Panaji became Goa’s capital city in 1759 when a severe outbreak of the bubonic plague in the former capital of Old Goa led to it being abandoned. The city still has a clear Portuguese influence, seen in its cobbled streets and pastel-colored buildings, as well as on its restaurant menus. Dishes such as vindaloo (the name is a mutation of vin d'alho referring to meat marinated in a wine and garlic sauce in the Portuguese style) reflect this colonial heritage.
Visitors highlights in Panaji include the colorful colonial-era streets of Sao Tome and Fontainhas, the old Latin quarter where you’ll find the Chapel of St. Sebastian, home to an unusual crucifix from the Goan Inquisition. Jesus is depicted with his eyes open, a design element that was meant to strike fear into the hearts of the heretics on trial. Visitors can opt for private guided tours to learn more about the history and heritage of this city.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Panaji is a busy city. Take extra care when crossing the street as traffic follows its own rules here.
- The city holds a carnival in the days leading up to lent when colorful celebrations fill the streets.
- Pre-book tours in advance to avoid disappointment.
How to Get There
Panaji is Goa’s capital city. The closest airport is Dabolim International, 17 miles (27 kilometers) away. Several international airlines fly to Dabolim from major US cities with a stopover. Alternatively, Panaji is connected to Mumbai by bus or by train, with both journeys taking around 12 hours.
When to Get There
High season in Goa is December to January when tourists arrive for the province’s beaches. Monsoon season is June to September when you can expect heavy rain daily. April and May are the hottest times of year.
Visit the Goa State Museum
Filled with an eclectic collection of artifacts that tell the history of Goa. Visitors will find everything from bronze Hindu sculptures to furniture and coins dating from the era of Portuguese rule. The museum is housed in the Secretariat, notable as the oldest building in Goa.
- São Tomé
- Reis Magos Fort
- Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
- Fort Aguada
- Candolim and Sinquerim Beaches
- Basilica of Bom Jesus (Borea Jezuchi Bajilika)
- Old Goa (Goa Velha)
- St. Catherine’s Cathedral (Sé Cathedral)
- Calangute Beach
- Baga Beach
- Anjuna Beach
- Shri Shantadurga Temple
- Sahakari Spice Farm
- Ancestral Goa