Winter sun in Lagos, Algarve – Portugal

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.

Boots Soltan sun screen

Boots Soltan products

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.

Carvi Beach Hotel

Carvi Beach Hotel

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.

Praia Dona Ana

Praia Dona Ana

On Christmas Day morning, we drank a bottle of bubbly on the beach as we opened our presents for each other.

Christmas Day morning on Praia Dona Ana

Christmas Day morning on Praia Dona Ana

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.

Lagos Military Fort

Lagos Military Fort

Chapel at Forte da Ponta da Bandeira

Chapel at Forte da Ponta da Bandeira

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.

Ponta da Piedade, Lagos, Algarve, Portuga

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.

Lagos grotto tour, Algarve

Lagos grotto tour

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.

Slave market, Lagos

Lagos Slave Market Museum

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.

Lagos Slave Market museum

Lagos Slave Market Museum

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.

Street art in Lagos in the Algarve, Portugal

Street art in Lagos in the Algarve, Portugal

I could walk around all day taking photos of the masterpieces painted onto walls and the sides of buildings.

Street art in Lagos in the Algarve, Portugal

Street art in Lagos in the Algarve, Portugal

Street art in Lagos in the Algarve, Portugal


What do you think you’d enjoy doing the most in Lagos, Algarve?

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29 Comments

    • March 14, 2017 / 11:32 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the read 😀

  1. Lynne Harper
    March 12, 2017 / 8:23 pm

    This looks fabulous, the street art is incredible. I dont know if i could go away at Christmas as we spend it every year at my mamas, im such a home bird, but I know a few friends who have had amazing times away at this time of year like you x

    • March 14, 2017 / 11:31 pm

      I must admit, it was an unusual experience. I thought I’d love it, but I did miss my Mum a fair bit!

  2. March 12, 2017 / 9:18 pm

    Shame about the snorkelling – that’s something i’d love to do. Sounds fab everything you did from enjoying the weather, seeing street art and going to museum. I like a mixture of things on holidays x

    • March 14, 2017 / 11:31 pm

      Yes I was gutted I couldn’t snorkel, but a kit just in time for this holiday as well!

  3. March 13, 2017 / 10:57 am

    Looks really lovely!!! I haven’t been to Portugal at all except for very briefly on a cruise stop – would love to explore more. Thanks for the SPF recommend too – I hate the grease on my face!

    • March 14, 2017 / 11:30 pm

      I love Portugal; it’s such a lovely country! And you’re welcome 🙂

  4. March 13, 2017 / 12:56 pm

    My parents have a place that isn’t too far from here, it’s such a beautiful place x

    • March 14, 2017 / 11:30 pm

      Oh lovely – lucky you! I’d be forever visiting them if I were you.

  5. March 14, 2017 / 11:29 pm

    Thank you – it was a very memorable holiday!

  6. June 10, 2017 / 4:56 pm

    I love spending Christmas away, so much better than in the UK. My first chirstmas away was in the Maldives and well, beach, snorkelling and doing bugger all was the best xmas ever! 😀

    • June 11, 2017 / 6:26 pm

      Wow, Christmas in the Maldives must’ve been like the best thing ever! I’d love to go there anytime of the year. I bet it was amazing.

  7. loisaltermark
    June 10, 2017 / 5:14 pm

    What a beautiful place to spend the holidays! I think I’d love to spend time wandering around and taking in all the street art. It gives you a real sense of a city.

    • June 11, 2017 / 6:26 pm

      Lagos is lovely, I would happily go back for a fourth time 🙂 I love street art too, I’ve seen some pretty cool stuff on my travels but Lagos does have a fair bit of funky street art.

  8. June 11, 2017 / 12:14 pm

    The boat trip looks great. I’d also love to check out the slave museum, an aspect of European history that many don’t know about. Did you have a chance to try any Portuguese wines?

    • June 11, 2017 / 6:23 pm

      We had a nice Portuguese wine with our dinner for Christmas Day, it was rose – my favourite kind of wine. Can’t remember what it was called – must’ve drank too much of it! 😉

  9. June 11, 2017 / 8:00 pm

    Dona Ana beach looks amazing. And there is like nobody! How awesome is that? Nothing beats having christmas on a beach seriously! Good times there.

    • June 12, 2017 / 10:28 pm

      Dona Ana is one of my favourite beaches ever! We were so lucky to have it pretty much all to ourselves

  10. June 12, 2017 / 3:46 am

    I had fogotten that there was a Portuguese city called Lagos, too! I guess, these days the Nigerian gets more press…
    First I was a bit”Meh! Beach…” BUt it looks like there is tons to discover beyond the beach!
    One question: How did you book the grotto tour? Was it just the two of you or are there tours every hour or so?

    Thank you & happy continued travels!
    C

    • June 12, 2017 / 10:27 pm

      Haha yes, I always have to specify that it’s in the Algarve, Portugal so that nobody gets confused. If you walk along the path next to Lagos Marina, there are lots of stalls selling grotto trips. You have to visit a few to make sure you’re getting the best price. They run a couple of times on the hour, I think.

  11. June 12, 2017 / 8:21 am

    I love the idea of spending Christmas with friends in a far-flung destination. Or having a Christmas that is more holiday-like and less stressful than many family holidays can be! If I were to take one this year, I’d definitely go to a warm climate, one maybe where Christmas isn’t such a family-centric holiday and party the week away!

    • June 12, 2017 / 10:26 pm

      It was great to experience Christmas outside of the UK and with a friend as opposed to with family. However, I was surprised at how much I missed simple things like cheesey footballs, sprouts and eating way too much chocolate whilst watching Christmas TV in excess. Not to mention how much I missed my mum!

  12. June 12, 2017 / 2:18 pm

    Wasn’t it hard to spend Christmas on the beach when it was quite hot? I spent Christmas last year in Vietnam and it was so weird to have Christmas when it’s not snowing or freezing outside ( and without the family) !
    Thanks for sharing all the info, it looks like a very good holiday destination. I’ve never been to Portugal but it looks very nice there. Great pictures.

    • June 12, 2017 / 10:24 pm

      It wasn’t very hot at that time of year, unfortunately. The sea was very cold – we were the only ones trying to swim in it, hehe. It was nice to experience Christmas in another country, but it also made me realise how much I value spending Christmas at home with family too.

  13. June 13, 2017 / 5:21 am

    I love Portugal but I’ve still never been to the Algarve. I really hope to make it there this summer. Your photos are awesome.

    • June 25, 2017 / 6:01 pm

      Thank you! The Algarve is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been – the beaches are literally breath-taking, and I love the narrow cobbled streets 🙂

  14. June 13, 2017 / 4:47 pm

    First of all gorgeous place. Great way to spend Christmas. I don’t blame you for the bubbly on the beach. The hotel looked really pretty too. Was it too cold for the pool because if not I would have jumped in for sure!

    • June 25, 2017 / 6:01 pm

      Hehe, it was a Christmas to remember that’s for sure! The bubbly on the beach, especially.

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