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10 Best Hidden Gem Attractions in Goa that Tourists Don't Even Know Exist

Goa is often seen as just a party capital with beautiful beaches. But there is another side of Goa that offers fascinating hidden places and attractions that most tourists don't even know exist. From waterfalls and wildlife sanctuaries to heritage hotels and unexplored islands, Goa has many hidden gems waiting to be explored.

This article covers the top 10 best hidden attractions and offbeat places to visit in Goa beyond the popular beaches and nightlife. Read on to uncover these secret destinations in North and South Goa that will allow you to experience the real charm and culture of Goa.

Why Should You Explore Hidden Attractions in Goa?

Before getting into the attractions themselves, you may wonder - why visit the hidden places in Goa? Isn't Goa only about beaches and parties?

While Goa's beaches and nightlife are undoubtedly famous, the state has so much more to offer. Goa has a rich history and culture beyond just sun, sand, and revelry. By exploring hidden gems in Goa:

  • You can get a glimpse of the true Goan way of life away from mainstream tourism

  • You can visit unexplored natural places like waterfalls, wildlife sanctuaries, islands, and more

  • You can discover fascinating heritage Portuguese architecture and Goan culture

  • You can stay at unique heritage hotels and experience Goan hospitality

  • You can avoid crowded mainstream tourist attractions and instead opt for serene hidden spots

So don't limit your Goa trip just to beaches - take some time out to uncover these relatively unknown destinations for a memorable trip!

1. Arambol Sweet Water Lake (North Goa)

Arambol is popular mainly for its beach. But located right next to the beach is the Arambol Sweet Water Lake - a hidden freshwater lake surrounded by hills on all sides.

Hidden Gems in Goa

The lake has boating facilities but is relatively untouched by commercialization. It's the perfect spot for having a laidback picnic, going on a stroll in nature, birdwatching, or simply sitting back and enjoying spectacular views of the lake ringed by palms and hills.

2. Pequeno Island (North Goa)

Just off the coast from North Goa lies the gorgeous Pequeno Island. With sparkling turquoise waters, white sand beaches, palm trees, and striking rock formations, the island looks straight out of a postcard!

Hidden gems in goa

Yet, it remains surprisingly crowd-free and pristine due to difficulty of access. To reach here, you'll need to take a bumpy boat ride from the fishing village of Nerul. But the effort is well worth it - with the whole island to yourself to relax amidst sun, sand, and sea!

3. Chorla Ghats (North Goa)

Looking for stunning mountain views in Goa? Head to Chorla Ghats near the Maharashtra border. At an altitude of about 900m, it offers breathtaking vistas of the surrounding Western Ghats landscape blanketed in lush forests.

The area has great hiking trails for nature lovers. You'll traverse through emerald green woods with a cool climate very different from the usual coastal weather. The best times to visit are monsoons and winters.

4. Arvalem Waterfalls (North Goa)

During the monsoons, come to witness the beauty of the spectacular Arvalem Waterfalls in North Goa. As water cascades from a height of 70m off the rocky cliff, it forms a thunderous waterfall set amidst verdant foliage.

Arvalem Waterfalls

You can trek all the way to the base of the powerful falls. And when here, don’t miss taking a dip in the inviting plunge pools at the bottom! It's easily one of the most scenic waterfalls in Goa, yet remains off the well-worn tourist trail.

5. Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary (North Goa)

For wildlife lovers, don't give the Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary in North Goa a miss! Home to rich flora and fauna, it offers exciting jeep safaris deep inside the dense jungle terrain to spot wildlife.

Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary

Some species you may be able to see here include gaurs, deer, wild boars, and even elephants migrating from the nearby Karnataka forests! You can also admire various species of birds and butterflies within the sanctuary, making it one of the top hidden gems for nature exploration in Goa.

6. Querim Beach & Tiracol Fort (North Goa)

At the northernmost tip of Goa lies pretty Querim Beach, flanked by swaying palm trees and lined by peaceful fishing villages. Right next to it stand the atmospheric remains of the 17th century Tiracol Fort overlooking the Arabian Sea.

