My complete 12-day route was:
- Faro (Tavira day trip)
- Aveiro (Costa Nova day trip)
Faro airport to town is not within walking distance but you can catch public transport bus number 16 which costs 2.35, (you purchase from the bus driver using cash). The last stop is the bus station and it is almost in the town centre, from there you can walk everywhere. Loads of websites were saying you need to take a taxi into town, but people lie. If you are flying into Faro but your destination is Lagos, you can also take a bus directly from the airport to Lagos without having to go into Faro town first but I am unsure which bus number it is.
Faro is a sleepy town with a super relaxed vibe. Think, old ladies who set up their make-shift stands to sell crochet oven mitts and cork purses on a Saturday evening. There is a small old town section and a nice walk along the water around the town wall. You can catch a ferry to a beach but I am not 100% sure of the details because I saw the boat tour prices were double digits so I slowly backed away.
I went to the Igreja do Carmo church which has a Chapel made of monk’s bones. It is 2 euros to enter but when the guy asked if I was a student, my automatic reaction was yes so I got it for 1 euro. I think he assumed since we were in a church I wouldn’t lie, although I did have a nearly expired student card if he had asked for it. If creepy skulls and bones are your thing or if you are crazy bored in Faro then you can splurge.
I did have a fantastic peri peri chicken meal at Churrasqueira O Recife. I went right when they opened and sat down outside. A lady came out and said chicken so I said yes and then she came back outside 15/20 min later with some wonderfully seasoned chicken. I had a salad, fries, half a chicken and half a litre of sangria.
Half a day in Faro would have been enough, make it a full day if you go out for lunch but I booked everything early since I’m a twat so I ended up having 2.5 days here, spending one day in Tavira.
Since there wasn’t much in Faro, I went to the neighbouring town Tavira, which is 39 minutes away by train and costs 6.40 round trip. Tavira is charming, it has a cute little Roman bridge, a darling promenade and loads of those Portuguese tiled houses scattered around.
I spent 2 euros return to go to Ilha Praia (beach) by ferry. You may be thinking woah Corrine a full two euros for a boat trip, why didn’t you just pay the 1 euro to get there and then walk back from the beach? Unfortunately, unless you’re Jesus and can walk on water, you won’t be able to. Certain areas of the south of Portugal are protected, marsh wetlands for dem birds and nature. So to get to the beach, you have to speed boat over a few endangered species before you can soak up the rays. During the summer you can catch the ferry under the large bridge. The bridges go: Roman bridge, metal walking-only bridge, large bridge. The ferry is on the side with the pretty promenade.
Definitely bring snacks and water because although there are restaurants and toilet facilities at the beach, it’s quite pricey. When I hopped on the ferry I noticed so many people with umbrellas and I thought that was excessive and dramatic. Until I got to the beach and tornadoes of sand were flying everywhere smacking me in the face. In general, Portugal has very windy beaches so keep this in mind.
If you held your pee the entire day because you’re too pretentious to go in the ocean, there is a free toilet in the building close to where the ferry docks in Tavira. It houses a top-notch ice cream shop, food and souvenir shops and a wonderfully clean, free toilet.
The train from Faro to Lagos one way was 7.40 euros for a 2-hour journey approx. In general, I found Portuguese trains to be a bit of a crap shoot. They do say the direction they are going on the front if you’re lucky, but that’s it. Most stations don’t have boards or schedules for the trains. Which track is anyone’s guess. It becomes a game of musical train chairs but with more panic because instead of missing out on a piece of cake that you’ll get anyways, you basically can be stranded in the middle of nowhere. Punctuality is also not a strong suit of the Portuguese. Out of the 8 or so trains I caught, 2 ran on time.
The train station is within walking distance to Lagos town, but depending on how far south you are staying, it may be a bit of a trek.
I decided a beach day was in order and I read online that they pack up quickly, so the earlier the better. Thank god Portuguese early isn’t Corrine because when I arrived, at 09:15 there were only a handful of people. I went to Praia Dona Ana because it is apparently less windy since rocks block some of it. It also didn’t have too many steps down to the beach. The water is cold. I am from Canada and have swam in glacier-fed water areas and this was up there with that. Apparently, it isn’t always freeze yo tits off cold but instead of the water coming from Africa, it came from the North Sea or something. I’ll just go with climate change as the answer.
I walked to the Farol da Ponta da Piedade from my shit hostel called Gold Coast Hostel. I don’t know when hostels started to be run by elderly people who have never backpacked before and who don’t make any recommendations but that was this hostel. If the picture below is not your grandma’s living room, I don’t know what is.
From my hostel, Google said 30-minute walk, it was more like 45 to get to the very end where the point was. Some of it is also uphill. There is a SPAR along the route I took, which was cheaper than other supermarkets I went into in Lagos.
I saw a bus drive past me asking if I was walking to the Ponta da Piedade. It may have been the better option since when you get to the endpoint, there are heaps of walking trails that you can do but I was too tired to do them by the time I got there. I don’t even pretend to be a photographer and that slight bend to crouch was obviously too much for me but there is a sign of the trails.
The Garden was my favourite place to eat in Lagos. Meat meal and sangria were 10 euros in an epic atmosphere. I went around dinner time and the wait was an hour so I decided to go the next day during lunch when they just opened and I didn’t have to wait. I actually went the night before also but I got all awkward since I had to eat alone. So instead of approaching the entrance, I hovered around the side streets until I finally realise I was too weak to go in alone.
Crema di Gelato Lagos had port-flavoured gelato so that was a new high point in my life. I take it as a miracle that humans can blend my two favourite things (alcohol and ice cream).
Padaria Central had delicious everything. All baked goods, all the time. The woman even got me a hot- out – the – oven Pasteis de Nata (custard tarts).
I went to Meu Limao Tapas and Wine but it was sub-par at best.
Overall, not much good, cheap food around in Portugal. It could be because it was the middle of the peak season. Lagos is very touristy and full of British tourists who have poor taste buds and don’t know what flavour is. There is a Lidl, but it’s a bit out of the way. Hostels, by the way, will run you 22+ euros a night in peak season. I spent 32 a night in Porto and Lisbon.
Where to Read
There are a lot of misleading green spaces on Google maps, showing up as parks but they aren’t. I looked for ages for a nice spot of grass to read on and the best one I found was between the old gate and the SPAR on the Estr. da Ponta da Piedade. It doesn’t show up as a park in the virtual world but in the real world, it exists.
One of the main and only sights I wanted to see in Algarve was the Benagil Cave. I read heaps of blogs about this, and it seems as though by car is the only way to go since the public transport runs maybe twice a day and at awkward times. Even by car, it doesn’t get you into the cave itself, since you can’t swim to it unless you’re Michael Phelps. Getting there from Lagos was even more annoying, especially if you didn’t want to go in by boat. All the photos I saw of said boat tours showed that you get a quick glance up at the ceiling and then putter out since the conga line of boats behind you would peer pressure the shit out of you. I wanted to kayak or stand-up paddle board inside, since you get time to swim around and actually enjoy the cave. I stumbled upon a flyer for a 39-euro tour by West Coast Escape. The flyer had no phone number or website on it so the guy in the cafe where I saw it told me I could book through him. This is the longest story ever and in the end, I didn’t book with them since the tours only ran on certain days. BUT my point is that it is possible to find these tours, you just have to dig a little.
It is very windy, especially in the south on the beaches
Portugal is not as cheap as I thought