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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!
On a budget
- Siolim House is a beautifully restored 17th Century, Portuguese villa in the northern town of Siolim; turned into a charming ten room hotel. The rooms are spacious and the decor includes some lovely tile-work and a collection of furniture and handicrafts from all over India. And the restaurant is excellent. Rooms start at £37 per night.
- Right on Morjim beach, Montego Bay Beach Village offers simple yet stylish accommodation, with air conditioning as standard, set amid coconut groves. It's perfect for those who want a quiet spot, yet close enough to the nightlife for when the mood takes!
- The Alila Diwa Goa is a five star resort with more than 150 rooms, four restaurants and a kid's club. It's set amongst rice plantations and there's a complimentary shuttle to a nearby, and very beautiful, beach.
For fabulous location
- Book the Nilaya Hermitage for a wonderful spot away from the beach. Situated on a hill, with spectacular ocean views, you'll find distinctive interiors, an Ayurvedic spa and fantastic food.
Best Hotels in Goa
Khaama Kethna Retreat Centre 10 rooms from $32Agonda, Goa
A verdant escape in the heart of the Goan jungle. A great value yoga retreat this property has something for yogi's of all abilities. Rooms are simple yet eco-chic; tree-houses include private terraces. There is a restaurant serving Sattvic cuisine and an Ayurvedic spa. Totally uplifting.Eco break - Sensitive to its surrounds a stay here is easy on the pocket and the enviromentValue chic - One of Goa's best value yoga retreatsSpa
Jasminn By Mango Hotels 24 rooms from $43Goa, Goa
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.Value chic - Chic, clean, airy rooms all at a great priceFamilies - Kids menus and pool all ages are welcomeSailing - Kids and grown ups will love the dolphin safariSwimming Pool - Outdoor and kids pool
Ashiyana 31 rooms from $50Mandrem, Goa
Holistic holiday retreat. With accommodation ranging from value beach huts to colourful suites - there is something for everyone. A comprehensive spa providing Ayurvedic treatments and detox packages as well as Sattvic cuisine will leave guests feeling utterly rejuvenated. A luxurious yoga space.Spa breaks - Yoga retreat with excellent Ayurvedic spa - leave feeling rejuvinatedSwimming Pool - Outdoor poolBarefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.Four poster beds - For romantics.
H2O Agonda 17 rooms from $55Agonda, Goa
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.Local markets - The nearby markets have an eclectic array of clothes and jewellery.Barefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Spa
Silver Sands Holiday Village 69 rooms from $58Candolim 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.Value chic - Excellent value accommodation with easy reach of the beachBeach Life - Right on Calangute beachLocal markets - Anjuna night market attracts quite the crowdSwimming Pool - Outdoor pool
The Living Room 27 rooms from $58Panjim, Goa
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.Local markets - The Saturday Night Market in Arpora is nearby.Restrictions on children - Children not permitted at this hotel.Sights nearby - Chapora Fort is just 1km away.Lively - Hip and happening.
