Sightseeing options in Margao are in abound as the city is strewn with various churches that are an architectural marvel, colonial monuments, and temples along with its beaches.
At the heart of the Largo de Igreja Square in Margao is the 17th century Church of the Holy Spirit, a wonderful illustration of Goan Baroque architecture. The church has a brilliantly carved pulpit depicting the apostles.
Near the square is the Portuguese mansion, House of Seven Gables and another important landmark, the Calcada de Nossa de Piedade that leads up to Monte Hill, offering a stunning view of the Salcette area. You can make day excursions to visit the surrounding countryside, farm villages, temples and colonial monuments. The Pandava Caves at Aquem Alto, near the Chapel of St Sebastian is a reminder of Goa's cultural duality.
Colva Beach, Goa’s pulsating beach, the tranquil Benaulim, and the exclusive Majorda are all within easy reach of Margao. Colva (6 km from Margao) has a throbbing nightlife and a somewhat downmarket ambience by day. Colva is highly commercialised with resort complexes, large holiday crowds, trinket stalls, and discotheques.
If Colva is too crowded, head for Benaulim, right in the centre of Colva, 7 km to the west of Margao. Benaulim's beauty belies its hallowed beginnings as the spot where the sage Parashurama, an incarnation of Vishnu, shot an arrow to make the waters recede. Benaulim remained a sleepy hamlet for centuries. Today it is a popular tourist hotspot with a crop of luxury resorts, time-share apartments, guesthouses, and moderately priced hotels. The beachfront is beautiful, with silver sands, shady palm trees, and safe waters
Further south is a seemingly never-ending stretch of up market resorts like Varca, Cavelossim, and Mobor.
Varca is a quiet fishing village two kilometres south of Benaulim, with unblemished scenery, thatched-roof huts, and fishing boats moored on the beach. It is possible to rent rooms from local families in Varca, but facilities tend to be extremely basic. A couple of plush resorts are the other accommodation options in Varca. Cavelossim, 11 km south of Colva, is a somnolent coastal village with pretty church square and wide paddy fields that lead to the Cavelossim-Assolna ferry on the River Sal.
Majorda, two kilometres north of Colva, is a pretty beach that is dominated by a luxury resort, hotels, restaurants, shops, boutiques and the best European bakeries in Goa. Dona Paula Beach and the Cabo Rama fort are 7 km north of Margao. Palolem and Agonda, 37 km to the south and Bogmalo to the north of Margao, are beautiful beaches that you can reach by road or a cruise boat.
Lutolim, 10 km northeast of Margao, is a splendid area with elegant colonial bungalows reminiscent of Goa’s Portuguese heritage. Tucked away behind green woods are some beautiful colonial mansions that you may be able to see if you arrange the visit in advance through the Margao Tourist Office. The most famous of these is the 18th century Miranda House, near the square and the Salvador Costa House towards the west. Ancestral Goa, a whimsical model village near the square has an exhibition of Goan village life.
Chandor, a peaceful village 13 km east of Margao, is another village known for its colonial villas. The Pereira-Braganza/Menezes-Braganza house, the best of these mansions, was the 16th century residence of Portuguese aristocracy. The villa is embellished with antiques, rare Chinese porcelain, furniture and a precious religious relic - the diamond-encrusted toenail of St Francis Xavier, Goa's patron saint. It is best to arrange your visit with the Margao Tourist Office. From Margao you can reach Chandor by taxi, hired vehicle, bus or by train, alighting at Chandragoa station, one kilometre northwest.
Mobor, the spot where Colva ends and the River Assolna meets the sea, is the site of an exclusive luxury resort. The beach at Mobor lies in a sheltered cove overlooked by cliffs on one side -it makes for a picture perfect setting.