Things to do in Faro, Portugal [Algarve’s Entry City]

Things to do in Faro, Portugal [Algarve’s Entry City]

Faro is a lovely little historical city in Portugal’s Algarve region. It is the entry point to Algarve because it has an airport. Faro is used as a base to explore Algarve’s other beach destinations like Lagos, Albufeira, Portimão, Sagres, Benagil Cave, Vilamoura, etc.

I have this thing for old Portuguese buildings, town centers, family restaurants with chairs on the sidewalks so I highly enjoyed my time in Faro. In some ways Faro reminded me of Lisbon, but thankfully it is tiny and isn’t as touristy. But it did have some of the things I loved about Lisbon.

If you’re wondering how many days you need in Faro, then the answer is two. If you are in Portugal for a short time, then you can reduce this time to one day. It all depends on how you enter Portugal. 

If you’re wondering if Faro is safe for solo women travelers, then the answer is yes. Faro is where I landed before I headed off to Lagos. And this is where I came back a day before I flew back home to Germany. As a solo female traveler, I felt very safe in Faro and overall it was a very easy destination in every way.

Here are things to do in Faro, Algarve’s entry city.

Walk around in Faro & admire Azulejos

Walking around in Faro was a fun experience because I saw some interesting old buildings, artwork and azulejos. Azulejos are painted ceramic tiles that are everywhere on older Portuguese buildings. I fell in love with these tiles the first time I visited Portugal.

Sometimes they are just around the doors and windows but at times I saw the face of the walls covered with them. I photographed at least 20 different ones in Faro.

The time I visited Faro, the city was blooming with Jacaranda tree. I could see purple flower petals on the streets and the air smelled nice.

Here’s an important tip for walking around in Portugal – the old town streets are wretchedly slippery. Be careful with your shoes and wear the ones that are least likely to slip. A friend’s friend fractured her ankle because she slipped.

In my next points I talk about specific areas of Faro that you can discover by walking. But I’d still like to recommend that you don’t limit your walking to just those sections because I saw so many interesting sights in the most random places too.

An Old Building in Faro, Portugal

Stop at a nice place for a coffee and Pastel de Nata and enjoy the warm weather that Faro is known for. I loved every bit of my time there and you will too.

Arco da vila

Arco da vila in Faro, Portugal

I have this thing for photographing arcs, and this one had the most perfect background of the old town street behind. It kind of reminded me of Prague’s arches where one can see the old town except it wasn’t as crowded like Prague always is. 

Arco da vila is a city gateway that leads to the old town. It is right next to Algarve Tourism office. This arch has bell on top with a clock under it. This highly ornate arch dates back to the 19th century and is a national monument.

Arco da vila in Faro to Cidade Velha

I asked a stranger to click this photo and it turned out decent. The light was perfect as it was just after the sunset with a warm hue of street-lamps in the background. This spot was so empty at this time, it felt unreal.

I saw some massive bird nests on this building near the clock. I think they were vulture nests. I also saw vultures that were standing and sleeping here at night – was a strange sight. 

Cidade Velha (the Old Town Area)

The streets of Cidade Velha – the Old Town in Faro, Portugal

Cidade Velha is not the name of a place or a church but it means the old town. Faro’s old town is lovely in every way and what’s even special is that it is small and not busy.

Cidade Velha is the historical center, Centro Historico with well preserved 18th century architecture. Walking around here in the evening was one of the best things to do in Faro. Don’t do this during the afternoon unless you don’t have any other time because it gets hot. 

Cidade Velha with Igreja de Santa Maria in the background, Faro, Portugal

Take our some time in the evening before or right after the sunset to walk around in Cidade Velha to enjoy it with pretty lights. The evening breeze makes it a pleasant experience and you can also find a restaurant with outdoor seating. Check out my restaurant recommendations at the bottom of this post. 

At the end of the Cidade Velha, you will find Arco de Repouso. Just the way Arco da vila is the entry point of the old town, Arco de Repouso is the exit point – or the other way around depending on your direction. It isn’t as special as Arco da vila. 

Igreja do Carmo

Igreja do Carmo, Faro, Algarve, Portugal via Unsplash

Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo & Capela dos Ossos is the full name, which isn’t so easy so just keep Igreja do Carmo in your head. This is the most famous church of Faro which was completed in 1719. 

Capela dos Ossos – the Bone Chapel inside Igreja do Carmo, Faro, Portugal via Pixabay

The Capela dos Ossos (the bone chapel) in the Igreja do Carmo church can be accessed through the church for EUR 2 entry. Is is decorated with the skeletal remains of over 1,200 former monks. Yes, you can actually see their skulls and bones used as tiles. It is a very strange sight.

Igreja do Carmo doesn’t have wheelchair access or baby stroller paths.

Mercado Municipal (Faro Municipal Market)

Inside Mercado Municipal, Faro, Portugal

I have this thing for local markets and Faro did not fail me. I entered Mercado Municipal without any expectations but I wanted to buy everything. There was a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, honey, flowers, pastry, bread, and many other things.

Mercado Municipal – Faro’s municipal market, Portugal

Mercado Municipal is a modern building and is air-conditioned. It is a good place to pass your time and people watch. No, not in a creepy way but to experience the culture. 

 

Faro Marina & Jardim Manuel Bivar

Faro Marina – view from Suites Aliança terrace, Portugal

Faro Marina is the scenic dock area with I love Faro sign. This was right next to my room at Suites Aliança, so as soon as I got our of my room, I had an opportunity to walk around here.

Jardim Manuel Bivar, Faro, Portugal

There’s a Musicpavillion, Jardim Manuel Bivar and a children playground next to the Faro Marina. Walk around here and you will see some musicians busking. Some are good and they stand next to the restaurants with outdoor seating. 

Banco de Portugal building near Faro Marina, Portugal

You will also see the stunning Banco de Portugal building in this area. That’s closer to the street than the actual marina. 

Igreja de Santa Maria

The view from Igreja de Santa Maria, Faro, Portugal

Igreja de Santa Maria is the church that I saw from my balcony at Suites Aliança, that appeared to be right behind the Arco da vila. It also has a few bells on top, like Arco da Vila. In reality it was much farther and I realized it while I walked through the old town, Cidade Velha.

A local told me that it is possible to go the the rooftop of Igreja de Santa Maria, and he highly recommended that I do it at sunrise to see the view. But I did not want to wake up at 5 am on my vacation. I’d still like to mention this to you, in case you want to experience this. 

Igreja de Santa Maria has two chapels, a garden with a sun clock, and the rooftop that I mentioned before. You need to pay EUR 3.5 to enter. The interiors are lovely but keep in mind that I recommend this place mostly for the views.

Ria Formosa Lagoon

Ria Formosa in Algarve, Portugal via Pixabay

Ria Formosa Lagoon is close to Faro, is a group of islands and six inlets which collectively form the Ria Formosa Nature Park. This lagoon was recognized in 2010 as one of Portugal’s 7 natural wonders

The wetland of Ria Formosa Lagoon islands, channels, marshes, sandbars between the beaches of Garrão and Manta Rota. If you are into birdwatching, then you should keep Ria Formosa on your list. My friend went kayaking here and saw flamingos.

There are restaurants in Ria Formosa by the sea and also the white city of Cacela Velha with a fortress that you can climb for a view.

I have handpicked a few tours for you to experience Ria Formosa:

  • Ria Formosa Islands Catamaran Tour: 4 hour catamaran tour that includes a stop at Farol and Deserta islands. EUR 35 per person.
  • 4 Islands, 4 Stops in Ria Formosa Catamaran Tour: 4 hour catamaran tour that includes a stop at Deserta Island, Farol Island, Hangares, and Culatra Island. You will also have the option to have lunch in a typical restaurant on Breech Island – the cost of lunch is not included in the tour. This tour costs EUR 35 per person.
  • Ria Formosa bird watching tour: Get on an eco friendly solar boat for a 2 hour bird watching tour. The tour costs EUR 30.

The above tours are by GetYourGuide – it’s a company I personally use for tours and have always had an excellent experience in terms of booking, service and the tour quality. I only recommend the companies that I personally use,

Praia de Faro 

Praia de Faro, Algarve, Portugal via Pixabay

This is the main beach of Faro. If you’re going to visit the other destinations in Algarve, then this beach will not be special for you. However, if you have time and / or if you aren’t hitting Algarve’s beaches then make surre you visit Faro’s main beach – Praia de Faro.

This sandy beach stretches for a few kilometers and doesn’t tend to get crowded. It is very close to the airport so is a good place to stop right before you leave Faro in case you need to check out early but your flight is in the evening.

Experience Fado

Fado is Portuguese Blues and if you like live music then you should try to experience it while you’re in the country. Fado guitar recitals near the tourism office are popular in Faro and they cost just EUR 5.

Where to stay in Faro (my Hotel recommendations)

When I travel solo, I usually book a bed in a hostel to save money and to make friends. But in Faro I decided to book an entire hotel room for myself because they weren’t expensive and I found some really stunning ones.

