The Perfect 3-Day Goa Itinerary for Slow Travel.

On my first trip to Goa as an adult, my partner and I stayed at an “offbeat” beach that had already been invaded by overtourism. That experience, filled with characterless beach shacks, multicuisine food and hordes of tourists, turned me off Goa.

Much later, I returned to experience slow travel for the first time.

I’m grateful that the universe conspired to have us stay at Cancio’s House, a 500-year-old traditional Goan homestay in Aldona, with its own well for drinking water, jackfruit trees for shade, and a courtyard around which three generations of the Amaral family have grown up. It was here that I first learnt about the susegad Goan life – aka the art of slowness and contentment.

Trying to find success as a travel creator? Join my free 5-day email course, to fix the biggest mistakes travel creators make.

The weeks we spent here were filled rain-filled walks, destination-less scooter rides, warm conversations with our hosts, visits to the local bakery, and a lot of observation and introspection. It was for the first time that I learnt that this is what travelling is really about. Not a checklist of places to tick off, but a chance to experience a world different from the one we’re familiar with.

I’ve returned to Goa pretty much every year since, sometimes for several months, and sometimes for a few days. Each time, I’m reminded that slow travel isn’t about how much time we have but how we choose to spend it.

Thanks to this ever-growing connection with Goa, I’ve advised so many friends on how to make the most of their Goa trips. This day-to-day itinerary includes some of my favorite adventures and spots, and takes you away from the beaten path to a slower, more intimate experience of the Goa I love.

Also read: Responsible Travel Tips for Meaningful Experiences on the Road

Goa Trip Plan for 3 Days

With that in mind, my recommended Goa itinerary is one that allows enough time and mind space to live and breathe its slow, susegad life – even it’s just over 3 days.

These North and South Goa itineraries aim to take you away from the well-trodden tourist path, and challenge the idea of Goa you’re probably familiar with. They are filled with meaningful outdoor, culinary and cultural adventures that often get buried under the sun-sand-party scene of Goa. These experiences also support small local businesses, and protect Goa’s living culture and natural ecosystems – ensuring that your 3-day trip is not only fun and memorable, but also positively impacts Goa.

Also read: Offbeat Goa: 12 Mind-Blowing Experiences

3 Day Goa Itinerary at a Glance

North Goa Itinerary for 3 Days

Where to stay in North Goa

There is something for every budget in Goa, but in all honesty, a lot of it is sh*t. Since the surge of remote workers and revenge travel in the last few years, accommodation prices in Goa have been soaring. Sadly, many ‘homestays’ have turned into commercial businesses, and you often end up paying a lot for not very hospitable experiences.

Here are some places I recommend:

Cancio’s House, Aldona

Stay in the outhouse cottage of a 500-year-old traditional Goan home at Cancio’s House, hosted by three generations of the Amaral family! I’ve stayed here several times over the years, and each time, I’m amazed by the warmth, wealth of stories, and Goan recipes I get to try (even as a vegan). The village of Aldona may have changed quite a bit over the years, but it still retains its Goan charm – a 16th century church, lush rice paddies, old Goan houses, and their quirky owners, always a delight to chat with.

Siolim House, Siolim

Located at easy driving distance from both, the cafes and restaurants of Assagao and several beaches across North Goa, Siliom House is a restored 17th century heritage house turned into a boutique hotel. An ode to the casa do sobrado style of Goan-Portuguese architecture that is fast disappearing from the state.

Jardin d’Ulysse, Morjim

Located right across the beach from Morjim, Jardin d’Ulysse was my go-to spot for ‘work from home’ days afternoons from their breezy terrace overlooking the sea, and delightful, vegan-friendly food from their kitchen. The huts out back are aesthetically crafted to invite the elements of nature in – perfect to work from, and have some beach time.

Botanique, Assagao

One of the OGs of Assagao before its hotel and restaurant scene exploded out of control, Botanique retains its original character in a restored Goan house, with the addition of Japanese food at Izumi in its backyard.

Mojigao, Assagao

Built on the philosophy that there should be no borders between the inside and outside world, my friends still rave about their stay at Mojigao. Its wood and tiled roof cottages are scattered among the wilderness of Assagao, with a cafe (a branch of Artjuna) overlooking the greens, in-house yoga classes and several independent music gigs through the week.

The Secret Garden, Saligao

the secret garden goa

I wrote parts of my first book at The Secret Garden – a traditional Goan house painstakingly refurbished by a Goan-British couple, and now home to its own food forest. On offer are heartwarming conversations, sourdough pancakes (YES!), and swimming under the stars.

