Goa is the smallest state in the vast country of India and yet it most definitely stands out from the crowd! This is partly due to a different microclimate, but it's also a hangover from being a Portuguese colony rather than an English one like the rest of the country.
Holidays to Goa are all about soaking up the laid-back living that has made this destination popular = first with hippies and travellers, and today with more and more visitors of all kinds. Whether you want to relax in the sunshine, explore the lush scenery, or visit the colonial relics and historical attractions, there is something for everyone on a Goa holiday. But it's the coastline that has proved the biggest draw for visitors from the UK. There are 25 miles of sandy beaches, many of which still have the hippy vibe of the 60s, and many more of which are established Goa beach holiday resort destinations.
Don't expect the same resort vibe as Europe though, it's nothing like what you'll find on the Costa del Sol or in the Canary Islands. Hotels here are informal, but often very cheap too - so consider travelling for two weeks rather than one as the price of your Goa flight is bound to take up the majority of your budget.
The start of your holiday in Goa will always be finding your flight, as this is generally the most costly part of the trip. There are no direct flights, so look out for one-stop journeys. These typically take upwards of 12 hours to arrive in Goa. If you're trying to save money on your Goa holiday then the flight is the best place to start. Try to be flexible on travelling date, but don't assume that two stops and a 36-hour journey will be cheaper, as this is regularly not the case. Shop around and look for the best compromise between price and travelling time. After all, your holiday to Goa will be short enough as it is, you don't want to shorten it further with unnecessary travelling time.
Once you arrive in Goa you'll want to get to your accommodation, and the best ways to do this are by pre-paid taxi from the taxi rank, buses or trains - if your hotel doesn't arrange transfers for you. Thanks to Goa's status as a popular backpacker destination, these transport routes are well-documented. If you're after exploring the area when you're on holiday then Goa car hire is the best way to go, and this can also solve your transfer conundrum.
Goa holiday makers usually head to one of the five main resorts of Anjuna, Calangute Beach, Baga Beach, Colvo or Palolem and we can't see their popularity fading in 2013 or 2014 - in fact it's likely to increase with more and more cheap flights available!
Don't be fooled into thinking that Old Goa is a place to say - this city was once the state capital and boasted plenty of splendour but today it's all but been abandoned. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site so it's pretty high up on the list of must-see things, but aside from that it's best to steer clear of staying too close when on a holiday to Goa.
The real heart of Goa these days are the numerous small beaches both by the sea and inland, so if you want a taste of the real thing when you're on holiday here in Goa then looking for somewhere to stay in one of these small villages is a great way to do it. Some are located close to some of the area's stunning beaches, whilst others are near to inland lakes, waterfalls and forests, so it's easy to pick and choose according to what you want to do whilst you're in Goa on holiday.
The yearly highlight is usually the annual Goa carnival and it's set to attract plenty of visitors again in 2013 and 2014, so be sure to book early if you want to be part of it! The cheapest accommodation tends to be what fills up first, so consider splashing out a little for a holiday in Goa to remember!
Attractions that are available year-round include the Bom Jesus Basilica and the Anjuna Flea Market, which has developed into a huge shopping adventure where traders from all over India come to sell their goods.
If you can bear to drag yourself from the beach for a day on cheap holidays to Goa, then we recommend a visit to Panaji which is the state capital. The town retains many of the features of a small Portuguese colonial settlement with many architectural treasures dating back centuries. Want more ideas? Head to our Goa guide.
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