Lagos – The Perfect Base To Explore The Algarve!
We wanted to stay somewhere with character, somewhere with it’s own personality…somewhere with it’s own stories to tell whilst exploring the incredible natural beauty of the coast of the Algarve, Portugal (Check out my post on the stunning coast line here). The walled town of Lagos was perfect base to explore the Algarve, just what we were looking for. We chose to stay at the Tivoli Lagos Hotel which was great and really relaxing.
Given its location it is no wonder that this place is soaked in history. An important muster point for crusaders launching their attacks, ruled by the Moors, and later an important trading post, one of the earliest slave trade markets in Europe was located here. There are many reminders left behind of everyone and everything which has had an impact on the area.
Full of rustic charm with pretty little squares and narrow winding streets to explore, we really enjoyed our time here and it was exactly what we wanted. Away from the tower block hotels lining the beach front further east but still spoilt for choice with loads of restaurants and bars to choose from. Wandering the streets of Lagos in the early evening sun was such a pleasant way of spending some time.
Located at the mouth of the Bensafrim River opening out into the Atlantic Ocean there is lots to discover outside of the city walls as well. There is a bustling marina which was filled with yachts during our visit, clearly a popular stop off for those exploring the southern coast of Europe.
Where the river flows out into the ocean you can find the restored 17th century maritime fortress, the Forte da Ponta da Bandeira. This is a small but at the time important fortress which was able to provide cover to the coast and the river front. The views make it worth taking a walk out to.
Along the bank of the river when we visited there was a nice little crafts market. Cork is everywhere in the Algarve, every souvenir shop or market stall seems to sell cork bags or cork shoes. At this market I think nearly every stall was selling them! It was a pretty strange sight.
When hungry a quick search on the trusty TripAdvisor app showed us the top rated restaurants in Lagos. We picked Casa do Prego, the number 4 rated restaurant of 330 in the Lagos area! We weren’t disappointed, we enjoyed a lovely meal and they had a great drinks menu too. I had grilled black pork with chorizo and loved every bite.
Washed down with an IPA style Portuguese craft beer with a side of crisp fried potatoes…awesome! My fiancée Katalin enjoyed a giant gin and tonic here as well, a speciality of theirs, there was a lovely relaxed atmosphere here and the staff were really friendly a keen to help you decide on what to order and make sure you were happy with every thing, I would definitely head back for another meal here.
The Tivoli Lagos Hotel
The sprawling Tivoli Lagos Hotel again was just right for us. They had free parking which was great for us as we’d hired a car to explore. A good buffet breakfast was included, there were two restaurants to choose from and a nice bar to kick back in. On top of this there was a nice pool area to chill out round with an outdoor bar…perfect. I had travelled straight from a night shift and was in a bit of a haze…getting out and enjoying a beer in the sun lounging by the pool when we arrived was just what I needed!
It’s worth mentioning that this is not a beach side hotel, you are very much in the heart of the town here at this hotel. There is a regular free shuttle bus which takes you down to the nearby beach club however though which is great.
Our room was clean, comfortable and quiet…again just what we wanted. It had a little balcony looking out over the pool area, just big enough for two people to sit outside. There was water and a mini bar fridge which wasn’t horrifically priced at all. The bathroom was fine and spotless also.
I actually thought the buffet breakfast was one of the better ones I have experienced around Europe. The restaurant area is huge with plenty of outside seating as well. The serving area again was very big…didn’t have to get the elbows out here to wrestle my way to the food! Plus there was a massive selection of cooked and cold products.
We also enjoyed a lovely meal in the Pateo Velho a la carte restaurant which had a very nice atmsosphere. We sat outside under canvas covers, as the sun went down the candles were lit it was great.
We both the mixed grill which is ordered to share and was served on slate plates grilled over charcoal. Simple but great, served with salad and fries…great holiday food in a warm climate!
Lagos was the perfect base for our stay in the Algarve, Portgual. Not as touristy as some of the resorts further east but still lively enough with loads of places to choose from to eat at and lots to explore and discover. It’s close to the spectacular beaches we wanted to explore and still less than an hours drive away from Faro Airport where we arrived and hired our car from. Not only did we explore this coastline from here but we went much further west to the most south westerly point in mainland Europe discovering amazing cliffs with the sea battering against them…the windiest place I have ever been to! In around 2 and a half hours we were also able to drive to Lisbon and spent a day there as well and also discovered magical Sintra…look out for these posts coming soon!!
Looking to discover the natural beauty of the coast line of the Algarve…Lagos, and the Tivoli Lagos Hotel was the perfect base for us!