Goa is a state on India’s west coast home to about 1.8 million people, and one of the most popular places to visit for backpackers and vacationers in India alike. And of course, why wouldn’t it be?
There is something for everyone in Goa: hippy enclaves, family vacation homes, backpacker hang-outs, and yoga galore.
Famed for psychedelic all-night parties since the 60s, backpackers have been making their way to Goa’s beaches for decades. Some of these areas have become over-developed by ex-pats, tourists, and locals alike, but there are still some laid-back gems and stunning, empty beaches.
Goa has plenty of options, but this also means it can be overwhelming deciding where to stay in Goa. Moreover, getting around Goa can be difficult since many of the towns are considerably spread out.
Below we will cover the best places to stay in Goa within its two districts – north and south. There is plenty to do in Goa, so we’ll also break down the top things to do in town!
Table of Contents
- Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Goa
- Top 3 Recommendations for Where to Stay in Goa
- Best Places to Stay in Goa
- 5 Best Places to Stay in Goa
- 1. Tiswadi – Where to Stay in Goa for first-timers
- 2. Salcete – Best Place to Stay in Goa on a Budget
- 3. Bardez – Where to Stay in Goa for the Best Nightlife
- 4. Pernem – Most Laidback Place to Stay in Goa
- 5. Canacona – Where to Stay in Goa for Families
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Goa
- Where to stay in Goa first time – Tiswadi District
- Where to stay in Goa on a budget – Salcete
- Best area to stay in Goa for nightlife – Bardez
- Coolest place to stay in Goa – Pernem
- Best Neighbourhood in Goa for families – Canacona
In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:
- Explore Old Goa, the state’s former capital that was once considered the ‘Rome of the East’
- Take a short ferry ride to Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary and spot several species of local birds
- Dive deep into Goan history at the extensive and quirky Goa State Museum
Top 3 Recommendations for Where to Stay in Goa
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for the best places to stay in Goa!
Check out our post on the best hostels in Goa too.
Best Hostel in Goa: Happy Panda Hostel, Pernem
Just 10-minutes walk from the beach in Pernem, Happy Panda is the best hostel in Goa. Clean, safe and boasting a laid-back atmosphere, you’ll meet like-minded people and enjoy the warmth of home at this conveniently located hostel.
Best Hotel in Goa: Dunhill Beach Resort
Two minutes from the beach, Dunhill Beach Resort in Canacona is at the heart of paradise. With its own private beach and access to numerous activities, including horse riding and snorkelling, Dunhill Beach Resort is the best hotel in Goa.
Best Airbnb in Goa: 2 Bed Lotus Villa @ Tito’s Street
This quirky and comfortable villa is located in the heart of Goa’s party district. With Bardez’s best beaches and hottest clubs within walking distance, you won’t find a better Airbnb in Goa.
Also, make sure to check out our Airbnb post for a 35% discount!
Best Places to Stay in Goa
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Goa
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Goa is a state on India’s west coast. Covering more than 3,700 square kilometres, Goa is home to approximately 1.8 million people! With a unique mix of Portuguese and Indian influences, the region attracts an estimated 2.5 million people each year to enjoy its distinct architecture, stunning beaches and laid-back atmosphere.
Goa is divided into two districts, north and south, which are further divided into 12 talukas. There is a lot to do in this small Indian state from sampling traditional Goan cuisine to dancing until dawn, you certainly won’t be bored. To help you plan your time in Goa, this guide will break down the “must-sees” by travel interest to help you decide where to stay in Goa.
Starting in the north is Pernem. Here you’ll find cultural and historical sights, yoga and wellness centres, quaint villages and a relaxed way of life.
Heading south you’ll pass through Bardez. Home to all-night parties and stunning beaches, Bardez is the place to be if you want to dance until dawn and enjoy Goa’s infamous nightlife.
South of Bardez is Tiswaldi. Here you’ll find most of Goa’s cultural sights as well as its fluorescent Latin Quarter and the quaint village of Old Goa.
As you continue travelling south you’ll pass through Salcete and Canacona. With pristine beaches and interesting architectural sights, these two southern Goan states are not to be missed.
