Home to dramatic towering honey coloured cliffs, turquoise sea and golden expanses of sandy beach, the coastal paths which link small Portuguese fishing villages with larger, more cosmopolitan towns provide spectacular trekking opportunities.
We were visiting my parents who some years ago retired to Lagos, a small bustling and colourful city in the Portuguese Algarve.
During our most recent trip we did two different 5 – 6 miles treks along this stunning coastline. The coastal path stretches on for miles and it is possible to walk from Lagos to Sagres. The total distance between these two towns is around 30 km (18.5 miles) so maybe something for another time…
Day 1 Lagos circular walk
This circular 5 mile walk began at my parents property in Lagos. We walked to the lighthouse at Farol da Ponta da Piedade and headed east along the cliff edge.
In fact, at this point there are paths half way down the sloping cliffs so you actually walk between the rolling hills along the coastline, as in the photo above. It is pleasant to stroll along these easy gentle paths as they meander through offering glimpses of sparkling deserted coves. (Deserted in January… probably not in July…)
We were fortunate to have endless blue skies during our 4 day break with temperatures reaching around 17 degrees each afternoon. Coupled with light breezes this was perfect hiking weather.
The southern Portuguese coastline has stunning rock formations and there is no shortage of these along the beaches of Lagos. During our walk, we left the coastal path and climbed down the steep wooden steps to have a closer look at some of the beaches.
The larger coves such as Dona Ana (above) have beach cafes with outdoor terraces serving lunches and drinks.
From Dona Ana we climbed back up the cliff and continued walking along the coastal path, past Pinhao Beach. All the way along, each of the beaches have danger warnings… there is a good deal of coastal erosion so you need to be wary of falling rocks!
We continued into the centre of Lagos and had a refreshing jug of sangria and some lunch in one of the restaurants which overlook the marina. You pay slightly more for such a premium viewing spot but generally the cost of eating out in Lagos is reasonable.
Following lunch we made our way back past the historical walled old town and back up the hill to our parents.
Day 2: Lagos to Praia de Luz
This walk began at Porto de Mos beach, a huge sweeping stretch of soft golden sand to the west of Lagos. We parked the car in the free car park which overlooks the beach and set off. We had already walked up and down the length of the beach earlier in the day so began by walking straight up the steep cliff in a westerly direction towards Praia de Luz, or Luz as it is known locally.
Once we had climbed to the cliff top we followed the easy sandy track along the rugged cliff edge. This offered amazing views of the coastline.
We continued for about half an hour or so until Praia de Luz came into view. All was going well as we followed the easy sandy track until we reached the large imposing obelisk which stands proudly overlooking Luz.
At this point the pleasant sandy track ended abruptly and we had to figure out how to get to Luz.. The only way seemed to be down… to the right of the monument we found a steep path and had to scramble down. Apparently there is an easier path if you continue to follow the main path for short distance past the obelisk although we didn’t see any such easier path…
The path was steep and unstable under foot so wouldn’t be suitable for everyone. You would also need to ensure you have decent walking boots or suchlike for this terrain.
Once we got to the bottom of the steep path we walked across some rough land which had various criss crossing tracks making our navigation towards Luz more difficult. We headed in the general direction across ancient lava fields until we reached the edge again… This edge overlooked Luz but it seemed we would have to venture off and do an estimated 20 minute detour along the edge to get into the town of Luz. At this point the sun was within an hour or so of setting so we decided to head back along the cliff path to Lagos.
Praia de Luz to Burgau
On a previous visit I (and my two (then) teenagers) walked along the cliff path from Burgau to Praia de Luz and back. Again, this offered spectacular coastal views although on this occasion (February 2010) the sea wasn’t quite as calm!
It is therefore possible to do a lovely coastal walk from Lagos – Praia de Luz – Burgau, a distance of an estimated 14 km (9 miles). There is a bus service so you could get a bus rather than walking back.