Also read: My Alternative Travel Guide to Goa

Where to eat in North Goa

kokni kanteen

Goan thali and local Saraswat cuisine

Even after all these years of visiting and living in Goa, I’m surprised to learn about Goan food I haven’t tried before. While family kitchens (like Raquel’s kitchen in Cancio’s house) are the real treasure trove of Goan dishes, the true blue Goan thali at Kokni Kanteen is a good starting point. My favorite Goan restaurant is Mum’s Kitchen in Panjim (avoid the Assagao branch), where I love the uddamethi and tamdi bhaji with sanna. A breakfast spot I love is The Local Table, for a wicked patal bhaji.

Best cafes and restaurants in North Goa

North Goa can spoil anyone for choice, but as someone who looks for vegan-friendly, preferably organic and nourishing food, some of my favorite places include Bloom & Brew in Assagao, The Rice Mill in Morjim, Bean Me Up in Vagator, and Moka in Siolim.

Also read: Insider’s Guide: 27 Best Vegan Restaurants in Goa

How to Spend 3 Days in North Goa – Day 1

cycling chorao

My Goa trip plan for 3 days can be mixed and matched, depending on your mood and the weather:

Get to know your Goan neighborhood

Whether you’re staying in Aldona, Saligao or elsewhere in North Goa, take the morning to acquaint yourself with the slow Goan life. Go on a long walk to the local church, along the rice paddies, and past old Goan homes (noticing how many of them are in a state of disrepair). Stop by to pick up poi at the local bakery, visit the morning market where local farmers sell their produce, and aim to have a chat with atleast one local. Getting yourself into the pace of Goa is a great way to set yourself up to slow exploration over the rest of the trip.

Cycle or e-bike on the sleepy Chorao island

Away from the crowds of Calangute and Baga, escape to the island of Chorao for a glimpse of Goa that once was – full of wild mangroves, endless paddy fields, and glorious old houses with a balcao. Sign up for a guided cycling or e-biking ride with Cycling Zens or B:Live, exploring the quiet beauty of the island on two wheels – one of the best places to see in goa in 3 days. Remember to carry your own reusable water bottle to stay hydrated!

Find pre-loved delights in Vagator

It’s so exciting that Goa finally has its own thrift store – Good Karma, in Vagator. Featuring pre-loved clothes, accessories, shoes and books, this is not just a way to buy second hand, but also buy stuff embedded with the stories of strangers. If you have clothes and books in good condition, you can also donate them to the store. Part of the profits are channeled towards local non-profits like WAG (Welfare for Animals in Goa).

Shop for organic, fair trade clothes at No Nasties

Ditch the wasteful fast fashion brands taking over Goa and other parts of the world, to shop at No Nasties – a homegrown, organic, fair trade store in Assagao. I bought my first t-shirt from No Nasties over eight years ago, and it’s still serving me well! This kind of slow, ‘I can wear this forever’ fashion, is a guilt-free answer to the overconsumption plaguing our planet.

Also read: Goa is a State of Mind

How to Spend 3 Days in North Goa – Day 2

goa waterfalls

Hike to a secret waterfall or swimming hole

Wake up early morning for a Goan adventure far off the beaten path. Head to the far reaches of the Western Ghats, to go on a forest hike for a short while or half a day, depending on your interest and abilities. Swim in a secret waterfall, or jump into a forested swimming hole (like the cenotes in Mexico!). Wrap up the outdoor experience with a traditional Goan meal cooked by a local family. In these wild pockets lies the realization that there’s so much more to Goa than the cocktails-and-sunsets long promoted as its cover image.

Two of my favorite adventure travel companies run by local Goans who genuinely care about protecting these wild areas and their geo-locations are Beatroute Explorers and The Local Beat. Expect to spend the entire day on their trips, including a long drive to a hidden location, short or long hike, plenty of chill time in the outdoors, and homemade lunch with a local family.

Also read: Wake Me Up When September Ends (in Goa)

How to Spend 3 Days in North Goa – Day 3

Take a surfing lesson with Salty Soul

Of course you’re in Goa and you want to spend some time by the sea! Take your playfulness in the waves a notch up by signing up for a surf lesson. As someone who used to watch surfers with awe, I never imagined I’d be able to get up on a surfboard someday. But the waves in Goa are gentle – and one of the best places to learn, or atleast experiment. There’s nothing like the adrenalin of catching a wave! My go to surf spot is Salty Soul, run by two Goan surfers in Mandrem.

Have a lazy beach day

Have your sun, sand and sunset evening in Goa after all. Laze at the beaches of Morjim or Ashwem, or venture further ashore to Keri. After sunset, stay for a quiet beach walk under the sunset sky, as the stars shimmer out one by one.

If you happen to be in North Goa on:

A Sunday: Check out MOG Sundays for soulful talks curated by the Museum of Goa, featuring local authors, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, historians and more. A great coming together of Goans and the Goa-curious.

A full moon night: Catch a Hindustani classical music performance, alongside some incredible sushi, at Tien in Vagator.

