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Top 5 winter holiday destinations in India for a luxury getaway – Goa
Friday, January 9th, 2015

By Sudha Mathew

Continuing our series of blog-posts about the best winter holiday destinations in India for a luxury getaway, here’s the second winter destination, Goa!

Agreed, much has been written about Goa, by other travel writers and yours truly alike. But what makes this article a must-read is all the useful travel information, from what to see to where to stay and how can we forget, must eat dishes and the best restaurants in Goa. All this at one place makes this a must-bookmark piece for planning a holiday in Goa.

Goa -the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of  winter holiday destinations in India.

Here’s why:

‘Good things come in small packages’; the idiom comes to life in the case of Goa, whose popularity and fame far surpasses her size.

Goa is an elfin jewel located on the western coast of India. Throughout the year the region experiences pleasant and stable weather, and hosts visitors from all over the world. However it is during winter that its appeal gets amplified manifold as the state becomes more pleasant and festive with new seasonal restaurants and locations opening up and the hosting of various fests like the Sun-Burn music festival. Thus it is one of the most sought after winter holiday destinations in India.

(Click here to read Part 1 of Top 5 winter holiday destinations in India for a luxury getaway – Andamans)

Aerial view of the Zuari river, Goa. Goa luxury villa rental

Aerial view of Goa and the Zuari river

Image credit: Abhisek Sarda

Land

Goa, the emerald wonder studded amid the Konkan area of India’s western coast, physically spreads over an area of only 3702 square kilometres. However this miniscule spread of land makes for amazing picturesque beauty with stretches of greenery, white sands and emerald green waters, hills and waterfalls.

Goa is an eclectic mix of the old and the new, the exotic and the local, the vibrant and the tranquil – all at once. The state houses wonders of varied historic significance – there are remnants of primitive civilizations, relics of both historic and religious significance, enduring vestiges of the Portuguese settlements and so on. The fame of Goan beaches has spread the world over today. Their popularity stems from the excellent beauty of the coastlines, the diverse ambience offered by the different kinds of beaches – meditative and calm in some cases while exuberant and lively in others. The flea markets, public celebrations and fests as well as the sheer abundance of epicurean delights spread throughout the land makes Goa an ideal getaway, placing it right on top of excellent winter holiday destinations in India.

One of the most remarkable traits of Goa is the way it has truly championed the secular ideal of the nation. Goa is home to people from varied religious communities and sects, people living harmoniously, everyone sharing and contributing to the rich culture, creating an ambience like no other. The best of every world is present in this tiny jewel placed right on the brink of the Arabian Sea.

Related blog post: Goa’s hidden beaches – escape the crowds and enjoy an exclusive getaway

Where to find European food in Goa:

For those who take pleasure in all things gastronomic, Goa will be an absolute joy to be in. Fresh sea food, catches of the day are a matter of ordinary occurrence, and quite easy to come by. Multi-cuisine, regional and specialized restaurants are available throughout the state, but if someone feels a hankering for European food specifically, the following three restaurants would have them sufficiently satiated.

Some of the best European restaurants in Goa:

  • A Reverie – The recipient of 2014’s TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence, this restaurant is well-known for the array of contemporary European fare it provides, often punctuated with the special Asian touch. The restaurant is open only in the evening and is situated in the lively Holiday Street of Calangute, but there’s a catch – the restaurant can only be accessed from October till May. Some of the most favoured items of the menu are porcini mushroom soup, bruschetta with Goan sausage and Belgian chocolate parfait.
  • Black Sheep Bistro – Though not an exclusively European restaurant, this is a must for all visitors, given the world cuisine based fusion fare on offer. Some of the highlights of the menu include – Masahari – quail eggs with kishmoore butter, seafood risotto, Tataki with rare Frigate mackerel and Chocolate glazed and chicken stuffed Goan Chorizo. The Lounge cum restaurant is located in Panjim.
  • Cafe Chocolatti – Situated in Fort Aguada Road, Candolim, this is the perfect hideaway from the hustle bustle of the city life. A quaint little tearoom, this café offers a break from the rich spice and coconut milk laden local cuisine. Here one can find light lunch options and quick snacks with the endless flow of English tea and coffee. Whether crepes, salads, cakes or scones, no matter what your yearning is for, the café will have it covered.

Related blog post: best restaurants in Goa.

Must Try Dishes on a Goa holiday

As mentioned above, Goa hosts and bears influence of multiple cultures and communities, and the same has reflected upon its local cuisine. Though the staple diet is mainly composed of rice, fishes and curry, the actual local cuisine bears testament to its past as experienced under the rule of Mughals, Portuguese, Hindus and so on. Following are some of the must try dishes while at Goa.

  • Mutton Xacuti – Pronounced as ‘Mutton Shacuti’ this dish is an absolute favourite during winters or a cold rainy day. A rich and spicy, grated coconut based curry; this is a perfect comfort food when the weather is cool and calm.
  • Ambot-tik – An exotic fish based dish; this is one of the most famous offerings of this region and has a sweet and sour taste.
  • Pao com Chouricos – The traditional Goan snack is also worth a try. It is composed of the special Goan sausage (fried), served with sautéed onions and bread.
  • Goan Pork Vindaloo – A widely famous dish and definitely one of the tastiest, but it is not for a heavy warm day or those with weaker stomachs. This is the ideal dish for a wintry feast.
  • Prawn Balchao – Owing their origin to the Catholic Portuguese, this is another spicy Goan delicacy and can be found using different forms of protein too. However the one using pearl prawns is the most delectable and popular.
  • Bebinca – Last but not the least, this is one of the tastiest desserts to be found anywhere and a Goan speciality. Most of the Goan cuisine is heavily non-vegetarian and high on spices, but Bebinca can be enjoyed by one and all without any kind of worry. This layered dessert is a traditional Goan pudding made largely with coconut milk and egg yolks; egg –free versions can also be found if needed.