Otter Creek Tents 3 rooms from $60Arambol, Goa
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.Sights nearby - Old Goa and its resplendent Portuguese architecture is home to the tomb of St Francis Xavier.Great walks - A nature walk with one of the hotel's guides is an enjoyable activity.Sailing - Set sail on one of the local fishing boats for dolphin spotting.Local markets - Anjuna flea market is a treasure trove of trinkets and curios.Recommended by - I Escape
Casa Colvale 12 rooms from $60Alto 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.Birdwatching - Egrets and many other native bird species can be spotted - as well as water buffalo and crocodiles.Back to Nature - Located right on the banks of the Chapora river the jungle comes alive at night.Local markets - Arpora Saturday night market is a must visit.Cooking classes - Learn the art of traditional Goan cuisine.Recommended by - I Escape
Turiya Villa and Spa 4 rooms from $60Canacona, Goa
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.Hideaway - A little Goan hidden gem located in the sleepy southValue chic - Chic, homely accommodation at an affordable priceSailing - Dolphin watching is fun for allFull of character
Jacks Resort 16 rooms from $61Vagator, Goa
An oldie but a favourite "Mr Jack" is something of a local legend. Providing friendly and attentive service the eponymous resort is perfectly located for both beach and party. Light and airy rooms feature nautical themed bathrooms. The restaurant serves a well-priced local fare. Great value.Local exploring - The perfect location - walking distance from many of Goa's attractionsValue chic - A clean, friendly, no fuss stay - a Goan favouriteLocal markets - The Wednesday and Saturday Anjuna flea market is a must visitGreat walks - Right from your hotel to Chapora Fort
Hacienda De Goa Resort 22 rooms from $66Anjuna,, Goa
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.Local exploring - Well placed for exploring Anjuna, Calangute, Candolim and further afieldValue chic - Spacious and comfortable accommodation at an excellent priceLocal markets - Goa's nightmarket is a popular attraction for foodies and shopaholicsKayaking - Explore the seas by your own muscle power
Montego Bay Beach Village 14 rooms from $67Morjim, Goa
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.Sights nearby - A must in Goa: rent a motor bike or scooter to explore some of its more remote beaches.Local markets - The Candolim night market is ideal for clothing and souvenirs.Sailing - The hotel can arrange a dolphin spotting trip.On the beach - Direct access to Morjim beach
Art Resort 12 rooms from $80Goa, Goa
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.Fishing - Fishing trips from Palolem BeachOn the beach - Palolem BeachBarefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.
Leela Cottages 18 rooms from $82Pernem, Goa, Goa
Located on a popular stretch of beach yet maintaining its privacy Leela's eighteen individual cottages are dotted around luscious grounds. Four posters beds with white drapes induce an air of romance whilst wood-clad bathrooms create a rustic feel. A healthy breakfast spread is included.Romantic Break - Private cottages with four-posters and relaxing hammocks - a great stay for couplesFoodies - Elevar and sister restuarant Sublime are local favouritesBarefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.
Hilario's 4 rooms from $83Kudal, Siolim, Goa
Traditional Portuguese villa and welcoming family home - Hilario's maintains many of its original 19th century features: vaulted ceilings, ornate light-fittings and mosaic tiles. All this plus hotel amenities such as a large pool and yoga shala. A close knit team serve up delicious Goan cuisine.Families - A real family feel with plenty of games and activities (and pets!) to keep little ones entertainedHideaway - An authentic Goan stay away from the tourist hoardsLocal markets - Explore the authentic Siolim market - pick up some South Indian spices to take homeBirdwatching - 'Goa Birding' is located just next door
Anahata Retreat 15 rooms from $86Mandrem, Goa
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.On the beach - Ashwem Beach.Barefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Four poster beds - For romantics.
Joie De Vivre from $86Saligao, Goa
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.Families - Self-catering villa accommodation make this a great stay for familiesLocal markets - Anjuna's night market attracts punters from all overGreat walks - Along Anjuna's golden sandy beachesSwimming Pool - Outdoor pool
Turtle Hill 6 rooms from $89Goa, Goa
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.Sights nearby - Palolem beach nearby - busier beach, Talpon RiverHideaway - Close to the beach but nestled amongst trees.Local markets - Local stalls on the beachDiving - From nearby town Panjim
Alila Diwa Goa 153 rooms from $96Goa
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.Resort - 5* luxury resort, set amongst verdant rice plantations.Restaurant - 4 restaurants, all locally inspiredConference facilities - Elegant ballroom availableSwimming Pool - Diwa Club has it's own lap pool, open air jacuzzi and hot tub.
Paros by Amarya 10 rooms from $96Temba 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.Local markets - Arpora Saturday night market is a must visit for clothes and accessories.Sailing - Boat trips for fishing and dolphin spotting can be arranged.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Barefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.
