Let’s Go Exploring! Lagos, Portgual: Are You a Mountain or a Beach Person?

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FIRECracker

FIRECracker is a world-travelling early retiree. She used to live in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, but instead of drowning in debt, she rejected home ownership. What resulted was a 7-figure portfolio, which has allowed her and her husband to retire at 31 and travel the world. Their story has been featured on CBC, the Huffington Post, CNBC, BNN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance. To date, it is the most shared story in CBC history and their viral video on CBC's On the Money has garnered 4.5 Million views.
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I recently read a University of Virginia study that says introverts prefer mountains while extroverts prefer beaches.

This got me thinking. As a kid, talking to a stranger made me break out in hives and going to a party was hell. I was painfully shy. If you’d given me the option of hibernating in the mountains or partying it up on a beach, I’d have gladly picked the former. 

This changed as I got older. I’m no longer terrified by strangers and parties are actually fun! Coincidentally, I also learned how to scuba dive and I now love beaches as much as I love mountains.  

Is there a correlation?

I decided to test it out on Wanderer. “Which do you prefer? Beaches or mountains?”

He responded by smirking and staring down at my boobs. “Oh I think you know the answer.”

I rolled my eyes. “C’mon seriously.”

“Fine. Beaches.”

Wanderer’s answer didn’t surprise me. After all he’s much happier sitting at a pub, chatting up strangers, curling his fingers around a beer bottle than curling up with a good book. He’s definitely a beach bum.

Lucky for us, after we arrived in Lagos Portugal I didn’t have to choose. You could hike up a cliff, admire the view, then walk down to a sandy beach and hang out with other travellers. It’s made for both introverts and extroverts.

Where my bitches–er I mean–beaches at?

Situated in the Algarve region (southern coastline of Portugal), Lagos has so many beautiful beaches, we could’ve gone to a different one every day without getting bored.

Here are a few of our favourites:

 

Praia do Camilo

Picture this. You’re sitting in a shiny modern café, its floor-to-ceiling glass window giving you an 360-degree view of the Algarve coastline, savouring an orgasmically good slice of chocolate cake and a sublime cup of café con leite.

View from O Camilo

This was the experience we had at O Camilo, the café/restaurant at the top of the cliff at Praia do Camilo, with a view to die for.

After finishing your dessert, make your way down the 200 or so winding wooden steps to the bottom of the cliff, park your butt on a stretch of golden sand and feel all your stress melt away as the sun lazily drops over the horizon.

 

Praia de Dona Ana

It only took us 15 min to walk from our Airbnb to this beach, which, I soon found out had the most soothing pile of rocks I have ever seen. If you’re wondering why I’m describing a pile of rocks as “soothing”, just look at this picture:

I immediately got a joygasm from the symmetry and color of this deeply satisfying arrangement of rocks.

I guess you could say this beach “rocks my world”. *slow sarcastic clap*

 

Miradouro da Ponta da Piedade

Hooray for not plunging off a cliff!

One of the most satisfying hikes we did in Lagos was around the Ponta da Piedade viewpoint. Just don’t get too close to the edge as you’ll find a steep drop into the ocean along some of the hiking paths. Luckily there are signs to indicate where you can go, so you won’t accidentally plunge off a cliff.

 

Ponta da Piedade

After walking down about a gazillion steps, you reach a platform that juts out to sea and from there you can take a boat out to explore sandstone caves:

 

Praia dos Estudantes (or “Student Beach”)

Why is it called “Student Beach”? No idea. But I’m happy to report I didn’t stumble on broken beer bottles, piles and piles of student debt, and lots of drunk horny 20-year-olds.

It’s actually a pretty nice beach, with—once again—those legendary sandstone cliffs:

 

Praia dos Pinheiros (“the nude beach”)

Turns out the nude horny students were actually here. Yes, this is a nude beach. It’s really hard to get to, so don’t kill yourself getting here. Besides, the Portuguese are way more prudish than the Spainards and the Germans. If you want to see nudity at a beach, go to Las Palmas in Spain. Or better yet, just go to a park in Germany.

“NO”–Legal Department

 

Meia Praia

If you haven’t gotten the theme by now, the crème-de-la-crème of the Algarve is its multi-hued sandstone cliffs. But if you ever get bored of these mind-blowing formations, you can go back to your run-of-the-mill, paddle-board, normal beach:

I have to admit, I made the mistake of visiting this beach after going to the other beaches first. So when Wanderer asked me I thought of it, I just shrugged and said “Meh”.