SUITES ALIANÇA

The bedroom room in Suites Aliança, Faro, Portugal

This hotel was actually the best hotel experience in Portugal for me because it had everything. It was in a beautifully preserved old building with stunning new interiors and fittings. I’d call the interiors Art Deco.

My room was comfortable with a nice bed and air conditioner. This hotel also has a kitchen with all the appliances that one can use.

The best part for me was the reading room and the view from the window. It looked directly on to the old streets! I think that’s the room I enjoyed the most while I was here. I used it for Yoga, reading and made a few videos.

Click here to book SUITES ALIANÇA

The location was perfect because this hotel is next to Arco da vila so you have the entire old town at your feet. The main bus station is also nearby, it is on the other side of the hotel. Faro marina is super close and you can see it from the terrace. 

Rate Hotel Afonso III – Eurosun Hotels

My room at Hotel Afonso III – Eurosun Hotels, Faro, Portugal

This is a basic hotel in Faro that’s close to everything. The train station is just next to it so that was a big relief. My room had a super tiny attached toilet and shower. My room also had an air conditioner, which is much needed in Portugal’s summer months.

Click here to book Hotel Afonso III – Eurosun

I decided to eat breakfast here and it was just 5 euros. It was pretty basic and I enjoyed it.

Restaurants in Faro:

I spent two nights in Faro, so I got a chance to try out a few restaurants. Here are the three that stand out:

Taberna Modesto for seafood

My meal in Taberna Modesto, Faro, Portugal

Taberna Modesto was recommended to me by a local and it was perfect in every way. The vibe was perfect because it is in Cidade Velha, the old town. There is an outdoor seating and an amazing atmosphere. I was here alone but the romantic vibe made me miss my husband.

I love fish and seafood in general, so I loved the menu here. I wanted to order everything because there were so many varieties of freshly caught fish, prawns, octopus, and crabs. I eventually decided to order one of the fishes, which arrived with potatoes and broccoli.

I also drank green wine, which is something I tried for the first time in Portugal. I thought the price was for one glass but for that I got a small bottle – wow. I ate chocolate souffle too. I was surprised at how affordable my meal was as compared to rest of Europe.

Chelsea for breakfast

My breakfast at Chelsea, Faro, Algarve, Portugal

What do you look for in a good hearty breakfast? For me it is avocado, fruit, eggs, and coffee – I had all of that in Chelsea. 

I ordered Eggs Benedict which arrived on sourdough bread, avocado, chia seeds and hollandaise sauce. They also had smoothies, salad bowls, pancakes, and many other delicious things. I also enjoyed my orange juice and soy milk cappuccino here. I packed Pastel de Nata for the way and they were super delicious.

Apart from the above two, there are three more restaurants that I wanted to visit but didn’t. They are:

  • Cidade Velha Rooftop: This restaurant was recommended to me by Google and looks like the rooftop area has an amazing sunset view. I did not go there but I’d like to mention this to you.
  • Namastey Indian: It is an Indian restaurant that I wanted to visit but I decided to eat the local specialities so skipped it.
  • Chefe Branco: This was recommended by someone on a travel forum because they have local specialities. 

Getting around in Faro

You don’t need anything like a rental car to get around in Faro. Yes, if you want to explore the rest of Algarve then a rental car will help you but in Faro you can just explore everything by walking or by hopping on to an E Scooter.

Faro Airport

Faro airport to the city center is just 5 kilometers. I was told that I could get the bus 16 from airport and it drops off in Faro itself. But I decided to take a taxi instead because I landed late and I didn’t want to wait for the bus.

Faro Train Station

Faro train station is small. I noticed a big queue for tickets and I was nervous since I was there just 10 minutes before my train to Lagos. But luckily I found out that I could just buy the tickets on the train so I didn’t have to stand in the line.

Faro Bus Station – Terminal Rodoviário Faro

Faro bus station is 3 minutes walk from Faro Marina. From here you will find buses that leave for other destinations within Algarve. I traveled on train and bus both in Algarve. The trains are faster and better since you can stand up and walk around. The buses are decent too and the one I was on had very good internet.

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Benagil Cave in Algarve, Portugal: How to visit + Kayaking + TIPS

Benagil Cave in Algarve, Portugal: How to visit + Kayaking + TIPS

Imagine a beach that’s hidden from the rest of the world because it is in a cave. A perfect beach with soft sand that’s beautifully lit because of the hole on the top of the cave. That’s Benagil Cave in Algarve.

Beaches are special but hidden beaches are more than just extra special. I am happy to say that I have visited quite a few because I always try to find one such beach when I visit a beach destination. When I do, I feel like a character out of the Beach movie.

Inside Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal via Unsplash

Algarve’s Benagil Cave beach is one of those extra special ones. The only way in is by swimming or kayaking, which obviously adds a more elusive touch to this already amazing place.

Benagil Cave has a hidden beach, where a little light falls dramatically, because it has a hole on the top. 

The dramatic light inside the Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal via unsplash

Where is Benagil Cave?

Benagil Cave is near Carvoeiro, which is cute little resort town in Portugal’s Algarve region. It is between Portimão & Albufeira. It is 55 KMs away from Faro, which is Algarve’s entry point because of the airport.

 

Where to Stay to visit the Benagil Cave

If you visit Algarve, then most likely you will set up your base in Albufeira, Lagos, Tavira, Sagres, or Portimão. I picked Lagos because it is seriously stunning, has a low key vibe and historical old town. My second choice would have been Sagres or Portimão.

If you want to be close to the Benagil cave, then you can pick Carvoeiro for your base. But it is a little upscale in terms of hotels as compared to the other destinations that I mentioned above.

Carvoeiro Town in Algarve, Portugal near Benagil Cave

Carvoeiro Town in Algarve, Portugal near Benagil Cave

I did not want to stay in Carvoeiro because I wasn’t looking for a resort destination but a place that had a bit of everything – beaches, hiking, viewpoints, restaurants, history and a certain vibe. But, it doesn’t mean Carvoeiro isn’t nice. It is and I am leaving it for another trip when I visit with my family.

If you don’t want to stay in Carvoeiro too, then you can easily make a day trip to see the Benagil Cave with a rental car or a tour.

How to Go Inside the Benagil Cave?

Reaching Benagil Cave in Algarve, Portugal via unsplash

The first thing you would wonder about the Benagil cave is how to get there. As mentioned before, there are only three ways:

  1. Kayaking,
  2. Swimming to the cave,
  3. Paddleboarding

 

Kayaking with my friend to Benagil Cave, Praia da Marinha in the background – Algarve, Portugal

In order to do so, you will either need to pick a tour or drive to the Benagil beach and try to find a way to rent a kayak from there. I will talk about these options in details below.

How to Pick your Benagil Cave Tour?

Picking the tour to see the Benagil cave, Algarve, Portugal

When you arrive in any part of Algarve – be it Albufeira or Lagos or Portimão, you will see lots of shops in the main center or near the train or bus stations or in the Marina where they try to sell you a tour to see the Benagil cave.

The thing is, 95% those tours will take you on a big boat, and big boats can only see the Benagil cave from outside. So, you will technically not visit the beach. You can’t leave the big boat so you won’t get to walk on the beach.

Me in Benagil cave and the kayak next to me (behind the rock)

The only way you can go on the beach is when you take a tour with kayaks or paddle-boats or SUP. After a lot of research and reading reviews on hundreds of site that we found on the internet, we found this perfect tour for us. It wasn’t from Lagos, but from Portimão.

We were staying in Lagos but we reached Portimão in just 20 minutes with our bus. Portimão is easy to reach from anywhere in Algarve with a bus or a train.

Book Benagil Cave Kayak Tour

This tour was excellent. Not only we visited the Benagil cave, but we also visited some of the other caves around and they were all good. We also saw the famous Praia da Marinha, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches of Europe.

Praia da Marinha, Algarve, Portugal

We had a very comfortable catamaran with a toilet. We had a staff of four people with us on the board who were our guides and kayaking lifeguards.

Other Benagil Cave Kayak tour options

If the above tour is booked out or if you’re not going to be in Portimao, then I have handpicked a few more tours for you:

 

Is it difficult to kayak to Benagil Cave?

Kayaking isn’t difficult and you don’t need to know if from before to do it. There were many newbies with me and they did well. It was maybe my 15th time kayaking and I found this spot very easy. But I understand if you are nervous about it, I can sometimes be too.

If you do a tour then they will already give you instructions for kayaking. They will help you arrive on the beach with kayak, which in my experience is the moment where most of the people fall. Falling in the water isn’t something you should be scared of by the way.

The area around the Benagil cave is rocky (of course), so the only thing you should be scared of is falling out of your kayak and hurting yourself with the rocks. But, don’t let fear mess up your experience. A little bit of fear is ok for awareness so that you can keep yourself safe. 

Kayaking vs Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

Stand up Paddleboarding with Pure Magic - Achill Island, Ireland

Stand up Paddleboarding with Pure Magic – Achill Island, Ireland

Honestly, I prefer SUP over kayak because I find it much more fun to balance while standing. Kayaking is easier and is something I have done many times.

