Famous for its vibrant beaches, psychedelic parties and lively nightlife, Goa is quite rightly called the party capital of India. However, there's more to Goa than just parties and beaches. The erstwhile union territory officially became a state, albeit the smallest state of India on May 30, 1987, after which it was divided into two districts for easier management – South Goa and North Goa. So where should you go first? Here are some points of differences that will help you decide better.
1. Beaches: Party it up or soak in the quiet sun
Goa has numerous picturesque beaches in both parts. However, the beaches on both sides have a different vibe and cater to different needs.
The beaches of North Goa are happening and electrifying. They are a party animal's heaven. Home to numerous cafes and shacks, beaches here certainly attract more people than South Goa. If you love being surrounded by people, and a jovial atmosphere, you should definitely visit North Goan beaches. However, be prepared for a downside: the beaches here are not as clean as the ones in the south.
Best beaches in North Goa: Candolim, Baga, Anjuna, Calangute, Vagator, Morjim, Arambol, Sinquerim
South Goan beaches are secluded and tranquil. They are great if you just want to engage in activities such as yoga, meditation or just want to chill by the beach in peace. The beaches are clean, quiet and are mostly frequented by foreigners. The golden sand beaches are perfect for witnessing sunsets.
Best beaches in South Goa: Agonda, Palolem, Butterfly, Patnem, Cola
2. Places to visit: Historic retreats or wildlife wonders
North Goa is a testament to its Portuguese past. Churches, cathedrals, and houses demonstrating the Baroque architecture, this part of Goa won't fail to impress a history buff. You can also explore some wildlife sanctuaries, if history doesn't interest you.
Best places to visit in North Goa: Basilica of Bom Jesus, Chapora Fort, Fort Aguada, Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary, Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary
With more than 400 species of birds and over 3,000 different species of plants and flowering trees, Goa in general and South Goa in particular is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and adventurers with its distinct flora and fauna. From observing Olive Ridley sea turtles to long beaked dolphins, you can have an exciting wildlife experience in South Goa. Like North Goa, there are many churches to visit here too, albeit they're newer and do not hold as much historic significance as North Goan churches.
Top places to visit in south Goa: Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Dudhsagar Falls, Rachol Fort, Cabo da Rama, St. Xavier's Church
3. Food and drink: Scrumptious street food or lip-smacking luxury
The most exciting part about travelling is trying local cuisine. Goa is famous for its scrumptious seafood. But there are a lot of things to try for vegetarians too! North Goa is great for street-food lovers. With beach shacks to cafes, there are plenty of places to go to satiate your cravings after a long day of travelling. Definitely try prawn and beef dishes. Do not miss Food Corner at Arpora's Saturday night market where you can find dishes such as authentic wood-fire pizzas, organic salads, Lebanese delights, sushi, steamed dim sums and crispy spring rolls.
Best places to eat in North Goa: Britto's, Curlies, Infantaria, Purple Martini, Thalassa, Basilico
South Goa might not sate your street food cravings as much as North Goa would, but you'll be rewarded with lip-smacking food and exquisite views at a lot of places. One such place is The Fisherman's Wharf, one of the best places to eat in South Goa. You'll find a lot of restaurants serving Portuguese-Goan dishes. Don't miss this golden opportunity of experimenting with authentic Goan dishes while you're there.
Best places to eat in South Goa: The Fisherman's Wharf, Martin's Corner, Nostalgia, Ignia, Magic Italy
4. Nightlife: Rave parties or silent noise parties
Other than its vibrant beaches, Goa is famous for its nightlife. Both South and North Goa have something to offer to its visitors. A trip to Goa is incomplete without enjoying its nightlife.
North Goa is famous for its nightclubs and rave parties that are bustling with young people, foreigners and talented DJs.
Best ways to enjoy nightlife in North Goa: Try your luck at Deltin Royale Casino, go clubbing at Tito's, Club Cabana or Cafe Mambo's, go for a cruise tour, visit the Arpora Saturday-night flea market
Unlike its northern counterpart, South Goa is a little less happening in terms of parties and nightclubs. Nonetheless, South Goan nightlife has its own charm. There are silent noise parties, where people gather and listen to their own music with headphones on.
Best ways to enjoy the nightlife in South Goa: Enjoy Silent Noise party at Palolem beach, dance nonstop at Leopard Valley, stargaze near a beach.
5. Shopping: Crowded flea markets or quaint hipster stores
What is a trip to a place if you don't even take back home some souvenirs to remind you and others of your travels?
Head over to North Goa's flea markets to get souvenirs at throw-away prices. From clothes, jewellery to wooden craft, you can get a lot at a bargain.
Best places to shop in North Goa: Saturday night market in Arpora, Wednesday market in Anjuna, Friday market in Mapusa and Bicholim.
South Goan markets are not as crowded and lively like those of North Goa but this gives you a chance to shop patiently while testing your bargaining skills at the same time.
Best places to shop in South Goa: Margao market, Vasco's municipal market.
Being a tourist hotspot, Goa has numerous options for stay. Whether you're looking for budget accommodation or wanting to splurge, Goa has it all.
If budget is your priority, you should head over to North Goa as they have an abundance of budget stays.