Sun, sea and stunning rock formations. If that sounds like your idea of paradise then the beautiful Lagos in Portugal may be your ideal holiday destination! Known for it’s vibrant night-life in summer, visiting outside of peak season is a great way to see Lagos on a budget. I visited in September when accommodation prices were lower but the weather was still perfect for a beach holiday.
Lagos is ideal to pair with a trip to other regions of Portgual such as Lisbon, Sintra, Porto or the Eastern Algarve. After several years of seeing incredible pictures of Lagos on postcards I decided it was high time to pay a visit.
Cost Breakdown: 5 Night Trip
Return Flights to Faro from London – £100
Return Travel from Faro – €26
1 Night Shared Hostel Accommodation in Faro – £23.05
4 Nights’ Hostel Accommodation in Lagos– £178 private double (£89 each)
Activities – €84
Food – approx. £110
Total = approx. £410
Travel & Accommodation
If you fly into Faro you may find it easiest to stay one night in the city, before catching a train the next morning. I stayed in a shared 8 bed dorm room at 1878 Hostel which was ideal for a single night and worked out at £23.05 per person. They’re happy to look after your bags if you want to have a wander around the town after checking out.
A single train ticket from Lagos to Faro is around €13, with a discount for those aged 26 and under. The journey to Lagos is approximately 2 hours. Trains typically leave early in the morning and late in the afternoon, so plan in advance which one you plan to catch.
In Lagos I stayed four nights in a private double room at Dream Lagos-Lagos 4U . This worked out at £22.25 each per night. By comparison a bed in the six person dorm would have been £14.50 per night. The double room was good, although the atmosphere was somewhat lacking now that the party season was over. The main disadvantage of the hostel was the location from town and the fact it was at the top of a big hill. If you are visiting when it’s hot I’d definitely recommend finding somewhere closer to the action.
Exploring Lagos on a Budget – Free Activities
Relax on the Beach – Lagos has some of the prettiest beaches in Europe, so they’re the ideal place to spend most of your time. With beautifully clear waters they’re also a great place to do some snorkeling. Just bear in mind that the sea can be very cold, as the water comes from the Atlantic Ocean rather the warmer Mediterranean.
Meia Praia is the largest (and most popular) beach is Lagos – extending for over 4km! It’s a short 10 minute walk from the Lagos marina and in summer you can catch a water taxi.
A little further afield is Praia Dona Ana. This beach is enclosed by the rock formations that give Lagos it’s iconic picture postcard status. It’s a twenty minute walk from Lagos town, but you can hop on the tourist train or bus if it’s too hot to walk. The beach is very wide so you don’t need to stay close to the crumbling cliff edges. This does however mean there are limited options for shade. With plenty of amenities nearby, this is the ideal beach for families. The only route down is via steep steps, so this isn’t suitable for anyone who requires disabled access.
If you prefer somewhere a little quieter I’d highly recommend Praia dos Estudantes (the student beach). Just a little further on from Praia Dona Ana it has more shade and the curved bay feels very safe to swim in. This beach is much lesser known, so it feels like a local secret. There are several doorways in the surrounding cliffs providing opportunities to explore and a large rock you can jump off into the sea. Praia dos Estudantes is the perfect place to watch the sun go down as the beach empties and becomes your own private paradise.
To the right of the beach there’s a passage to a hidden beach next door. At low tide you can walk through without getting your feet wet. Just make sure not to get stuck when the tide rises!
Take a Coastal Stroll – If you’re keen to stretch your legs, head to the top of the cliffs to explore the coastline from above. You can follow the coast around in the direction of Ponta da Piedade in the safe knowledge that you can always catch the tourist train back. Just make sure not to get too close to the edge of the cliffs as a lot are very unstable.
You’ll find plenty of spectaculars views along the way, a couple of which I’ve included below.
While en route I’d recommend checking out one more beach – Praia do Camilo. This beach has a lovely restaurant at the top which I’ll discuss more later in the post. There are also breath-taking views from the top of the steps leading down to the beach. It’s very sheltered from the wind, so the perfect place to be on a windy day.
Once you reach Ponta da Piedade you’ll find a set of steps leading down. From here you can pay to take a boat tour of the rugged headland if you wish to explore further. I popped down for the view and then paid around €2.50 to take the tourist train back to the town.
Sea Kayaking with Days of Adventure – Priced at €35 for just over 2 hours, I think this is a must do activity when in Lagos. As a redhead I was keen to avoid the strongest sun at midday, so I picked a tour leaving later in the afternoon. The views were incredible and it was great to experience the coast from a different perspective. The sea was quite rough in places (and the group size a little too large for my liking,) so I’d only suggest going if you’re confident on the water, but in general I had a great time. At the end of the trip we also had an opportunity to jump into the sea from the boat – it was very cold!
Pro Putting Garden Miniature Golf – I spent an entertaining couple of hours playing miniature golf at this well maintained course near the town centre. With surprise squirting frogs and moveable platforms, it’s one of the best courses I’ve played to date. For adults it costs €5 to play 9 holes and €9 for the full 18 holes.
Dolphin Seafaris – On the final day of the holiday I decided to splash out on a trip to see some dolphins. Having been on a similar trip before which ended in disappointment I was keen to catch a glimpse of the elusive creatures. Happily it was second time lucky and the dolphins swam around the boat for several minutes. I had no complaints about paying €40 for 90 minutes given that I did see dolphins on my trip, but do bear in mind there are no guarantees. Be aware that you can get quite wet on the journey. I thought the company were well organised and I felt safe at all times.
Food in Lagos
To keep costs down on my budget trip to Lagos I ate breakfast at the hostel each morning. I also prepared some basic sandwiches a couple of times and took them to the beach. Other dinners and lunches I ate out and below is an overview of the best.
The Green Room – I was very happy with my meal at this tex-mex style restaurant. Veggie quesadillas followed by brownie and ice cream for afters made for a very happy me! The sangria was delicious as well. There are lots of vegetarian options and it worked out at just over €10 for a main meal and drink.
Nah Nah Bah -At this Jamaican themed burger bar I had the Virgin Veggie Burger priced at €11.95. It’s a veggie patty topped with garden veggies and tzatziki piri piri sauce. Chips are included on the side as standard. It was a nice burger but rather expensive for the price. However, if you fancy a burger while you’re on holiday you could do much worse.
Meu Limão Tapas – With plenty of vegan and vegetarian options I highly recommend this restaurant. They also do delicious homemade lemonade for €3! The Misto Vegetariana (a mixed platter of four vegetarian tapas) is €16. Individual veggie tapas are priced at €4-€5.
Refresh Snack Bar – Cheap and simple sandwiches, omelettes and salads. They also do smoothies and juices. This is the ideal spot for easy food if you’re eating out in Lagos on a budget. They also have free Wi-Fi and a printer.
O Camilo – Not a whole lot of vegetarian options, but a lovely location. The vegetable soup and smoothie were both very tasty and reasonably priced for such an upmarket restaurant.
I had a fantastic time exploring Lagos on a budget and I’m keen to head back again soon. I’ll make sure to take my snorkeling gear next time!
Is Lagos the prettiest place in Portugal? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!