20 Things To Do In Panaji

Things To Do In Panaji

Welcome to Panaji, the vibrant capital of Goa, where sun-kissed shores meet a rich tapestry of culture and history. Nestled on the banks of the Mandovi River, Panaji is a city that offers an eclectic mix of old-world charm and contemporary vibrancy. Whether you’re drawn to its Portuguese heritage, enticed by its culinary delights, or looking for adventure in its scenic landscapes, Panaji has something to delight every traveler. In this guide, we’ll explore a diverse range of activities that highlight why this city is a must-visit destination. Get ready to discover the top things to do in Panaji that will make your trip unforgettable.

Things To Do In Panaji

  1. Visit the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception

This iconic church, stationed at the heart of Panaji, is a marvel of baroque architecture. Built in 1541, it features a striking white façade and a zigzagging staircase that creates a dramatic approach. Inside, the church is equally impressive with its elegant decor and the main altar dedicated to Mary Immaculate. This spot offers not only spiritual solace but also a photographic feast, making it a must-visit for both history buffs and casual tourists alike.

  1. Explore Fontainhas – The Latin Quarter

Stroll through Fontainhas, an old Latin quarter in Panaji, where the Portuguese influence is evident in its colorful architecture and narrow winding streets. This UNESCO Heritage Zone is beautifully maintained with charming old villas, quaint shops, and art galleries. Take a leisurely walk to admire the fresh, brightly painted facades, visit local artisans, and perhaps stop at a café to soak in the area’s tranquil vibes. Fontainhas is not just a feast for the eyes but also a retreat that offers a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural tapestry.

  1. Cruise Along the Mandovi River

Experience the beauty of Panaji from a different perspective on a river cruise along the Mandovi. These cruises offer various options, from dinner cruises to sunset sails, and provide a wonderful opportunity to see the city’s lights twinkling against the night sky. The gentle breeze and the rhythmic sound of the waves create a relaxing atmosphere, perfect for unwinding after a day of sightseeing. Some cruises also feature live music and traditional Goan dance performances, adding to the festive environment.

  1. Visit Goa State Museum

For a deep dive into Goa’s history, the Goa State Museum is the place to be. The museum houses several galleries that display artifacts from Goa’s Portuguese past, ancient manuscripts, religious sculptures, and contemporary art. It’s an educational visit that allows you to understand the historical and cultural evolution of the region. The collections are well-curated, offering insights not just into the colonial era but also the pre-colonial times of Goa.

  1. Relax at Miramar Beach

Just a short drive from the city center, Miramar Beach is a golden-sand retreat ideal for those looking to relax by the sea. It’s less crowded than other Goan beaches, offering a more serene beach experience. You can take a long walk along the shore, enjoy the sunset, or simply sit back and watch the world go by. Local vendors sell delicious street food, including the famous Goan fish curry, which you can enjoy while lounging by the water.

  1. Explore the Goa Science Centre

The Goa Science Centre is a fascinating destination for families and science enthusiasts alike. Located near Miramar Beach, this interactive museum features several hands-on exhibits that explain various scientific principles and phenomena. The centre also boasts a 3D planetarium show, which provides an immersive experience into the cosmos. It’s a fun and educational way to spend a day, especially if you’re traveling with children who have curious minds.

  1. Visit the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Nature lovers will appreciate a visit to the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, located on the island of Chorao along the Mandovi River. Named after the famous ornithologist, Dr. Salim Ali, this sanctuary is a haven for bird watchers. A quiet boat ride through the mangroves offers opportunities to spot a variety of local and migratory birds. Don’t forget your binoculars and camera, as this sanctuary is a photographer’s delight with its rich biodiversity and scenic views.

  1. Enjoy a Night at the Casinos

Panaji is also known for its bustling nightlife, particularly its floating casinos anchored in the Mandovi River. These casinos offer a variety of games, from slot machines to poker and roulette, along with live entertainment and gourmet food. Whether you’re a seasoned gambler or just looking for a night of fun, the casinos provide a glamorous experience with their lively atmosphere and spectacular river views.

  1. Discover the Reis Magos Fort

For a touch of history and stunning coastal views, head to the Reis Magos Fort. This fort, the oldest in Goa, was initially built in 1551 and has been beautifully restored. It now serves as a cultural venue and museum. The fort showcases exhibitions about its own history and the history of Goa, featuring artifacts and interactive displays. The view of the Arabian Sea and the surrounding landscape from the fort is breathtaking, making it a perfect spot for picturesque moments.

