Goa. India’s smallest state, tucked neatly into the sub-continents Southwest and gently caressed by the warm Arabian Sea. A Portuguese colony from circa 1500 until 1967, Goa retails a distinctly welcoming, laid back and positively psychedelic vibe that truly sets it apart from the rest of India.

Goa is also, however, a state of mind. After I first arrived in Goa in 2018, I never quite left.

Goa is not just a holiday destination or a backpacker enclave. It is a place where travellers are called to lose themselves or find themselves but in all cases to be themselves.

Of course, if all you want from Goa is sun, sea and souveivers then find it you shall but, if you are after that little bit extra something, then Goa will equally serve you. Ultimately the experience you want from Goa should determine where exactly in Goa you stay and for that reason, choosing where to stay in Goa is very important.

colorful boats in the sea in goa with traditional seaside homes behind them
Prepare yourself for summer paradise.

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Where is the Best Place to Stay in Goa?

girl standing overlooking a balcony with a pool underneath whuile staying in goa

I’ll be totally honest. Most accommodation in Goa is NOT great. Poor service, low hygiene and ultimately underwhelming rooms are the norm rather than the exception.

Traditionally, the trade was that digs were cheap so we all put up with it.
However recent years have seen prices rise by multiples of 100 whereas service standards have plummeted if anything. Oh, and false advertising is also commonplace and on this note, I will advise you AGAINST staying at Crystal Serenity in Mandrem.

Therefore, carefully choosing where to stay in Goa is more important than ever. But dont worry, I have got you covered.

GoSTOPS Goa Baga

GoSTOPS Goa Baga | Best Hostel in Goa

Right in the heart of North Goa, this hostel is one of the best places to stay for your first time in Goa. Stay close to great restaurants, bars and clubs, or even take part in some water sports at Baga beach. With free wifi and even a stunning swimming pool, you’ll want for nothing. 

stunning in ground pool with turquoise water overlooking an elegant white and orange European villa style bridge and the ocean
Beach Street Resort in Mandrem

Beach Street Resort | Best Hotel in Goa

This stunning hotel is one of the best places to stay in Goa! Set in a faux European villa just steps away from the beaches, you’ll have everything you need and more to make the most of your visit. Each room is modern and comes with a stylish ensuite bathroom, as well as free wifi.

Goan Beach House | Best Airbnb in Goa

simple yellow Goan Beach House with a thatched roof surrounded by palm trees

When deciding where to stay in Goa, you’d be hard-pressed to find an abode better than this. The South Anjuna cottage by the sea quite literally has Anjuna Beach as its backyard, which is why it absolutely tops this list for me. On top of that, you’ll be but 200 meters from some of Anjuna’s most happening locales, like Curlie’s and the famous flea market.

Goa Neighborhood Guide – Places to Stay in Goa

FIRST TIME IN GOA
Elegant room in Calangute
FIRST TIME IN GOA

Baga and Calangute

Tiswadi is the best place to stay if you’re visiting Goa for the first time. Home to chain hotels that cater for package tourists, its basically Goa-lite.

ON A BUDGET
Arambol in Goa
ON A BUDGET

Arambol & Mandrem

The hippy and boho Mecca of Arambol sprawls all the way to the quieter village of Mandrem. Both are great budget options.

NIGHTLIFE
Bardez, Goa
NIGHTLIFE

Anjuna & Vagator

Lively, charismatic and fun, Anjuna is raver central. Home to Goa’s hottest clubs, busiest beaches, and legendary all-night trance parties, you won’t find a more exciting district in Goa.

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
Pernem, Goa
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Morjim

Set Goa’s most northern district, Morjim is well located for both Anjuna and Arambol but also boats its own character with lush forests and up market resorts.

FOR FAMILIES
Canacona, Goa
FOR FAMILIES

Palolem

Goa’s most southerly district, Canacona is a calm and clean paradise ideal for families and travellers with young children.

Goa Neighborhood Guide – Best Places to Stay in Goa

Please read before reading! In case you didn’t know this, Goa is not a town, a city or a beach but an entire state in India. Whilst it is India’s smallest state, it is still a good bit bigger than some entire countries!

Therefore where exactly you choose to stay in Goa is very important. In this guide, I have picked a few key areas that are the best places in Goa to stay. But don’t expect uniformity: North Goa is quite a different experience from South Goa.

two people doing yoga on a rock alongside the ocean during an incredible orange sunset in goa india
Get ready for surreal sunsets just like this.

