Quick Guide to Goa
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.
Goa holidays 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. You could relax in the sunshine, explore the lush scenery, or visit the colonial relics and historical attractions. 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 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.
Fab holidays for:
Beaches, Yoga classes, Tropical sun
Did you know?
Goa used to be known for its massive raves. But following noise complaints, silent discos, where music is played to revellers through headphones, are now more common!
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What to see in Goa
The colourful carnival is a yearly highlight and it's set to attract plenty of visitors again in 2018/2019, so be sure to book early if you want to be part of it! The cheapest accommodation tends to fill up first, so consider splashing out a little more for a holiday in Goa to remember!
- Bom Jesus Basilica
- The UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in Old Goa and is the country's most famous church. The name 'Bom Jesus' translates to 'Good Jesus'
- Anjuna Flea Market
- Head to the flea market and be prepared to haggle the day away on items ranging from jewellery to shiny souvenirs.
- Baga Beach is a popular choice with tourists; in the evening there's often a beach party happening.
- Casino Royale Goa
- You might not find James Bond here, but it is the largest casino in the state. If you're feeling lucky, head to Casino Royale and have a flutter.
- Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
- This bird watcher's paradise is full of interesting and pretty birds flying around, chirping a tune or two.
Where to stay in Goa
Goa holiday makers usually head to one of the five main resorts of Anjuna, Calangute Beach, Baga Beach, Colva or Palolem and we can't see their popularity fading in 2018 - 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 stay - 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 instead.
Goa is as famous for its rave culture as it is for its beaches. Head to Anjuna and Vagator for some of the best parties - and beautiful beaches! If an all inclusive holiday is what you're after, look for deals in Candolim and Benaulim.
If you want a taste of unspoilt countryside when on holidays to Goa, then look for a small community you can stay in. It's possible to stay in intimate resorts on stunning beaches, and small inland villages surrounded by lakes, waterfalls and forests. Accommodation is all wonderfully cheap to European pockets so it's easy to pick and choose depending on whether you're after a lazy summer getaway or exploring on a winter warmer.
When to go to Goa
Thanks to its tropical climate, Goa is warm year round. But it pays to time your holiday so you don't end up drenched in monsoonal rain on the beach, or in the steaming heat. Mid-November to mid-February is the loveliest time of year to visit, with the most pleasant, relatively cool temperatures and dry weather. The weather starts to heat up in March until May, and the heat and humidity starts to deter visitors. However, you might find that holiday prices go way down! Hotels are also incredibly cheap from June to October - but this is when the monsoon comes, making everything lush and green. At this time of year, though, there's loads of festivals to celebrate the rain, so join in the fun!
Getting to Goa
There are direct flights to Goa, primarily from airlines like TUI and Thomas Cook which coincide with the peak winter holiday dates. Cheap deals can be found outside peak holiday dates such as Christmas, New Year and February half term. Flights typically take up to 10 hours to arrive from the UK. Expect your journey to be longer if you're on a non-direct flight.
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 dates, 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. Consider booking your flight at the last minute to save even more.
Once you arrive 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, that is.
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 car or scooter hire is the best way to go, and this can also solve your transfer conundrum.
Food in Goa
Thanks to its Portuguese heritage and seaside location, Goa has a cuisine unique to India. Seafood lovers will be in heaven here, as India's famous flavourful curries are packed with everything from kingfish to prawns, tuna and mackerel. Other ingredients like potatoes, cashews, pineapple and chilli was introduced by the Portuguese during the colonial period, giving a further fascinating slant to Goan cuisine. On your holiday to Goa, you can expect tasty fish curries, vegetable bhajis and bebinca, a famous Goan sweet, made from egg, coconut milk, ghee and sugar.