Goa's sprawling and sunny beaches, trekking trails, renowned nightlife, friendly locals, and picturesque scenery make it a tourist’s paradise for recreation, adventure, and relaxation. If you keep the memories of your experience in this Indian state, get a souvenir to take back home.
No doubt, you’ll be overwhelmed by the slew of culturally important items to buy in Goa. Even so, we’ve narrowed the list down to the souvenirs that you’re more likely to fall in love with. You’ll find one or two you’ll like whether you’re looking for a gift for those back home or buying for yourself. We’ll also be showing you some of the best places to purchase these tokens.
So, read on if you’ve always been asking yourself, “What can one bring back from Goa?”
What Are the Top Goa Souvenirs to Pick?
If it was possible to fit Goa’s monuments and beautiful coastal lines into your bag, we’d have told you to go for them. However, there are numerous worthy items that you can pick, from talismans with historic importance to one-of-a-kind delicacies that will preserve the region’s memories.
1. Goa Spices
Goa has a diverse cuisine, thanks to its history of immigration and different colonial rulers, including the Portuguese who took charge for more than four centuries. The region’s delicacies were influenced by Indian Christians, Muslims, and Hindus. Despite that, the state’s cooking methods and ingredients were formed by different backgrounds, including African, French, Portuguese, Arabic, Konkan, Malaysian, Brazilian, Chinese, and Malabar.
There are four important elements in classic Goan cuisine: sourness, sweetness, spice, and salt. The typical spices include tamarind, cashews, and Kokum, among others.
Taking home some of Goa’s world-renown spices will surely keep your memories of the place alive, especially if you enjoyed your time dining in restaurants. You’ll find different spices in just about any corner in the state. However, you’ll want to check out the Friday Market in North Goa’s Mapusa. Masalkar is a shop that specializes in Goan spices, and you’ll be sure to get the best picks here.
Feni is, perhaps, the most popular drink among locals in Goa. Tourists have also embraced the liquor due to its distinct properties. The name “feni” is Sanskrit for “froth”, which characterizes the bubbles that are visible in a shaken drink. It is brewed from cashews and coconuts, and the production process isn’t for the faint-hearted.
Brewers smash the cashew apples with their feet on a rock to wring out the juice, which is then collected by an earthen pot. The pot is left on the ground to allow the juice to ferment. Distillation is next, which happens in copper pots, and is followed by heating. A cooling capacitor is used to collect the resulting alcohol vapors. The liquid will further be distilled twice. The first distillation process gets the first stream of juice, known as urrack. Meanwhile, the second liquid is mildly stronger than the first. Finally, they brew the liquid for the last time.
The brew has a huge cultural significance, and over the years, it has grown from a household commodity to a state-wide treasure. Many feni festivals are held throughout the year where connoisseurs gather to critique the many delightful flavors of the drink.
Goan locals, throughout history, have used the drink as an antiseptic, a food preservative, and a secret ingredient for different dishes. It’s also used to get rid of the common cold. The drink is completely organic, and you can enjoy the highs of your regular alcohol without paying the price of a morning hangover. You should be careful with feni, though, as the alcoholic content for a regular bottle is 42%.
You won’t easily find it outside Goa. So, it’s best to seize your opportunity while you’re in the state to grab some bottles and share them with those back at home.
3. Goa Handicrafts
What better captures memories of your trip than historically inspired handicrafts made by local artisans? Goa’s handmade works of art include sturdy bamboo craft, outstanding terracotta, intricate embroidery and crochet, offbeat jute macramé, and coconut masks. You can also find wonderful fiber crafts, wooden lacquerware, and fabulous art pieces made from seashells, among others.
These items are not just as marvelous as the land itself, but also portray the state’s rich culture and heritage. Every item you buy has its origins steeped in interesting Goan lore, from the colonial Portuguese era to traditional Indian roots. So, try to get a little history lesson when you go shopping to know the background of the item you’re taking back.
Are you still asking, “What is the best thing to buy in Goa?” Well, one of these products should answer your question.
Azulejos are a piece of Goan culture that was inherited from the Portuguese. The tiles were not originally made in Goa. They were handcrafted in Portugal and later shipped to the state. The Goa College of Arts later sent students to Portugal to master the craft and bring the skills needed to make the tiles in Goa.
Azulejos are now everywhere in the state, from sidewalks to hotels and homes. The historic tiles brought over by the Portuguese can still be found in old buildings. Goan people adopted these tiles to tell the stories of the state’s lovely landscape, its Kunbi dance, its carefree people, and its Tavernas.
