Mapusa is a town in North Goa. It is the main commercial centre in North Goa (outside of Panjim, which is larger). It is basically a town for locals, who throng to it for their shopping and commercial requirements. Mapusa however has a very colourful weekly Friday Market, that goes on from early morning to late evening, and which increasingly attracts a number of tourists.
Easily reachable by bus from Panjim (the state capital) and the north Goa beach belt. Be warned however that the Goa bus service, while inexpensive (Rs.10 from Panjim as an example), can also be crowded, and from some parts of the state (outside of the bigger cities) often very infrequent.
The nearest railway station is Thivim, a few kilometers away from Mapusa. Many, but not all trains from the north (Mumbai) stop there. From the, short and cheap (few rupees) bus ride will take you to Mapusa bus stand. If your train doesn't stop at or doesn't pass Thivim, you'll have to get off at Madgaon station, then connect by bus via Panjim.
Mapusa, a small town, with a hillock at its northern extreme, can be easily accessed on foot. Two-wheeler motorcycle taxis will also not just take you around the place, but also help you find the address you're searching for.
Besides the weekly colourful Friday Market, Mapusa is known for its educational institutions. It also has scenic (though not very famed) churches and temples. An alternative bookshop, the Other India Bookstore, is known to attract a number of tourists and visitors because of the wide range of off-the-beaten-track books that it stores.
Traditional Goan items from the Mapusa Friday Market.
Tasty Goan spices from the Mapusa Market.
Typical Goan sweets from the many shops that dot the market area.
Traditional Goan bread from the special section within the Mapusa market.
Gold and silver jewellery from the line of shops at the entry to the market.
Books from the Other India Bookstore, an interesting place for pan-India alternate books.
Currency exchange: beware of those charging a premium to cash travellers cheques (eg Pink Panther Travel Agency, Mapusa) when most other currency exchange services (so many along the beach roads) are free and provide the same exchange rates as for cash.
This is the place to eat traditional Goan food, both prepared in the Catholic and Hindu styles. Though there are a few eating outlets in Mapusa, the traditional styles of cooking still hold reign in places like Cafe Xavier (in the market), while Babaji's cold drinks outlet, which also offers snacks, is a prominent draw for the younger crowd.
Like the rest of Goa, lots of restaurants, bars and cold drink houses. Check out the roadside stalls near the Mapusa taxi stand that offer traditional Goan cold drinks (green and red-coloured syrups, coolant and healthy kokum juices, milk-shakes and a lot more).
The Pub, (across the street from the Mapusa Market; has large sign, hard to miss). A decent, European-friendly place on the first floor, overlooking the market.edit
Mapusa has quite a few hotels, but many visitors prefer to either stay on the coastal belt or in bigger cities of Goa like Panjim.
The Govt of India Youth Hostel is very cheap(as low as Rs 30/night) and can be ideal for groups of students. As Mapusa is close to some popular beaches and to Panaji too, it can be a good staying place.
Priti International Hotel, Gaunsvaddo, . checkin: 11; checkout: 11. Large rooms, furnished and decorated in a minimal style. Intercom facility and Conference Hall.Rs 1050 onwards. edit
Goan Clove, Casablance, B Wing, Vagator Beach Road, Vagator, Goa, India, Vagator, Goa, . checkin: 10; checkout: 11. Goan Clove is a graceful modern Apartment offering a convenient and tasteful residential option in Goa. Located on an elegant tree-lined coastal area of Vagator, Goa.Rs. 2625. edit
Villa Home stay (goa vacation rental), 1 km from Mapusa, . checkin: 11:00 am; checkout: 1:00 pm. A private villa located in Assagao, one of Goa’s few designated Heritage Villages. The 5 bed room villa has a picturesque garden and combines influences of Goan architecture with modern facilities. Area:261 sqm.The villa is air conditioned but doesn't offer wifi.Ideal for a quiet family getaway.140 USD. edit
Each evening, as hundreds of tourists (especially foreigners) use Mapusa as their departure point to leave Goa (specially if travelling by bus to Mumbai or Pune), the local bus-stand becomes crowded and colourful with crowds waiting for their evening bus out-of-Goa.