I spent three nights in Lagos, travelling to the city on the early bus from Sevilla. I booked the bus a few days ahead of time and I would definitely recommend this for those following the same route – a girl in my hostel had to add a couple of days onto her trip in Sevilla because she didn’t book ahead and the bus was sold out.
There is also a rumour online that the Portuguese bus service will oversell the tickets, similar to an airline, and there were a few of us there who had read the same thing. This wasn’t the case and I even lucked out to not have anyone sit beside me for the majority of the trip. It could have been the glassy, Gravol-induced haze in my eyes that scared them away… or maybe I smell. The point is, I wasn’t about to complain!
When I told one girl that I was going to Lagos, she rather flippantly said “oh, I guess you like to party then.” Well, no. Lagos has a well deserved party reputation but if you choose your hostel carefully you can easily avoid the party scene entirely. It’s a beautiful, small city located right on the ocean with stunning, sandy beaches and lots of ecotourism opportunities. Kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, dolphin watching… even scuba diving! Travellers can easily party away their entire vacation but there’s much more to Lagos than drinks, drugs and debauchery.
I stayed at the Bura Surfhouse, a relatively new hostel located a ten minute walk from the old city walls and a twenty minute walk to the beach. This hostel offered a free pick-up and drop-off service to either the bus or train station, a pool and a free breakfast. I’m not a huge beach person and it’s hard to really enjoy the beach when you’re travelling alone since you constantly have to keep an eye on your personal belongings, so the pool was a major selling feature for me. It also clearly advertised that it wasn’t a party hostel although it cultivated a social atmosphere.
The hostel honestly felt like you were hanging out at someone’s house as the staff made a real effort to know your name. One of the co-owners even hugged us as we were dropped off at the bus station, genuinely thanking us for staying with them.
There was a beautiful rooftop terrace with cheap beer and a burger BBQ on my first night. I tried some piri piri chicken on the second night, when I was out and about in town, but they had no problem with us visitors using the BBQ so on the last night I grilled up some steak and veggies while drinking some delicious Portuguese wine.
I spent one day exploring the old centre, wandering through the patterned streets and browsing in the shops. There seemed to be more English speaking visitors than any others and there were also a lot of real estate shops advertising vacation homes and apartments in English. Based on those signs alone, I suspect that this is a popular vacation destination for those from the UK.
The walk along the waterfront, between the town and the marina, is full of touts trying to cajole and entice visitors into taking their boat trips or eco-adventures. One girl was particularly aggressive, following me while bellowing about her company’s dolphin tour. Another woman, a Canadian, told me that her company was best because it was Portuguese and employed Portuguese workers, while other companies were either foreign owned or employed foreigners. I don’t think that she realized the irony of what she was saying.
The weather was absolutely perfect. It was hot, but not too hot, and the sun shone every day that I was there. The only rain happened in the morning, far earlier than I was awake. A few people from my hostel did the kayaking or stand up paddleboarding trips, but I was more than content with strolling around and spending time by the beach or pool. The pool was best, to be honest, simply due to proximity. And because there was no sand to worry about.
My one and only complaint? Smoke. Portugal has achieved the distinction of being the second European country, out of seven visited so far, to allow smoking indoors. There are actually signs on most restaurants and bars indicating whether smoking is allowed (blue signs) or not (red signs). Apparently there have been smoking bans passed, they just haven’t come into effect yet.
I had planned to watch a soccer game with some people from the hostel at a local bar but the smoke was thick, the windows were closed and I really didn’t care about the outcome of the game enough to suffer through the tobacco haze. I headed back to the hostel before darkness set in and had a pleasant evening on the rooftop terrace, chatting with some other travellers and watching the sunset.
Lagos, for lack of a better descriptor, was simply picture perfect. And I didn’t do the party thing once!