Artists can sketch designs with their hands or paste them using screen prints or stickers. If the tiles or murals are to be customized, they will be entirely designed by hand. You can get them in different forms: photographs can be printed on the tiles or murals. You can also request a custom nameplate for you or your loved ones. Moreover, you have the option of going for an Azulejo mug or a single tile.
The best thing about this souvenir is that you don’t have to spend big as RS100 can get you a worthy memento.
The best Azulejos can be found at the Wedding Hall at St. Estaban, the Menezes Braganza Hall in Panaji, and Chinchinim. To buy them, head to Mario Miranda Galleries and Azulejos De Goa in Panaji. Other places to find the tiles for purchase include Margao, Carmona, Turi Azulejos in Bicholim, or Calangute.
The Brass metal casting practice has been passed down from one generation to the other for hundreds of years. While utensils are normally made from copper, brass metal works are still respected and used to make different items. You can bring home temple towers, oil lamps, ashtrays, church bells, and candle stands made of brass.
Pottery and Terracotta
The intense, red surface of Goa earthenware gives it a unique charm that counterparts around the world can’t afford. The clays used in making these products are sourced from Goa’s northern districts of Bicholim and Calangute. The Kumbhar community traditionally makes pottery products, but it has since expanded to stoneware. Impressive products that you’ll find include bowls, plates, pots, vases, idols, sculptures, planters, lamps, masks, figurines, and many others. You can get these products in Mapusa, as well as Panaji’s and Magadon’s weekly markets.
India is in many ways synonymous with saris, and Goa isn’t left out. The Kunbi tribe, one of the oldest tribes in Goa, has been known for its unique saris. They have been respected for their industrious nature, and notably turned down the opportunity to sell handlooms for firewood, opting to use them for saris.
Kunbi dances are never complete without the beautifully colored Kunbi saris to light up the atmosphere. The piece of clothing has a simple drape and hangs just below the knee. The sari is currently fading out of the market, but some famous designers are working hard to revive it. However, you’ll still find it in Goa as local tribal women still adore it.
If you want to look like a local Kunbi woman or believe you have someone back home who’ll look great in them, take advantage of the village fairs and deals in local stores. You can choose to go for the luxurious versions or the cheaper ones.
This special kind of craft, also known as woodturning, has been around for more than a century. While it has Hindu roots, it covers just about any sphere of life. Products include baby carts and cradles, corner stands, and other forms of furniture.
Sea Shell Craft
Goa’s coastline is home to a large variety of small and large seashells. A seashell houses a class of marine animals known as mollusks, and they are washed up on the shore when mollusks die.
The abundance of these shells on Goa’s beaches birthed a tradition of seashell crafts. The shells can be used on their own or in combination with other materials such as wood, bone, stone, plastic, or brass to produce mirror frames, ashtrays, clocks, boxes, mosaic tiles, and screens. However, you’ll want to look out for seashells that have been transformed into unique pieces of jewelry, which will no doubt make fine and excellent souvenirs.
If you like, you can head to the beach for shell-hunting. This way, you get your unique items to add to your souvenir collection. You can also find seashell crafts sold in tourist spots in Panjim or carts on the beach.
Coconut Mask Carvings
Goa is one of the many states that have perfected India’s tradition of using coconut shells to make utility and decorative items, such as figurines, flower pots, table lamps, and more. You can get coconut shell carvings in different corners of the state, including tourist hotels, the Handicrafts Emporium in Panjim, and any souvenir outlet.
Crochet and Lace Embroidery
Lace, tatting, and crochet making date back to the Portuguese colonial era. The craft was introduced in the state in 1606 by the Portuguese nuns of the Santa Monica Church and Convent. A simple hooked needle was used to make lace-based materials such as liturgical vestments, including chasubles, edgings of ritual, and stoles.
The skill is practiced across Goa, chiefly among women, and has gone commercial. Contemporary products include mats, door hangings, bed covers, swimwear, linen, edgings, cushion covers, tablecloths, and other accessories. While they’re exported outside Goa, you’ll find unbeatable deals in the state. Head to the local markets and stores to make your pick among the best Goa has to offer.
Banana and sisal fibers are used in making fashionable bags, purses, wall hangings, coasters, and other essential accessories. This craft was introduced in Goa by nuns from Kerela. While these products were meant for utility purposes, they have since been widely embraced for their beauty.
Jute Macrame Craft
Jute craft making is a respected tradition in Goa, and its products are among the most unique and popular pieces of crafts in India. The products are made from jute fiber and finished with macrame weaving. They are sold in different shops across the state. You can get decorative bags, belts, or even table coverings for your loved ones back home.
