A common stopover on Algarve tour, Lagos itself is an attractive town with 8th century fortifications, bustling nightlife and a new marina area. Yet nothing about the city really foreshadows the aesthetic blow you are dealt when you head further south. Not only is the headland of Ponta da Piedade lapped by waters of indescribable colors, but also surrounded by enormous formations that the sea has carved in sheer rock over time. Jump on a tiny boat to slalom between the sandstone boulders and through myriad natural passages, and when you end up dizzy, get your balance back on the sandy coves of Praia de Dona Ana and Praia do Camilo hidden between giant cliffs.

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