Why Visit Goa (and why we’ll be going back!)

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I’ve posted before about how much I love India, but Goa was my first love. I went on a cheap package holiday for the first time in 1998 and returned several times before we got into the swing of independent travel. Why visit Goa rather than some other part of India? If you’ve always dreamed of India but find the idea of tackling this huge and fascinating country with a backpack a bit daunting,  (you need our India Travel Blog section to help you there) maybe you should try visiting Goa, it could be the place for you.

Why visit Goa? Chef Anjuna market Anjuna beach
Chef looking the part in Goa. Anjuna beach, in front of part of Anjuna Market. 2001. Strange outfits are not compulsory if you visit Goa.

Goa India

There are loads of ready-made Goa holidays and packages that you can book from the UK, flights, hotel and airport transfers included.

A trip like that could be just what you need to wet your India appetite and launch you on to the bigger adventures.

Alternatively, book  a bargain flight using Skyscanner to the modern international airport in Goa, and find yourself a hotel below.

Agoda works well for accommodation in Asia, they’re the booking site we use, and usually gives you reward points to redeem on future stays.

There is plenty to keep you busy for a 2 or 3 week holiday in Goa and it’s really easy to get out and explore the temples, ancient cities and beautiful countryside.

We have plenty of posts about India and Goa here on World Travel Family.

Why Visit Goa?

Anjuna Beach, North Goa 2015
Anjuna beach, north Goa in 2015.

Goa is India – But Easier

My husband’s grandmother grew up in Calcutta, she says Goa isn’t really India. She’s a wonderful lady and I respect her immensely, but I disagree.

It’s India, it’s just easier. Goa gives you a dose of Indian culture without having to work too hard for it.

It’s true that you could be anywhere in the world if you never leave your hotel, but you could say that about anywhere.

There are some fabulous hotels in Goa catering to every western need.

Step outside them, explore a bit and you’ll get a taste of what the subcontinent has to offer. Exploring is easy, hire a tuk tuk (motor rickshaw) or a taxi and off you go.

There are cows on the street, there are women in traditional costumes from all over India, there are Hindu temples to visit and wonderful markets with snake charmers, sometimes there are elephants.

Goa feels like India.

Church in Goa India
A roadside church near Baga, North Goa

The Portuguese Connection in Goa

Back in 1510 the Portuguese took Goa as their own and set it up as an important control centre for the spice trade. You can still see the Portuguese influence today.

A visit to the remains of the city of Old Goa or Velha Goa, (a Unesco World Heritage Site) is well worth it for the Basilica of Bom Jesus housing the mummified body of St Francis Xavier.

They get the mummified saint out every year, in December, for local Christians to pay their respects.

One lady took her adoration a little too far, biting off the Saint’s toe as a souvenir, so the story goes

The Portuguese abandoned the city in the 1700 after problems with disease and the river silting up but plenty of buildings are still standing.

Old Goa is an easy day trip by taxi or rickshaw from the northern beaches of Goa.

Market stalls Anjuna Beach Goa
Colourful market stalls near Anjuna, Goa.

Goan Food

Indian food is sensational, South Indian food in particular for its light vegetarian dishes.

Goan food is unique and is superb!

A curry and a cold Kingfisher beer. Pefect!

A curry and a cold Kingfisher beer. Pefect!

There are a few Goan specialities that you just have to try.  Goan curry dishes include Xacuti, Balchao and Vindaloo, they all have a Portugese influence.

The vin of vindaloo was originally wine, now vinegar, it’s not the fiery concoction served in UK Indian restaurants.

Give a real Goan vindaloo a try, it’s delicious if you love your food spicy.

There is plenty of fish and seafood which can be simply prepared if you’re not a curry lover.

I found this wonderful site if you’d like to try some authentic Goan Recipes at home.

We took a Goan cookery class during our visit in 2015, we’d highly recommend a similar experience.

Markets in Goa

alyson balcony dom jao (2) (280x350)
Anjuna 2001 as backpackers staying at The Dom Jao Hotel. We stayed in the same hotel as package tourists a few years before.

North Goa has my favourite market in the world, Anjuna Market. It is held behind Anjuna beach every Wednesday and it is vast.

It dies off a bit in the offseason ( after Christmas), but even then it is still an exciting place to visit.

There are so many things to buy and to look at, if you’re new to this part of the world you won’t believe your eyes.

Snake charmers, acrobats, wandering holy men and performers jostle with hippies and hardened Kashmiri salesmen. Anjuna Market, Goa, is fabulous.

We’ve stayed in Anjuna town three times, as package tourists and as backpackers with and without kids, it’s one of our favourite places to stay and the market is a big part of that.

India Travel - Goa. Visiting Goa, India. What is Goa like and why go? What's the attraction. Find out why Goa is one of our favourite parts of the world and of Asia #India #Indiatravel #Goa #travel #Asia

Shopping in the markets of Goa is an absolute joy.

Goan Beaches

I always went to North Goa, but now we have been to South Goa too. With children, priorities are changing.

The beaches of North Goa were fine for us, we loved the old hippie vibe, the busy markets and the trance music of Anjuna North Goa, also Arambol, Baga and Vagator beaches.

I heard that the south had nicer beaches for children, cleaner water and better sand.  Agonda and Palolem in the south, have a good reputation.