Whilst it is certainly possible to travel between many places, you probably don’t want to spend your entire trip driving on dusty roads, right? I mean, if you’re travelling India, you’re going to see enough anyway. So be sure to choose a base that suits you and reflects exactly what you want from your visit to Goa.

Here are the best areas, broken down by interest, for your stay in Goa.

1. Baga and Calangute – Where to Stay in Goa for your First Time

It’s Goa but not as I know it. Baga and Calangute are to India what Cancun is to Mexico and Marbella is to Spain and as such, are a shiny beacon to package holidaymakers who want big(ish) hotels, sun loungers, cold beers, and little else.

cheap colorful beach huts to stay at in goa india
Elegant room in Calangute.

Set in North Goa, some of the hotels and guesthouses here are quite lush and the locals are quite used to catering for first-timers, but you can still dive into great hostels in India. It’s also he best beach in Goa to dip your toes and get acquainted with the region before heading out to explore more offbeat pastures.

GoSTOPS Goa Baga

GoSTOPS Goa Baga | Best Hostel in Baga

Right in the heart of North Goa, this hostel is one of the best places to stay for your first time in Goa. Stay close to great restaurants, bars and clubs, or even take part in some water sports at Baga beach. With free wifi and even a stunning swimming pool, you’ll want for nothing. 

Charlston beach

Charlston Beach | Best Hotel in Baga

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.

Serendipity Cottage | Best Airbnb in Baga

Serendipity Cottage

This incredibly aesthetic cottage is the beach hut of your dreams, but the catch is it isn’t actually a hut. It’s a masterfully designed home that took the word “bohemian” and infused it into every nook and cranny. Though not far from the famous Calangute Beach the Superhost property is budget friendly too, all whilst giving you the entire space to yourself with room for up to 3 guests.

Surrounded by palm trees and an abundance of other greenery, you’ll get to feel like you have an entire tropical forest all to yourself as you sip a cup of chai on the porch. Built in traditional Goan style, the owner has made it a point to make the space as eco-friendly as possible, even recycling wood and other materials like a 200 year old temple pillar.

Things to See and Do in Baga – Calangute

  1. Go kayaking in nearby Candolim
  2. Chill out on Calangute Beach
  3. Explore the Tibetan Market
  4. Feast on traditional Goan cuisine
  5. Visit the historical St. Alex Church.
  6. Go on a guided Goan heritage tour

2. Arambol & Mandrem – Best Place To Stay in Goa on a Budget

Arambol in North Goa is the state’s (and quite possibly the world’s!) hippy and boho capital. Over the last few decades, the region has grown from a clutch of tiny fishing villages into something almost bordering a small town.

Arambol in Goa
What you can expect in Arambol in Goa…

In Arambol, you can find yoga sessions pretty much 24/7 along with drum circles, ecstatic dance and all the incense you could ever sniff along with some good, modern coffee shops and fine restaurants.

Arambol blends into Mandrem which is quieter, smaller, slightly pricier and has a better beach. You can travel between the two on a scooter in a few minutes, or you can walk along the beach front that connects them in a half hour.

Beach Street in Mandrem

Beach Street Resort | Best Hotel in Mandrem

Watching the budget? This place is great value for money, offering a whole apartment for the same price as a cheap hotel room! Save money by cooking in your own fully equipped kitchen, and kick back on the balcony after a day of exploring. If you do want to eat out there are plenty of restaurants close by, as well as lakes and cultural attractions.

Stunning Arambol Apartment

Stunning Arambol Apartment | Best Airbnb in Arambol

For digital nomads looking for a place to work before they play, this 1 bedroom Arambol apartment is the place to book. Artfully designed with a blissful aesthetic, the high-speed wifi and designated workspace are what certainly set this apart from nearby hostels. With room for two guests and home to a fully equipped kitchen, you won’t be wondering why it has such a great rating.

Happy Panda Hostel Arambol best hostels in India

Happy Panda | Best Hostel in Arambol

With a private garden and backyard convenient location, Waters Edge Goa is like a slice of heaven in paradise. This hostel offers guests stunning scenery, clean accommodations, and a convenient location. For budget travellers, you won’t find a better hostel in Arambol.

Things to See and Do in Arambol & Mandrem

  1. Join the drum circle and sunset market.
  2. Sample traditional Goan food at the beach huts.
  3. Relax on Mandrem Beach.
  4. See the Church of the Holy Spirit, Arambol white church that dates back 1665.
  5. Join a yoga class any time – any day.
  6. Do not miss Ecstatic Dance around the big Banyan tree.
  7. Haggle for beautiful souvenirs.
  8. Head to sweet lake for paragliding.

