

  16. I’m actually really sad that I missed out on Goa while in India. I hear it’s absolutely beautiful and has the best vibes! Definitely an excuse for me to head back 🙂

  17. Good informative blog. We have moved to panjim from mumbai since a year now. There is so much that we haven’t covered. I would like to add forest garden next to kala Acadamy to the list. Its really nice place specially for kids and evening walk. And cafe George opp panjim church for authentic goan food.

    • Thank you, Pritam. Bhagwan Mahavir Park is the Forest Garden 🙂 I will try Cafe George and add it to the post. Thank you for adding. Do let us know anything else you discover in Panjim that we can add to the post.

      We moved here almost 4 years back but are still discovering this small city.

  18. My partner and spent a few nights in Panji in August this year and we both fell in live with it! He’s from Udaipur in Rajasthan and had never been before, and I’m from Australia and I went to Panji 6 years ago, but I didn’t go to Fontainhas – I don’t know why. We had a beer at two lovely bars – Hotel Venite and Joseph’s Bar. We loved Panji! …but I wish I had seen your post before we went. I’ve saved it to read for the next time we go!

  19. Goa is a beautiful destination and known for its beautiful beaches. You shared a well-explained post about it. Panjim is the capital city and its things are good to enjoy and stunning photos you shared.
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