Goa's cultural capital and commercial capital, this South Goa city is also the second-largest (after Vasco da Gama) by population but arguably the busiest. Being the administrative headquarters of South Goa might create a misleading picture; Margao too is close to the central coast.... the long white-sand beach stretch, rated by an early-1970s UNDP study as potentially one of the ten best beaches in the world.
This beach spans 30-odd unbroken kms., from Sancoale in the north to the Mobor Peninsula in the south. Margao lies somewhat in the middle of this beach, five kilometres eastwards. Hence a strategic base station for beaches like Velsao, Cansaulim, Arossim, Majorda, Betalbatim, Colva, Sernabatim, Benaulim, Varca, Fatrade, Cavelossim and Mobor.
Like other Goan places, Margao too gets called multiple names in different languages. It's called Madgaon by the Indian Railways, and the local Konkani pronounciation is Mudgannv or Modgannv. Margão is the Portuguese name and spelling.
Skirted in part by the River Sal, Margao is known for his huge Indo-Portuguese style mansions -- more visible around here than in other parts of Goa. Take a look around Abade Faria Road and its eastern parallel, the Padre Miranda Road, the area around the Holy Spirit Church and St. Joaquim Road that leads to Borda.
Margao is crowded and hot, but it's worth seeing. The hustle and bustle is quite incredible.
Margao's railway station is big and important, an intersection of the Konkan Railway and the South Western Railway (earlier South Central Railway).
It is the terminus station for several Konkan Railway trains, being a major station of this Mumbai to Mangalore rail line, after Ratnagiri.
All pan-Indian trains running this route halt here, at least for bunkering. Margao is also a convenient point to disembark for the beaches of Palolem (38 kms) or Colva and Benaulim (about 6-8 kms).
Margao is well connected with other cities of Goa by bus.
Goa's biggest and most important railway station, Madgaon Junction (IR station code : MAO), is located in the heart of the city, off NH-17. It is well-connected to most cities in India. For a list of trains, see the main article.
Margao is about 20 km from the international airport at Vasco.
Some of the buildings are still styled in a colonial way, from the Portuguese past. Some places to visit in and around Margao are:
Indo-Portuguese styled Houses along Margao - Borda Rd
Holy Spirit Church
Monte Hill— From atop this hill one can see the whole of Margao.
See the musical fountain on weekend evenings, near Nanutel hotel
Watch an indian movie at one fo the several cinemas
If you go around May/June, there is a feast of the Holy Spirit church. To celebrate this, there is a HUGE street side sale on everything from clothes to furniture to kitchen utensils. It's located near the KTC bus stand along the road
There are markets all over the place.
In and Around Municipal Building.
Nr KTC Bus-stand.
Margao isn't as rich in decent eating places, as compared to the touristic coast nearby.
Check some on these list: The restaurant at Hotel Nanutel (Indian/Chinese/mixed). Longuinhos (Goan/Indian/Chinese). Hotel Woodlands' bar. The restaurant of Hotel Saaj (Malayalee specialities). Shahi Durbar along FL Gomes (Old Station) Road for Mughlai/Indian, with nice cuisine even if a crowded area. Gaylin along Varde Valaulikar Road (behind the Collectorate) and Rice Bowl at Reliance Park, along the Margao-Colva Road, just beyond the municipal limits (Chinese), which is worthy of a recommendation.
Tato's -Apna Bazaar Complex.
MainLand China - Behind Loyola High School
Kamat Hotel Colva Bus-stand
Golden Chariot's Relish - MultiCuisine Restaurant (Specialists in Seafood) - GOGOL,Margao
Bhel Puri stands around the park
China Gate - west of the police station
Fresh Coconut jucie at the beaches (choose a coconut, ask the worker to slice it for the juice, drink it, give it back to them and they dice it for the edible contents)
Mazaa - bottled mango juice at any store
Places to stay include the GTDC-run Margao Residence, behind the municipal building; Hotel Woodlands; Nanutel; Hotel Saaj, behind Fatima Convent, Miguel Loyola Furtado Rd (Behind Fatima Convent); Government Rest House, Monte; and Gold Star Hotel, Isidorio Baptista Road.
GTDC-owned Margao Residency, a fair place to stay on a budget. Margao has only budget hotels. Others: Woodlands, Margao's first multi-storeyed modern hotel (the ones before were lodges and traditional *pensoes* that almost went to rut), Hotel Saaj and the slightly upper middle-end Nanutel which stands on part of the Cine Metropole property, opposite Ana Fonte.
There are of course, numerous lodges, cheap as they come (Rs. 300-500), and with corresponding facilities. Milan, Goa Lodge, and a sprinkling around the Khareaband road leading to Benaulim, are generally patronised by outstation travelling salesmen. But there are better places to eat and stay outside of Margao proper.