Things to do in Lagos: Caves Kayaking and more
Portugal’s southwestern coastline offers amazing views to the Atlantic Ocean over scenic beaches and impressive sandstone rock formations. Seeing the beaches, caves and grottos from the sea is something you shouldn’t miss if the weather permits! Also the Lagos old town is a charming place for a stroll and enjoying a meal. A bit further away is the Lighthouse of Ponta de Sagres at the southwesternmost point of Europe that’s worth the drive.
Lagos Coastline and Caves Kayaking Trip
We booked the kayaking tour online with Kayak Adventures. The check-in took place at the shop on Praia de Batata where we were guided to leave our shoes and towels in storage. The tour organizer provided us with a dry sack, life vests and paddles. We walked to the adjacent beach where there was a short briefing on paddling technique. Soon we were already pushing the double kayaks to water and hopping onboard. As soon as everyone on the tour was ready we started paddling west towards the caves and a motorboat came along for safety. There were plenty of stops where the guide shared stories about the history of the area.
We’re lucky with the weather and tide as the sea was quite calm and the tide was perfect. It was the first time for my daughter to be in a kayak but she was very quick to pick it up. It was the first time for me to paddle on the Atlantic and I find the views stunning – the sea was sparkling emerald and the standstone cliffs and rock formations were just breathtaking!
Bring along plenty of water, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, waterproof case for your mobile or camera. We found UV shirts useful but many people were paddling in their swimwear. The biggest challenges in kayaking was the quite high boat traffic so I’d recommend to practice paddling a bit in advance to fully enjoy the experience.
The first grotto was Lovers’ cave and it was the most exciting moment on the trip. The entrance to the cave was quite tight and it seemed to be quite shallow and we needed to turn in very small space while the water surging into the cave gave some additional challenge. At this point I was very happy to have some paddling practice in the background. The next grottos called “Kitchen” and “Cathedral” were much easier and wider. We reached the Ponta da Piedade and marveled the sea arches, cliffs and rock formations.
Finally we turned around and returned to the secluded beach for a swim. It felt wonderfully refreshing after kayaking for over an hour in the sun.
After half an hour break it was time to get on-board the kayaks to return back home. To make it super easy for us there was no more paddling ahead, but the kayaks were hooked to each other and towed by the motorboat back to the starting point. I wouldn’t have minded the additional paddling but it was nice to just concentrate in observing the amazing views.
It’s just a short walk from Praia de Batata to the Lagos historic center that’s a charming place set inside the town walls with little stores and lots of restaurants. We enjoyed a refreshing fresh squeezed juice, latté and milkshake at Kisa Real Italian Food that caught our attention with their gluten-free menu.
Our first impression of the Lagos Marina was the numerous stands selling boat trips, water sports and other activities which gave it a bit touristy feel. We had booked our online but noticed that it could have actually been easier to compare and get a good price by visiting there in person. Walking back along the canal in the evening, the entrance to the Marina looked more glamorous with boats passing by.
Lagos beaches are gorgeous but most of them require taking stairs or walking down a steep path which can make them challenging to families with small children. Meia Praia was our favorite beach easy access to parking close to the beach and long stretch of white sand. There’s a café for cold drinks or ice cream after sun bathing too. Praia Dona Ana is west from the Lagos historic center and has been highlighted as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
Lighthouse of Ponta de Sagres
A bit further west from Lagos is the lighthouse of Ponta de Sagres that’s located in the south-westernmost point of Europe. Centuries back it was considered as the “Edge of the world” and looking at the impressive views and feeling the strength of the wind it really feels like there might not be anything else out there but the endless sea.
The high-speed train from Lisbon was a great way to travel to Lagos in just 3 hours and the closest international airport Faro connects the Algarve region with numerous cities across Europe. Renting a car may be the easiest way to get around for a larger group traveling longer distances but it’s good to know that there are tolls on the main highways that can add up expenses. Uber worked really well in the Lagos area, it was fast, reliable and affordable.
I was so excited about our Lagos cave tour that I would have absolutely wanted to kayak also the Benagil cave further to the east but had to save it for the next trip to the gorgeous Algarve region.
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