North Goa vs South Goa: Where Should You Go First?

A puppet stall in Anjuna Market, Goa
A puppet stall in Anjuna Market, Goa | © Robert Preston Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Goa is the smallest state of India, yet it packs a wallop in terms of sightseeing, adventure, nightlife, food, accommodation and fun activities. But where should you go first – North Goa or South Goa? Both are unique and beautiful in their own way. Lively North Goa is all about nightlife and shopping, whereas South Goa has unblemished beaches, scenic drives and tranquillity. If you’re wondering where to stay in Goa, check out this rundown on what you’ll find where.

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Places of interest

Goa is dotted with numerous places of interest that date back to the Portuguese era and are completely mesmerising.

If you want to shake hands with the past, North Goa is perfect, as it features Portuguese structures, like the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its baroque architecture and rich past that will enchant you completely. Other historical and architectural marvels in North Goa include Se Cathedral, Chapora Fort, and Fort Aguada.

Fort Aguada Lighthouse Monument

If you want to explore the length and breadth of Goa’s wildlife and indulge in adventure activities amidst thick forests, South Goa is good for you. South Goa features several wildlife sanctuaries that are home to a plethora of flora and fauna. Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary and Dudhsagar Falls are a must-visit.

View of the Dudhsagar Falls

Beaches

This smallest state of India is not short of picturesque beaches offering stunning views of the sunset that are a feast for the eyes, and ample adventure activities to satiate the adrenaline junkie.

If you want to engage in water sports, North Goa is perfect. North Goa is home to numerous beaches that exude a hippie vibe and are ideal for water activities, like parasailing, banana rides, paragliding, kayaking, scuba diving and more. Some of the popular ones are Vagator beach, Calangute beach, Anjuna beach and Baga beach.

Baga beach in Goa, southwest India

If you want scenic beauty and tranquillity, South Goa is the place to be. South Goa is home to the best secluded, rustic and pristine beaches that offer serene environs, relaxation and natural beauty. A few popular ones are Palolem beach, Colva beach, Butterfly beach and Benaulim beach.

Palolem Beach in Goa, Konkan, India

Nightlife

Another thing that comes to mind when talking about Goa is its lively nightlife! Right from the time when the sun goes down and the stars light up the sky, to the moment moon bids adieu, there is a plethora of things to do in both North and South Goa.

If you want to party all night long, North Goa is the place to go. Well-known for its full-moon parties and beach parties that continue until the wee hours of the morning, this region of Goa has numerous happening nightclubs, like The Bollywood Club- by Titos, Cafe Mambos, Curlies, etc. where you can dance the night away to popular DJs. Plus, there are an endless number of offbeat things to do at night-time in North Goa, like a bike night ride, cruise tour or trying your luck at casinos.

Cafe Mambo, Calangute, North Goa

If you want silent parties, South Goa is a good choice. South Goa boasts ‘Silent Noise Parties’ that are held every Saturday on Palolem Beach.

Retail therapy

A trip to Goa in incomplete without indulging in some retail therapy! The state is home to numerous flea markets that will satisfy shopaholics.

If you want to take the real slice of Goa to your home and at pocket-friendly prices, North Goa wins any day. It is brimming with colourful flea markets that sell everything from clothes and accessories to souvenirs, handicrafts, pottery and local produces at dirt cheap prices. The markets of North Goa are crowded and lively. Saturday Night Market in Arpora, Anjuna Market on Wednesday, Mapusa Market on Friday and Bicholim are the popular ones.

Wednesday Flea Market in Anjuna

Food and drink

Goa has been influenced by a mélange of cultures, including Portuguese, Hindu and Muslim. This is reflected in its cuisine.

If you want to enjoy gourmet Goan food and drink with a spectacular view, North Goa is the place to go. North Goa is replete with amazing cafes and beach shacks offering a variety of gastronomic options. Savour the specialties of Goa at the following places: Calamari Bathe & Binge, Thalassa, Baba Au Rhum, Britto’s.

Thalassa restaurant, Vagator

Accommodation

Goa has much picturesque beauty, and many relaxing and fun activities. Plus, this party capital of India provides overwhelming hospitality. It is home to numerous accommodation options suitable for all budgets. But where are the best places to stay in Goa?

If you want a budget holiday, North Goa has great options. North Goa is brimming with affordable hotels, resorts and beach shacks that offer beautiful views and are accentuated by excellent service, friendly staff and delicious food.

Alila Diwa Goa

If you want lavish and tranquil holiday, South Goa is perfect for you. South Goa is characterized with opulent accommodation options that provide utter luxury and serenity amid the stunning backdrop of beautiful beaches and lush greenery.

Crowd

If a lively atmosphere and regular large crowds are what draw you to Goa, head North. If you’re keen to get away from the crowd and find peace and quiet, try South Goa.

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