Panaji – the capital of Goa

Panaji is the state capital of Goa. The city is also known as Panjim. Panaji with a population of 40,017 (2011 census), is the biggest city in north Goa, and the third biggest city in the state after Vasco da Gama and Margao. It is on the southern banks of the Mandovi River. However, the greater Panaji metropolitan area also has a beachfront location with the Arabian Sea. It is the peninsula of the Mandovi where you will see floating casinos and cruise boats. Panjim is 27.8 kilometers from the Goa International Airport at Dabolim.

Goa is best known for its beaches. In Panaji, you will find the Miramar and some other beaches, but the city is more about heritage buildings, churches, temples, architecture, walking tours, and fun activities like casino gaming and river cruising. There are many English cafes and French restaurants tucked away in small corners. You can see historic churches and Fontainhas, the old city, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The famous beaches of Goa are also not that far away. Just across the river to the north you will find the three most popular beaches of north Goa – Candolim, Calangute, and Baga. You can also visit the Aguada Fort at the confluence of the Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea.

Panaji’s other name Panjim is inherited from Portuguese. This name is more popular in the western world, though most locals refer to the city as Panaji.

Panaji Map

Panaji City

Quick Facts About Panjim

Panaji is the state capital of Goa.

The biggest city in north Goa and the third biggest city in the state.

Town area – 21.01 square kilometers, Metropolitan area – 76.3 square kms

Population – 40,017, census 2011

Closest airport – Dabolim – 27.8 kms.

Closest railway station – Karmali – 13.2 kms.

Vasco da Gama — 27.3 kms.

Panjim was made the state capital when Goa became a state of India in 1987. Before that, Goa used to be a union territory of India, governed by Delhi.

Famous landmarks – Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa State Museum, Goa Science Center, Campal Gardens, Fontainhas.

The 1.25 kilometer long Miramar beach is the main beach of Panaji. It is at the confluence of the Arabian Sea and the Mandovi River.

Good places to eat, developed tourist infrastructure, banks, ATMs, shopping.

Casino gaming capital of Goa – Deltin Royale, Deltin Jaqk, Casino Pride.

Best Time To Visit Panaji

The best time to visit is between November and February, when the weather is nice and cool, there is very little rain and humidity. The summer is hot. Temperature will range between 33°C and 35°C, with some days being even hotter. Humidity makes it worse. Monsoon between June and early September sees a lot of rain because of the sea. There will be occasional thundershowers as well. The winter, December and January, sees better weather. It is cooler with very little rain and humidity. You can visit the many tourist attractions in Panaji and also do a walking tour without sweating.

Climate in Panaji
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high, °C 31,6 31,5 32,0 33,0 33,0 30,3 28,9 28,8 29,5 31,6 32,8 32,4 31,3
Average low, °C 19,6 20,5 23,2 25,6 26,3 24,7 24,1 24,0 23,8 23,8 22,3 20,6 23,2
Average precipitation mm 0,2 0,1 1,2 11,8 112,7 868,2 994,8 512,7 251,9 124,8 30,9 16,7 2926

Most tourists visit Panjim in the winter. But there are visitors throughout the year as it is the state capital. The Goa legislative assembly is at Panaji, and also a bench of the Bombay High Court. There are also many offices and businesses.

How To Reach Panaji

  • By Air — The Dabolim airport is 27.8 kilometers from Panaji by the NH 66 and NH366. Air India, Indigo, Spice Jet, Go Air, Etihad, Air Arabia, Air Asia, Qatar Airways, and Jet Airways connect the airport to other Indian and international destinations. With average traffic, you will reach the city center from the airport in about an hour.
  • By Rail — The Karmali railway station (station code – KRMI) is 13.2 kilometers away. However, most express trains do not stop here. It is best to take the train to Margao, which is at a distance of 49.5 kilometers. All trains stop here as Margao is a major Konkan Railway junction. It will take about 1 hour and 30 minutes from here by road. Or you can take a local train from Margao and get down at Karmali station.
  • By Road — The capital of Goa is well connected with all Indian cities by road.