The only reason I booked a kayaking tour and not SUP is because I didn’t find a tour that started from Lagos or Portimão. Also, SUP tours are more expensive. But if I didn’t have any money or commute restrictions, I would have picked up this below tour.

Book Benagil SUP Tour

If you’d like to do stand up paddleboarding to visit the Benagil cave, then check out this tour. This is a 2 hour tour that starts from Benagil beach and you can find one as early as 7:30 am, which is way before most people start to arrive here.

Not into Kayaking or Stand Up Paddleboarding? Try a Boat Tour

Benagil cave with boat, Algarve, Portugal via Unsplash

Ok, I get it. You don’t want to kayak or go on a SUP or even swim to the cave. You would rather experience the beauty of the cave from the water and the comfort of your boat. No worries, I get you and I can help you with a few tours where you can do just that:

Please note: that you wont be able to leave the boat, or make swimming stops or enter the beach inside the Benagil cave. If you want to go on the beach or to swim, then book a kayaking or SUP tour.

The Best time to do the Benagil Cave Tour

Most of the tours leave in the morning at 10 am and 2 pm in the evening. Of course most people opt for the 2 pm one. I did too because I don’t like to wake up early. But I urge you to book an earlier tour if you don’t have an issue with early rising like I do.

Can You Visit the Benagil Cave without a Tour?

Visiting Benagil Cave, Algarve

This is something that isn’t advertised but seems to be possible. Why should it be? After all, you can enter the cave on a kayak or a paddle boat without a guide. Actually, I didn’t find a way to do it, maybe because I didn’t try hard enough and I was in Lagos.

I did speak to two local travelers who rented a kayak from the nearby Benagil beach and arrived inside the Benagil cave. Of course, you will need to reach here first with your rental car

Book a Rental Car

This option may make sense if you are already going to rent a car to travel within Portugal. In that case, you can arrive on Benagil Beach and try to speak like a local to find a place where you can rent a kayak from.

Visiting Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal

But if you rent a car just to visit the Benagil Cave, then it may not be the best idea if you don’t find kayaks for rent on Benagil beach to visit the cave. The cost of our tour from Portimao was 40 euros but the cost of tour from Benagil beach is 35 euros. So the difference is just 5 euros and if you rent a car just for this, then you will probably pay minimum EUR 30 per day and add EUR 35 for kayak tour from Benagil Beach per person.

Final Thoughts on visiting the Benagil Cave in Algarve Portugal

Inside Benagil Cave – the kayaks and paddle boards

Visiting Benagil Cave may sound complicated but it isn’t. If you want to visit it then you shouldn’t let anything stop you. After all, there aren’t so many such places in the world. If you visit Portugal’s Algarve region then you should definitely do everything you can to visit the Benagil cave for a once in a lifetime experience.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.   We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Things to do in Lagos, Portugal (Algarve) – Travel Guide

Things to do in Lagos, Portugal (Algarve) – Travel Guide

Travel guide for Lagos in Algarve, Portugal with things to do, how to visit and top tips.

What does a perfect summer vacation include for you? Most likely beaches, relaxed vibe, and maybe also some adventure sport like hiking, kayaking. I’m sure a nice warm weather that ranges from 20-30 degrees sounds good too. Also, any good vacation can not be without amazing food and drinks, right? Throw in spectacular rock formations and you have got yourself a perfect package.That’s Lagos for you.

Stunning beaches, rock formations, hiking trails, viewpoints, mind-blowing food, and a super relaxed vibe – this is why I fell in love with Lagos.

Lagos is one of the many destinations in Portugal’s Algarve region. Algarve is famous for its coast. The beaches in Algarve are spectacular because of the rock formations that are all over in Algarve region. 

Out of many destination in Algarve, I picked Lagos for my week long solo trip not only because it is lovely, but also because it is a bit less visited as the other nearby places – like Albuferia, Portimão or Tavira. Because of this, Lagos has somehow managed to retain a less touristy vibe.

Lagos is a little further away from Faro, the main town of Algarve. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t easy to reach. Also, the most famous photos of Algarve that you will see on travel brochures, most were clicked in Praia do Camilo of Lagos. We will talk about that beach later.

Fun Fact: There’s another place called Lagos and it is in Africa. It is the largest city of Nigeria and it is also called Lagos. As per Wikipedia, the Nigerian city Lagos was probably named after Lagos in Portugal

Every destination in Algarve attracts a different kind of crowd. Lagos is said to be a party destination because of bars, but I saw a lot of family travelers and non party travelers there too.

I picked Lagos because it attracts a lot of solo travelers too, but I’m not a party traveler but still Lagos was a perfect match for me. Another reason why I picked Lagos is because it has charming old buildings instead of ugly new construction. Lagos is an ancient maritime town after all, with more than 2000 years of history.

How to reach Lagos?

Super simple, there are a number of buses and trains from all of the nearby towns. I arrived here on a train from Faro. I didn’t need to book the tickets in advance, I could just buy on the train and I paid EUR 7.50.

Train from Lagos to Faro, Algarve, Portugal

I left Lagos on a bus and I had to reach the bus station before to buy the tickets because they were selling out.

If you are in Algarve with another person, then I suggest you rent a car. When you split the cost then it won’t be so expensive and it will give you so much freedom of movement.

How to move around in Lagos?

Walking is easy because it is small. You can also rent a bicycle like we did or rent a car to make your life easy.

Now that you know how to reach Lagos, and how to move around while you’re here, let’s talk about the main topic – what to do in Lagos. I also talk about my recommended places to eat and stay at the end of this post.

Things to do in Lagos, Algarve

1) Ponta da Piedade (for sunset)

Sunset at Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Portugal

Imagine a spot on top of the rocks from where you can see a beach, insane rock formations all around and clear blue water below. Good news: there isn’t one but many of them here.

Ponta da Piedade means the point of pity, is one of the most famous tourist spots of Algarve. If you are into viewpoints, then this is the place that you will want to come back to every single day. I did!

 

Due to the shape and slope of the rocks, there There are so many different viewpoint possibilities. I discovered something new here everyday. There are multiple beaches below that one can see from some of the viewpoints.

A section of the rocks here faces the west side and that makes it perfect for sunset sessions. It is the part that looks over Praia do Barranco do Martinho – in case you want to find it. In this point I have only posted photos of that particular section because that’s perfect for watching the sunset. I went here everyday to find new spots but realized that even though Ponda da Piedade has many viewpoints, but the one that looks over Praia do Barranco do Martinho is the best for sunset. I will talk about more spots of Ponta da Piedade in the hiking section.

An easy point of reference here is the lighthouse. You need to walk a little further when you reach the lighthouse to find even better viewpoints.

So pack a snack, a drink and a blanket so that you can stay here for a while. It does get a little chilly here right after the sunset. I visited in June and I had to carry a big jacket here every evening. 

2) See the Beaches of Lagos

The beaches of Lagos, Algarve – Praia do Camilo, Portugal

When it comes to beaches, Lagos will wow you every single time. There are so many of them and each one is stunning because of the rock formations. 

Some reaches are easy to reach but others aren’t. The hard to reach beaches aren’t necessarily better but they definitely have less people so there’s more room. You don’t have to visit every single beach but I did, because I was curious to see what was there.

Honestly, every single beach is worth visiting but I’m sure that can’t happen if you’re there fo 2-3 days only. In that case, I have done the work for you and I have tagged some beaches as “must visit” you in case you can’t to visit them all.

2.1) Easy to Reach Beaches in Lagos:

Dona Ana (must visit)

View of Dona Ana beach on the way from Pinhão, Lagos, Portugal

Dana Ana beach is often called the main beach. Everyone who comes to Lagos, visits Dona Ana at some point. It is easy to visit, beautiful and excellent for swimming. 

The beach is massive compared to many other beaches and there’s plenty of space to put your mat down and read a book. There are rock formations around and on the beach, that make it an excellent photo spot.

Some beaches of Lagos have water full of seaweed but I didn’t see that on Dona Ana beach. There aren’t small pebbels or rocks, just a massive sandy stretch with interesting rock formations – so this makes Dona Ana a perfect beach for swimming.

Keep in mind that the water is colder than you would expect it to be, because you’re swimming in the Atlantic ocean. 

Dona Ana Beach at night, Lagos, Portugal

There is a a parking spot that’s close to the beach and a few restaurants. There’s also a bus stop that’s right outside the beach. The time I visited, this beach was pretty empty in early evenings before the sunset.

Praia do Camilo (must visit)

Praia do Camilo in Lagos, Portugal

Praia do Camilo is the most beautiful beach in Lagos as per me, because I loved the rock formations here. Keep in mind that you have to climb down a hundred steps to reach it, but the view after every 10 steps is worth it. Despite the 100 steps, I’d say this is beach is easy to reach because the steps aren’t steep and you don’t have to go on a hiking trail.

The way to Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Algarvel, Portugal

This beach tends to get crowded because it is lovely. Arrive here as early as 9 am and you will have almost the entire place to yourself. I did!

