The Best Time to Visit Goa, India

India › Best Time to Visit Goa
Updated: March 25, 2023
By Santorini Dave

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When is the Best Time to Visit Goa?

Swimming pool and beach at Goa resort.

The Taj Fort Aguada Hotel in Candolim, Goa.

I love visiting Goa anytime of year, but for most first-time visitors the best time is during the dry season, which runs from November to March. During this period, the weather is wonderful with minimal rainfall. I think these months are perfect for enjoying the region’s beautiful beaches, water sports, and vibrant nightlife, as well as exploring historical sites and attending local festivals such as the Goa Carnival and Sunburn Festival.

When I Recommend to Visit Goa

Weather: The most pleasant weather in Goa occurs from November to March, with comfortable temperatures ranging from 70°F (21°C) to 85°F (29°C) and minimal rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing. April also has tourist-friendly weather though it gets progressively hot as the monsoon season gets closer.

Beaches: The best beach weather in Goa is during the dry season (November to March), when the sea is calm, and the sun is shining. The popular beaches like Baga, Calangute, Anjuna, and Palolem are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and beach parties. (Palolem and Benaulim are my favorite beaches in Goa.)

Honeymoon: For a romantic honeymoon in Goa, consider visiting during the shoulder season months of November, February, and March when the weather is still pleasant, and the tourist crowds are less intense. This offers a more intimate atmosphere and a better chance to explore the region’s natural beauty, beaches, and historical sites.

Water sports: Water sports like jet-skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, and scuba diving are most enjoyable during the dry season (November to March), when the sea conditions are more favorable, and the weather is sunny and warm.

Families: Family trips to Goa can be enjoyable year-round, but the dry season (November to March) offers the best opportunities for outdoor activities, beach vacations, and exploring attractions like wildlife sanctuaries, forts, and churches.

Avoiding crowds: To avoid the largest crowds in Goa, consider visiting during the off-peak season, which typically runs from June to September, coinciding with the monsoon season. During this time, you can expect fewer tourists, lower prices for accommodations, and a more relaxed atmosphere. However, the weather can be wet and humid, with heavy rainfall and rough sea conditions.

Nightlife: The best time to visit Goa for nightlife is during the peak tourist season, which runs from December to February. During this period, the weather is pleasant, and the party scene is in full swing, with numerous beach shacks, clubs, and bars hosting lively events, live music, and DJ sets. Goa is also home to popular electronic dance music festivals like the Sunburn Festival, which usually takes place in late December, attracting international DJs and partygoers from around the world.

Goa Travel Seasons

  • High Season (November to March): Expect day after day of dry and warm weather. It is seldom uncomfortably hot or humid because of soothing coastal breezes but may be a little chilly for some after dark, so pack a light jumper. During the peak times of the peak season – mid-December to mid-January – hotel rates double (at least) and train and plane tickets should be booked way in advance.
  • Shoulder Season (April, May, and October): Also a good time to come because tourist numbers and hotel rates are markedly lower than the peak months. While temperatures rise a little in the lead-up to the wet season, it’s still dry in April and May, but the monsoonal rain may linger into October.
  • Low Season (June to September): Avoid the monsoon because it will rain heavily almost every day for hours and streets will get water-logged, possibly affecting travel plans (especially by train). What’s more, cyclones are prevalent at this time, so always be alert. The only redeeming features are the lack of tourists and dramatic drop in hotel rates, but note: some hotels and tourist facilities and attractions, including national parks, may close for some or all of the low season.