5. Cashew Nuts
While the fruit is native to Brazil, it was brought to Goa by the Portuguese, who planted it to buck the erosions caused by monsoons. The state’s soil turned out to be fertile cashew planting ground, which made India become one of the world’s biggest suppliers.
During the freedom movement in 1752, Goan prisoners found out that cashews make exceptionally nutritious meals. Ever since, the nuts have become an indelible part of Goan cuisine. Most cashew nut products in the state are nitrogen flushed and vacuum packed to retain freshness. They come in different flavors, such as pepper cashews, salted cashews, chocolate cashews, cheese cashews, spicy cashews, and more.
There are cashew shops everywhere in the state, and you can get different products from supermarkets. Zantye’s is one of the popular dealers of quality cashews in Goa. That said, the Panaji market has big shops where you’ll find more variety at cheaper rates.
Goa owes a significant part of its beauty to sunshine. However, your day might be marred if you don’t have a reasonable amount of covering. This is why hats are must-haves for regular beachgoers. As a result, hat-making is a profitable industry, and different distinct products portray Goa’s traditions.
It’s also one item that will remind you about your time spent on the state’s beach fronts. There are different types of hats in Goa: big hats for the ladies and smaller ones for men. For women, there are assorted combinations of colorful ribbons and pastel shades. For men, black outlines are combined with shades of brown or beige.
Kokum is one of Goa’s famous fruits, and it is rarely seen outside the region. It is red and turns to deep purple when ripe. It serves as a cooling agent, and you’ll find many locals downing kokum sherbet 0during the summer months when the fruit is abundant.
Apart from counteracting the heat, kokum is also used as a spice. It is included in pickles and chutneys, can be used with fish curries. It enhances the taste of vegetable dishes such as lentils and potatoes or coconut-based curries.
Kokum also has health benefits. For instance, you can use it on skin irritations like allergies, insect bites, and sun exposure. People also use it as an emollient for scalds, burns, and chaffed skins. Kokum can be a treatment for dysentery, piles, heart discomfort, and pains. The fruit is also touted to be an anti-carcinogenic agent.
Which Is the Best Market in Goa to Buy Souvenirs?
Goas flea markets and nightlife are another aspect of the state that makes it beautiful. Here’s an overview of great markets to shop for souvenirs that might not even be on this list.
This is where you get to see malls and street-style stores that sell the coconut and cashew versions of the renowned Goa feni. However, that’s not all; you’ll be flooded with different varieties of Portuguese-style handicrafts, Goan spices, Goan wine, cashew nuts, and seashell jewelry. There are also many eateries where you can indulge in the best of Goan cuisine.
Anjuna Flea Market
Tourists flood Anjuna market’s canopy-covered stalls to find the perfect Goan souvenir. You’ll find everything here, from antiques, souvenirs, and handicrafts, to Goa trance music CDS, jewelry, and beachwear. You’ll also witness the state’s lively nature in all its glory. There are food corners here as well where you can refuel for shopping.
The market is only open on Wednesdays from 9 am to 6 pm.
Mapusa Friday Market
This is where the Goan spirit is alive. You’re free to chat and play with locals and bring your best bargaining game to each stall. Prices can be high or fair, depending on how you haggle. The market opens from 8 am to 6 pm. You’ll find all sorts of products here, such as Goan spices, cashew nuts, pottery, homemade pickles, handicrafts, and lots more.
Head to the nearest Handicrafts Emporium complex to find the best in Goa’s handicrafts. While other markets deal in such items, this is where you’ll find truly unique selections in crafts made from coconut shells, seashells, and jute fiber. Other items you’ll get from the market include woolen tapestry, artistic weaving, and jewelry, among others.
Calangute Market Square
Calangute market square is perched on Calangute beach, and it’s famous for Goa's traditional souvenirs. It is always teeming with stalls that sell varieties of clothes, souvenirs, leather items, accessories, traditional handicrafts, trinkets, carpets, metal crafts, seashells, and other commodities. The expanse of beach-side shops also contains waters where you can enjoy Goan food.
Note that you can only shop here from 8 am to 12 pm on Saturdays.
Other impressive markets include:
- Saturday Night Market or Ingo’s Bazaar
- Tibetan Market
- Mackie’s Night Bazaar
- Arpora Night Bazaar
You no longer have to ask, “What are the best things to purchase from goa?” before making your trip. Your main concern should be making out space to pack these beautiful items. Don't forget, you can get these items without travelling to Goa through one of our forwarders!