Top 10 Things To See In Panaji

  1. Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception – This was a small chapel constructed in 1541. A larger church was made here in 1619. It overlooks the main square of Panaji and the Mandovi River. Portuguese sailors used to offer their prayers here for a successful voyage. Services are still performed daily in Portuguese, Konkani and English. See the architecture. The ambience is very peaceful.
  2. Basilica of Bom Jesus – The Basilica of Bom Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the most famous landmark of Goa. It is a short distance away from Panaji. You can see here the mortal remains of St Francis Xavier. The church is small, but it is more than 400 years old. There is a lot of religious artwork inside. The Basilica of Bom Jesus, also called Borea Jezuchi Bajilika, is a must visit.
  3. Church of St. Francis of Assisi – This church is located just across a garden from the Bom Jesus Basilica. It was constructed by the Portuguese in 1661. See the tomb of Saint Francis Xavier here and the cemetery just beside the church. Don’t forget to bring flowers and candles.
  4. Old Town – Fontainhas or the Latin Quarter is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Goa. You will see some beautiful old Portuguese mansions here in the narrow streets. See the houses with protruding balconies, red tiled roofs, ornate windows, and intricate railings. Many houses have colorful walls and hand-painted blue-on-white plaques. Walk through the lanes. You will love the Portuguese influence and the old world charm of Fontainhas. Also visit the St Sebastian Chapel.
  5. Goa State Museum – Exhibits and displays will tell you the story of the historical and archeological heritage of Goa. It is also called the State Archaeology Museum. There are many art objects, cultural exhibits, and antiquities in the two dozen galleries. Go through the galleries of Christian art, sculpture, contemporary art, cultural anthropology, natural heritage, stamps, and more. It is very close to Fontainhas in the capital of Goa.
  6. Goa Science Center – The science center is a good place to visit with kids. There are 3D shows, interactive science exhibits, laughing mirrors, floating balls, large dinosaurs, shows about space and astronomy, and even a section on marine science. Workshops and training sessions are also held. It is located on the Miramar beach.
  7. Campal Gardens – This big garden is at the confluence of the Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea. Also called the Bhagwan Mahavir Children’s Park, this sprawling greenery is well maintained by the forest department. There are pedal boats, a big cannon, park for children, statue of Bhagwan Mahavir, and many sitting areas.
  8. Menezes Braganza Institute – This is the oldest established society in Goa. It promotes culture and literary activities.
  9. Altino Hill – The hilly neighborhood of Panaji, this was once an elite residential colony. The Archbishop's palace and Goa’s Chief Minister’s residence are both located here.
  10. Idalgo Palace – This is one of the oldest buildings in the capital of Goa and now the state secretariat. It is a prominent landmark.

There are temples you can also visit like the Mahalakshmi Mandir and the Maruti Temple. These historical and cultural monuments are worth your time.

Miramar Beach

Miramar Beach in Panaji

Miramar Beach in Panaji

Miramar is a 1.25 kilometer long golden sandy beach in Panaji. The beach was called Porta de Gaspar Dias during the Portuguese rule. The Portuguese also constructed a fort here in the 16th century, but it was razed to the ground later. You will find the Miramar twin sand statues at the northern end. Throughout the beach there are joy rides and food stalls. There is also one cannon that points to the sea. Sometimes public events are held here.

Miramar is not the best beach in Goa for swimming. But you can take a leisurely stroll here to relax and enjoy nature.

Beaches Close To Panaji

Caranzalem Beach – This is a 1.5 kilometer long beach just south of Miramar. It is actually the same stretch of sandy shore that extends from Miramar. However, Caranzalem is a better beach for swimming as there are no undercurrents. The Cabo Raj Niwas, full of heritage furniture, is at its southern end. There is also a park and the National Institute of Watersports.

Bambolim Beach – The Bambolim beach is on the other side of Panaji, on the city’s southern fringes. It is lined with palm trees and remains serene and quiet as there are few visitors. There are a few rocks on the beach. The most notable landmark here is the luxury Grand Hyatt hotel and the Strike Casino.

Vainguinim Beach – A very relaxing and peaceful 230 meter long beach south of Panaji. It is lined by trees that are home to many species of birds. There are rocky outcrops at both ends of the beach, but the main section has white, soft sand. A good place for a serene vacation! There are good hotels around Vainguinim, but you won’t find any beach shacks.

Dona Paula Beach – A good beach in the capital of Goa for sunsets. Go to the oceanfront promenade at Dona Paula viewpoint to see sunsets. Dona Paula forms a nice bay, which is one of the best in Goa. Many sail boats take off from the Adventure Breaks Sailing Base. There is also the Dolphin Adventure Sports where you can learn water sports and ride on speed boats. See the old statue of Dona Paula.

There are some other beaches too, like the Dias beach, Nauxim beach, and the Marivel beach. They are all in the southern fringes of Panaji and very small.