Still not sure where to stay in Goa? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
Related: Planning a trip to Goa and more of India? Don’t forget to check out our massive India Travel Guide, Will wrote after years of traveling here.
5 Best Places to Stay in Goa
Getting around Goa a bit of a challenge as many of the towns are considerably spread out. The areas public transit system is inexpensive and a great way to see the state. Alternatively, there are many car and scooter agencies in the region. Rent a car or a bike and you’ll be able to explore the various neighbourhoods at your own pace.
Some regions of Goa are better suited to specific interests than others. Are you keen to see the sights and explore Goa’s history and culture? Or, are you looking to dance until dawn on a moonlit beach? No matter your interest, there’s an area of Goa for you.
Here are the best areas, broken down by interest for your stay in Goa.
Tiswadi is the best place to stay if you’re visiting Goa for the first time. Home to the capital city, Panjim, Tiswadi is where you’ll find most of Goa’s cultural sights, the vibrant Latin Quarter, and charming Old Goa.
This area is home to a number of interesting small villages, pristine beaches and a number of tourist attractions. Spend your days exploring the cultural side of Goa in this unique and historic district.
Top Things to do in Tiswadi
– Visit the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which contains the tomb and mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier.
– Explore Fontainhas, Goa’s Latin Quarter full of colonial character, cobblestone streets, and vibrant, and colourful houses.
– Relax on Tiswaldi’s pristine, white sand beaches, including Miramar, Dona Paula and Bambolim.
– Be amazed at Sé Cathedral, the largest church in Asia measuring more than 76 meters long and 55 meters wide.
– Explore Old Goa, the state’s former capital that was once considered the ‘Rome of the East.’
– Take a short ferry ride to Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary and spot several species of local birds.
– Dive deep into Goan history at the extensive and quirky Goa State Museum.
– Visit the Gitanjali Gallery for an impressive collection of Scandinavian art from the 50s and 60s.
Best Hostel in Tiswadi: Old Quarter Hostel by thehostelcrowd
Immerse yourself in Goa’s cultural highlights by staying in the heart of Panjim’s heritage zone. This hotel has clean rooms, friendly staff and free wifi, all within minutes of the capital’s main attractions.
Best Hotel in Tiswadi: FabHotel Prazeres Boutique Panaji
Walking distance to the beach and Tiswadi’s main attractions, the location of this boutique hotel can’t be beaten. New, spacious, and well-maintained, FabHotel Prazeres Boutique Hotel is clean, comfortable and offers guests modern amenities for their stay in Goa.
Best Airbnb in Tiswadi: Luxury 1 Bedroom With Private Pool Near Candolim
Add a little luxury to your stay by renting this stunning one bedroom apartment. Five kilometres from Tiswadi’s most famous beaches, this apartment has it’s own private swimming pool and contemporary amenities. Perfect for a couple or family of three, this is the best Airbnb in Tiswadi.
Located south of Tiswadi is the district of Salcete. Quieter than the districts in northern Goa, Salcete is where you can find everything from a busy city to scenic vistas and unspoiled beaches. The commercial and cultural capital of south Goa, Salcete is home to notable churches, cultural sights, and historical centres.
In addition to being the historical and cultural heart of the south, Salcete is also a great destination for budget travellers,and our pick for where to stay in Goa on a budget. Home to Goa’s second largest city, Margao, this region offers a variety of accommodations styles and options, from boutique hotels to backpacker hostels.
Top Things to See do in Salcete
– Visit San Thome Museum and take a step back in time as you explore a carefully curated collection of technology through the ages.
– Sample delicious and traditional Goan food at the lively Margao Market.
– Relax under a palm tree on Varca Beach, a seemingly endless strip of sand.
– See the Church of the Holy Spirit, Margao’s whitewashed main church, which dates back to 1565.
– Enjoy more than 2 kilometres of powder white sand at Colva Beach.
– Climb Monte Hill, Margao’s only hill, and enjoy views of the city below.
