Goa’s airport, Dabolim, is served directly by domestic flights, a handful of international flights from the Middle East, and seasonal package-holiday charters (mostly from Russia, Europe and the UK).
Unless you're on a charter, you'll generally have to fly into a major city such as Mumbai or Delhi and change to a domestic flight with Jet Airways, Air India, SpiceJet or IndiGo.
A new greenfield airport at Mopa in North Goa is expected to be completed by 2020.
Airports & Airlines
Goa’s airport is the pint-sized Dabolim Airport, around 30km from Goa’s capital, Panaji. Dabolim is mainly served by domestic airlines, but it also receives international flights during the tourist season. Most non-charter flight passengers bound for Goa fly into Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.
In the winter tourist season, various British, German and Russian charter companies offer direct international flights into Dabolim Airport. Aeroflot, Finnair, Etihad, Air Arabia and Novair also fly in Russian and Scandinavian package holidaymakers.
Dabolim Airport’s arrivals hall is equipped with currency exchange, ATMs and a prepaid taxi counter.
Several budget airlines, along with the national carrier Air India, operate direct daily flights between Goa and Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kochi and Hyderabad. A return flight to Mumbai with a low-cost carrier such as SpiceJet can cost as little as US$100 if booked a few weeks in advance. You can book online directly with the airline or through a booking site.
Domestic airlines flying into and out of Goa include the following:
- Indigo (www.goindigo.in)
- GoAir (www.goair.in)
- SpiceJet (www.spicejet.com)
- Jet Airways (www.jetairways.com)
- Vistara (www.airvistara.com)
- Air Asia India (www.airasia.com)
Charter Flights to Goa
Departure tax is included in the fare for flights to and from Goa.
Car & Motorcycle
Chartering a car and driver to get you to Goa is expensive but easy enough; just make your way to the nearest taxi rank and start bargaining, or try a travel agent.
The 600km trip from Mumbai to Goa takes about 14 hours; many drivers will happily do this in one stretch. You’ll have to pay for the taxi’s return trip, so the cost will be at least ₹30,000. Even if you’re part of a group, it’s quicker, cheaper and less stressful to fly or take the train to Goa from any other city.
Private and state-run long-distance buses run to and from Goa daily. Tickets can be booked in advance online, at ticket agents located near the bus stands or through travel agents or tourist accommodation. Note that travel into and out of Mumbai by road is interminably slow; the train is faster and more comfortable.
Kadamba (www.goakadamba.com), the state government bus company, operates across the state and to neighbouring regions. For private or state buses you can book online with www.redbus.in.
Buses for Mumbai and other cities depart from Panaji, Margao and Mapusa between 5.30pm and 8.30pm daily; there are dozens of operators and departures, but fares are standard to/from anywhere in Goa.
Mumbai (express/AC/sleeper ₹450/650/1100, 12 to 14 hours)
Bengaluru (₹600/800/1100, 14 to 15 hours)
Hampi (sleeper, ₹1000, 10 to 11 hours)
Pune (₹450/750/1000, 11 hours)
Types of Bus
State-run and private companies offer ‘ordinary’, ‘deluxe’ 'superfast' and VIP services, but definitions are flexible. The most comfortable are the Volvo buses with reclining seating and air-conditioning.
Many long-distance buses travel overnight – bring earplugs if you want to block out the Bollywood movies on the video screens. The standard is air-con, which can feel too cold – wear long sleeves and pack a blanket or sarong. On some routes such as Goa–Mumbai and Goa–Hampi, flat-berth sleeper buses are available. While these may be horizontal, bus travel is not like train travel – you might wake to find yourself flying out of bed on the first sharp corner.
The 760km-long Konkan Railway (www.konkanrailway.com), completed in 1998, is the main train line running through the state, connecting Goa with Mumbai to the north and Mangalore to the south.
The biggest station in Goa is Margao’s Madgaon station, and many trains also pass through Karmali station near Old Goa, 12km from Panaji. Smaller stations on the line include Pernem for Arambol, Thivim for Mapusa and the northern beaches, and Canacona for Palolem.
