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

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 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 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, it 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 him 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 Portugese 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 it a try, it’s delicious.

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 off season ( 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. It’s 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 the 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 .

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. 

Our Four Month Anniversary, Disasters and a Lesson in Unplanned Travel.
Medical Dramas on Ko Phangan and Surgery on Ko Samui


Thursday 8th of October 2020

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.

Rusha Bhai

Wednesday 29th of April 2020

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.


Friday 13th of December 2019

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.


Saturday 11th of May 2019

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 ?

Nelsa Dias

Tuesday 7th of May 2019

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.