An alternate Sunday: Go for the New Earth Gathering at the Offbeat Goa Space – a vegan, community market bringing together local and resident entrepreneurs who specialize in all things natural and eco-friendly. The venue is in the same space as the Good Karma thrift store.

Also read: 10 Local Restaurants in Goa for Authentic Goan Food

South Goa Itinerary for 3 Days

south goa

While a lot of restaurants and events are clustered around North Goa, I recommend staying in South Goa for a quieter, slower, closer to nature holiday.

Where to stay in South Goa

Turia Villa, Canacona

A tastefully restored Goan house, built over a 100 years ago in the village of Canacona, and restored by the Goan architect Sandesh Prabhu. While close enough to the beaches of Palolem and Patnem, I loved Turiya Villa‘s slow travel vibe, with hammocks in the old courtyard that just made me want to read and while time away.

Tanshikar Spice Farm, Sanguem

Conveniently located as easy driving distance to some stunning waterfalls and vegan-friendly cafes in South Goa, Tanshikar Spice Farm is a working, family-run organic farm, with unique huts scattered across cashew and black pepper plantations. The traditional Goan food on offer – made largely with organic in-house produce – is some of the best I’ve had.

Mangaal Farmstay, Quepem

In a protected area of South Goa, Mangaal Farmstay is a working organic farm that has all the Bali feels. Lush forests, farmlands and old Goan villages where time seems to have stopped. Oh, it even has its own private waterfall, a 1.5 hour trek away!

Cabo Serai, Canacona

Hidden away on a hill near the Cabo de Rama Fort, Cabo Serai is an experience unto itself. Accessible only by a short hike, the stunning pinewood and thatched roofed huts are built to leave no trace. On offer are stunning sunset hikes, innovative plant-based food, and thoughtful eco-friendly touches. One of my favorite eco-lodges in India!

Alila Diwa, Majorda

Architecturally inspired by Bali and Goa, I loved the laid back vibe of Alila Diwa, the infinity pool overlooking the rice paddies, and their Dine in the Dark Thursdays! If you’re looking for a luxury resort experience with familiar comforts, yet a boutique feel that is very Goan, this is your spot.

*Note that Mangaal Farmstay and Cabo Serai are experiences unto themselves, and located quite far out from the other activities of South Goa.

cabo serai

Also read: 10 Incredible Eco-Lodges Around the World: Indulge Yourself and Spare the Planet

Where to eat in South Goa

Cantine Indienne

Cantine Indienne is a rustic, farm-to-table eatery in Palolem, run by a French-Tamil couple. They turn the organic oyster mushrooms grown in their backyard into crunchy ‘wings,’ and offer other creative delights like pesserattu (green mung dosa), beetroot curry, oyster mushroom pickles, and wild spinach and horsegram stir fry. Yum!

Bibhitaki

Go to Bibhitaki for healthy comfort food inspired by Ayurveda. I love (read drool over) their sumptuous smoothie bowls, and recommend the Mexican Bhel as well as the hearty Mexican and Japanese Buddha bowls. So good.

bibhitaki

Also read: How to Travel as a Vegan and Find Delicious Food Wherever You Go

How to Spend 3 Days in South Goa – Day 1

Explore your Goan neighborhood

Whether you stay in Canacona or elsewhere in South Goa, take the morning to observe and flow with the slow life of Goa. Find out about all churches in your backyard, stop for a chat with Goans on their morning walk, and pick up poi at the local bakery.

Learn about spices and cashews at Tanshikar Organic Farm

South Goa is the land of spices and cashews, and Tanshikar Organic Farm is one of the best places to visit in Goa in 3 days. Spices like black pepper and cardamom are grown organically here, on 25 stunning acres. Stay for a lip-smacking Goan lunch, much of it cooked with organic ingredients!

Have a quiet evening at Patnem beach

While away the evening at the relatively quiet Patnem beach. Swim in the waves, catch the sunset, and walk under the stars with the Arabian Sea humming in your ears.

Also read: Ideas of Love and Life From the Tribes of Chattisgarh

How to Spend 3 Days in South Goa – Day 2

Go on a hiking adventure

Hike to a sea cave or go on a moonlit forest walk in the wilderness of South Goa. We did the guided sea cave excursion with Adventure Breaks – which involved a short ocean hike and scrambling over some rocks to reach the west coast’s largest sea cave! An easy one, good for most ages and abilities.

Visit Cabo de Rama Fort

There are plenty of places to visit in Goa in 3 days, but if you pick only one in the south, pick this. Built in the medieval times and last restored during the Portuguese era, the Cabo de Rama Fort is full of history and panoramic views over the Arabian Sea. If you’re up for another walk, a trail winds around the fort, offering panoramas in all directions. If you’re tired, pick your spot for a stunning sunset over the ocean!

