Goa, with its feisty beach parties, iconic Portuguese churches and a robust shopping scene is a happy change from all other places in India. The small coastal state with a wonderful climate and lovely beaches is extremely famous among young travellers, especially backpackers, honeymooners and those visiting with friends. Goa has been a popular destination among travellers from around the globe who come here to relax and enjoy its unique food and weather, and not to forget, to live among its extremely hospitable and interesting people. The ease of reaching Goa from major cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Delhi adds to its charm. It is also easy to reach Goa by air as it has its own international airport. There is no end to how long you should extend your Goa trip. A lot of people come here to stay for days, and sometimes months too. However, a trip lasting at least three days is highly recommended to be able to appreciate the place fully without leaving out its main attractions.

Goa is popularly called the land of beaches and for a place with more than 35 beaches, the name is quite appropriate. Of the top 10 beaches in India, a country which has more than 7000 kilometres of coastline, more than 6 are in Goa. Goan beaches are so well known and attract thousands of tourists because they offer a great variety in terms of experience. While some of these beaches are comparatively laid back and quiet, some are known for the amazing natural views they offer while many others are more hip, happening and touristy. So, while you have Mandrem Beach for its tranquil atmosphere and Angoda beach (one of the strongest contenders of the most scenic beaches in Asia), you also have Baga Beach and Anjuna beach which are known for watersports facilities, beach parties and lively crowd. Cavelossim beach, on the other hand, promises an entirely different experience altogether with its black rocks contrasting the white sand, coconut groves and paddy fields. While a lot of tourists take to the water to enjoy the sea more closely and spot the dolphins, others are content with being beach bums.

Beyond the beaches, Goa is also known for its historical attractions, native culture and cuisine. There are almost 60 churches in Goa of which many are a number of centuries old. These churches still stand magnificently and inspire the visitors with their baroque architecture and sometimes Corinthian interiors. The Bom Jesus Basilica, a UNESCO heritage site, for instance, is one of the finest examples of this kind of structure. The church houses the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier and attracts a lot of visitors. The Se de Santa church, on the other hand, is in the heart of the centre of old Goa and has the largest bell in the state. Other important churches which are worth a visit are the Church of St Francis of Assisi, the Church of St. Cajetan and the St. Alex Church to name a few.

Goa is also a destination for shopaholics. No matter what your budget, no matter what your preference, and no matter what’s your style, you will always find something in the Goan markets that will grab your attention and tempt you to buy. Look out for  junk jewellery, hippie clothing, gothic accessories, shell and bamboo work, and terracotta and brassware. You will also find multi-coloured spices, Goan sausages, textile and carpets that will overwhelm you with their variety. Some of the markets worth checking out are Mapusa Market, the very popular Anjuna flea market, Calangute market square and not to forget the stunning night markets at Arpora.

Like its exciting shopping scene, Goan cuisine is equally overwhelming and full of variety. The Indo-Portuguese cuisine is bound to tantalise the taste buds of one and all. Start your morning with bhali-pau, and then go on and try the classic fish curry, pickled tea-leaf salad, tuna and prawn dishes, and the beef chilly fry. Apart from food, the destination offers plenty of things to drink too. Right from coconut water to the special Uraak (a type of cashew feni) and beverages from the proud alcohol-making heritage of Goa, the place leaves you spoilt for choice.

With its promise of variety and top-notch attractions, a vacation in Goa is always going to be a memorable one. The charm of its old Portuguese-styled buildings, its distinctive native culture, thriving nightlife and plenty of wildlife guarantees a stay which will leave you relaxed, refreshed and rejuvenated.

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