The state’s capital and one of the few bonafide cities in Goa, Panaji, or Panjim as it was known until the 1980s (you’ll see signage for both), is located just north of Vasco da Gama Airport and is classed as North Goa, despite it’s rather central location in the state. The city has a rich history and a vintage feel; fans of Havana in Cuba or Valletta in Malta will enjoy the 60s signage and architecture here that inspires an authentically retro feel to this unspoilt coastal municipality. Panaji truly has buckets of character. From the colorful colonial Portuguese architecture in Fontainhas to the seaside vibes of Miramar by the beach, it’s an enjoyable and safe city to explore.
Panaji is one of the main shopping hubs in the state so even if you’re not staying there, you’ll likely visit for a day here and there to restock on toiletries or gear. There are some good places to work in, although not everywhere allows you to rock up with your laptop as they need the space for their diners. The ones that do welcome you are Bombay Coffee Roasters in Fontainhas and Cremeux on the NG Road, both large spaces with good coffee and baked goods.
There’s good coworking options in Panaji too. MeWo - Meetings, Co-Working & Kaffe pride themselves on supporting local start ups as well as being a snazzy workspace for nomads, and Timebox Co-working Space is a forward thinking, female led space with excellent design and facilities. Grab your refreshments from charming hole in the wall Mohan Cold Drinks, run by sweet old gent proprietor Mohan, or for a late night sesh don’t miss Joseph Bar Panjim, a not so hidden gem in Fontainhas. Caravela Cafe And Bistro and Geeta Bakery are excellent for snacks, as is Kokni Kanteen Goa for seafood dinner.
While based in Panaji you’ll want to take a day trip to Old Town Goa, just 20 minutes away by car. This area is full of mind-blowing baroque churches and basilicas from the 16th and 17th centuries. That’s not before taking a Panjim Walking Tour, which covers most of the city’s churches, including the illustrious Immaculate Conception Church, which was built in 1609 right on top of a hill so that the newly arriving sailors couldn’t miss it.
Lucie Grace is a British freelance writer, based in Chiang Mai. She lived in India throughout 2020 and 2021 and misses it daily. You can read her bylines in The Daily Beast, Fodor’s, The Independent and The Times.
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