Goa Weather by Month

  • Goa Weather in January: Although Goa stretches about 100km along the coast, the weather is standard across the northern and southern regions. January is well into the dry winter. Average daytime temperatures are still warm at 32°C, but drop to 20°C overnight, prompting locals to wear jumpers. This is part of the peak season, especially over the Christmas/New Year period.
  • Goa Weather in February: Continuous warm and dry days; in fact, February is the third successive month of virtually no rain recorded. Perfect time, as the crowds have reduced noticeably from the previous 2 months.
  • Goa Weather in March: More dry and warm days, with almost no rain again officially recorded for the month. Terrific time to visit, especially if it coincides with Easter in this Christian part of the country.
  • Goa Weather in April: Another excellent month for visiting, especially during Easter. Perfect weather: an average of 33°C during the day and a warmish 25°C overnight, and the fifth straight month with almost no rainfall.
  • Goa Weather in May: Start of the pre-monsoon rains, most likely later in the month but unlikely to affect travel plans yet. Also, the hottest time of the year on average: 34°C/26°C during the day/night. Some tourist businesses may start to close down by the end of the month. Note: it’s far too dangerous to swim in the sea anytime from now until the end of October, and cyclones are possible for the next 5 months.
  • Goa Weather in June: Official start of the monsoon, coupled with a drop in average daytime temperatures (and humidity) to 30°C. Also, a sudden and dramatic increase in rainfall; the second-highest on average for the year (and 20 times more than May), with heavy downpours expected every day and cyclones always possible. Rain may affect travel plans, especially by bus or train, and more tourist businesses and national parks may close for a few months. Expect substantial discounts on hotel rates.
  • Goa Weather in July: Wettest month of the year as the heavy monsoon rains fall daily and cyclones are not uncommon. One of the highest monthly averages in India (about 1,200mm), so more hotels and other businesses (including national parks) may close until September/October as tourist numbers plummet. Roads may be water-logged, possibly affecting travel by bus and train, and the sea is still too dangerous for swimming.
  • Goa Weather in August: The end of the monsoon is near, but still expect plenty of rain and possible cyclones. There are considerably fewer downpours than the previous 2 months, although it will still rain most days. Average daytime/overnight temperatures have dropped to equal the lowest level for the year: 29°C/24°C.
  • Goa Weather in September: The monsoon season officially ends, but rain usually continues deep into September (and October). Although about one-quarter of the amount of rain from July, some roads might still be muddy and water-logged. Some businesses and national parks that closed during the wet season re-open this month. Even for a few weeks after the end of the monsoon, rips make swimming in the sea dangerous.
  • Goa Weather in October: Still some rain early in the month as the dry winter approaches, and swimming in the sea is no longer dangerous after the monsoon has gone. On average, a few degrees warmer than the previous 3 months: a warm 32°C during the day and 24°C overnight. Roads should have dried out by now and all businesses and national parks that closed for the wet season will have re-opened.
  • Goa Weather in November: With virtually no rain now or for the next 5 months, businesses are preparing for the return of tourists in large numbers. The warm days of 33°C on average continue, but overnight temperatures drop slightly to 22°C. Start of the festival season.
  • Goa Weather in December: Another perfect month of dry and warm days, which is the trend for the next 4 months. Crowds start increasing markedly, especially over Christmas and New Year, when hotel rates may double (at least) and tickets on planes and trains are hard to find. Prime time for festivals.

Goa Holidays, Events, and Festivals

India has the world’s second-largest population of Muslims (after Indonesia), but comparatively few live in Goa. Dates for these 4 major festivals change each year according to the Islamic calendar. Each is a public holiday, but few (if any) government offices or businesses will close: Eid-al-Fitr (end of Ramadan), Eid Mulid-un-Nabi (Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday), Muharram/Ashura (Islamic New Year), and Eid al-Adha/Zuha (often commemorated with the slaughter of goats). Because of its Portuguese heritage, Goa is overwhelmingly Christian, so major festivals celebrated elsewhere in India by Hindus are comparatively low-key, and those observed by Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains are virtually non-existent.

Goa in January

  • New Year’s Day (1st) – Families and friends often visit each other, and live music and parties are usually held on the main beaches.
  • Feast of the Three Kings (usually 6th) – In various villages, boys re-enact the Christian tradition of the kings bringing gifts to baby Jesus.
  • Goa Sun Splash (second weekend) – Regarded as India’s largest reggae (and hip-hop) festival. For 3 days, usually at Mandrem beach.
  • Makara Sankranthi (14th or 15th) – Similar to Lohri, but celebrated more in Western India and Varanasi, marking the end of winter with lots of kite-flying.
  • International Kite Festival (14th & 15th) – Popular event celebrating the imminent end of winter. More serious than most places in India, and most vibrant at the Goan capital, Panaji.
  • Republic Day (26th) – Commemorates the adoption of the country’s constitution on January 26, 1950. Huge parades in Delhi, less restrained elsewhere. National holiday when all government offices and many tourist attractions close.

Goa in February

  • Goa Food and Cultural Festival (changeable, early February) – Five days showcasing Goan food, music, and traditional dance at the capital, Panaji.
  • (Maha) Shivaratri (changeable, February/March) – Day of fasting as a dedication to Lord Shiva, with ceremonies in temples. Public holiday, when some government offices and tourist attractions may close.
  • Goa Carnival (changeable, February/March) – Four days of music, dance, and colorful parades, often with locals wearing masks. Loads of fun and food, and particularly vibrant at Panaji, the capital.
  • Shigmotsav/Shigmo (changeable, February/March) – Goan version of the major Hindu festival of Holi when colored water and powder are thrown at everyone, including tourists. Five days of traditional songs, dances, and street parades.
  • Procession of All Saints (changeable, February/March) – Rare and solemn occasion during Lent. Parading of statues around various villages.

Goa in March

  • Rama Navami (changeable, March/April) – Celebrates Lord Rama’s birth. 9 days of music, dance, fasts, and feasts, and reading of the Ramayana (epic). One day is a public holiday when most government offices and some tourist attractions may close.
  • Easter (changeable, March/April) – Celebrated fervently over at least 4 days at most homes and all churches. Some businesses and government offices may close on Good Friday.
  • Gudi Padwa (changeable, March/April) – Traditional start of the Hindu New Year, celebrated by family visits, flying of a special flag, and spring-cleaning.

Goa in April

  • Ambedkar Jayanti/Bhim Jayanti (14th) – Celebrates the birth of late Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, a leading historical figure. Public holiday, when some government offices and tourist attractions may close.
  • Feast of our Lady of Miracles (changeable, April/May) – Christian event renowned for the number of Hindus who attend. About 2 weeks after Easter in Mapusa town.
  • Beach Bonanza (Sundays from mid-April) – Plenty of music, dance, and fun at Colva beach.
  • Grape Escapade (changeable, late April) – Heaps of fun, including stomping of grapes and tasting of wine at Panaji, the capital.