3. Anjuna & Vagator Beach – Where to Stay in Goa for Nightlife

A true ravers paradise Anjuna in many ways epitomises Goan culture with its tripped-out landscapes, sultry beaches and all night trance parties. It’s one of the best beaches in Goa to experience the island’s iconic nightlife.

a tropical beach in goa india filled with beach goers and green palm trees

Anjuna is the home of Goan trance (which spawned the global, underground Psytrance movement) and to this day there are raves taking place in Anjuna/Vagator every night of the week during high season playing Psytrance, techno, house, DnB or horrible EDM.

There is however a lot more to Anjuna than repetitive beats though. It is fast becoming the Digital Nomad hub of Goa, boasts some stunning colonial villas and has some of my favourite coffee shops and markets.

Treehouse Sonnet | Best Hotel in Anjuna

Treehouse Sonnet

The lovely indy bout hotel has everything you need for a perfectly quaint stay including lovely rooms and very helpful staff. It’s situated between Anjuna and Vagator and Chopra is also within reachable distance. You will need to grab a scooter to get around, but it’s a perfect base for couples staying in Goa.

Goan Beach House

Goan Beach House | Best Airbnb in Anjuna

When deciding where to stay in Goa, you’d be hard-pressed to find an abode better than this. The South Anjuna cottage by the sea quite literally has Anjuna Beach as its backyard, which is why it absolutely tops this list for me.

On top of that, you’ll be but 200 meters from some of Anjuna’s most happening locales, like Curlie’s and the famous flea market. Made for two guests, the home also has a dedicated workspace which I LOVED as a digital nomad, as well as a stunning backyard porch and a small but stunning kitchen. Don’t be surprised if you end up dreaming of buying it!

Dreams Hostel

Dreams Hostel | Best Hostel in Vagator

Bardez is my top nightlife destination in Goa, and Dreams Hostel puts you right next to it! This international backpackers has a fun and welcoming atmosphere, with plenty of spaces for meeting other travellers, playing games, or practising yoga. The free wifi makes a top destination for digital nomads.

Things to See and Do in Anjuna & Vagator

  1. Experience the hippie vibe in Anjuna.
  2. Trance away at Shiva Valley’s psychedelic Tuesday party.
  3. Sip on Fenny, the local liquor that you’re guaranteed to either love or hate. (There’s no in-between.)
  4. See the architectural museum at Houses of Goa.
  5. Rest and relax on the pristine Vagator Beach in northern Bardez.
  6. See, smell, and taste at the largest entertainment evening in the district, Hilltop Friday Night Market.
  7. Hunt for treasures at Anjuna’s Wednesday night flea market.
  8. Soak up the sunshine and take in the views from Candolim Beach.
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4. Morjim – Most Offbeat Place to Stay in Goa

Again, in North Goa is Morjim. If you’re purely seeking sun, sand, and sea, this is the best beach for you. It’s a place that’s not flooded by tourists so it’s a great place to find a beach resort that’s going to give you a luxury experience. If you’ll looking for something more humble, you’ll also find cute wooden beach shacks.

two people and a dog walking toward the ocean during a yellow orange sunset while staying in goa
Not a bad place for a sunset

But the thing that makes Morjim one of the best beaches in Goa is the nature. Home to incredible and unique wildlife, it’s a place you won’t forget in a hurry. 

You’ll see many a nesting site for a variety of birds and even turtles. You can get a taste of what Goa should look like – without the humans.

BaywoodGoa

Baywood Goa | Best Resort in Morjim

At BaywoodGoa, guests can enjoy an on-site pool, gardens, airport shuttles, and room service. Each room is fitted with an ensuite bathroom and free wifi, and free breakfast is offered each morning. Popular beaches are right nearby, and you can even cook up a BBQ during your stay.

Morjim River Villa

Morjim River Villa | Best Airbnb in Morjim

But 5 minutes away from Morjim Beach, this stunning villa is right along the banks of the Chapora River which makes for the ultimate relaxation space. Worthwhile cafes and restaurants are within walking distance, and other Goan hotspots like Ashwem Beach and Arambol aren’t far away. Watch dolphins play in the river, and if you’d like, you’re even welcome to try fishing yourself. Overall, its a fab North Goa option for those looking for a peaceful and quiet getaway.

Travo Tales Goa

Travo Tales Goa | Best Hostel Near Morjim

Travo Tales Goa is one of my absolute favourite places to stay. They offer a rooftop cafe, 24/7 garden bar, onesie restaurant, in-house DJ, and a swimming pool to cool down. It’s a great place to meet travellers while watching the sunset over the sea.

