A Guide to best places to pick Hotels in Goa

posted in: Tips, Goa, India, Stays | 98

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?

Hotels in Goa, along the beaches
Hotels in Goa, along the beaches

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.

North Goa

Fort Sinquerim in North Goa

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.


Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church in Panjim, Goa
Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church in Panjim, Goa

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.

South Goa

Palolem Beach in South Goa

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

Basilica of Bom Jesus, 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

Hotel Panjim Residency, a hotel in Goa that is centrally located in Panjim

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

Around Fort Aguada in North 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.

Santana Beach Resort in North Goa – right on the Candolim beach

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.







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98 Responses

  1. 2travellingsisters

    This is a perfect guide for the first time visitors to Goa! So far we have only experienced the beach and party life in Goa, cant wait to see what Goa has to offer during monsoon..:)

    • Ami

      🙂 Time to book your tickets to Goa…though this time for the other stuff ;). Thanks for stopping by

    • Ami

      Ooh, I think you need to check out the Goa beyond its beaches – with its heritage sites and nature 🙂

  2. vishalbheeroo

    Personally, I love Palolem and stayed for 2 days there when I reached on New Year eve. It’s such a lovely place. I also visited the Our Lady Immaculate church. It’s totally awesome.

  3. Joanna

    I know a lot of people who go to Goa almost each year to enjoy the beauty of the beaches there. I think this guide could be very useful for them. For me, the best choice would be a hotel right near the beach 🙂

  4. saumynagayach

    Perfect guide for all the first timers. I have been to Goa once and I completely agree that hotels/resorts around Candolim and Vagator beaches offers the best amongst the rest. Also, lovely pictures as usual. 🙂

  5. Mar Pages

    All I’ve heard about Goa is the parties. It’s really nice to see it from a different angle. I didn’t realise how huge it was. Now I really want to visit.

    • Ami

      Thanks. Goa is a box full of surprises, especially once you go beyond the obvious. You really need to check it out. 🙂

  6. Sarah

    Beautiful pictures! Especially the first one – reminds me of the Meereen in the Game of Thrones! Haha 🙂 Sorry, it’s the GoT geek in me. I was meant to go to India some time ago before plans fell through and Goa was actually on my list! Now I want to start planning again!

    • Ami

      Definitely. Goa is a lovely destination that you should not miss, especially if you are a GoT fan 🙂

  7. verushka143

    Goa looks and sounds amazing. I think I would stay on the North for the Sunburn festival before heading South. Thanks for the tips and guide on booking. I am looking forward to ticking Goa off my #BucketList.

  8. Neha Verma

    Wow Ami..looks like you have covered Goa thoroughly. I have been to both north and south goa but only to few beaches. There is so much more to do and experience. This is one place even my toddler enjoyed the most so far

  9. Jesper, The Biveros Effect

    We discussed going to Goa earlier this year but ended up in The Gambia instead. Being reminded of it when viewing your post and feeling a small urge to book a new trip. Maybe we should consider a relaxing vacation soon, would probably prefer southern Goa if it is a bit more secluded. 🙂

  10. ckaway

    Nice advice and information on Goa. I have never been as it is a bit difficult to get to from U.S. Not to say I wouldn’t go there because I totally would. And then I will have this helpful post to assist me.

  11. Joi

    Nice, Goa looks like a nice place to stay
    I love traveling but I’ve never been in India,
    I like the hotel room too, nice traveling pictures.

  12. Dane

    Amazing photos! Goa looks incredible! It has been on my list for so long but I have just never gotten round to it for some silly reason.

    • Ami

      The South Goa beaches are a little more tranquil and devoid of crowds. Definitely an experience to have. Hope you get there soon Christine.

  13. Doreen Pendgracs

    Wonderful post about Goa, Ami. I’ve not yet been to India, but you’ve certainly shown me some images that make me want to go.

  14. Mr Mike

    Great info about Goa! I’m heading there in April and will check back here before booking my accommodation. Good to know that many places are up to 1 km away from the beach. I’ll have to make sure I get beachfront!

    • Ami

      Yes, a lot of them say on the beach, when they mean 1 km walk from it. Just ensure you sort that out. Thanks for stopping by.

  15. Chris

    LOL, I would consider 1km close to the beach! 😉 I have legs, what better way to use them than with a lovely stroll to the sea

    • Ami

      LOL…I am with you on this but a lot of them promise you beach front while they mean that they are quite away from the beach. That is what you need to ensure you are clear about. 🙂

  16. Louiela

    You just help me decide to visit Panjim 🙂 When I hear Goa, what comes to my mind are beautiful beach, now I know that it is a quite big state..Thanks for your post, great guide when visiting Goa.

    • Ami

      Glad to be of help Louiela. Hope you have a good time in Panjim. It will be a good hub for all the activities that you want to do. You can even get a beach acco here on Miramar beach

  17. Sandy N Vyjay

    Wow! The list is really helpful. You made it so easy to decide the right place to stay. one should choose a hotel with beach view. Thank you for putting it together , and I can see all the fun activities to do when in Goa.

    • Ami

      Thanks guys, it makes it a whole lot more pleasant to spend time constructively doing what you want than in traffic,. 🙂

  18. Chi

    Your post is informative!:) The photos are so beautiful and they make me really want to visit Goa!

  19. sridharsalian

    Have been to Goa and explore many places on myself. In my experience this is great list of hotels one can choose from. Bookmarked it for next trip to Goa.

  20. The Travel Ninjas

    We are hoping to go to India sometime in the near future. We had not thought about Goa but now we are going to have to look into visiting. Although, now we will have to decide which part or parts we would prefer. 🙂 Thanks for the guide. By the way, when is the best time to visit?

    • Ami

      Anytime is a good time for Goa. Though I would say, avoid May and June as most of the shacks and biz are at low then. Monsoons is great as Goa just turns green and the rest of the year – its just perfect.

  21. kidsandcompass

    A very helpful post which I’ll definitely use when I get to Goa. There seems to be so much to do there, I think I’ll have to visit all three areas. And thanks for the pointers on the crowded beaches as I prefer quieter ones.

    • Ami

      Thank you …glad that you found this post useful. There are some nice and peaceful beaches across Goa though more in the South. Hope you get there soon.

  22. Adam, Bite of Iceland

    I’ve been there in January. Oh I miss Goa so much! I will come back for sure 🙂

  23. Christina

    I love how your broke everything down in this post. I found it very helpful and if I were to be going to Goa I now know where I would want to stay and spend my time. It also sounds like the perfect place to vacation, it seems to have a little of everything! Thanks for the inspiration and new knowledge!

  24. Travelpeppy

    Goa is always on top of list when someone visit India. It reminds me of my college days when we used to visit Goa during every vacations. Nice post