Looking out over the Marina in Lagos
We don’t normally spend a two week holiday in one place, however when we were planning for this trip, we just wanted to relax, stay still for a while and enjoy some down time. That’s not to say that we didn't explore - I guarantee that I cannot stay put on a sun-lounger for more than two hours!
Whilst many people may choose Lisbon, or the Central Algarve region, around Albufeira or Villamora when visiting Portugal, we chose to visit Lagos, in the Western Algarve.
The Western Algarve has a dramatic, rugged coastline and beautiful scenery. There are many beautiful walks along the coastline and it all feels more ‘rough around the edges’ and natural, compared to some more popular holiday destinations in the Algarve, which are slightly more commercialised, or have more attractions for families and a livelier nightlife.
Lagos' coastline is full of small coves and beaches sat in between the cliff edge
The town of Lagos is traditionally Portuguese and is steeped in history and culture, with old buildings and cobbled streets which you can spend hours weaving your way though. Whilst there are plenty of bars and restaurants to make for a buzzing nightlife, the level of tourism here is not as high as in other areas of the Algarve and therefore, it still oozes charm and character.
The region around Lagos is just as beautiful and there are many places you can easily visit on a day trip by hiring a car, or using the public buses or taxis, making Lagos a great base to explore the area.
Top things to do in Lagos:
Head to the beach
There are numerous beautiful sandy beaches within walking distance from the main town: The largest is Meia Praia (on the eastern side of Lagos), which extends for 4km. You can only reach it by crossing the bridge to the harbour - however this does mean that it is quieter than some of the other beaches. Praia de Porto de Mos is the second largest beach, on the western side of town. The most central beach is the much smaller Praia de donna ana - here you can hire kayaks, paddle boards or take boat tours.
Along the coastline, there are many tiny beaches which can only be reached by steps down the edge of the cliff-face. If you’re lucky, these can be much more secluded and quieter.
The beaches in Lagos are rugged and naturally beautiful
Visit Ponte de Piedade
Ponte de Piedade is a series of rocky cliffs, weathered by the powerful Atlantic ocean. The ocean has chiseled the coastline into a series of grottos and caves - these cliffs are often considered to be one of the best features of the Algarve coastline.
Starting at the Harbour, you can walk all the way along the coastline, marvelling at dramatic rock formations and stopping at the small beaches along the way until you reach Ponte de Piedade. Or, if you prefer, you can catch a bus or taxi to take you straight there.
The caves and grottos at Ponte de Piedade
Take a kayak tour
I would definitely recommend taking a kayak tour and heading out onto the ocean, following the coastline up to Ponte de piedade. The cliffs are stunning viewed from above, but they are even more spectacular experienced from inside! If you’re feeling less energetic and would rather someone else did the work you can also take a small boat tour, which can get you pretty close.
Kayaking to Ponte de piedade
Wander around the town
The town of Lagos is a maze of cobbled streets, and you can spend hours weaving your way through the shops, cafes and boutiques. Wander past the Medieval Castle and 17th century fortress on your way back to the shore.
The main square in Lagos, and strolling along the promenade
Day trips from Lagos
Lagos is a great base to explore the Western Algarve. Most nearby towns can be visited by public transport, like we did, so there's no need to hire a car if you would prefer not to.
Praia de Luz
You can reach Praia de Luz by an easy 35 minute bus ride from Lagos. It is a small resort town, and very touristy - the main feature is it’s promenade, lined with bars, and tourist shops and the narrow beach. It is more of a family destination and is much smaller and quieter than Lagos.
Burgau is a tiny fishing village further along the coast, past Praia de Luz. I wouldn't necessarily make a special trip here, however we walked from Praia de Luz to Burgau along the coastline and it was a stunning walk. It took about 1 hour to walk but it was mostly flat and we stopped for lunch at Burgau before heading back to Praia de Luz to catch the bus back to Lagos. Combining a trip to Praia de Luz with walking along the coast to Burgau made a really lovely day out.
Walking from Praia de Luz to Burgau
Sagres is situated on the most western tip of the Algarve and is open to quite a lot of exposure from the Atlantic ocean’s strong waves carving the cliffside as well as the strong winds bought by the currents. Because of this, the town is popular with surfers and has numerous surfing schools for tourists. If you’re not a keen surfer, then you’ll only want to visit Sagres for the day. There are not as many facilities here - many surfers stay in rental apartments or villas, rather than hotels and there are not as many cafes or restaurants. If you’re visiting for the day, the one main tourist attraction is the Fortaleza de Sagres, but there are many hiking trails along the coastline, as well as beaches to enjoy.
Originally the ancient capital of the Algarve, Silves is steeped in history and is perfect for a day trip. The town is very small but you can fill a leisurely day wandering the cobbled streets and taking in the ancient sights of the castle, cathedral and town hall.
The historic town of Silves
We had two weeks in Lagos, which was plenty. We did explore at a more leisurely pace than we usually do when visiting somewhere, which filled the two weeks, however if you’re the type of person who like to always be on the go, I would recommend 7-10 days spent here would be sufficient, unless you have your own car and can explore further afield.
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