Goa is multifaceted. There is a variety of cuisines and restaurants. There is history that lets you turn back pages. And of course, there is a coastline dotted with beaches for every kind of traveller: the backpacker, the party-goer, the solitude-seeker and the nature-lover. As much as I loved Aditya Roy Kapoor and Disha Patani’s Bollywood movie Malang, it really didn’t show Goa in the best light. There’s more to the city than parties (although there is that too!). Don’t let its reputation stop you from scratching the surface because there’s a lot underneath its wild visage. And, if you’re planning a trip with your girlfriends, this comprehensive guide to Goa for women travellers may come in handy.
Where To Stay In Goa
From five-star hotels and luxury villas to Airbnbs and boutique properties, there are lots of stay options in Goa for women travellers. Whether you’re travelling solo or with your girlfriends, you’ll find something on this list.
Luxury Hotels In Goa
Great locations, warm hospitality and all creature comforts–luxury hotels in Goa are your go-to if you want everything from restaurants and pools to spa and concierge services.
India’s first W hotel, W Goa is located by Vagator beach (North Goa), with Chapora Fort just a short walk away. Check into this beachside resort if you want to party it up in Goa–the hotel has a W Insider who can get you into all the hip places and give you recommendations on the best Goan bars to let loose. On days you want to chill at the property, there are four dining options. Head to Spice Traders for pan-Asian flavours and views of the Arabian Sea; The Kitchen Table for local and seasonal plates; clifftop RockPool to watch the sunset and party into the wee hours; WooBar for live music and DJs.
I stayed here a long time ago, when it had just opened, for an editorial shoot and I loved the casual atmosphere and the interesting artworks. There are 121 modern rooms, villas and chalets discreetly spread across the property, designed with the millennial and party aesthetic in mind–the vibe is Goan, vibrant and eclectic. Moreover, there’s also a spa, a fitness centre, a swimming pool, and conference rooms. Did I mention the famous Hilltop dance club is just a few minutes away?
Rs 16,000 upwards per night for two people; book here
Taj Fort Aguada Resort & Spa
Goa’s first luxury hotel is located on the ramparts of the 16th century Fort Aguada. Taj Fort Aguada Resort & Spa covers 46 acres of the hillside on Sinquerim, and the popular Calangute stretch is just a few minutes from the hotel–including dozens of restaurants and cafes. Here, you’ll open the door to your hillside, sea-view villa and breathe in fresh breeze from the Arabian Sea. The hotel offers 143 rooms, suites and villas with garden or sea views, and all done in a local aesthetic–check out the white and blue Hermitage Villa that takes inspiration from Azulejos (Portuguese tiles). With five restaurants and bars, Taj is a delight for food lovers; you can have delicious Goan curry with a fine wine, or just go for a pizza and cocktails. There’s another reason to pick this hotel for you and your girlfriends: Taj’s signature Jiva Spa and its indulgent experiences.
The hotel also features a pool, a kids’ playing area and a fitness centre. Taj is known for its experiences, so if you want them to organise a private tour of Goa or a picnic or a trek, they’d be happy to take care of every tiny detail.
Rs 10,500 upwards per night for two people; book here
Grand Hyatt Goa
Located on Bambolim Bay in South Goa, Grand Hyatt Goa impresses with its Indo-Portuguese architecture. The verdant gardens on this 28-acre property offer a retreat, tucked away from the crowds. The lobby overlooks the beautiful pool and the decor is warm and inviting. Step into one of the 314 expansive rooms and suites, where the furniture and style again goes back to an old Goan home. Ask for a room with the views of the bay or the pool and have your early morning cuppa in the balcony watching the sky change colour in the sky.
The resort can help you have an adventurous holiday, with activities like zip lining, wall climbing, cycling and flying fox. There’s also a space in the resort and a choice of restaurants, cafes and bars–book an Italian cooking class, sip sundowners while watching the views of the bay or enjoy a Maharaja style meal. The resort also has direct access to the beach and a new shopping complex, so you’d not have to go out of the property.
