A Double Dip in Portugal – Lagos & Peniche
Day 1: Lagos
Travelling around Europe, you often find that no town, country or culture really resembles the relaxed, laid-back, and carefree mindset of Australians. This is always amazing and eye-opening, as we get to interact and surround ourselves with people that are quite different to us. But in our opinion, the Lagos culture – with its chillaxed vibes and robust surf culture – is most definitely stepping on the toes of that Australian aura and atmosphere, and we absolutely love it!Lagos is known for beautiful sand beaches, crystal clear water, and beachgoers in the buff. You won't see many tan lines here! #Portugal Click To Tweet
Lagos had a lot of hype to live up to. Nearly every photo of a Portugese beach that we had been daydreaming over for the past year has been from Lagos. We got off the bus in the centre of town, grabbed some food at a close café – very cheap, around €3 for a burger, €2 for a coffee – and after dropping our bags at the Airbnb, we made straight for Praia Dona Ana. Some research revealed that this was one of the more popular areas in Lagos, known for beautiful sand beaches, crystal clear water, and…naked women? We noticed very quickly that tan lines of any variety were definitely not copacetic in the social eye of Lagos. There were plenty of ‘senhoras’ bravely flaunting their stuff in the sand, and more power to them!
After soaking in some much-needed rays, we hit the water, which was a dream-like, perfect temperature to cool off in. (Though it should be said we have some prior experience with cold waters, spending a large chunk of summer swimming in beaches around the UK.) The water in Lagos may seem more frigid to some than it did to us. Also, this was peak summer; I can’t see Lagos being a fantastic destination for someone outside of the warm season, as its main attractions are the amazing beaches, cliff walks, and cave tours.
Lagos has an incredible amount of secluded caves and tiny islands scattered across the coastline, and seeing them is an absolute must-do! The only problem: you can’t access these areas from the land, you must enter from the sea. Many companies run guided canoe tours from the mainland that visit a large majority of the caves and beaches, and they cost around €20-€30 and can last from 1-3 hours.
To save some money, we opted to swim to some of these caves instead. This is possible from Praia do Camilo. We swam for around 10-15 minutes from the beach to the first cave, with no real opportunity to stop and lean on something to take a break. They were quite calm waters and easy to swim in, but take care and swim with caution, as jagged rocks and banks can literally appear from nowhere, and you can wind up with some scrapes and bruises on your legs. Continue swimming down the coast, and you’ll find lots of interesting nooks and crannies along the way. However, the only way to get out is by swimming back the way you came to the beach on Praia do Camilo, so don’t get too ambitious!
The safety of your belongings is something we all worry about during a beach day. In summer, all beaches in Lagos are packed full, leaving you in worry when you can’t directly see your belongings from the water. There aren’t any lockers or safe areas to keep your belongings in while you swim, and although we didn’t see or hear of any theft on the beach during our time in Lagos, it’s still something to think about. We were able to take turns swimming and watching the bags to counteract this.
After an abundance of sun and salt water, we set off in search for an authentic Portuguese meal; in particular, seafood! We were given a recommendation for a small restaurant down by the beach, Restaurante a Barrigada. It ticked our three checks in a restaurant – cheap, tasty and authentic. But as we approached, we were almost certain we had the wrong place. Garden furniture outside, dated décor and no other restaurants or buildings in sight. But what this restaurant lacked in image, it more than made up for with a feast! We indulged in a buffet of fresh, local fish and plenty of traditional sides for around €10 each. It was incredible, and well worth the journey to find it.
If you’re planning a trip to Portugal during the summer, without a doubt, add a visit to Lagos to your itinerary. Relaxing beaches, adventurous caves, and crazy nightlife; Lagos has it all!
Day 2: Peniche
A short hour’s drive North of Lisbon, you’ll stumble upon the coastal town of Peniche. Known as a surfer’s ideal oasis, you may have only heard of it because of the Rip Curl World Tour, but Peniche offers up so much more than surfing tubes.
Arriving by bus, we were dropped off at a pretty deserted location, in what felt like the middle of a literal desert. Hang on… where’s the beach?! Trying to save money and with limited transport options available, we realised we had nearly an hour walk ahead of us to our accommodation. Suddenly, I felt the urge to bemoan packing so much.
Knowing we had only one day to discover what Peniche had to offer, we made an early start. What better way to explore than on push bikes? ‘Surf in Baleal’ rentals set us off on a pair of perfect bikes for around €5 each.A surfer’s ideal oasis, Peniche is the perfect beach spot off the beaten track. Click To Tweet
Our first spot on the list was ‘Cabo Carvoerio’, a majestic cape of limestone cliffs with incredible rock formations overlooking the infamous ‘Berlengas Archipelago’. Childhood nostalgia began to set in as we parked our bikes and set off climbing the rocks and caves like kids on school holiday. It was the perfect spot to just sit and watch the waves crash against the cliffs. If only we had packed a picnic…
Back on our bikes and with rumbling stomachs, we continued to follow the gorgeous coastal roads around the Peniche peninsula. Riding past many surf schools, we cruised on into the white sand beach of Gamboa. Over the top of the golden sand dunes, we could see today’s lunch spot. A relaxed beach café called ‘Gamboa Bar’ – a budget traveller’s dream – with beers for €1.20 and burgers for €3.50. This was dangerous! We sat for hours drinking in the majestic views (and beer).
Our next stop was ‘Praia dos Supertubos,’ the home of the annual ‘Rip Curl Pro event’. Now, full of beer and feeling a little wobbly on the bikes, we were ready to find Kelly Slater shredding the waves, Unfortunately, no such luck. What we did come across were kilometres of golden, sandy beach, and plenty more beach bars. We laid out the towel, braved the west coast chilly water, and soaked up the rays.
If the beaches of Lagos sound too crowded for you, Peniche is the perfect beach spot off the beaten track to avoid the typical overpopulated tourist areas of Portugal.