Most of these dishes can be truly enjoyed in the colder months, thus adding to Goa’s exotic appeal as one of the top winter holiday destinations in India.

Places to see in Goa

Goa is a rich place – rich in natural beauty, historical value, and heritage, tradition, friendly and relaxed ambience and so on. There is no dearth of sites to be explored or sights to be seen in the state. However the three most important, ergo not to be missed sites of the state are as follows:

  • Churches and Temples- The state harbours multiple faiths harmoniously and has also witnessed the rule of diverse dynasties belonging to varied faiths. Thus the historic vestiges of that rich past of Goa include the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Se Cathedral, Mangeswaro Durga Temple and the Shanta Durga Temple.
  • Beaches – Goan beaches are present in abundance but none are alike. Each beach has its own ambience, specific set of activities and entertainments and restaurants available. Some of the must see beaches are -  Calangute, Candolim, Aguada, Anjuna and Baga Beaches in North Goa, and Majorda, Colva, Betalbatim, Benaulim and Mobor in South Goa.
  • Nature – The state has a thriving eco-tourism business that covers visits to the best sanctuaries in Goa. These include – Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhagwan Mahavir Sanctuary and Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary. Finally, another reason making Goa a top winter  holiday destination in India is Turtle Nesting – every year around this season Oliver Ridley Turtles come to the shore of Goa to nest and lay eggs, the eggs and hatchlings are looked after carefully by conservationists till they are ready to make their way back to the sea. The sight is a stunning spectacle of nature and must be witnessed at least once in a lifetime.
goa cathedral, places to see goa, bespoke luxury travel goa

A Cathedral in Goa

                         Image credit: Soham Banerjee

Goa- Useful travel information:

  • Distance from nearest airport - Goa International Airport commonly known as the Dabolim Airport, situated in the city of Dabolim, Goa.
  • Average temperature during winter months - Mean minimum temperature at 25 °C in the coldest month of January and maximum at 29 °C in the hottest month of April.
  • What to pack- As temperatures are sufficiently warm even during winters, winter clothes like sweaters and pullovers are not necessary. You can pack in a light coat/ jacket if you must, which could come in handy while zipping around on a two-wheeler past midnight. Apart from that, light clothing (linen, plain cotton or cotton/synthetic blends), bathing suits, sunglasses, sun block lotion are required for any trip to Goa. Since laundry services can be quite expensive, it is prudent to carry as many changes of clothes as possible. If you don’t have sufficient linens and cottons in your closet, you don’t have to embark on a shopping trip for your Goa holiday.  There are plenty of local shops and kiosks that will sell you Goa – appropriate apparel at very affordable prices. Do remember to bargain though, and if you need tips to bargain, here’s our guide on bargaining.
  • Languages spoken – Hindi, English, Konkani, Marathi and Urdu. Almost everyone can understand Basic English and you shouldn’t face any hassles with communication. Interesting titbit: Don’t be surprised to find restaurants that have their menus and signboards in Russian.
  • Popular modes of local transport – Travelling in Goa is quite easy as the roads are developed and well connected. Depending on your chosen activity for the day and your destination, you can choose between buses, cars, autos, motorcycles and ferries. However, the best way to move from one beach to another is to ride a two-wheeler (motorbikes or scooters). They are inexpensive to hire, easy to park and always at your disposal, no matter the time of the day (or night, for that matter). If you’d like to explore destinations around Goa, and would like to do that in style, you can also hire a car (self- driven or with a driver). If you choose to stay at one of Goa luxury villas, a chauffeured car might be a part of the package.
  • Other nearby destinations – The state is set in close proximity to two other immensely popular tourist destinations – Maharashtra and Karnataka. Thus making destinations like Mumbai, Pune, Lonavla, Hampi, Bangalore, Coorg and Mysore extremely accessible to all visitors.
  • Luxury Villas in Goa – Goa’s appeal as one of the best winter destinations in India comes from various factors ranging from its climate, festivals, cuisine and overall ambiance. Apart from these attractions, another lure of the tiny state is the number of luxury villas on offer for tourists. These villas not only afford its clients all the comforts and decadence of top notch luxury hotels, but also provide an extremely snug and homelike setting for it. The extremely private and intrusion free nature of these stays make them even more desirable; furthermore certain villas have their own theme or niche e.g. the eco tourism based villas offers plenty of opportunities to explore the natural side of Goa through snorkelling, diving etc. while the exquisitely private ones come with an exclusive gated community, personal pools, spas etc. In short, no matter what the preference of the customer, Goa is sure to have something up its sleeve to suit their specific needs. Explore our luxury villas through these blog posts:

Luxury villas in Goa with swimming pools

Luxury villa rentals in Goa, Candolim 

Luxury villa rentals in Goa – Saipem

 

Cheers!

Sudha

 


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Posted by Admin at 11:00 am
2 comments
    Comments ( 2 2)
  • Manjushree Ulhe

    January 13, 2015

    Thnxx So useful information about this n I love traveling travelling is my passion

  • sudha

    January 18, 2015

    Thanks for stopping by, Manjushree.

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Plan to travel to an Indian holiday destination?

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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