A few months ago, I did something I’ve never done before. I spent Christmas on holiday, in the little town of Lagos in the Algarve, Portugal with one of my best friends. If you follow my blog, you may remember I also visited Lagos back in July last year; although I actually fell in love with this quaint little town five years ago, on another girlie summer holiday.
I usually visit Lagos during the summer, when the sand on the beaches is so hot I have to half-tiptoe, half-run across it, the only way to get rid of my sun-induced headaches is to lie in the cool sea for ten minutes, and my iPhone starts telling me it needs to cool down before I can use it.
Visiting Lagos for a winter sun holiday, I packed the same level of sun protection as I did in the summer because I have fair skin which burns easily. Sun screen can be scarily expensive, so rather than splash my cash on high-end brands, I picked up virtually the same products for a fraction of the cost from Boots’ own range.
I particularly like the Boots Soltan range of products. The Soltan ‘Once’ products are perfect for saving time and hassle re-applying sun screen, because they’re water resistant and one application provides eight hours of sun protection. Despite costing less than half of the price of some of the top sun screen brands, Soltan products still have a 5-star UVA rating. At just £10 per 200ml bottle, Boots Soltan Once suncare lotion soaks into the skin quickly and continues to moisturise, reducing dryness and preventing peeling, whilst also shielding you from the sun’s harmful rays.
Sun screen designed for the body can feel too greasy and heavy when applied to my face, so I also packed a tube of Soltan Once Face (£10 for 50ml). Once this dries into my skin, I can’t tell that I’m wearing it and it makes my face feel soft and supple. For extra protection, I wear Soltan Active Lip and Face Sun Stick on my lips, because sunburnt, blistered lips are not a good holiday look! It’s designed to withstand water, sweat and extreme conditions, making it perfect for anyone who enjoys an adventure-packed holiday. The 5g tube lasts for ages and at just £4, it won’t set you back too much either.
So, once you’ve slapped on the sun screen, here’s are a few things to see and do on a winter sun holiday in Lagos:
Hit the beaches
Lagos boasts some of the best beaches in the Algarve, including the famous 4km Meia Praia, Praia da Batata (a.k.a ‘potato beach’), Praia da Dona Ana, Praia do Camilo, and Porto de Mós, to name just a few. Luckily for us, we were staying at Carvi Beach Hotel on Alameda Dr. Armando Soares Ribeiro, practically sitting on Praia Dona Ana – once named the ‘best beach in the World’ by Condé Nast Traveller magazine.
Despite it being winter, it was still warm enough to enjoy a stroll along the beach and if we timed it right, we could fit in a spot of sunbathing too. I even braved the sea, although sadly it was too rough for swimming or snorkelling.
On Christmas Day morning, we drank a bottle of bubbly on the beach as we opened our presents for each other.
Explore Forte da Ponta da Bandeira
Built in the 17th century, Forte da Ponta da Bandeira (the Lagos Fortress) was once a maritime fortress built to defend the town from attack. Today, it is a museum comprising of artefacts from Portuguese discoveries.
It even houses a dainty little chapel dedicated to Santa Barbara (patroness of artillery men and miners), covered in Portuguese Azulejo tiles.
Entrance costs €1.50, but it’s a small price to pay for such an insight into Portugal’s history.
Take a grotto boat tour
No visit to Lagos is complete without a boat tour of the cliffs, caves and grottos along the coastline. The boat sets sail from Lagos Marina and goes right down to Ponta da Piedade.
Often dubbed the most beautiful natural feature of the Algarve coastline, Ponta da Piedade is a section of cliffs that have weathered over many years to form rock pillars, natural tunnels and secret grottos. The golden sandstone cliffs contrast beautifully with the bright blue sea, making for a stunning scene.
A grotto tour will set you back around €15 each, but it lasts for just under an hour and it’s such a memorable experience.
Visit Mercado de Escravos (the Slave Market Museum)
I never knew Lagos had a history of slavery, but a step inside the slave market museum, Mercado de Escravos soon showed me otherwise.
Built in 1444, this was rumoured to be the first slave market in Europe. The first slaves were captured in Africa and transported here, where they were sold.
Today, the building is home to a museum filled with artefacts and relics dating back to the slavery period. Entrance costs €1.50.
Gaze at the street art
Like many parts of Portugal, Lagos is brimming with eclectic street art.
I could walk around all day taking photos of the masterpieces painted onto walls and the sides of buildings.
What do you think you’d enjoy doing the most in Lagos, Algarve?
This is a sponsored post.