– Follow the trail through Ancestral Goa, a kitschy and quirky park filled with sculptures depicting traditional Goan life.
– Enjoy peace, quiet and paradise on the stunning Benaulim Beach.
Best Hostel in Salcete: Waters Edge Goa
With a private garden and backyard swimming pool, Waters Edge Goa is like a slice of heaven in paradise. This hostel offers guests stunning scenery, clean accommodations, and a convenient location. You won’t find a better hostel in Salcete.
Best Hotel in Salcete: Longuinhos Beach Resort
Longuinhos Beach Resort offers guests affordable luxury in the heart of Salcete. A one-minute walk from Colva Beach, this hotel has an outdoor pool, an open-air dance floor, and a delicious and authentic on-site restaurant.
Enjoy four-star accommodations without the hefty price tag.
Best Airbnb in Salcete: Well-lit apartment
This Airbnb is clean, comfortable and a 10-minute walk to Colva Beach. With laundry, a full kitchen, and a grocery store nearby, this apartment has everything you could possibly need for your stay in Salcete. It’s a great apartment at an unbeatable price!
Lively, charismatic and fun, Bardez is Goa’s most popular tourist destination. Home to Goa’s hottest clubs, busiest beaches, and infamous all-night trance parties, you won’t find a more exciting district in Goa.
Each week tourists and locals flock to the seaside towns of Baga, Anjuna and Candolim. The nightlife here is unlike anywhere else in Goa and you’ll have no shortage of options for a night on the town.
Whether you want to dance until dawn on a moonlit beach or enjoy a rocking rooftop party, Bardez is the place to do it.
Need more inspiration? Check out this post on the 10 best beaches in Goa for nightlife!
Top Things to do in Bardez
– Experience the hippie vibe in Anjuna.
– Dance the night away at Paradiso, Club Cabana, Café Mambos or Club Titos, the regions trendiest and most popular clubs.
– Sip on Fenny, a locally distilled liquor that you’re guaranteed to either love or hate; there’s no in-between.
– See the Houses of Goa, an architectural museum, that celebrates the amalgamation of eastern and western architectural styles.
– Rest and relax on Vagator Beach, a pristine stretch of sand, in northern Bardez.
– Take in the sights, sounds and smells of Anpora’s Saturday Night Market, the largest weekly shopping and entertainment event in the district.
– Hunt for treasures at Anjuna’s incredibly popular Wednesday night flea market.
– Soak up the sunshine and take in the views from Candolim beach.
Best Hostel in Bardez: PRISON by thehostelcrowd
Keep the party going long after you leave the beach at PRISON, Goa’s liveliest hostel. Enjoy good company, a free hangover breakfast, and hot showers, all within walking distance of the beach and Anjuna’s main attractions.
Best Hotel in Bardez: Beach Box Hotel Baga – GoSavvy Collection
Rest and relax before your next big night out at this unique and exciting hotel. Made of repurposed shipping containers, each room has air conditioning, a private bathroom, and a flat-screen TV. Close to the beach and all of Bardez’s action, Beach Box Hotel is the place to be.
Best Airbnb in Bardez: 2 Bed Lotus Villa @ Tito’s Street
This quirky and comfortable two-bedroom villa is located just off Tito’s Street in the heart of Goa’s party district. With Bardez’s best beaches and hottest clubs just a few minutes away, you won’t find a better place to stay in Baga.
Goa’s most northern district, Pernem is ideal for travellers looking to enjoy stunning beaches, beautiful scenery, and indulge in a relaxing and luxurious holiday.
Surrounded by jungle, lakes and lagoons, Pernem is the least urbanized of Goa’s districts. Famous for its temples, beaches and overall atmosphere, Pernem attracts visitors from around the world to enjoy its world-class wellness facilities, untouched nature and charming small towns.
Enjoy colourful villages, cheerful surroundings, and lush countryside as you explore this northern paradise.
Top Things to do in Pernem
– Centre yourself and enjoy a day of yoga, meditation and relaxation at one of Mandrem’s chic wellness centres.
– Pick-up a good book and relax away an afternoon on quiet and calm Mandrem beach.
