Idyllic and peaceful, yet also exotic, with its colourful culture and Portuguese heritage, Goa offers an east meets west at the beach experience which draws in about two million travellers a year. Goa is edged by a long stretch of coast along the Arabian Sea, so as well as the party beaches with their huts there are empty lengths where it's just you and the sea eagles. Behind some of these quieter pockets are some of the best places to stay in Goa if you're looking for a serene escape. But Goa really does fulfil that cliche of having something for everyone, and for every budget.
Goa is awash with crumbling, but still grand, Portuguese architecture - the Portuguese were here for more than 500 years so they very much made their mark, in Goa's looks, flavours and even the sounds of the place.
Most of Goa's main towns have at least one beautiful old church, and a number of them are quite something, including the Basilica of Bom Jesus, which is where the remains of St. Francis Xavier are interred, and the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, which was the first port for all the sailors crossing from Lisbon. And if you're looking for colonial treasures you'll definitely want to explore Old Goa.
As well as the Catholic contribution, Goa also has a number of very beautiful Hindu temples and monuments. And for a small state, Goa has an excellent collection of museums and galleries.
Most of the cultural sights can be found in Panaji, but when it comes to living artists, many who have moved here for the bohemian lifestyle, you'll find their galleries dotted throughout the small fishing villages.
Goa is also a great place for animal lovers, there are several wildlife sanctuaries in which you might see elephants, wild boar, Indian bison and sambar.
And of course there's that 70kms worth of near perfect beaches, some of which is also great for diving off.
Don't forget that the best places to stay in Goa are always popular. So get organised and book early!
A great value offering from reliable hotel chain Mango hotels. Chic, clean and contemporary rooms are well priced. Facilities are ideal for families: kids pool and menus plus a play area and activities. The calm beaches of South Goa are within easy reach. A no brainer.
Immerse yourself in village life at this quirky guesthouse, where each room tells a story. The Portuguese style building is elegantly furnished in a relaxed Indian style. The light and airy rooms are individually styled and furnished with bright traditional fabrics and wooden beds. Super chilled.
Located on a quiet beach this property provides barefoot, boutique luxury. Individual cottages decorated in dark wood and bright fabrics and furnishings allow for privacy and feature outdoor terraces with sea views. There is a spa, restaurant and a lounge and bar area, popular in the evenings.
Candolim Bardez,, Goa
A comfortable stay within a budget. Located right on Candolim's attractive beach Silver Sands Holiday Village provides a lively bar, spacious and comfortable suites, plus an inviting pool. It is also home to local favourite Chicago restaurant. All in all a great value stay.
This lively hotel just 600m from Vagator Beach attracts a young, fun crowd. Rooms are modern, spacious and decorated in Indian palettes with private balconies. Choose from outdoor barbecue dining or the shisha bar serving Asian and Continental dishes. There is a pool, spa and activities on site.
Three chic and eco friendly tents overlooking a private salt water creek. Bamboo four posters, draped in white linens decorate the room and tents feature private terraces. There is a guest lounge where wifi is available and outdoor dining serving all meals. Ideal for boutique and beach lovers.
Alto de Porvorim, Goa
This former holiday home provides contemporary living in traditional Goan style. Rooms are spacious and feature locally produced artwork and fabrics as well as private terraces. Food is quintessential Goan. There are two alluring infinity pools overlooking the river and a spa to spend an afternoon.
Specialising in Ayurvedic treatments this 100-year-old traditional Portuguese style villa is a little haven in South Goa. Colourful walls and heavy wooden doors make up rooms filled with art and antiques. There are tranquil gardens with hammocks and authentic Konkani dishes served up on an eve.
Located directly on the popular Ashwem Beach: you couldn't ask for a better location. Classic beach style accommodation ranges from traditional Portuguese houses to thatched beach huts with romantic four posters. All feature private balconies. L'atelier restaurant is popular for its fusion cuisine.
This 18th century Portuguese style villa provides luxury at an affordable price. Spacious rooms are decorated in a classic style, some with balconies all with attached bathrooms. There are two pools plus the popular Romeo's restaurant serving up a largely European fair. Great value, great location.