Praia do Camilo is divided into two beaches and there’s a cave that goes from one beach to another. How cool is that! No you don’t have to swim through the cave but you can just walk through because the cave is directly on the beach. There are also a few rock arches here where you can click stunning photos.

Praia do Camilo beach with a cave and a rocky arch, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

Both the sections of Praia do Camilo are small, so obviously they tend to get crowded during the peak hours. There is a high end restaurant on top with a nice view, so you can visit it for cocktails or a nice meal when you visit Camilo beach.

The Lovely Praia do Camilo, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

I mentioned before how some of the beaches in Lagos have seaweed or black algae but Camilo beach was absolutely clear of that. In fact, the water clarity was so good that I could also see schools of fishes as I walked inside.

So, Camilo beach is definitely a must visit beach because of it’s beauty and ease of swimming.

Porto Mós (must visit)

Porto Mós is a long stretch of sandy beach which you can reach without climbing. This beach is a bit outside the Lagos city so you can come here on bus. The bus journey only took 3 minutes and the bus stop is right outside the beach entrance. I could have easily walked it but I didn’t.

If you’re visiting Lagos with family, then Porto Mós is the perfect beach because the water is good for swimming. There aren’t any rock formations on the beach but they are behind the sandy part, so they make a lovely backdrop.

The rocks behind the Porto Mós look a bit different than the ones on the other beaches. They have a layered look, like a fossil. They are stunning!

Meia Praia

This is the longest beach in all of Algarve and you will see it as soon as you arrive in Lagos by train. It is 4.5 KMs long and it reminded me of the beaches of Goa because of its golden sand and a few beach bars. It stretches from Lagos to Alvor at Ria de Alvor.

Meia Praia beach is massive and hence never feels crowded. The sand is super soft and this beach again is excellent for swimming. There are a few restaurants and beach bars on Meia Praia – Bahia Beach Bar, Gavioto Restaurant, and Palmares Beach club to name a few.

Unlike some of the beaches in Lagos, you don’t have to hike or climb steps to reach Meia Praia. There are lots of parking spots and you can arrive here easily. 

There are no rock formations on Meia Praia, just endless sand. For me, this beach was lovely but not as special as many others because I visited Algarve to see beaches with rock formations. 

Praia do Pinhão

The Cave on Praia do Pinhão – Beaches of Lagos, Portugal

This is a small cove that’s near Dona Ana beach. There is a scenic route that comes from the city to Pinhão restaurant, after that you have to hike for just 3 minutes, and then climb down around 40-50 steps to reach the beach.

This beach has some interesting rock formations, caves and arches. I visited it 3 times but all those times it was full of black sea weed and it wasn’t so easy to walk on some sections of the beach or to even think of swimming.

The good thing was that I found a stunning photo spot and had this beach to myself but this isn’t a “must visit” beach because you can’t swim here.

Praia dos Estudantes

Praia dos Estudantes – Roman Bridge – Lagos, Portugal via Unsplash

This is a small beach that’s lovely and has the famous “roman bridge”. You have to go through a tunnel from Batata Praia to arrive here and to see the old roman bridge. The beach is clean and good for swimming.

Praia da Batata

Batata beach is also near the city centre and is usually busy.

2.2) Hard to reach beaches:

Praia do Canavial

Praia do Canavial in Lagos, Algarve

Praia do Canavial is right before Porto Mós but I’d day it isn’t easy to visit because the trail is hard to find for some people. The wooden path that comes from Ponta da Piedade, also crosses Canavial, but you have to get off the wooden path in order to go on the beach.

View of Praia do Canavial from top, Lagos, Portugal

I was looking for this beach but I was lucky to find a girl who was on her way back from the beach and she described the trail to me exactly. I also met an older British couple that lived in Lagos and they said they had never heard of or been to this beach.

Praia do Canavial, Lagos, Portugal

The Canavial beach can be seen on multiple viewpoints and it looks lovely from all of them. But the best viewpoints are right before arriving on the beach, as you stand on top of the rock and look down at the beach.

Praia do Canavial is good for a swim because the water is shallow and doesn’t have seaweed. The beach does have some pebbles and but I didn’t mind them.

The time I visited, there were just 4-5 people on this beach in total.

Praia Santa Maria

Praia Santa Maria, Lagos, Algarve

This is a nudist beach that’s right after Camillo beach. I just found the trail by sheer luck because it was already my 7th time on Ponta da Piedade boardwalk.

It isn’t easy to get to this beach at all. The hike to reach this beach gets very steep at the end. There was no one on this beach when I went.

I wouldn’t say this is a stunning beach, it was pretty average compared to the other beaches of Lagos. I did see a bunch of black seaweed in the water. But I think visiting a beach like this is not so much about the beauty, but it is about the feeling of reaching a hard to reach place.

Praia da Balança

Praia da Balança in Lagos, Portugal

This is actually one of the most stunning beach in the “hard to reach” list that I found in Lagos. I actually found it on my last day in Lagos and I saw it from a viewpoint.

Praia da Balança is actually a small cove that’s surrounded by interesting rocks all around. The viewpoint wasn’t so far from the beach so I saw things very clearly. I saw blue water, clean sandy beach and rock formations.

I did see a few kayaks on the beach, so I thought it can only be accessed from water. By the time I saw the trail that goes to this beach, it was already time for me to check out from my hotel. I had to run back so I left this beach for another visit. Maybe it is a good thing I didn’t go, because I was in my flip flops and the hotel staff told me later that it isn’t easy to reach this beach by hiking.

Praia do Barranco do Martinho

Praia do Barranco da Martinho view from Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Portugal

I love how this beach looks from up above. I actually went to the viewpoint everyday from Ponta da Piedade that overlooks Praia do Barranco do Martinho, because of the perfect sunset. 

The hike to this beach isn’t easy and also the hiking path is tricky to find. I didn’t find the path at all. I did ask the hotel staff member and he told me that the hike is very difficult because it is steep and goes from the other side of the boardwalk.

I did see reviews on Google Maps of those who visited, but some were clearly confusing it with another beach and were talking about it. If you visit Lagos, do visit and let me know if you end up on this beach. I’d love to feature you.

3) Hiking in Lagos 

One of the many hiking viewpoints in Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

One of the best hikes that you can do in Lagos is moving from beach to beach on the rocks that surround the beaches. You don’t have to stop on the beaches unless you want to take a break, sit and swim a bit. This hike will take you to some seriously stunning viewpoints.

The hikes aren’t difficult at all in Lagos. In fact, I did them wearing my flip flops, but I recommend you wear shoes because flip flops can be risky. I saw a lot of interesting flowers and I specifically remember the cactus flowers.

Start at Praia do Pinhão, from here you can walk on the rocks and move to Dona Ana beach. If you want, you can climb down on to Praia do Pinhão and see the two rock arches here.

When you arrive at Dona Ana beach, you can go on the beach or take the path on the rocks beyond the beach. The viewpoints from Dona Ana beach to Praia do Camilo are seriously stunning. There are many of them.

Hiking in Lagos – View of the Camilo Beach, Algarve

I wouldn’t recommend you take a break on Praia do Camilo because this is a beach that you should leave for another day. It is seriously stunning but you have to climb down a hundred steps to reach it. 

The trail that goes after Praia do Camilo will take you to Ponta da Piedade, which is the most famous viewpoint of this area. The trail after Camilo beach is a proper wooden hiking trail with gazebos at prominent viewpoints.

One of the hiking viewpoints after Camilo Beach, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

You can get off the wooden trail if you want, I did because I was curious to see what else was there. But, I realized that the viewpoints are better marked on the wooden trails where the gazebos are.

After Ponta da Piedade, the trail will take you on top of Praia do Barranco do Martinho. You can get out of the gazebo here to take a better look at the beach below. 

If you stay on the trail, there’s another viewpoint that comes where you can see two beaches together – Praia do Canavial and Porto Mós.

The view of Praia do Canavial and Porto Mós on the hiking path in Lagos, Portugal

The trail further goes from Praia do Barranco do Martinho to Praia do Canavial. Get off the trail here to take a break on the beach. The climb down isn’t that tricky, I did it with flip flops but it may take you a while to find the way to the beach. Luckily I met a girl who was just coming out of the beach and she told me where to find the trail for the beach.

After Praia do Canavial, the trail goes to Porto Mós Beach (Praia do Porto Mós). It is a massive beach and you can stay here if you want. There is a bus stop at Porto Mós from where you can find a bus to take you to the main city. Or you can just walk back, it isn’t more than 2 KMs.

4) Lagos Old Town

Lagos Old Town, Portugal

Old Portuguese buildings are beautiful and this is why I don’t miss even a single town center when I visit Portugal. The town centre in Lagos is lovely and it is full of Jacaranda, lemon and orange trees.

The Jacaranda trees were in full bloom when I visited. Also, the orange and lemon trees were fruiting. These trees made the already lovely streetscape even prettier.

Ever heard of Azulejos? I spoke about them in my Lisbon post too. They are ceramic tiles that are painted, and you can see them on many old buildings all over Lagos old town. 

Get lost in the narrow lanes of Lagos old town. Explore the shops with unique handmade things and buy a few souvenirs. They aren’t expensive and are nicely made. I did buy a few small handmade toys for my daughter. 