– Explore the town of Arambol.
– Learn to surf or kitesurf in these calm turquoise waters at one of Pernem’s numerous surf schools.
– Rent a colourful cliffside shack and spend your days enjoying the stunning views of the beach, the sea and beyond.
– Hop aboard Querim’s free ferry and explore Fort Terekhol.
– Visit Pernem Temple and see its collection of elephant sculptures.
– Hike to the top of Arambol Mountain and take in the views of the region.
– Take a dip in Sweet Water Lake, a fresh-water paradise warmed by a natural hot spring.
Best Hostel in Pernem: Happy Panda Hostel
A 10-minute walk from the beach, Happy Panda is the best hostel in Pernem. Clean, safe and boasting a laid-back and welcoming atmosphere, this hostel is a great base to explore Northern Goa. Meet like-minded people and enjoy the warmth of home at this conveniently located hostel.
Best Hotel in Pernem: FabHotel Arabian Sands Beach Resort
Enjoy sea views, a great location and your own private cottage-style room on the shores of the Arabian Sea. This hotel provides guests with the perfect place to relax and stay while exploring Pernem and North Goa.
Best AirBnB in Pernem: Andre Guest House
This Airbnb property is located near the main market in the town of Mandrem. Just a few kilometres from Pernem’s most famous beaches, this two bedroom apartment is great for couples, families and groups of friends.
Goa’s most southerly district, Canacona is a calm and clean paradise ideal for families and travellers with young children. With more than 20 beaches to explore and a myriad of activities within close proximity, there’s no shortage of attractions to keep you and your little ones entertained.
Canacona is home to some of Goa’s most scenic beaches. With a myriad of shops and huts renting out kayaks, boogie boards, and more, you’ll never have to worry about being bored in Canacona.
Top Things to do in Canacona
– Escape to one of Canacona’s hidden beaches; the region boasts more than 20, so you’ll have no trouble finding a solitary slice of paradise.
– Look (but don’t touch!) the turtles that call Agonda and Galgibag beaches home during hatching season.
– Go on a guided dolphin tour, where you’ll see these majestic sea creatures up close.
– Take a guided tour of the Tanshikar Spice farm, an organic spice farm that harvests vanilla, cashews, chillies and other famous spices.
– Visit Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary to explore the forest and spot a few of India’s famous animals.
– Swim in Palolem’s calm and shallow waters.
– Take a long sunset stroll along picturesque Agonda beach.
– Hike out and see the spectacular Bamanbudo Waterfalls.
– Visit the beautifully situated and stunning Mallikarjuna Temple, one of the oldest shrines in Goa.
Best Hostel in Canacona: Credo Jungle Resort – Agonda
Ten minutes from the beach, but worlds away, Credo Jungle Resort is Canacona’s best hostel. Sit back and relax as you enjoy the lush surroundings and even encounter an animal or two at this Southern Goan hostel. Opt for traditional accommodations or reserve an eco-hut for a more rustic adventure.
Best Hotel in Canacona: Dunhill Beach Resort
Two minutes from the beach, Dunhill Beach Resort is at the heart of paradise. With its own private beach, this hotel offers guests access to a myriad of activities, including horse riding and snorkelling. Enjoy clean and comfortable accommodations as you explore South Goa.
Best AirBnB in Canacona: 2 Bedroom Apartment With Great View
This two-bedroom flat near is comfortable, spacious and located within one of Canacona’s gated communities. Close to beaches and offering scenic views, this Airbnb is the perfect place for couples or families to make their home away from home.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Goa
Goa has it all. Whether you are looking for India’s best beaches, a place to chill-out and relax, or the next big hedonistic party, there is something in Goa for everyone.
Still not sure where to stay in Goa? Backpackers can’t go wrong with Happy Panda Hostel, Pernem on Pernem beach. It’s our top pick for the best hostel in Goa. Want a private room? Dunhill Beach Resort is two-minutes from beach paradise.
We hope our post has helped you desipher between the best places to stay in Goa! Did we miss anything? Leave us a comment below!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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