Tiracol Fort

You can explore the ancient fort and climb up to the roof for gorgeous sea views. The beach itself sees very few tourists, allowing you to relax in solitude against a pristine backdrop. Overall, Querim and Tiracol form the perfect offbeat day trip destination when in North Goa.

7. Old Goa (North Goa)

While most people only associate Goa with beaches, Old Goa is a window into the state’s glorious Portuguese history and culture. Explore wonderfully preserved 17th century churches in Old Goa like Basilica of Bom Jesus that contain relics of Goa’s Portuguese past.

Other architectural marvels here include the grand Se Cathedral and the St. Augustine Tower. Old Goa may not be an unexplored area, but it certainly gives you a peek into a cultural side of Goa that most tourists hardly know about.

8. Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary (South Goa)

Much like its northern counterpart, Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary in South Goa is another hidden gem for nature and wildlife lovers. Enter deep inside dense evergreen forests on dirt trails to spot exotic birds, deer, bears, porcupines and more amidst picturesque wooded landscapes.

With fewer crowds, limited accommodation, and largely untouched terrain; it makes for an offbeat retreat to find solace amidst thriving wildlife. Special permits are required to visit that can be obtained from the Forest Department.

9. Cabo De Rama Fort (South Goa)

For dazzling Arabian Sea views, visit the lesser-known Cabo De Rama Fort in South Goa. Perched scenically on a headland overlooking the sea, the fort is named after Lord Rama who is believed to have spent some time here during his 14-year exile.

Cabo De Rama Fort

Inside you can see ruins of an old church and prison cells, and climb up to the fort walls for magical uninterrupted vistas of turquoise blue waters all around. Don’t forget to drop by the nearby Agonda and Cola beaches too for a perfect hidden getaway!

10. Panjim Inn (Panjim)

And finally, for a delightful place to stay while in Goa, check into the iconic Panjim Inn in the capital Panjim itself. This stylish heritage hotel is an attraction in itself for its splendid Portuguese architecture and décor!

Panjim Inn

Nestled in the charming Fontainhas neighborhood, the rooms feature wood-carved four poster beds and artworks that give you a flavor of old-world Goan charm. And it has an in-house restaurant, Verandah, that is highly rated for delicious Goan cuisine with a street-side artsy vibe reminiscent of Lisbon itself!

What is the most lonely beach in Goa?

Agonda Beach in South Goa stands out as one of Goa's most serene and isolated beaches, lined with swaying palms, clean sands, nearby lush hills, and limited tourists or shops. Its peaceful setting makes it perfect for solitary walks, relaxing, and avoiding crowds seen at many North Goa beaches.

Where to avoid in Goa?

Baga Beach in North Goa has become exceedingly crowded and chaotic in recent years. With loud club music, extensive hawkers, compromised cleanliness, and immense crowds always milling about, it lacks the quintessential Goan charm. Other overly crowded places to perhaps avoid include Calangute Beach and Panaji city center.

Which part of Goa is less crowded?

South Goa sees fewer tourists compared to the North and thus offers quainter, more relaxed beach vibes reminiscent of old-world Goa. Some south beaches like Palolem, Polem, Patnem, Rajbaga, and Cola see fewer crowds and offer pristine, peaceful environments amidst swaying palms and white sands for an authentic Goa trip.

Over to You

Beyond endless beaches and party scenes, Goa has no dearth of hidden gems and offbeat attractions waiting to be explored by those willing to venture off the beaten path. This list covers just a sample of the many unexplored places in Goa beyond mainstream tourism.

So next time you plan a trip to Goa, do check out these fascinating secret destinations to discover the incredible natural beauty, Portuguese heritage, thriving wildlife, and rich culture that Goa offers.

Don't miss these best hidden attractions on your Goa vacation for an unforgettable travel experience!


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