The Best Of: Goa

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The Independent Travel

The most tourist-friendly state in India, Goa is also the most European, thanks to 450 years of Portuguese rule, an era that has left its mark on the architecture, food and religion. Separated from the rest of India by the Western Ghats, the state is fringed by beaches and peppered with churches, mosques, temples and old forts.

The most tourist-friendly state in India, Goa is also the most European, thanks to 450 years of Portuguese rule, an era that has left its mark on the architecture, food and religion. Separated from the rest of India by the Western Ghats, the state is fringed by beaches and peppered with churches, mosques, temples and old forts.

Best hotel

Top marks for beachside luxury goes to the Park Hyatt (00 91 832 272 1234; www.goa.park.hyatt.com), a Portuguese-style hotel. Doubles are R4,635 (£56) per night, including breakfast.

Up in the hills, in reach of central and northern Goa, is the boutique retreat Nilaya (00 91 832 227 6793, www.nilayahermitage.com). Its 12 lavish rooms cost R12,800 (£155) per night, including breakfast.

Best restaurant

In the capital, Panjim, try Hotel Venite (00 91 832 242 5537), 31st January Road, Sao Tome. Book a table for lunch on one of the tiny balconies overlooking the street. Main courses from R70 (£1).

South of Cavelossim in Mobor is Betty's Place (00 91 832 287 1456), which serves some of the freshest local food in the state. Main courses from R300 (£4).

Best sightseeing

The former capital of Old Goa has the grandest of the state's Portuguese churches, the Basilica of Born Jesus and the Se Cathedral. Fine examples of forts include Fort Aguada and Fort Terekhol. The most beautiful beach is at Palolem.

Best cultural attraction

Take a tour of a spice plantation at The Sakhari Spice Farm (00 91 832 231 2394). For a taste of Goa's colonial past, visit 17th-century Braganza House (00 91 832 278 4201) in Chandor.

Best shopping

One of the most famous flea markets in the world takes place every Wednesday in Anjuna. Go late afternoon and watch the sunset from one of the beach bars.

Best nightlife

Goa remains famous for its party scene around Anjuna and Vagator, where trance parties still take place about once a week.

Best way to get there

Cox & Kings (020-7873 5000, www.coxandkings.co.uk) offers seven nights at Anjuna Laguna from £1,295 per person, seven nights at Nilaya Hermitage from £1,775 per person and seven nights at the Park Hyatt from £1,625 per person. All prices are based on two sharing and include all flights, transfers and b&b. For further information contact Goa Tourism (00 91 11 257 460 55; www.tourism-of-goa.com; and www.indiatourism.com).

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