This laid-back state in India is renowned for its warm waters, sandy beaches, palm fringed shores, excellent seafood, and a distinct Portuguese-Indian vibe with a hippy overlay.
There are only a few places in the busy and vibrant sub-continent of India where travellers can truly relax, and Goa is one of those places.
Here is our quick-check list of a few things you must do when you travel to Goa, before you sit back on the beach and take in the view.#
Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in Goa, Palolem welcomes its visitors with its soft sands and warm Indian ocean waters.
Over the years, with the increase of tourism in Goa, its shoreline has developed quite a bit with hotels and restaurants springing up and down its length, but somehow in the course of this development Palolem has never lost its charm, or its quirky chic.
Watch the sunset over the ocean while indulging in some authentic Goan cuisine and if you’re lucky you’ll see the dolphins of this area showing off.
Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
Sitting at the top of a long set of criss-crossed stairs, and looking over the city of Panaji, the capital of Goa, is the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, clad in simple but striking white, this was a sanctuary for worshipping Christians sailing into Goa.
It is strange to see such a distinct Catholic church in the tropical bustle of a mostly Hindu India, but since Goa was colonised by the Portuguese for so long, buildings like this church represent European culture at its height in India.
Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary
Ever since Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book was published, and Disney’s subsequent film adaptation in the 1960s, the wildlife in India has held the imaginations of children.
In this fantastic sanctuary in Goa you will get to live out childhood fantasy and see tiger, leopard, panther, hyena, sloth bear, jackal, flying fox, cobra, deer, hog and birdlife like the Jungle Owlet and the Crested Serpent Eagle.
The sanctuary spreads over 178 hectares in the Western Ghats, and the vegetation varies from evergreen forests to grasslands. Seeing these animals in their natural habitat is the most wonderful way to encounter them, and not to be missed if you’re travelling to Goa.
Tropical Spice Plantation
In the beautiful village of Ponda you will find the Tropical Spice Plantation where you can learn about the spices of Goa, such as cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, chillies and coriander, all of which are used in Goan cuisine; a mix seafood and these wonderful spices.
You will also get a chance to ride the elephants around this beautiful site, and if you want, help to bathe them!
Anjuna Flea Market
It is worth popping into this market as a curiosity, a mixture of traditional Indian market, and a farmer’s market, the Anjuna Flea market runs all evening, and there are plenty of colourful wares to catch your eye.
Expect a lot of tie-dye and teal jewellery, but there are some good finds to be had here, and the atmosphere is great. Anjuna itself is also a pretty little beach side town, one of the nicest in Goa with lots of brilliant cafes and restaurants, but don’t forget to drop by the beautiful St. Michael’s church, which is one of the oldest churches in Goa.
Related: The best places for shopping in India.
Seeing the fantastic array of wildlife in India does not disappoint, but whilst many go to Goa looking for the elusive tiger, or are awed by the gentle majesty of elephants, they often forget India’s most beautiful claim to fame; it’s butterfly population.
There are over 100 species of butterfly in this conservatory, and their vibrant patterns represent India’s love affair with colour better than any other animal.
Discover the many regions of India on a Saga holiday.