Vivenda Dos Palhacos 8 rooms from $98Salcette, Goa
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.Families - The welcoming atmosphere and communal dining make you feel extremely welcome: a home away from homeGreat walks - Guided or self-guided tours of PanjimFishing - Fishing in local rivers and the sea.Swimming Pool - Outdoor poolRecommended by - I Escape, Fodors
Casa Susegad 5 rooms from $98Goa, Goa
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.Fishing - Experience fishing on a local boat from Isla de RacholHideaway - An oasis tucked away in a small villageBack to Nature - Surrounded by wildlife and natureCooking classes - Hosts offer cooking classesRecommended by - Fodors, I Escape
YogaMagic Eco Retreat 9 rooms from $110Anjuna (Goa)
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.Local markets - Nearby Anjuna flea market is an absolute must visit.Sights nearby - Anjuna Beach is just a five minute taxi ride away.Restrictions on children - Over 18s only.SpaRecommended by - I Escape
Ahilya by the Sea 9 rooms from $113Goa, Goa
Charming villas tucked away amidst coconut trees and lush vegetation. Choose from two sparkling pools with plenty of sun loungers, verdant gardens and a tree-top spa in which to relax. Homely rooms are packed with antiques. A healthy breakfast is served and other meals are on request. Delightful.Hideaway - The perfect place to experience 'Old' Goa - away from the hordes of touristsLocal markets - Nearby Candolim is great for shoppingSights nearby - A day trip to Turtle Beach is a mustSwimming Pool - Outdoor poolRecommended by - I Escape
Vivanta from $114Goa, Goa
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.Local markets - Panaji is the state capital and there are Latin and Portugese influences here.Sailing - Go out on a boat on the Mandovi river, or visit a floating casino!OpulentSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor
Siolim House 10 rooms from $118Siolim, Goa
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.Swimming Pool - 12.5m outdoor pool with separate children's area.Cooking classes - Learn to make authentic Goan dishesGreat walks - Guided walks on requestFishing - On the Siolim riverRecommended by - Fodors
Elsewhere from $118Mandrem, Goa
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.Sailing - The Solita yacht is popular for a day trip during which you can spot dolphins or go fishing.Great walks - Along the almost deserted white sandy beaches.Local markets - Good for local colour.Seaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Recommended by - I Escape, Fodors
Kaju Varo 5 rooms from $122Morjim, Goa
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.Sailing - Spot some dolphins and visit local beaches.Sights nearby - Chapora Fort is just a short drive away.Local markets - Good for local colour.Barefoot Luxury - For total relaxation.Recommended by - I Escape
Taj Exotica 140 rooms from $185Goa, Goa
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.Sights nearby - Bird sanctuaries, temples and churches, spice planatationBirdwatching - NearbySeaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.Swimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor
Aashyana from $220Candolim, Goa
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.Families - Made up of two villas and three cottages this property is ideal for families.Beach Life - A short, scenic walk from Candolim beach.Sights nearby - Explore Fontainhas, the old quarter of Goa's capital Panjim. Make sure to visit Adilshahi Palace.Fishing - Catch a fish supper. Hotel can arrange fishing and dolphin spotting excursions.Recommended by - I Escape
The Leela Goa 199 rooms from $241Goa, Goa
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.Romantic Break - Spoiling rooms, honeymoon packages, candlelit dinners on the beach and an indulgent spaSights nearby - The churches of Old GoaOpulentSeaside - Ideal for a seaside holiday.
Nilaya Hermitage 11 rooms from $247Arprora Bhati, Goa
A lovely, secluded boutique hotel in the hills of North Goa. Peace and quiet, superb food and a spectacular jungle setting. Mediterranean accents include pops of colour whilst modern art gives the place a bohemian feel. A quirky little hideaway within easy reach of Goa's best beaches.Romantic Break - Secluded rooms and a hilltop location make this property perfect for couples looking for a complete escape.Views - Fabulous views over the Arabian SeaLocal markets - Mackies Saturday night Bazaar in Arpora or less touristy Friday market in Mapusa.Full of character - The concept was inspired by Arabian Nights and Moorish architectureRecommended by - I Escape