You can see the city walls of Lagos, the castle, Porta de São Gonçalo and cathedrals. I did not have them on my mind when I visited Lagos old town but I saw them while walking around. 

Find a nice street side restaurant when you’re done exploring the city centre. Sit outside and order a drink to cool off. 

5) Rent a Bicycle to Explore Lagos

Bicycle rental at COAST Supply Co, Lagos, Portugal

Lagos is small and you can cover everything by walking, but it means a lot of walking. If you want to avoid that then get yourself a bicycle for a day or two to explore more that this city has to offer.

I rented my bicycle from a surf shop called COAST Supply Co in Lagos main town. I did it on my first day to get a sense of all that there is to see in Lagos. I’m happy I did because after that I had a clearer idea of what I wanted to do during my stay of one week here.

Keep in mind that Lagos is slightly hilly, so you will have to cycle up and down. This is why you may want to avoid the town centre with your bicycle.

I had a normal bike but I recommend you get yourself a mountain bike, so that your butt doesn’t hurt as much as mine did.

Cycling in Lagos will give you an insane amount of freedom to explore the city at a faster pace. If you like cycling then I highly recommend you do this. This is what I do when I travel solo and I did this during my weekend in Amsterdam too.

6) Visit Aqui Há Gato to Eat the Best Prawns in Lagos

One of the best parts of traveling is getting an opportunity to try new food. In that aspect, Lagos, or any part of Portugal won’t disappoint you.

Sure, Lagos has a lot of international restaurants and I did find an amazing Nepalese one where I ate momos, but some of my most memorable meals were in a small family run Portuguese restaurant called Aqui Há Gato.

Aqui Há Gato isn’t in the busy town centre, which is a relief. You can walk here from the main town – it will take you 15 minutes or drive here. I actually visited because there was a board outside that said they have the best prawns in Lagos. Of course, I went in because I love prawns.

When you visit Aqui Há Gato, order “the best prawns of Lagos” here – they are not mentioned in the menu but are written on a board outside. The prawns are massive in size and the portion is huge. They are buttery, garlicky and full of flavor. They come with fries (or bread) and salad. I loved this meal so much that I came here everyday.

I fell in love with the atmosphere here because I saw a lot of locals and enjoyed the sounds of Portuguese conversations. I always spent a long time here, drank coffee, beers, sometimes caipirinha, and talked to the staff. This restaurant isn’t just about the food, but also the vibe.

I also brought a few people to this restaurant who enjoyed the food as much as I did.

6.1) Other restaurants in Lagos

Sunrays Kitchen: Looking for a healthy wholesome meal in a pretty restaurant? Visit Sunrays kitchen. It is an amazing restaurant where you can find delicious meal bowls, kombucha and coffee.

Momos at Momo Express restaurant in Lagos, Portugal

Momo Express: It is a small Nepalese restaurant in the city centre. I visited it because I love Momos – a popular Nepalese snack.

Crab at Marisqueira O Perceve restaurant, Lagos, Algarve, Portugal

Marisqueira “O Perceve”: This is a seafood restaurant. Visit it to eat lobsters, crabs or any other food from the sea. I ate a big crab and I paid around 25 Euros with beer and coffee.

Additionally, visit any bakery and eat Pastel de Nata: the yummiest Portuguese snack and it is also a dessert. These egg tarts are simply delicious and they make the perfect breakfast.

Try Green Wine: I never knew of green wine but I tried it for the first time in Portugal. It is a little like white wine and is delicious. It goes well with fish.

7) Day Trip to Benagil Cave

Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal

There are a lot of day trip possibilities from Lagos, but one of the best ones is a visit to Benagil. So what is Benagil cave all about?

Imagine a hidden beach, that’s inside a cave which is open on the top for a little light that falls dramatically. The only way in is by swimming or kayaking – sounds good? That’s Benagil Cave.

The stunning Benagil Cave, Algarve, Portugal

When you arrive in Lagos, you will see lots of shops in the Marina where they try to sell you a tour to see the Benagil cave. The thing is, those tours will take you on a big boat, and big boats can only see the Benagil cave from outside.

You can’t go on the beach unless you take a tour with kayaks. There isn’t one from Lagos, but there’s one from Portimão and this the one we booked. Portimão is easy to reach from Lagos with a bus or a train.

Book Benagil Cave Kayak Tour

This tour was excellent. Not only we visited the Benagil cave, but we also visited some of the other caves around and they were all good. We also saw the famous Praia da Marinha, which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches of Europe.

8) Explore Party Scene of Lagos

Lagos is also called a party destination. To be honest, I didn’t explore this side of Lagos much, even though I visited without my kid. But I’d still like to mention this point so that you don’t miss out on this.

The old town of Lagos has plenty of bars and pubs, so if you visit in the evening, you are sure to hear loud music and follow it. 

Some notable bars and pubs are: Zanzibar Lagos (highly recommended by a local), Beer & Co, Peppers and Aficionado.

9) Kayaking, SUP, or Scuba Diving in Lagos

Kayaking in Lagos, Portugal

Lagos has many caves and hidden beaches and some can only be explored via water. Join a kayaking tour or get on a stand up paddleboat (SUP) for a day of adventure.

Have’t done kayaking or SUP before? No worries! In my experience, both kayaking and SUP are easy sports and you don’t need a prior experience to enjoy them. I also tried them for the first time while traveling and on tours. 

I have narrowed down two amazing kayak and SUP tours for you which will take you to some secluded beaches of Lagos:

  • Kayaking and Boat Cave Explorer Tour: EUR 35 per person, it is a 2 hour tour which will take you to the caves and beaches and caves of Ponta da Piedade with Kayaks. The advantage of going on a kayak is that you can enter some beaches where a normal boat can’t go.
  • Ponta da Piedade Kayak Tour from Lagos Marina: EUR 35, this 2 hour tour will also take you to the beaches and caves of Lagos. It is pretty much the same as the tour above, it is just a different operator.
  • Lagos: Stand-Up Paddle Board Rental: Rent a SUP for 4 hours for EUR 25 per person.
  • Guided Scuba Diving Trip for Beginners: EUR 99, this is a scuba diving trip for beginners, with 3-4 hours in the ocean.
  • Dolphin Watching & Snorkeling: EUR 40.50, 3.5 hour boat trip where they will take you to see dolphins. The boat will have snorkeling gear too, so you can grab it and jump in the water. A snack is also included.
  • Boat Cruise to Ponta da Piedade: EUR 22.50 per person, it is a 1 hour 15 minutes tour that will give you a chance to look at the beaches of Lagos from water. Pick this if you don’t want to do kayaking.

I highly recommend GetYourGuide but because I have had an amazing experience booking tours through them. Bud I’d still recommend you to read everything before you book.

10) See Bravura Dam

Bravura Dam is a peaceful escape from Lagos and the surroundings are lovely. It is 45 minutes drive from Lagos main town, so this is one of the places that you can visit if you rent your car, or if you get an electric bike. 

Get to Hello Goodbye cafe, and start your Reservoir walk from there. The complete hike will take you 2 – 2.5 hours. You will see the water, little hills and lots of greenery.

Tip, follow the road signs to “Barragem da Bravura” instead of following the Google Maps navigation. 

Visit this place only if it is easy for you to arrive here. Don’t make an effort to be here and don’t rent a vehicle just to visit this place. It is lovely but isn’t worth so much effort.

Where to Stay in Lagos

Safari Beach Guest House:

When I travel solo, I usually research for days to find the perfect place to stay. After all, I’d be on my own and I want my trip to be as easy as possible.

I didn’t want a typical hostel with loud party atmosphere, but also I didn’t want the entire room to myself because I wanted to find a possibility of making a friend or two. For me, Safari beach guest house was the perfect middle ground and I loved it. This is also a hostel but also a guest house so they have dorms and private rooms.

I stayed in a 4 bed female dorm and we had our own bathroom that was attached. The good this was that the guest house was away from the loud city centre but closer to the beaches. So, the dorm rooms were quiet and I had a good sleep quality.

This place had a nice sitting area outside with a sun umbrella, a big living room with TV, airy kitchen with all the appliances, and even a washing machine.

The private rooms with balcony were upstairs and they looked lovely too. If I revisit Lagos, I will book one of the private rooms on top.

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2 Days in Lisbon Itinerary: Fall in LOVE with Lisbon, Portugal

2 Days in Lisbon Itinerary: Fall in LOVE with Lisbon, Portugal

It was my second time in Europe was when I got to visit the sunny Lisbon. After spending months in Europe’s colder countries, Lisbon felt like a much needed summer breeze that instantly made me happy. 

Oh my god, the city is colorful – was one of my first thoughts. Wow, Portuguese people are so friendly and happy – was the second one. 

Lisbon's beautiful streets

Lisbon’s beautiful streets

We arrived in Lisbon from Zagreb (Croatia), met the world’s happiest immigration officer, took an old school metro to the city centre and got lost on the streets.

Wow, are the trams really yellow? Yes, apparently that’s now an iconic Lisbon-ish image thanks to Instagram.

