If there’s one universal joy in the world, it’s the end of the work week. Good ol Friday! Naturally then, there are few things more awesome than having bank holidays land on a Friday or Monday, so you’ve got yourself a nice long weekend to break up the endless hours of slaving away at work. Long weekends are definitely prime time to sit about, relax and do nothing. But it’s even better to take the opportunity to get out and about in India with your explorer hat on. Grab some friends and family for a weekend getaway in India!

In 2016, the first long weekend finally comes around in January 2016 (New Year!). But it’s best to get a head start on planning how best to utilize the ‘free’ long weekends so you can book your flights and hotels early and avoid the peak prices. We’ve put together some ideas for what you can get up to over the long weekends in 2016, including our picks of where to book your weekend getaways in India this year.

There are many national long weekends in 2016, but several more on a state by state basis and even more if you take leave from work for a few days! We’ve created a list of long weekends below and shared a few ideas on how to spend some of them!

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Long Weekend March

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This year we’re being spoilt in India, not only does Holi occur on Thursday 24th February but Good Friday is on the 25th March, with the weekend being dedicated to Shivaji Jayanti and Easter Sunday. So, if you haven’t already worked it out, this means we have a four day break. Four whole days to get away and escape!

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Explore

Why not use this four day weekend to successfully navigate your way around The Golden Triangle: Jaipur, Delhi and Agra. There are so many incredible sights to see in these areas, including the world famous Taj Mahal in Agra, the Hawa Mahal in Jaipur and the Red Fort in Delhi.

If this sounds like an adventure you’re looking forward to going on, check out our comprehensive guides to Delhi and Agra, or learn more about Jaipur below.

Jaipur at a Glance

Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan, and is considered to be one of the most flamboyant and vibrant areas of India. As with a lot of India, in Jaipur there is a distinct beauty in the stark juxtaposition of the traditional and new and between the classically Indian and obvious influences of international rulers of all different religions.

Jaipur is known as the Pink City because of obvious shade of all its buildings. There is a reason for this: in 1876 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited Jaipur, and to honour, celebrate and impress these royal guests, the whole city was painted pink; the colour of warm welcomes. Nowadays, it complements the energetic, cheerful nature of the whole city that extends beyond its sights and into its cuisine!

Food in Jaipur: Try the Peacock Rooftop Hotel, Baluchi and the Jal Mahal restaurants, and tuck into a sweet a Panipuri on the streets of Jaipur.

Attractions in Jaipur: Other must see attractions include the Jantar Mantar and Central Museum, to soak in just that extra bit of Jaipur culture. But this is just a starter, there are countless exciting opportunities in Jaipur and we implore you to do as many as you can!

Relax

Head to Goa to put your feet up and relax on one of its many charming and exotic beaches, where you can soak up the sun and let the worries of daily life drift out and away with the tide.

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Goa is famous for its array of luxurious beaches where you can participate in activities including fishing and spotting schools of dolphins passing by! The area is full of wonderful cultural experiences, such as exciting restaurants, inspiring art galleries and trendy yoga retreats. Take a look at Expedia India’s list of our favourite beaches in Goa.

Fun Events & Festivals in India

Holi-festival-India (800x535) (800x535)Source: Source: Ramnath Bhat

Wherever you are, you can be sure to get caught up in the enigmatic, vibrant and exciting celebration of Holi Festival. Admittedly, celebrations are far grander and outgoing in the North and celebrating in Delhi isn’t for the faint-hearted. But, all festivities are still full of every colour under the sun, as well as bonfires, dancing, singing and generally merriment!

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Long Weekend August

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Independence Day this year falls on a Monday (15th August), so there’s another long weekend to be had! This day is incredibly important and momentous to all Indians, so there are likely to be many jovial celebrations and upbeat ceremonies, that provide a wonderful opportunity to cherish the friends and families surrounding you.

Explore

If you want to explore the hills and get away from busy cities, whilst still being active, why not try areas such as Lonavala, Kerala or Himachal Pradesh.

Lonavala-India (800x600)Source: Arjun Singh Kulkarni

There are countless excursions, treks and adventures to be had in these rural areas of India. Visit the home of the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, or bask in the tranquility of Kerala’s tallest peak, The Chembra. If this opportunity to solidify your position as an experienced explorer is tempting, then look at our post on the best treks to be had in India.

Read More: Best Places to Visit in Himachal

Read More: Top 10 Hikes to do in India 

Relax

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Source: Arjun Singh Kulkarni

Beaches are definitely the go-to destination for relaxing weekends, but this time, why not try Karnataka. There are an array of beautiful beaches, each offering their own unique experience, such as the water sports, scuba diving and snorkelling on offer at Karnataka’s most mesmerising beach: Marvanthe Beach.

Or perhaps view the second-tallest Shiva Statue at Murudeshwar Beach and take a stroll along the sands as the sun sets. There is an array of different options, and all can be viewed in our post about the best beaches in Karnataka.

Read More: Best Beaches in Karnataka

Events

India-independence-day (800x500)Source: Antonio Milena

Each state or city has their own interpretation of Independence Day celebrations; in 2015 we saw Hyderabad and Jammu put on array of different artistic and theatrical performances. Many other states put on their own performances, and all participated in decorating themselves and the nation on this memorable day. But this year, it is the 70th Independence Day India will be experiencing, so expect celebrations to be turned up a notch. I

t’s a great chance to bring friends and family together to have a party and indulge in this celebratory occasion. If you’re in New Delhi you can expect the Prime Minister to make an arousing, crowd-pleasing speech highlighting the beauty of this great nation.

Other Long Weekends

Just to finish things off, we thought we’d mention just a few of the state-only public holidays to help you really get planning!

  • Makar Sankranti – Bangalore Only – Friday 15th January
  • Ugadi – Bangalore Only – Friday 8th April
  • Id’ul Fitr/Ramzan – Gurgaon/Bangalore Only – Wednesday 6th July
  • Raksha Bandhan- Gurgaon/Mumbai Only – Thursday 25th August
  • Ganesh Chaturthi – Mumbai/Bangalore Only – Monday 5th September
  • Karnataka Rajyotsava – Bangalore Only – Tuesday 1st November

Featured Image Source: Nikolas Becker