Rs 13,000 per night upwards for two people; book here
Alila Diwa Goa
Set in the background of lush paddy fields, the resort in South Goa is different from all the beachfront properties on this list. All rooms and suites (153) have a private terrace and balcony with views of the magnificent infinity pool on the property (one of its major attractions) or the verdant rice plantations. Apart from traditional Goan food at Spice Studio and the speakeasy style Courtyard Bar, Alila Diwa Goa also offers a Dine In The Dark Experience, which is a three-course meal that lets your senses other than sight lead you. The resort also has a spa; it can customise a wellness programme for you with meals, workshops, art therapy and yoga.
Here’s something interesting for eco-conscious travellers: the resort collaborates with the local community to maintain a stretch of the beach and gives them training and job opportunities. The resort is made using locally-sourced materials and they’ve conserved the trees and paddy fields all around.
Rs 11,000 per night upwards for two people; book here
Boutique Hotels In Goa
These are one-of-a-kind hotels that dance to their own tune. More intimate than luxury resorts, they offer a different experience in smaller and unique properties. Of course, there are so many in Goa for women travellers, but these are my top picks.
The Postcard Velha
Once upon a time, Champakali was a boutique property managed by Rare India. Now it’s a part of The Postcard portfolio. Nestled in Old Goa atop a hill on two acres of plantations, the colonial bungalow has just eight rooms, all designed minimalistically and with the luxury of natural light and verandas. The philosophy is slow travel comes alive here, with experiences, wellness and dining. Leave your phones behind as you explore the colourful Fontainhas area on foot; consult their in-house vaidya and take Ayurvedic massages; and savour home-made dishes like prawn balchao and fish dangar.
Ex-Oberoi President Chopra, owner, The Postcard Hotels, encourages you to indulge yourself, go on nature walks amidst the coconut plantations, and discover the cultural heritage of the destination.
Rs 15,000 per night upwards for two people; book here
This one’s a surprising boutique hotel on Vagator. When I arrived for a work trip, I had never heard of this property, so I was so excited to have a meal at the beachfront restaurant–chicken curry and rice were a delicious lunch. I watched the dramatic sunset over the cliffs and the Ozran Beach. The boutique resort has pool- and garden-view rooms, sea-view rooms, luxury suites and a three-bedroom apartment, all embodied with the cheerful Goa vibes. Casa Vagator also features swimming pools, a massage and steam room and a fitness room.
Note: This one’s on the affordable side, so it gets booked out really quick.
Rs 5,000 per night for two; book here
Ahilya By The Sea
It’s not your regular cookie-cutter hotel. Located in North Goa’s Nerul, Ahilya By The Sea is a home turned into a private retreat, with three villas offering just eight rooms. A charming stay option is the tree house, perched on the 200-year-old banyan tree; it really makes you feel ensconced in nature. From the infinity pool on the property, you can watch the waves on Coco Beach with your morning laps or evening coffee. Bookmark this for a romantic holiday with your partner–imagine waking up with the chirping birds in the tree house or listening to the sounds of the ocean just outside your window; walking in the expansive gardens; having a massage in the spa; and a romantic meal under the stars.
Rs 18,000 upwards for two people; book here
I promise that this will change your whole Goa experience, from drinking cocktails on the beach to leafing through the history of colonialism. The Figueiredo House is a 400-year-old heritage home, in the sleepy village of Loutolim, South Goa, where the famous cartoonist Mario Miranda’s ancestral home is also located.
This house was built in 1590 by the Figueiredo family. The in-house museum and the house gives you a glimpse into the Portuguese family that has lived in this tiny village for centuries; the Belgium chandelier, the artworks, the plates on the walls, the porcelain and the tiles. Just five heritage rooms are open for overnight travellers; again, speaking of the legacy of the house with antique furniture and old school decor (but with modern conveniences of bathrooms and air conditioning). There’s a kitchen that can whip up Goan and Portuguese dishes. Explore the village, visit the church and walk in the paddy fields; this is really Goa in another lifetime.
