I Found Paradise and it’s in Portugal

I love beaches, I love cheap wine, I love fun hostels and I love unspoiled nature. Despite only having two days in Lagos, Portugal, I got all of these things and more.

Portugal itself was a total surprise to me: I went on a total whim with Erika, a girl I barely knew from school, and we had an absolute blast and are now good friends and coworkers. Lagos was my last stop, and I was here solo, but I wanted to write about it first just because I miss it so much. Lagos is on the Algarve coast, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, and Lagos is one of the most touristy places on the coast. I was worried it would be commercial and overpriced, but I fell in love!

Arriving in Lagos, I got super duper lost as usual – I had failed to look up directions to Sol a Sol hostel so upon arrival I found myself wandering around with an equally confused Dutch man, trying to figure out how to get to the other side of a bridge that we weren’t allowed to walk across. The kind locals helped me out, as had been a trend in Portugal – the owner of a fancy restaurant came out to help the clearly lost girl, let me use his wifi to look up directions, then explained my map to me. Seriously, the Portuguese people were some of the nicest I met in Europe!

The highlight of any trip to the Algarve coast is the beaches. I saw them all over Pinterest and seriously didn’t believe they could be as pretty in person – there was just no way. My first glimpse of them proved me totally wrong. The beaches are everything I dreamed of and more, and I could have spent weeks exploring them all. There are a lot of hikes along the coast, and with more time doing some of those as well as taking a kayak trip would have been top of my list; but in my limited time I just sunbathed and tried to brave the frigid water. In town there’s a more commercial, long and flat beach, as well as a string of the famous ones with the beautiful rock formations. I checked out both!

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My main concern about Lagos was that it would be a touristy beach town with zero charm, aka my family’s worst nightmare. It certainly was quite touristy, but the old town was still gorgeous and typically Portuguese with cobbled roads, kind locals and amazing restaurants. I loved wandering around, checking out old bookshops and discovering the hidden corners of Lagos.

The hostel I stayed at also added to my awesome experience – Sol a Sol cost around $20 a night for a 4 bed dorm, had super fun young staff and ran a really fun pub crawl in a town full of bars and clubs. The rooftop terrace certainly didn’t hurt.

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If I have one regret about my time in Portugal, it’s not spending more time in Lagos. This was before my time in Morocco, when I learned the value of freeform travelling and got comfortable with living life with no real plan….so I felt like I had to make it to my reservation in Seville, Spain on time! Next time I make my way over to Europe, you can bet I’ll be planning another trip to the Algarve and making a stop in Lagos.