The Algarve region of Portugal is a very popular summer tourist destination, mainly for Europeans. We arrived in mid-November after most of the thousands of tourists had returned to their working lives, however there is a year round population of expats who make this southern part of Portugal their residence.
Getting here for us was a pleasant 3 hour bus ride south from Lisbon to Lagos with the bus company Eva, one of the larger carriers in Portugal. We were fortunate to be picked up by our friends Richard Nash and Anita Oliver who maintain the excellent blog No Particular Place to Go. They have been living here for a year and introduced us to Lloyd’s Property Services who we are renting a condominium from until early January. It is wonderful to have friends in the area as they have been very helpful getting us acquainted with our new home.
Lagos is one of the most popular Algarve towns and from what we have seen so far, for good reason. It is quite charming with a walled old town, a waterfront boardwalk and all the conveniences that you would expect in a large community. It also boasts the beautiful Meia Preia and the spectacular Ponta de Peidade which we will dedicate more time to in later posts once we have spent more time exploring.
Lagos is a coastal town with over 2000 years of rich history. It has a strong maritime tradition, and in the 1960s began to embrace tourism which is now the main economic driver. On a darker note it was also the gateway for the first African slaves into Europe in the 1400s. The current population of about 40,000 grows substantially in the summer. There is a large fully serviced marina that is well known to long distance cruisers. The marina is surrounded by shops, restaurants and a myriad of tour companies and is connected to the main town by a drawbridge.
We are already quite taken with the old town which is partially surrounded by the remnants of a 16th Century wall. Fortifications from the same time period as well as beautiful churches offer further reminders of the past. The narrow cobbled streets, tiled buildings, street art and cafes all feel very Portuguese. We feel very comfortable here as there is much to remind us of Lisbon and we are looking forward to more time for our wanderings around town.
We have a lovely one bedroom condominium with a gorgeous view across Meia Praia which offers stunning sunrise views.
We are currently the only people in our entire building as it and the many others around were built primarily for the summer tourists. At a price of €600 per month plus utilities they offer great value in the period from late fall until spring. It is a spacious and modern unit with a pool but alas it is too cold to swim in this time of year. Our only complaint is that it is quite chilly with the concrete construction and tiled floors.
As usual we are within walking distance of all of the conveniences we need. The Pingo Doce supermarket is 10-15 minutes away and we can walk to town in the same time.
The town doesn’t have major malls but a short drive away brings you to the commercial area of Portimao. We did go there with friends and it has everything you would need and a whole lot of what you don’t need! We did like the fact that much of it is open to the air which is very appealing.
We have much still to see and do over the remaining time we have left here. Walking the beach is always a favorite for us. We found a beachside restaurant about 1 km from our place which serves great cappuccinos – perfect for watching the waves in the sun of the afternoon.
Dozens of nice looking restaurants and cafes can be found in town and around the marina complex. In the afternoons you can find a sunny spot for a coffee and while away a couple of hours chatting and people watching. For those couple of hours you can easily forget that it is late November.
We are very happy to have access to green space after city living for the past few months. Several good spots are nearby for birding and we have already added some new species to our life list. A path around the pond behind the condo provides some great viewpoints and is a quiet place for a morning stroll.
At the end of Meia Praia beach is a productive estuary which shelters many wading birds including flamingos. There are several species of shorebirds along the beach and the harbour’s edge.
We are just starting to get acquainted with the famous storks of the Algarve. There are two species here, the white and the black stork. They nest on the top of available chimneys, telephone poles, churches and other spots. We haven’t had the opportunity to observe them closely so we will add that to our ever growing to-do list!
Both the birds and their nests are protected under law and are one of the icons of the Algarve. Portuguese farmers appreciate storks as they feed on small lizards, snakes, mammals and large insects which in turn protects the important bee population and reduces the use of pesticides.
We are definitely enjoying our time here and will have plenty to do in the coming weeks. We are planning a trip to Spain with our friends for a few days, we will observe Christmas celebrations here and know that January will come all too quickly.
We enjoy the relative peace and quiet of this part of the Algarve at this time of year and will use our time to continue to explore and learn more about this fascinating region.