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Goa Holidays

From the sun-drenched beaches and sprawling mountain ranges to colourful markets and relaxing bars, Goa is naturally beautiful, diverse and affordable.

Quick Tips

Approx 1.5 million
Hindu and English
Indian Rupee
GMT + 5

Goa: About as big as Suffolk, but much more exotic.

Now we're not saying a summer trip to Suffolk wouldn't be lovely, but wouldn't you prefer somewhere with a little bit more sun? Once an almost exclusive destination for hedonistic hippies and backpackers, Goa has evolved over the years into a popular alternative to the Caribbean or the Maldives that won't break the bank. Today Goa's beaches are filled with families building sandcastles and millionaires sipping cocktails rather than the somewhat less visually appealing nudists practicing yoga.

That doesn't mean that this liberal Indian state has lost its laid-back attitude. The north is still a Hippy Mecca and is home to the famous full moon parties and legendary trance music festivals. And with over 6,000 bars – nearly two per square kilometre – it really is no wonder why Goa is India's party capital. Everything is in walking distance – you can spend the day on one of the beaches at Candolim, Arpora or Baga, nip back to your hotel for a quick change, and then hit one of the local bars. If neon raves aren't your thing, don't worry. Just a coconut's throw from the cultural capital of Panaji are the world-class sands of Anjuna, Baga, and the self-proclaimed queen of the beaches herself, Calangute. If you're feeling lucky, India's only floating casino "Caravela" floats off Goa's coast at Panaji harbour.

The south is more peaceful. You'll find colourful painted fishing villages surrounding palm-strewn coves. The beaches around Arossim, Cavelossim and Sinquerim are quiet, and more spread out. Here you can spend the day sunbathing under swaying palms on a secluded beach, Kindle in hand, listening to the waves gently lap the shore. None of this sunbeds at dawn business, no beach balls knocking your drink over and nobody accidentally walking all over your beach towel as they try to tiptoe though the sprawling mass of sun worshipers. Bliss.

Goa has a tropical monsoon climate, with rain arriving in early June to provide welcome respite from the heat. The best time to visit Goa is in the winter between November and March, when the temperature hovers comfortably in the 20s and humidity is moderate. These are the months when tourism thrives, and wooden beach shacks pop up all along the shore, selling tropical fruit juices and fresh fish caught by colourful fishing boats that very morning.

Places to Visit

Old Goa

Once the location of the state capital, head here to marvel at magnificent architecture. This designated UNESCO World Heritage Site is dotted with cathedrals and temples and is sure to provide your holiday culture fix.

Discover a unique side to India

Often referred to as the 'Pearl of the Orient' due to its mix of Eastern and Western heritage, Goa has developed its own unique culture that sets it apart from the rest of India. Portuguese heritage is still visible in Catholic churches and military forts that mix with Hindu temples and shrines that reflect several millennia of holy history. The Portuguese are also responsible for introducing spices and dishes to India, which are essential part of today's Indian cuisine. Fish, seafood and exotic Indian spices are fundamental to Goan cooking. Be sure to sample the fish curry, a specialty of the state. Step back in time on a visit to Ancestral Goa on any of its feast days for a pure experience of Goan customs and lifestyle. The state celebrates several festivals throughout the year, including Ganesh Chaturthi, Shigmo, Feast of St. Xavier and the Feast of Three Kings.

Take a break from the beach and head into Old Goa. Once the location of the state capital, today holidaymakers go to marvel at this UNESCO World Heritage Site's magnificent architecture. Dotted with cathedrals and temples, the most authentic way to explore Old Goa is by renting an autorickshaw. Make sure you rickshaw your way over to the Church of St Catherine, modelled on St Peter's in Rome, and Tuscan St Catherine's Cathedral, the largest church in India.

Enjoy natural wonders and local gems

Wide beaches, hidden peninsulas, palm groves and rice paddies are just a few elements of Goa's natural beauty. You can explore the backwaters of Goa on a traditional wooden rice boat or take a safari through the jungle to the Dudhsagar Waterfall. If you're feeling energetic, climb the falls and admire the view from the top before finding yourself a picturesque little picnic spot from which to watch the monkeys. They're really tame and great fun to play with – just don't let them nick off with your sandwiches!

The markets in Goa attract traders from all over the country. The Anjuna flea market is a colourful collection of snake charmers, juggling hippies and musicians playing the dhol. Hats, hammocks, sarongs and shoes are all on offer in a rainbow selection, with whole stalls dedicated to bangles, bags, lanterns and carved gods. Every Wednesday, people flock to this hippy hangout to haggle for a bargain or two, or just to experience the sights and smells of the market. You can buy tailor made clothes and shoes too for a fraction of the UK price. Jewellery is a lot cheaper in India too, from precious gem stones to individual pieces of gold and silver, and there's the option to design your own.

Location of Goa

Average temperature
JanuaryTemp: 32°C
FebruaryTemp: 32°C
MarchTemp: 32°C
AprilTemp: 33°C
MayTemp: 34°C
JuneTemp: 31°C
JulyTemp: 29°C
AugustTemp: 29°C
SeptemberTemp: 30°C
OctoberTemp: 32°C
NovemberTemp: 34°C
DecemberTemp: 33°C
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