When the first few hippies trekked and hitched their way onto Goan beaches back in the 1960s, they instantly felt that they had found paradise. Today, thousands travel to Goa each year, and the state has become a world-beating holiday destination.
Goa still retains plenty of the charm that has enticed visitors for years and its lovely beaches, with their huge stretches of sand, bath-tub warm seas and bobbing palms are still a big part of that attraction. But there are many more things to do in Goa than just top up your tan. Here are some of our favorites…
Take a trip back in time to Old Goa
The hippies weren’t the first westerners to arrive in Goa. In 1510, the state was conquered by the Portuguese, who built the world’s first truly cosmopolitan city, bigger than either Lisbon or London. The days of Goa as the trading house of the world are gone, but the Portuguese influence lives on in Old Goa’s imposing churches and crumbling mansion houses.
Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of market life.
Anjuna Market is still the hippie heart of Goa, and hosts a weekly flea market just off the beach. The market started as a way for long-staying visitors to sell their stuff to new arrivals, before moving on to the next corner of paradise. Today, it’s a place to buy everything from clothes to phone batteries. Stick around after the market has closed and enjoy one of Anjuna’s evening beach parties.
Discover Goa’s wild side
Away from the beaches, much of Goa is covered in jungle. To protect the species that live in the jungle from development and deforestation, six wildlife sanctuaries have been established in the state. Expect to see deer, wild boar, big cats, elephants and snakes, as well as numerous bird species and beautiful native flora. A trip to one of these sanctuaries is a must for any nature lover, and also helps to support a good cause.
Dine on fresh fish at a local beach shack
Goa has plenty of restaurants serving food from all over the world, but sometimes the simple pleasures are the best ones. Head to a beach shack restaurant at sunset – ideally on one of the more isolated beaches where the daily catch will have been hauled in that morning – and grab a sun-downer to go with your recently caught dinner. Tandoori fish and fish curry are local specialties, and taste extra special when you’re just metres from the sea they were caught in.
If you’re tempted to visit Goa this year, take a look at the range of affordable deals on package holidays to Goa available online from Cosmos.co.uk, starting from just £484 per person.