For services, fares and bookings check the Konkan Railway (www.konkanrailway.com), Indian Railways (www.indianrail.gov.in; www.irctc.co.in), the excellent India Rail Info (http://indiarailinfo.com), with added offline browsing support, or the user-friendly Erail (erail.in). Cleartrip (www.cleartrip.com/trains) and Makemytrip (www.makemytrip.com/railways) are also useful travel booking sites. To register with these sites you'll need a working mobile phone number and email address.
However, online booking of train tickets has its share of glitches: travellers have reported problems with registering themselves on some portals and using credit cards.
You can only book six train tickets online per calendar month, and after that you can only buy them in person. If you book online and accept a waitlisted ticket and it isn’t confirmed before the train leaves its destination, the money is refunded to the credit card and the ticket is worthless.
Man at Seat 61 (www.seat61.com) has lots of good information, and explains in detail how to register an IRCTC account if you don't have an Indian mobile number.
Children under the age of five travel for free; those between five and 12 are charged half price.
Within Goa, in-person train bookings are best made at Margao’s station, at the train reservation office at Panaji’s Kadamba bus stand or at any travel agent selling train tickets. Book as far in advance as possible for sleepers, as they fill up quickly – though a limited number of tickets go on sale the day before travel, so it's always worth checking. A small number of tickets are set aside for foreign travellers – enquire at the tourist quota counter at Margao station and show your passport.
Reservation fees generally range from ₹40 to ₹60, or slightly more if booking through a travel agent. Even if there are no seats, passengers cancel and there are regular no-shows. On the day of departure you can buy a ‘Reservation Against Cancellation’ (RAC) ticket for around ₹50 that will allow you to board the train. Once on board the conductor will usually find you a seat or sleeper berth and you pay the additional fare. If you book more than a few days in advance you may be waitlisted, which means you pay full fare and hope there are enough cancellations to get you on. This can be risky as you can't board the train if the ticket is still waitlisted, but you can get a refund.
There are several different classes, but not all are available on all trains. Sleeper berths are converted to bench seats by day. In 2016, double-decker trains started operating between Mumbai and Goa.
AC First Class (1A) Air-conditioned accommodation in simple two-berth or four-berth lockable compartments. Bedclothes and meals are provided.
AC 2 Tier (2A) Two-tier berths arranged in groups of two- and four-berth curtained compartments in an air-conditioned, open-plan carriage.
AC 3 Tier (3A) Three-tier berths arranged in groups of six in an open-plan air-con carriage.
First Class (FC) A non-AC version of AC First Class (1A).
AC Chair Car (CC) Air-conditioned carriage with reclining seats.
Sleeper (SL) Similar to AC 3 Tier (3A) but without air-conditioning. Instead there are fans and open windows.
Second Sitting (2S) Unreserved second-class seating on plastic chairs or wooden benches.
Cruise ships, mostly from UAE or travelling between Mumbai and the Maldives, call in at Goa's Mormugao cruise ship terminal as part of their itineraries.
In 2018 a Mumbai to Goa ferry began operating three times a week.
Mumbai to Goa Cruise
In late 2018 a new cruise ship ferry service began operating between Mumbai and Goa. Angriya Cruises is a seven-deck, 130m-long luxury cruise ship with two restaurants, six bars, a spa and an infinity pool. More than just sea transport between two cities this is an overnight pleasure cruise where you get to see the sunset and sunrise from the deck.
The ship departs from Mumbai's Victoria Docks (Purple Gate) at 4pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, arriving at Goa's Mormugao cruise terminal around 9am the next day. It departs Goa at 4pm on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Onboard accommodation ranges from dormitory bunks (₹4300) and luxury single pods (₹4650) to spacious double rooms (₹8950 per person) and family rooms (₹5700 per person). Meals are an additional ₹2000/1000 adult/child. At those prices it's cheaper than a business-class flight between Mumbai and Goa.
The service operates from October to May and online bookings open one month in advance.