Goa is located in the west coast of India, close to the city of Bombay, which has now been renamed as Mumbai. One of the smallest states of the country, Goa attracts thousands of tourists every year from around the world. It is especially popular with the Russians and Brits. Goa has a small international airport, but during the peak tourist season (November to January), it is packed with charter flights.
Most tourists come to Goa for its nightlife, gorgeous beaches, to catch its sunny weather, churches, and food. But the state offers a lot more. There are beautiful forts, nature reserves, waterfalls, casinos, water sports, spice plantations, dolphin tours, and much more. This is why many who come to Goa once keep coming back.
Best Time to Visit Goa
The peak tourist season is between November and January. Many tourists also visit in February, when the carnival is held. June and July are the monsoon months. It will rain almost every day, but Goa will be very lush at this time. Many restaurants, bars, and cafes are closed in the summer, especially in the south. The beach shacks will be closed, but the permanent restaurants are still open.
Best Place to Stay in Goa
You will find many hotels, resorts, and apartments of all budgets. But the best places to stay are the villas in Goa. They are luxury properties with top amenities and bigger living spaces. Many villas are modern properties, but you will also find houses with a colonial façade and traditional décor. Choose a villa depending on your group size. There are small 2-bedroom properties to large 6-bedroom estates.
There are many villas to choose from in Goa. Many of them are located right on the beach and on the riverfront. Enjoy a luxurious stay with complete privacy in a villa.
Here are the best activities and experiences in Goa.
#1 – The Beaches
Goa has a coastline of 100 kilometers with 35 beaches. From Polem beach in the south to Querim in the north. Many of the beaches are serene with coconut and palm trees, while the others are busy with shacks, cafes, restaurants, bars, massage parlors, yoga centers, hotels, villas for rent, and many watersports activities.
Baga, Candolim, Calangute, Arambol, Agonda, Palolem, Anjuna, Vagator, Cavelossim, and Morjim are some of the most famous. Agonda was ranked as Asia’s Best Beach for 2018 and the 4th best for 2016 by TripAdvisor.
#2 – The Nightclubs
You will find some of the best nightclubs of Asia in Goa. It has a really lovely and vibrant club scene. You will find most of them in central Goa and the north. Southern Goa is more serene and sophisticated. It is popular mostly with families and tourists who prefer a quiet vacation, whereas the north sees more young people.
Tito’s Bar in Baga, Club Cubana in Arpora, LPK, SinQ, the Silent Noise Club, Cafe Mambos, Kamaki, and Shiva Valley are the most happening places. Many beach restaurants also play live music. Beach parties are held at Anjuna and Palolem.
#3 – The Portuguese Heritage
Goa used to be a Portuguese colony until 1961 when it finally became a part of India. But even after so many years, you will find Portuguese culture and heritage here. Fontainhas is Goa’s Latin Quarter, a UNESCO Heritage site. See the many Portuguese mansions with projecting balconies and red tiled roofs. The narrow winding lanes have many bakeries, art galleries, and boutiques.
#4 – Goa Forts
Most tourists will only visit the Aguada Fort. There are at least 6 others that are worth visiting. Chapora and Tiracol forts were both erected in the 17th century. Reis Magos Fort goes back to the 16th century. There is also the Cabo de Rama, Corjuem, and the Mormugao forts. They all have interesting histories. You can see the walls, moats, cannons, bastions, ramparts, and more. Many of these forts offer stunning sea and river views.
#5 – Baga-Candolim-Calangute
This 8-kilometer stretch in central Goa is a top favorite with many tourists because it offers the best of everything. Baga, Calangute, and Candolim are three neighborhoods, each having wide sandy beaches. The entire stretch is safe for swimming. You will find many water sports activities. Some of the best restaurants and nightclubs like Britto’s, Club Tito’s, Souza Lobo, Café Mambos, Tuscany Gardens, and LPK are all located here.
There are hundreds of small restaurants, cafes, and bars. You will also find many hotels, apartments, and villas for rent along this stretch. Plenty of shops, massage centers, and tattoo parlors. Aguada Fort is at the southern end at Candolim.
#6 – Watersports
Speed boats, banana boats, water scooters, paddle boats, wakeboarding, knee boarding, kayaking, jet skiing, wind surfing, para sailing… you will find the complete range of water sports activities almost throughout Goa. There is kayaking in the backwaters and white water rafting during the monsoon. You can also cruise on the Mandovi, Chapora, and Sal rivers and see birds and bats.
Go on a sunset cruise with drinks and dinner. There are dolphin watching trips as well. Visit the Grande Island for snorkeling and scuba diving. There are several shipwreck sites to explore. You can also enjoy undersea walking close to the Baina Beach.
#7 – Goa Markets
There are many street markets that offer an authentic shopping experience. The Anjuna Flea market is the most famous. Started by the hippies, the 500 stalls here sell handicrafts, jewelry, tribal artifacts, bags, clothing, and more. Rock and jazz bands play live music. Mapusa has a very colorful market selling pork sausages, wines, fish, home-made chouriço, spices, fruits, and coir mats.
Visit the Arpora Night Market for funky jewelry, spices, leather accessories, handicrafts, exotic lamps, shoes, organic salads, Greek food, and live music. The Baga-Calangute road also has an interesting Tibetan market where you will find many souvenirs at affordable prices.
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