Things to See and Do in Morjim

  1. Centre yourself and enjoy a day of yoga, meditation and relaxation at one of the wellness centres.
  2. Pick up a good book and relax away an afternoon on quiet and calm Morjim beach.
  3. Take a day trip to Old Goa.
  4. Learn to surf or kitesurf in calm turquoise waters.
  5. Hop aboard Querim’s free ferry and explore Fort Terekhol.
  6. Visit Pernem Temple and see its collection of elephant sculptures.

5. Palolem – Best Place in Goa for Families to Stay In

South Goa represents the state’s quieter side and is the perfect antidote to the hippy, raver, package cocktail that North Goa serves up. Palolem is home to some of Goa’s most beautiful beaches and is the ideal place to rent a beach shack and enjoy the simple life.

an firey orange sunset seen while staying in south goa

That said, the Palolem beach clientele are typically a more monied crowd than in North Goa. South Goa offers more high end boutiques, restaurants, and hotels. So if the simple life gets a bit too boring for you – you know where to look. Agonda is also reachable from Palolem and is even less developed again.

De Garland Palolem | Best Hotel in Palolem

De Garland Palolem

Exceptionally clean and just 1.5 km from Palolem Beach, this luxury hotel is fantastic for families as it’s quiet and features a well-maintained swimming pool. The on site restaurant also features a full breakfast and airport transfers for guests.

Abidal Bay Resort | Best Airbnb in Palolem

Abidal Bay Resort

You can’t go wrong with this apartment if you’re deciding where to stay in Goa with family. You’re right on Patnem beachfront and Palolem Beach isn’t far away. These wooden beach huts are beautiful decorated and full of natural light to give you the holiday feels. All the beach huts have AC, wifi, and pets are allowed!

The Lost Hostel | Best Hostel in Palolem

The Lost Hostel

In the heart of South Goa and right on the cusp of Palolem beach is The Lost Hostel. With free luggage lockers and CCTV to keep you safe, it makes it a great choice to stay in Goa with family. They offer board games, movie nights, laundry facilities and a garden to make your stay extra cosy.

Things to See and Do in Palolem

  1. Escape to one of Palolem’s secluded beaches to find a solitary slice of paradise.
  2. Look (but don’t touch!) the turtles that call Agonda and Galgibag beaches home during hatching season.
  3. Take a guided tour of the Tanshikar Spice farm, an organic spice farm that harvests vanilla, cashews, chillies and other famous spices.
  4. Visit Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary to explore the forest and spot a few of India’s famous animals.
  5. Swim in the calm and shallow waters at Palolem Beach.
  6. Take a long sunset stroll along picturesque Agonda Beach.
  7. Hike out and see the spectacular Bamanbudo Waterfalls.
  8. Visit the beautifully situated and stunning Mallikarjuna Temple, one of the oldest shrines in Goa.
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FAQs about Finding a Place to Stay in Goa

Here’s what people usually ask me about the areas of Goa and where to stay.

What To Pack For Goa

Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.

Product
Description
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!
Don’t Let Snorers Keep You Awake!

Ear Plugs

Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.

Keep your laundry organized and stink free
Keep your laundry organized and stink free

Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Stay Dry With a Micro Towel
Stay Dry With a Micro Towel

Sea To Summit Micro Towel

Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.

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Make Some New Buddies…

Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!
Reduce Plastic – Bring a Water Bottle!

Grayl Geopress Water Bottle

Always travel with a water bottle! They save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. The Grayl Geopress acts as a purifier AND temperature regulator. Boom!

Check out my definitive Hotel Packing list for even more top packing tips!

What are the best luxury hotels in Goa?

There are many luxury hotels to stay in Goa, but one of my faves is Beach Street Resort. It gives the vibe of a villa while being right on the sea!

What Goa accommodation is best for backpackers?

My absolute favorite hostel in Goa is no doubt GoSTOPS Goa Baga. The design is unmatched and so is the view!

What are Goa hotel prices like?

Goa hotel prices vary widely. You can find cheap places to stay for around $20 a night, to luxurious spots that will be over $100. Your call!

Don’t Forget Your Goa Travel Insurance

Before you take a trip to India, you should absolutely be looking at travel insurance. That’s your top priority to have a safe adventure.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

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 GoStops Baga. It’s our top pick for the best hostel in Goa.

Want a private room? This Goan Beach House is barely 50 meters from seaside paradise.

Don’t be surprised if you keep extending your trip again, and again, and again.

Looking for more info on travelling to Goa and India?
Finally, some peace.

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