Holiday rentals in Goa
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Your guide to Goa
Welcome to Goa
With 60 miles of silky-sand-studded shoreline overlooking the Arabian Sea, Goa is India’s favourite beach holiday destination. From family-friendly resorts like Calangute and Candolim to lively towns like Vagator and hidden coves where you can commune peacefully with nature, this strip of southwestern coast offers an array of experiences matched with a complex, colourful history.
Four centuries of colonial rule by the Portuguese left a legacy in the squares, churches, and Catholic culture of the capital city of Panaji and the historic monuments of Old Goa. Its more recent history as a bohemian hangout lives on in the many spiritual retreats that dominate its backpacker-friendly locations. Small fishing villages and spice plantations offer a taste of local life (not to mention exquisite regional seafood), while further inland and to the south are a wealth of nature reserves and bird sanctuaries.
The best time to stay in a holiday rental in Goa
The summer gets very hot and humid in Goa, with monsoon rains; November to March offer the driest and most pleasant conditions. It’s the midwinter months that draw the crowds and see a number of vibrant festivals, from the Hindu celebrations of Diwali to Catholic ceremonies such as the feasts of St Francis Xavier and Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in early December, as well as grand Christmas traditions. India’s biggest international film festival is held in Panaji in November. Crowds dissipate a little after January, making this time of year easier to book one of the area’s villas. February can be a wonderful time to visit, when Goa hosts its four-day Carnival. March’s biggest draw is the spring festival of Shigmotsav. Whenever you decide to visit, pay close attention to warnings about the ocean currents, and be aware that swimming can be dangerous at any time of year.
Top things to do in Goa
Panaji and Old Goa
One of the most laid-back capital cities in India, Panaji sits at the mouth of the Mandovi River in the centre of the state and holds a fascinating mix of Indian and Portuguese culture and heritage. Once you’ve admired the historical neighbourhoods of São Tomé and Fontainhas, take the 20-minute journey east of the city to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Goa, where the imposing Basilica of Bom Jesus houses the remains of St Francis Xavier.
A couple of hours from the coast, among the forested foothills of the Western Ghats mountain range lies one of the largest waterfalls in India. With five drops cascading from a height of 300 metres, it’s a spectacular sight; you can bathe in the rock pools at its bottom or hike the nearby trails. The falls are reachable only via four-wheel drive — an adventurous journey through beautiful jungle scenery.
The most celebrated of the bohemian beach towns is known for its bustling Wednesday flea market, but it’s evolved into something far more interesting than the scruffy village that made it central to the 1960s scene. With chic bars and restaurants, it’s becoming an increasingly well-heeled spot.