Tranquil haven just stumbling distance from the sea. The property comprises tents, log cabins and one beach villa. All are air-conditioned with private bathrooms. Whilst the tents are Mughal style the other accommodation is traditional Portuguese-Goan. Perfect for a laid back, budget escape.
This authentic resort comprises 12 unique cottages where you can unwind after a day at the beach. Each comfortable cottage is decorated in a traditional Indian beach style with wooden floors and vibrantly coloured soft furnishings. Relax in your own private sitting area or on the veranda.
A collection of seven self-catered villas providing flexible and spacious accommodation, great for families and groups. Great location and great value for money. There is a large communal pool, plus you are within easy reach of the beaches of Calangute and Anjuna, and their many restaurants.
Beachside bungalows with beautiful sea views. These elegant accommodations, nestled amongst the trees, feature separate seating areas and luxurious bedrooms, elegantly decorated with dark wood, relaxing lighting and beautiful flagstones; beds are sumptuous with silk coverings. Truly zen.
Five-star resort with spa, four restaurants and kids' club. Resort prides itself on luxury for all family members. Exclusive 'Diwa Club' for guests who are looking for a more bespoke experience; offering its own lap pool with open-air jacuzzi. Perfect for serenity seekers.
Temba Vaddo, Goa
Located in Morjim, a more relaxed corner of North Goa, Paros provides luxurious tented accommodation separate villa right on the beach. Unlike other camps, tents are specious, bright and chic in style, decorated in light palettes. There is a wellness spa and restaurant. Barefoot luxury at its best.
An intimate guesthouse, set in lush surroundings, with just five guestrooms. Rooms feature wooden shutters, rustic tiled floors and vibrant decor using traditional Indian fabrics; each with its own theme and individual decorative touches. Immerse yourself in nature at this truly unique hideway.
A boutique yoga retreat upholding eco friendly principles. Its seven chic Rajasthani tents are decorated in the chakra colours. Food is entirely organic, vegetarian and delicious. There is an inviting, naturally filtered pool and power is solar generated. Unwind with daily yoga and meditation.
A fantastic base for local exploration. Rooms feature wooden flooring, atmospheric lighting and plush furnishings. High–tech special touches aid your relaxation and luxury bathrooms feature full-sized tubs to unwind in. A focus on gourmet cuisine at a variety of restaurants. Pure indulgence.
A delightful restored heritage villa in the North Goan village of Siolim. Scrumptious food, great staff and an amazing pool. Ornate mosaic flooring and terracotta or marble bathrooms make the unique decor whilst capacious four posters and antique filled rooms complete the traditional look.
Four 19th century Portuguese dwellings lovingly restored by their fashion photographer owner. A clear eye for design is apparent throughout this unequivocally boutique property. Terracotta walls, cobalt blue bathrooms, cascading muslin draped four posters: a bohemian heaven. Brad and Ange loved it.
Located on a quiet corner of Ashvem Beach, Kaju Varo provides modern eco-lux bungalows for the boutique lover. Modern lines juxtapose against traditional palettes. Rooms are large and feature outdoor showers. The food is a similar fusion of Goan and contemporary European dishes. A zen gem.
A family friendly hotel in Goa, Taj Exotica boasts a private beach and views over the Arabian Sea. Elegantly styled guest rooms, tastefully finished in a classic style, overlook the impressive grounds. Guests are spoilt for choice with six restaurants, outdoor activities and a relaxing spa.
A verdant stroll through lime groves to Candolim beach, Aashyana is a blend of French architecture and Indian tradition. With 19 staff for just the main villa alone, guests do not want for anything. The chef cooks homegrown Goan and Western dishes which can be eaten under the stars. Utter bliss.
This sleek hotel, nestled amongst lagoons offers high-end, contemporary accommodation. With luxurious colonial decor, including sumptuous silk and wood furnishings, rooms feature stunning views through classic shutters. Relaxing spa, ample dining options and 12-hole golf course. Pure relaxation.
Arprora Bhati, Goa
A lovely, secluded boutique hotel in the hills of North Goa. Peace and quiet, superb food and a spectacular jungle setting – who could ask for more!