Lagos, Portugal, is the ideal location when you simply want to relax by slathering on the sun screen and reading a good book while your kids frolic in the water. The city has many affordable apartments and hotels located close to beaches perfect for building sand castles or surfing. The walkable town center offers restaurants, shops and a very popular German bakery. If you need a break from museums and cathedrals, head over to Lagos.
Living the Resort Life in Portugal
If you are like most travelers touring Europe, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with daily visits to massive cathedrals, world famous paintings, and castles reached only by hiking steep hills. Sometimes the family needs to take a break and simply hang out by the pool or body surf at the beach. Lagos is the ideal location when you need some down time. After all, even tourists need to relax!
RV Campsite Right in Town
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It’s All About the Water in Lagos
Lagos beaches are world famous, and rightly so. Both Conde Nast and Travel and Leisure magazine have given accolades to many of the beaches within a short hike of the city. It seems every bend of the shoreline has a sandy cove area ideal for beach fun. It’s easy to see which beaches are protected from the wind, creating calm water for younger children. Walk a bit further and you’ll find a beach with waves suited for body or board surfing.
The Beach to Top All Beaches
Read any information about Lagos beaches and the name Pontae da Piedade comes up. Surrounded by high cliffs and rough seas, this is the beach you’ll see any time a photographer wants to convey the image of a perfect beach with dramatic waves.
The beach is easy to find. Simply follow all the road signs around Lagos and then look for the lighthouse. While I am a proponent of “Free-Range Children, and letting kids explore as much as possible, I would certainly keep an eye on children hiking near the edge of the cliffs. No safety barriers here!
Follow the stairs down to the beach where you can enjoy the view at eye level or hire a boat to take you in and out of the grottos close to the shoreline.
Avoid the Kayaks Built for Two!
Nothing says togetherness like a husband and wife sharing a kayak, trying to paddle in sync, each yelling directions at the other. Allan and I have done extensive kayaking in single kayaks. Sharing a kayak involves a whole other set of skills. Skills we don’t have! While the scenery was spectacular and we managed to get up close and personal with jutting rocks in the grottoes, I’d recommend single kayaks for couples.
In general, kayaking offers the opportunity to see the beaches and shoreline from an entirely different perspective. We signed up
for a three-hour tour with Kayak-Lagos.com.
They suggest taking the morning tours when the water is less choppy, so we happily took their advice. Following our trusty guide, we paddled around craggy rocks jutting straight up and out from the water. We paddled in and around the grottos, all looking like something on a National geographic special.
Yes, there were waves, but a support boat was next to us at all times in case of an overturned kayak. When the water is extra calm, the tour leader provides snorkeling masks to check out the sea life during the break at a secluded beach. Because of the strong current, I’d suggest kids need to be at least 12 in order to have some control over their single kayak. Younger kids can share a kayak and have an adult do the majority of the work.
Kayak-Lagos partners with Outdoor-Tours.com, a group offering more outdoor activities. If biking is your passion, check out their “Foia Uphill Challenge” bike ride. This 28 km ride offers a 10-12% incline and is used by many athletes training for endurance biking races. Just don’t expect me to be there. Downhill Nature Cycling trips and a 4WD “Jeep Safari” are geared to those of us who like our activity on the less strenuous side.
Clean and Spacious Vilabranca Apartments in Lagos
After a fun morning of kayaking, it’s time to relax. Since Lagos is definitely a resort town, you have your choice of reasonably priced hotels and apartments. I’m always looking for bargains when traveling, so I was excited to learn about the Vilabranca Apartments. The complex is only a 15-minute walk into town or to the Dona Ana Beach. Don’t feel like walking? A free shuttle takes you to the beach or city center. Since my Portuguese is non-existent, it’s nice to know that the staff all spoke perfect English.
The complex shows management takes pride in ownership. The large swimming pools sparkled, with cut grass and manicured flowers all around.
The large size of our apartment surprised me. With a well-stocked kitchen and two bedrooms, we had more space than we needed. Furnishings are clean but a bit sparse.
Don’t expect fancy vases, scrolled mirrors or decorative wall hangings. In my option, the fewer decorative items, the less chance of a rambunctious youngster breaking something. Since everything was spotless, I didn’t mind the lack of pictures or fancy throw
pillows. With clean sheets and a deck overlooking the pool, we made simple meals and truly felt as if we were on vacation at a fancy resort. (Room service is highly over-rated!)
I had never heard of Lagos before visiting Portugal, but it is a very popular vacation spot for Europeans. It’s a great place to regroup before heading out to more historical and educational activities.
Put your feet up, (or at least put them on the beach) and head to Lagos.