Rs 5,000 upwards per night for two people; book here
Want to meet like-minded women travellers? Look at these women-only travel clubs in India and start planning your next trip.
Airbnbs In Goa
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Airbnb–it has changed how I look at travel. Goa, of course, has some of the coolest Airbnb properties I’ve come across. These are on my wishlist and might just make it to yours as well.
Note: When I’m searching for Airbnbs on the app, I use the following filters to get best results: Superhost, entire villa and Airbnb Plus (if it’s available) apart from the usual bedrooms, amenities and property type filters.
Owners Hans and Sucheta run a boutique travel company and this villa in North Goa is their idea of a perfect holiday: magnificent views of the paddy fields from the villa; the quiet only disturbed by the birds; reading by a koi pond or picnic on the grass in the landscaped gardens. The whole villa will be yours if you book it. It has three bedrooms, an infinity pool, and a huge lining/dining area with high ceilings and open layout. The villa comes with a cook and a garden, and Hans and Sucheta live in another villa on the property but rarely make an appearance unless invited.
No parties here, you’re amidst nature. If you want to cruise in their luxury yacht, you can inform them and take out Solita in the backwaters to spot dolphins.
Rs 30,000 per night upwards for seven people; book here
Carmen is a Superhost and if you read the reviews, you’ll see she deserves the title (I have met her once and she’s one of the sweetest hosts I met). Named after her daughter, this three-bedroom villa in South Goa is tucked away in the village of Loutolim. She offers it as an exclusive stay to her guests, so it’s perfect if you want privacy. Take a dip in the pool or spend a lazy afternoon on the hammock in the garden. There’s a complimentary full English breakfast, and you can ask them to cook dinner as well. The gazebo is perfect for barbecue or a massage.
Ask the host to give you recommendations on where to eat and what to see–there are little places around the village that are inside secrets and she can help you discover them.
Rs 7,480 per night upwards for eight guests; book here
Another property that’s perfect for families or a group of friends, the two-floor Margarita Villa comes with a private pool and a garden. Located in North Goa, it offers a Goa village experience in the small village of Moira. Both rooms in the villa are on the upper floor and have balconies and the living room opens up to the private pool. The white facade beautifully contrasts with the blue door frames and the colours, as seen in the pictures, are vivid here. Step outside in the garden and you will be greeted with flowers and the happy Goan vibe.
Rs 6,000 per night upwards for 6 guests; book here
Where To Eat In Goa
Oh, the food in Goa! Seafood, of course, is a must-try. Every meal is a delight and you can choose from a variety of cuisines, depending on your mood. The restaurants and beach shacks have delicious fried calamari, garlic prawns and fish curry, and there are lots of vegetarian options everywhere. Teem these with beers, pina colada, or the good ol’ feni.
Mum’s Kitchen, Panaji
In the bustling Panaji neighbourhood, Mum’s Kitchen has been serving authentic Goan cuisine for more than two decades now. They have recently opened another restaurant in Assagao with the same menu. The legendary restaurant takes from Goa’s legacy and brings recipes from, as the name suggests, kitchens of mothers. Take a seat near the windows and watch the koi pond outside as your Pamplet Kodi, Vindalho and Xacuti is prepped up. The restaurant uses colourful clay pots and utensils as part of its decor and there are pictures on the wall that narrate the story of the place. The service is prompt and people are friendly, and they will recommend the best dishes to try here.
Rs 1,700 upwards for two
Martin’s Corner, Betalbatim
Martin’s corner is another local favourite serving the taste of Goa. Two decades ago when Mr Martin retired, he started this place as a corner shop with a few Goan dishes that invited taxi drivers for a fresh, hot meal. Now it’s a restaurant that counts Sachin Tendulkar as its patron. The laidback restaurants is known for its Goan specialities, think sorpotel, xacuti, pork vindaloo and poi, but it has extended its menu to include tandoori, continental and oriental. Try the King Crab or the Martin Special Seafood platter with a pint of beer and you’ll count it as one of your best meals in Goa.
