Old Goa Travel Guide

Old Goa Overview

Old Goa, standing on the banks of the Mandovi River, was once, during the Portuguese dominance, the colonial capital of Goa and a city of great importance. Formerly known as Golden Goa, today the city is one filled with atmosphere and steeped in history, with a feast of awe-inspiring architectural masterpieces. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it continues to attract visitors in search of something extra from the Goan experience.

The city is small and easily manageable, with its historical sites split either side of Old Goa Road. The focal points of town are the Convent and Church of St Francis of Assisi, to the north of Old Goa Road, and the Basilica of Bom Jesus, on the south side. From the bus stand, Rua Direita road runs down to the river and jetty. The remainder of the sites are mostly located on the west side of town.
The journey in from Panjim is a pleasant bus ride, running along the river and passing through a few tiny villages. Once setting foot in the city, it is best explored on foot in order to soak up the atmosphere and appreciate its former glory. Approved tour guides are available, although this is a great place to discover by yourself and spend some time relaxing in the grounds of the fascinating churches and cathedrals. From the main bus stand, at the roundabout, frequent buses depart to Panjim, where connecting services leave for other state regions.
Visitors to Old Goa in March/April and December will be fortunate to witness some of the captivating festivals. The Procession of All Saints, on the 5th Monday during Lent, and the Feast of St Francis are two of the most spectacular and colorful. At these times the area can become particularly crowded. Old Goa does not have a great deal else to offer, with only a couple of restaurants and food shacks and a handful of hotels. Consequently, the majority of visitors are daytripers from Panjim.
With some of Indias most revered monuments and the citys mystical charm, Old Goa provides a fascinating insight into the former times and power of the state, and is a welcome break from the typical beach destinations.

Things to do in Old Goa

SE Cathedral - One of Indias, and Asias, largest and grandest churches, dedicated to Catherine of Alexandria. The magnificent building is a credit to the royalty of Goa during the Portuguese dominance and was influenced by Gothic, Tuscan and Corinthian styles. Paintings, around the alter, portray important tales from the life of St Catherine. 

Convent & Church of St Francis of Assisi - Adjacent to the SE Cathedral is another stunning architectural masterpiece. Originally a chapel, built in 1517, it was later converted into the church that stands today. An extremely interesting and unique building, with murals of the life of St Francis and gravestones used for the floor. The convent is now home to an archaeological museum (10am - 5pm, Saturday to Thursday. Entrance Rs5)
Basilica of Bom Jesus - Well known amongst the Catholic world, this 16th cathedral is a fine example of baroque architecture. Its fame comes from housing the tomb and remains of St Francis Xavier, idolized for his voyages that became stories of legendary status. Pilgrims flock to the tomb in the hope of receiving the healing powers it is thought to possess. There is a small, but uneventful, art gallery, yet it provides excellent views into the tomb.
Church of St Catejan - This Corinthian inspired church is based upon the Basilica of St Peter in Rome and, although being named after St Cajetan, is dedicated to Our Lady of Divine Providence. Construction was completed in 1661 by Italian friars, of the Order of Theatines, sent to preach Christianity by Pope Urban VIII.
Church of St Augustine - Although now in ruins, this site is still one of interest, particularly the huge bell tower that still stands at an impressive 46m. The church was built by 12 Augustine friars, but became deserted, along with the attached convent, and fell to ruins following the ban on Augustines by the Portuguese.
Church of Our Lady of the Mount - Located about 2km east of the main area and atop a hill is another exquisite church, built in 1510. The highlight of the church is the spectacular views of Old Goa and across the Mandovi River.
Procession of All Saints - Held on the 5th Monday of Lent (March/April), the procession sees 31 life size statues of saints paraded around the neighboring villages. Thought to be the only celebration of its kind outside of Rome.
Feast of St Francis Xavier - This festival, held on 3rd December, commemorates the death of Goas patron saint. Devotees from far and wide come to pay their respects and line up to kiss the relics of the saint, which is believed to bring good luck and happiness.

Hotels in Old Goa

Most visitors to Old Goa tend to arrive on day trips from Panjim, however there are still a few sleeping options.

Budget Hotels Old Goa
Old Goa Heritage View - Basic and cheap hotel, although service is somewhat lackluster. Close to the bus stand and some food stalls. Tel (91) (832) 2285013.
Hotel Seema - Close to the river, this hotel has a number of elegant and spacious rooms providing a comfortable stay. Sao Pedro, Old Goa Road.
Midrange Hotels Old Goa
Hotel Joia De Goa - Elegantly decorated rooms with great views of the waterfront. Good service, restaurant and bar. S. No. 2,Panelm Ilhas, Off St. Pedro. Tel (91) (832) 5641780.

Old Goa Weather

Old Goa Travel Resources



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