Am I turning into an insufferable beach-brat? Yes. Do I demand that all the beaches I now visit come with sandstone cliffs? Yes.

And soothing rocks. Lots and lots of soothing rocks.

 

You see what I mean by an insane number of beaches? If you get bored from this, there is no pleasing you. And finally onto a non-beach topic…

 

Quirky Corks of Lagos

Now, a weird quirk of Lagos is that they’re obsess with corks. Now say that 50 times really fast. “the quirky corks of Lagos”, “the quirky corks of Lagos”, “the quirky corks of Lagos”.

For some reason, Lagotians (?) really love crushing the hell out of corks and then making it into random things.

Cork hats? Check.

Cork purses? Yeah, sure why not.

Cork umbrella? What? You mean you don’t have one? Weirdo.

photo credit: Marco Verch @ Flickr. License CC by 2.0.

 

So for those of you who want all your shit to smell like the inside of a wine bottle, pick up some of these “corky” finds.

After deciding I could live without a cork purse, we headed to our favourite restaurant:

 

Casa de Prego:

Last time I wrote about Porto , I mentioned how much I love their specialty—Pregos. So of course, the next time we’re in Portugal, we just had to have one of those:

And then just to placate myself by pretending to be healthy, I ordered this salad:

Both were delicious.

 

Transportation

Now, since I’ve been raving about Lagos, you might think there are no downsides. But if you ever decide to visit this place and its surrounding beachside town, avoid the EVA buses in Lagos at all costs.

Peter Broster [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

 

Seriously. They are horrible. It takes forever to get anywhere, and the scowling ticket booth operator makes Naomi Campbell look like Mother Teresa.

Normally in Europe, I always advocate for public transportation (since it’s so much more convenient and efficient than driving), but in this case, don’t.

Do yourself a favour and go to Marina Rent-a-Car. They have great rates and fantastic service. 

Okay, so that’s it for Lagos. Here’s how much we spent:

Category Cost in USD/couple Cost in CAD/couple Notes
Accommodations: $29 USD $38 CAD Since we rented a studio apartment for less than 800 Euros, it averaged out to $29 USD a day. Normally we like to move around more often, but occasionally we rent a place for a whole month to get some writing done. This ended up being a great choice since Lagos was a super chill place that makes it easy to relax.
Food: $29 USD $38 CAD ($14 for eating out, $24 for groceries) We split our time between eating out at beachside cafes, Portuguese restaurants, and all-you-can-eat sushi (a steal at only 11-14 Euros a person) for lunch and cooking for dinner. There was a Pingo Doce and Aldi's nearby where we could easily pick up affordable groceries and we could travel to nearby Albufeira to pick up Sichuan hot pot ingredients (one of my favourite ways to cook since it involves a ton of variety and minimal effort.
Transportation: $3 USD/day $4 CAD/day Since all the beaches were within walking distance, the only costs for transportation was 14 Euros/person to get here from Spain via bus, and $11.40 Euros for 2 people to get to Abufeira. Over the month, this ended up average down to only $3-4 per day. Even though the bus is cheap, I wouldn't recommend using it in Lagos. It's horribly slow and the service at the ticket counter is horrendous. Pay more to rent a car–the locals recommend Marina Rent-a-car, which is what we'll be using the next time we go back.
Entertainment: $7 USD/day $9 CAD/day Most of the attractions in Lagos is nature-based and free (hiking, swimming, exploring) so we only spent money on one thing. We found a spa (of course we did) in Lagos so we could relax our achy hiking muscles in the sauna and heated pool. It was in a 4-star hotel and a great rate at 40 Euros for 5 entries. Gotta love Europe. I've never been able to find any deals like this in North America. I guess they just have a very strong sauna/spa culture.
Misc/data/toiletries: $4 USD/day $5 CAD/day I never bother to overpack toiletries because they are easily found all over the world and inexpensive. This was the case for Lagos.
Total: $72 USD/couple/day $94 CAD/couple/day Once again, Portugal wins big time when it comes to value. You can definitely spend more than we did by renting a car and eating out more, but the brilliant thing is that most of the activities in Lagos are free and involve hiking and beach bumming. Keep in mind that accommodations will likely be more expensive during high season, but like the rest of Portugal, exceptionally affordable for western Europe.

