Goa is India’s smallest State by area but also one of the most charming.
It’s a former Portuguese province that was annexed by India in 1961 so here, visiting nice town and old-world churches, you can still breathe a melancholic atmosphere, a kind of Portuguese saudade.
But there are also other faces of Goa: the hippy ad gypset atmosphere that you can breathe on the pristine beaches, with nice flea markets and lively night movida or the folkloric atmosphere of hindu festival and temples.
Goa finally is also one of the favorite destinations for all yoga enthusiasts, with a lot of ascetic retreats hidden in the lush and untouched forests.
Finnair flies direct from Helsinki to Goa from November 1st 2017 to March 21st 2018 so, if you would like to enjoy the “Goan vibes” during the Winter Season, here is a small list of unmissable experiences to live and best places to visit.
Cultural Melting Pot
To immerse yourself in an extraordinary mix of Indian and Portuguese culture don’t miss to visit Panaji, the capital of Goa, well-known for the iconic church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and for the lovely Old Latin Quarter of Fontainhas.
Here, walking through cobbled streets and narrow lanes, you can admire colorful villas and historical buildings and get lost in a lovely Portuguese atmosphere.
Visiting the old fort of Cabo the Rama you can enjoy one of the most impressive panorama in Goa, with wonderful views of the pristine coastline.
Don’t miss to reach the Sunset Point to admire, from the top of the high cliffs, the palm-lined rocky shore and the azure Arabic Sea.
Goa is well-known especially for its gorgeous and endless beaches.
If you are looking for lonely and quiet places to enjoy the local susegad (laziness) go to South to discover the beautiful Palolem, a shadowy crescent of white sand where you could spot the dolphins, or the lovely Agonda Beach, fringed with palms and casuarinas and dominated by a large rocky hill to the South.
The best place for the Sunset is Neptune Point where, during the Season, you can enjoy also the famous silent noise parties.
To experience the most stylish and chic place in North Goa don’t miss Ashvem Beach.
Here you can find a small cluster of fashion boutique open seasonally, Le Souk market (an open air luxury market housed in Moghul style tents) and La Plage, a trendy beach shack with a gypset atmosphere run by a French trio.
The best way to know a Country is through its food and there is no way you will not fall in Love with Goan cuisine, an amazing mix of Indian and Portuguese traditions with spicy and tasty flavors.
To learn some succulent recipe you can make a cooking class with Edia Cotta, Goan specialty Chef at Spice Studio, one of the restaurants of Alila Diwa Goa.
This grandmother of 4 will seduce you with her 35 years of cooking experience, taking you on a journey into her “home” and telling little tales of local culture.
If you want to experience the deep meaning of word “saudade” don’t miss to visit the charming and decadent Goan colonial houses.
Come to Braganza House to fall in love with the romantic Portuguese style façade with its 24 windows, and with the stunning ballroom decorated with Belgian chandeliers; Mrs. Bragança Pereira will be happy to show you the mansion, telling you about the lavish past of her home.
20 minute-drive from Braganza House you could reach the lovely Palácio do Deão, a superb 18th century heritage house with tropical gardens and a long veranda, the Belvedere, where you could enjoy a classic Goan lunch or an afternoon tea.
To being lost in a blaze of color and scent don’t miss to visit the Goan colorful markets in Margao or Panaji, where you can find fruits, flowers, lovely souvenir with an exotic touch and authentic Goan spices.
During the Season, from December to April, don’t miss the Saturday Night Market in Arpora: an absolute highlight of Goa with over 500 stalls selling craft, textiles, designer clothes, accessories and jewelry!
You can’t travel to India without try the ancient ayurvedic therapies.
The Sereno Spa at Park Hyatt is one of the best Spa in Goa: a holistic wellness sanctuary with yoga classes and outdoor Spa pavilions overlooking the sea.
Spa manager, Dr. Sunil Kumar, is an ayurvedic doctor that can provide an initial ayurvedic consultation.
Goa was once known as the “Rome of the East” for its wonderful churches and by the end of the 16th century this city, called Goa Dourada, was the center of the world’s spice trade and one of the richest place on Earth.
The churches and the convents of Goa Velha (Old Goa) are now a listed Unesco World Heritage site.
Don’t miss to visit the Church of Bom Jesus, that contains the tomb of St Francis Xavier and the Se Cathedral Church, that is bigger than any church built in Portugal!
Nostalgia on wheels
The best way to explore Goa is riding a vintage motorbike, as the iconic Enfield Bullets.
Peter, with his team of mostly German bikers, run his company Classic Bike Adventures since 1989, organizing funny tours around Goa and the neighbouring States.