If you have been reading my website at endlessroaming.com you would be aware that I have been blogging about previous adventures across the USA, specifically 2012. Ill also write further about other experiences in the USA and other countries I have been to. I am now in Lagos, Portugal and this is an update regarding what I’ve been up to for the last 2 months, and to be honest it hasn’t involved any Roaming about. Ive been enjoying the paradise that is the Algarve coastline. Ill be heading out shortly in an eastward direction to Spain, over the straights of Gibraltar and onto Morocco, but for now back to Lagos…
This is my second visit to Lagos, the first time I visited was in April two years previous and I spent approximately 1 month here. Over the next few years I couldn’t stop thinking about the place so while Roaming the world in 2019, I thought it would be a great opportunity to come back and spend more time here. The town itself is located on the southern coast of Portugal and has an approximate population of 22,000 people though its difficult to get an accurate figure because of the number of European and people from other nations that have become expats or backpackers within Lagos. Its one of the premier tourist towns along the Algarve and is a base for retirees to locate themselves as housing and cost of living is more affordable than where they originally came, most retirees seem to be from the United Kingdom in my experience. There is also the fantastic coastline, weather and wonderful beaches to consider.
To get here If not traveling overland then the easiest way to reach Lagos is Tip Faro airport, Faro a much larger city is to the east and is a two-hour bus ride away. Flights to Faro are very affordable as it’s a major airport for budget airline carriers that are scattered throughout Europe. The bus ride can be a little tedious as most of the road is single lane and you can be held up by traffic, however there is the pleasant coastal scenery and stop offs at some of the other Algarve towns that are located between Faro and Lagos. I checked into a reasonably priced hotel for the week and then headed Marina de Lagos. The marina is very modern and is where yachts and boats are moored,there is a double story complex that is full of bars and restaurants and its a really pleasant place to eat and drink if you want to listen to some live music, do karaoke and watch the sunset over Lagos town. I caught up with a friend there, had a few beers and dinner and then headed back to my hotel for some much-needed sleep. Unfortunately my flight had been delayed by a Portuguese fuel strike.
The first thing Id recommend doing is walking from town along the coastline to the lighthouse. This can either be done by walking all the way along the rugged cliffs overlooking the beaches or if the tide is out then go via the beach though a series of small rock tunnels that is an interconnecting walk along coast. There are nine beaches (I think in total) starting in Lagos itself, Praia Batata, which is at the mouth of the Rio Bensafrim river that runs alongside the city to the Marina de Lagos where all the sailing vessels come in and out of the port. Besides being the starting point for a beach or cliff walk it is also the location for sea kayaking, located there is Forte da Ponta da Bandeira and the beach is the most accessible from town. If the tide is out Id recommend walking along the beach (Praia) to Student beach, you know you when you have found it because of the stone rock arched bridge that overlooks the beach. Unfortunately, you are not able to access the bridge as its privately owned and is used for private parties only. To the right there is a cave to another beach, then another until Praia do Camilo beach. You then need to leave the beach to continue the walk along 20 metre or so cliffs, it’s quite a spectacle.
About 20 minutes later you will reach Ponta da Piedade lighthouse, this features stepper cliff edges and rock formations which can be climbed down though some parts are fenced off as the sandstone coast is crumbling. You can then continue along the wooden walkway to Porto des Mos beach. All of this is very picturesque, crystal clear waters, boats, kayaks and dolphins swimming past. This alone is a reason to come to Lagos. As indicated there are plenty of sea kayak rentals available so if you want to take a look at the cliffs and rock formations its quite easy to go on a guided tour which will take you the same distance as the hike and the added bonus is that you can enter some of the caves that are inaccessible from the beach due to the cliffs being to steep. Personally, I would recommend doing the cliff walk, beach walk and the sea kayak tour to appreciate the coast line in its entirety.
Lagos itself is predominantly made up of white buildings though there are other with vibrant colours such as red, green, yellow, pale blue. The streets within the city centre are cobbled made of white stone which can actually be quite slippery if not careful. There is plenty of restaurants, bars and shopping on hand to please tourists as well as a tent market along the river front. Even though April and May are the quiet season there are still plenty of people about socialising with buskers playing in front of restaurants. Ive actually developed a close friendship with a few buskers that were staying at the hostel I stayed att and they remarked that money earned busking in Lagos is really good. After the first week in a hotel Id moved to this hostel in the centre town where I have a private room for a really cheap price and excellent customer service. I spent a lot of time socialising with people Id met at the hostel.
There were a few events on during my stay in Lagos, one that comes to memory is the Medieval fair over a weekend in late May. There is a castle in Lagos which dates back to the time of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians around 7th to the 3rd century BC and was restored in the 17th century. Today its essentially walls that surround most of the city which adds to the charm of the place, the festival involves dancing performers in medieval dress, barbecue food, lots of different micro brew beer and wine and live music. It was an interesting and somewhat drunken experience and all located in the main square at the front of the Church of Santa Maria built in the 15th century and then rebuilt in the 19th century after the Portuguese Earthquake of 1755 (please refer to my previous blog regarding this earthquake).
To me Lagos is seemingly a retirement village for UK citizens, a spectacular hiking and beach adventure for beachcombers, rest stop for backpackers and expat workers alike but its its also known the rather hedonistic nightlife. As usual when I tend to visit a place somewhere, TIP I frequent one bar to get a better understanding of what goes on and make it my “local” bar. As I’d been in Lagos for two months Ive developed a good friendship with the staff at and English bar (Fools and Horses) which mainly involved watching a lot of football, a lot of lengthy banter with the staff and meeting Portuguese locals and expats that made Lagos and this bar their home, I was very happy with my choice of a local. From there I could head to any number of bars within town, I tended to avoid the nightclubs however there are plenty of them and I was more inclined to hang out with the residence of Lagos than backpacker tourists even though I was a backpacker. Tip and its a pretty obvious one you will always get a better understanding of a place if you hang out with locals. Drugs are also completely de-criminalised in Portugal there is a lot of wild behaviour into the early morning, however I like to stick to beer so didn’t make it out to the 6am closing time like many people.
So apart from some activities such as kayaking, the festival, listening to live music and bars my days usually consisted of being up by 10am, down at the beach till about 3pm regardless of how late at night I was out, siesta till around 7pm, the local bar till about 10pm and onto any number of bars afterwards. I can’t say I’ve had the most adventurous time in Lagos but I certainly has been pleasurable and has given me the time to focus on my blogging, think about what my future potentially holds, self-reflect and make great new friends. In particular I’ve enjoyed hanging out my new busker friends talking music in my local bar, gossip about locals from the bar and meeting up with friends Id met here 2 years ago. When I travel I rarely choose to base myself in a place for an extended period but with its wonderful environment and fantastic people there isn’t to many places I can think of which would be better place to base oneself than Lagos on the Algarve in Portugal.
I have actually thought about moving here long term, rental is relatively moderate for Europe, wages aren’t particularly high (unless you’re a busker which I certainly am not) however the cost of living can be quite low, there is plenty of cash in hand work available and the people live here long term don’t seem to want for much more than a good laugh, friendly people, a roof over their head and the fantastic climate. Being an Australian however and at the age I am now I suspect with Portugal being a Schengen Visa country living in Lagos is not really viable (or legal) long term. It’s a shame really because I really would like to spend much more time here, it has a great local community feel and people genuinely care for each other.
Anyway with sadness I am choosing to leave so now its back to some hardcore backpacking, next is off to Morocco and see what that is all about so tchau for now…..