Anjuna: The A to Z of this vibrant village turned posh party zone

From its colourful history to its psychedelic present. Where to stay, what to do, what to spend on. Everything you wanted to know about Anjuna before heading there.  

You have heard of Anjuna being the haunt of the hippies in the early 1960s, its silken sand briefly even housing a nudist colony. But before walking through the present-day crowded lanes of this village in North Goa, step back in time. Peek into history to find a mention of Hanzun/Hanjun in the records of the Shilahara dynasty that ruled over parts of the Konkan belt (from the 10th to the 13th century). History corroborates that Anjuna borrows its name from the Arabic word Hanzun/Hanjun (literally, merchant guild) and sheds light on the centuries-old Arab commercial presence in the area. 

This sleepy seaside hamlet transforms into a prime party destination. Image: shutterstock/imagesofindia.
This sleepy seaside hamlet transforms into a prime party destination. Image: Shutterstock/ImagesofIndia.

Now no one thinks of Anjuna as a former trading post. It is hip and happening. It is where the tourists go for the heady beach parties, flea markets, restaurants and watering holes.

Eat/drink

Babka Goa:

Coffee Bar. Bakery. Patisserie. Babka is all things French stashed within white walls embellished with flowers and plants spilling from interesting wooden/metal frames.

USP: Wash down bagels, sandwiches, quiche and buns with hot chocolate, shakes, cold brews, hot coffee and wake me ups that come in almond/coconut/oat milk options.

Open: Nine am to eight pm. Mondays closed. 

Olive:

Believe it when Olive says it is a little sun-kissed, a little windblown and decidedly lazy. Add to it the joys of tacos, mezze and toasts on small plates and pizza, pasta risotto on large ones.

USP: Take your pick from burgers and poi, soups and salad and a delectable selection of desserts — tarts, jaggery cheesecake and white chocolate mousse.

Open: Noon to 10.30 pm.

Mustard:

This old-world cafe is the brainchild of Shilpa Sharma and Punam Singh who, inspired by the use of mustard in both Bengali and French cuisine, brought the best of the gourmet West and East. Remember, it is not the fusion of Franco-Bengali fare.

USP: Chefs Pritha Sen and Gregory Bazire lay their cultural legacies on a plate — tartines and mouillettes sit happily next to tentul chingri (tamarind prawns) and chorchori (mix vegetables).

Open: 11 am to 11 pm. Closed on Tuesdays.

O’Aido:

Four friends got together to put together Goa’s latest neighbourhood joint (the friends did not want anything formal!). Think of this as an upscale blend of all things Goan, Portuguese and Mediterranean. The bar is full, with signatures being their Marigold Gimlet, Passion Rita, Susegad Gin Sour, Casa Mendez, Pomo Caffe, and Pani of Life and tempting bar snacks including dill and coconut infused prawns, sardines, and broccoli.

USP: Small plates, Off the Grill, Large Plates and Poi Toasties add oomph on the table.

Open: Six pm to 11 pm

Baba au Rhum:

Borrowing its name from a small yeast cake saturated in syrup made with hard liquor, Baba au Rhum sits on the backroad connecting Anjuna and Baga and is famous for its thin-crust pizzas and craft beer.

USP: Breakfast, craft beer, outdoor seating, strawberry daiquiri. Also, very Instagram-friendly.

Only a drink spill away from the sea! Image: courtesy purple martini.
Only a drink spill away from the sea! Image: Courtesy Purple Martini.

Purple Martini:

Bar and restaurant by the sea, with Continental, Italian, Mediterranean and North Indian dishes on the menu. The bar is open from 11 am to 11 pm daily.

USP: A drink spill away from the sea. Great sunrise/sunset views.

Burger Factory:

The murals can be a huge distraction but ignore them and focus on the absolutely juicy, scrumptious burgers. The menu has a few unusual options: mango + avocado + bacon; pomegranate + guacamole; pineapple + smoked mozzarella + jalapeno.

USP: Perhaps the best burgers in town.

Mahe Restaurant:

Varied modern coastal cuisine in an attractive 19th century Indo-Portuguese house designed by Office of Cognitive Design (Bengaluru).

