Goa, undoubtedly, is the best holiday destination in the country. Its scenic beaches, hippie vibes, laid-back lifestyle, and vibrant parties are major tourist pullers. However, Goa is not only about beaches and trance parties. It boasts delectable seafood, beautiful landscapes, and a wonderful blend of Indian and Portuguese cultures. Goa has many tourist attractions, some popular ones being Aguada Fort, Dudhsagar Falls, Basilica of Bom Jesus, Anjuna Beach and Baga Beach.
This beautiful coastal state has so much to offer that you need a minimum of 3 days here to explore its popular attractions. If you are planning a budget trip to Goa, the best time to visit the state is from November to February. These winter months with temperatures hovering from 21 to 28 degrees Celsius are just right to laze around the beaches and enjoy the party scenes. However, Goa experiences a huge influx of tourists during these months. Hence, make sure you explore economical accommodation options and plan a trip in advance to avoid the non-availability of hotels.
Reaching Goa affordably
Buses, personal vehicles and trains are economical ways to reach the state. If you want to take a bus, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), and Kadamba Transport Corporation (KTC) are some of the main bus service operators from Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and other nearby places. Tourists can also come in their own vehicles as the roads are well-maintained and perfect for a comfortable journey. Those driving from Bangalore and Mumbai can take the NH 4 route, while those travelling from Mangalore must take NH 17.
If you are opting for a train journey, Goa has two railway stations.
- North Goa from Vasco-Da-Gama railway station: 35 km
- South Goa from Vasco-Da-Gama railway station: 62.6 km
- North Goa from Madgaon Railway Station: 36.2 km
- South Goa from Madgaon Railway Station: 31.3 km
Goa has two railway lines. While the Konkan Railway Line connects Goa with Mumbai, Bangalore, Mangalore and Calicut, the South Western Railway Line connects the state with Chennai, Hubli, Belgaum, and different parts of Karnataka. Many trains connect Goa with Thiruvananthapuram in the South and Delhi in the north.
You can take a bus, unmetered taxi, or auto-rickshaw from the bus stop or railway station to reach Goa hotels or any other place in the state economically.
Things to see/do on a budget
There are plenty of tourist attractions for those exploring Goa on a budget. Apart from the beautiful beaches, you can visit these attractions without burning a hole in your pocket.
1. Aguada Fort: This popular fort in Candolim, North Goa was constructed in 1612. It exhibits Portuguese architecture and is a major attraction in the state. It is located at the top of a hill close to River Mandovi.
- Entry Fee – Nil
2. Basilica of Bom Jesus: This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built in 1594 and is popular for its commendable baroque architecture. The basilica has a rich cultural and religious significance and is open to the public every day.
- Entry Fee – Nil
3. Dudhsagar Falls: This majestic, four-tiered waterfall is located on Goa’s Mandovi River. The beautiful cascading effect makes it appear like a milky white sea falling from a height. Monsoon is the best time to visit the Dudhsagar Falls.
- Entry Fee – INR 20 per person
4. Chapora Fort: Popularly known as the “Dil Chahta Hai Fort”, Chapora Fort in North Goa is a must-visit. You can go there in the evening to watch the splendour of the sunset sky and Chapora River.
- Entry Fee – Nil
5. Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary: This is a wonderful option for children, environmentalists, and photography enthusiasts. You can see some rare species of plants and animals here.
- Entry Fee – INR 5 for adults, INR 2 for children
Affordable Eateries, Goa
If you are a foodie, you can enjoy different cuisines in this stunning coastal state of India. Apart from delectable Goan food, you will find North Indian, South Indian, Chinese, Italian, fast foods, and more in eateries around Goa. Some affordable restaurants you can visit during your Goa budget trip are:
1. Cafe Real: This eatery serves lip-smacking North Indian and South Indian quick bites, such as puri bhaji, samosa, masala dosa, pakora and chana masala.
- Location: Near Azad Maidan, Panaji
- Average Cost: INR 100 per head
- Timings: 7:30 AM to 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM to 8:30 PM
2. Pesto: This popular restaurant serves delectable Continental and fast foods. You can enjoy foods like pasta, sandwich, pancakes, chicken burger, and omelette here.
- Location: Anita Lodge, Vagator
- Average Cost: INR 250 per head
- Timings: 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM
3. Little World: If you are looking for palatable vegetarian and vegan food in South Goa, you must try this eatery. It serves authentic European cuisine.
- Location: Opposite That Bar, Canacona
- Average Cost: INR 275 per head
- Timings: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM
4. Kinara: This casual dining restaurant is popular for its seafood and North Indian, Goan, and Chinese cuisines. You can also enjoy fresh juices and cold beverages here.
- Location: Phoenix Estate, Margao
- Average Cost: INR 375 per head
- Timings: 11:00 AM to 11:30 PM
Where to shop on a budget, Goa
Apart from sun, sand and sea, Goa is also known for flea markets and night markets. When you plan a Goa budget trip, make sure you include the following markets in your itinerary.
- Anjuna Beach Flea Market: Clothes, home decor, Indian spices, musical instruments
- Arpora Night Market: Clothes, knick knacks, footwear, helmets
- Panjim Market: Spices, cashew nuts, curry pastes, port wine
- Mapusa Market: Handicrafts, Goan pottery, spices, textiles, jewellery
You can easily plan a budget trip to Goa and enjoy a memorable stay with your loved ones. Choose small eateries and remember to bargain while shopping. Also, book your tickets and hotel rooms at least a month in advance as prices may go up later.