DISCOVER Goa Travel Guide

Your Ultimate Guide to Explore Goa

Goa Travel Guide

A kaleidoscopic blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures, Goa has been India’s most popular tourism hot-spot since colonial times. With palm fringed coastlines, golden beaches, historic landmarks and a vibrant club scene, there’s nowhere in India quite like it.

Best Time to Visit

The ideal time to visit Goa is between November and March. The weather during this period is warm and sunny while the evenings are balmy. This is also the peak season and the city is overwhelmed by a celebratory atmosphere. However, if you love monsoons, the period between May and September is suitable. The rains cast a misty lush green blanket over the city making it the perfect time to experience the ‘real’ Goan life.

Weather

Average weather: 22°C-30°C

Enjoy the uninterrupted sunshine and high daytime temperatures averaging 30ºC during your holiday to Goa. There is little to no rainfall between November and April. May is the hottest month with an average temperature of 30°C while January is the coldest weather as the temperature drops a low of 22°C.

What to Pack

Light clothing, sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, flip-flops, party shoes, beachwear and a power-bank. Don’t forget to carry your driver’s license, you’ll need it to rent a car or bike to travel around the Goa.

Places to Visit

Despite being the smallest state in the country, Goa is abounding with several forts, churches, beaches and pubs. When you’re in Goa, there is hardly a place for boredom in your routine.

Beaches

The sandy shores of Goa are undoubtedly its biggest identifier.  The sun-kissed stretches along the Arabian Sea draw scores of visitors. Which beach you opt for largely depends on your holiday mood. While the crowded Anjuna, Baga, Calangute, Candolim, Vagator and Palolem are ideal for water sports; the laid back beaches like Morjim, Ashwem Colva and Patnem are ideal for a quiet holiday.

Forts

While the 450 years of Portuguese colonial rule in Goa ended in 1961, its indelible mark is still reflected in the state’s baroque architecture and forts. Aguada, Chapora, Reis Magos and Cab de Ram forts are the prime examples of Portuguese activity in Goa, re-telling the tales of its past. The forts overlook the Goan coastline, offering a stunning view of the Arabian Sea.

Wildlife Sanctuaries

Among the several wildlife sanctuaries in Goa, Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary and Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary are the most popular and blessed with exotic flora and fauna. A one hour bus journey from Ponda to Mollem will take you to Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary, the largest of its kind in Goa. The sanctuary is inhabited by species like Gaur and Sambar Deer, Black Panther, Leopards, Slender Toris and Malayan Giant Squirrels. Its proximity to the Dudhsagar Falls is an added charm.

The Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary lies along the Mondovi River near Panaji. It is popularly regarded as the bird lovers’ paradise. A watch-tower in the sanctuary offers a better view of its vast population of migratory and resident bird species.

Where to Eat

The Goan cuisine is influenced by its Hindu origins and centuries of Portuguese colonialism. Rice, seafood, indigenous spices and coconut are the main ingredients of any Goan dish. Kokum, a medicinal herb and spice is a key ingredient of the cuisines. From the laid-back seaside shacks to high-end restaurants, these authentic Goan dishes find a place in every menu, making Goa’s dining scene truly vibrant.

Dine at

  • The Black Sheep Bistro, Viva Panjim and Ritz Classic in Panjim.
  • Arthur’s Theme, Vivenda Café, Cohiba and Café Lazydays in Candolim/Calangute.
  • Soro, Brittos and Cavala in Baga/Arpora.
  • Burger Factory, Tin Tin, Waters and Thalassa in Anjuna/Vagator.
  • Martin’s Corner, Mickey’s and Fisherman’s Wharf in South Goa.

Where to Stay

  • Baga if you want to stay close to the party circuit.
  • Ashwem and Mandrem to enjoy the hippie lifestyle of Goa.
  • Palolem or Agonda for a quiet and relaxing holiday.
  • Panjim or Margao if you want to experience the jolt of the city life.

Experience Goa’s Nightlife

As the sun sets, Goa brightens up with neon lights and brassy music, setting the perfect ambience for party lovers or casino players.

To experience the vibrant party life of Goa, visit:

  • Club Tito’s near Baga Beach
  • Club Cubana on Arpora Hill
  • Love Passion Karma waterfront and SinQ Beach club in Candolim
  • Boomerang Beach Bar in Colva
  • Leopard Valley in Canacona

Another nocturnal adventure you can have only in Goa is gambling at the casinos. Don’t worry, gambling is legal in Goa! Casino Pride and Deltin Royale Casino are the most popular casinos and major crowd pullers.

Where to Shop

To experience Goa at its finest, visit its indigenous markets. From the hippie apparels to hand-made jewelry; shell and bamboo artifacts to terracotta and brass-ware; from exotic spices to cashews, these markets have just about everything irrespective of your budget or taste.

Shop at:

Mapusa Market: The market is famous for its antiques, textiles, Goan pottery and traditional handicraft. It also sells a variety of spices and home-made pickles. The market closes by sunset, so make sure you plan your day accordingly. 

Panjim Market: This market is famous for retailing local wine, cashew nuts, traditional handicrafts and Goan spices. 

Saturday Night Bazaar, Arpora: Set up every Saturday at 6 p.m., this market sells everything-from the spices, teas, Kashmiri carpets and silver jewelry to the works of international designers who convene from all over the word to sell their creations. An array of food stalls and kiosks in the market serve delectable cuisines while the center sage hosts live music performances.

Anjuna Flea Market: Set up every Wednesday, the Anjuna Flea Market is thronged by many tourists. It offers an abundance of indigenous handicrafts, spices, clothes and beachwear. Many kiosks also sell artificial jewelry, accessories and small trinkets at affordable rates.

Experience the Sterling Indigenous Culture of Goa

Over centuries of civilization and subsequent colonialism, Goa has retained its authentic ‘susegad’ flavor. The beach town offers you the opportunity to find your own meaning for the susegad life, at your own pace and in your own way.

The festivals of Goa reflect its unique and vibrant culture and folk arts. The celebrations are woven around religious and historical occasions, the key festivals being the ‘Goa Carnival’, celebrated in February; the colorful ‘Shigmo Festival’, celebrated in the springtime and ‘Bonderam’, celebrated every August. Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Goa are celebrations like no other.

Book Hotels in Goa

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Visit Goa to see a new life, a life that never gets tired to enjoy!

 

About Garusha Katoch

A journalist by education, a writer by passion and a film buff by night. When I am not offering an insight into the many treasure troves of your favorite travel destinations, I like to get my dose of Truffaut and Resnais. You can catch me in quaint cafes finishing my latest book or transforming every thing that happens in a moment into ink.

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