The Algarve Region of Portugal

Praia Dona Ana - Algarve, Portugal

After a few wonderful days in Lisbon, it was time to explore more of Portugal via a rental car. We made our way down the Algarve region of Portugal, specifically, Lagos. Hoping to see some magnificent coast line vistas we took the circuitous route that most closely followed the ocean. Unfortunately this ended up being a bad idea. Turning what should’ve been a 3 hour ride via the highway, into a 4.5-5 hour ride with little-to-no-view of the ocean at any point. It also didn’t help that the roads were not properly marked, and that I was trying to save my data usage, since I hadn’t picked up a Portugal sim card, and I was paying $25 per 100 MB. The car ride was tenser than it should’ve been, but I have to give props to my navigator for sticking with it and ultimately getting us to our destination of Lagos in one piece!

We had 3-4 days to enjoy the sun, surf, and sand that Lagos and the Algarve region had to offer. Our first full day, I rented a board and Amanda got surf lessons at Arrifana beach in the northern part of the Algarve, roughly 45 minutes from Lagos. One of the big gripes with this beach was that it was impossible to navigate the beach without destroying your feet walking along the rocky coast line. Other than that it was a decent day out in the surf, but probably a surf break better suited for intermediate to advanced surfers rather than beginners like ourselves. Once our surf sessions were out of the way we decided to explore the coast line all the way back to Lagos, stopping at most of the beaches along the way scouting out more locations for our next few days. Ultimately, with an end goal of catching the south-western most point of continental Europe at Sagres. Sagres was considered the end of the world as late as the  1400’s before Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.

From the research we had done, Lagos seemed to be the most lively of the Algarve cities, and that was deemed true after our exploration. We ended up being there at the perfect time of year, the shoulder season before the large crowds infest the city and it’s beautiful beaches. The weekend seemed to get a large influx of college kids that had been bussed in from Sevilla, but besides that it was pretty tame this time of year. If you ever make a trip to this part of the world, make sure you come in April/May.

There were two beaches that we really loved.  Praia Do Amado, which is a few beaches south of Arrifana. Here is another good beginners surfing beach, with a couple surf shops positioned a few hundred yards from the beach that offer rentals and lessons. You really can’t get here from Lagos without having a car though. The other beach is Praia Dona Ana,  which is an option for those that are in Lagos without a car. There is no surfing at this beach, but it does offer some amazing photo opportunities with limestone cliffs, and calm crystal-clear blue waters

If you’re looking for plenty of sun, good food, the option to surf, and amazing beaches then the Algarve region of Portugal should be on your short list of places to visit.