Rs 1,600 for two people
The sleepy village of Assagao has a heritage Portuguese home that whips up dishes from Kerala and Andhra and showcases local artists and their collections. Gunpowder, now a name taken with reverence by its loyalists, is a superb restaurant for dinner if you’re craving stew and appam. The boutique, People Tree, offers an interesting collection of handicrafts, clothes and accessories that you can walk through while waiting for your table. There have been many times when I have been refused a table here; it’s immensely popular, so make sure you have a booking, especially on the weekends.
Rs 1,000 upwards for two people
If you want to skip your hotel buffet breakfast, head to Anjuna to this cafe in a garden that serves Meditterenean and continental dishes. Come here to sample their healthy, light fare, with cakes, juices, sandwiches, coffee and salads dominating the menu. The Portuguese house also features a shop selling clothes, accessories and artefacts, and a kids’ area. It opens early in the morning at 7.30am and also serves lunch and dinner.
Rs 800 upwards for two people
I discovered this hole-in-the-wall, no-frills restaurant on Google when we were going out of our minds with hunger. It had a great rating, but we couldn’t find it in the narrow lanes of Mapusa, and when we did, we were going to dismiss it as shady. Thank God, we didn’t! The teeny, tiny place has only a couple of tables, and no menu. They tell you what they have ready in the kitchen and you pick one of the thalis with the fresh catch of the day. The steel cutlery and cramped space go unnoticed when you have a bite–everyone quietly eats and hurriedly eats the delicious king prawn or pomfret.
Rs 500 upwards for two people
Cafe Amrapali, Bambolim
Amrapali House Of Grace is a boutique hotel in Goa that overlooks the lake. You can book your stay here if you’re not looking for a beachfront experience. Or, you can pop in for a meal by the lakeside. The tastefully decorated cafe has an indoor space and an al fresco area, where you can sit peacefully and enjoy the gentle sway of the waters. The 100-year-old Portuguese villa is on the way to the airport and it’s one of the most picturesque spots for a meal. Ask Instagram!
Rs 800 upwards for two people
Sheela Bar & Restaurant, Vasco Da Gama
This one’s right on the highway, unsuspecting to travellers. The first meal after you land in Goa can be grabbed here, with local dishes (again!) and a chilled beer. Let’s start that Goan vacation with oysters, fish thali or butter garlic prawns. The upper deck has views of water on across the road and you’ll always see cars parked around here, especially around lunch time.
Rs 700 upwards for two people
Vinayak Family Restaurant, Assagao
Frequent travellers to Goa and locals are always excited about eating at Vinayak. I’d say skip the Chinese that they offer and go straight to the Goan fare: vindaloo, xacuti, curries and fish fry. There are loads of vegetarian options too. It’s going to be crowded around lunchtime, so make sure you’re here early.
Rs 650 upwards for two people
Sahakari Spice Plantation, Ponda
There are spice plantations in Goa that offer visitors a tour of the vegetation, educating them about various spices and herbs grown in Goa (yes, more than cashew) and giving them a chance to buy organic oils, herbs and spices. I have had the good fortune to visit one and I had lovely vegetarian food. Since I don’t remember the one I visited, I’m recommending something similar in experience: the food will be served in the area covered with a coconut thatched roof. Sit on a wooden plank bench and eat out of coconut shell bowls. It also offers elephant riding as an experience, but I’d warn wildlife lovers to steer clear off this. Animals don’t have the responsibility to entertain us; besides, it’s not comfortable!
Rs 1,000 upwards for two people; book here
Where To Party In Goa
These clubs and bars are living it up to Goa’s reputation. Live music, DJs, flashy lights and great drinks–if you want to party in Goa, these places will show you a good time. There are thousands of places to party in Goa, but I’m picking the top ones and leaving you to stumble upon something by chance.
