GOA

A state that needs no introduction. Long-visited by western holidaymakers, over the years Goa has changed from a hippy idyll to a package holiday hub. However, away from the touristy beaches –known for their seafood restaurants and nightlife –there are plenty of other things to do so that you can add some culture into your R&R mix. Goa is a small state so it’s easy to fit a lot into a holiday here.

Must-sees include the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, perfect for anyone with an interest in birds and wildlife, while foodies should visit the130 acre, organic Sahakari Spice Farm which gives a hands-on insight into Indian cuisine. Top seaside getaways include less-visited beaches like Mandrem in the north and famous beaches like Anjuna, known for its weekly flea market, every Wednesday.

Quirky fact: German bakeries are big business in touristy parts of India, and one of the best is in Palolem, Goa. Known simply as the ‘German Bakery’, it is actually Nepali run and along with tasty breads it serves yak cheese all the way from Nepal. A definite selling point.

Goa

It might be India’s smallest state but Goa witnesses a huge numbers of tourists descend upon it each year, who visit its coastline for sun, sea, parties, and relaxation. This tiny state has known many faces. A sleepy fishing state, a hub of Portugal’s flourishing spice trade, and the final destination along ‘The Hippie Trail’ of the 70s. It bears the hallmarks of all. But today there is a new Goa, with smart hotels and trendy restaurants making it a perfect destination for those after some winter sun and a dose of culture. Take a walking tour of Old Goa and Panjim, with its grand churches and crumbling villas or visit The Museum of Christian Art and The Museum Of Goa, both hosting excellent exhibitions. Birds and birders alike flock to Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary and you’ll find more yoga schools and retreats than anywhere else in the country. February sees the annual Goa Carnival, a real spectacle and celebration of the unique Goan culture, and November bring the annual International Film Festival to Goa, showcasing the best of Indian and  International Film making.