World Class Beaches
The beaches of the Algarve have ranked among the top one hundred beaches in the world. They are breathtaking. It’s hard to put into words the soaring cliffs, clean sandy beaches, and turquoise waters. I will try to include as many pictures as possible to fully illustrate this point.
The prices in Portugal are very reasonable. My hotel was only 25€ a night and included a communal kitchen so I could prepare food saving me even more money. Car rental start as low as 15€ a day. If you’re a ‘sun worshipper’ you can easily spend a week exploring the endless beaches and parks in your own car. I was only in Lagos for 3 days and didn’t find a car necessary, but I probably walk 5 to 10 miles a day when on vacation. A taxi from the bus station to my hotel was only 4.5€. To give you an idea of prices.
I visited Lagos in March. The weather was perfect 75°F (22°C) outside and sunny. There were just enough people out and about to not feel isolated. It was fantastic hiking along the Algarve’s dramatic coastline cliffs without crushes of tourists. You could walk along the endless sandy beaches at sunset with only a handful of other people. If you’re looking for nightlife then make sure you visit during the summer. Personally after a month walking Spain’s crowded and often rubbish filled beaches Lagos felt like my own private paradise.
I like a variety of food. Everything I tried in Lagos was good and the prices were reasonable which is important for the budget conscious travelers. Here are a couple of items I tried to give you an idea of prices. A ‘cafe com lete’ (coffee with milk) and ‘sandwiche mista’ (ham and cheese sandwich) will cost between 3-5€. You can get Kebab from a take away place for 4€. I had a world-class chicken curry from an Indian restaurant for only 6.50€. And beef stroginough one night for only 9€. Of course prices can cost a lot more than that*.
Driving from Lagos to Lisbon you see endless rolling hills of cork trees. Cork is a fascinating natural resource. There is a lot of information about the harvest and processing of cork online. I urge you to read about it before going to Portugal. I might try to include another blog post on sustainable resources like cork. Tours of cork farms are available from different locations in Portugal. Shops sell both affordable and luxury cork products. These include wallets, iPad cases, and handbags to name a few items. In recent years the wine industry has seen a shift from cork to synthetic stoppers. The cork industry is doing a marvelous job of re-branding this durable natural resource to a new market. I love to see old traditions adapt to current trends and changing demand instead of becoming extinct.
A multilingual population
In the words of my best friend, “you had me at speaks English.” Almost everyone in Portugal speaks at least some English especially in the South. So if your like me and you speak nil Portuguese don’t let that deter you from visiting. Portugal is a very diverse country welcoming tourists from all over the globe.
* I feel like I need to include a couple of paragraphs about the downside of Portugal. Overall my experience was wonderful or I wouldn’t be writing a blog encouraging you to go, but I found a couple of experiences stressful. I hope that by including my mistakes here you wont have to repeat them and will essentially have a smoother travel experience. After a month traveling through Spain, Portugal caught me by surprise. Everyone I talked to said Portugal and Spain are very similar culturally and that the Portuguese are very honest. To clarify this statement you can ‘probably’ leave your bag unattended go to the bathroom and come back to find it where you left it (not that I recommend trying it). The unemployment rate in Portugal is considerably less than Spain, so the crime rate is much lower as well. Spain with a soaring unemployment rate of 20 percent has understandably higher pickpocket rates. To say the Portuguese are more ‘honest’ is a different story, however. In Spain the price is the price. There are no hidden fees, and I have never had anyone overcharge me. I found Portugal a lot more stressful in that sense. Just because the menu says the price is 8.5€ doesn’t mean your waiter won’t try to charge you 24€. If restaurants try to overcharge you it’s important to be firm with them about the price. Some waiters try to take advantage of unaccustomed tourists. I got swindled twice in one day when I first arrived. Also in Lisbon hosts standing outside of restaurants can be very pushy. One actually grabbed my arm and tried to pull me into the restaurant, which made me understandably upset. On another occasion I had a taxi driver charge me a 2€ baggage ‘handling’ fee for helping me with my luggage. He was just trying to rip me off and I find it difficult to argue with people over 2€. Overall during the course of a week I was only swindled out of 20€ that I know of, which could have been much worse.
Have you been to Lagos? I would love to hear your questions or thoughts in the comments section below.