Summer in Europe is over and you are already thinking about going to somewhere warm? Maybe this time it could be Goa, smallest state of India know because of its amazing beaches and parties? Especially because once the summer in Europe is over starts the best time for traveling to Goa. Starting from October and until March it’s mostly sunny there, temperatures never drop under +22 – +25 C degrees, even at night, and water is the same as warm or warmer.
4 out of 25 best beaches in Asia, as voted by travelers using Tripadvisor, are in Goa – Agonda (4th), Palolem (8th), Mandrem (18th), Cavelossim (19th). Goa is our favorite part of India as well. We have been there twice, spending a total of 2,5 months living in this laid back paradise by the ocean.
Traveling to Goa, India
It is possible to get to Goa by plane, train and bus. Of course, you can also walk there or cycle, like we did, when cycling all the way across India. But I bet it’s not what you are planning to do. In case I’m wrong – read our guide to cycling in India!
Flying to Goa. There is international airport in Goa. And there are direct flights to Goa from several cities in India, United Arab Emirates (Dubai, Sharjah), Qatar, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman. Search for the cheapest flights on skyscanner.com.
Traveling to Goa by bus. If you are already in India, taking a bus is just another option. Not recommended one, if you are more than 500 – 600 kilometers away from Goa. Because then it will be one long, long ride. Traveling by bus from Mumbai to Goa, which is about 600 kilometers long journey, already takes between 12 and 15 hours.
Traveling to Goa by train. Traveling by train in India takes similar as long as traveling by bus. But it’s more comfortable and cheaper than traveling by bus. Two of the biggest train stations in Goa are – Margao and Vasco da Gama. If you are traveling to North Goa first, then get out at Vasco da Gama. Traveling to Southern Goa – Margao. To learn more about trains and how they operate in India, read this article about our experience traveling by train in India.
Local buses are running everywhere
It is possible to get to and from Goa International airport by local bus. Although, they don’t stop right at the airport, it’s not a problem to catch one once you get out of the airport territory and you are standing by the main road. Since most of them them will stop wherever there will be a passenger waiting, there is no need to search for a bus stop. In India they are driving on the left side of the road. Choose the right side, when waiting for bus!
Why to take local bus not taxi or tuk-tuk? It’s about 10x times cheaper. Not recommended option if you have heavy luggage and/or it’s one of your first trips to Asia. It just might be very stressful then.
Using local bus it is possible to get to all the main attractions and beaches, too. If it’s a long journey, exceeding 20 – 30 kilometers, you may need to take a bus to one of the largest towns first and then to take a next bus. Biggest bus stations in Goa are – Mapusa, Panjim, Vasco da Gama, Margao and Canacona.
If you plan to go to several places in one day, especially if these places are far away from each other and you are traveling together with someone, then it might be a good idea to find a taxi or tuk-tuk for one day. Or to rent a scooter. Because this way you may end up paying just a little bit more or even less. But at the same time you will have more flexibility and comfort. Because while there are buses running to almost all places in Goa, not all of them are running too often, sometimes only 2-4 times a day.
Read more about local buses and where you can get using them!
North or South – where to go?
By Indian standards, Goa is very small state. It’s just a little bit more than 100 kilometers long from North to South. So whichever place of this state you will choose as your base, you always will be able to reach the rest within 1-2 hours by motorbike, tuk-tuk, taxi or bus.
Essentially the biggest difference between North and South Goa is the number of tourists visiting them. Most of people traveling there are traveling to North Goa. Because it has all that Goa can offer. Nice and long beaches. Parties. A lot of different water activities. Shopping. It’s close to largest cities of the region.
While it may sound attractive to have it all and at the same place, it’s not what, for example, I’m looking for. And so for me – South Goa is convincingly the best choice. Finding a deserted beach with only few others there it’s much easier done in Southern Goa. Laid back atmosphere, not too many other travelers and peace is what I like most about it. Many yoga and meditation retreats are located here as well.
Where to stay?
First – choose if you will go to North or South. Then think, if you want to stay on the beach or not far from it, like an overwhelming majority, or more in the city. If you will be traveling to the South, check out the list of our favorite beaches! That may help you to choose, where to stay.
There are plenty of accommodation options in Goa for under 20 euro per night. Just book a room for a night or two in advance and find the next place where to stay once in you are already there. It’s very easy there. We have stayed in few hotels in Goa. And we have been living in rented apartments twice. While the latter is more nice for a longer stay, it costs more as well.
In India it total we have stayed in more than 100 hotels. Lazy Frog has been the best budget hotel in India, where we have been. Even though they have raised their tariffs since our stay, it’s totally worth it. Check them out if you want to stay in quiet area of South Goa! And better book in advance, because it’s a small hotel and they are popular in that area!
Do check out also Airbnb, if you want to stay in an apartment instead and live like a local in Goa! Register using my Airbnb link and you will get a 18 euro discount for your first booking of 75 euro or more.
Food in Goa differs from food in the rest of India
Biggest difference between food in Goa and food in the rest of India is availability of seafood. All kinds of grilled fish, shrimps, prawns, mussels, calamari, crabs you will see on the menu of most of Goan restaurants. When ordering a grilled fish often they will ask you, how you want your fish to be prepared. If you want it to be more or less spicy.
Various Indian dishes and snacks available throughout India here you will find with seafood filling. For example, prawn samosa, prawn pakora, different seafood soups, prawn fried rice and so on. Usually they cost 25 – 50% more than with vegetables and chicken.
Another big difference is that here you can get pork and beef almost everywhere. Goans like pork. Dish called Pork Vindaloo is often called synonymous of Goan food.
Read what we like to eat when we are in Goa!
Where to go and what to see
For us with Una Goa is that quiet peace of paradise in India with long and sandy beaches. If you are like us, check out the list of our favorite beaches (already mentioned above) and head there, find some beach bungalow or hotel room not far from the beach and enjoy your holiday!
If you like water sports and activities you will be pleased to learn, that these kind of things are popular here. Just head to the most popular beach of the area, where you are staying, and ask around. Parasailing and jet skiing are two of the most popular activities. But that’s not all. What we missed, though, is snorkeling. It is possible, but then you need to go on a special tour, where snorkeling is just a small part of all the activities.
For nightlife and beach parties, head to North of Goa. Anjuna beach and Baga beach are two popular beaches there.
Old Goa, known also as Rome of the East, is a must visit place for those who are interested in history.
First time in India? Read this before traveling to India and be prepared!
If you still have some questions about traveling in Goa & India, contact us!
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they are traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On WeAreFromLatvia.com they share their experience and things learned along the way.