What do you think? Are you a beach person or a mountain person? Would you go to Lagos?


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36 thoughts on “Let’s Go Exploring! Lagos, Portgual: Are You a Mountain or a Beach Person?”

  1. Beautiful coastline. I can see why you like those sandstone cliffs. A very affordable location too!

    Would you say Portugal is more affordable than Spain?

    1. Oh definitely. Spain is already pretty affordable for Europe, Portugal is the most affordable in western Europe.

  2. Umm…do I need to return my cork purse to Evora and my cork belt to Lisbon??? LOL

    I’m primarily a mountain person but have been known to enjoy going to the beach at times. 😉

    The Algarve region was one area of Portugal we didn’t get to visit during our travels to Spain and Portugal. It will probably take me a couple years before I can talk the hubby into another visit to either of those two countries – there are other countries we have to visit first (Egypt, Greece, Ausralia).

    1. Ha ha. Depends on how quirky you are 😉 (okay, I’ll stop I’ll stop).

      Hope you do get to visit the Algarve if you go back. I’m obsessed with Portugal and the Algarve has a lot to do with it.

      That said, Egypt, Greece, Australia are strong contenders! Pyramids are shaped like mountains, so that should satisfy the mountain person in you 🙂

  3. That study is really interesting – I’m a serious introvert and am obsessed with bitches…er I mean…beaches 😉 . But I prefer them to be deserted so maybe that’s how I still align with this study. Adding Lagos to my list now! It looks gorgeous and affordable though I’ll avoid those EVA buses. Thanks for another awesome post that ignites my wanderlust!

    1. Deserted beaches are the best 🙂 The trick is to go during low season–no need to share with anyone!

      Hope you get to go to Lagos! *wanderlust five*!!!

  4. Lagos is awesome!!!! We loved that place and cant wait to get back.

    Please tell me you got a cataplana. They are soooo good.

    The beaches are beautiful, the people are nice. It’s a great place. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Did you end up visiting Sagres by chance? Pretty wild place.

    1. I wish we’d gotten a cataplana. Still a bit cautious towards seafood after Madrid (don’t worry, one day we’ll get over our fear), but I’m sure the other travellers enjoyed it!

      Yes, we did end up visiting Sagres for a day trip! (found out that it means “Sacred” which is pretty cool!) Very isolated feeling and super cool to be at the west most point of Portugal!

      1. Glad you enjoyed Sagres. That place was a great day trip from Lagos.

        We went diving in Lagos as well, which was awesome.

        You’ll get over the food poisoning, I got sick from pizza one time, and chicken tacos another… lord knows I’m not swearing that stuff off!

  5. Ooooh, I keep telling my husband that we can retire and afford world travel at the same time! That came out to $2160 for 30 days! I’m going to use your Lagos trip report as a case study in how it’s done. 🙂 I love your blog. And I looooove mountains and cliffs with beaches! I’m more mountain than beach but do appreciate both.

    1. Thanks, Darlene! Yes, you will find that travelling is so much cheaper (especially if you go off the beaten path) than living in the US (our friends Mr and Mrs.NomadNumbers just tested this out) . And if you have US cash, it’s going to go so much farther than our Canukistan dollars!

      Cliffs + beaches for the win! Portugal rocks!

  6. We were just there in April! We brought the four-year-old who had a birthday while there. Loved it!

    A little bit chilly to swim this time of year, but I can’t wait to go back and stand up paddle board around to all the secret beaches. Maybe see some more dolphins!

    1. Nice! So glad your kiddo loved it too!

      Yes, I agree it’s a bit chilly for swimming but on the plus side there was so much hiking, beach bumming and eating that we didn’t even notice. Luckily we also found a spa to swim and go sauna-ing (oh men, when I start staying words like “sauna-ing” you know I’m spoiled :P).

  7. Mountain person here but I also love being near the ocean. For my wife and I, we really loved spending our early years together in Anchorage where you get both during the Summer and a dark popsicle for the remaining 9 months /s

    That picture of corks is the bees knees!

    1. Hmm…starting to think this study is bogus 😉 Everyone seems to enjoy mountains and beaches, regardless of intro or extroversion.

      Heard a lot of good things about Anchorage. Maybe we’ll book an Alaskan cruise in the future to visit it!

