15 Things to Do in Goa’s Latin Quarter, Fontainhas
Fontainhas, Goa’s Latin Quarter, exudes Portuguese influence like no other part of the state. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in Panjim, the heart of Old Goa, with Ourem Creek to the east and Altinho Hill to the west.
And as you walk through the cobblestone streets of the Latin Quarter, you will be awestruck by the striking resemblance to European streets. Everything is intact to date, from colourful houses to architecture, exquisite designs to the culture of the bygone era, narrow lanes to little shops. That said, it goes without saying that a visit to Fontainhas is a must on your solo trip to Goa.
So, if you are a history and culture buff, here are 15 things to do in Goa’s Latin Quarter to transport yourself back in time:
1. Visit one of the finest art escapades in the Fontainhas – Gitanjali Gallery.
Do you prefer a cup of coffee and a good book? Or do you enjoy cruising through classic art? If so, you must not miss Gitanjali Gallery in the Latin Quarter. This gallery is a three-in-one space with an alternate art studio, a café, and a workshop space.
The art on display at this place consists of renowned local and international artwork. Besides that, you will be able to view a diverse collection of Scandinavian art (1950 – 1990) in this gallery, including lithographs, serigraphs, woodcuts, and so on.
2. Explore the Chapel of St. Sebastian.
One of the popular things to do in the Fontainhas is to explore the Chapel of St. Sebastian. I’ll never forget how the chapel’s extensive white exterior stands out against the vibrant colours of the surroundings. It is a sight to behold for all time. One of the distinguishing features of the chapel is Christ’s open eyes on the crucifix. It’s unusual yet endearing in some ways!
If your next solo trip to Goa is in mid-November, make a point to visit this chapel and participate in an annual street feast. Besides that, you can always visit the chapel throughout the year between 9:30 am – 1 pm and 4:30 pm – 6 pm.
3. Spend some time in solitude at Wishing Well.
This Wishing Well, as old as the Fontainhas, is an ideal hangout spot for solo travellers like us. Although the well is no longer in use, numerous stories are associated with it. It’s bright in red colour, so it’s easy to spot. Whether you want to toss a coin and make a wish in the well or unwind and have some “me-time,” it is your call!
4. Make a quick stop at Velha Goa Galeria.
If you love to hoard unique things on your travel, a stop at Velha Goa Galeria must be on your list of things to do in Fontainhas. This upmarket is renowned for its traditional hand-painted azulejos tiles and ceramics. The tiles reflect the lovely blend of Indo-Portuguese art. You can buy these tiles as a souvenir and take home a piece of Goa.
5. Offer prayers at Maruti Temple.
Another thing to do in Fontainhas is to climb Altinho Hill and pray to Lord Hanuman at Maruti Temple. The aura of this location casts a magical spell on all visitors. Am I exaggerating? Not at all. Once you step inside the temple, you will know it yourself.
But do you want to know what I adore about this temple? It’s the views from the temple’s courtyard. You get a rare view of the Latin Quarter’s coconut plantations from the top. If you arrive here in the evening, stay a little longer to catch the sunset!
Timings: 5 am to 8 pm
6. Visit the Fountain of Phoenix.
Technically, it is said the Fontainhas gets its name from the Fountain of Phoenix (Fonte Phoenix). So it’s pretty clear that you can’t miss this location. Prepare to hear many stories revolving around this fountain. The guide will even take you to where the underground spring was channelised.
7. Take a quick circle around Bombay High Court at Goa.
I’ve never seen a court like the Bombay High Court in Goa! It towers over Altinho Hill, and the colour combination of yellow and white stands out and grabs your attention instantly.
8. Archbishop’s Residence
Another activity in Goa’s Fontainhas is a tour of the Archbishop’s residence on Altinho Hill. It is a popular tourist attraction in Panjim’s Latin Quarter. A large garden and a huge statue of Christ will greet you as you enter the residence.
9. Visit Rua 31 de Janeiro Road for the love of old Portuguese houses.
Can you figure out why a road is named after a specific date? It is a road commemorating Portugal’s independence from Spain on January 31, 1640. And as you walk down this Latin Quarter, you will be astounded by the brightly coloured houses on both sides. Each house has its distinct Portuguese-influenced architecture. The railings, tilted roofs, modern doors, azulejos nameplates, and roosters on roofs are just a few of the Portuguese elements I noticed in this neighbourhood.
And have you ever wondered why the colours of these houses haven’t faded? It’s because the people in this area still adhere to the Portuguese custom of painting their houses once a year. Now, isn’t that fascinating?
10. Spend some time at quaint cafes.
The Fontainhas is known for housing some of Panjim’s best cafés. The small, cosy cafes are ideal for enjoying any day’s meal. Café Bhonsle and Cafe Venite are my top two choices. You can enjoy a Feni – homemade wine at these cafes.
11. Visit the oldest bakeries.
The Confeitaria 31 De Janeiro bakery is everyone’s favourite, including mine! It is one of the oldest in the area and serves Goan delicacies like Bebinca – a three-layered cake and Bol – a wedding sweet.
12. Treat your eyes at Sunaparanta Centre of Arts.
This is yet another cultural centre where you can get a visual treat. This venue hosts gallery shows, events, and even an open-air theatre. By now, you’ve probably figured out how entertaining this place is for art enthusiasts.
13. Be a part of the Fontainhas Festival.
If you’re visiting the Latin Quarter in February, plan your trip around Fontainhas’ Festival. You’ll be all smiling ear to ear after attending the cultural events!
14. Eat at the restaurants.
Take a look at some of the local and contemporary restaurants in Fontainhas, where you can fill your stomach with delectable Goan dishes such as fish curry, pork vindaloo, mutton xacuti, seafood platters, etc.
Name of the restaurant
Cost for one
12pm - 4pm & 7pm - 11pm
Hotel Venite Goa
9am - 3pm & 7pm - 10:30pm except on Tuesday
11am – 4pm & 7pm - 11pm
12:30pm - 3pm & 7:30pm - 11:30pm
15. Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church
A trip to the Fontainhas is incomplete without a visit to this church. This is one of the few churches in Goa on every visitor’s itinerary. The zig-zag stairs serve as an iconic landmark for all photographers. So get ready to explore and capture some beautiful frames for your Instagram feed.
What is the best way to explore the Fontainhas?
There is no better way to discover Fontainhas than by foot. The Latin Quarter Walks begin at Tobacco Square and end at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church. I can assure you that you will lose track of time navigating through the alleys of the Fontainhas.
So don’t put yourself off any longer. Plan a solo trip to Goa and discover the Fontainhas. I hope this list of things to do in Fontainhas has piqued your interest in seeing the legacy the Portuguese left behind.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section. I am always willing to assist! Until then, have a safe journey!
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.