Goa is a heady cocktail of picturesque beaches, gently swaying coconut trees, delectable seafood, quaint heritage spots, casinos, clubs and lively markets. Despite its small size, the state packs a unique punch for tourists, whether you love adventure or serenity. And the most interesting aspect is that, the state’s north and south sides have different wonders to offer. This can make it challenging to decide which one to pick, when it comes to North Goa vs. South Goa. Luckily, our guide can make your task easier.
North Goa or South Goa – Beaches
Beaches are the heart and soul of Goa. So, it’s natural to compare North Goa and South Goa based on that.
Now, when it comes to North Goa, beaches like Anjuna, Baga, Calangute and Vagator steal the show with their lively atmosphere and the thrills they offer in terms of water sports, street food and heart-thumping parties. The rocky shoreline of Anjuna Beach makes for amazing pictures too. If you are looking to soak in that typical hippie vibe or enjoy paragliding, parasailing, scuba diving or kayaking, North Goa is just what you need.
For those who prize seclusion and scenic beauty over everything else, South Goa is perfect. Palolem, Majorda, Butterfly, Colva and Benaulim are among the top beaches dotting the southern part of India’s smallest state. They have that pristine ambience which helps you unwind, breathe and let go off all anxieties. You can laze around, go for leisurely walks or photograph sunsets as much as you want here. You will also find plenty of upscale restaurants around these beaches, serving mouth-watering delicacies.
North Goa or South Goa – Sightseeing
It’s not just beaches that make Goa what it is. The tiny state has much to offer in terms of ancient architectures (quaint churches, especially), breathtaking forts and some natural gems too. So, how to pick between North Goa and South Goa for sightseeing?
If you want to travel back in time, it will be best to head to North Goa. Here are some of the hotspots you can explore:
- Basilica of Bom Jesus – Situated in Bainguinim, this UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts baroque-style architecture and a sprawling area. The mortal remnants of St. Francis Xavier are housed here.
- Chapora Fort – Looming over the Chapora River, this fort is where the movie Dil Chahta Hai was shot. You can admire sweeping views of the Vagator Beach from this ancient fort built by Adil Shah, a Muslim ruler.
- Fort Aguada – This impressive Portuguese fort was built in the 17th century and adds much charm to the Sinquerim Beach. It is considered to be a Monument of National Importance and comes with a lofty lighthouse.
- Other attractions – Church of St. Lawrence, Chapel of St. Catherine and St. Anthony’s Church are some other tourist attractions in North Goa, owing to their old-world structures, peaceful atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. While the Chapel of St. Catherine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, St. Anthony’s is known for its grand steeples.
Those who are keen to explore grand yet newer churches, or go on a nature or wildlife adventure, should plan a vacation in South Goa. Here are some top places of interest:
- Dudhsagar Falls – Cascading into the Mandovi River, this wild waterfall has four tiers. The force with which the water gushes gives it a milky white appearance, and hence, the name. It draws ardent trekkers and hikers.
- Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary – Located along the Goa-Karnataka border, this sanctuary lets you admire gazelles, bears, flying lizards, Indian pangolins, hyenas, antelopes and even panthers. Bird-watchers can have a great time spotting Malabar Crested Eagles, Heart-Spotted Woodpeckers and more.
- Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary – From king cobras and black panthers to giant squirrels and hornbills, this sanctuary is home to quite a few exotic and endangered species. Situated in the Sanguem Taluka, it has a staggering area of 211 sq. km.
- Churches – Three Kings Church, Our Lady of Hope Church, Rachol Seminary and Velim Church deserve your attention in South Goa. The Three Kings Church, situated on a hill, is a lonely but charming structure that is believed to be haunted.
Also Read: Budget Trip to Goa
North Goa or South Goa – Couples
As a couple, whether you pick North Goa or South Goa for your first or next holiday will depend on what you both like or common interests.
For instance, if you are planning your honeymoon and want peace and quiet, South Goa’s beaches can promise you that. Moreover, you can dig into gourmet delights at high-end restaurants like The Village Square or Martin’s Corner. Even if you want to do something interesting during the evenings, South Goa is famed for silent parties, especially the ones held on Palolem Beach. For your stay, you can pick from plenty of luxury resorts or laidback and lavish properties.
In case both of you like a livelier atmosphere or active fun, North Goa can do the trick for you. You can check into one of the exciting nightclubs or enjoy a full moon party for an exclusive experience after sunset. Café Mambos, Titos and Curlies Beach Shack are popular haunts here. Couples who want a yummy vacation without burning a hole in their pocket can gorge on Goan street food in North Goa. There are numerous beach shacks serving tasty dishes here. Don’t forget the many water adventures you can enjoy in this part of Goa as well. As far as accommodation is concerned, you can pick from a variety of hotels in Goa to suit your budget and still live in the heart of Goa.
And no matter which part of Goa you choose to visit, make sure you taste Feni, an intoxicating drink prepared by fermenting cashew apples. Also, adventurous couples can hit an upscale casino to try their luck in glittery surroundings, be it in North Goa or South Goa.
Also Read: Things to do in Goa for Couples
North Goa or South Goa – Shopping
If you are a shopaholic, Goa can be a paradise for you. Beautiful and unique items, whether you are looking for clothes, jewellery, accessories or handicrafts, are available at eye-catching prices here. So, are you wondering – “North Goa or South Goa, which is better for retail therapy”?
Well, if budget shopping is on your mind, North Goa is peppered with many flea markets to satisfy your pocket and taste. Arpora, Anjuna and Mapusa markets are among the famous ones that you can check out. You can get your hands on pretty trinkets, wooden décor accents, bed covers, dresses and arty bags in countless designs and colours. Plus, North Goa markets are vibrant and full of chatter too, which can be ideal if you want to soak in the local flavours.
On the other hand, the flea markets in South Goa are more about exclusive and tasteful collections rather than prices. However, since the markets are not as crowded as the ones in North Goa, they give you a chance to hone your bargaining skills. Colem, Palolem and Caculo markets are well-known here. From gorgeous handicrafts and souvenirs to clothes and paintings, you will get it all here.
Also Read: Shopping Market in Goa
South Goa or North Goa – what is it going to be?
By now, you probably have a fair idea about where you wish to go, North Goa or South Goa. If a luxurious, tranquil and picture-perfect holiday is your heart’s wish, South Goa is surely the way to go. And if you are eager to taste the old-world flavours of Goa, laugh and party with like-minded souls, and have an awesome time without spending a bomb, North Goa will be your best bet. So, research a little more, plan in advance, and get ready for the trip of a lifetime.