Panjim or Panaji, Goa has been home for me for the 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 the city, you need to cross one of these rivers or walk along Mandovi till it feels like a mainland.
History of Panjim
Panjim is an island that got connected to Old Goa, which was the capital of Portuguese when a long causeway connected it. I am talking about the Ribandar Causeway that still connects the city 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 the city in films, you have probably seen this area.
Places to visit in Panjim
Explore the following interesting heritage, landmarks, city walk, leisure, art, festivals, restaurants, museums, water sports, entertainment, beaches while visiting the city and/or Goa.
Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church
This late 16th CE church with lovely staircase sits on a hill overlooking the city. It is the most photographed and filmed part of the city and maybe the state. 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.
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 Sunday mornings, it is open for those who want to visit the church there. Try your luck – it is worth a visit. Of course, if you know the governor, invite yourself!
Update – Raj Bhavan is now open to the public with prior online booking, three days of the week – Friday to Sunday. You can go to Raj Bhavan Website and book the tour. It is priced at Rs 300/- per person and you are required to carry a Photo Id card.
The tour covers the Aushadhi Vatika or a herbal garden, the helipad, the cannon point where you can see old cannons looking into the see. This is the west most point of Goa, so all you see around is the sea. You get to see the Raj Bhavan Museum, which is small but interesting. You get to see the Church where Dona Paula of Dona Paula fame is buried. Grotto and the beach are other attractions of the tour.
One of the most popular temples in Panaji is dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi. Do not miss the unique Deepstambh in brickwork here.
The city has 3 museums. Museum buffs may easily spend some time during the daytime.
Goa State Museum
Like every state museum, this museum aims to showcase the heritage and antiquities of the 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. The time needed is about an 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
The 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.
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. Sunsets are particularly colorful and dramatic post monsoons in October and November.
Cruises & Water Sports in Panjim
The city 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
- Jet Ski Ride
- Yacht ride
Miramar beach is the most popular beach in 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.
You can take hour-long boat rides from Miramar beach that take you a bit inside the sea. They promise to show you some locations that you might have seen in Hindi Films. Dinner and sunset cruises can be taken from Santa Monica Jetty.
Bambolim Beach & Siridao 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.
It extends further to Siridao beach, which is one of our favorite places to watch the sunset as the local boys play cricket and football.
Walking Trails – Places to visit in Panjim
Fontainhas Heritage Walk
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 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 the city 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 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 the city.
Dona Paula Walk
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
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 the many trees where you can spot many birds.
The city 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 the northern beaches of the state.
This is a folk festival when artists from around the country come and perform at Kala Academy for a 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 the state.
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
This is personally my favorite Goa festival. 18th June Road reverberates with traditional music. Festivities roll and the audience on both sides of the road enjoy. This is the Holi Time festival of the state.
Read More – Shigmo – The Cultural Extravaganza
The onset of monsoons is celebrated by jumping into wells and well, these days into swimming pools.
Read More – Sao Joao
Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with fervor in the city. Public Pandals are set up in various parks. A peculiar thing to notice in Ganesh Pandals of the city is the Matoli made with fruits, vegetables, and local herbs.
Read More – Festival Guide of Goa
One of the biggest houses in the city – 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.
This is the way the city 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, the city 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 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.
The Churches of the state 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.
The capital of the state is always buzzing with activities that include public performances or talks. Here are some of the places you should check out:
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 the 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.
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 the city.
Goa State Library
Goa State library is not just the best public library in India. It is also home to the states Art & Culture department. See our detailed post on State Public Library.
Menezes Braganza 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 Braganza Hall has Goa’s best Azulezos paintings – handmade in Blue & White.
Read More – Azulezos – the Charming Hand Made Tiles
This long yellow building is also home to the State Police Headquarters.
A quaint art gallery in Fontainhas that hosts occasional talks and art shows.
Broadway Books – The best place to get books on the state or by Goan authors. They have two outlets in the city – 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, Saraswati Library on June 18th Road and a 100+-year-old reading room in Fontainhas.
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 – Best Goa Souvenirs to Buy
Restaurants in the city
- Black Sheep Bistro for local fusion food
- Hotel Fidalgo Restaurants
- Fish Curry, the Goan cuisine at Ritz Classic
- Goenchin – locals love it. Don’t ask me why!
Read More – Vegetarian Fine Dining Restaurants
Cafes in the city
- 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
- Cidade De Goa – If you want a true Goan feel next to an idyllic beach
- Marriott Resort & Spa – for the best sea view lobby
- Grand Hyatt – with an almost private beach
- 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
- Hotel Mandovi – the old world charm and river view
- Panaji Residency by the state tourism
- Miramar Residency by the state tourism
If you have a question about Places to visit in Panjim, feel free to ask us in the comments!