A Greek tavern in Goa? Yes, please! It used to be THE place on Vagator seafront and now it’s THE place in Siolim, again with the beach views. The white and blue restaurant is punctuated with swaying palms and it’s always full of revellers in the evening, coming for the sunset views and live dance performances (fire shows are really something here!). Thalassa was started by Mariketty Grana in 2006 to show Goa a slice of Greece, and now her son Spiro helps run the business. The food, of course, is Greek, and the bar menu is extensive. Seafood dishes here are must-try; grilled lobster is highly recommended. Thalassa also features an in-house store with pretty resort wear dresses and accessories. Pro tip: Book a table even if it’s off-season, or you’ll have to stay at the bar.
Rs 2,000 upwards for two; book a table here
Love, Passion, Karma. Hardcore party-goers will love this whimsical club in Nerul, with sculpted statues and in the backdrop of a 400-year-old church. The waterfront club is one of the most popular ones in Goa amongst domestic travellers and it’s packed to the gills after 10pm. You’ll hear trance, Punjabi and Bollywood music in the party venues indoor and outside.
Rs 1,500 upwards for two
Again, a popular option for Indian travellers. The lounge-club in Candolim has different zones: a Goa tavern, a nightclub and a poolside lounge. Settle in one of the poolside cabanas and chill with your girlfriends with a drink in hand. This club is a great option for women travellers in Goa because it offers ladies night every Wednesday. Must-try: Goan delicacies and woodfired pizzas.
Rs 1,800 upwards for two
Cape Town Cafe
The owner of the wildly famous Tito’s, David de Souza has started another club on the Tito’s lane. Cape Town Cafe is a versatile club that broadcasts sports, offers Goan cuisine and plays live music. It’s a huge place with a dance floor, a long bar and a private section. Get here early in the evening to find a good spot and enjoy happy hours.
Rs 1,000 upwards for two people
Soro – The Village Pub
A rustic bar with brick work and industrial feel, Soro – The Village Pub has an indoor bar and a patio. Live music and entertainment are its big pulls, but the ambience, so different from the normal pubs, also attract revellers. Goan fusion cuisine is served here (Soro means ‘alcohol’ in Konkani). Come to Soro on a Sunday when they have a Salsa dancer instructing on some basic moves.
Rs 1,200 upwards for two people
Trance lovers would already know about this hilltop party venue in Vagator. Away from all neighbourhoods, during the day Hill Top looks deserted, but come here on a Sunday evening and you’ll notice all the bright lights, trance music and kiosks for foods and drinks. And crowds, of course. The New Year parties here have garnered worldwide popularity with artists and DJs coming from all parts of the world for 24-hour parties. The open-air venue was founded by Steve D’souza in 1976 and is now managed by his son, DJ Starling, who regularly performs here.
Entry varies; check Hill Top’s Facebook page for updates here
There are also more popular places like Curlies, Tito’s and Mambos if you’re feeling hard-pressed for choices.
Best Beaches In Goa For Women Travellers
Goa’s gorgeous coastline is dotted with beaches that fulfil all promises of the city. Wild parties, check. Quiet me-time, check. Glorious sunsets, check. Laidback beach shacks, check. Adventure sports, check. In Goa, women travellers can seek thrill, find peace, and/or both.
Beaches In North Goa
North Goa beaches draw more crowds because they’re known for their happening parties. There are tons of clubs in this part of the town, and the beach shacks have earned their reputation with good food and great vibes. This stretch starts with Querim Beach and ends with Bambolim.
It has always been one of my favourite beaches in Goa. Its dramatic cliffs and magnificent sunset views from the rocks are worth stopping for. Vagator draws party-hoppers; Hill Top is also in the area. If you need more quiet time, head to Little Vagator Beach (Ozran beach) from where you can see Shiva’s Head rock formation. Thalassa was right on Vagator Beach until recently when it moved to Siolim–something I discovered on my last trip when I couldn’t find it.
Slightly less crowded than the popular Baga and Anjuna, Ashvem is a good place to hang out, sunbathe and swim in the gentle waters. There are no watersports here, but it’s got beach shacks and ocean-front resorts, so you can plan a day trip or stay for a few days in the relatively quieter area in North Goa.