Goa in May

  • Vesak/Buddha Purnima (changeable, April/May) – Solemn festivals at temples marking the birth and death of Gautama Buddha, founder of Buddhism.
  • Goa Heritage Festival Fatorda (changeable, first weekend in May) – 4-day festival with traditional music, handicraft stalls, and exhibitions at Margao town.

Goa in June

  • Feast of Saint Antony (13th) – Honoring Goa’s most revered saint. Also, prayers for the onset of the monsoon.
  • Sao Joao/Feast of Saint John the Baptist (23-24th) – Marking the baptism of this revered saint, devotees jump into lakes, ponds, and hotel swimming pools (but not the beach).
  • Feast of Saint Peter & Saint Paul (29th) – Another traditional festival of music and dance linked to the (hoped for) arrival of the monsoon. This occasion is mostly celebrated by fishermen.

Goa in July

  • Raksha Bandhan/Rakhi (changeable, July/August) – Hindu festival marking the importance of families, especially siblings. Commonly called Brother and Sister Day, where sisters tie colorful strings (Rakhis) on their brothers’ hands, and brothers give gifts in return.

Goa in August

  • Feast of Saint Lawrence (10th) – Dedicated to the patron saint of the poor. Also, linked to the (hoped for) end of the monsoon.
  • Independence Day (15th) – Celebrates India’s independence from Britain in 1947. The Prime Minister gives a rousing speech from the Red Fort. Patriotic time, with government buildings suitably decorated and ceremonies held, especially in Delhi. Also, a time for families to get together. National public holiday when all government offices and many tourist attractions close.
  • Bonderam (fourth Saturday) – Parades and mock battles on an island near Old Goa honoring fierce disputes of the past amongst villagers engaged in land disputes.
  • Janmashtami (changeable, August/September) – Celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna with offerings, fasting, and decorations of buildings.
  • (Haryali/Hartalika) Teej (changeable, August/September) – Celebrated as Tay or Tayi in Goa, and linked to the arrival of the monsoon and marriage of Goddess Parvati to Lord Shiva.
  • Ganesh Chaturthi (changeable, August/September) – Solemn occasion for a week or so commemorating the birth of the highly-revered elephant-headed God, Ganesha.

Goa in September

  • Chaitra Navratri (changeable, September/October) – Part of the lead up to Diwali. Also called the ‘Festival of Nine Nights’, it honors the revered Goddess Durga.
  • Dussehra (changeable, September/October) – Celebrates the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana, and the general battle of good over evil. Praying at temples, offerings of special food, and burning of Ravana’s effigies. Public holiday, when some government offices and tourist attractions may close.

Goa in October

  • Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti (2nd) – Sombre occasion commemorating the birthday of the country’s founding father, Mahatma Gandhi. National holiday, when all government offices and many tourist attractions close.
  • Narkasur (changeable, October/November) – On the night before Diwali/Deepavali (see below), giant effigies are paraded around the streets and then burnt.
  • Diwali/Deepavali (changeable, October/November) – Major 5-day festival of lights, candles, and fireworks. Busy time for travel because it’s celebrated by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. One day is a public holiday when some government offices and tourist attractions may close.

Goa in November

  • Goa International Jazz Live Festival (late November) – Two days of foot-tapping new-age music by artists from across India and elsewhere. Attended by thousands from across the globe. (Check for location.)
  • International Film Festival of India (IFFI) (late November) – Major celebration of visual arts at the capital, Panaji. Attracts Bollywood’s biggest and brightest for a week-long screening of blockbusters, including international films.

Goa in December

  • Feast of Saint Francis Xavier’s (3rd) – Major pilgrimage honoring the death of Goa’s patron saint. For 10 days around Old Goa; several stalls are set up and roads are closed. The preserved body of the saint is displayed once every 10 years, the next exposition being in 2024.
  • Feast of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception (8-10th) – Held at the iconic whitewashed church in Panaji, the capital. Three days of dancing, music, stalls, and fireworks.
  • Goa Arts & Literature Festival (early December) – Musicians, writers, and artists converge to meet, share, and display over several days at the capital, Panaji.
  • Goa Liberation Day (19th) – Celebrates the independence of Goa from Portuguese rule. Military parades through the capital, Panaji.
  • Serendipity Arts Festival (late December) – A week of music, crafts, and food at the capital, Panaji. Often outdoors and along Mandovi River.
  • Christmas (25th) – Celebrated reverently by Christians at homes and churches, while tourists like to party for the next week or so.
  • Sunburn Festival (27-30th) – Goa’s most popular music festival for young people, timed for the peak period between Christmas and New Year. International DJs strut their stuff around Vagator beach.
  • New Year’s Eve (31st) – Celebrated more wildly than elsewhere in India, especially by tourists. Parties on most beaches and fireworks all night.

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