Of everything all of Europe has to offer, lying on the sand in the Algarve is the most in harmony with our personalities. When coupled with the people, food, and culture of Portugal, it made our week long trip really special. We visited Lagos in the Algrave and Lisboa, the capital of Portugal.
Lagos – is a town in the Algrave region, south of Portugal. It is known for its surfing, breathtaking coastlines and till the break of dawn partying. While researching extently which town to stay in the Algrave region we were torn between Lagos and Albufeira. We decided to go with Lagos as it less touristy and smaller which we preferred. Portugal culture is similar to Kiwi culture, laid back and easygoing. Many travelers we spoke to (who stayed at The Shelter Hostel) wound up staying weeks and sometimes months longer than they intended too – it’s easy to see why. We arrived in Lagos in the middle of summer, sun searing away in an endless blue sky. The water a refreshing asylum. While the Atlantic Ocean brings a cool sea breeze during the evenings. During this period you will find plenty of Australians and Kiwis in the throes of Lagos. The nightlife and beaches are all the important ingredients which resonate with southern hemisphere holiday makers.
We meet some amazing people during our stay in Lagos, I cannot hype up enough how much we loved this place. If I could, I would move here in a heartbeat.
Lisboa – The capital of Portugal, this quirky city is filled with romance, diversity of culture and charisma. We over spent our time in Lagos meaning we only had three days in Lisboa. We made the most of the short time we had in this Romantic city. Though after partying every night in Lagos our pace wandering around the city was slow. We found a great beach close to the city in Costa Da Caparica, where we soaked up the sun and went surfing. The food in Lisboa was delicious and if you love seafood you will be in for a great treat.
We entered Portugal by getting a blabla car from Seville, this was an easy and super cheap way to get to the Algrave region. It cost us 10 Euro each and only took 3 hours with a few stops. If you haven’t heard of blabla car it is a carpooling system where you pay for a seat in the car with people going the same direction. It is more comfortable than a bus and faster! You might even make a few friends along the way and share some stories.
We took another blabla car from Lagos to Lisboa, it was also 10 euro and took just under 3 hours to get there. Beware there are tolls on the way to Lisboa if you are driving.
Lagos – We stayed at The Shelter Hostel. This is the best Hostel I have stayed in Europe! I would recommend this place to everyone visiting Portugal. It is owned by 2 brothers that were born and raised in Lagos, they live at the hostel with their adorable golden retriever, Luca. The hostel is in a great location only 5 minutes from the town and offers a free breakfast. The atmosphere of the hostel is really friendly, everyone you meet from around the world are all welcoming and the brothers go out of their way to organise family dinners and parties. It gets super busy during the summer months as everyone wants to stay there and end up staying longer. Make sure you book well in advance.
Lisboa – We had an issue with our pre-booked accommodation. When we arrived our booked room was taken. The guy who managed the apartments was rude and left us with a bitter pill to swallow. I get the impression it is a common thing to overbook during the summer months. Be careful when booking. Left feeling stressed out and homeless, we quickly found a hostel on the other side of town The Elevator hostel and booked in for the night. This quirky hostel is situated right next to the oldest elevator tram, you will notice there is a lot of elevator tram around Lisboa as it is a very hilly city. The hostel was great and was right in the center of Lisboa so you could walk everywhere. There was also a free breakfast which is always a bonus, we were only here for one night and it had everything you really needed. The next 2 nights we stayed at an apartment (It was so long ago we cannot remember the name) in Bairro Alto, this neighborhood has great nightlife, restaurants and a short walk to the main center. We would recommend finding accommodation in this fun neighborhood.
- The Garden, Bar and Grill. This was recommended to us by many locals, it is a quaint beer garden, cafe and restaurant. It is a lovely place with delicious food, great place to go to have dinner or lunch. Serving BBQ and Portuguese food.
- Osaka restaurant. All you can eat Japanese at such a reasonable price. Portugal is known for its great seafood and being Japanese they had a lot of seafood on the menu. Everything was freshly cooked and absolutely delicious, by far the best sushi I have tasted in a very long time. You can order as much food as you like (given that you will finish it all, otherwise you pay for food you don’t eat) at only 14 euro per person.
- Nah Nah Bah restaurant. It made the world’s top 50 best burgers. As avid burger eaters we were eager to try this talked up burger place and in my eyes no-where could ever beat Patty and Bun in London, we had to give it a go. As I thought it didn’t come close to my beloved Patty and Bun but it was still definitely above average. We can recommend the Toucan burger (winner of the top 50 burgers in the world award) – beef patty, bacon, pineapple, lettuce, tomato, onion, melted cheese and homemade sauces. Another delicious burger was the Blue Ball Buster – beef patty topped with caramelized onions, creamy blue cheese, zesty rucola and homemade BBQ sauce.
- Petiscos no Barrio. Petiscos is the Portuguese cousin of Spanish tapas. This restaurant is located in Bairro Alto, with over 2 dozen petiscos (snacks) to choose from on the menu. Delicious spicy sausage cuts was our favourite and the variety of seafood tapas.
- Mercado Campo de Ourique – Market serving locals with food for 80 years. Recently refurbished now offers 20 cafes and little restaurants, great way to eat and shop like a local. You can find all sorts of food; seafood, sushi, cheese, meats, sweets and wine!
- Cervejaria Ramiro – Most well – known seafood restaurant in Lisboa, serves high quality seafood all cooked fresh and on the spot. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to get down and dirty with all kinds of delicious seafood.
Must see and do
Sea kayaking – grab some kayaks from Praia da Batata (beach) and paddle round the coastline discovering little caves and arches you can paddle under. Great way to discover some hidden beaches.
- Surfing in Sagres – From Lagos you can catch a bus to Sagres. Rent boards from the beach and hit the waves! Big foamys make fun for everyone.
- Partying with new friends
- Chilling at the beach and walking along the coastal cliffs
- Sintra – A beautiful castle like no other on the planet. Colorful and elegant it stands proud at the top of a mountain. The garden walk up to the castle is magic.
- Partying with the locals in the ‘rec room’, a local hangout only found through word of mouth
- Surf beach – It takes a train and then a bus to get out to Costa Da Caparica. It’s worth the journey. Soft sand amazing water, and some nice easy waves for beginners to have a crack at surfing.
Tips and advice
- Make sure to book accommodation in advance during the summer months
- Tipping- it is a good gesture to tip 5-10% but it is not compulsory.
- All restaurants bring out a range of bread and olives without asking, if you end up eating it they will add this to your bill. If you do not want it, let them know and they can take it away from the table.