Also read: Offbeat, Incredible and Sustainable: These Companies are Changing the Way We Experience India

How to Spend 3 Days in South Goa – Day 3

Take a surf lesson on Agonda Beach

I’m yet to go surfing in South Goa, but surfer friends recommend catching the waves at Agonda Beach for all beginners. Aloha Surf is a popular surf school in the area.

Learn about Goan culture and cuisine at Palacio Do Deao

On the shores of the Kushavati River, travel back to a different era at the 200+ year old mansion that is Palacio De Deao. A blend of Portuguese and Saraswat architectural styles, it’s the perfect place to learn about ancient Goan culture and its Portuguese history, over a sumptuous traditional Goan meal. Advance bookings only.

Also see: In Photos: Hiking from Darjeeling to Sikkim

How to Plan a Trip to Goa

Best time to visit Goa

Goa is different every season – both in terms of landscapes and crowds. My favorite time is monsoon in Goa (July to September), when the paddies are lush green, it’s not as busy as the rest of the year, and the waterfalls and swimming holes are the most inviting. For surfing and beach life however, the winter months from October to January are ideal.

How to reach Goa

Train

Take the scenic Vista Dome train from Mumbai to Goa, or the Vande Bharat from Bangalore to Karwat. Other places across India are also connected with long train journeys to Margao in South Goa or Thivim in North Goa.

Bus

The overnight buses from Mumbai or Bangalore to Goa are convenient for short trips.

Flight

The quickest way to get to Goa is to take a flight to Dabolim (GOA) or MOPA (GOX) airport.

How to get around in Goa

There’s a standing joke that almost every shop or house in Goa (especially close to the beaches) can arrange a scooter or taxi! Taxis can be expensive, with short routes costing as much as ₹600-1000. Scooter rentals usually cost ₹300-400 per day, depending on the length of stay. Ask for a newer bike and model. My favorite is an Activa 5G. Alternatively, rent a bicycle or e-bike from Cycling Zens. Cost depends on the duration of rental.

Estimated Cost of a 3 Day Trip in Goa

The cost of a trip to Goa can vary wildly, depending on the budget and comfort level you’re after. Besides accommodation costs, I recommend budgeting atleast ₹5000 per day, including a scooter rental, a mix of cafe and thali meals, and some activities. It is possible to do a Goa budget trip for 3 days if you eliminate any paid hiking, surfing and shopping.

What not to do in Goa

slow travel goa
  • Plan a trip to Goa for 3 days only 😉 The real essence of Goa is in slowing down and spending longer. But if life doesn’t allow that right now, I hope some of the experiences I’ve recommended above will allow you to slow down mentally anyway.
  • Try to cover all ‘must see places in Goa’ in 3 days. Instead of running from one place to the next to try to do everything, pick a few things that really interest you and enjoy them deeply. It’s always nice to have a reason or three to come back.
  • Stay in accommodations that have cut down Goa’s green cover. Sadly, a lot of the fancy villas in Goa fall in this category. I’ve seen it happen before my eyes – they cut down stunning old trees, put in luxury villas and apartments, and raid the local wells for water (delivered by a tanker). Avoid them, please.
  • Photograph people and their homes without permission, especially in Panjim. Fontainhas, Panjim’s charming Latin quarters, has become overrun by impolite tourists climbing into people’s yards, going uninvited into their homes, peeping in through their windows, and photographing them without permission. It’s sad to see signs all over prohibiting photography, and hearing about the animosity local residents now feel towards tourists.
  • Block the road to take the same photos as everyone else. Goa has plenty of pretty, palm-lined by-lanes, but a stretch of road in Parra – popularized by a Bollywood film – has become full of wannabe influencers and selfie-takers, constantly disrupting the flow of traffic.
  • Leave without trying Goan food. I’ve met so many people who’ve been to Goa but have no idea what Goan food is. Sadly authentic Goan food is not as easy available as it should be, but make the effort to try it at a restaurant like Mum’s Kitchen or Kokni Kanteen. Ideally pick a vegan option, that’s kinder to animals, the planet and our own health.
  • Ignore the locals and their quirks. I love that Goans have a strong collective identity, along with quirks that can only be understood once you get to know atleast a handful of them. Staying with a Goan family at Cancio’s House, attending a Goan-centric gathering at the Museum of Goa, or having a meal with local hosts at Palacio Do Deao are some ways to do that over a short period of time.

I used to swear I would never create itineraries on this blog, but multiple friends have convinced me otherwise. This is my first attempt at creating a meaningful 3 day itinerary for Goa, and through it, I hope you too will be able to experience the art of slowness and contentment in a place I love so much.

What do you love most about Goa, or what are you most looking forward to?

The Shooting Star Academy



Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *