Rachel first visited and wrote about where to stay in Goa in 2015. You can read her original post here. With the help of one of her close friends, Jules, we’ve given this post a much needed update with even more hotels and accommodations. If you’re trying to figure out the best place to stay in Goa, here are all your best tips!
I, Jules, have lived in Goa now for 4 years. I have spent a lot of time exploring the beauty Goa has to offer and the hidden and not-so-hidden gems while also running my family heritage home, Villa Alina. With the villa, I’ve spent my seasons hosting many guests, so I pride myself on having a never-ending list of recommendations for restaurants, bars, clubs, beaches and accommodation!
Goa is one of the best places to visit in India, whether it is the end of your long backpacking trip, a few days of respite in the middle of exploring the madness, or a two week chill, beach holiday. Just know that if you’re able to, you will end up spending more time here than planned. Either way Goa is a must see in India, and I can guarantee you won’t find any other state like it!
FAQ to Determine the Best Place to Stay in Goa
Whenever I have someone ask about where to stay in Goa, I ask them a few questions to gauge what type of holiday they’re looking for. This helps figure out where they should stay and what kind of hotels or accommodation I think they’d prefer. After all, if you’re looking to experience Goa’s nightlife, you won’t want to stay stay on any of the quiet beaches.
How much time do you have?
A few days…
A week or more…
For those with a week in Goa or more, you could do half up North and half down South. It takes approximately 3 hours by taxi to get from North to South depending on where you start and finish. You’ll want to add on another couple of hours if you take a bus instead.
Do you want to just relax on the beach or do you want to do a bit of exploring too?
This’ll help you decide whether you want to stay in North Goa or South Goa.
North Goa is the busier side with a lot more to do than just lie on the beach. Here you’ll find a much larger selection of restaurants, bars, party places, and shopping markets. This is where you can immerse yourself in the culture of Goa, choose from hundreds of places to eat, sing karaoke, feel the buzz of Goa’s busy-ness whilst also beach hopping along the coast.
If you’d prefer something more relaxed, then you’ll want to go to South Goa, which has the more beautiful and secluded beach resorts. Go here if you want to stay in stilted beach huts, fall asleep listening to the waves, and spend most of your time stretched out on a sun bed with a cocktail, coconut, or beer in hand. You won’t find too many late night parties but you’ll still have your pick of restaurants, sunset spots, and lazy beach days.
What is your budget?
Below I have split my recommendations into areas rather than accommodation categories and then added a $, $$, $$$, or $$$$ depending on cost. This way you can figure out which beaches or areas to stay in and then narrow it down to a specific hotel that fits your budget.
Note: Also keep in mind that this list is based on October until the end of April. Many places shutdown for the monsoon season in Goa. If you’re coming from May through to September, you may not find your chosen option open. However, it’s worth contacting them directly to see if they’re open and can even offer you a cheaper rate.
Where to Stay in North Goa – Top to Bottom
Arambol is the furthest North in Goa and is a very busy town full of tourists, backpackers, locals and “expats.” I have to be honest and say I very rarely make it this far up the coast but I know a lot of backpackers end up getting stuck here for longer than planned. Think drum circles at sunset, Goan Trance and a lot of dreadlocks. Have a try at surfing at Surfwala.
Places to Stay in Arambol
This is my favorite beach in North Goa – very secluded and not a lot going on. Don’t expect late night parties; expect chic hippie vibes and an empty beach waiting to be walked along for miles. Shop at Alchemy, a very cute boutique facing the sea and owned by Rachel’s best friend Tia.
A newbie on the scene, only 2 seasons in, this is a really cool, chic and beautiful place to stay. Set on a quiet village road at the top end of North Goa you can stay in a luxurious tipi, jungle hut or the apartment. Some options come with a private outdoor shower – if you haven’t ever showered under the stars, this is a must do! Yoga classes are included and they offer add-ons including meditation, massage and cooking classes. This is a little bit on the upper side of a budget but you definitely get what you pay for. Book here
This is one of my favorite places In North Goa. It has the perfect beach vibe set just across the road from the perfect beach and swimming spot serving some of the best food in Goa. They have a selection of rooms for different budgets and offer surfing lessons, paddle board hire, yoga and much more. They also put on some cool nights during the week and weekends, so it’s a good place to meet a nice crowd. If you stay here make sure you try the fish tacos! Book here
Jamboree Creek $$
Jamboree Creek is a great secluded spot with lovely wooden or mud huts as rooms. It is an eco-farm homestay with lots of yoga workshops, capoeira and private access to the beach which is just behind the rooms. This is owned by Priyanka who was a really good friend of Rachel – if you are looking to join a little community and have some peace, quiet and relaxation this place is highly recommended. Book here
Riva Resort $$
This is more of a hotel vibe than the others with a larger space and a lot more rooms. Riva has a beautiful sunset view and the hotel has a private walkway onto the beautiful Mandrem Beach. This is where Sunsplash, the yearly Reggae Festival in January has been hosted the past 2 years. Book here
Elsewhere is a beautiful family run business with different size old style Portuguese houses for rent right on the beach. This place gets booked up well in advance and you can see why from the pictures. It’s on the higher end of the price scale. Book here
A bit busier than Mandrem with more beach shack options. Ashwem Beach has lots of delicious restaurants all within walking distance along the beach. Be sure to eat at La Plage!
Anahata Retreat $$
This is one of my favorite spots to lounge on the sun beds at Ashwem beach. I haven’t ever stayed here but the rooms look amazing from the outside. They have lots of different round wooden cabins just a stones throw away from the sea. They have a yoga deck and a restaurant serving delicious food and cocktails. Book here
Yab Yum $$$
These are spacious wooden cottages that look like something straight out of The Hobbit movie. Again built on beach sand, you are likely to fall asleep to the sound of the waves. Book here
Palm Grove Beach Resort $$$
Another high end beach front option with concrete beach huts leading up to the beach. They have 2 separate areas Little Palm Grove, near the yoga shala and Palm Grove which is closer to the restaurant and the beach. They have their own sunbeds and a lovely view of the sunset. Book here
Still a lovely part of the beach with Turtles nesting at one end. A few more beach clubs can be found on this side but still relatively quiet. Be sure to check out Burger Factory for lunch or dinner!
Marbela Beach Resort $$
This is a beach resort that is also a club so not a good idea to stay here if you aren’t interested in partying. There are also a few other clubs nearby. It opens out on to the beach. Book here
Other Places to Stay in Morjim
- Amarya Paros – “fancy beach shack” style $$
- Sur La Mer – right by a lot of popular party places $$
- Wanderers Hostel $
Siolim is a residential area with my favourite beautiful white church. This is a good location to be in to explore different beaches along the coast. However, Siolim doesn’t have it’s own beach and can be very busy with traffic. If staying here you must go to Thalassa for a sunset drink or Greek evening dinner – one of the most famous restaurants in Goa.
Shunya Noi Varo $$
Rachel stayed at Shunya Noi Varo with Ben and his brother, Josh and loved it. Their prawn curry rice is some of the best Goan food she’s ever had, and it’s pretty inexpensive if you book it in a group of 5 or 6 people. Book here
Siolim House $$
Other Place to Stay in Siolim
Vagator isn’t as happening as it used to be but it still has a few nice spots. Little Vagator/Ozran Beach is down a steep set of stairs and used to be the hangout for a lot of hippies back in the day. You can find a few more parties this side – Hilltop, Antares, La Rive, Chronicle. Make sure to visit The Goa Collective Bazaar aka The Friday market at Hilltop.
Pappi Chulo $
A hostel on the backroads of Vagator a short walk from Little Vagator Beach. Close to Hilltop, the famous Goan Trance venue. I haven’t stayed here but seems like a nice colourful, family vibe going on here. And it has the same name as my dog so a special mention from me! Book here
Other Places to Stay in Vagator
This is very inland and I haven’t ever heard of it but Rachel recommended Casa Colvale here, which does look lovely. Book here
This is the backpacker side to Goa where a lot of the hostels can be found. Anjuna is a good place to start your journey in North Goa as its homely with lots going on. There is a good community here and lots of touristing to be done including the famous Wednesday Flea Market. Check out Curlies, Shiva Valley and Café Lilliput for beachside parties. Do note the beach in Anjuna is not the nicest in my opinion.
Granpas Inn – Bouganvillea $$
This is a great location in Anjuna with an amazing pool. It has separate rooms/huts with a very homely feel. Book here
Laguna Anjuna $$
You’ll probably find a lot of expats and locals here to use the pool and eat at the Italian restaurant as the food is really good. You’ll have your pick of the rooms in the old Portuguese/Goan style, and it’s affordable enough that one of Rachel’s friends stayed here for a month. Book here
Other Places to Stay Anjuna
- Prison Hostel $
- Funky Monkey $
- Bricks and Bamboo Hostel $
- The Red Door Hostel $
- Crazy Hostel $
- Casa Anjuna $$
- Roadhouse Hostel $
- OYO 2693 Evershine Guesthouse $
- The Orange House $
This is the trendy inland area of Goa which should be visited whether you are staying here or not. Lots of very cool shops not to be missed – Rangeela, No Nasties, People Tree and food spots you have to try – Edible Archives, Susie’s, Gunpowder, Sublime, Vinayak, Villa Blanche, Mojigao and The Project Café Goa. Gunpowder was Rachel’s favorite!
Namaste Jungle $$
As the name suggests these are rooms hidden away in the jungle of Assagao. If you are looking for some peace and quiet alongside birds chirping, this tranquil spot is for you. Just a short ride/drive from local beaches. Book here
This is between Anjuna and Assagao, has a nice pool and lots of room options. It feels like a little resort and has cool live music nights, a delicious bakery selection and a great restaurant. Book here
Another Place to Stay in Assagao
This is a very sleepy inland area with not much going on except the very big and loud Saturday Night Market – Ingo’s is a must visit for all the Indian tourist souvenirs you have to buy for your friends at home. Take a trip to Studio Arpora to see amazing paintings of Goa and purchase some beautiful illustrations from a local artist.
Nilaya Hermitage $$$
This is one of my favourite spots in Goa up high on a hill so you can see the sea as well as North Goa from above. They have the best swimming pool in Goa with a big waterfall at the back. The design of each room is different and they have a special blue room where you can whisper on one side and it travels all the way around to the other side, if that doesn’t make sense ask the man at the front to show you!
Even if you don’t choose to stay here you can come and use the pool for the day for Rs 500 and have lunch. Try the grilled lemon fish! This is on the higher end of the price range and has had the likes of Richard Gere come to stay. Book here
This is the epicentre of Goa, the Leicester Square (London reference), meaning it is not the nicest area as it is heaving with tourists and is always busy. However, I believe it is the original and real Goa.
There are some really nice parts of Calangute, you just have to know where to look. For food don’t miss A Reverie (may top your list of best restaurants ever visited!), Pousada By the Beach, Navtara and for beach shacks – Cafe Roma and Aggie’s.
Chalston Beach Resort $$
A family run hotel set on the beach with your own private sunset spot, sunbeds and a beach side restaurant. They have live music and a cool Indian dance show on Wednesdays. You can stay in standard rooms or treat yourself to a garden cottage. Book here
Villa Alina $$$
If you are in a large group a Villa may suit your needs perfectly. This is my heritage home which sleeps up to 16 people in one large group with 6 bedrooms. I know I am biased but it is hard to find the same luxury, family, home style vibe elsewhere! It is built on beach sand, a few minutes walk from a lovely part of Calangute beach and has a private infinity pool. This is on the upper end of the price scale. Book here
Other Places to Stay in Calangute
Candolim is another busy area connected to Calangute. There are lots of restaurants and places to stay along the main road and there are some lovely beach shacks on quieter parts of the beach. This area is full of tourists mainly from the UK and around Europe. Eat at Calamari, a higher end beach shack and D’mello’s both found on the beach.
Wildflower Villas $$
The Amrit $$
This is a newly renovated colorful hotel in the old Portuguese style. There aren’t too many rooms so it won’t ever feel like too crowded. There is a shared pool on the grounds and the beach is a very short walk away. Book here
Other Places to Stay in Candolim
This is the last coast side area before Panjim. Here you can have a walk up to Fort Aguada, take a look at the lighthouse and even see the gates of the the famous Fort Aguada prison which is now closed. Eat at Davide’s, Wok and Roll and party at Cohiba, Showbar and Sinq.
There are two options for the Taj Hotel here, both located very near to each other and both very fancy. I think the Fort Aguada Resort & Spa has a better view of the sunset and coastline – which is of course very important!
Inland residential area with not much happening. Lots of beautiful old school Portuguese houses to see. Have a drink and a dance at Cantare – salsa night is on a Monday!
Shanti Morada $$
Shanti Morada a heritage style house is ranked quite high in Goa, and Rachel’s friends who’ve stayed here thought it was amazing. It’s in a pretty peaceful location, and it’s incredibly decorated with pools and waterfall style decorations. Book here
Another quiet inland area alongside a beautiful river and some lovely churches. Not much happening here except for the very large nightclub, LPK, which used to be busy back in the day but not sure how well it does now. Restaurants to try are Lazy Goose and Bhatti’s Village – the latter you can taste delicious home cooked Goan food which is surprisingly hard to find.
Sol De Goa $$
A very cute hotel set in the green fields of Nerul with lovely boutique rooms and a small swimming pool. A nice place to stay if you are looking for some peace and quiet. Book here
Coco Shambhala $$$
Coco Shambhala is a resort of luxury villas with a shared swimming pool. This is a great place if you don’t want to leave the property as it has everything you will need with the options of a private chef, spa services, beauty treatments, gourmet dining and if you want to leave, a private driver can be organized. This is on the upper end of the price scale. Book here
This is not a beach side area at all, very residential with lots of restaurants, the cinema and the only mall in Goa – Mall de Goa.
A very green unexplored area of Goa. Inland and away from the beach, Olaulim is a sleepy village with not much happening. Perfect for some peace and quiet.
Olaulim Backyards $$
Rachel loved this place and wrote about it here. Lots of readers have stayed here since and said they loved it. You can enjoy nature, go kayaking, eat the best prawns, and stay in a little, natural cabin in the jungle. Book here
I wouldn’t suggest staying in Bambolim unless you are staying at the Hyatt Hotel as there is not much happening around here at all.
Hyatt Bambolim $$$
This is a beautiful hotel with a private beach and lovely swimming pool. They have an amazing Sunday brunch which I would recommend going to even if you aren’t staying here – you need to book in advance. It is a huge hotel with really beautiful decor. Book here
The capital of Goa and a must-visit to see a real old school Portuguese town alongside the beautiful Mandovi River. Here you will find the 9-5ers, the casino boats, beautiful churches, impossible parking and what feels like the real world of Goa. Restaurants to try, Tataki, Nostalgia, Konkani Kitchen, Café Bodega and Blacksheep Bistro. If going to Panjim you have to take a walk through Fontainhas which is like taking a walk through the colorful streets of Portugal.
Old Quarter Hostel $
This hostel is set right in the heart of Fontainhas surrounded by beautiful colorful houses and just opposite what used to be my Grandmother’s house which is now a school. If you stay here, make sure you have a beer at Joseph’s Bar, a short walk away. Book here
Other places to stay in Panjim
I know nothing about Batim other than it is in the middle of nowhere and is on the way to the airport from most tourist areas up North. This is a real village, very green, surrounded by palm trees and probably not many other tourists in sight.
Casa Menezes $$
The reason I included Batim is because of Casa Menezes, a beautiful ancestral Portuguese homestay that has been converted to separate rooms. If you want to experience the village side of Goa then stay here and use their bicycles to cycle along palm tree roads. They have a restaurant across the road that serves delicious local Goan food. Book here
On The Border of Goa
Off the Grid $$
Close to the Karnataka border, this eco resort is run by an English couple. Like its name suggests, it’s hidden and immersed in nature. Ask the owners about white water rafting in Goa if you’re looking for adventure. Book here
Located near the Chorla Ghats, this is a super popular getaway with a fun infinity pool. It’s one of the more expensive eco-resort options but it’s a great place for trekking and taking families. Book here
Where to Stay in South Goa – Top to Bottom
The next few areas are not too far from the airport and are a bit more South than North Goa but still feel central. The beaches here feel untouched, secluded and some even have silky white sand. There is not much going on around these areas but there are a few nice places to stay and eat.
This area is where the luxury Planet Hollywood is located – $$$
Eat at Zeebop and have fresh crab at Martin’s Corner.
Vivenda Dos Palhacos $$
This is a very cute place with a lovely pool surrounded by palm trees. All rooms are different and it has a very homely vibe with a few resident dogs. Rachel had lots of friends stay at Vivenda Dos Palhacos and love it. Since it’s a homestay, you’ll get home-cooked meals! Book here
Other Places to Stay in Majorda
Similarly, not much happening in this area other than the 5-star hotel experience and a deserted beach.
This is a very secluded part of Goa and the main attraction in this area is the Leela Hotel $$$ and what must be a very secluded beach.
Cabo De Rama
This is a sort of secret spot as it’s still a bit unknown but I will let you in on it. You can visit a crumbling fort – Fort Cabo De Rama and walk down to an amazing deserted beach. There is literally nothing to do here and only 2 places to stay.
The Cape $$$
This place is nearly always booked up in advance so if you manage to find a date that works for you, book it. These are luxury rooms with a beautiful sea view and your own personal jacuzzi. Book here
Cabo Serai $$$
A beautiful spot on a hill with panoramic views of the sea. This is a new spot that has only been open for one season. The rooms are all made of bamboo and have that eco-resort feel. I haven’t made it to stay here yet but it is on my list. They offer nature walks, bird walks, picnics, yoga and more. Book here
Cola is probably one of the first beaches along the coast in the further South where people stay but it’s still not a very common pick. This means it is very quiet and there really isn’t much to do at all.
One of the reasons it is so quiet is because the road to get down to this beach is a terrible road to take whether in a car or on a bike – more so on a bike but it is a very long and never ending bumpy road. So once you are on this beach, there is no popping back to the main road for a little explore.
Secret Beach Resort $$
This is the first busier place along the South coastline of beautiful beaches. Agonda is one of my favourite southern beaches with it’s golden sand, lovely swimmable sea, and relaxed vibe.
If you stay here take a walk all the way along the beach and along the main road to check the shops out. Eat at Kopi Desah, Zest, Dunhill, Corvo Rindo and Le Dolce Vita. Take the early morning bird watching boat trip with Captain which can be booked at the far North end of the beach where the sea meets the river.
While you can turn up to the South Goan beaches without a booking, you might be unsuccessful bargaining with them at the height of the season.
All the places listed below are beachfront but just know that the closer to the sea you are, the more expensive the price will be.
The Tribe $
If you want a break from the beach then take a room at this sustainable eco-resort hidden in the jungle. I have heard great things about this place from friends but just be aware you are living amongst nature so you may meet a few (hopefully) friendly snakes, insects etc. They are big on conservation and permaculture and offer courses whilst you stay. Book here
Other Places to Stay in Agonda
This used to be the busiest part of South Goa but as the other beaches get more built up the tourists have spread out. This is the original spot for stilted beach huts – the ones you see in the magazines that represent Goa.
There is a huge rock out in the middle of the sea that you can swim out to, attempt to climb up and jump off from. I have never done it because I am lazy and afraid but I have witnessed both successful and unsuccessful attempts.
There is also a silent disco every Saturday at Neptune’s point which has been going on for years and years. Cocktails and Dreams is the main bar that stays open the longest. You can take a walk along the coast to Patnem beach which is just next door.
I don’t have any major name recommendations, except maybe the Art Resort, as I would suggest taking a walk along the beach and bargaining for a stilted hut you like the look of.
This is the sister beach to Palolem as it is located just next door and I like to think of it as the quiet sibling. It is a much smaller beach but has lots of great places to eat and chill.
My favourite place to eat is Home (try the Home Rosti, banana lassi, chocolate brownie) and Jaali Café. At night all the tables are out on the beach where you can have dinner by candle light. There are now a few yoga schools also offering classes and retreats – a friend completed a course at Kranti Yoga school and loved it.
Funtastic Beach Huts: Namaste, Om Shanti, Sea Front Beach Huts – $
These are names of beach huts along the front of Patnem. I have been to Patnem a lot of times and have never booked in advance however, if you would rather have a place sorted then check here or try calling huts directly.
Turtle Hill $$$
This is a luxurious set of beach huts set at the far North end of Patnem beach. These are priced a lot higher than a simple beach hut and are usually booked up. These need to be booked in advance. Book here
Other Places to Stay near Patnem
Another secret beach that I shouldn’t really be writing about. This beach has only 2 beach shacks set back from the actual beach and maybe 3 places to stay. There is not even one structure on the beach which means it is completely empty and usually doesn’t get many visitors. In Goa this is hard to find!
If you do decide to stay here eat at the Drunken Clam, have fresh oysters at Surya’s and fresh prawns at Santosh’s. To get to Galgibag you have to cross a very narrow blue bridge, best done on a scooter or very slowly in a car – some cars won’t fit. The reason Galgibag is so deserted and without construction is because it is a protected turtle nesting site – yay! So keep it clean and don’t tell too many people on your journeys onwards!
Casa Galgibaga $
A very cute 2 bedroom house set back about 2 minutes walk from the beach with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen. The owners can help you with anything you need while you stay here. Book here
Cassoi by Ciarans $
Options of wooden beach huts, tents or concrete rooms. These are on the beach front facing the sea but set further back than other huts along the coastline. Book here
So as you can see, we have a lot of cool options for places to stay in Goa, both North and South. Hope my blog post helped, if it did, let me know where you decide to stay in the comments and if you have any of your own recommendations please do share :)
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