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KNOW BEFORE YOU GO - STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD (foreign office travel advice)

Goa

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Goa Holidays

Though Goa's mixture of Indian and Portuguese culture is unique to say the least, it's the beaches that are the real stars of the show. That's where the main action takes place on Goa holidays, from sunbathing to paragliding, beach shacks selling authentic cuisine and some seriously late-night parties.

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East meets west

When it comes to fun-filled breaks in India, cheap holidays to Goa are in a league of their own. It's the smallest region in the entire country, found along India's western coast. Up until 1961, it was ruled by the Portuguese, so its blend of western and eastern culture is unique and still very apparent, especially where cuisine and architecture are concerned.

Steeped in a year-round tropical climate, Goa presents holidays that are one-part music, two-parts local markets and about 10-parts beach. Once you set your sights on these golden sand shores, the rest of your holiday will be set in stone. There's a reason why so many ex-pats make this sun-drenched sliver their forever home.

Where to stay in Goa

Arpora
ArporaView on Map

Lazy and welcoming Arpora has become the place to hang many a holidaymaker's hat. For all its sunny seclusion, it's right in the heart of Goa, giving great connectivity to beaches, bazaars and more besides. Not to be outdone, Arpora's cuisine and nightlife options give plenty for the savvy traveller to try too.

Baga Beach
Baga BeachView on Map

Lively and vibrant yet peppered with cosy nooks and secret bays, Baga Beach tops the lists of countless must-visit locations when holidaymakers plan a Goa adventure. The constant carnival atmosphere blazes a trail of fun and vitality all year round, while hot sun, fine sea and good food make every day one to treasure.

Calangute
CalanguteView on Map

Calangute is Goa's best of. It ticks all the holiday boxes, from one of the country's best and biggest beaches to a lively market. Plus its nightlife scene brings unassuming beach shacks to life and there are more restaurants than your palate will know what to do with.

Candolim
CandolimView on Map

If you're looking for laid-back afternoons underneath the Goan sun without all the noise of the city, don't look further than Candolim. Sure, it has its fair share of restaurants and shops, but the beach here has that extra dash of tranquillity you won't find anywhere else nearby.

Quick Tips

  • Hindu
  • Indian Rupee
  • Hindu and English
  • Approx 1.5 million
  • GMT + 5

Golden sands

The beaches in Goa get their fair share of visits from sun-thirsty holidaymakers looking to escape the heat with a cooling breeze from the Arabian Sea. The beaches are also where you'll find a number of beach bars, clubs and parties, not to mention watersports and hotels that put you right in the thick of the action.

Baga Beach is easily the most popular beach in Goa, and plays host to holiday crowds. It's where you'll find sunloungers and umbrellas covering the length of the beach, along with watersports like paragliding, kayaking, snorkelling and jet skiing. And if you're looking for variation, Baga Beach shares eight kilometres of shore with Calangute and Candolim, so there's room for everyone.

Varca Beach lays claim to its own 10 kilometres of sand, which tends to lean on the less crowded side. There are less beach facilities than bustling spots like Baga, but that keeps other holidaymakers at bay, leaving you to bask in peace and tranquillity.

Beach parties

Goa isn't your average nightlife spot, and we aren't just saying that. We can think of few places with as varied an after-hours selection as the all-night parties and neon-lit clubs found in Goa. A former hippy haven, its peace-and-love roots are still going strong with laid-back beach parties that extend well into the night.

You'll have your pick of easy-going cocktail bars but the real fun is in big time clubs like the jaw-droppingly massive Club Cubana in Arpora where, after you've paid the entrance fee, it's free drinks for the night and access to the pool.

Baga Beach has its own strip of clubs where DJ sets and young party-goers reign supreme, while Candolim is home to SinQ, a party paradise with a pool, lounge, nightclub and microbrewery all to its name.

Hints of Portugal

For around 450 years, Goa was a territory of Portugal, which has forever left an imprint on the small state in the form of European-style buildings, churches and Portuguese-influenced cuisine. Goa is home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – the Bom Jesus Basilica, which holds the remains of St Francis Xavier, and the churches and convents found in Old Goa.

Old Goa was the capital of Goa pre-independence, since replaced by Panjim. Even so, Old Goa is destination number one for history buffs, as it's circa 15th century and is packed with elaborate Catholic churches and whitewashed structures.

Keeping things spicy

Just like Goa's surroundings reflect its heritage, the same goes for its cuisine. Traditional Goan fare is a mouth-watering blend of curries, spices characteristic of classic Indian cuisine and Portuguese flavours and vegetables, like peri-peri chillies, potatoes, guavas and cashew nuts.

Coconut milk, rice, seafood and local spices dominate the dishes here, in everything from curries to stews. Don't be afraid to dine in the ramshackle beach huts, as some of the most authentic Indian cuisine can be found there, but you'll find garden restaurants and seaside spots too.

Local markets

Indian markets take shopping to whole new heights, and Goa's marketplaces are no different. With spices, music and local wares, it's sensory overload. One of the region's top markets is the Saturday night market in Arpora, which isn't just a shopping destination but a dining and nightlife one as well.

A sprawling collection of stalls are gathered around a central stage, where live music plays. Within the throng of shops, you'll find jewellery, clothing, lanterns, artwork and tea in between food stalls and bars.

If a Goan adventure sounds right up your street, be sure to check out our full range of Goa holidays All Inclusive deals.