Lisbon's Tram 28 - 2 days in Lisbon itinerary

Lisbon’s Tram 28 – 2 days in Lisbon itinerary

You know what makes Lisbon even more special? It stands on seven hills, as a result there are several slanted roads and multiple viewpoint possibilities.

The city is jeweled by incredible palaces and churches. Needless to say, we instantly fell in love with Lisbon. Yes, Lisbon is one of the most dazzling cities in the entire World.

With its incredible views over its famous collection of terraces known as Miradouros, streets covered with pink, mint, and indigo tiles, and its gorgeous coast of Atlantic Ocean, you will never want to leave here.

A colorful terrace in Lisbon, Portugal

A colorful terrace in Lisbon, Portugal

Most of the people arrive in Lisbon before they make their way to other Portuguese destinations like Algarve or Porto, hence the visits are quick. If you are planning a short visit, I have created a detailed Lisbon itinerary for you to enjoy this city. Of course it includes a lot of walking but you can take a metro or tram too and I will mention the options to do that.

I normally love visiting not just the famous scenic spots, old buildings but I also try to find out about some arty or offbeat spots. This two-day itinerary for Lisbon contains a bit of both. 

If you’re thinking of exploring Portugal beyond just Lisbon, then consider driving through the country. We actually drove through the middle of Portugal to admire the hilly landscape and then drove along the coast. The sights are truly spectacular and so are the small local restaurants where you can buy a lot of snacks for cheap.

Check Car Rental Prices in Portugal

Arrive in Lisbon or Portugal and rent a car from there to explore the country. You can compare the car rental prices from different companies and pick the one that suits you the best.

 

Day 1: Typical Lisbon 

Lisbon’s pretty streets – Lisbon itinerary

Get ready to enjoy one of the most epic sceneries and monuments of Lisbon. On your first day, you get to see the classic side of Lisbon, which creates the perfect opportunity to get to know the city better.

Don’t forget to wear your most comfortable shoes, because there are lots of incredible places to explore! Keep in mind that Lisbon’s cobbled streets can sometimes be slippery when you’re wearing the wrong kind of shoes. 

Walk to Praça do Comércio (and Explore)

The most rewarding way to explore Lisbon is by walking. For any kind of a self walking tour, the best way to start exploring Lisbon is from Praça do Comércio, which is also known as the Palace Square.

praça do comércio - Lisbon itinerary

praça do comércio – Lisbon itinerary

Having one of the best locations, this square was once where the glorious Ribeira Palace used to stand.

Sadly, due to a massive earthquake, which was followed by a devastating tsunami and a fire that happened in 1755, most of the spectacular buildings of Lisbon were destroyed.

But today, thanks to King Jose I, Praça do Comércio is one of the most beautiful places in Lisbon. 

praça do comércio in Lisbon, Portugal

praça do comércio in Lisbon, Portugal

Meaning the Trading Square in English, Praça do Comércio initially has government offices in charge of customs and the affairs of the port of Lisbon.

In the middle of the square, you will see the grand bronze monument of King Jose I, which was built in 1775 by one of the most famous architects of that era, Joachim Machado de Castro.

A little further, you can check out the magnificent 30-meter triumphal arch, which is called Arco da Rua Augusta. This little walk around this area is one of the many free things to do in Lisbon.

In the center of the arch, you will see the composition of Glory, which crowns with laurel wreaths Valor and Genius. On the other hand, this arch has famous historical figures, such as; Marquis Pombal, Vasco da Gama, Nuno Alvarez Pereira, and Viriat.

The square generally features characteristic of the Enlightenment era. It is known that King Jose I preferred not to restore the Ribeira palace because he wanted to focus on the clarity of geometry of the square.

You can also admire this geometry from the bird view photos of this area.  Another great part of the Praça do Comércio is that this square has the oldest cafe in Lisbon, which is called Café-Restaurante Martinho da Arcada.

Breakfast in a local cafe – Pastéis de Nata with Coffee

Breakfast in a roadside cafe in Lisbon

Breakfast in a roadside cafe in Lisbon

After a little sightseeing, it is time for breakfast! If you have a sweet tooth and love eating sweet pastries for breakfast, you will love the famous Portuguese Custard Tart aka Pastéis de Nata!

Pastel de nata or Egg tart in Lisbon - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Pastel de nata or Egg tart in Lisbon – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

This Portuguese egg tart pastry dusted with cinnamon was originally created as a laundry product in the 18th century by catholic monks. At that time, due to religious habits, monasteries tend to use large quantities of egg-whites for starching clothes, and the leftover egg yolks were used to make cakes and pastries.

During the Liberal Revolution of 1820, which prohibited religious orders, monks wanted to find alternative income sources. That’s why they started to sell Pastéis de Nata at a nearby sugar refinery.

After a couple of years, the monastery was closed in 1834, and the recipe was sold to the sugar refinery, whose owners in 1837 opened the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém. And today, you can still buy one of the best Pastéis de Nata in the entire Lisbon.

There are only three family members know the original secret recipe, but luckily you can buy this delicious tart in most bakeries across the country.

The best way to enjoy Pastéis de Nata is by drinking a hot shot of Bica on the side! Bica is Lisbon’s delicious espresso, which is another thing you should definitely try.

Take Tram 28 (If you’re lucky) to Alfama 

Tram 28 in Lisbon - 2 days in Lisbon

Tram 28 in Lisbon – 2 days in Lisbon

One of the best ways to explore the historic parts of the city is definitely by using the tram. Lisbon’s trams were developed in 1914 to make it possible for residents to go from the central Baixa district to neighborhoods like Graca and Estrela.

The city used to have a lot of tram lines but they disappeared over the years due to an extended underground metro system. And today, there are currently only five tramlines left across the city.

If you want to use the tram, it is good to know that there are two types of trams; the historic Remodelado ones, and the modern Articulado trams. The Remodelado trams are the yellow-colored trams that go through the narrow streets of Lisbon. And of course, the most iconic one is the tram 28, which crosses the Alfama district. 

The crowded wait for Lisbon's Tram 28

The crowded wait for Lisbon’s Tram 28

Due to this trams’ incredible route that goes past so many important sights and charming neighborhoods, it’s now used by tourists as a way to explore the city.

As in an ideal world, you can tour the city for just €2.90, if you buy a ticket onboard or €1.45 with a prepaid transport card. But since it is a very popular thing to do in Lisbon, you might have to wait up to an hour to take a ride. Honestly, I couldn’t bother waiting but if you have more patience than I do, then you should.

The tram usually comes around every 10 minutes and can only seat about 20 people, which means that even you catch the tram, you will probably have an uncomfortable 7 km ride, squeezed with lots of people.

But if it is something that you want to experience, it is well worth it, because you will get to see all the incredible historical spots which are also highly photogenic.

On the other hand, if you want to burn the calories of Pastéis de Nata, you can walk the tram 28 route and enjoy the sights better by taking your time. And by the end of the route, you will reach the gorgeous district of Alfama!

Walk around in Alfama 

Colors of Old Town Alfama – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal – photo by skitterphoto

Alfama is an adorable small district, which is located on one of the seven hills of Lisbon. Being the oldest and safest neighborhood of Lisbon, Alfama is still very lively.

Surrounded by a rich history and culture, you will not want to leave here. The locals are also the most helpful people in the entire World. In here, you can also sit and enjoy the neighborhood from plenty of local bars and restaurants, while tasting delicious and traditional Portuguese food!

Can't get enough of Lisbon's streets

Can’t get enough of Lisbon’s streets

Alfama can be explored easily by foot through its narrow alleys and a lot of staircases. It seems like you can easily get lost, but don’t worry because it is almost impossible as long as you walk down the district of Alfama.

Lisbon has many viewpoints

Lisbon has many viewpoints

The best way to start exploring is from the Castelo São Jorge, which is a very well preserved castle. Also known as the St George’s Castle, the castle stands on the highest hill of Lisbon, and it offers one of the greatest views over the city (that’s our next point).

After gazing through an incredible view, you can walk down the neighborhood, and eventually, you will get out at the bottom. But first, it is time to check out the Castelo de São Jorge!

Enjoy the View from Castelo de São Jorge aka St. George’s Castle

Castelo de Sao Jorge - view from Lisbon's St George castle

Castelo de Sao Jorge – view from Lisbon’s St George castle

If you want to get to know more about Lisbon’s heritage and history, Castelo de São Jorge is one of the best places to start with. Open 7 days a week, this castle witnessed many epic historical moments.

St George Castle in Lisbon

St George Castle in Lisbon

Having a permanent exhibition about the city’s history as well as guided tours, you can explore the castle and grasp the history in one and a half hours. 

The guided tour includes exploring the castle’s battlements, a camera obscura, the museum, and the numerous hidden paths.

For visitors, the Castelo de São Jorge is a great attraction point because even though the castle initially built the 1st century BC, due to a major restoration performed in the 1940s, it is one of the best-preserved castles in the country. And of course, due to its exceptional location, you can rest while gazing at the castle’s unique and majestic sight.

