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From backpackers paradise to luxury holiday - a biodiversity hotspot

Palm-shaded beaches, fresh coconut curries and a rich cultural diversity make Goa the laid-back idyll of India. A walk through a Goan town will open your eyes… and your heart. Sacred cows mingle with auto rickshaws and bench-seated ambassador taxis whilst shopkeepers and market stall traders make a good-natured bid for your attention. Hindi shrines and Catholic churches rub shoulders with the remnants of the hippy trail culture.

Sand and sea steal the show and there’s a beach for every mood – from family-friendly Calangute to romantic Colva and Palolem in the south or the remote Agonda fishing beach. Old Goa is also worth a visit, with its towering cathedrals and Portuguese architecture. Goa is classified as a biodiversity hotspot, with vanilla-scented spice plantations, coconut groves, paddy fields, bird-clustered riverbanks and dramatic waterfalls further inland.

Why Go?

Hire a motorbike and zip between beaches or haggle like a native at the infamous Anjuna market. Whether you fall in love with a fragrant sandalwood carving, a hammock-based afternoon spent listening to the waves or a deliciously fresh curry served from a beach shack, Goa will enchant you.

When to Go?

Goa enjoys a tropical hot and humid climate for most of the year. May is the hottest month at 35°C during the day. The monsoon season starts in early June and lasts until late September. Winter temperatures of 29°C and an abundance of charter flights make October to March the best time to travel. Plan ahead and increase your budget if you want to visit during the peak season of Christmas and New Year.

How to get there?

Goa is served by Dabolim Airport, just south of the capital Panjim. Charter companies fly direct to Goa from the UK. Outside Europe and off-season, you can fly to Mumbai and book a connecting flight to Goa, which should take around an hour. Alternatively, use the Konkan railway but do not be tempted to take the bus.

Must see

Aside from the beaches, there are plenty of must-sees in Goa. Old Goa is worth a visit for its religious relics, or you can take a boat trip on the Mandovi River at sunset, serenaded by Goan folk music. Pick up a bargain at Wednesday’s Anjuna market or a tailored Indian cotton shirt from Candolim’s skilled tailors – prices are surprisingly reasonable. Goans know how to party - join a lively full moon party around a campfire on Anjuna Beach or get swept along with the folk dances during Goa Carnival Week in February.

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