Wondering where to stay in Goa? The exotic city-state of Goa is an ideal place to get away from real life and lose yourself in a tropical wonderland.
Spend days immersed in the city's long and interesting history with its unique Portuguese and Indian blend of architecture and culture.
This is what makes Goa such a unique destination. The North and the South are so vastly different, that deciding where to stay in Goa essentially defines your trip.
North Goa, is known as the party centre of India, it draws people from all over the country and internationally to party the night away at world-renowned clubs and all-night beach parties, Bardez being one of the most popular areas for an entertainment packed trip.
You can also enjoy shopping in the biggest markets and a wide range of international and local Goan restaurants.
Conversely, the South of Goa is renowned for relaxed resorts and luxury stays embedded in jungle landscape with the incredible coastline, fishing villages and beaches to enjoy.
In central Tiswadi, you'll find enough history and culture to rival any other city break across the world.
You could spend time in these three different areas and have three totally different experiences, and that's the beauty of Goa.
Wherever you choose to stay in Goa, you'll never be far from a stretch of coastline with over 101km of beaches to pick from, each with their own unique vibe.
Where to stay in Goa [2020 Guide For First Time Visitors] - Contents
Where to stay in Goa
The main thing to consider when choosing a place to stay in Goa is that some regions of Goa are better suited to specific interests than others.
Consider whether you're keen to see the sights and explore Goa's history and culture or would rather a tranquil escape based in nature.
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Or, are you looking to dance until dawn on a moonlit beach? No matter your interest, there's an area of Goa for you.
Many of the neighbourhoods in Goa are spread out and although there's a cheap and convenient public transport system, particularly from the capital city of Panjim in Tiswadi, the most convenient way to get around Goa will always be by renting a scooter or car.
Goa, India - Area & Neighbourhoods Map
Central, a historical hub with a mix of cultures and activities
Located within Tiswadi is the capital city of Panjim which is bursting with attractions including the historical sights of Old Goa once considered the ‘Rome of the East'.
Cultural hubs such as the exciting Latin Quarter, and natural scenes such as the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary which can be accessed by ferry.
Why stay in Tiswadi
If this is your first time in Goa, then Tiswadi is an ideal base for all or part of your holiday.
While the area isn't conveniently located to the famous Goa party beaches you can reach most of the island via the accessible public transport, so this is ideal if you're not looking to primarily relax on the beach and would like more diversity from your trip.
That being said, there are some local white sand beaches nearby to enjoy like Miramar, Bambolim, and Dona Paula bays.
You'll find a varied range of accommodation options here from budget to luxury so it's well suited to every kind of traveller.
From museums to art galleries, and colonial Portuguese architecture to explore, this diverse area will keep you incredibly busy.
Things to do in Tiswadi
Where to stay in Tiswadi
- Explore the colonial architecture, colourful houses, and cobbled streets in the Latin Quarter
- Marvel at Se Cathedral, the largest church in Asia
- Peruse the extensive collection of Scandinavian art at Gitanjali Gallery
- Learn about Goan culture at the Goa State Museum
- Take a heritage walking tour of the characterful abandoned city of Old Goa
- Visit St. Francis Xavier's remains at the Basilica of Bom Jesus
- Take a cooking class and try Goan Cuisine at Siolim Cooking School
Just outside the city but with white sand beaches to enjoy
Salcete is known for being the cultural capital of Goa as there's plenty of history to explore including the grandest of the traditional Portuguese mansions Sat Burnzam Ghor and the epic Mount Church on Monte Hill.
Why stay in Salcete
Just South of Tiswaldi area and perfect for budget travellers (although you'll find some fantastic boutique hotels here too) and people who want the best of both worlds in terms of city sights and glorious unspoiled beaches.
Salcete is also home to Goa's second largest city Margao, which boasts one of the most famous local markets in the country.
Margao Market is perfect for trying local delicacies, sniffing spices, picking up souvenirs, and mingling with the locals.
For people who want a coastal area and would like a quieter, yet equally cultural stay to the Tiswadi area, then this is ideal.
Things to do in Salcete
- Enjoy the endless Varca Beach, an oasis of palm trees and white sand
- Visit Margao's main church from 1565, the Church of the Holy Spirit
- Climb Monte Hill for stunning views of the city
- Indulge in delicious vegetarian food at the local favourite all-you-can-eat Café Tato
- Go book shopping at one of Goa's best bookshops, the packed Golden Heart Emporium
- Enjoy quirky sculptures at Ancestral Goa park
- Witness technology through the ages at San Thome Museum
- Head to Colva Beach, known as ‘the pride of Salcete'
- Try genuine Goan cuisine at the long-running Viva Goa restaurant
Where to stay in Salcete
Party until dawn at this youthful, clubbing and beach haven
The atmosphere is young, fun, and non-stop clubbing is the main draw to the area with famous spots such as Cub Cabana, Club Titos, and Paradiso.
Why stay in Bardez
For the party-goers this is the highlight of Goa, the most popular tourist destination in the country, Bardez is famous for all-night trance parties, moonlit beach dancing, and rooftop raves.
However, in the days when you're not partying, there are some fun things to get up to like exploring the hippie vibe and local shops of Anjuna, visiting some of the local museums, nursing your hangover on the pristine Vagator Beach or scenic Candolim beach or simply meandering the iconic markets.
