When is the best time to visit?
With 10 hours of sunshine every day and temperatures averaging between 25°C and 30°C, Goa is an idyllic destination for most jetsetters. The best time to book flights is between October and April. While temperatures are high all year round, the monsoon season rainfalls are quite heavy. February is the driest month and July the wettest, but the monsoon season is becoming more popular as increasing numbers of tourists are flying in to experience the extreme weather.
Near the Arabian Sea, Goa’s climate is humid for most of the year.
May tends to be the hottest month with temperatures reaching the mid-30s, and the humidity builds until the start of the monsoon season in June. Running through September, it brings both rain and cooler temperatures. In October to February, Goa’s temperatures can drop to the 20s. Airline tickets are at their cheapest during the monsoon season.
Sunburn, taking place in December, is Asia's premier electronic dance and music event. This three day festival brings together the perfect mix of music, entertainment, food, shopping and lifestyle. Since being introduced in 2011, 'Sunburn Arena' has hosted some of the world’s best DJs.
If your trip to Goa is focused on tasting some traditional Indian food, Goa's Food and Culture Festival in February should not be missed. Taking place over five days, everyone from restaurateurs to high profile chefs, to homemakers, come together to offer a true taste of Goan flavours. This is combined with a number of cultural events which add to the lively atmosphere.
Goa - a tiny state on the west coast of India - is best described as the Ibiza of the east. Hedonists, hippies and naturalists have all flocked to this mellow beach resort since the 1960s, but in the last eight years it’s become one of the hottest destinations, prompting visits from jet-setters and celebrities who travel there to enjoy Christmas or New Year's on the beach. One unique characteristic that differentiates it from other parts of India is the alluring mix of Indian and Portuguese and its laid back ethos of "Sossegade", Portuguese for "Take it easy."
Although the Portuguese left in 1961, Goa had been colonised by them for nearly 500 years leaving behind a strong influence. Most of the locals still speak the language, but it doesn’t stop there. Many Goans are Catholic with last names such as D'Souza and Miranda; the food has distinct Portuguese flavours and the homes are enriched with European features.
If you’re booking a flight to Goa with a view to hitting the beach then you’ll be spoilt for choice once you get there. Most visitors head to the Baga-to-Calangute area which is packed with beach shacks and tourists. But for a taste of the more serene sandy stretches, Agonda and Galgibaga are both breathtaking.
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Transportation in and around Goa can be on one of the flat-based ferries that traverse the rivers or on auto rickshaws, motorcycle taxis and taxis. Make sure to negotiate a fee before jumping on or in as the metres rarely work, but for a fixed rate use a local bus service which is cheap, frequent and have routes to most areas. For more freedom, hire a motorcycle but, except for long distances or day trips, car hire isn’t really cost effective.
Getting to the city
The main airport for travellers taking flights to Goa is the Goa International Airport (GOI). located two and a half miles from Vasco da Gama to the northwest and three miles from Dabolim to the east.
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- The most famous things about Goa are its beaches and hippie vibe. The smallest state in India has much to offer a sun-lover: most of the coastline is a long string of idyllic beaches. The South has traditionally been the most popular, but the North has lots to offer, especially as the beaches are less busy.
- If you want to travel from one beach to another, getting a train is the easiest means of transport. Schedules are not frequent though – often only a daily service is available – and most depart early in the morning. Whenever you arrive in a new town it is worth checking what time the trains depart for your next destination.
- Old Goa, known as Velha Goa in Portuguese, was the capital of the state until 1961. A Unesco World Heritage site, it contains a wealth of historic buildings. Don’t miss the Basilica of Bom Jesus, built in 1695 and said to hold the remains of St Francis Xavier, the Jesuit missionary.
- In the more popular beach resorts, such as Anjuna, be prepared for lots of attention from hawkers on the beach. You’ll be offered everything from massages and hair braiding to drugs. Make your lack of interest clear straight away; even the smallest encouragement makes it hard to escape.
- Panaji is the current capital of the state, and usually the arrival point for most travellers. Spend a few days here, if you have time, to enjoy a relaxed pace of life and some impressive architecture dating from the Portuguese heritage.
- There are many festivals and events taking place throughout the year in Goa. One of the biggest is the feast day of St Francis Xavier, held on December 3 every year. Thousands of people flock to the Basilica Bom Jesus to kiss the relics.
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