USP: Pastel hues. Great beverage list including unusuals like Mahua Spritz, Old Sarsaparilla, Kokum Shrub, Mallu Mai Tai, Deccan Sour.

Suggestion: Check out their sister restaurant Roboto, a Japanese style Izakaya in Calangute.

Nyex Beach Club:

A three-level sprawling club with an indoor area, VIP lounge and outdoor lounge deck with a stage.

Cover charge: ₹ 1,400 (stag entrance fee to a nightclub; the cover amount is redeemable on drinks, beverages and meals in the club lounge). Minimum age for entry: 18 years.

USP: Great watering hole for all-nighters.

Open: Noon to three am.

Speakeasy Pub at Rosetum:

Housed inside Rosetum Hotel, the Speakeasy Pub serves varieties of snacks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks with cool music in the background. A happening new year party is on the pub’s calendar. Early bird offers are open now.

Timing: 10.30 am to 11 pm.

An interesting sign for the german bakery in anjuna.
An interesting sign for the German Bakery in Anjuna.

German Bakery:

A haven for those with a sweet tooth, this one is Goa’s only German Bakery (has no other branch). Serves organic health food + Mulshi, one of India’s first certified organic spring waters. Does not serve, what the website calls, ‘chemical drinks like Coke, Fanta’.

USP: An evening of music and entertainment after the Wednesday flea market.

Felix:

The Felix logo spells Coffee. Cowork, Bar, Restaurant. It does all this with finesse, especially American fast food and extensive bar menu.

Open: Restaurant: nine am to 10 pm; Bar: Noon to 10 pm; Coffee Shop: eight am to eight pm; Co-work: eight am-to 10 pm.

USP: All things breakfast — Sandwiches, baos, tacos.

Cream Choc:

An artisanal, small-batch traditional Italian-style gelateria. Scoops, cones, ice cream, coffee, Belgium chocolate, waffles — it is a sweet-tooth heaven. Alongside there are pizzas, Italian-style cappuccino, and espresso, handmade chocolates.

Open: 11 am to midnight.

Shopping

The anjuna flea markets are legendary. Image: shutterstock/lloyd vas.
The Anjuna flea markets are legendary. Image: Shutterstock/Lloyd Vas.

Anjuna Flea Market:

What started out as a leftover market for the hippies leaving Goa, is now a must-see/do in Anjuna. Every Wednesday, the village is cluttered with shops selling everything under the sun — handmade jewellery, handcrafted art pieces, tattoos, good music, scarves, hammocks, and spices.

Artjuna:

Housed in an old Portuguese house, Artjuna has a garden cafe and a lifestyle shop that has leathers bags, belts, pouches, jewellery, accessories on its shelf. The Artjuna Cafe has an impressive array of salads, sandwiches, and a pick of Mediterranean dishes. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The garden cafe at artjuna is a hub for art lovers from across the globe. Image: courtesy artjuna.
The garden cafe at Artjuna is a hub for art lovers from across the globe. Image: Courtesy Artjuna.

Oxford Arcade:

Barely 100 metres from the Starco crossroads on the road to Vagator is this two-storey supermarket that has a a fancy collection of essentials as well as a few imported items.

USP: Very good selection of alcohol. Timings: nine am to nine pm.

Experience

BLive e-bike tour:

This is India’s first e-bike tourism initiative offering curated and authentic tours. The Vibe with Vagator tour runs through the lanes of Anjuna and Vagator. Listen to folktales and stories at a historical cave temple, visit an Old Portuguese House and bask in the beauty of Chapora fort. The Blive Tour starts at nine am and 3.30 pm from The Westin Goa, Anjuna.

Duration: 2.30 hours. Cost: ₹ 1,500 per guest.

Dirty Riders Motorcycle off-road tours:

Based in Anjuna, Dirty Rider offers off-roading tours across Goa. The four-hour trip starts and ends in Anjuna and is priced at ₹ 5,126 per person. Includes modified dirt bike and a full set of protective gear. Book on Viator.

E bike tours are the best way to explore anjuna's different neighbourhoods. Image: courtesy blive.
E bike tours are the best way to explore Anjuna’s different neighbourhoods. Image: Courtesy BLive.

