Ponta da Piedade is one of Algarve’s (and all of Portugal’s) most beautiful sights. This headland has been sculpted by the winds and the sea for thousands of years, creating spectacular rock formations (some as tall as 20 meters, or 65 feet), caves and grottoes. A series of steps takes visitors from the top of the sandstone cliff down to the water, but for the best close-up views there are highly-recommended boat and kayak tours.
Over the years, some of the formations have been named, based on their resemblance, according to locals. There’s the “kissing couple,” the “elephant,” the “cathedral,” the “submarine,” the “Sphinx,” among several others. Many you can only see from the water, while hidden inside the caves and grottoes (which have also been given names, like “the grotto of love”) are ancient fossils.
While you’ll spend some time at the top of the cliff (just don’t go to the very edge, as it can be unstable, especially after rainfall), to photograph and admire the view of the entire Lagos coastline and beyond to Sagres, you shouldn’t skip the experience of going down the 182 steps to sea level. If that sounds like a lot, don’t worry -- you can take breaks in between, as there are views along the way.
You’ll likely find small fishing boats and tourists cruising through the rocks and arches. The sea is usually calm and crystal-clear, but on the occasional days with waves, the water tours are not possible.
The lighthouse nearby dates back to 1913, and although it isn’t open to the public, it’s worth passing by, for the views of the surroundings. A boardwalk that goes from here to the beaches to the west is another way to admire the magnificent views, and makes the site accessible to the disabled.
The best time to visit is the early afternoon, on a bright and sunny day. However, many choose the sunrise, for the romantic view and for the peacefulness (most tourists tend to arrive after 10am). It’s also a magical sunset spot, but at that time you’ll have many more people joining you.
How to Get to Ponta da Piedade
You can walk from central Lagos to Ponta da Piedade, over the cliffs or following Estrada da Ponta da Piedade for about 30 minutes. The closest stop of bus number 2 that goes from the city center to the beaches is Praia da Dona Ana, and from there you still need to walk for 20 minutes. However, this is a very pleasant walk, with beautiful views along the way (just don’t forget to bring water). You can combine a visit to Ponta da Piedade with a few hours of sunbathing at the stunning beach of Camilo, about a 10-minute walk away. Alternatively, take the tourist train that departs several times a day from the marina, goes down the waterfront and makes several stops, including at Ponta da Piedade. For more details on how to get around Lagos, see our transportation guide.
If you’re going by car, you’ll find parking on the side of the road. Just keep in mind that finding a spot in the high season isn’t easy, so go early. If you prefer a taxi (or Uber), it should cost 6 or 7 euros from the center of town.
You shouldn’t swim to Ponta da Piedade from the neighboring beaches. The tides and currents are unpredictable and there are many boats in the area, so it can be dangerous.
Boats to Ponta da Piedade
Different companies offer different tours, but they all go past the beaches in the center of town (some even stop at those only accessible from the sea, like the beautiful Praia da Balança) and take you to Ponta da Piedade. Another advantage of a boat tour is just being able to sit back and relax, as you’re taken to the best spots. You can book the most popular one online: Ponta da Piedade Caves Tour
Kayaking to Ponta da Piedade
Exploring Ponta da Piedade by kayak has the advantage of accessing places that not all boats go through. You can tuck into even the smallest corners for close-up views of grottoes and rocks. If you’ve never kayaked before, you’re given instructions and may follow the lead of a guide (who will also tell you which places to go and which to avoid). This is also the most eco-friendly way to visit the caves, as kayaks don’t pollute the way that some boats sometimes do. You may also go at your own pace, admiring the different spots for as long as you want -- and can even get a nice workout! These kayak tours usually depart from the fort in the center of Lagos, and may be booked online.
Hotels by Ponta da Piedade
From this highly-rated resort, you can see the lighthouse of Ponta da Piedade. There are standard rooms and suites with sea views, apartments and entire villas. It’s perfect for everyone and all kinds of trips, from couples on a romantic getaway to extended holidays as a family. The 5-star facilities include swimming pools, a spa, gym, tennis courts, a golf course, three restaurants and two bars.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Cascade Wellness Resort
This charming property is a short walk from Praia do Camilo and therefore also within walking distance of Ponta da Piedade. It consists of Mediterranean villas, and each unit features a private balcony or terrace and a contemporary style. Guests can enjoy an outdoor swimming pool, a spa, a fitness center, and Portuguese cuisine at the restaurant.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Costa d’Oiro Ambiance Village
Located on the road to Ponta da Piedade, this 3-star hotel is a good value. The rooms and apartments are simple but comfortable, and there’s a heated outdoor pool.
SEE PRICES, AVAILABILITY AND MORE DETAILS HERE: Dona Ana Garden