On the last section of this great coastal trail, bizarre cliffs of various colours hold the hiker’s gaze – shades of ocher, red, gray, white, and black contrast with the bright blueness of the ocean. Our journey ends in the city of Lagos, from where – long before the tourists from all over the world came looking for sun and sand – the Portuguese set sail to discover the world.
In the cliffs between Luz beach and Ponta da Piedade there is particularly rich information about the Middle Cretaceous period of the Earth’s history, when the mass extinction of dinosaurs was impending. Between Luz Beach and Lagos Beach the rocks capture the walker’s gaze and tell curious stories. While the gaze might wander to the immensity of the sea or to the aromatic green of the Mediterranean vegetation, it ultimately always ends up traveling back to the stones along the route. Between the contrast of the white of the limestone and the blackness of the volcanic rocks or between the organized geometry of the strata and the unexpected shapes sculpted by erosion or tectonic deformations, it is a striking landscape to take in.
To the west of Luz Beach, in Ponta da Calheta, layers of sandstone present fossils of a small marine snail – Nerinea algarbiensis. The cross-line design of these layers indicate marine currents and the position of the coastline more than 100 million years ago. Further down, the rocks subjected to the tide show an interesting network of fractures and cavities excavated within, known as giant’s kettles. To the east of Luz Beach, plant fossils are observed in layers of strongly colored sandstone. In the layers of limestone, the fossils present are of shells (bivalve and gastropods). Further east, at Ponta das Ferrarias, the dark rock between white cliffs corresponds to an old volcanic chimney. Volcanism here occurred 75 million years ago, when the Iberian Peninsula hit Africa, in a rotation related to the movement of the plates.
In Ponta da Piedade, the Karst relief is impressive, forming arches, great rocks emerging from the water, and caves, and on a smaller scale, fine traces that draining water draws as it dissolutes the limestone. On this rocky ledge, there was once a Roman temple, a Moorish temple, a Christian hermitage, a fortification to protect Torrinha’s fishing tackle, and even a lighthouse. The construction of the Lighthouse of Ponta da Piedade ended in 1913, after many incidents that prevented the advance of the project which began in 1883. In fact, to construct the lighthouse it was necessary to demolish what was left of the Hermitage of Nossa Senhora da Piedade, which many people strongly opposed.
Upon arrival in Lagos, you will be greeted by the impressive view over Meia Praia Beach. The fort of Ponta da Bandeira watches over the entrance of this important port, where the adventure of the Portuguese discoveries began six centuries ago. You can greet the statue of the main supporter of these expeditions, Infante Dom Henrique, in the square that is his namesake. Between his hands, the navigational instrument, the sextant, reflects the dominance that the Portuguese had in maritime navigation, long before the invention of GPS! Lagos marks the beginning of the Algarve, known globally as a top destination for sun and beach tourism, with an exceptional cultural and religious heritage, as well as a dynamic nightlife.
Where to start
In Luz beach.
At the train station.
Rules and Recommendations
Lagos is a city with very active nightlife and a huge range of restaurants specialized in fish and seafood.