A mixed Algarve platter, packed with surfing, beaches, seafood, partying and a Lagos grotto garnish

This Life Recipe reveals how you can explore Lagos’ beautiful beaches, historic centre and best bars, restaurants and surf spots for less.

Ingredients
1 x return flight London – Faro (£232)
3 x nights at Top City Hostel (£103)
4 x nights at Algarve Surf Hostel including 2 days of surfing (£174)
Total £509

 Optional ingredients
1 x all-inclusive boat party (£32)
1 x kayaking tour (£23)
1 x Mexican dinner at The Green Room (£18)
1 x fish BBQ lunch at Restaurante a Barrigada (£12)
1 x tapas at Tasca Do Kiko (£26)

Method
We’ve not had a great summer at all this year in England… This is why I spent the start of August researching how I could escape to the sun and find a fun but relaxing holiday for a week. As I was travelling alone, I wanted to find a sociable (but still nice!) surf hostel where I could share my holiday with people from all over the world. The Algarve Surf Hostel in Lagos, Portugal, consistently ranked highly in all searches – and after spending some time looking at the reviews, pictures and weather in the Algarve, I was sold.

I immediately booked four nights at the surf hostel, three nights at Lagos’ newest (and flashiest) hostel in the old town and some last minute flights on SkyScanner. Just one week later, I was boarding the plane in grey, rainy Gatwick before flying over the beautiful golden beaches of the Algarve and landing in 32 degree heat, with glorious sunshine that lasted the whole trip.

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Places to stay

Top City Hostel
I spent my first three nights at Top City Hostel in the heart of Lagos’ old town. This hostel was rated 10/10 on Hostel World when I booked it (I’ve never seen a perfect score before), and after arriving on Saturday lunchtime – I could instantly see why. The modern, clean and spacious hostel only opened six weeks ago, offering air-conditioned rooms, decent showers, a giant kitchen and social room and a rooftop pool with a BBQ area.

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The rooftop pool was a great place to meet people. This suntrap is the only rooftop pool in Lagos and has a panoramic view of the old town and coastline. I spent many mornings, afternoons and evenings by the pool, as well as making the most of the unlimited beer and sangria at their rooftop BBQ nights before heading out in the town with a fun group of up to 50 people.

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Algarve Surf Hostel (Lagos)
I spent the second half of my holiday at the Algarve Surf Hostel. Now this is my type of place. With a large pool, terrace, BBQ area, table tennis and pool table, music, common room and less than 30 guests, this place had an extremely friendly and sociable surfer vibe. From breakfast to bedtime, there were always opportunities to meet people to go explore Lagos, relax on the beach or surf with. The hostel even organised BBQs, nights out and boat parties, which everyone went to together, whilst people still organised their own trips and meals out on other days.

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Things to do

Explore the beautiful beaches
What’s the Algarve famous for? It’s breath-taking coastline with miles of golden Mediterranean sandy beaches, striking cliffs and beautiful bays – and I can see why. You could spend a day on a different spectacular beach everyday for a fortnight if you wanted to – all within walking distance of the town.

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As I had a pretty busy week planned, I decided to explore the alluring beaches over a couple of days – taking the magnificent clifftop walk all the way along the coast, stopping off to relax on the beaches and cool-off in the sparkling blue sea.

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Kayak along the coast
The best way to see Lagos’ stunning coast is by going on a Kayaking tour. There are several reasonably priced tour operators at Batata beach, which each leave four or five times a day in groups of 20 (two per kayak). The 5pm tour was perfect, as the sun was out but you could still gently paddle along the coast without overheating in the scorching midday sun. Exploring all along the coast, you cut through caves and grottos, under arches and squeeze through some very tight spots to discover the hidden natural treasures along Portugal’s opulent coast.

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Surf in Sagres
Surfing was one of the main reasons I went to Southern Portugal. I had two days of lessons included in my accommodation at the Algarve Surf Hostel, where the instructors picked us up at 10am and dropped us back at 6.30pm (you can also book lessons separately if you’re staying elsewhere). After sorting my wetsuit and surfboard at the surf school, I took a stroll down the hill and across a boardwalk with a panoramic view of the beautiful bay to the inviting sea.

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It was hard work (especially after a few drinks the night before), but this was some of the best surf I’ve ever had – with friendly teaching and large, powerful waves that were fairly easy to catch. A few drinks with a view were well deserved at the end after spending a whole day riding the waves.

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Party on a boat
Now this was a lot of fun. We arrived at the harbour at 5pm to join a very friendly group who’d also booked on the tour. The boat gently left the harbour as we started to take advantage of the all-inclusive beer, sangria, vodka and mixer and the DJ started spinning some tunes.

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One hour later, and a fair few drinks in, the boat stopped in a stunning setting and the DJ cranked his music up as the party-goers started to dance on deck and jump into the sea. We certainly made the most of the trip and before we knew it, three hours had gone by and we started heading back to the harbour – watching the vibrant red, purple and orange sunset over the coast along the way.

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Great places to eat out

Restaurante a Barrigada
I found this restaurant on TripAdvisor, as it was highly rated as one of the best seafood and fish restaurants in the area. Although it’s rather unassuming from the outside (don’t let this put you off!) the fish was incredible. I ordered the all you can eat fish BBQ for £10 and a beer and enjoyed a long lunch devouring the delicious barbequed sea bass, salmon, sea bream and the Portuguese locals’ favourite, sardines.

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The Green Room
This restaurant was recommended by the staff at my surf hostel, as they said it was the best Mexican restaurant in the Algarve. And they were right. We demolished a huge pile of cheese-covered, crispy nachos, washed down with strong but tasty margaritas and followed by two fish tacos packed with guacamole, peppers and a spicy sauce. Needless to say, we had to take an extra-long walk home to work off this gigantic meal…

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Tasca Do Kiko
I spent my last evening at Tasca Do Kiko – another TripAdvisor special, which is known for its fantastic tapas. My heart sank when I arrived to find out it was fully booked all night (it’s a popular place!). Fortunately they had space at the bar, which I grabbed immediately before ordering a glass of local white wine to sip while I contemplated what to have from their inventive and extensive tapas menu. I went for bread and olives, clams in garlic and white wine sauce, garlic and chilli prawns and pork loin with beetroot puree. Each dish was brought out separately – and each one was even more delicious than the last.

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This was a perfect way to end an extraordinary holiday packed with delicious food, stunning scenery, beautiful beaches and adventurous activities for less.

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