Panjim Church

Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Panaji

Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Panaji

Also called, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church, this is one of the oldest churches in Goa. At the heart of Panjim, it is close to Fontainhas or the Latin Quarter, Goa Museum and also the Mandovi River. The Panaji ferry terminal from where there are many cruises is also a short distance away. On top of a small hill, the church is also close to Garcia da Orta, Panjim’s municipal garden.

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is a Catholic church with Baroque-style construction. It was constructed in 1541 as a chapel for the Portuguese sailors, but as the number of worshippers grew, it had to be rebuilt in a larger way in 1609. The Portuguese were also making religious expansion at the time.

  • The church’s interior is quite simple, but the main altar’s backdrop for Mary Immaculate, is impressive.
  • What catches the attention are the 2 flanking altars.
  • The right altar is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, and the left to Jesus Crucified. They are both ornamented and heavily gilded.

There are marble statues on both sides, of St Paul and St Peter. See the chapel of St. Francis Xavier at the right of the main altar. The statues are within a glass case.

The Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church has an ancient bell, which was brought from Old Goa’s Church of Our Lady of Grace. It is Goa’s 2nd largest bell. The largest bell is at Sé Cathedral in Old Goa.

Panjim Inox Cinema

Panjim Inox Cinema

Panjim Inox Cinema

The Inox Cinema is a large multiplex in Panaji, very close to the confluence of the Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea. There are 4 theaters in this multiplex. The Inox complex is located just opposite to the Campal Gardens and the Campal Forest Department Park, which together make up the biggest greenery zone in the city.

Inox Panaji has many movie theaters. It has good comfortable seating, air-conditioning, plenty of food choices, and a big car parking space. Boards indicate the screening times in the different theaters. Both Hollywood and Bollywood (Hindi movies) are screened here.

Inox Panjim is one of the venues where the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) is held in Goa. The other places are Maquinez Palace Theater and the Entertainment Society of Goa, both very close. Held in November each year, this is one of India’s most reputed film festivals, attracting entries, critics, viewers, and movie buffs from around the world.

Goa State Museum

The Goa State Museum is located on the eastern end of Panaji close to the Latin Quarter. It is in the Old Secretariat building, which is Adil Shah's Palace. Earlier, the museum was located at the EDC Complex, but it had to be relocated as the collection grew and more room was required. Also called the State Archaeology Museum, the new complex was opened in 1977. It houses more than 8,000 artifacts spread over 2 floors. This is the state’s most impressive museum.

It features the history, culture, art, craft, geology, and archeology of Goa in 14 galleries. They area –

  1. Christian Art Gallery
  2. Sculpture Gallery
  3. Religious Expression Gallery
  4. Banerji Art Gallery
  5. Printing History Gallery
  6. Contemporary Art Gallery
  7. Goa’s Freedom Struggle Gallery
  8. Numismatics Gallery
  9. Cultural Anthropology
  10. Natural Heritage of Goa Gallery
  11. Menezes Braganza Gallery
  12. Environment & Development Gallery
  13. Geology Gallery
  14. Furniture Gallery

On display, there are rare coins, paintings, bronzes, carvings, manuscripts, wooden objects, stone sculptures, and anthropological objects.

Not just the history and heritage of the state, the Goa State Museum also displays artifacts from neighboring areas of India, and showcases relics of colonial rule in the country. 645 objects have been brought from Goa’s Kala Academy and the Menezes Braganza Art Gallery.

Goa State Museum is open Monday to Friday from 9.30 AM to 5.30 PM. Entry is free. However, only scholars and students can take photos by prior approval. Short videos are also screened on the anthropology, heritage, and culture of Goa.

Casino Gaming In Panaji

Casino in Goa

Casino in Panaji

Casino gambling is legal in Goa. The first casino in the state opened in the late 1990s, and since then many have opened up. Now, there are both offshore and land-based casinos. Many of them are in Panaji, mostly on the Mandovi River.

Top Casinos In The Capital Of Goa

Casino Royale – Also called Deltin Royale, this is the most popular Goa casino. It is on a vessel on the Mandovi River and offers 50 classical board games, slots machines, blackjack, teen patti, American roulette, baccarat, Indian Flush, and a room only for poker. Entertainment shows, VIP-rooms, helicopter platform.