  1. Sample Traditional Goan Cuisine

No visit to Panaji is complete without indulging in the local cuisine. Goan food is a delicious blend of Indian and Portuguese flavors, featuring dishes like vindaloo, xacuti, and cafreal. Many local restaurants and street food stalls offer these authentic flavors, often accompanied by Goan music. For an even deeper dive into Goan culture, consider attending a cooking class where you can learn how to prepare these traditional dishes yourself.

  1. Attend a Local Festival

Panaji comes alive during festival times with events such as the Goa Carnival or the Feast of St. Francis Xavier. These festivals showcase the city’s rich cultural tapestry through colorful parades, live music, traditional dances, and sumptuous food. Attending one of these festivals offers a unique opportunity to engage with local traditions and enjoy the celebratory atmosphere that fills the streets of Panaji.

  1. Visit Dona Paula Viewpoint

Dona Paula is a scenic spot located on a picturesque headland. This idyllic location is famous for its mythological love story and offers panoramic views of the Arabian Sea and the surrounding coastline. It’s a great spot for a relaxing stroll or to watch a stunning sunset. The area also has a bustling market where you can pick up souvenirs and local handicrafts.

  1. Go Kayaking in the Backwaters

For an adventure off the beaten path, kayaking through the backwaters near Panaji provides a tranquil and scenic experience. This activity offers a closer look at Goa’s lush landscapes and unique ecosystems. Several local outfitters offer guided tours that take you through serene waterways, allowing you to explore mangrove forests and spot a variety of aquatic and bird life.

  1. Shop at the Panjim Market

For a taste of local life, visit the Panjim Market, where you can browse through stalls selling everything from fresh produce and spices to handcrafts and textiles. It’s a vibrant place to interact with local vendors, try some street food, and pick up unique Goan spices and souvenirs to take back home.

  1. Take a Heritage Walk

Join a guided heritage walk to explore Panaji’s historical landmarks and learn about the city’s past. These walks often cover significant sites like the Adil Shah Palace, Maruti Temple, and the old district of Sao Tome. The guides provide valuable insights into the architectural and cultural significance of these places, making it a captivating experience for history enthusiasts.

  1. Attend a Theater Show at Kala Academy

Kala Academy in Panaji is a hub for Goan arts and culture, offering a range of performances from traditional to contemporary. Attending a theater show or a musical performance here allows you to experience the vibrant cultural scene of Goa. The academy also hosts various festivals and exhibitions throughout the year, which are great opportunities to see the best of Goan art and performance.

  1. Explore Cabo Raj Bhavan

Cabo Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the Governor of Goa, is located atop a cape in Dona Paula. It offers guided tours that allow visitors to explore its well-maintained gardens, chapel, and historical rooms. The site also provides stunning views of the Arabian Sea and is a lesser-known gem that offers a glimpse into the lives of Goa’s colonial past and present-day governance.

  1. Try Your Hand at Sailing

The Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea offer perfect conditions for sailing. You can sign up for a sailing excursion to learn the basics of handling a sailboat or simply enjoy a leisurely day on the water. Several clubs and organizations in Panaji provide short courses and sailing trips, making it an exciting way to see the city from a different vantage point.

  1. Participate in a Yoga Retreat

Goa is not just about beaches and nightlife; it’s also a great place for relaxation and wellness. Many centers around Panaji offer yoga retreats where you can unwind and rejuvenate. These retreats often include meditation sessions, wellness workshops, and detox programs, helping you to relax deeply and connect with your inner self in serene surroundings.

  1. Discover Underwater Life with Scuba Diving

While scuba diving is more popular in other parts of Goa, there are also opportunities near Panaji to explore underwater life. Several dive shops offer scuba diving trips to nearby sites, where you can see colorful coral reefs, schools of vibrant fish, and even shipwrecks. It’s a thrilling experience that opens up a whole new world of marine biodiversity.


Panaji is a city where every corner tells a story and every experience brings a new discovery. From its historical monuments and cultural festivals to its serene beaches and vibrant markets, Panaji offers a plethora of activities that cater to all interests and ages. Whether you choose to unwind by the tranquil waters, explore the lush green sanctuaries, or immerse yourself in the local culture, each moment spent here enriches your travel experience. As we’ve explored the many things to do in Panaji, it’s clear that this city is not just a gateway to the rest of Goa, but a fascinating destination in its own right. So pack your bags and set off on a journey to explore Panaji, where adventure and relaxation await at every turn.

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