You can reach Goa by air, by train, and by the many buses connecting the state with its neighbouring states.
Getting to Goa
Goa’s only domestic and international airport is in Dabolim, just outside Vasco da Gama. It is known as Dabolim Airport or Goa Airport. The airport is about 30 km from the capital city of Panaji and is owned by the Indian Navy.
Major domestic airline operators such as Air India/Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines, SpiceJet, IndiGo and Go Air have flights carrying passengers and cargo in and out of Goa. Besides these, a number of chartered flights land in Goa from UK and other European countries. Air India also lands a few international flights, especially from the Gulf countries.
Most major international airlines usually have agreements with one or more of their domestic counterparts in India, so if you are arriving from abroad it is possible to book your onward domestic flight at the same time as you pay for your international ticket. Most domestic airlines allow online booking 6 to 9 months in advance. You can find more information for airlines operating in Goa by clicking here.
Goa has two major railway stations - Margao and Vasco da Gama, both located in the southern part of the state. The South Central Railway terminus is at Vasco da Gama and the Konkan Railway terminus is at Margao. Besides the two main stations, the trains usually halt for a few minutes at a number of other smaller stations in Goa.
The Konkan Railway offers the quickest and cheapest route to Goa from Mumbai and Mangalore. The 760-kilometre line connects the states of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka. The main stations in Goa include Pernem (for Arambol/Harmal), Thivim/Mapusa Rd station (for Anjuna, Baga and Calangute), Karmali/Old Goa station (for Old Goa and Panaji), Margao (for Benaulim, Colva and Varca), and Canacona (for Palolem). If coming from Mumbai or Mangalore you can book your ticket to these intermediate stations, but even if you book through to Margao you can get off at any station en route.
It is highly advisable to reserve the tickets well in advance of your actual journey to Goa since the trains are usually fully booked. If your travel plans have been finalized at the last minute, you may want to check availability of tickets under the Tatkal scheme – wherein some tickets are released 2 days prior to the journey date.
If you want to travel to Goa but all trains and flights are full, or if you want to save on airfare, your next-best option is an overnight bus from Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, or Mangalore. You can book an air-conditioned bus sleeper for Rs. 800 to 1000 or a semi-sleeper (a 135-degree reclining seat) for Rs 500 to Rs 800, depending on the season and quality of the bus. The buses usually stop along the way for dinner and breakfast at roadside restaurants.
Aside from private operators, Goa's State owned Kadamba Transport Corporation (KTC) as well as the transport corporations of the neighbouring states of Maharashtra (MSRTC) and Karnataka (KSRTC) operate inter-state bus services.
The tickets can be obtained through recognised travel agents or the offices of the state transport corporations. If you are booking through an agent, make sure you ask for a Volvo bus (better suspension, more spacious seating) and that you get a confirmed ticket with your seat number.
For the north Goa beaches, get off at Mapusa; for the south, at Panaji or Margao.
Tip: If you are travelling alone in a sleeper, you will sleep beside a stranger. A single woman can request to have another woman seated beside her, though this may not always happen. Seats in the first few rows have more legroom.
- Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) – for online reservation and cancellation of railway tickets including tickets under the Tatkal scheme
- Indian Railways
- Konkan Railway
Getting around Goa
Travelling inside Goa is easy and fun especially if you are open to hiring a bicycle or motorcycle.
Travelling by bus is definitely the cheapest option. The Kadamba Transport Corporation (KTC) is the state owned bus service. There are also a number of private operators that service all the major locations. Panaji, Margao, Mapusa and Vasco da Gama have bus terminuses which offer frequent connecting buses to the smaller towns and villages. If you are travelling between these major towns, take the express/direct buses even though they may cost a few extra rupees.
If you are travelling with a family or group and want to explore Goa on your own and at your own pace, then renting a self-driven car may be a better option.
There are two types of taxis, the white-coloured private tourist taxis, and the yellow-and-black regular taxis. Almost all major towns and tourist attractions have a taxi stand, where both types of taxis are available. Though yellow-and-black taxis are supposed to charge metered rates, most don't adhere to this; in most cases, bargaining is common before you set out on your trip.
Most hotels and resorts arrange a white-coloured private tourist taxi for you on request. These taxis quite often have an interstate license and can take you to nearby destinations outside Goa. The taxis can be hired per trip or for the whole day or by distance travelled.
Irrespective of the type of taxi you choose, ensure that you fix a price for the entire journey before you sit in, so that you don't get overcharged at the end of the trip.
By Auto rickshaw
The three-wheeled auto rickshaw, painted yellow-and-black, is a common sight in all Goan towns. It usually takes two to three passengers and is cheaper than a taxi for travelling around town. The rickshaws have separate stands in most places.
Though auto rickshaws are supposed to charge metered rates, most don't adhere to this; in most cases bargaining is common before you set out on your trip.
A more popular and economical option to travel around Goa is to hire your own motorbike or scooter. These are available in the cities as well as near most beach areas.
The cost of hiring a motorbike or scooter for a day ranges anywhere from Rs 150 to Rs 600 depending on the type of the bike and duration of hire. Usually, a cash down payment as security is required at places. Always ask for a receipt and try not to leave your passport or license as a security deposit.
Goa has a unique option of motorcycle taxis. This option is faster and more economical if you are travelling alone for short distances and do not want to hire/rent your own motorcycle. The motorcycle taxis are easily recognised by their yellow mudguards and number plates. Again, bargain with the driver (aka pilot) for a good rate for the trip before you set out.
Tip: An international driving permit is not technically mandatory, but it’s wise to bring one.
A bicycle can also simply be a convenient way of getting around beach towns or through winding village roads. These are easily available near most beach areas. The cost of hiring a bicycle ranges anywhere from Rs 5 an hour to 50 per day.
Tip: For a stay of three months or more in Goa, it’s worth considering buying a new or used bicycle from one of the local markets.
At quite a few places around Goa, especially in the rural hinterland, you will have to cross a small river to get to your destination.
Most such rivers now have bridges across them, which has made the flow of traffic smooth all over Goa. However, where a bridge is yet to come up, you will be able to enjoy another mode of transport unique to Goa. This is the ferry also known as ferryboat by the locals, which carries people and cars from one bank to the other, across the rivers and estuaries all around Goa.
In some places, the ferry remains the only mode of transport to get to the mainland. Popular river crossings include: Old Goa to Divar Island, Divar to Narve, Querim to Tiracol, and Cavelossim to Assolna.