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Daytrips in Goa

India might be a monumentally-sized country, but Goa is a tiny spot on its western shores. This is actually a huge benefit as Goa's small size makes daytrips in and around its main holiday sights that much easier. And with such a vast and varied history and scenery, you're going to want to do some exploring.


You may be tempted to stay put in your well-equipped resort, but venturing out will give you access to a whole new face of Goa. With towering waterfalls, a bustling capital and some seriously ancient ruins, here are our top picks for getting out and about and seeing lots of Goa.


Dudhsagar Falls

The sought-out natural wonder of Dudhsagar Falls is located about a two and a half hour drive from Candolim.

It's just on the border of Goa and Karnataka in the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park. Dudhsagar translates literally to 'Sea of Milk', and when you see this white water beauty, you'll instantly know why.

The falls here are among the biggest in all of India, towering up more than 300 metres and broken up into four tiers. They're surrounded by deciduous forests and are best viewed during monsoon season when they're flowing with water. The falls are clearly a powerful force, and a sight staggering enough to impress anyone.

Panjim

Panjim is the capital of Goa, located a quick drive from holiday destinations like Candolim and Calangute. The city retains the foreign influences that reigned here for centuries, with much of the architecture and red-tiled roofs being distinctly Portuguese, especially in the old Latin Quarter.

Highlights in Panjim include the whitewashed Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception that lords over the city, the Basilica of Bom Jesus where the remains of St Francis of Xavier are laid to rest and the gingerbread house-looking Shantadurga Temple. But it's not all places of worship here – there's also an array of boats-turned-casinos, trendy boutiques and beautiful beaches.

Grand Island

Joining a guided tour can get you to the largely untouched shores of Grand Island, just off the coast of northern Goa. The island is only accessible by boat, but that trip over the Arabian Sea is half the fun as pods of dolphins have been known to put on quite the show in the waves.

Once you arrive at Grand Island, it's all snorkelling and scuba diving from here. Opt for an organised tour and the friendly guides provide you with the appropriate gear so you're ready to take the plunge from the get-go. The water is nice and shallow, though does get deeper as you edge away from the shore and is readily explorable by divers of all levels. There are two shipwrecks off the coast too, plus scores and scores of colourful fish, coral and sea turtles.

A weekend in Hampi

We've slotted Hampi in the bonus category because technically it's a little far for just a daytrip – about an eight-hour drive – but it's well worth the effort. Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and temple town found in Karnataka, which hugs most of Goa. Now a historic shell of itself, Hampi was once one of the largest and wealthiest Indian cities in its prime.

Hampi's skyline is dominated by the wedding cake-like tower known as the Virupaksha Temple, which stands at 49 metres high. Scattered across the remains of Hampi are a number of stone temples and military buildings, canals, aqueducts and the iconic stone chariot statue. A good place to find out about all of these sights is the archaeological museum, which illuminates it all.

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