Getting to St George Castle in Lisbon - 2 days in Lisbon

Getting to St George Castle in Lisbon – 2 days in Lisbon

In order to reach the top, you will have to climb a lot of steps but the view is totally worth it. A lot of the steps are shaded but some aren’t so it is advisable to wear a hat. I didn’t and I felt the heat.

Sunset View from Miradouro da Senhora do Monte 

A random viewpoint in Lisbon

A random viewpoint in Lisbon

If you want to watch the sunset from Lisbon’s highest lookout point, then head to the Miradouro da Senhora do Monte! This great terrace looks out over Lisbon, and it offers an uninterrupted 250-degree incredible panoramic view. Also known as Our Lady of the Hill, you can take some breathtaking photos over there. 

Honestly, we just happened to reach here by chance and clicked some photos. It was only later we realised that this is one of the famous viewpoints in Lisbon.

Miradouro da Graça 

Want to have a drink while looking at a view of the old neighborhoods like Mouraria, Alfama, Downtown, and 25th April Bridge? Then visit the hill of Santo André and check out the terrace of Graça, aka Miradouro da Graça. Here, you can find an open-air café where you can hang out with young locals, and relax a bit after traveling all day.

Dinner in Lisbon 

Finally its dinner time! In Lisbon, you can find both local and international chefs, which create a unique and modern Portuguese cuisine.

You can basically have incredible meals anywhere in Lisbon, however, if you want a traditional meal, then there are some dishes that you should try out.

One of the things you should eat in Lisbon is Portugal’s beloved bacalhau, which is dried and salted codfish. If you feel fancy, you can order bacalhau à Brás, which is a shredded cod with onions, eggs, and potatoes.

While in Lisbon, you can have lots of fresh seafood like octopus, tuna, monkfish, shrimp, sardines, and clams as well. If you want to eat red meat, don’t forget to try the Alentejan beef with a side of Douro wines.

Eating in Lisbon - 2 days in Lisbon itinerary

Eating in Lisbon – Lisbon itinerary

Come Back to Your Hotel 

After a delicious meal, you can come back to your hotel and rest, or get ready for an epic night out. If you still have some energy left, it is time to visit the Bairro Alto for a few cocktails.

Get to Bairro Alto for Lisbon’s Nightlife (Optional)

Having the highest concentration of bars and clubs, Bairro Alto is the place to visit if you want a great night out. Whether you like clubs or bars, you can find something for everyone.

Bairro Alto neighborhood is quite unique. Here you will see many car-free, picturesque narrow streets full of amazing restaurants and bars. Listening to the live music that pours from the clubs, you can either join one of the super fun pub crawls to meet new people, or dance till morning in Bairro Alto’s many nightclubs.

Day 2: Peaceful and Arty Lisbon 

One of the many colorful streets in Lisbon

One of the many colorful streets in Lisbon

On your second day, you can check out the artsy side of Lisbon! After a quick breakfast, your first stop should be the Carmo Archaeological Museum.

Carmo Archaeological Museum,   

In 1864, the royal architect Joaquim Passidónio da Silva created this space as a storage and display of important sculptures from old ruined buildings.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the museum incorporated a series of pieces of historical, archaeological and artistic works from many different chronological ages, which date from Pre-History to the present day.

Today, you can find the ruins of a gothic church, the main altar, an eclectic collection of tombs, statuary, ceramics, and beautiful mosaics. Other interesting pieces to check out are the shrunken heads, South American mummies, a jasper sculpture of the Virgin Mary, Visigothic artifacts, and coins dating back to the 13th century.

Lunch in Mercado da Ribera – Gourmet Food Hall

If you are not sure what to eat, you have to head to the Mercado da Ribeira, which is an epic culinary market curation. The gourmet food hall of this market has 40 kiosks, which offer delicious meals from Michelin-star chefs for food court prices.

Since it is a great place for food, sometimes it is hard to find a seat. Here, you will find three levels, with plenty of fresh products as well. The ground floor is for the fish market, the first floor has meat products, and fruits and vegetables are on the second floor. 

Cristo Rei 

Christo Rei in Lisbon

Christo Rei in Lisbon

After the delicious lunch, the next stop is Cristo Rei! Resembling the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, Cristo Rei is the statue of Christ with raised arms that bless the city. The monument was constructed in the 1950s to reverence for Portugal avoiding the Second World War.

The view from Christo Rei in Lisbon

The view from Christo Rei in Lisbon

Here, you can visit the Cristo Rei’s 80-meter high viewing platform to check out the splendid panoramic views over Lisbon and enjoy many religious gardens and pilgrimage buildings as well. Keep in mind that the entry to the viewing deck closes at 6 PM. But don’t worry, there are plenty of viewpoints all around the statue. 

LX Factory – Enjoy Lisbon’s Arty Side with Drinks and Dinner 

And last but not least, you have to check out the LX Factory, which is an abandoned industrial site that was turned into a creative and gastronomic area! With its trendy shops and delicious food places, here is a must-visit place. 

Located under the 25 de Abril Bridge, the LX Factory can be reached by trams or buses heading west from Cais do Sodre. After checking out the hipster shops, you can choose your dinner from many Japanese, Italian and Portuguese restaurants. And also, don’t forget to check out its incredible rooftop bar for a drink and an another epic view.

How to Get Around Lisbon 

Inside Lisbon's Metro - 2 days in Lisbon

Inside Lisbon’s Metro – 2 days in Lisbon

When you arrive at Lisbon airport, you can simply take the metro to reach anywhere. Being very accessible, the metro is the main transportation system in Lisbon. You can also find many useful information and maps in English as well.

Make sure to buy a Lisboa City card, which will allow you to have unlimited use of the metro, bus, tram, and elevators in the city center.

Once you reach the city center, you can use trams as well. The taxis and buses, on the other hand, is pretty affordable and fast, but public transportation in Lisbon sometimes has strikes. That’s why it is better to plan your transfer to the airport if you are in a hurry.

On a ferry in Lisbon - itinerary

On a ferry in Lisbon – itinerary

We also traveled on a ferry when we visited Christo Rei and it was a memorable experience. Keep your mind open to using different modes of public transportation while you’re in Lisbon.

A Shiny Yellow VW Camper Van in Lisbon

A Shiny Yellow VW Camper Van in Lisbon

We often travel within Europe on our camper van but we avoid taking our ban inside big cities like Lisbon because of parking situation. If you’re road tripping in Europe then you may want to find a camping place or a parking place outside Lisbon so that you can explore the city using it’s easy public transportation.

Where to Stay in Lisbon?

Lisbon Gambori

Even though this place is a hostel, we booked a private room in Lisbon Gambori and loved it. It was close to everything – St George’s Castle, Alfama, and Praça do Comércio. We could just walk everywhere from here.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.  We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Why Visit Lisbon? 11 Reasons to Fall in Love with Lisbon, Portugal

Why Visit Lisbon? 11 Reasons to Fall in Love with Lisbon, Portugal

Ola Lisbon, I am hopelessly in love with you! Can I be yours forever?

There are two kinds of people in this world – those who have never been to Lisbon and those who are in love with Lisbon. I belong to the latter group.

My love affair with Lisbon started in August 2016, when I spent a few days being swept off my feet in this charming city. I revisited Portugal a few years after and realized I am still in love with it. I am not a big fan of metropolitans but Lisbon will always hold a special place in my heart, and that’s why I decided to share my favorite things about the city.

Quick Introduction about Lisbon – Portugal’s Capital City

If you’ve been living in a cave and don’t know about Lisbon, then let me introduce this place to you so that you know what is Lisbon like. Lisbon is the capital and the largest city of Portugal.

If you see the map of Europe, you will notice that Lisbon is actually quite close to the African continent. Also, it is one of the Westernmost cities of Europe. (The actual westernmost point of Europe is Cabo da Roca in Portugal)

The locals call is Lisboa, Lisbon city is built on seven hills, so expect many stunning viewpoints here. There are white buildings that are intricately decorated with tiles and charming narrow alleys. As if the above wasn’t all, there’s more – this stunning city faces the Atlantic Ocean so if you visit, be sure to enjoy Lisbon’s beaches too!

Check Car Rental Prices in Portugal

Lisbon is unlike any other European city in so many different ways and even more so in terms of weather. Lisbon is warm and comfortable, lively and colorful, fun and happy. It is a city where I can see myself living too.

If you are on this web page, then most likely you are considering traveling to Lisbon and wondering if Portugal is worth visiting? I’d say Hell Yeah – in fact  why just visit Lisbon, if you’re there then take some time out to travel further and explore Portugal’s old towns and coastal areas (like Algarve).

There are so many more interesting things about Lisbon that you should know. As per Condé Nast Traveler, Lisbon is the most underrated city in Europe because it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Anyway, here is why I fell in love with Lisbon, and you will too:

Here’s Why You Should Visit Lisbon, Portugal

1) Everything is Beautiful in Lisbon, even the dustbins

View of old town Alfama in Lisbon, Portugal

Just a random corner in Lisbon with an amazing view – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Believe it or not, every spot in Lisbon is worth a picture. From metro stations to cobbled streets, everything is a delight to the eye. You will find viewpoints after viewpoints and historical landmarks. The city has a lot of history, which is evident in pretty much every corner here.

