One of the destinations that seem to beckon people over and over again is Goa. Not surprising as it seems to have something for everyone – from its sunny beaches to an active party life to some heritage and lots of adventure sports. Moreover, it has an easy connectivity to the rest of India – be it by air, rail or road. However, Goa is huge and given that, it is often confusing for first timers to decide where should one stay in Goa. Which area should they consider while picking these hotels in Goa? What should they bear in mind? How should they go about it?
I have found a lot of my readers coming back to me with these questions and hence, this post to guide them on the best places to pick hotels in Goa. The best way to start answering this question is to first understand Goa, then figure out what is it that you want to do in Goa and therefore, what would be the best location for you to book hotels in Goa. So, here goes –
3 basic places for Hotels in Goa
Goa is a large state, not a city or a town. From a perspective of stay in Goa, I would divide Goa into three basic regions – North Goa, Panjim and South Goa. Each of these regions have plenty of hotels, resorts and home stays for you to choose from. However, each region is quite different in terms of the atmosphere and things to do.
This is possibly the most popular part of Goa. The famed beaches of Calangute, Baga and Anjuna, the colorful shacks along the entire coastline, the flea markets, discos and pubs – North Goa is considered to be the most “happening” part of Goa. The famous Sunburn festival also, takes place in this part of Goa. The historic Chapora Fort and the Fort Aguada too, are located in this part of Goa. In fact, what I consider as North Goa starts from Fort Aguada and stretches upto the border of Maharashtra.
Panjim is the capital city of Goa. Quite like any other city, Panaji or Panjim has its share of urban markets, hotels, casinos and pubs. Panjim is also, at the confluence of the River Mandovi and the Arabian Sea. It has its share of beaches – the Miramar beach, being the most popular. With its Old Latin quarters, old churches and some unusual museums, you can get a good insight into the history and heritage of Goa. Panjim serves as a nerve center in terms of connecting the rest of Goa. Be it north or South, Panjim is equidistant from most places of tourist interests.
If you are looking for virgin beaches or the not-so-crowded authentic beaches of Goa, then South Goa makes an excellent place for you to pick a stay. South Goa stretches from the 2nd most important city of Goa – Margao to the border of Karnataka. Life is quite laid back here, shacks quieter and parties tamer. It is an ideal place for some tranquil time with self or family. South Goa is also, closer to Dabolim airport and the main railway junction – Margao.
Your purpose in Goa
Having explained the three key regions for picking a hotel in Goa, you need to understand that the distance between these regions is quite a bit. This is where you need to plan what is it that you really want to do in Goa. Basis your choice, you need to narrow down on which region would work for you better. Here are the three basic suggestions that I give to people –
- If you are looking for a vibrant experience on beaches, with lots of water sports, food, parties etc – then North Goa is the place you need to be in.
- If you want an ideal mix of beaches, heritage and other adventure sports like rafting, hot air ballooning, snorkeling etc, then maybe Panjim would be ideal. This is because it is better connected to all possible areas that offer you these.
- Maybe you just want to relax on the beach, not do too much and nor be lost in the crowds, then – South Goa it is.
This is not to say that each area is exclusive. My suggestions are just an attempt to maximize your experience in Goa and not spend too much time on the road traveling between places.
Duration of your stay
I know of a lot of people, including myself, who spend more than 5 days in Goa and who are keen to do a lot of different things here. What worked for me in this case, was splitting my stay between two regions in Goa. I booked two different hotels in Goa – one in North Goa and one in Panjim. The one in North Goa helped me spend enough time on the beaches and enjoy the water sports there. The one in Panjim ensured that I could try out the other activities like Spice Plantation tour, a visit to Old Goa, heritage walks etc. This also, helped me save time that I would have otherwise spend running between these attractions.
However, on another occasion, we just had a long weekend to spare and did not want to do too much. So we drove into South Goa, booked ourselves into a nice resort and spend both the days exploring this area.
Hence, depending on your stay duration, you might want to consider different areas to book your hotel.
Best Localities for Hotels in Goa
North Goa and South Goa are huge in terms of their spread. Some places are extremely crowded while others too, secluded. In North Goa, I generally recommend Candolim and Vagator beaches for a stay. Both these are not-so crowded beaches and yet not secluded. Candolim is quite close to the action on Calangute and Baga beaches. Vagator on the other hand, is close to Anjuana beach and is a little more serene. Personally, I find Calangute and Baga beaches too crowded and I would rather just visit them, than stay on them.
In South Goa, Majorda, Palolem, Colva and Varca beaches are some good localities to pick a hotel in.
Booking Hotels in Goa
In terms of prices, all these regions have enough choices for budget travelers, luxury travelers and mid-priced family stays. Most of these hotels and home stays are available on the popular booking websites. There are plenty of deals that you can avail of when booking these hotels in Goa. From free drops and pick-ups to private tours, dinner by the pool. free upgrades in rooms, complimentary water sports activity -.the hotel offers are quite competitive. Remember to check out the reviews of these hotels on various websites before booking them.
After you have booked a hotel in Goa, please ensure that you confirm the booking either by calling up the hotel directly or through your agent. Goa has a huge influx of tourists and travelers and hence, it is not surprising that sometimes these hotels are overbooked. Best to be on guard with your voucher.
Most hotels in Goa claim that they are close to the beach. Close to the beach may mean that it is 1 km walking distance from the beach and not necessarily on the beach. If you are keen on a beach hotel, make sure you confirm this with either the hotel or the reviews of the hotel before booking it.
October to April end are the peak tourist months in Goa. However, as per me, anytime in Goa is good time. Even the monsoons in Goa have something nice to offer. Don’t believe me – take a peek at this post of mine that promises you a good time in Monsoons.
Message me and let me know if this clears your confusion on where to book for hotels in Goa. If you have any more questions, comment in. Will definitely try to answer those.
In case you are working on a budget for Goa, here is a post on Travel costs in Goa that can help you plan better.