LAGOS, THE ALGARVE, PORTUGAL
Who wants to go the most beautiful beaches like, EVER? Follow me to the Algarve, where you have to EARN your sunbathing by hiking down to the beaches from the tall cliffs! When I was planning my past trip, the one place I was determined to get to was the Algarve, where I have numerous photos pinned on Pinterest. The beaches looked SO unique, and let me tell you the photos DONT LIE!
OKAY, so how do we get to this beautiful oasis? There are a few ways but if you are coming from North America, its a bit more tricky! The closest airport is FARO <about a 40 minute drive from Lagos> OR fly into Lisbon and take the EVA bus which takes about 3.5 hours. There weren't a lot of flights straight into Faro, you generally would have to connect in Lisbon, but we flew into Dublin first, which happened to have a ryanair flight depart into Faro. If you arrive in Faro you are able to take a bus into Faro for less then 10 euro BUT if you are as smart as IAM and booked a flight that arrived in at 10:30pm you will need to take a cab, or a private transfer. As i am panicking while reading that a cab from Faro to Lagos is about 100 euro <THAT really counteracted my $70 cheapo flight from Dublin!!!> I stumbled upon the "Yellow Fish Transfers" webpage. If you pre book a private transfer from Faro, you save about $30 and its worry free. They wait for you at the gate and take you to your hotel in an air-conditioned, wifi connected van. All you have to do is fill in where you are staying, the flight information and your name then pay at the end! It was a great option, and made me feel LESS BAD that I booked the late flight!
I noticed that a lot of the hotels in Portugal were "Apartments" and independently owned. We stayed at the Iberlagos hotel, right on Praia Do Pinhao beach and a 10 minute walk from downtown. It was really nice staying walking distance from everything and all the main beaches/shops/restaurants were so close to each other! I also found the accommodations were very affordable! I think we paid about $70 Canadian per night and had an incredible ocean view. <I literally stood there and stared into the distance like they do in the Bachelor ;) > The downtown area has an "old town, including a castle, the marina, golden sand beaches, winding cobblestone streets and your choice of numerous restaurants & bars. As you walk along the water, you can see the amazing tiling work along the path which Portugal is known for. People here speak english, which is also a bonus for those who aren't fluent in Portuguese!
The ONE THING i was told to do while in Lagos is the kayak tour, and OF COURSE it was "too windy" both days we were here, so they weren't running: My heart shattered into a million pieces. I supposed just sitting on the beaches and swimming would have to be sufficient. I will say: beaching here is FUN! The main beach in the downtown area IS beautiful, but if you walk away from the downtown core, the beaches are below the cliffs and you actually have to hike DOWN to them! If you have bad knees you may need to either a. suck it up OR b. stick to the main beach. It was actually kind of crazy how steep it was, but when your down there, you feel mini standing within all the crazy rocks. The water was a little chilly in May, but we still went in! If you get tired of one beach, you can easily hike to another beach. While your hiking from one beach to another, the views are incomparable! Pack your selfie stick because your going to be snapping up a storm! I probably took the SAME picture 25 times, feeling like it couldn't capture how amazing it was!
If yours looking for a little adventure while your in the Algarve, you may want to check out Sagres. Since we weren't able to do the kayak tour, we wanted to find something else to do. We took the Eva bus to Sagres around 3 o'clock and it took about 30 minutes, and we got a great side tour of the Portugese country side! <this is the the same bus which you can take to Lisbon goes all through out the Algarve-the bus station is located near the marina> For anyone who is into surfing, this may be heaven for you: I hear the surfing here is amazing, although I have never tried it-its on the bucket list! When we arrived in Sagres, we rented bikes right where the bus dropped us off for 10 euro each and took a little adventure! We biked down to the marina and then headed towards Cabo de Sao Vicente. This is the most south western point of Europe-you can see the lighthouse from Sagres and think you would NEVER be able to bike that far, but it is possible! During our bike journey we stopped half way to one of the craziest beaches I've ever seen-the cliffs were TOWERING over the beach and the surfers were out and about!
Here at Cabo de Sao Vicente, the sunsets are viewed by many every night, and are applauded for their beauty. Unfortunately for US, we biked here and there are NO street lights along this stretch- so if we waited til sunset we would most likely bike off a cliff. The last bus back to Lagos that day was 7:45 so we needed to make sure we were back in time. If you go here, make sure you know when the last bus leaves, to avoid being stranded! If biking isn't your thing, there are other things to do in Sagres such as shopping, dining and taking in the beauty.
After we got back from our biking extravaganza, we were starving!!! Biking 16km will help you work up quite an appetite! The night with ALIVE with people on patios sipping sangria, music playing through out the streets and the smell of seafood wafting out of the restaurant windows. You will have no shortage of dining options. Here is a dining tip since we could have avoided a larger bill: When we sat down, the server placed a few random dishes on the table in front of us and we were starving, so they disappeared within minutes. After we got the bill we noticed it was about $15 more then it should have. We then learned that is wasn't free (which may have been obvious to some, but in Canada nothing placed on a table is generally billed, unless stated before hand!) In hindsight we should have inquired if they were included in the bill before we inhaled them! One more tip: alcohol is generally cheaper then water, this is a perfect excuse to let your hair down! 1 euro for a bottle of beer, like seriously!!
The next morning we had an early bus to Lisbon, which left from the bus station by the marina. We booked our bus in advance to avoid it being sold out, since i read online they tend to book up in the summer months. The buses had wifi and it was quite roomy so the 3.5 hour drive wasn't as painful. As I drove away from Lagos, i felt a little sad since I LOVED everything about it, but i will be back!!!