Carnival Casino – Located at the Goa Marriott hotel in Miramar beach. Games include American Roulette, blackjack, baccarat, 5-card poker, slots machines, progressive jackpots. The largest selection of slots in Goa! There is an offshore casino too on the Mandovi.

MV Caravela – Just off the Barco jetty in Panaji! This casino is also owned by the Deltin group. Plenty of games, guest suites and rooms! There is an on-deck Jacuzzi, spa, fine dining, an outdoor swimming pool, and a bar on the sundeck as well.

Casino Pride – Another popular casino on the Mandovi River on a 30,000 sq. ft. vessel! Spread over 3 floors, you can choose from flush, mini flush, 5-card poker, Texas Hold’em poker, rummy, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and slots machines. They also organize poker tournaments.

Panjim Gallery

The Best Places For Walking And Shopping

There are many good places in the capital of Goa like the Campal Boulevard, the 18th June Road, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Mala area and the Largo da Igreja.

Top 5 Cafes And Restaurants In Panaji

  1. Viva Panjim – This is a small street-side restaurant in an old Portuguese house. There are only a few tables, but the food is some of the best you will find. Try their Goan classics, pork dishes, kingfish vindaloo, marinated chicken, and the desserts.
  2. Black Sheep Bistro – This is a boutique restaurant with a dark-wood bar, dining lounge, and pale-yellow façade. Try their pasta, seafood, salads, lamb dishes, and the tapas.
  3. Hotel Venite – A rickety balcony overlooks cobbled streets, offering great ambience! Venite serves traditional menu with pepper steak, fish curry rice, spicy sausages, and feni.
  4. Cafe Bodega – A café in the Altinho Hill neighborhood within a Portuguese mansion. The best here includes fresh-baked cakes, sandwiches, pizza, juices, and coffee.
  5. Cafe Mojo – The cozy English pub that serves mostly a young crowd. There is an LCD screen and beer tap in each table. Just buy a card, swipe at your table, and the drink will start pouring. The cocktails and food are good too.

Hotels in Panjim

Panaji or Panjim is the state capital of Goa, so there are always many people visiting the city. There are tourists, and there are also those who come for administrative work and on business. You will find many hotels in Panaji in all budgets – there are 5-star properties, boutique hotels, budget properties, and B&Bs.

5 best hotels in Panaji –

  1. Goa Marriott Resort & Spa – At the confluence of the Mandovi River and the Arabian Sea, this 5-star property is close to the Miramar beach. The hotel has 3 dining options, an outdoor pool, and casino. It is preferred by both business and leisure travelers.
  2. Vivanta Goa – A Taj property, this 5-star hotel is close to the Campal grounds. There is a rooftop pool, spa, and 24-hours gym. The rooms have hardwood flooring, large windows, mini bars, rain showers, and work desks. The entire hotel is wheelchair accessible.
  3. Doubletree By Hilton – A beautiful hotel between Panaji and Old Goa. Offers stunning views of the Mandovi River and the Divar Island. Lush green surroundings in a serene neighborhood. There is an infinity pool, a full-service spa, 24-hours fitness center, and a kid’s club.
  4. Panjim Inn – A boutique hotel in a 19th century property. Panjim Inn is located in the historic Latin Quarter. There are 37 rooms, all with antique four-poster beds and period furniture. Warm hospitality and modern comforts for a unique stay in Goa.
  5. The Crown Goa – 4-star hotel very close to the Mandovi River. Only a few minutes walking from the Deltin Royal Casino and Casino Pride Jetty. The hotel has an outdoor pool, poolside garden, restaurants, and spa.

Villas near Panjim

There are many luxury villas to choose from here. You can choose from Ambani House, Seaview Villa, Villa Muse, and others. You can rent for the short-term or long-term. Many of the hotels, resorts, villas and apartments are close to the sea. Many properties, shops, restaurants, and cafes are concentrated around Panaji.

Properties with sea views cost more. The cost also depends on the amenities, season, and the duration of your stay.

Villa with private pool for 2-12 persons with stunning panoramic views.

From 15 000 Rs. per night

5-bedroom luxury villa at Bambolim in Central Goa, close to Panaji. For 4 to 10 people.

From 25 000 Rs. per night

Villa Muse is a 6-bedroom house for rent at Nerul in North Goa. 10 minutes from Panaji.

From 17 000 Rs. per night

* The price depends on the location, the season, and the duration of your stay. Properties with sea views cost more.

View Villas For Rent

There are many other amazing villas and apartments on rent near Panjim. They offer many modern amenities.

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