Portugal's Algarve Coast is quickly becoming a hot summer destination thanks to its stunning beaches, wholesome cuisine and laid-back but enticing nightlife. Nestled along the striking coastline is Lagos; a small beach-side town packed with bars and bohemians looking for a place to relax and enjoy this little slice of paradise. Admittedly, Lagos is not the easiest destination to reach. The closest airport, Faro, is around an hours drive away- if you have the funds for a taxi it's probably the easiest option. Alternately, you can take the Rede Expresso bus from Lisbon and reach Lagos in approximately five hours. Be sure to book online as capacity is limited.
The highlight, and definite first port of call, is to visit the Ponte da Piedade- a group of iconic rock-formations which line the shore, creating dreamy archways and a gorgeous photo opportunity. Does the beach look a little bit crowded for your liking? Don't be deterred- you'll quickly notice small windows in the formations that, if you're not too claustrophobic, can lead to some less-accessible patches of paradise!
After a few days of basking in Portugal's glorious sunshine, I was starting to look closer to sunstroke than sun-kissed, and decided to ease up on the tanning. Lagos is a small town, so when you aren't at the beach your options are limited, however the cobblestoned streets are lined with many boutiques and independent market stalls. I managed to purchase the bulk of my unique jewellery in Lagos, all at incredibly reasonable prices. There was an abundant variety of bohemian pieces to choose from, featuring beautiful stones cemented in earthy copper, and almost all of these pieces were hand-made and slightly unique.
Lagos' surge in popularity with young travellers is largely due to its after-dark reputation. The town is known for having an abundance of hostels and bars in close proximity, selling drinks at dangerously low prices. Most bars have a great atmosphere, each providing their own niche offering to draw crowds. My personal favourites were:
Inside Out Bar: If you're a backpacker looking to meet other travellers and party until sunrise, Inside Out is probably for you. The venue is always packed to the rafters, the music is loud, and the crowds are raring to have a good time.
Whyte's Bar: Whyte's is nothing much to look at, however their main attraction is their 'beat the bartender' game which runs on multiple nights throughout the week. Quite simply, roll your dice higher than the bartender and your drinks are free- an essential stop for having great night on a not-so-great budget.
Joe's Garage: This venue is definitely more frat party than nightclub. Joe's plays crowd-pleasing tracks amongst a setting of pool tables and well-established beer pong tournaments. In true Lagos style, Joe's also offers a drinking challenge; chug 7 jäger bombs in quick succession for a free t-shirt.
Grand Café: Above all else, THIS is the one name you need to remember. Grand Café is the only venue open until late in Lagos (until around 4-5am). After all the bars close, Grand Café becomes a true hub of not only backpackers, but hoards of bartenders finishing their shifts and looking for a place to party.
I truly had the most fantastic, crazy and memorable times during my stay in Lagos. If you have any time to squeeze this small town into your summer schedule, I really urge you to do so. Serving up both gorgeous coastline and the ultimate party experience on a budget, Lagos really is a destination which ticks every box.