From the sixteenth to eighteenth century, Old Goa (Ela) served as the colonial capital of Portuguese-India and was one of the richest cities anywhere in Asia, with a population exceeding that of both Lisbon and London. While repeated cholera and malaria outbreaks eventually forced the capital to be moved to Panaji in 1843, the old, atmospheric churches, cathedrals and convents of Old Goa remain largely intact.
All the sites of Old Goa can be reached by foot, but give yourself at least a half-day to soak up the history and the atmosphere. Old Goa highlights include the Basilica of Bom Jesus, where the remains of Francis Xaviar, patron saint of Goa, are kept. Another must-see attraction is St. Catherine’s Cathedral (Sé Cathedral), the largest church of those in Old Goa.
Food and accommodation options are rather limited in the Old Goa area, so it’s best to base yourself in nearby Panjim (or somewhere else in Goa) and either take a bus or hire a taxi for a day to Old Goa.