Arambol is an experience. It’s a popular beach in Goa, and has been since the 1960s. It used to be a usual spot for international tourists and home to many parties. Even now, you’ll see travellers on the beach, hanging out at the shacks and buying trinkets from the market. If you’re looking for a wild party scene, you may find it here.
The four beaches form the most happening stretch in North Goa. Anjuna is known for its hippie culture and trance parties, as well as the popular flea market. Baga, too, invites tourists with its nightlife and water activities. In Candolim and Calangute, you’ll find buzzing restaurants and shops. For a budget traveller, these four beaches have inns, Airbnbs and beach shacks and the party scene is really incredible. However, you’ll also find affordable resorts along the coast.
Beaches In South Goa
So this one’s for the women travellers in Goa who are looking for hush-time. Yoga on a pristine beach in the mornings; watching the sunset from the deck of a shack in the evening quiet; walking in the moonlight with nothing disturbing the peace. South Goa is known for its cleaner, quieter, calmer beaches. There’s lots to do here as well, but they cater to a different kind of travellers–those who like the luxury of slow travel.
Drive down to Agonda Beach and you’ll see a contrast from North Goa. There are less tourists and fewer party haunts (but still some because it’s popular) and that’s the beauty of it. You’ll find Instagram-worthy moments as the sun sets on the Arabian Sea; walk on the soft, golden sand of the beach and have your Goa moment. This beach is not for swimming, but there are water sports available. I once stayed right on the beach in a hut, which offered delicious chicken curry, but had salt water in the bathroom (difficult to brush your teeth and sticky when you take a bath). There are resorts right on the beach that you can book too! Did I mention it’s a site for turtle egg nesting? Plan your trip in September and you may actually see it in action.
This is a bit off-beat and undiscovered. Cola Beach is hard to get to, but once you’re in this patch of sand enclosed by forests, there’s no chance you’ll regret it. It used to be completely devoid of any commercial activities, but since travellers have discovered this hidden gem, there have been huts and tents set up, which you can spend the night in. A major attraction here is the emerald lagoon, at the edge of the beach, which offers a private sanctuary surrounded by tall, swaying palms.
Come here for its black rocks and golden sand–Cavelossim Beach in South Goa is again a treat for women travellers who are looking for tranquility. There are beach shacks and a few shops along the beach, but for the most part, it stays devoid of the noise that Goan beaches have become synonymous with. There’s another attraction here for nature lovers: dolphin watching.
It is the colourful bamboo huts that add a distinct character to Palolem Beach. You’ll find a picture perfect moment against the backdrop of these huts canopied by fringed palms. The crescent-shaped beach is safe for swimmers, and there’s lots that non-swimmers can do around here: yoga, dolphin spotting cruises, cooking classes and a quiet party at Silent Noise Club. Want more privacy? North of Palolem is Butterfly Beach, which is hidden by forests and is accessible on foot.
How To Travel In Goa
The city is notorious when it comes to cabs. It’s just so expensive to travel within Goa. Uber and Ola couldn’t survive here and the local cabs can dig a hole in your pocket. So most travellers hire a car or scooty. The tourism department has started an initiative to make travel easier in Goa. GoaMiles is a homegrown app like Ola that lets you book cabs, but my experience was average using this–it worked some days; didn’t work the rest. Your safest bet would be hiring a car and there are tons of operators. Make sure you ask them if they charge extra for airport pickup and drop off.
Best Time To Visit Goa
The season starts in October and ends in April, but Goa is beautifully lush in the rainy season. I have seen its many colours–the party scene around November; the quiet of July and the slow days of February. Christmas and New Year’s in Goa are crowd-pullers, so the city is bursting out of its seams in December, but it’s an adventure if you want to party with your squad. Depends on your purpose of travel, but looks like there is no off season in Goa anymore. Note: Some restaurants will be closed in the monsoon for repairs; beach shacks will disappear, but there’s enough to keep you occupied.