Conquered by Portuguese merchants in the 16th century, Goa’s cultural heritage is evident in the crumbling old European-style villas and churches that dot the state. The modern face of Goa, however, is equally well represented—in the beach side shacks serving cold beer and the fresh catch of the day, globally-inspired restaurants, unique concept stores and boutique hotels.
Paper Boat Collective: Housed in a charming bungalow, this concept store stocks clothing and accessories by various Indian designers, handmade soaps and bath products, home décor items, and even locally-sourced Indian coffee beans.
Sacha’s Shop: This “curious little shop” in owner Sacha Mendes’ family home has become quite the Goa institution over the years. Stocking a handful of carefully-selected Indian designers such as Savio Jon, Tilla and 11.11, the shop also offers an eclectic mix of artifacts, accessories, stationery and whatever else catches Mendes’ eye.
The Shop by Nana Ki: This Indo-French pop-up shop on Ashwem Beach only runs during peak season (November through April) but is a favorite of locals for its colorful kaftans, accessories and jewelry by a mix of Indian and international designers.
Shivan & Narresh: Pay a visit to India’s most prolific beachwear designers to scoop up vibrant swimsuits, cover-ups and accessories. The designer duo has multiple locations at hotels across Goa—at the Marbela Beach Resort, The Leela, Taj Exotica, Taj Khazana and Taj Fort Aguada.
Tia’s Shop: Pop in to pick up a swimsuit, kaftan or summer separates and stay for a quick bite at Natti’s Naturals, an organic café housed in the same heritage Portuguese building.
Artjuna: Housed in an old Portuguese home with an adjoining garden, this spot is part-lifestyle shop (selling handmade leather goods, jewelry, art and more), part events and workshop space, and part-café.
Jade Jagger: Head to the British jewelry designer’s Goa outpost during peak season for unusual pieces whose influences range from baroque to Jaipur to insignias.
Ashwem Beach, North Goa
Saturday Night Market: This expansive outdoor flea market sells everything from Indian spices to rugs to silver jewelry. There’s also live music and a variety of food and drink stalls.
The Space Goa: Billed as a “holistic sanctuary,” this center hosts teachers and healers from all over the world and also contains a garden café and series of little shops selling items like essential oils, handicrafts and jewelry.
The Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts: This massive multi-disciplinary arts space houses several exhibition galleries, workshop spaces and studios, as well as an amphitheater and outdoor café.
Black Sheep Bistro: Globally-inspired cuisine, seasonal ingredients and handcrafted cocktails make this spot a local favorite.
Thalassa: A visit to Goa is incomplete without a meal at this airy Greek restaurant, famed for its authentic, fresh and hearty fare (and stunning seaside view).
Sublime: This humble beach shack serves up some serious food—think blue cheese-stuffed beef fillet, chorizo-encrusted sea bass and red wine-stewed lentil ratatouille.
The Rice Mill: Stop by this café, located in an old rice mill, at any time of day for a coffee, glass of wine or a meal crafted entirely from locally-sourced ingredients.
Palm Grove Beach Resort: This boutique resort, with 14 bungalows on the beach, offers penthouse and villa options for larger groups.
Marbela: Book yourself into one of Marbela’s luxury tents, surrounded by lush greenery, for a unique experience.
Vivenda del Palhacos: This quiet hotel, housed in a beautifully-restored heritage home, is the perfect spot for a relaxing vacation.