  8. I am definitely a sand dune type person. That’s a mountain of beach. Actually if you look at the about section on my blog it is me on top of a sand dune (Freudian). For real though I live in the mountains and love to visit the beach until I get worn out and burned and then head back to my home in the mountains (yeah it’s a social metaphor). You’ve clearly ruined beaches for yourselves forever but judging by those photos it was worth it. Also, joygasm?! I may use that one.

    1. Yup, I’m a total beach snob now. I regret nothing 😛 And yes, feel free to steal “joygasm”. I may have stolen it from someone else. Can’t remember. Stealing is fun.

  9. Thanks Firecracker 🧨! We are 2 years from FIRE and thinking what life is like on that budget. It’s grear to see you’re doing a mix of eating out and cooking which we like to do. Would love to see your Portugal Airbnb Or other Airbnb’s for that price you paid. Keep inspiring us. We’re both deathly afraid of running out of money in 30 years and are setting up to feel more secure with your yield shield. At the moment we can’t think of anything we want to do after FIRE that might give us more income. I just want to rock climb, read, eat olives and hang with my niece, family and friends. Lol. 🔥 Fire on people. Cheers!

    1. Woohoo! Congrats for being only 2 years from FIRE! You’re SO close!

      If you’d like the link for any of the Airbnbs we stayed at, feel free to shoot me an e-mail and I’ll be happy to pass it along (unless it’s clearly a rental property, I feel a bit weird sharing pictures of other people’s homes) . This one was a studio in an 8 storey apartment building with a balcony and 15mins walk from the beach. There are lots of them like this in the Lagos area for $700-$1000 Euros a month.

      Glad the YS is helping to calm your nerves! I was pretty worried until we build it, tested it out, and also realized that travelling is so much cheaper than staying at home (it seems so counter intuitive but it’s true!).

      If you want to build an income after FIRE, you may want to try some side hustles while you’re working, that way you have something to run towards after quitting. My friend at https://financialpanther.com/ writes about some accessible ones he does to make $60K/year (eg include dog walking, pet-sitting, uber-eats, etc). Or maybe make some money out from your hobbies (professional book reviewer? rock climbing instructor?).

  10. Wow beautiful! Adding this to my list!!

    Want to take a detour from your travels to head to Calgary to be a guest speaker for the Playing With Fire Documentary?!?

    1. Speaking of PwF, I was just connecting with Travis on going to the UK premier in June! When’s the one in Calgary? Be happy to come if the scheduling works out. Feel free to shoot me an e-mail at FIRECracker.revolutiongmail.com.

      1. Calgary one hasn’t been set up yet, but I’ll be calling some theatres to see if we can get one going here. I’ll send you a note if/when we get it set up 🙂

  11. Hurrah! A cameo by the Legal Department!! Long time no hear!

    Seriously, the first time the Legal Department showed up, I laughed so hard it hurt. Then added you to my blog reader. Yes, I’m clearly a masochist. 😉

    Oh, right. Beach, despite being a slowly-recovering introvert. Yes to Lagos; it’ll be some time before I can extract the household from “home boner” mode and go trot the globe.

    1. I know right, those LD bastards finally woke up! 😛

      Thanks for adding us to your reader. Glad to be a bad influence 😉

      “slowly-recovering introvert” I like the way you put that. I guess that describes me as well. And ha ha, here’s to hoping you’ll convince your household to go from “home boner” to “globe trotter”. I find that bribery helps…especially if you show them how cheap re-estate is in Portugal 😉 Also, in Thailand you can get a condo with pool for $50K. *mind games* *manipulationFIRE*

      1. FrugalFIRE, BaristaFIRE, FatFIRE … and now *manipulationFIRE* LOL
        That’s one way to get your significant others in the FIRE plan! 😉

            1. Nah, it’s super easy. I just threaten to kick him in the shins when he doesn’t do what I want. It involves no work whatsoever 😛 So I guess I’m less adept at manipulation and more adept at threats of physical violence.

  12. Hi,

    Mountain and beach. As long as they are secluded and quiet, I like them both. If I have to choose one, I will prefer the mountain more.

    WTK

    1. Good choice. Looks like no one is really that adamant about either one. Maybe everyone’s a combination of introvert and extrovert. Must be a spectrum.

  13. My guess is that you’ll garner over $100,000 in “side hustle millionaire” $ gUaP $ alone from this blog this year. You said you already made over $52k last year from this blog, right?

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