Goa, like the rest of India, is a blend of the past and present, old and new. You can marvel at age-soaked Portuguese-inspired buildings just as easily as you can savour the interiors of a swanky sea-facing villa. Spend hours pottering around various hipster bars or dine in a plush restaurant under a canopy of stars — there’s something for everyone.
Goa has two popular districts: North and South, both offering strikingly different experiences. While North Goa has an infectious energy and dazzling nightlife, the South likes to keep things low-key, offering a more tranquil retreat. No matter what you pick, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable time in the beach capital of India.
Come along with us as we explore the two faces of Goa. Vibrant or calm, local or world-class, heritage or modern — find a Goa that suits your travel style.
Sandy beaches or Lush greenery
Get ready for an incredible, high-octane experience on the waves with a range of heart-pounding water activities. From parasailing to banana rides, you’re in for a treat. The coastlines of Goa are dotted with popular beaches like Baga, Calangute, Vagator, Candolim and Anjuna. Home to some of the most sought-after attractions in the state, their pulsating, boho-chic vibe draws travellers from far and wide. The bustling display of boats and jet skis along the beaches is proof of the numerous water sports options available.
If you’re looking for a more peaceful oasis, head to the pristine shores of Cola, Colva and Cavelossim. Alternatively, you can take a trip to the hidden treasure of Galbibaba Beach, one of Goa’s best-kept secrets. This beach is a nesting site for Olive Ridley turtles, just 7km away from Palolem Beach. It offers a wealth of wonders for nature lovers.
On the other hand, if you prefer the lush countryside, Goa has plenty to offer. Head into the interiors and discover Goa’s enchanting wilderness. Dudhsagar Falls is quite a sight with four tiers that tumble into the Mandovi River. The water rushes with great force, creating a milky white appearance, and makes it a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts.
Encounter vibrant wildlife at Cotigao Sanctuary when you travel to Goa. Wedged between the borders of Goa and Karnataka, it’s home to a range of species, including gazelles, bears, and flying lizards. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a panther. Bird watchers should keep an eye out for Malabar Crested Eagles and Heart-Spotted Woodpeckers.
Wander through South Goa’s lush spice plantations such as Savoi Spice Plantation, Pascoal Spice Village, and Sahakari Spice Farms. Fill your carts with aromatic herbs and spices, including cardamom, cloves and cinnamon, among other locally-grown spices. Hop on a guided tour for a truly enriching experience.
Vibrant nightlife or Classy dining
Goa features a bounty of bars and clubs with live music or DJs spinning tracks. You can dance to the beats of popular Bollywood music and world-renowned DJs here. Experience throbbing full-moon parties and beach jamborees that stretch into the early hours. There’s never a dull moment when you travel to Goa.
While Titos, Cafe Mambos and Curlies remain ever-popular for their busy round-the-clock parties, there are tons of options for those seeking a quieter retreat. Immerse yourself in a unique experience at the Silent Noise Party hosted every Saturday on Palolem Beach. Enjoy the blissful scenery of the surrounding beach while grooving to your favourite tunes. You’re provided with wireless headsets with the option to switch between genres and soundtracks of your taste.
For a memorable tasting experience, take a trip to Cazulo Feni Distillery. The first Feni (local alcohol made with coconut and cashew) cellar in India, it features a tasting room and a cashew orchard. Olive Bar & Kitchen and Thalassa are also highly recommended for their laidback ambience and Instagrammable sunsets. Cavatina is another high-end restaurant, run by Avinash Martins, who has worked alongside many Michelin-starred chefs. Chef Avinash puts a contemporary spin on traditional Goan and Portuguese flavours.
Flea markets or Luxury shopping
Treat yourself to a day of retail therapy — explore lively bazaars or exquisite boutiques. There are many popular flea markets in North Goa that you can visit when staying at one of our villas. Choose between the Saturday night market in Arpora, the Wednesday market in Anjuna, and Mapusa Market on Fridays. You’ll find a wide variety of trendy clothes, local produce and intricate handicrafts. Further away, the markets in South Goa offer a more exclusive collection. They are less crowded, providing ample room for you to bargain. Popular venues include Colem, Palolem and Caculo, all of which have an assortment of unique trinkets, local art and colourful souvenirs.
If you’re looking to indulge in high-end shopping, there’s no shortage of choice. Some of the best designers in India have boutiques in Goa such as Wendell Rodricks and Abu Jani/Sandeep Khosla. Ashwem Beach features an upscale open-air market, with a lively array of tents where you’ll find elegant local and international designer wear. Or you could pay Paper Boat Collective in Sangolda a visit. It sits inside a charming Portuguese home, showcasing a range of designer textiles, sustainable furniture and stylish art decor. No nasties in Assagao is a firm favourite with the stylish crowd.
Heritage gems or Modern allure
When you travel to Goa, you can choose to witness its past or present. Or better still, experience its unique blend of rich heritage with modern influences. Step into the region’s captivating past as you walk through 17th-century Portuguese forts in Old Goa. Walk through the grand Basilica of Bom Jesus, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Holding the remains of Saint Francis Xavier, its fascinating architecture has earned Goa the title of the Rome of the East.
You’ll also find the impressive Se Cathedral close by, dating back to the 16th century, boasting elaborate chapels and a majestic bell tower. Other attractions include Fort Aguada and Fort Chapora. If you’re visiting during the holiday season, visit ancient churches, join choral services, and make the most of the vibrant winter markets. With Catholics forming one-third of the population, Christmas can be a busy time here.
Contemporary Goa on the other hand is big on modern charm, boasting some of the most boujee casinos and edgy attractions. Experience the lap of luxury at Deltin Zuri at Zuri White Sands Resorts or spend a magical evening at Deltin Royale on Mandovi River. With an exclusive 30,000 square feet of gaming space, it features Poker, Roulette and Blackjack, along with Indian games like Teen Patti, Andar Bahar and Mang Patta. The latest water sports, world-class restaurants with innovative cuisines, and luxurious pool villas with all modern amenities. Modern Goa is a vibe.
Where to stay?
Wherever you choose to stay when you travel to Goa, you’re never too far away from a host of exciting activities. Pick your favourite from our curated list of luxury villas, located in prime spots in North Goa. Three-bedroom villas for small families or large five or six-bedroom villas for groups travelling together – there’s something for everyone. Unwind in your private pool, relax with a rejuvenating massage, and treat yourself to delicious feasts prepared by your very own chef. During your stay at the villa, a team of housekeepers, butlers, gardeners, and security personnel is at your service, always eager to lend a hand. Don’t hesitate to consult them for exclusive local tips and hidden treasures that rarely make it online. You’re promised first-class facilities, top-notch hospitality and unparalleled luxury living.
Discover the captivating beauty of India. Book a villa in Goa with Elite Havens, and uncover its hidden treasures or experience world-renowned entertainment.