We’ve put together a quick list of our 10 must do things while visiting Lagos, Portugal! This list caters more towards the laid-back idea of good time, as we tend to avoid hanging out in loud, over-crowded bars ’til the wee hours of the night, so if that is the kind of list you were hoping for this might not be for you. 🙂 If sun, food and enjoying the splendors of nature fuel your passion for travel, then read on! (Note: this list is in no particular order!)
Visit Praia Do Camilo.
Make the trek down this intimidating as hell stair case to enjoy some tranquil time on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world! The view from the top is just as breathtaking, so make sure you bring a camera! In all seriousness, don’t worry about the stairs. There are several landings with benches along the way. You can easily stop and rest and take in the new vantage point. I would suggest however, bringing a bottle of water and possibly some snacks. There is a snack bar at the top attached to a restaurant, but this won’t help you when you are half way up and dying of thirst! Keep in mind this beach is tiny and as the tide comes in space gets very limited until it disappears completely. So, try to time your visit at low tide to get the most beach time.
Hike the coastal trails.
In Lagos there were paths connecting the entire coastline of the town. You could choose to walk the streets to get to your destination or through the trails. I would make sure to do this at least once while in the area. This experience offers some of the best views of the region. You will be surrounded by the endless panoramic of the red, rock cliffs and expansive Atlantic Ocean. Along your trek you can admire the Mediterranean climate plant life – cacti, succulents and many flowering shrubs. The hike was fairly easy, and I did it in sandals! Although some areas we chose to traverse were a little sketchy, there was always a safer looking alternative.
Explore downtown Lagos.
We stayed at Costa D’Oiro Ambiance village, (Cosa D’Oiro Ambiance Village) which was maybe a 15-20 minute walk to the center of town. Once there you can enjoy endless restaurants, shops and the beautiful architecture. The iconic mosaic walkways and tiled buildings of Portugal add to the whimsical charm of this coastal town. Marvel at the history and architecture such as the ornate 18th-century church of Igreja de Santo António, the Castelo dos Governadores, and Forte da Ponta da Bandeira. When hungry, you will be overwhelmed with options. We wandered into several places during our stay and were highly satisfied with the food and service we experienced.
Take a coastal drive.
We rented a car while visiting Portugal and drove from Lisbon down to Lagos and then back up to Cascais. I had read some warnings about driving in Portugal, but being from New Jersey I figured we had an edge! The areas surrounding Lagos that we drove through were absolutely relaxing and enjoyable despite some of the very narrow roads that weren’t always paved. Driving west from Lagos out to a beach call Praia Cabanas took us through rural farmlands that were just stunning. Many of the homes had small orchards in the front yard instead of grass like we are used to in the U.S. If you enjoy scenic drives, be sure to add this to your itinerary!
Enjoy vinho verde with fresh caught, local seafood.
Vinho verde may originate from the north of Portugal, but enjoying its fresh, crisp flavor in the south coast region is all too perfect. Seafood is also big all over Portugal, but here in the Algarve while looking out over the Atlantic framed by its beautiful cliffsides is an experience you won’t forget. Various forms of baccalhau (salted codfish), polvo (roasted octopus) and fresh caught sea bream were some of the culinary highlights of our stay.
Visit Sagres, Portugal.
The cliff sides here on the west coast seem to take on an entirely different personality than the south facing beaches. A trip out to Sagres offers a slightly different experience of the Algarve. The waves become fierce and powerful out here such as at Praia Tonel. When the conditions are right this area is ripe for surfing, so the culture of the area reflects that.
Now that we mention it – Surf!
The Algarve is perfect for either giving it your first go at surfing with some of the tamer beach breaks, or for the more experienced surfer. If you don’t plan to surf every day of your trip there is a great surf shop in Lagos where you can rent a board called Magic Board Center. (Magic Board Center) The people working here were super nice and offered some local tips for the surf spots in the area. There are also several other beaches around where you can take surf or stand up paddle board lessons.
Lose your inhibitions!
This one is for the ladies! (Well maybe the dudes too…) There are many little, hidden beaches along the Algarve coast and Lagos, Portugal. I don’t know what the rules are exactly, but many sun bathers here decided to forgo the confines of their swim suit tops and bask in the warm glow of the sun. The intimate nature of these beaches, nestled between towering rocks, makes for as good a reason as any to lose your inhibitions and sun bathe like a European! Go for it, you only live once!
Take a boat tour through the grottoes of Ponta Da Piedade.
You’d think we’d be sick of looking at rocks by now, but nope! Ponta Da Piedade, also located in Lagos, Portugal (see why we stayed here), is one of the most exquisite works of nature I’ve laid my eyes upon. I kept thinking to myself, this is where mermaids must live! It for real looks like something straight out of a nautical fairy tale. Viewing it from solid ground is nice, but for about 10-15 Euro a person you can take an exhilarating boat ride through the grottoes. No need to book anything ahead, oncwe there you can trek down the stairway and climb aboard a local fisherman’s boat and he will take you for a trip that lasts about 30-40 minutes.
Have a sunset picnic on the beach.
Grab a Sagres, the local beer of choice (but hey if beer is not your thing there is no shortage of wine!), and pack a picnic of some meats and cheeses you picked up while in downtown Lagos. Then head towards the beach or a vista of your choosing. Watch the sunset and toast to all the beautiful memories you made while visiting Lagos, Portugal!
Follow this link to see the short video we made of our trip to Portugal!