A rocky beach in Goa

South Goa vs North Goa – which should you pick?

After inhaling the fragrant spices of the Mumbai street markets, admiring the intricate details of the Taj Mahal and rolling across the vast landscape keeping an eye out for the elusive tiger, you’re going to need to unwind. You’re in luck though, as India offers a beautiful and serene balance to the adventure of its main cities: the pristine beaches of Goa.

Typically people visit Goa as a relaxing final voyage after exploring other parts of India. But since most visits to Goa tend to only offer a few days of unwinding, visitors have to ask themselves whether they would prefer the north or south.

Even if you’re not familiar with each area of Goa, you probably already know what kind of beach holiday suits you more – so whether your prefer partying to culture, or fine-dining to watersports, there’s a side of Goa to suit you.

1. Crowds and popularity

If you’re looking for a walk along the beach without a single sole in sight, then we recommend South Goa and its quieter atmosphere. However, if you like bustling streets and beaches, North Goa would more likely be your bag.

2. Sightseeing

One of the reasons North Goa draws in the crowds is that it has a lot more to offer than just beaches. The UNSECO-listed Old Goa is reminiscent of India’s Portuguese past and at one point it was one of the biggest cities in the world (exceeding the population of London or Lisbon).

3. Luxury accommodation

North and South Goa both offer high-end holidaymakers the option of indulgent accommodation. However, the sandy shores of South Goa is almost exclusively scattered with hotels that meet the needs of the discerning traveller, while the North boasts a good mix.

4. Nightlife

If it’s a party you want; it has to be North Goa. Head to the legendary Tito’s Road where the atmosphere is filled with top-name DJs and Top 40 hits, or if it’s a quirk beach bar that is more your scene, head to Anjuna Beach.

5. Watersports

The unruffled beaches of South Goa aren’t just perfect for quietly topping up your tan – they’re also great for beach-lovers who love watersports. Dona Paula is one of the best beaches for adventure with kayaks and jet-skis for hire.

6. Forest treks

South Goa is definitely the option for people after a sleepy beach escape. But if you do fancy a bit of adventure, head inland and venture through lush and monkey-inhabited forests where you might just stumble upon the Shantadurga Temple (the largest Hindu sanctuary in Goa) or Cabo de Rama Fort.

7. Food

India has long been considered a great destination for foodies – and this is where both North and South Goa stand up equally, but in different ways. North Goa is home to many markets and sampling the street food is a must while visiting the towns. In contrast, South Goa is punctuated with rustic beach huts selling seafood and high-end hotels serving up delicacies from a la carte menus.

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Morag Lee

Morag is the resident blog writer at Barrhead Travel. Can usually be found exploring a cruise ship or on a city break.