Most of the buildings look very old, well kept and loved. Not just walls, but also ceilings are adorned with patterns of beautifully painted ceramic tiles called azulejos. By the way, the azulejos are one of the many things that Portugal is famous for. Of course, the city has many museums but in my opinion, the entire city of Lisbon is like one big museum in itself. 

Check out this guide for spending one day in Lisbon.

Suggested: Achill Island, Ireland – the coolest Island in Europe with mind-blowing viewpoints 

 

2) Lisbon’s Weather is Sunny and Warm

Me enjoying Lisbon's warm weather - Falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Me enjoying Lisbon’s warm weather – Falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

No matter how beautiful a place is, but a visit when the weather is bad can limit your options. I have traveled to many places in Europe and there have been days when I couldn’t explore as much as I wanted because of too much rain.

Lisbon is one of the very few destinations in Europe and the world where the weather is pleasant throughout the year. In fact, Visit Lisboa introduces this city as “where the sun shines 290 days a year”, which was an important factor for me to enjoy its beauty. 

Yes, Lisbon is the Sunshine capital of Europe. After traveling around for a few months in Europe, I finally got a chance to comfortably wear flip-flops and shorts without a worry in Lisbon’s warm weather. By the way, be sure to check out these amazing places to visit near Lisbon where you can make a day trip and enjoy Portugal’s sunny weather.

3) Lisbon Has a Happy Vibe

Just some happy people in Lisbon - in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Just some happy people in Lisbon – in love with Lisbon, Portugal

There are many reasons why I love Lisbon but one of the first ones that hit me was how happy everyone around me was.

It started at the the Aeroporto da Portela (that’s the name of Lisbon’s airport) where I met world’s most cheerful immigration officer who made us smile. As soon as we got out, a smiling local helped us with Metropolitano de Lisboa, the internal rail.

Perhaps it was the warm weather but Lisbon is where I met the happiest people in Europe, if not the world! Their smiles were contagious and I felt happier than I had felt in the last few months of traveling while I was here. So if you’re nursing a broken heart, or are generally felling sad then visiting Lisbon will surely lift your spirits up. 

If you’re traveling to this lovely city for a short time, be sure to check out this amazing guide that will tell you how to spend 72 hours in Lisbon. Alternatively, you can also check out this post which will tell you what to do in Lisbon in 3 days.

Suggested: Amsterdam Travel Tips to help you save money 

 

4) Public Transport is Adorable, especially Tram 28

Tram 28 in Lisbon, Portugal - falling in love with Lisbon

Tram 28 in Lisbon, Portugal – falling in love with Lisbon

It is very easy to get around in Lisbon because of its network of metro trains and trams. Yes, these metro trains and trams are beautiful but are very convenient too! My favorite is the iconic bright yellow Tram 28, which goes through Lisbon’s old towns of Alfama, Graça, and Baixa.

You can use tram 28 as a cheap hop on, hop off alternative because it moves through the city’s famous and interesting sites. Even though this tram is usually very crowded with tourists, a ride on it is worth it.

Most likely you won’t get a seat on Tram 28 during the peak vacation months but don’t worry, traveling in Lisbon is super simple by metro or buses. Use Google Maps and select the public transport option. Rent a cycle or walk around, or even catch a ferry. By the way, check out this post for ways to explore Lisbon for free.

5) Lisbon’s Pretty Streets + Street Art

One of the many pretty streets in Lisbon - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

One of the many pretty streets in Lisbon – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Of course, I have mentioned how beautiful Lisbon is in the first point, but I feel the streets deserve an extra mention. Even if you don’t go to the famous landmarks in Lisbon, walking down its pretty streets is sure to win your heart.

For me, the most enjoyable part of being in Lisbon was exploring these streets that were lined with pretty buildings and roadside cafes with chairs on the pavements.

Lisbon Street Art - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon Street Art – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

A lot of streets in Lisbon are hilly because of which you can see the view of many other streets that are further up ahead. Also, Lisbon’s streets have a cobbled floor, which gives the city a very weathered down and old look. If things couldn’t get better, there’s street art everywhere! Some of the artwork and murals were so big that they stretched to the entire lengths of buildings.

Suggested: Hamburg – Germany’s Hipster City with Lovely Canals and a Vibrant Party Scene 

 

6) Old Town Alfama is Seriously Stunning

A beautiful street Old town Alfama in Lisbon - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

A beautiful street Old town Alfama in Lisbon – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

If you’re wondering what is Lisbon known for, then this point is the answer. There are many things to do in Lisbon but no travel article about this city is complete without mentioning Lisbon’s oldest district, Alfama. With Tejo River on one side and São Jorge Castle on the other, Alfama is the icing on the cake of Lisbon’s beauty. You don’t really need a city guide for Lisbon or research about where to go, just visit Alfama.

Here you will some of Lisbon’s most beautiful streets, museums and cathedrals. In earlier times, mostly the fishermen and Lisbon’s poorest families lived here, which is evident in the small houses here. Oh and also, Lisbon Cathedral, which is the city’s oldest church, is in Alfama.

7) Lisbon Has Many Spectacular Viewpoints

View of Lisbon from Christo Rei - Falling in love with Lison, Portugal

View of Lisbon from Christo Rei – Falling in love with Lison, Portugal

Do you remember me mentioning that Lisbon is built on seven hills? The fact that Lisbon is a hilly city, adds another dimension to the beauty and charm of the city because these hills provide extraordinary viewpoints. These viewpoints and the atmosphere truly make Lisbon one of the best cities to visit in Portugal.

I found many viewpoints here but my favorite one was on top of Cristo Rei, which overlooks Lisbon’s red-roofed houses, sea, and the famous Vasco de Gama Bridge. Another interesting viewpoint was from Castle of São Jorge, which overlooks the old town of Alfama.

I do mention a few other viewpoints in my Lisbon itinerary post along with map coordinates.

8) Lisbon is Full of Color

Colors of Old Town Alfama - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Colors of Old Town Alfama – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal – photo by skitterphoto

I will be honest; Lisbon appeared to be mostly red and white at first glance because of the houses. However, as I explored the city further, it turned out to be one of the most vibrant European cities because of the brightly colored tiles, street art, and trams. Many houses and buildings are painted in pastel shades of yellow or blue and a few of them in pink. These pastel tones are soothing to the eye in Lisbon’s warm weather and accentuate the happy vibe of this city.

 

9) Lisbon’s Egg tarts (Pastel de nata) are Legendary (YUM)

Pastel de nata or Egg tart in Lisbon - falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

Pastel de nata or Egg tart in Lisbon – falling in love with Lisbon, Portugal

“If you go to Lisbon, do eat the egg tarts”.

What is Lisbon known for? Definitely this delicious snack.

As soon as we announced our Lisbon trip on social media, not one, but at least 10 different people suggested we try the famous egg tarts here. I’m glad they did because these little mildly sweet pastries are heavenly! Eating these custard and egg tarts was one of my my favorite things to do in Lisbon.

These custard tarts are sold literally everywhere for usually €1 or €2 and are perfect for a light breakfast with coffee.

Little did I know that these egg tarts that are locally called Pastel de nata, have a little history of their own! Catholic Monks created them before the 18th century using the leftover egg yolks. While a lot of monasteries closed down after the Liberal Revolution in 1820, the monks for a little income sold these. A few years later, the secret recipe was sold to a sugar refinery, that in turn opened the famous Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém which still exists in Lisbon today.

10) Lisbon has an Amazing Nightlife

If things couldn’t get better, Lisbon has an amazing nightlife. During my visit here, I visited Bairro Alto district, where there was a nightclub after every few steps.

It’s amazing meeting locals as well as other travelers in these clubs where there is a party every day. I may not have a picture of this, but it was enough to make me fall in love with Lisbon even more.

11) Lisbon is Surprisingly Affordable

Traveling in Europe is expensive but Lisbon is an exception. In my experience, the accommodation was affordable as compared to other cities in Europe. This is a big deal because accommodation cost is a huge chunk of traveling cost. We found a few bakeries and cafes where snacks were as low as 1 or 2 Euros.

This kebab burger was only for a euro and a half - Lisbon, Portugal

This kebab burger was only for a euro and a half – Lisbon, Portugal

This little burger styled chicken kebab sandwich was for 1.5 Euro. Moreover, we often found shops that were owned by Indian, Nepalese and Chinese families that were selling everyday things for as cheap as 1 Euro. I bought a pair of flip-flops, headlight and hand fan in one of these one Euro shops.

History, culture, food, art, beaches and nightlife – Lisbon has it all. The city has so much beauty, love, and happiness that I just did not want to leave. I’d love to go back, especially these top photo spots in Lisbon.

Want to know more?

I will also share a guide with things to do in Lisbon, which will come in handy if you’re visiting my favorite European destination anytime soon.

So, are you ready to fall in love with Lisbon?

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!

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