From hostels to resorts, you'll find a wide range of accommodation to suit every budget here.
Things to do in Bardez
Where to stay in Bardez
- Visit the oldest fort in Goa, Reis Magos developed in 1551 to defend the Old Capital
- Discover the interactive Museum of Goa bringing local history to life through contemporary art
- Find amazing souvenirs at Anjuna's Wednesday night flea market
- Try Fenny, the locally distilled liquor
- Learn about Goa's fascinating history of eastern and western architecture at the House of Goa museum
- Go shopping and enjoy the entertainment at the Saturday Night Market of Anpora
A natural and tranquil paradise where you can explore and unwind
For anyone looking to come to Goa for a relaxing getaway surrounded by breath-taking scenery where you can indulge, unwind and maybe take up yoga, Pernem is a haven.
Why stay in Pernem
The beaches in this area, notable Mandrem beach, are luxurious and perfect for whiling away the days reading with a cocktail in hand.
Not just for sunbathers, however, Pernem is also surrounded by stunning lagoons, lakes, and even jungles to explore.
Local colourful villages, small towns, and countless temples are set in glorious countryside, this is very much an untouched spot to enjoy another way of life.
Whether you enjoy luxury resorts, local stays, or even unique local cliffside shacks to stay in, the accommodation here is anything but ordinary.
Things to do in Pernem
- Enjoy yoga or meditation at the many wellness centres on Mandrem Beach
- Try surfing or kitesurfing at Pernem's surf schools
- Go swimming in the natural hot spring, Sweet Water Lake
- Seek out the elephant statues at Pernem Temple
- Explore Fort Terekhol – a 16th-century Portuguese structure
- Hike up Arambol Mountain for incredible views
- Visit the beautiful architecture of Shri Bhagwati temple in Pernem
Where to stay in Pernem
Southern, peaceful area with lots to do, ideal for families
Canacona is a quiet, tucked away paradise in the far South of Goa that's ideal for families and young children.
The city is surrounded by over twenty clean and calm beaches to enjoy as well as scenic forest and forts.
Why stay in Canacona
You're guaranteed to find your own spot on the beach compared with the busier stretches like Calangute and there's the opportunity to watch baby turtles being born on Agonda and Galibag beach and making their way out to sea. Please always be mindful of nature around you, do not disturb or touch the turtles.
There are myriad options here in terms of water sports and you'll find no shortage of places renting out inflatables, snorkelling gear, boogie boards, and kayaks to have fun with.
There are also plenty of local shops and restaurants to enjoy as well as all-night party areas to enjoy without clubbing defining the area as a whole so although this is a quiet and scenic area, it's certainly not dull.
Things to do in Canacona
Where to stay in Canacona
- For a National Park experience head to Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary
- Immerse yourself in history at one of Goa's oldest shrines Mallikarjuna Temple
- Enjoy a guided tour of the Tanshikar organic spice farm
- Hike to the majestic Bamanbudo Waterfalls
- Visit Cabo de Rama Fort, one of the main tourist spots and associated with the legend of Rama and Sita
- Relax among the coconut and palm trees at Cola Beach
- Get off-the-beaten-track at Talpona Beach for quality alone time
- Go clubbing at Leopard Valley for famous DJs and a true light and sound experience
- Try out silent discoing at the Silent Noise club, disco lights and wireless headphones make for a unique party
Enjoy the famous Calangute Beach and beachside fun at this tourism hun
Perfect for people who want a classic beach resort style trip, Calangute is the busiest and most commercial beach in Goa and stretches over 7km along the Arabian sea.
There's a wide range of water sports to indulge in Calangute as well as surfing and sailing schools plus a lively nightlife and restaurant scene.
Why stay in Calangute
The buzzing atmosphere starts early and carries on well into the early hours.
Mass tourism has generally hit this area quite hard so it can get incredibly busy, particularly in high season, and you're likely to see a lot of rubbish strewn around here.
On the plus side, the water is calm and good for swimming and there are plenty of facilities on offer including sunbeds and beach shacks to use.
There is a wide range of accommodation options here from luxury resorts to hostels and there's always something going on nearby.
Things to do in Calangute
- Dance the night away at the infamous Tito's and Café Mambo
- Try your luck at Casino Palms, a laid back gambling space and one of very few in Goa
- For a quieter beach spot nearby with lots of water sport options, head over to Baga beach
- Take a cruise from Baga beach to see the dolphins
- Visit The Church of St.Alex, founded in 1595 and one of the oldest surviving churches in Goa
- Head over to The Medicinal Springs, within the cashew covered hills of Calangute, a great picnic and bathing spot
Where to stay in Calangute
Tranquil area between Calangute and Sinquerim Beach
Bordering the Calangute city area, the long stretch of Candolim Beach is lined with local shacks and restaurants.
Why stay in Candolim
Candolim is generally a smaller, cleaner, and a quieter option to the busy commercial beach area of Calangute while still being in an ideal location to access everything on offer there.
Candolim also joins the Sinquerim Beach for a smaller and quieter option so you can really get the best of both worlds here in terms of things to do but also have space to yourself on the beach.
There are some fantastic budget accommodation options here which don't fill up as quickly.
Things to do in Candolim
- Marvel at old opulent Portuguese Mansions like Chandor, Loutolim, and Quepem
- Party with the locals at SinQ
- Visit Aguada Fort on Sinquerim beach