We tried Colva Beach and weren’t too impressed, we’d prefer the north, but we’re yet to try Palolem.

Accommodation in Goa is Affordable and Diverse

You can find a simple place to stay for a few dollars a night, or blow the budget and check into some of the best hotels in the world. Goa has it all.

Budget Hotel with pool in Goa

This budget hotel with pool, in Anjuna, was a great base for our family in North Goa

This is where we stayed with our children on a recent backpacking trip,  Poonam Hotel Resort in Anjuna,on other trips we have stayed in resorts and up-market hotels and in budget backpacker accommodation.

To search for a hotel in Goa, use Agoda .

Where is Goa?


Goa is in India, on the southwest coast. Goa is not an island, as I once read in a national newspaper. There is at least one island that is part of Goa.

Goa is a state in India. Its bordering states are Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south. The Arabian Sea forms Goa’s western border.

Goa is south of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) approximately 400Km or 200 miles south.

The capital of the state of Goa is Panaji (also known as Panjim). This is where you’ll find the international airport.

We returned to Goa in recently as part of a bigger tour of India, staying in North and South Goa. Goa and Kerala are most certainly my picks for the easiest parts of India to visit with children. You can read about our time in South Goa, Kovalam, Fort Kochi and North Goa by clicking through. Goa has loads to offer, we’ve taken day trips to waterfalls, wildlife reserves and stunning Hindu temples as well as spending time just relaxing, enjoying the Goan sunsets with a Kingfisher beer and fabulous food. 

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

16 thoughts on “Why Visit Goa (and why we’ll be going back!)”

  1. Amazing blog!!Thank you for sharing with us. We provide Car rental services in Goa. Convenient & affordable to your advantage.If you are looking for Self Drive Car Rental in Goa, do contact us.

  2. I totally agree Goa has lot to offer whether it’s Beach, Temple or church. Goa is a place where you can relish every second.

  3. I once already visited South Goa however i was planning to discover North Goa and the place to visit near Baga beach at this time. And your blog was helped me a lot. Thank you for sharing your trip and portraying Goa so beautifully. And soon i will strive to discover the places that you have mentioned.

  4. I have visited GOA during monsoon season, it was awesome trips with friends, visited all the places you mentioned here in the article. Love the baga beach, nightlife, night flea market, churches, mangeshi temple. it was a really memorable trip.

  5. Nice article, although I think Goa is completely separate from the rest of India. Aside from the Portuguese and Catholic cultures, even the original Hindu culture and influences are very much different and has its own unique vibe. Anyone reading this who wants a more authentic Goan experience, you should stick to the South, far better; less run down and less tourists ?

  6. Hi, I m from Goa. Presently residing in UK from last 3 years. I m so very glad to read your article on India explore specially about Goa. Goa has always been a dream place for most of the world tourists. Churches, Temples and mosques in Goa has its own story to tell about. There’s still more in South side of Goa. Do visit Big Foot in Loutolim and many more places. Localites would be the best guide.

  7. This is great and awesome blog. Thanks for sharing a wonderful site. I really like this post.Hey, I am so glad to read your thoughts because I really enjoyed reading this.

  8. We stayed in Candolim Beach. It is quieter than the north. Clean beach, clean water. We rented a house there through airbandb.com.

    • I stayed in Candolim the first time we visited, back in the 90s. Is that oil tanker still sitting on the beach there? Ages ago now I know, but it was there for years. I prefer being where there is a bit more activity personally, near Anjuna, but horses for courses.

  9. Sounds great! I have travelled around Northern India and would love to go to Goa and Kerala one day. I found the North Western parts of India much easier to travel too such as Shimla and Mcleod Ganj.

    • Ah, we have very fond memories of Mcleod Ganj! Unfortunately HH wasn’t home when we went to visit. It’s mostly the roads and trains that put me off really doing India with the kids, I’m a worrier when it comes to my babies and traffic accidents are so incredibly common.

  10. no way. goa! we’re leaving on the 12th straight to goa to put our kids in a waldorf-inspired school there. we hope to be there for 7-8 months. can’t wait to discover all that you mention. ps: you look amazing young alyson. amazing. gabi

    • That’s because I put the wrong date on the photo, it was 2001 not 2011! Maybe we’ll overlap in Goa, we’re not sure what we’re doing after the UK yet, but Goa is high on the list if chefs insides stay inside.

  11. Ah, trip down memory lane. 🙂
    I love Goa and had so much fun at Anjuna markets, the colour, the atmosphere, and don’t forget the snake charmers. Love it. 🙂

  12. Goa is fab – but I do see what your husband’s grandmother was getting at – I travelled down from the north, and the culture is so different. For a start, there are far more women in the streets – as a woman on my own I noticed this sort of thing. It just feels so much more relaxed and easy after the mayhem of the border crossings and the pandemonium of Mumbai.

    The cuisine – I’m biased, as I met a wonderful cook in Cochin (Kerala) and he made the best fish curries in the world. But I’ll allow Goan food to be second best!

    • Yep, I do know what she means, Goa is way easier to visit than most of India, but to your average Western tourist, you couldn’t be anywhere else BUT India. She was from Calcutta, a big difference! We loved Cochin, too, I loved our breakfasts at the Indian Coffee House there, can’t wait to go back!


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