Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lagos, Portugal [Part I of III]

Portugal, the westernmost country of mainland Europe shares the Iberian Peninsular with Spain and this proximity makes it a great destination for a short & affordable holiday - away from Spain.

In this and the subsequent 2 posts, I'll be sharing my travels to some parts of Portugal at different points in time. First, I'll start off with Lagos!

Lagos is a popular (& touristy) coastal city located at the southern coastline of Portugal's Algarve region and it is most famous for its sandy beaches, rugged cliffs and abundant leisure activities. It has a generally casual atmosphere and friendly locals, plus things are relatively cheaper here compared to some other similar cities in Portugal and Spain.

Its compact historical centre is confined within the old city walls and made up of a maze of small streets with an array of restaurants, shops, hotels and attractions. These are all concentrated on the left bank, near the mouth of a river called 'Rebeira de Bensafrim' (which flows out to the North Atlantic Ocean).

Crossing a footbridge over the river will get you across to the fishing port as well as to the Marina of Lagos.

Above: The footbridge linking the old town to the modern marina.

Here you can see lots of docked boats, yachts and catamarans - some of which you can charter for fishing trips, dolphine watching, grotto & cave trips, and even BBQ cruises!

In my opinion, the best time to get across to the right bank is in the evening, when you can enjoy the view of the sun setting over the Marina. Afterwhich, you can settle in for a nice dinner at any of the restaurants located along the stretch of the Marina de Lagos.

Above: One of Lagos' many beautiful beaches - Praia da Batata.

Above: The Ponta da Piedade lighthouse.

Away from the historical center, located at the southern tip of the bay of Lagos is a prominent lighthouse, Farol da Ponta da Piedade. Once a chapel, the building was re-constructed in 1913 and became the lighthouse that it is today, standing 51m above sea level on top of the cliff. However, it is not the lighthouse itself but the stunning scenic views from here that is the attraction.

From the top of the cliff, you get to enjoy magnificent views of amazing rock formations with natural archs and fascinating grottoes. There's a long flight of steps carved into the cliff that gets you right down to the bottom.

Alternatively, you can choose to take a boat from the Marina, sailing along Lagos' coast to Ponta de Piedade and enjoy the view of the nature carved landscape from the ocean!

The coastline is named the "Golden Coast" due to the rocks’ yellowish tone.

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