Albuquerque Mansion:

Built-in 1920, the mansion belonged to Dr Manuel Francisco de Albuquerque (1869-1956 AD), the personal physician of the Sultan of Zanzibar. Happy with the doctor’s work during the 1903 plague in Zanzibar, the Sultan granted a wish. “I wish to build a replica of your grand palace back home in Goa,” was the doctor’s answer. The wish was granted and the famed mansion with wooden stairways, lush garden, hand-carved rosewood, teak furniture, and marble floors were built. For long, it was the most beautiful home in Goa.

Yogamagic Eco Retreat:

Sitting in a coconut grove surrounded by a creek and paddy fields, Yogamagic has eco-friendly luxury tents made of canvas, bamboo, and thatch with solar-powered lights and natural composting toilets. The rooms in the main house are built from stone and decorated with khadi, silk, natural cotton, and hemp. Yoga and meditation courses, private tuitions, and ayurvedic spa treatments are available. The food is vegan/vegetarian and locally sourced.

Sky adventures:

Turn the sky into your playground with Sky Adventure that offers paragliding, parasailing, power hang gliding, microlite flying, sky-dining, skydiving and hot-air balloon experiences. Get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful landscapes and explore the shores of Goa while floating 1000 feet above the ground. You can go paramotoring (₹ 3,500 per person) with Go Goa Adventure.

A dinner date up in the air will put you over the moon! Image: courtesy fly adventures. | anjuna, goa, beach, beaches of india, india travel
A dinner date up in the air will put you over the moon! Image: Courtesy Fly Adventures.

Stay

The Ivy Anjuna:

‘When you get into a hotel room, you lock the door and you know there is a secrecy, there is luxury, there is fantasy’. That is how The Ivy Anjuna introduces itself. Strategically placed on the main road to Vagator (near Starco Junction), this hotel combines chic with handcrafted excellence. The suites have long balconies with extended gardens while dining options include the sumptuous Amuz by Hemant Oberoi and Ivy Pool and Bar that boasts of perfectly poured cocktails and an eclectic wine menu.

MansionHaus:

The 19th century Mansion Haus has had a playful metamorphosis — from a private residence of a monied family to a luxury hotel and a members-only club. Nine expansive suites have weathered wood, marble floors and metal accents; the smallest suites have 16 ft ceilings while the deluxe room comes with a quartz mineral-infused plunge pool and its own terrace and also boasts a club and co-working space.

Evolved elegance. Image: courtesy mansion haus.
Evolved elegance. Image: Courtesy Mansion Haus.

Villa Atlantis:

A two-room single-storey independent private villa with large living and dining areas, fully equipped kitchen, free wi-fi, and a private courtyard. Car rental service is available at the villa that is less than two kilometres from the Anjuna Flea Market. Pets are not allowed.

Lohono Villa Verde:

Whoever said Small is Beautiful must have seen Villa Verde, a four-room, four-bathroom luxury home that can host 10 guests. The pool in the centre is hemmed by a rectangular courtyard and the rooms have high ceilings, graphic cement tiles, and a Juliet balcony. A fully functional kitchen is available 24×7. House rules include no smoking and no loud music after 11 pm. An antigen test or RT-PCR done 48 hours prior to check-in is mandatory.

The Tamarind Hotel:

Location is the lure here. Within two-kilometre distance from Anjuna, Vagator and Baga beaches, The Tamarind is housed in an old Portuguese natural stone-built house designed by the famed Goan architects Gerard Da Cunha and Dean D’Cruz. The 26 rooms are cosy and the villas opulent, yet quiet. Sprawled between a courtyard and a garden, Cafe Cotinga serves scrumptious dishes and will happily lay candlelit dinners and arrange private parties.

The patina of time and good taste are evident. Image: courtesy the tamarind
The patina of time and good taste are evident. Image: Courtesy The Tamarind

The Westin Goa:

The Westin Goa propounds the age-old Goan tradition of susegad (relaxed contentment). Carrying forward the swank ethos of the Marriott stable, the hotel has well-appointed rooms, Heavenly Spa (yes, that’s the name), all-day dining in The Market restaurant, 24-hour gym, free valet parking, and even an electric car charging station. Do not miss out on their signature sleep amenities.

Surprise: Breakfast at ₹ 1 (valid until December 31, 2021).